This is Part III of a 3-part series.
In the first part of the series – The Underbelly of Convergence, we introduce Larry, a young dot-com-era dealership employee who takes to blogging and social media for enrichment purposes, becomes a star, but then grows apathetic to change. He grows apathetic because all the change he could see around him wasn’t really change, it was just noise. He was looking down not up, and it defeats him.
In the second part – The Volcano of Emergence, we identify some of the more truly innovative developments impacting the auto industry. And as Larry begins to see this emergence, it excites him. But at the same time, Larry also realizes he has to innovate too if he wants to remain relevant. This is where we pick up.
Innovation, Education, and Industry Events
At a recent industry event – the 2019 Auto CX Summit – I had the fortune of participating for the first time at one of the auto industry’s truly more innovative events, at least content-wise. Since it was my first time attending, I wasn’t sure going into it what to expect, let alone how to make the best use of my time.
As a media partner and representative, I am there to capture the essence of the event. Sure there are networking benefits and some informative takeaways, but unlike dealers and vendors which constitute the majority of attendees, I am able to have a truly unique experience through the creation of objective media.
For starters, I attend with a camera and microphone, for the purpose of recording my interviews with folks there. Leading up to the event I scan the sponsors and the speakers and study the agenda, and I do some proactive planning with as many people as I can. But once I arrive, anything can happen really. There is a lot of spontaneous creative decision-=making while I am there.
At the Summit, there were about 200 attendees and maybe a dozen or so brands represented either as sponsors or with speaking engagements. Some of these brands I was already familiar with, but many I was not. This is unusual for me because I have been in the auto industry for nearly 20 years and attend several events each year.
As you might imagine, my interest was piqued and I went into sponge-absorb mode. New people, new companies, and new technologies. To give you an idea of some of the content that was featured there, here are some session headlines:
- Unlocking the Omni-Channel Experience for Auto Consumers
- Amazon Alexa and the Audi e-tron: A Look at Voice in the Car
- Flexible Ownership & Innovative Mobility Models
- The Science Behind Delivering Aspirational Automotive & Mobility Experiences At Scale
- When the Car Becomes the Card
- The Changing Landscape of Mobility Insurance
Do you see a theme here? As the Executive Producer and Host of the AutoConverse Mobility Tech & Connectivity Podcast, I am constantly on the prowl for people, ideas, and technologies that influence how we are connected and the way we get around. And after attending the Summit, I feel even more convinced that you and anyone in this industry who plans on sticking around should be as well.
After attending the Summit, I feel even more convinced that everyone in this industry who plans on sticking around should be as well.
Here is why…
Less than two years ago, in the Spring of 2018 during an unfriendly conversation with a business colleague who I was parting ways with, he told me, and I quote, “Ryan, I don’t think people in this industry really care that much about the future of mobility.” This was a major factor in why we were parting ways. He did not believe that my vision of the future was relevant.
“Ryan, I don’t think people in this industry really care that much about the future of mobility.”
As you might imagine, I was taken back by this. Not deterred, more humored than anything. You see, just more than two years prior to that conversation, in 2016, I had launched AutoConverse.com – The Future of Mobility. At the time, the word ‘mobility’ wasn’t the buzzword it is today. Some people thought of wheelchairs and artificial limbs. Some even thought of mobile phones. Yes, this is what some people told me they thought of when I said the word, ‘mobility.’ But General Motors was just beginning to try and rebrand itself a mobility company, and so for me I knew I was headed in the right direction.
Case in point, check out PlanetM – Michigan’s mobility initiative representing the collective mobility efforts across the state.
Why Convergence Matters and Why You Should Care
Why do I share all this? Well, Larry is not a real person. Larry is a persona. Hopefully, Larry is someone that you and many others working at the dealership level in the auto industry can relate to. We are here, in a tight niche space, but a space that is in the process of C-O-N-V-E-R-G-E-N-C-E.
Read the fourth definition of ‘convergence’ in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary:
4.) the merging of distinct technologies, industries, or devices into a unified whole
Convergence as a Professional
This is precisely where we are. All of these emerging technologies and businesses across multiple industries are in the process of converging. The auto industry as we have known it is not the auto industry of today, let alone tomorrow. From data brokers, robotics developers, energy companies, logistics enterprises, you name it, they are all converging. Heck for all we know, Apple could acquire Tesla, Amazon could buy Ford, Uber could buy UPS. The list goes on.
Over time, how we are connected and the way we get around will become essentially synonymous. The data that flows from personal device to personal device, from cloud to cloud, from broker to broker – that data will be your currency. That data will be generated by you, but you won’t own it.
This convergence is occurring before your very eyes, and it will continue, most likely for the rest of your life. And so, yeah. You need to look up. You need to look as far ahead as you possibly can. You need to think outside the box, get out of your comfort zone, and put all these distractions in their place. You can not let them crush you or blur your vision of the future.
As a franchise dealer, you are forced by your OEM to do business in a 30-day cycle. But you can’t let this be a curse. You can’t let it fog the windshield. It’s a condition that you must work around.
So do that. Keep your eye on the track that’s given you. But get out there to places like the Auto CX Summit and podcasts like AutoConverse that are committed to showing you what lies ahead. Because if you don’t look or can’t see where we are headed, then you will end up like Larry with boiling lava at your doorstep waiting to swallow you up.