Futures Council will keep an eye on disruptionBy Nicole Hallada, AEM Vice President, Marketing and Communications

Drones. Trump. Brexit. Musk. IoT. BIM. AR/VR. And more. What’s next? What’s three to seven years down the road? And what should equipment manufacturers be doing about it?

Enter the Futures Council.

Established as an early alert system to AEM and its members, the mission of the Futures Council is to review and discuss disruptions on the horizon that have the potential to impact off-highway equipment manufacturers and/or AEM from an association perspective.

The council’s goal is to consider if the disruptions will impact AEM’s service offerings and/or if AEM should begin talking to members about potential disruptions through its boards, committees and content.

Specific objectives include:

  1.     Identifying a prioritized list of manufacturing disruption topics that AEM should bring to its membership through content, committees or sector boards
  2.     Delivering to the AEM strategy team (in time for following year’s planning) a “watch list” of items likely to disrupt the Association’s service and financial model
  3.     Establishing a regular cadence of disruption outlook content delivered to members

The idea for the Futures Council came about as a team of us were working on a project aimed at disrupting the CONEXPO-CON/AGG show. We proposed that we would challenge the model of the show to find its blind spots.

The results of that project day lighted a number of things. The most obvious was the degree to which we could engage contractors in a dialogue about the changing jobsite and how exhibitors had solutions to help them.

We got pretty deep into the changes and their impact and it was apparent that if the contractor was changing this much, then so would the manufacturer. Thus AEM’s needs to keep pace in order to ensure the best suite of services to our members.

The observation has long been there. It was really facing that information all in one spot at one time and knowing that the speed of change warrants a more intentional approach on our part.  We didn’t have a mechanism to keep a regular pulse on disruptive trends and felt it would help members if we moved in that direction.

The council met recently for the first time, and it was the most prepared group of AEM committee participants I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. They all came with mini-presentations about what they saw on the horizon. Our facilitator was futurist Derek Woodgate, and he guided the day into a fantastic dialogue that yielded numerous areas for further discussion.

At a very high level, the council identified drivers that were considered to be both probable and relevant, namely:

  •          Intelligent work
  •          Social sustainability
  •          The maker movement
  •          Smart site management, integrated hubs
  •          Machine-to-machine and machine-to-human interactivity and trust
  •          Upskilling and future education
  •          Intelligent transportation systems and freight
  •          New road structures and materials

In addition, the following key disruptors/influences were generated:

  •          Women managers
  •          Accelerated processes
  •          Outside players, new sections
  •          Drones and robotics
  •          The fully networked field
  •          Collaboration and mergers/take-overs
  •          The power of analytics
  •          Agriculture will adopt new tech before construction

Given these takeaways, it’s easy to see the Futures Council being a leading source of information on disruption for AEM. Those initially chosen to serve on the council have already proved to be insightful and creative, and that’s something AEM can benefit from in the long term.

Looking ahead, I see the Futures Council evolving into a group that provides the most pertinent and engaging information about changes that could affect what members manufacture, and how AEM could adapt to thrive in that change. Among other things, this could be making recommendations on content or new services.

The council also ties very nicely to the AEM Strategic Task Force’s goal of “thought leadership,” and I can see them working closely on that key result area.

Would you like to get involved? There’s definitely room for more agriculture representation on the council. Participants should be from a full or mid-level member company in a product marketing or research and development position, and identified by the member company as a potential future leader of their organization.

The best fit is with people who are high ideators, idea brokers or theorist types. That being said, I’d like to know about people from either industry who are interested for spots available in future years.

For more information, please contact me at nhallada@aem.org or call 414-298-4129.