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Plan for the Future

Every company needs to be working on creating value today.  For those companies that are stable, they are focused on profits each quarter and over the near future of 2-3 years.  For growth companies, the focus is more on establishing value for the company in the same time frame.  But, the value may be measured in subscribers, page views, followers on social media or other measures that can, hopefully, be transformed from free to premium in an often termed “freemium” business model.  The focus is on an exit strategy that includes purchase of the company by another at high multiples of sales or, the rare IPO.  But, there are other, more mature businesses, that must work continually on innovation to reinvent new products, processes–even reinvent and reengineer themselves.  This is the job of the CEO, to look out farther than 1-3 years.  In automotive areas, including trucking, the future is planned 10 years or more in advance.  Designing a new engine can take 7-10 years from concept.  While reports surface of new vehicles being developed in 3 years or less, don’t believe it.  For a totally new vehicle, it takes more than 5 years from concept to production.  Right now, we have regulations in place requiring passenger cars and light trucks to double fuel economy by 2025.  In trucking, we are actively working to meet regulations that take effect in 2018 and 2019.  At the same time, the government is already working on regulations that will take effect in 2022.  I just started working with the National Research Council, a part of the National Academy of Sciences.  Their Committee on Assessment of Technologies for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles, Phase 2 is reviewing reports and studies of fuels through 2050 and other technology forecasts for 2020-2040.  It is not just looking into a crystal ball.  There are approaches and ways of analyzing what is happening to be able to forecast what might happen that far out.  It’s not easy, but absolutely necessary for governments and companies.  You can see a short presentation on some related work on the Insights page where there is a copy of a presentation on future technology for trucks.