Conferences and specialty informational meetings are an important part of our business. We are able to network with peers and old friends, as well as the new faces that are bringing fresh, innovative concepts and ideas. These meetings give us the opportunity to see what is new not only in our industry, but also emerging trends in other fields; we get to share and discuss business solutions that may be viable or disruptive to our current models.
So what will the hot topic be on the conference circuit in 2016?
Autonomous vehicle conversations will continue, but they will shift from when they will be available to the general public, to what the impact will be on transportation and consumers alike. Are there going to be impacts to the roadway, signage and maintenance schedules? Are payment methods such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet planned to be built into these vehicles? How will the incorporated connected city and Internet of Things technologies impact our infrastructure?
Cell phone applications will continue to be on the agendas of many conferences but, as with autonomous vehicles, the focus will shift from convenience to GPS and payment functions, and the companies that can provide these services. These conversations could easily evolve into payment center operations. Remember, some people will pay their cell phone bill before their house payment.
Thought will also be put into insurance, liability and ethics changes associated with automation. In the rare event of an unavoidable accident, how does the software decide who to save – the driver or the potential victim? And then, who is liable – the vehicle owner, the driver (or software)? Who will need insurance?
New hardware and software technology is always an exciting topic. With new cameras, illuminators, active vehicle control (AVC) systems, optical character recognition (OCR) and revenue systems, the sky is the limit. And, like my cell phone, anything new is better, faster and nicer.
Asset management has been on the list for a while, but the old maintenance online management (MOMS) conversation will expand into a much-needed predictive maintenance, inventory, and plan maintenance and program management system. As with any major upgrade, much discussion will take place on how to integrate these changes.
Cybersecurity and insurance are on the A-list of discussions across almost every industry. All you have to do is look at any media source to see that cyber security is a big topic with lots of questions and few answers. How do we make it convenient for our customers without opening up our systems to hackers or worse? Insurance is now available, but it can be expensive – and certainly is after the damage is done.
The transponder war will continue, but it has been relegated off the podium to a back room. Stay tuned to see who, if anyone, wins.
Although interoperability is still a hot topic this year, for the most part, it’s not a podium topic.
Now is the time to start looking at the venues of all the conferences you’re getting invited to. There are some great venues and I for one am looking forward to the learning experiences.