One subject has monopolized my thoughts since the CES 2015: using Sell Driving Cars (“SDC”) to enhance business trips.
The energy in Vegas during the CES 2015 was truly inspiring, firstly I strongly felt that SDC were in many minds – getting closer to consumers -, and secondly I got to discuss about Business Trips in general as friends and their clients were attending the CES.
By thinking about SDC and discussing business trips logistics, I had a “ah-ha!” moment about how SDC could reshape the way business trips are done.
From the top of my head, the recent SDC announcements that should reshape habits / products / logistics / services / businesses / industries / sectors / cities, are:
- Redefining habits for commutes and long car travels: Mercedes showing off a SDC “Living room car”, Audi travelling by SDC to the CES from SF to LV, and a Delphi SDC used from coast to coast in the US
- Enhancing products: Tesla developing software updates Over The Air for its Model S to give it semi SDC capabilities
- Reshaping services by developing Self Driving Cabs / Taxis: Uber getting into SDC by opening a Research Facility in Pittsburgh and hiring the former head of Google Maps
- Revolutionizing the transport and delivery industries: Amazon pushing hard on prepping its delivery drones; SDC can deliver goods (e.g. automated pizzas delivery, drones delivery, etc…)
- Reinventing and improving cities: The University of Michigan developing a research test facility for SDC – among others to enhance interactions with pedestrians
However, the topic that I have not read articles about is: SDC applied to Business Trips. Therefore, I thought I would take a crack at it and think aloud on this blog post.
When I discuss business trips with friends and colleagues, the recurring main question is: “How do I make sure, whatever the mean of transportation, to have mobile reception and data access to get calls and emails done while away from the office?” Therefore, I believe this is the order of preference for transportation: cab or black car > train > flight (although now most have Wi-Fi) > driving (as you are not supposed to drive and use a phone / internet device at the same time).
While getting a black car or a cab to bring you across town make sense, does it make sense to get a cab to drive you across a county or a state, where most likely the same driver will have to wait for you to bring you back to your far away point of origin? I do not believe so; actually, neither do my friends or colleagues that end up renting cars to drive to their meetings and then back home.
That back and forth driving, behind the wheel, therefore almost entirely “offline’, for 1h / 1h30+ a way, do not make much sense to me. It is very inefficient in many ways. I am very hopeful that SDC will fix that.
The most obvious inefficiencies are:
- Aren’t employees supposed to add value while on the job? Being behind the wheel stuck in traffic jam or for a while on a high way is not adding value to the employee nor to the employer
- Insurance wise, it can be very risky and expensive for companies if something were to happen to an employee while driving on a business trip
As soon as SDC will be a reality, I believe SDC will completely redefine business trips, potentially having employees choosing SDC over rail. Instead of ordering a black car or renting a car, employees will order a SDC that will come pick them up to drive them to their destination, close or far.
The benefits are as follows:
- SDC are considered safer than human maneuvered cars, therefore they could lower insurance premiums
- Employees can be on the phone or online at all times as they are not driving
- Non-public / confidential data will not be leaked when passengers on planes or trains overhear private conversations or oversea your work on your computer / tablet or phone
- Driving can be tiring and stressful; employees could rest and relax ahead of a long day with counterparts
- If planning a “no need to fly” business trip, there should not be a need to use 3 different forms of transportation as when you take a cab / car service or your own car to the train station, then hop on a train, to then again at the arrival train station most likely take again a cab / car service; this twice considering the return trip – therefore with an SDC, no transportation changes, no waiting time at a train station, etc…
- A driver does not need to be stuck waiting to drive the employee(s) back to their point of origin(s)
- The means of transportation can be optimized (e.g. a SDC can do the first leg while another can do the return) by algorithms taking into account multi factors: fuel / battery range, demand / offer, storage needed for the business trip (bringing goods in, leaving without them), overnight stays, etc…
- If a SDC breaks down during a business trip, say flat tire, another one could be dispatched right away if it would arrive before the flat tire would be fixed, hence saving time on the unexpected delay
- People that do not have a driver’s license could consider business trips by themselves; the same applies to 18 to 25 year old working young adults, old enough to work yet too young to be allowed to rent a car while on a business trip
- Employees with jobs relying heavily on transportation and driving, would not be penalized anymore at work for having their driving license suspended while driving during their private time
- Added supervision for corporations as it will deter employees from misusing company benefits as well as it would translate into cost savings
Some concerns could be:
- Employers could potentially track their employees every moves during business trips made by SDC, hence a loss of privacy for employees
- Employees driving a lot for a living might almost not be scared anymore to lose their driving licenses for a while as a SDC would take care of the driving
Over the past few months if not few years, when we have read that Google X was working on SDC, we all got curious. When few months ago, news broke that Uber wants to develop SDC to no longer just get their fee of ~30% of a black car fare but the whole 100%, we all thought it does make sense for the future development of the company. Now that recent reports have put the spotlight on Apple SDC push, as they seem to have poached many engineers from Auto Makers and from battery manufacturers specialized in electric vehicles, we all got a reality check from the $700bn+ company! SDCs are posed to arrive sooner rather than later and in a big fashion, as Tech giants are all over it!
Business trips could be changed in a big way, all for the better.
– RE/Code “Automakers in the Driver’s Seat as Car Tech Dominates CES” (http://recode.net/2015/01/08/automakers-in-the-drivers-seat-as-car-tech-dominates-ces/)
– IEEE Spectrum “Self-driving Cars Will Be $87 Billion Market by 2030” (http://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/self-driving/self-driving-cars-market-2030)