What Can You Do When Your Entire Industry Is In Jeopardy?

By now, most people are aware of the benefits promised by the transformation of transportation systems that’s already underway. Whether it’s the electrification of automobiles, subscription services, driverless cars, or mobility as a service (Lyft, Uber, etc.), the way we move around is becoming vastly different from how we moved around just a few short years ago. Given these shifts, what are some of the potential impacts to look out for? Hint: it’s not just automakers and taxi drivers who will feel the pain. 

Bloomberg recently published an article highlighting what is being coined ‘Peak Car’ in which several compelling trends are acknowledged that all contribute to a vastly different transportation paradigm in the years ahead. Mobility on demand may even be cost competitive in some cases, while simultaneously giving people back hours of their lives each week that they don’t have to spend with their hands on the wheel. Between younger people no longer coveting a driver’s license at 16 or 17 years old, fed up commuters who want to free themselves from annoying traffic, people who are tired of the ever-rising costs of car ownership, and many other factors, the old paradigm of private car ownership is in decline. 

How might this relate to your industry? 

Just because you’re not in the car business doesn’t mean you’re immune to the impacts of this shift. Consider this: every business or industry that has tangential products and services is potentially in the crosshairs as well. But, there’s good news. With this coming disruption is also substantial opportunity for innovation. And not just in transportation. Reimagining how people get around and what they do with the time (and even money) they save by not tying themselves to private car ownership is fertile ground for new and better products and services. 

In an earlier OpEd in Bloomberg, Nathaniel Bullard highlights the landscape of urban parking garages and how they may evolve to be ‘hubs’ in a future where mobility services replace the need for parking spaces for privately owned cars. In this example, it’s speculated that the legacy parking structures could become central drop-off and pickup points complete with services that complement the trips riders are taking. When considering the amount of real estate taken up by parking garages in urban centers, this is a potentially transformational opportunity to reimagine existing infrastructure. 

The example above is a fairly straightforward case that highlights how the transition of one industry (automotive) can significantly impact the business models of another industry (real estate). There are no doubt several other industries prime for innovation in this example alone.

The point is that wherever shifts in human behavior are underway, there are insights to discover and opportunities to uncover. 

Better still, digging beneath shifts in behavior to reveal the drivers (pardon the pun) of this behavior allows proactive leaders to forecast changes to the market in advance, giving them more time to imagine how their businesses may adapt or even shape the new paradigm. 

Bold, savvy brands that participate in the shifts underway raise the odds of success compared to those who are in consistently in reactive mode. It may be uncomfortable to imagine the demise of your industry, but it’s better than getting caught flat-footed when it actually happens. 

Understanding the truth about what’s going on with the people you serve is critical. After all, being fearless with the truth is a powerful force for business innovation.