Innovation: The small things that make a big difference

by | Insights & Guides

The F-PACE, Jaguar’s latest luxury SUV, comes with an interesting advance in vehicle key technology. You get a waterproof Activity Key wristband that lets you leave your keys safely locked in the car while you go off and live your life. You can go on hikes, go surfing, go for a swim, or even on a site visit, without worrying about keeping your keys safe. When you get back to your vehicle, the wristband opens the door for you and away you go. 

This is an interesting tweak on the latest key technology that means you don’t need to take your key out of your pocket to unlock the door and start the car. Now, you don’t even need to carry your key with you.   

Car keys, and the way we unlock and start vehicles, have come a long way in a little over a century, and with each advance we streamline and improve the overall process. Initially car keys themselves were the innovation. A key to open your car, and another key to start the ignition was far more efficient than having to choke the engine, crank twice, open the throttle, switch to battery, crank again and finally, start your journey. Then again, doing this was more convenient than using a horse and cart for transport.

Fast forward through the twentieth century and the two keys eventually morphed into one that opened the car and started it. Then we got central locking and remote-control key fobs, and all you needed to do was hit a button to open the car doors for you and your passengers. And today, we have keys that stay in your pocket, or don’t even need to leave the car, but still do their job. You’re getting from point A to point B, just a little more elegantly and efficiently than before.

What’s interesting is that the underlying outcome has not changed. You’re unlocking your car door, and you’re starting the engine. Further, you don’t even need to use the most modern method to achieve the same result. Technically a key still works fine. You can still use a key to unlock your car, but do you? It’s amazing how fast we can adapt to new ways of doing old things when the new ways are easier and more efficient. Take unlocking your smartphone as another example. How quickly did you lose the muscle memory around entering a security code as soon as you got biometric capabilities on your phone? Pretty fast, I’d imagine. 

What could you be doing day-to-day that might be akin to still unlocking your car with a key even though you have more recent capabilities available? Are you still driving around neighborhoods to find property, or have you shifted to saving time and effort by using Street View on Google Maps to build a shortlist from the comfort of your office? What about how you photograph and video the property to share with clients? Are you renting specialized audiovisual equipment or hiring a photographer, which takes time and money, or do you reach into your pocket for your smartphone and its frankly astonishingly advanced camera? What are other instances where you’re unnecessarily adding steps to the process, but could be saving time and effort through small shifts in how you do things?

It used to be the case that if it “ain’t broke, don’t fix it” made sense. But that no longer holds true in today’s world of continuous innovation and optimization, where individual improvements in the way we do things roll up to create a competitive advantage (and more time for us to spend on the things that matter to us).

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