Perhaps lost in the headlines this week, which were crowded with Trade Tensions, Partisan Politics and Brexit, was the debut of something named “Digit.” The Ford Motor Company believes it found a way to resolve what Silicon Valley refers to as “the last 50-foot problem.” Ford has been working on driverless delivery vehicles. But apparently one of the findings in its test runs is that not everyone is comfortable coming out to receive a package curbside from a driverless car. Ford’s answer to the issue, in partnership with an Oregon based robotics firm, is a delivery robot called Digit.
FedEx and Amazon have similar, wheel-based delivery devices in test mode. But Ford’s has legs. Digit is an android with two bird-like legs and arms capable of carrying up to 40 pounds. It can apparently climb steps and track through uneven ground. Ford would like to deploy Digit delivery robots as early as 2021, in conjunction with its autonomous vehicle fleets which could move people and packages around the clock. This is just crazy to think about the possibilities. It wasn’t that long ago that the mailman started delivering on Sundays, at Amazon’s request. Now the mail might be delivered by a robot 24/7. It won’t be long until pizza and other packages arrive without people.
Restaurants have been embracing delivery aggressively to keep pace with evolving consumer behavior. Mom & Pop restaurants, as well as the casual dining chains, can now send their menu items on the road in increasing numbers with the usage of GrubHub, DoorDash and Uber Eats. The Amazon effect has impacted pretty much every aspect of life in this Digital Age. It has been very investable. It still is.
All investments come with a cost. The Digital Age has brought an era of unprecedented efficiency, convenience and instant gratification. Companies are more profitable and Consumers have more choices, what they want, when they want it. But it’s also led to what seems like unprecedented impatience and intolerance. There might be a little laziness too. Information travels at the speed of light these days. Unfortunately, knowledge doesn’t. The more automated our lifestyle becomes, the less personal, the less authentic it becomes. Relationships have become more connected to devices and less so with people. We run the risk of forgetting how things work and why things are the way they are. Life is evolutionary. It’s always been that way, and there’s no stopping it. Life is supposed to get easier over time. But do we run the risk of it becoming too easy, if there even is such a thing? It’s an exciting time to be alive. We humans still need a strong set of survival skills.
On my way home last night I heard a song that gave me pause. It had me reflect on how things run today versus when I was my kids age. The song was “Automatic” by Miranda Lambert. The chorus goes like this:
Hey whatever happened to,
Waitin’ your turn
Doing it all by hand,
‘Cause when everything is handed to you
It’s all only worth as much as the time you put in
It all just seems so good the way we had it
Back before everything became, automatic…
I may be considered an old soul, or perhaps it’s my history major always kicking in, and sure, it sounds cliché, but I firmly believe in order to know where we’re going, you have to know where we’ve been. I emphasize to my team (constantly, they might say…) how critical it is to understand “the what, the why, the how and the who” with everything we do. Over the years we have made substantial investments in systems and software. We’ve made even bigger investments in people. We’re investors. Our industry and our firm have certainly evolved over the years. Technological innovation has been the driver. But the key is to automate what can be commoditized and replicated. Relationships can’t be. Human judgment can’t either. At least, not yet. Our firm will never automate relationships. We embrace the human element in everything we do. The key to survival in the Digital Age is to have a symbiotic relationship with People and Technology, where Technology is the tool. Survival gets riskier if the relationship is reversed.
Have a nice weekend. The Market will be closed Monday in honor of those who gave their lives serving our great nation. Our office will be closed as well. We’ll be back, dark and early on Tuesday.
Who’s Ready for the Summer Holiday Road?
Memorial Day is often considered the unofficial start to Summer, so we wanted to celebrate all of your latest travels with this fun video recap of the BFIC Traveling Hat’s most recent adventures. We can’t believe how many places it has visited! It’s reached every continent, countless countries, and almost every state. This past year alone, the hat has traveled to Africa, Canada, Hawaii, Copenhagen, Spain, Russia, Barbados, New York, France, Colorado, Texas, Chicago, the Fjords of Scandinavia and beyond! It went fishing, camping, sailing, swimming, camelback (and head) riding, road-tripping, and whale watching. It stopped to smell the flowers, admire the Statue of Liberty, enjoy the Eiffel Tower, party with Mickey and Lightning McQueen, and stand strong with the Bull and Fearless Girl in NY. It took care of some spring cleaning, holiday shopping, and of course, countless baseball games.
Watch the video below.