To the Future Too Slowly

To the Future Too Slowly

November 10, 2016

“All the great benefits of technology are only as good as technology’s adoption rate.”

Who said this? Albert Einstein? Aldous Huxley? Aleister Crowley?

No, I said it; during a panel discussion I had the privilege of participating in at this week’s Trimble Dimensions 2016 user conference in Las Vegas.

I immediately felt trepidation that only became worse as I revisited the adoption theme in answers to several of the moderator’s questions. For this was a session audience, part of a gathering some 4,000 strong, of technological wizards, early adopters, and people whose ingenuity I probably couldn’t match if I lived three lifetimes.

But it’s true. Every survey CE does, formal or informal, along with the sum of discussions and interviews with readers, points to a head-scratching low adoption rate on technology such as telematics, machine control, drones, and the like—I won’t even delve into the world of semi-autonomous and autonomous machines.

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why, when those who embrace technology loudly sing the praises of its various benefits. Time savings, additional earnings and margin, lower operating costs and overhead, safety: These are just the pieces of low-hanging fruit.

We don’t see much of a pattern, I continued on the panel, as to a certain-sized fleet, or one type of operation, being more reluctant than another in the adoption of technology. The closest we could come as a panel is that the building contractors are ahead of the earthmoving contractors. And you might get an argument there.

But no one group or demographic truly earns the lollygagging award. Can’t even blame the old folks who grew up without video gaming.

Rather, it’s an industry-wide problem that we all need to continue to work on. OEMs, dealers, peers, and industry magazines and websites, all must take on the role of educators to drive adoption.

Much like the years of education on Tier 4 emissions changes, the explanations and the benefits of emerging technologies are going to have to be hammered home again and again. And again after that.

Let’s get to work.