Travel time will transform into productive time.
When the way we move changes, every industry will need to be consulted through the changes.
In this article, we focus on how we are set to move ourselves and our goods. Whether it is making existing means of transport more efficient, or completely reinventing the systems and vehicles that move us, how we move will have an enormous impact not only on how accountants and bookkeepers engage their clients, but society itself.
The digital revolution is fueled by silicon-based technologies. The same elements that make up our smart phones and computers are now inside our cars, trains and planes. These chips, sensors and cloud-based technologies are building a fleet of autonomous vehicles that take us around the corner, across borders, and beyond Earth.
The timing of smart cars is ideal, as they are converging with a whole new power source - batteries. As an alternative, they’re leaving fossil fuels in their wake. Governments are endorsing their adoption by setting mandates of zero petrol cars by the 2020s and car manufacturers are setting their own goals that exceed those targets.
On-Demand over Ownership
The sharing economy boom has made access to cars easier and costs to use them fall.
With our vehicles stationary for 96% of their existence, their poor efficiency makes the economics of owning a car ripe for disruption. The leading car companies are offering ‘membership’ options where for a flat monthly fee, you can have a new car delivered to your location in real time. You can have a run-about hatchback during the week and an SUV for the weekend. Buying a $40,000 tonne of steel that sits in the driveway does start to feel uneconomical when you can have an Uber drive you home for under $10 every night.
As cars become more automated, they will have both a positive and negative ripple effect on almost every industry. Everything from car parks to garages, from fuel stations to freeway lanes will need an overhaul.
Take to the skies
Drones are quickly graduating from the toy everyone wants for Christmas to a serious means of human transport. Chinese company, eHang, have successfully tested and are set to launch the first human carrying drone in Asia and the Middle East. In a case of the technology moving faster than regulation, governments and businesses are frantically trying to adapt to the new means of getting from A to B and beyond.
For decades we have been observing the effects that fossil fuels are having on our planet. Global warming is a real risk, and the global population is (largely) taking notice. We are slowly changing our behaviours to reduce our carbon footprint, including the steady mass adoption of electric cars.
The Internet Of Things
We referred to 5G in the previous issue, and how the next generation of network will take our connectivity to another level. It will increase the internet of things to the internet of everything, with supercharged speeds and access, connecting everyday objects from our sneakers to the cars we drive. The data that these connected devices capture and share will fuel this ecosystem, allowing our personal AIs to make decisions for us that make our lives better. These smarts will be showcased best in our vehicles, with our AI the perfect companion and in most cases, pilot.
Technology has enabled a whole new economic model, allowing peer-to-peer sharing of goods and services. Supply and demand can connect instantly and can close the deal without the need for any intermediaries to interfere. For transport industries - whether it is a car for the weekend with ZipCar, a ride to the pub with Uber, or a private jet with XOJet - the sharing economy will continue to shift how the logistics of industries work.
The sun sets on a balmy Melbourne day. Yuri’s private drone, with its generous armrests and ample leg room, almost swallows him up. As he takes off, no one will have a better view of the sunset. The only thing obstructing his view through the window is a large tablet that shows the map, flight arrival time, the real time revenue of his company, news headlines and messages.
The gentle hum from the quad propellers settles him, he sings back into the chair as the familiar voice of Yuri’s AI comes over the aircraft cabin.
“Your arrival time at Southern Cross Station will be 6.04pm. That gives you 38 minutes before your Hyperloop Train leaves… would you like me to book you a table at HyperSteak?”
“No, thanks.” Yuri interjects. “I will eat on the HyperLoop. I am keen to go past the Doze Inc Store at the station and share the exciting update from this afternoon’s meeting with the team.”
As his drone silently ascends from the drone pad, its shape and sound mimic that of a mosquito. The launch pad seamlessly retracts back into the side of the building as he takes flight.
Within a few seconds, Yuri’s drone is at 1,500ft, cruising along the Eastern Freeway Lane. The line of flight follows the exact line of the bitumen freeway below him, which is lit up by cars and trucks - only now, 50% have no humans on board, and are driven with full automation. There is another lane on higher altitude which is exclusively for unmanned courier drones.
After the 9 minute flight over the city, Yuri’s drone lands at Southern Cross Station. The station has the feel of an airport. There are shops, restaurants and lounges, with escalators that take you down to the platforms where you board the HyperLoop pod.
The pod can seat about 40 passengers, in a similar layout to a bus. Yuri takes his seat, straps in his seatbelt, and connects his AI to the tablet on his seat.
“Welcome aboard the Virgin HyperLoop, travelling from Southern Cross to St Martin’s Square. You will arrive at 7:46pm.”
A gentle but definite G-Force pulls him back in his seat as the pod reaches 300kmph in 8 seconds. Once it reaches top speed, food and drinks are automatically served on a conveyor belt that passes everyone’s seat, inspired by the sushi train concept. A bottle of freshly brewed iced coffee called Kik, boasting ‘extra caffeine’ catches his eye. The moment the caffeine hit kicks in, so does the business opportunity to Doze Inc. Yuri is convinced it is the perfect product to stock in his stores around the country.
Although it has only been 30 minutes since he left her office, Yuri calls Tess again for her counsel. Before she answers, his AI has already ordered a bottle of the iced coffee, and it’s on its way to her office in a micro drone. He asks her team to research the Kik Coffee, and the options to stock it in Doze Inc.
As Yuri reaches the halfway point of his journey to Sydney, Tess responds: “The beans are grown in a vertical garden in Melbourne which used to be a multi-level car park. So for Melbourne, stocking Kik is fine, but we will need to ship to other locations which could be costly - but I think we have a solution. My AI has crunched the numbers, and if we get automated trucks to deliver to the other stores, we can make our 45% profit margin.”
“Let’s move on that. Thanks Tess, I love your work”.
This concludes a busy day for Tess. Her AI, Jay, appreciates this by suggesting a glass of her favorite wine for the journey home.
As she exits the lift in the office basement, her car is waiting for her, door open, with the favourite wine and potato chips next to her laid back seat.
“You have a message from home… I’ll warn you, the kids are wanting to know what is for dinner. They are asking for a Propeller Pizza to be flown in.”
“Give them the green light Jay. They can have pizza tonight - it’s been a good day. ”
Think laterally about the potential impacts of autonomous transport on the P&L of your and your clients’ businesses.
Draw up 2, 5, 10-year horizons, and look for knock on effects; Domestic flights, catching buses, owning a car etc. would be replaced by the Hyperloop and automated drones. All industries will be touched by these changes, and giving your clients a plan to turn threats into opportunities will be rewarded. This shift is the Model T on steroids.
Allocate small budgets to invest in fringe opportunities. We’ll need spaces for autonomous vehicles to ‘park’ in low demand periods. Drones will need landing pads and delivery zones. Any client with real estate has new innovative revenue opportunities awaiting them.