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Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Autonomous Vehicles and the Enterprise

CIO Jury: 42% say autonomous vehicles will impact their industry in the next three years

Autonomous vehicles will impact the businesses of 42% of our CIO jury panelists, who come from industries ranging from architecture to automotive parts manufacturing to banking.

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Autonomous vehicles are a futuristic technology that isn't quite so far in the future any longer. At least, not for 42% of the tech leaders who responded to this month's TechRepublic CIO Jury poll and said they expect that their industry will be impacted in the next three years.

We polled TechRepublic's CIO Jury of 12 tech leaders to learn more about what the enterprise thinks the future holds for autonomous vehicles. We asked, "Will autonomous vehicles have an impact on your industry in the next three years?" Seven of our respondents said 'no', and five said 'yes'.

The category for autonomous vehicles includes everything from driverless trucks and delivery vehicles to drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). And many businesses are considering or already incorporate autonomous transportation technology in their line of work. 

The future lies in autonomous transportation, whether in driverless trucks, semis, delivery vehicles, drones or UAVs. According to the TechRepublic Premium special report, from Silicon Valley startups to established enterprises like FedEx, "the appeal in autonomous transportation exists. Even the government is taking note, and preparing for UAVs of the future: In late 2017, the US Department of Transportation issued a set of voluntary guidelines for autonomous transportation."

SEE:  Research: Autonomous transportation in the enterprise: Mixed impact anticipated  (TechRepublic Premium)

Some industries saw more potential impact from autonomous vehicles than others.

Keith Golden, CIO of Econolite, said he definitely expects autonomous vehicles to have an impact: "My firm is the leading US firm in the intelligent transportation management industry, so connected and automated vehicles are a focus area for us."

Dan Gallivan, director of IT at Payette, said, "Yes, I do think autonomous vehicles can have an impact on my industry in the next three years. Logistics and delivery of items during construction have a huge coordination impact, and time is money. If there can be advances made in automating delivery of materials and prefabricated items, it will aid in faster construction -- general contractors, construction managers, and owners could save and benefit from the technology."

Naturally, automotive component manufacturer Denso is impacted. "Autonomous vehicles won't just have an impact on the automotive industry in the next three years; they already have," said Pat Bassett, vice president of Denso's North American Research Engineering Center. "While it will take much longer for fully autonomous vehicles to become widespread, the development that goes into them is already fueling breakthroughs in advanced driver assistance systems like collision avoidance technology, lane departure warnings, driver monitoring and more. The automotive industry will continue to advance such systems to increase vehicle autonomy -- but more importantly, that progression will increase driver and roadway safety."

The legal industry is seeing an impact, too, according to Eric Tanenblatt, global chair of public policy and regulation for Dentons, which is a $2 billion global law firm. Tanenblatt leads the global autonomous vehicles team for the firm. 

"The rapid development of autonomous vehicles is on the minds of policymakers and leaders at all levels of government, whether it be in regard to local land use and zoning, mass transportation, data privacy, or liability.  It is clear that governments, and therefore businesses, have begun to seriously grapple with what a fundamental reorganization of mobility will look like. That trend will only accelerate in the next three years."

In banking, there won't necessarily be an impact, according to John Gracyalny, vice president of digital member services at Coast Central Credit Union. He said, "About the only role vehicles play in the day-to-day operations of a financial institution is using an armored car service, like Brinks, to move cash around to branches and remote ATMs. I've got a feeling it will be a long time before these vehicles are automated."

The same goes for some in the security industry, with Randy Krzyston at Brinks Home Security and Craig Lurey at Keeper Security voting 'no' for the potential for impact. The same goes for technology consulting companies, such as Anderson ZurMuehlen Technology Services, with CIO Robert Culpon voting 'no'.

Interestingly, Daniel Burrows, CEO and founder of XStream Trucking, which is a design and engineering company focused on connected hardware for the commercial vehicle industry, also votes 'no'. 

"Even if the technology was 100% ready to go now, there are 3 million class 8 trucks on the road in the US. To have a significant impact you would have to build a huge amount of trucks with the right sensor set, and there would just not be time in three years. Yes, the technology does have huge potential for safety and efficiency improvements, but the timeline is likely much further off," Burrows said.

Despite the mixed responses of respondents, autonomous vehicles are going to affect many industries, but it might take more than three years for some verticals to see the impact.

Here are this month's CIO Jury participants: 

  • Dan Gallivan, director of IT, Payette

  • Clément Stenac, CTO, Dataiku

  • Randy Krzyston, senior manager, IT security and compliance, Brinks Home Security

  • Eric Tanenblatt, global chair of public policy and regulation, Dentons

  • John Gracyalny, vice president of digital member services, Coast Central Credit Union

  • Pat Basset, vice president of the North American research engineering center, DENSO

  • Craig Lurey, CTO and co-founder, Keeper Security

  • Daniel Burrows, CEO and founder of XStream Trucking

  • Robert Culpon, CIO, Anderson ZurMuehlen Technology Services

  • Michael Hanken, vice president of IT, Multiquip Inc.

  • Mark Johns, senior manager, app development, Burlington

  • Keith Golden, CIO, Econolite

Want to be part of TechRepublic's CIO Jury and have your say on the top issues for IT decision makers? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director, or equivalent at a large or small company, working in the private sector or in government, and you want to join TechRepublic's CIO Jury pool, email teena dot maddox at cbsinteractive dot com, and send your name, title, company, location, and email address.

Also see  

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How smart tech is transforming the transportation industry (TechRepublic Premium)
Technology that changed us: The 1970s, from Pong to Apollo (ZDNet)
These smart plugs are the secret to a seamless smart home (CNET)
The 10 most important iPhone apps of all time (Download.com)
Tom Merritt's Top 5 series (TechRepublic on Flipboard)