Self Driving Cars, Parking Garages & Business Disruption

I like this short 4-minute segment with Jason Kasch, CIO at Structural Group. In our conversation, you can hear how Jason is thinking about possible avenues of disruption for his business. In an anticipatory organization, CIOs must be able to foresee potential trends in order to guide and assist with decision making and strategy.

Jason asks some interesting questions that lead off a great discussion. I know you will find these questions very thought provoking for glimpses of your enterprise in the relatively near future.

This is another great conversation with a member of my CIO Innovation Forum community. This group provides an important source for CIOs and IT leaders to get together, communicate, and dive deep into common concerns and challenges they face in their organizations every day. They learn how to flex different muscles in their thinking and recognize leadership and innovation opportunities.

To learn more about innovative defense strategies or in attending a CIO Innovation Forum lunch, email

A full transcript of my conversation with Jason can be found below.

Jason:    Let’s just hypothetically say, a large portion of our business, whether it’s 50 or 75%, your parent car parking garages, what happens with self-driving cars, right? If you can’t see around the corner and fortunately, the owners of our company have this superpower of being able to see around the corner of certain things.

What happens when you have self-driving cars everywhere? Which doesn’t seem like it will affect the construction industry at all, right? Because we have the same number of cars driving, they’re just going to be autonomous or semi-autonomous. One of the great things about them is that they don’t have to park. If you can get into this model where none of us own cars, but we time-share cars or we lease cars, or we hail a car that’s not driven by an individual. Where’s it going? It’s not driving you, right? It’s driving someone else. It’s not parking.

Do we actually need parking structures, at some point? Do you tear them down or do they become something else?

Bill:       Right.

Jason:    How do we redirect our business so that when that happens, whether that’s 5, 10 or 50-years down the road? How are we able to pivot into a world where that’s one-half or more of our business? Then it goes away tomorrow, right? …the minute that self-driving cars become prevalent.

Bill:       Well, you’ve seen many times the disruption curve that I put on the screen at my CIO Innovation Forum events.

Jason:    Yes.

Bill:       It’s the quiet phase right now where people call it, ‘seeing around the curve’. But if you’re involved in the community, it’s actually here. It’s just a matter of timing of when things happen before it becomes a disruptive event. Or even turning those garages into something – like a place for Uber to land its planes. You know they’ve just put filings into the FAA to start flying people from the airports, places you hail your Uber hover plane, and they’re going to need parking garages.

Jason:    Or your jetpack.

Bill:        Or your jetpack. They’re going to need a parking garage for that. Turn them into many little airports.

Jason:    Or different, like in Dallas, where they’ve got these Carvana ones. You can buy a car from these places. It looks like the old Tonka toy you put it in, and you crank this crank, and it goes up and there’s this elevator of cars, of glass walled cars. Maybe that’s the future of parking. It becomes vertical instead of horizontal, who knows? But you got to be able to pivot, right? That’s a real world example of it. We have to pivot in the technology space too.

Bill:       I wonder if you guys could set up like an innovate ticket – a garage that maybe you own and not just repairing. Maybe buy one of the ones that you repaired and just take it off someone’s hands and turn it into like a test bed. Where you say, “Hey, listen.” You got all these Uber cars and stuff that are self-driving and Waymos and stuff. Have a contract in the city – because they’re in Pittsburgh and they’re in like 10 cities right now. You need some place to park, you can use them at nighttime for repairs, or whatever. They’re going to park at our parking lot.

Jason:    I read the studies, those are the studies where in parts of California has, that you have to have a license now to do self-driving. What they found, what they thought would happen, was when self-driving vehicles happened, that traffic jams would get better. That there would be traffic jams, there would be less cars on these congested streets. What they found was, they still charge for parking on street. Because people can have their vehicle drive for them, read a book, or get work done. Instead of paying $35 an hour to park on the street, they would just have their cars drive around. They’re just driving around the city causing more and more and more congestion, because they didn’t want to pay, because gas is cheaper than parking.

Bill:       Yes. Some of them are electric.

Jason:    It’s very interesting. It’s very interesting, the whole thing about data. Measuring something is, here’s what you thought, it’s the scientific method, ultimately. It’s – here’s what we thought was going to happen. Now, let’s test it. The test is a pilot program. Then what really happened and how do we react to what really happened – which wasn’t anything like what we thought was going to happen. We thought we would have less traffic, and now we’ve got more traffic.

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