Category: Future

The future of asset management: No tool left behind

Stanley Black & Decker, at its annual shareholder meeting April 16, touted its line of RFID-embedded “smart tools” as the future of the industrial tool market.

The company’s ProtoID tools – such as sockets, wrenches and pliers – have RFID chips that are embedded in the tools (not applied to the exterior) so that they can be located at any time. The company also offers CribMaster storage cabinets that automatically keep track of the RFID-embedded tools.

“It’s especially important for people in airplane hangars, on military bases or in other critical applications where mechanics need to know where every single socket is, for instance, before a plane can fly or before a Hummer can leave its garage,” said John F. Lundgren, chairman and CEO of the company.

The CribMaster website notes that “whether it’s due to waste, hoarding, or even theft, inefficient tracking and control of these inventory items can quickly cause major problems.”

At the shareholders meeting, Lundgren said: “These tools make facilities and workers both safer and more productive, and we believe they’re the future of the industrial tool market.”

Consumers willing to pay more for eco-friendly food packaging

When it comes to food and beverage packaging, consumers are most likely to pay more for value-added features that relate to freshness and sustainability, according to a global study by Ipsos InnoQuest.

On a global basis, consumers were most likely to say they would pay more for “packaging that keeps food fresh longer” (55%) and “packaging that is environmentally-friendly” (55%). Following freshness and environmental benefits, consumers said they were likely to pay more for packaging that is re-usable (42%) and easier to use (39%).

Interestingly, more sophisticated packaging features were less likely to motivate consumers to spend more: packaging that prevents mess or spills, keeps food and beverages at the right temperature, and makes it easier to eat and drink on-the-go ranked lowest (34%, 33% and 31%, respectively).

Electric vehicles will face stiff competition from eco-friendly gasoline-powered cars

Popular notions that electric cars will suddenly replace conventional gasoline-powered cars don’t acknowledge the possibility that there could be eco-friendly advances in conventional car technology. A study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) finds that “internal combustion engines are improving their ability to cut CO2 emissions at a lower cost than expected, and, as a result, carmakers should be able to meet 2020 emissions targets mainly through improvements to conventional technologies.”

A key word there is should. It would take a concerted effort by automakers in several technical areas. Continue reading “Electric vehicles will face stiff competition from eco-friendly gasoline-powered cars”

Four emerging risks for corporations

The Corporate Executive Board’s “Risk Integration Strategy Council (RISC)” has released the January 2011 “Emerging Risks Update,” (pdf) noting the following risks on the horizon for enterprise risk managers:

Leaks of sensitive corporate information like strategic planning documents or embarrassing memos (think Wikileaks, which is on its way to becoming a verb, like Google). Strategy: Bolster information security, especially as “new technologies and platforms like cloud computing, SaaS, and social networking gain prominence.”

Shortage of rare earth minerals, an essential component of clean energy technology, computers and electronics (e.g., mobile phones). China controls 97%. Strategy: Other countries (including the U.S.) with deposits of rare earth minerals can open or re-open their mines, “but it can take up to [10] years for a new mine to begin operations.” Meanwhile, “world leaders” must discourage China from unfairly exploiting its position. Continue reading “Four emerging risks for corporations”

17 questions to ask about that gee-whiz tech development

Science-fiction author David Brin explains his method of examining the future:

“The top method is simply to stay keenly attuned to trends in the laboratories and research centres around the world, taking note of even things that seem impractical or useless,” says Brin. “You then ask yourself: ‘What if they found a way to do that thing ten thousand times as quickly/powerfully/well? What if someone weaponised it? Monopolised it? Or commercialised it, enabling millions of people to do this new thing, routinely? What would society look like, if everybody took this new thing for granted?'”

Those are good questions, as far as they go. My methodology for examining new developments (especially technologies) is to ask additional questions, some with a decidedly negative slant:

  • What if it runs into legal or political problems?
  • What if it can be used by criminals?
  • What if it raises ethical or religious objections?
  • What if people prefer doing it the “old way”?
  • What if a cheaper alternative overtakes it?
  • What if it’s too expensive to make or distribute (in volume)?
  • What if it lacks the necessary ecosystem or support infrastructure?
  • What if it runs smack into a counter-trend?
  • What if entrenched interests squelch it?
  • What if it has unintended consequences?
  • What if the roll-out is botched, glitchy, underfunded, embarrassing?

And, when will it emerge from the Hype Cycle‘s “peak of inflated expectations” and “trough of disillusionment”?