Looking to the future of rental
The ERA Future Group has been looking into the main trends that will influence the equipment rental industry in the next ten years, from social, environmental and strategic phenomena to technology, talent and the workforce, and evaluating how disruptive and how soon the impact might be.
Using the Futures Platform, an online tool that categorises trends and visualises them on a ‘foresight radar’, the Future Group identified a shortlist of 50 phenomena: eight of these were evaluated in a workshop at the 2019 ERA Convention and 28 were later assessed by the members of the Future Group.
Out of these 36 phenomena, technological changes were considered to be the most disruptive and likely to have the most immediate impact, with five out of the ten most disruptive phenomena identified relating to technology and four out of those five expected to impact the industry in the next five years.
Industrial Revolution 4.0
Adapting to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, an era of interconnectivity driven by digitalisation, robotics, automation, artificial intelligence, the internet of everything, biotechnology and big data, may be the biggest challenge facing the equipment rental industry in the immediate future.
Besides the Industrial Revolution 4.0 itself, the Future Group identified specific components of it that may have the potential to disrupt the industry: robotics and automation, AI machine learning, intelligent augmented reality and big data. Most of these could impact how the rental branch will work in the next five years.
Furthermore, additional technological trends that, according to the workshop participants at the 2019 convention, may further affect the industry are Building Information Modelling (BIM), new sources of energy, electric engines, the internet of things and virtual or unattended rental in cities.
In contrast, only three of the top ten phenomena were strategic (industry disruptors, changes in logistics and the sharing economy) and only two related to the workforce (Generation Z entering the workforce and artificial/robotic co-workers). Social and environmental phenomena were considered less disruptive to the industry.
‘Smart Rental’ – ERA Convention 2020
In light of the disruptive potential of technological change, as well as the potential for innovation to provide concrete benefits to the equipment rental industry, the ERA will address the topics of data and digitalisation at its 2020 Convention ‘Smart Rental’, being held in Maastricht, the Netherlands, on 10 and 11 June.
Forward-thinking rental companies are already taking advantage of the huge opportunities offered by new technologies and success stories demonstrate that digital technologies can provide the rental industry with a strong foundation for future success.
For the equipment rental industry to continue to thrive in the future and for the benefits of digitalisation and data to be fully realised, it is imperative to consider and discuss the full implications of technological change for the industry.
Find out more about the event here: https://erarental.org/events/category/era-convention/
This article was first published in the International Rental News (March 2020).