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Ford Trend Conference 2014

There's more to cars than four wheels By ,

Dearborn, MI -- Ford’s second annual conference on trends centered on four areas: The series of sessions included “The Big Deal with Big Data” followed by “The Female Frontier” then “Sustainability Blues.” Number four on the hit parade was “Decoding Design.” Not in the program, but an experience that Ford made sure everyone had was entitled “Inside the Blue Oval.”

Decoding Design
As with many things, the last mentioned is often the most interesting. Participants were tantalized by virtual reality design checks on the quality of new model vehicles. After that, jaws dropped at the “Mobii” (short for Mobile Interior Imaging) display where a stereoscopic camera (necessary for 3D images) would focus on the driver and decide what the driver was allowed to do. If Mobii didn’t know you, it would ask you to stop and it would send the owner a message saying that an unauthorized driver was in the vehicle. Mobii would then follow the owner’s instructions.

Sustainability Blues
Reduced water consumption in manufacturing was the theme of “Sustainability Blues.” On a worldwide basis Ford believes that current water consumption is not sustainable, and while water is cheap at the moment, prices will not remain low for long. The smart thing to do is work on reducing consumption in facilities and in our personal lives before there is a shortage. India’s average consumption is 4 litres of water per day, whereas here in North America we individually consume about 550 liters. Ford reduced its consumption by 62% between 2000 and 2012 or the equivalent of 10.6 billion gallons of water.

The Female Frontier
If you have no idea how women, as a gender, influence our daily lives then “The Female Frontier” was a must-attend event. A little light-hearted, but seriously meant comments such as “66% of women globally agree that the world would be a better place if men thought like women” provoked thought.

Conversations centered on women’s changing roles at work and at home, as well as their increasing importance in the marketplace. This new female frontier has an impact on household dynamics and definitions of family worldwide. For example, more women are buying new cars around the world than men. This paradigm shift is indicative of what the near future in the car business holds, and Ford fully understands that.

The Big Deal with Big Data
The “Big Deal with Big Data” centered on the terra- and petabytes of information companies collect from each individual without gathering specific information. Companies such as MasterCard and UPS use this information to pick up on trends and buying habits of local populations to help their customers make better decisions based on data rather than “gut feeling.” Alan Mulally’s motto is “The data will set you free.” This has helped the company reach new heights of success over the last few years.

Henry Ford used the early vestiges of this over 100 years ago when he told reporters why he never asked consumers about wanting a car. His answer was, “If I had asked consumers what they wanted, they would have wanted faster horses.”

The final goal

Ford may want to help improve the world, reduce consumption and lead the eco-soundness charge, but there is a good chance Ford intends to make a profit doing so. Profit is a good thing. If companies can make money being green, they will become green and we get a better world to live in while they’re at it.