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Jobs graphicIt seems like everywhere you go these days people are talking about connectivity; connected cars, smart homes, smart watches, etc. But what is not clear in all these conversations is what it all means – for our futures, for jobs, for our communities, etc.

First, it might be helpful to understand that many different terms are being used to talk about just one thing – mobile technologies. Some call it ‘connected’, some call it ‘mobility’, some call it ‘wireless’, some call it ‘smart’ – at the end of the day, it all comes back to the same thing, new ways of doing things driven by many different types of mobile technologies.

So understanding the terminology is one thing – but what does all this ‘connectivity’ translate into in terms of jobs? Well, let’s look at some of the projections:

  • Today there are 10 Billion+ connected objects; by 2020 there will be at least 50 Billion and some studies are predicting in excess of 70 Billion
  • As a result of connected technologies:
    • 220,000 new engineers will be required every year between 2014 and 2022
    • 600,000 more manufacturing jobs in the U.S. driven by automation and supply-chain data
    • 300,000 new data analysts to bring intelligent decisions to ‘Big Data’
    • $202 Billion in increased automotive revenue
    • $69 Billion in increased healthcare revenue
    • $445 Billion in increased consumer products revenue
    • $36 Billion in increased utilities revenue
    • Wireless broadband investment will create as many as 205,000 U.S. jobs by 2015
    • The worldwide smart grid market will grow from $20 Billion in 2010 to $100 billion by 2030
    • Wireless economic contributions have grown faster (16%) than the rest of the economy (3%)
    • Wireless jobs pay greater than 50% more than the average of other production workers
    • U.S. 4G wireless network investments will be up to $53 Billion by 2016; resulting in up to $151 Billion in GDP growth and up to 771,000 jobs being created.

So what’s the bottom line on all this? JOBS!  Lots of jobs, in every industry – tremendous numbers of currently available jobs going unfilled because we don’t have people qualified to fill them – and many future jobs you’ve never yet heard of because they don’t yet exist!

And if connected technologies are creating all these jobs, obviously its in our best interest to make certain we have the people to fill them. This is an endeavor that the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM) is committed to, and we’re happy to see that other organizations in our community are just as committed to this effort.

We believe it to be very important to share the thoughts of other organizations involved in this work to help broaden awareness of what is being done, therefore below is a re-print of a recent article from Lisa Katz, Executive Director of the Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN) that first appeared in Crain’s Detroit. This article is re-published here with Lisa’s permission.

We encourage readers to pay close attention to her message and to take it to heart. The sooner you, your firm, your educational institution, your government, etc. become involved in adapting to our new future, the sooner we all will reap its rewards!

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In a connected world, shift happens

by Lisa Katz, Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN)

In just a five-year time period in Southeast Michigan, the number of online job postings for information technology jobs climbed 55 percent.  This was just after the recession and leading into an economic future that, while arguably more stable, certainly has not been a boom time in our region.

These new jobs did not come primarily from a core of NASDAQ-listed IT companies.   In this region, IT job demand comes from numerous industry clusters: automotive, banking and finance, health care, and logistics, just to name a few.  This is because information technology is being infused into nearly every facet of business and has become almost completely integrated into our daily lives.

For example, this year it was announced that Roush would be assembling self-driving Google cars in Allen Park.  WIN has participated in several meetings in the last year that explore how the region can capitalize on job growth. There are many new economic opportunities that come with the emerging (and possibly inevitable) connected automotive industry. Some experts forecast that by 2024, a driverless car will be optional for all new vehicle purchasers, and by 2044 they will be mandatory.

That sounds like a long way off, but we are approaching these benchmarks incrementally.  Recently, while driving to dinner in a new Ford Escape, my husband began to parallel park on the streets of downtown Rochester.  He hit a button and announced:  “Kids, mark the date: Oct. 21, 2014.  Today is the first day you rode in a car that parked itself.  Someday you’ll laugh while you tell your kids how people used to have to drive their own cars.”

Indeed, connectivity is changing the way we think about cars, but also life in general.  Connected toothbrushes can tell us how long we should brush and whether we have missed a spot.  Connected refrigerators can tell us whether it is time to buy new milk or whether the chicken is about to go bad.  And the technology exists that would allow a refrigerator to transmit an inventory of needs to a grocery store, which then could have the necessary items delivered direct-to-home.

Gregg Garrett, head of the local innovation-consulting firm, CGS Advisors, is fond of reminding me that, today, only about 1 percent of items that could be connected actually are.  Of course, this will rapidly change.

Technology has been shifting exponentially for years.  According to one of my favorite videos, Did You Know?, in the year 1900, human knowledge doubled every 100 years, in 1945 every 25 years, and in 2014 every 13 months.

By 2020, human knowledge will double every 12 hours, and by 2017, a supercomputer will be built that exceeds the computational capabilities of the human brain.

By 2049, a $1,000 computer will have more computational power than the entire human species.  Several other theorists, like Ray Kurzwell, who produced a great visual of this phenomenon, agree.

So what does all of this mean for Southeast Michigan?  First, while we cannot ignore issues like math and reading literacy, we certainly cannot ignore digital literacy. The very way we work will change as a result of technology, and if we do not embrace the idea that everyone can and should learn to be at least good users and navigators of technology (if not developers and creators), we do a disservice to our whole community.

Efforts like the planning that will shape Mayor Duggan’s Detroit Innovation District can and should explore how to maximize opportunities for companies and workers in a new economy increasingly dependent on technology.

Second, everyone must re-think attitudes and mindsets related to learning.  Once again, according to the video Did You Know?:

  • 65 percent of today’s grade schoolers will hold jobs that do not yet exist.  “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t exist using technologies that haven’t been invented in order to solve problems that we don’t even know are problems yet.”
  • 90 percent of the world’s data has been generated in the past two years.  The amount of new technical information is doubling every 2 years.    “For students starting a 4 year technical degree, this means that half of what they learn in their first year of study will be outdated by their third year of study.”

Employers will need to make new investments in their workers. For example many companies spend more on coffee than on important training for their employees. Of course, workers will need to shift and commit to the idea of lifelong learning as being a given. Likewise, education and training institutions will need to shift the strategies and resources that help both of these groups adapt to ever-changing talent needs. We will have to teach our young people how to think creatively and flexibly, dealing with problems that have not even been defined.  Schools, like Oakland University, already are teaching engineers and business leaders what the connected world will mean for the future of engineering and work in general: more people should be having this conversation.

These ideas may sound like a tall order, but it is highly unlikely that the pace of technological change will slow. Without acknowledging that shift happens, Michigan’s lost decade could become a lost century for those who cannot or will not adapt.

This conversation is happening now, and we must begin the conversation, set a vision, and pursue a plan that will secure Southeast Michigan’s place in a more connected future.

One of the long-standing messages that we at the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan have tried to communicate to all the businesses, governments, non-profits, and educational institutions in Michigan is that mobile/wireless technologies will soon be an integral part of their organization if they aren’t already – it’s not an option or a ‘maybe’, it’s a certainty. Further, how well they integrate these technologies into their business will impact their productivity and/or profitability going forward, and in some cases, their survival.

Unfortunately, this message is still a challenge to get the majority to comprehend – particularly because when most people think ‘mobile’ they think ‘cell phone’ or ‘tablet’. They don’t yet have awareness of the wide variety of mobile devices and mobile technologies that exist, nor do they understand the concept of ‘Internet of Things’ which focuses on the idea of machine-to-machine connected devices.  Therefore, we at MTAM are always glad when we find a resource that can help us convey this information to our communities in an easy-to-understand manner.

We found such an easy-to-understand article in a recent post on Techonomy.com, and with their permission, have incorporated that article into this blogpost. We encourage you to read the article and to begin considering how your business may be impacted by these technologies. Should you have questions, or need assistance, MTAM is here to help! As the state’s trade association for mobile/wireless technologies, the companies that provide them, and the companies that use them, we’re always available to provide information on ways your organization can take advantage of these technologies and maximize the opportunity they provide.  We’re easy to reach at info@GoMobileMichigan.org.

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Ten Ways Connected Devices Will Impact Every Organization

by Vladimir Pick

This year, the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the world’s population. To survive the coming decade, most organizations will have to respond in some way to the rise of connected devices. As connected products, connected logistics, and connected phones become ubiquitous, they create value for users and risks for companies.

If you’re reading about the Internet of Things for the first time, here’s a short primer. But now that there’s widespread knowledge about the Internet of Things (IoT) — also known as the Machine to Machine internet (M2M) or the Industrial Internet (II) — we at consulting firm Undercurrent find that senior leaders at global organizations still struggle to articulate how it will meaningfully change their business, or shrug it off because they’re in the energy business, or the orange juice business, or name your 20th century business.

Winners will know they’re winning before losers find out they’re losing.

The pressures the IoT brings affect all types of organizations. For companies that make durable physical products it’s easy to imagine a digitally connected version. For companies that make consumables, the Internet of Things is slated to revolutionize logistics. For both, ubiquitous connected mobile devices are already changing commerce, workflow, and customer relationships.

Here are ten ways IoT will affect companies, and how companies can respond.

1. DO OR DIE, THE MARKET EXPECTS IT.

Over the next three years, every major manufacturer will have to include connectivity in its business product lines or logistics. Consumers will demand it soon, but Wall Street will demand it first. Companies like Tesla with their connected car or Amazon with their connected logistics are already trading above traditional valuations. Shareholders and analysts will evaluate companies based on their ability to integrate connectivity into their business and product lines.

2. MAKING PRODUCTS IS EASY, BUT PRODUCTION CHANGES TOO.

Manufacturers of consumer durables and equipment manufacturers will have to make connected products. CPG companies and grocers, will have to build in smart logistics. The new tech enables efficiency in managing production and distribution. Connected sensors monitor liquids, gases, and chemicals in real time. Route automation for moving things is on the horizon. Fleets of driverless trucks will soon become the standard.

3. THE RACE TO OWN THE PLATFORM STARTS WITH A PRODUCT FOCUS.

Competition will be dire, as most businesses will try to own the platform. While the tendency in big business is to build the platform first, every platform business starts off as a product business. Nest didn’t build a platform first, it built the best thermostat. To win, start with a hero product that conquers hearts and markets. This requires a radical focus on creating products and experiences that are beautiful, functional, and valuable to customers.

5. IOT IS AN ECOSYSTEM PLAY, AND ENABLES RELATIONSHIP GROWTH. IF YOU’RE IN THE CONSUMER BUSINESS, OWN THE HOME OR THE BODY.

In the future, consumers will buy new products based on how well they integrate with their smart home appliances or their health app. In June Apple released development kits for the smart home and the smart body. They’re enabling your competition and startups worldwide to create beautiful experiences for connected devices. When you go to Best Buy in a couple of years, you’ll ask if your new washing machine displays a discreet notification on your iTV. Being present in the home meaningfully also creates a commercial channel, and creates opportunities for great partnerships. You’d benefit if your fridge automatically re-ordered groceries from FreshDirect or Amazon Fresh, and so would the partners involved.

Connected equipment can sense and communicate a potential fault in any system before it creates a crisis. Such equipment can also lead to new efficiencies. For instance, a full milk tank can signal a smart truck to come pick up farm-fresh milk. Either way, a new service-driven model creates a reliable recurring revenue stream and protects your business from downstream challengers.

6. ALTERNATIVE BUSINESS MODELS WILL EMERGE.

When connected products become pervasive and communicate continuously with one another, marketplaces are created involving machines, not just people. Imagine a future where your fridge negotiates with the grid in real time to get you the best rate on power if it can wait a bit for the next cool cycle. Optimization provides quantifiable benefits, and value becomes apparent to your customers. Inside industry-leading businesses, the risk tolerance required to embrace new business models (think Innovator’s Dilemma) is paramount to making big leaps.

7. YOUR ORGANIZATION WILL NEED NEW SKILLS.

Creating these products or supply chain improvements will likely require you to focus on hiring more engineers, designers, and data scientists. Hardware is increasingly just software wrapped in plastic, and connected hardware is all about data. Your organization structure might have to adapt as well in order to move faster. You might have to shed some fat in other areas of the business. Teams will have to be leaner, smaller, and multi-disciplinary to get to market faster.

8. IN EMERGING MARKETS (AND BEYOND), MOBILE BECOMES THE DEFAULT INTERFACE.

In Kenya, more than two thirds of the adult population uses a mobile digital currency called M-Pesa; 25 percent or more of the country’s GNP flows through this parallel financial system. Most emerging markets already have pervasive mobile usage, and smartphone adoption is increasing in the rising mobile-first billion.

Besides being a requirement for products or solutions targeting developing markets, mobile is a natural interface for connected devices. I love Benedict Evans’ perspective on this: dumb sensors paired with smart phones become exponentially more valuable.

9. EXISTING ASSETS OR INFRASTRUCTURE BECOME MORE VALUABLE WHEN THEY’RE CONNECTED.

For many companies, perhaps the most overlooked asset class is the network of products and customers that an established business has already created in the world. Imagine you’ve been selling vacuum cleaners or street lamps for decades. Odds are, there are thousands or even millions of products exist in the world with your brand.

Similar to how cell tower businesses use their network of physical assets (towers) to create new revenue streams by leasing out spots on the towers, all companies with products out in the world have a potential base to integrate sensing, connectivity, and intelligence open new and exciting revenue streams. Imagine how valuable the street lamps on your highway become if they broadcasted up-to-the-second traffic updates.

10. MORE THAN ANYTHING, RECENT ADVANCEMENTS IN CONNECTIVITY, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, AND ROBOTICS DEMAND A CHANGE IN STRATEGY.

Organizations will require a clearer visionary focus and purpose. The teams and skill-sets required for companies to succeed in the near future need to pair up with new ways of working. Leadership teams must find comfort in embracing unknowns and iterating towards solutions, and they have to empower their teams to move quickly into new markets and product spaces.

The change brought on by this new wave of connectivity will be will be subtle at times, but always valuable. What’s intimidating is that winners will know they’re winning long before losers find out they’re losing.

Vladimir Pick works as a senior strategist for New York City consultancy Undercurrent, where he advises leaders of Fortune 100 companies on strategy, organizational design, and digital transformation.

Techonomy - squareThis article originally appeared at Techonomy.com. Techonomy will host its third Techonomy Detroit conference on September 16 at Wayne State University. (To register for the conference, click here.)