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“Fifty cars …” changed my worldview

Recently, I was browsing in the closing down sale of a shop that sold a varied mix of gifts, books, and cards and stumbled across “Fifty Cars That Changed The World”, as compiled by London’s Design Museum. It is obvious how cars have changed our lives, but I was intrigued to find out what ‘changing the world’ meant in this context and which cars would qualify. I guess my curiosity was, in part, to see if I had ever owned any of the exalted group!

50 cars that changed the world

I picked up a copy, and began to flick through the pages. Eventually, I was sufficiently embarrassed by the amount of time that I had been standing there to actually buy a copy and bring it home. It turns out that not all of them were successes, but each does represent a turning point in terms of technology, e.g. front wheel rather than rear wheel drive, style or popularity. Or, in some cases, disasters that changed the fortunes of companies, for example the Austin Allegro – called “the vital stumble” in the history of British Leyland.

One thing is clear. None of these cars appeared out of thin air. All built on, and adapted, what had gone before. And the same is true in all industries. Times change and products evolve. Companies adjust to new circumstances and move on, seeking growth and success with new ideas and better ways of working. Innovations enable organisations to outcompete and differentiate from others operating in the same market. Usually, the advantage is temporary and overtaken – necessitating new inventions and adaptations to stay in the race; 0ften inspired by customer needs and expectations as much as brilliant flashes of inspiration.

This is certainly the case for mobile services, which are undergoing a revolution at the moment. The customers are demanding ever faster, and ever more effective, responses. Whether that is quicker fixes to problems and breakdowns, or more precise delivery slots, that market ‘pull’ is driving service organisations to be more creative in their offerings, in order to survive. Cognito, like some of you, has been in the thick of it for more than 20 years. We have had to change and adapt too – re-designing and re-implementing as new device and network come along for sure – but also shifting our attention to the performance of individual workers as their contribution and value to service organisations increases in today’s ultra-competitive market.

Of course, the mobile service industry could not even exist in its present form without cars, vans and trucks. So there is much to be thankful for in the engineering excellence that is behind this book – even if it is not directly about field service, or anything more than an eclectic mix of automotive milestones. Engineers responding to a 2-hour SLA with nothing more than a horse and cart is a challenging business model!

And, yes I have owned one or two of the fifty cars included; sadly though, more Leyland than Lamborghini!

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