By Todd Tucker, CAPP

I’m going to write something radical: the parking industry doesn’t exist anymore.

Yes, you read that right.

But before you open your email to send me an angry note, consider this: How do you define the parking industry? We facilitate travel and transportation. We make people’s lives easier by giving them an easy place to store their vehicles near their destinations. Sure, the format in which we help may be a parking structure, but we are so much more now in the mobility landscape.

We are a mobility and transportation industry now. We are powerful–and right at the cutting edge of a technological revolution in which we must remain agile and think big to retain customers and stay relevant

Let’s look to history for lessons.

Rail was the most popular way to travel for years, but railroad companies experienced a major decline in the 1950s due to the growth of automobiles and air travel. Because they were singularly focused on rail, those companies neglected to see the bigger picture–that they were not just in the railroad business, they were actually in the transportation business. They didn’t innovate. They lost relevance and lost customers. When was the last time you opted to ride a train across the country instead of flying on an airplane?

Similarly, National Cash Register (NCR) was a top-four powerhouse of a company in the early 1900s and prevailed in the transactional-calculations machine business. In the 1950s, however, despite huge market dominance and what should have been a massive head start on the world, they almost went out of business due to a refusal to acknowledge and embrace the computer industry that is now ubiquitous. NCR barely recovered, but countless firms from the last century no longer exist today due to a failure to adopt technological change.

What is the point? Railroads and NCR both failed to adapt.

Connected mobility is here, connected vehicles are here now, autonomous vehicles are coming. Let’s not be afraid of change. Let’s work together and embrace our new world.

Todd Tucker, CAPP, is senior vice president, market development, with ParkWhiz and a member of IPI’s Parking Research Committee.