We want to extend our appreciation to everyone who attended this year’s Mercury Group in Chicago. It was our biggest event to date, with many first-time attendees as well as familiar faces. Breakthrough®Fuel President, Doug Mueller, gave us his take on some of the highlights.
The theme of the Mercury Group in 2017 was How to Navigate When Technology is in the Driver’s Seat.
“The word ‘navigate’ really matters, because we’re talking about setting the course and taking the lead,” Mueller says. “There was a significant focus on the future and how we prepare for it. That really connected with our client base.”
Breakthrough®Fuel invited two keynote speakers from outside organizations to help us explore this theme: Peloton Technology Founder and CEO, Dr. Josh Switkes, and TransRisk CEO, Craig Fuller.
TransRisk shares our mission of bringing transparency to the transportation market. Fuller spoke about new ways to create budget certainty around overall transportation costs.
“That’s still quite a bit in the future, because it involves creating a futures market for transportation, no pun intended. And, that’s never existed before,” Mueller says.
Fuller explained TransRisk’s efforts in a Q&A with Trucking Info.
“Our idea is that a trucking-capacity futures exchange can address rate volatility, which is one of the most significant challenges in freight transportation today. Our exchange will list and trade contracts based on trucking line haul rates.”
Peloton Technology is another company with big ideas. You may have heard the news that Breakthrough®Fuel invested in Peloton, which is developing autonomous vehicle technology for semi-trucks known as platooning.
“We believe Peloton is part of a natural evolution in the autonomous vehicle space,” says Mueller.
Platooning is an innovation that connects the braking and acceleration between two trucks. The impact of platooning will mean safer highways and increased fuel efficiency. Find out more in the Breakthrough®Fuel blog post on Peloton.
Attendees at the Mercury Group were very interested in what Peloton is working to create. Besides how platooning works, one of the biggest questions surrounded whether people are ready for something like this to become a reality.
Doug Mueller’s own presentation at Mercury Group addressed society’s fears surrounding technology. Put simply, when you look at history, you’ll see that the more things change, the more human beings stay the same. Change is scary, even when it’s obviously positive. Mueller believes autonomous vehicle technology is the perfect example.
“All of us think it’s terrible that there are approximately 40,000 transportation fatalities a year,” he says. “Yet somehow, while we’ve accepted that as a society, I don’t think we’d accept any number near that if it were machines or a new technology contributing to the fatalities. In fact, study after study shows these kinds of vehicles are safer.”
During his Mercury Group presentation, Mueller showed a chart illustrating the time between technology being available and when it reached the mass market. One example was backup cameras. The first appeared on a 1956 Buick Centurion. Yet, it took nearly a half century for those cameras to show up on most new vehicles.
“The ability for technology to advance is always faster than humans are willing to accept,” Mueller explains. “What many of us at the Mercury Group are thinking through is assimilation. What does that mean and how do we bring it into our organizations? The more we do that, the more we prepare ourselves and our organizations to be leaders as we integrate the innovations that make sense.”
What Happens Next?
Breakthrough®Fuel always wants Mercury Group attendees to leave with action items or, “something you can take and do now,” as Mueller explains.
“We absolutely delivered on that, and the quality of dialogue between Breakthrough®Fuel and our clients was incredible,” he says. “There was tremendous energy to take the next steps; to, in fact, lead change and move the market while continuing to position individual organizations as leaders in their respective industries.”
However, the Mercury Group experience doesn’t end after the yearly event. We want those conversations to continue. That’s why Breakthrough®Fuel is organizing three Mercury Group Study Groups, which will focus on the following topics.
- Advancing Rail Fuel Management
- Advancing Marine Fuel Management
- Thinking Strategically with Data
Mueller and all of us at Breakthrough®Fuel want to make sure our clients know how appreciative we are that so many of you attended the Mercury Group, because your presence is what makes it a success.
“It’s always a challenge for people to take the time to travel, but we think there is extraordinary value that comes out of the Mercury Group. So, we’re very thankful to everyone who attended.”