Say goodbye to the dinosaurs, they really are leaving

Unfortunately, they’re going to be stomping around a bit longer.

Kathleen Maher

As I read a recent story in the New York Times, “How the Koch Brothers are Killing Public Transport Projects Across the Country” I thought I heard the thunk of many heads hitting their desks. All over the United States we’ve been seeing transportation projects attacked by neighborhood groups, budget conservatives, and cranky old people, but it never occurred to me that it might have been an orchestrated campaign. Actually, I don’t know that now, either, but this story certainly suggests that many groups are being supported by conservative forces, who seem to think that nothing says hunky dory, like congested highways, collapsing infrastructure, and outdated transportation systems.

Hunky dory it is not, and most people know this.

Sometimes the future just can’t come soon enough.

I ran across the story in the middle of a long march across CAD/PLM conferences. Throughout PTC’s LiveWorx and Dassault’s 3DExperience Forum we’ve been immersed, often literally, in demonstrations and discussions about how the digital revolution is helping companies build for a power efficient, sustainable, safe, and healthy future. So, to hear that the forces of the coal industry, the Koch brothers of all people, have arrayed themselves against mass transportation is like hearing the desperate bellow of a prehistoric buffalo in a tar pit. 

Still they persist.

Even though I might be sounding just the teeniest bit political about all this, that’s truly not the deal. I don’t even want to rail too much about the short-sightedness of the Kochs, that just comes off as a knee jerk reaction, of which I have plenty. But, it is astounding that people in business, in huge companies aren’t seeing the inevitability of cloud-based infrastructure, sustainable business practices, smart factories, alternative power, and plenty of other wonderful stuff augmented by the combination of artificial intelligence and human creativity. It seems impossible to be a CEO in this day and age, and not be driving your company to take advantage of digital workflows and to try and find better ways to get your employees to work, and home; and to help them thrive and learn.

And you know what? Most people in business do see the importance of building for the future. It is the CEOs, and CTOs, and Operations executives who are helping drive the digital transformation. At least that’s who I’ve been listening to for the past three days. They need a smart, young diverse workforce and new ideas. Otherwise, they won’t be in business much longer. That’s just natural law. 

The NYT story is a reminder for everyone that the future isn’t going to build itself. An improved digital future is ours, it’s pretty much guaranteed, but that doesn’t mean that self-interested and reactionary forces can’t force compromise and complexity in equations that should be simple and elegant. When someone is talking loud, it’s probably a good idea to check and see if anyone has written that person a check.

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