Dr. David Cole is the Chairman of AutoHarvest (autoharvest.org), a web based tool to accelerate innovation in the auto industry. Dr. Cole is Chairman Emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research and a former Professor of Engineering at the University of Michigan where he taught courses related to the automotive field for over 25 years. He is a fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers, Engineering Society of Detroit and Society of Manufacturing Engineers and was recently elected to the Automotive Hall of Fame.
We are in a period of amazing, almost transformational change like we have never witnessed before and all indications point to the pace quickening as we move forward from today. Clearly one dimension of this dynamic period is the incredible rate of change in technology that surrounds us from cars and housing to personal communication and healthcare.
For the past several decades the growth in technology is particularly evident in electronics with the control of just about everything shifting to electronic chips and their embedded software. These include cell phones and their multiple apps, the tools we use to design and manufacture goods of all forms, modern agricultural tools that enable farmers to optimize their business and the multitude of electronic items that pervade our lives.
It has been a great run and we have celebrated the enormous success of companies like Apple, Dell, Microsoft and Intel with very high evaluations and significant wealth creation for all involved. A new and really quite profound emerging question is what’s next? I’m not suggesting that these important companies will disappear nor will the technology they have developed but what they have produced and continue to produce may be becoming more of a commodity where the low cost provider wins. Many have seen significant declines in their value in the past several years. Have they peaked and, if so, what’s next?