At this year’s IGNITION conference, attendees got a glimpse of the future.
No, we didn’t pass around crystal balls at Business Insider’s flagship conference. Instead, Ford Motor Co.’s corporate futurist Sheryl Connelly sat down to talk to senior editor Cadie Thompson.
Speaking to Business Insider before IGNITION, Connelly said her job description doesn’t really include predicting the future — rather, she works on helping the people at Ford to imagine different future possibilities, even ones that disrupt the status quo. The position is crucial, seeing as innovations at motor companies like Ford typically take three to five years to hit the road.
“If you want to be seen as a true innovator, you’ve got to take on the responsibility of imagining a future that no one else has imagined,” Connelly said.
That’s where Ford’s yearly trend report comes in. For the past five years, the company has put out a fascinating report highlighting major trends on the horizon for Ford’s market. They’re often dead on target.
Connelly discussed the first trend Ford published in the 2012 report: “Trust is the new black.”
“In many ways, it feels more relevant today than when we talked about it in 2012,” she said. “Right now, if you look around the world, there are great discussions over what is truth.”
However, for Connelly, this year’s most intriguing trend is “tech spiral.”
“‘Tech spiral’ recognises that these digital devices and constant connectivity have made our lives better in immeasurable ways,” Connelly said. “What ‘tech spiral’ tries to do is examine at what cost. What is the underbelly?”
The consequences of an overabundance of tech in our daily lives might include shorter attention spans, sleep deprivation, rising obesity rates, and a reliance on devices rather than critical thinking.
So how would this trend affect a motor company like Ford?
Connelly says this report might encourage car companies to avoid cramming cars with every tech resource imaginable. Instead, car-makers like Ford must focus on adding purposeful content to their vehicles — not just random extras. When it comes to the driving experience, too much tech can be dangerous, especially in a world where pedestrians and drivers alike have to contend with so many digital distractions. In the context of Ford, a trend like tech spiral gives a new meaning to the adage that often less is more.
And if you missed this year’s IGNITION, don’t make the same mistake twice.
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