Tomorrow today

I’ve had a manic few days at some excellent events with so much information that my head is spinning!

Cars for tomorrow

Last Friday, I was lucky enough to join a few people to find out more about electric vehicle and charging technology and even test drive some cars.  In the early days of electric vehicles, it was touch and go whether you would make your destination, driving at a pedestrian 50 miles an hour maximum.

Today, these cars have a range of up to 300 miles (mid-range cars will achieve 100 miles) and due to their light bodies can be extremely nippy.  A friend of mine was caught driving at nearly twice the speed limit because there was no engine noise to indicate how fast they were travelling!

We also looked at charging technology which is beginning to be standardised, but availability of points is still somewhat patchy, and with a wide variety of payment options, you may have to carry a range of cards for long distance travel.  But the bonus is that fast charging stations mean that you can achieve a full battery in as little as half an hour – a great opportunity for a cup of coffee and leg stretch.

Tomorrow’s customers

Yesterday, I was in a room full of people trying to understand what tomorrow’s customers will look like and how we will interact with them.  The key message that came across was that to survive we will all have to be more creative and innovative.  Google encourage all their staff to experiment and build in 20% of their working time for this.

The opportunities that are on the horizon are very exciting, and for me, there is a real emphasis on making products last longer.  It seems we are moving away (very slowly) from a predominantly throw away society, to one that is trying to make a business model from reusing and repurposing.   This coupled with a renting rather than owning items in our homes and offices, puts more emphasis on being able to repair equipment rather than just replace it. 

On the market already are modular headphones and coming soon is the modular phone – when a part breaks, it is easily replaceable.

Tomorrow’s economy

Today, I have been discussing the circular economy – designing products and processes so that there is no waste. 

In the 10 years following 2000, the amount of waste generated in the UK fell by 50 million tonnes, the amount recycled grew by 65 million tonnes and the level of resources extracted was reduced by 100 million tonnes.  These are great results, but more needs to be done.  We need to find uses for the materials we don’t need in production.

The key theme that ran through all three events was disruption.  Being unafraid to look at what we have now, understanding that we are living unsustainably and agreeing to tear up the rule book and offer different ways of doing things. 

So, instead of thinking of our economy as linear, inputs at one end and outputs at the other, we need to start thinking of a circular economy – how can we use the waste outputs of one process to create something new?

We have amazing technology, inventive minds and huge energy to tackle these issues.  James Dyson said recently that he doesn’t look for items to invent, he looks for problems to solve. 

We must look for solutions to reduce our waste, reduce our dependence on scarce resources and reduce our impact on the environment.

 

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