In March 2017, an endurance event took place in Australia. Not so new in concept but new to the current era, it combined the old-world charm of a challenge undertaken by Australian ancestors and new age technology.
The challenge was to ride a bike, completely self-supported across Australia, as close to non-stop as possible. It’s 5,500 kms. It’s a long way.
All accommodation, food, water, first aid and maintenance are self-organised.
Water and food were available on the course but only at certain times. Miss the aid station time slot and you could wait ten hours for access to supplies, or get back on your bike and ride 150 miles to the next service stop and try again.
The irony is that, although water wasn’t readily available, 4G was. Along the entire route, whatever their condition, riders could share their discomfort with the world on social media. Videos appeared on YouTube from riders and followers, and yet water remained harder to find.
Some believe this may be a peek into the actual future. At a time when wi-fi is getting closer to 100% coverage, peak water is a phenomenon not often discussed. It’s predicted that almost a third of the world’s population will struggle to find access to water by 2025 and the rest of us will experience water stress.
As a predictor of future consumer need, this is a good example of a mega-trend with a direct link back to you. What will it mean for consumer need and necessary product design? Bottled water is already cost comparable to petrol and more expensive than carbonated soft drinks in many cases. Can this continue or will we see a revaluing of water across consumer brands and in population supply?
To put the water issue into context: if your kids are just reaching school age, by the time they are doing exams the environmental outlook will be very different to the one we see today.
Future proofing certainly relies on taking note of trends reported in accessible media but there are more useful underlying trends available as insight, if we look.
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Future thinking. Future proofing. It’s what we do.
Every time a driverless vehicle sets out it needs to be certain of one thing: that everything it expects to encounter is in the right place. White lines, bollards, pedestrian crossings. The things we normally navigate around using our eyes.
But take Australia, for example. It just can’t be relied upon to be in the same place year on year. Australia moves closer to Asia every year by about 7cms. Since the last GPS calibration in 1994 the continent has moved by 1.6m. GPS is accurate but it doesn’t track changes like continental drift.
Because the landscape moves, the macro factor has real impact at the micro level. The risk to people in and around driverless cars presents a bit of a problem. Imagine driving down the road and the corner of the street is now where the white line used to be but you can’t see it. Safety systems and human intervention will save the day but it’s still a problem.
The latest GPS correction in 2017 anticipates the system being accurate in 2020. For the next three years it’s known still to be wrong.
In Australia, there’s a harbour called Port Hedland. The ships that collect hundreds of thousands of tonnes of iron ore are vast. At certain times, the draft clearance between the ship and the sea bed is no more than 25cm. GPS accuracy here is critical. In this context 7cm is a lot. 1.6 metres is huge.
Here’s the analogy.
Even the most accurate GPS system can only use machines to get close to a target destination. When we get to the fine detail, humans need to intervene.
Planning business strategy is the same.
Lots of us simply don’t plan the journey. Proactive companies use data that can get close to the broadest strategic destination. Individually we adjust the plans to ensure the accuracy of our product positioning is precise.
If you haven’t started your journey yet, drop us a line or pick up the phone. A call costs nothing and may even signpost a new way.
Future thinking: it’s what we do at room44.
Drop us a line at email@example.com and let’s see how we can help each other.
www.room44.co.uk Innovation justified.