PSFK SALON DETROIT Speaker Interview: Sheryl Connelly, Head of Trend Forecasting At Ford
We speak with Sheryl Connelly about what consumer trends outside the automotive industry are driving the refocus and rejuvenation of the motor company.
On the morning of August 12th, PSFK will host a PSFK SALON designed to Fuel Imagination with the support of Syfy. There will be a number of inspirational talks by key creative minds, and a panel discussion about trends and ideas in Detroit and beyond.
One of our speakers will be Sheryl Connelly. Sheryl is Head of Trends Forecasting at Ford and will explain what consumer trends outside the automotive industry are driving the refocus and rejuvenation of the motor company. In advance of the talk, we asked her to explain her work more:
Can you tell me a little about Trend Forecasting at Ford and what you’re working on?
“We are constantly scanning the external environment for trends in social, technological, economic, environmental and political arenas. We believe that trends can provide valuable insight into what will shape consumers’ values, attitudes and behaviors in the future. And if we are successful at identifying these shifts, it can give us a competitive advantage in terms of understanding what customers want and need from an automobile.
One of the trends we have been developing is called “Information addiction”. It premised on the idea that information and having data available in a “just in time” fashion translates into greater control, access, influence and success. As such, our reliance on information continues to grow; indeed, for some the dependence will be insatiable. Evidence of this trend can be seen in the success of Ford’s connectivity features such as Sync and My Ford touch. These features have nothing to do with the ride or handling of the vehicle. Rather they support the drivers desire to stay connect with people and information while driving – engaging with the vehicle in a way that is unrelated to transportation.”
What is inspiring you right now? What inspires you about Detroit?
I find history fascinating and inspiring. People like to say that history always repeats itself . As a futurist, I am constantly at odds with that proposition. Historical data is often relied upon too heavily to forecast the future. At the same time, understanding “causes and effects” within a historical context has been very helpful in identifying the uncertainties that will shape the future. As for what inspires me about Detroit . . . that’s easy. It is the resilient nature of the city and its people. I was born and raise in Detroit. The city may have its ups and downs, but it never stays down.”
Can you tell me more about Sync and My Ford Touch?
“We introduced SYNC about couple of years ago. SYNC is an easy-to-use in-car connectivity system, standard on Lincoln models and available on select Ford and Mercury models. It allows you to operate most popular MP3 players, Bluetooth®-enabled phones and USB drives with simple voice commands. So my ipod can be packed in the trunk of my vehicle and I can simply say, play R & B and it will do so through the speaker system. It will even read your text messages to you as they come into your phone. Because of safety concerns, it doesn’t let you reply unless you are parked. Over 2 million vehicles on the road today are equipped with Sync.
We introduced the My Ford Touch at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. MyFord Touch refers to the LCD display, the unique user interface, the connection jacks, and the current version of Sync software. MyFord Touch and Sync aren’t quite the same thing since cars without MyFord Touch can still have Sync. Think of Sync as a major part of MyFord Touch.
My Ford Touch is a customizable instrument panel that changes the way drivers interact with information while behind the wheel. MyFord Touch™ displays information using two 4.2-inch full-color LCD screens flanking an analog speedometer and an 8-inch touch-screen LCD at the top of the center stack. A five-way switch on each side of the steering wheel crossbar – similar to the one found on most mobile phones and MP3 players – controls the information displayed on the corresponding instrument panel screens.”