Imagining the Self-Driving Enterprise

IMAGE: Courtesy of Waymo

This is a self-driving car.

Cameras, radar and sensors sit atop the vehicle and capture the outside world in precise detail. A GPS provides geographical context and orients the car in its surroundings. The sensors feed vast amounts of data into software embedded within the car, which then makes driving decisions. It knows when to slow down and by how much, when to change lanes, when to change routes, when to stop, and when to have the driver take control.

Not too long ago, it was science fiction. Soon, it will be the norm.

The path to get here was not easy, or short. Since the automobile was invented, it has been in a constant state of iteration and improvement. With every development, from automatic gears to power steering to advanced driver assist, cars have become safer, more attuned to the world around them — faster, smarter, better. But it wasn’t until LiDAR capabilities caught up with engineering ambitions that we saw the pieces fall into place and self-driving cars leap onto our roads, finally safe and smart enough to drive without requiring a human’s full attention behind the wheel.

In the near future, when self-driving cars become mainstream, the driving experience will be fundamentally different. Hands will no longer need to be on the wheel, eyes no longer on the road. We will be free to think, talk on the phone and even sleep if we want to — all while getting safely and efficiently to our destination.

This is an enterprise.

At its heart is a truly enormous well of information, usually wrapped around several ERPs that draw on all the important parts of the business, including planning, purchasing, inventory, manufacturing, sales, marketing, finance, and human resources. This data is the lifeblood of the enterprise. It typically gets pushed from one manager to the next, from one reporting document to the next, traveling up the chain of command and across departments until eventually someone is able to use it to make a decision about quarterly forecasts, about inventory levels, about production volumes.

Now imagine you could take the ideas behind self-driving technology — technology that works in real-time and is always-on, that internalizes its surroundings and that distills data instantly to solve complex problems — and apply it to the enterprise.

Imagine an enterprise that constantly monitors your business and provides you with end-to-end visibility of your entire operation, no matter which system the information lives in, in real-time.

Imagine an enterprise that understands, learns from and adapts to your business as well as to macro market forces.

Imagine an enterprise that alerts you to opportunities that would have remained buried in millions of rows of data perhaps indefinitely, or to risks that could have caught you unaware.

Imagine an enterprise that is able to make intelligent operational decisions and autonomously act on them.

Suddenly the enterprise is reinvented. And when you reinvent the vehicle, suddenly everything else changes, too — the way you collaborate, the way you plan, the way you engage with those around you, the way you make decisions.

Today we are unveiling Aera, and this is precisely what Aera does.

Welcome to the age of the Self-Driving Enterprise.