Almost two years ago, at STEPphireNOW, the main annual event in the horse carriage industry, transportation entrepreneur, innovator extraordinaire and founder of STEP AG, Plasso Hattner, gave a speech in which he boldly outlined the future of transportation. Hattner, who is famous in the industry for creating the first real-time horse carriage (transporting your goods as fast as a walking man) thirty years ago, presented the result of immense efforts combining cutting-edge research at the forefront of transportation with meticulous fine-tuning to customers’ needs: WAMA 1.0.
Fig. 1: STEP’s new In-Vehicle Transportation Engine (IVTE), the basis of WAMA
WAMA stands for “Wheeled AutoMotive Appliance”: a fundamentally new type of horse-carriage that actually functions without a horse and replaces it with a combustion engine. The new architecture of the combustion engine makes massive use parallelization, distributing the workload to eight cylinders and attaining unheard-of performance and energy-efficiency and enabling entirely new scenarios that were unthinkable with the established horse-carriage technology. With WAMA, you can carry as much as one hundred times the load of a traditional horse-carriage, and drive fifty times as fast. WAMA vehicles come in a number of different t-shirt sizes from S to XXL, but even the smallest ones are motorized with enough power to drive from Walldorf to Potsdam in a matter of hours instead of days.
In his presentation before industry thought-leaders, Hattner boldly sketched a roadmap for the following years, resulting in the eventual obsolescene of horse-carriage and its full replacement by motorized vehicles within the next decade.
Following the event, an uproar went through the industry. Although the interest in the new technology (albeit mixed with some scepticism) is great, both analysts and customers pointed out that Hattner’s plan lacked answers to some crucial questions:
- How would customers’ investment in the existing horse-carriage technology be protected in the future?
- Would Hattner fulfil the eight-years maintenance agreements with customers who just bought Horse Carriage (HC) 7.0?
- Would Horse Carriage 7.0 be followed by future versions or would Hattner abandon the Horse Carriage product line, thereby forcing his HC client base to migrate to WAMA?
Clearly, Hattner had not thought through the market implications of his presentation at STEPphireNOW well enough. Consequently, horse-carriage product managers and solution experts worked day and night to resolve the confusion and present customers, partners, and analysts with a clear positioning of the products in question.
Their message was warmly welcomed and is reiterated for clarification whenever a customer asks whether or not the automobile renders the horse-carriage obsolete:
- Both the automobile and the horse-carriage have distinct strengths and use cases.
- The automobile doesn’t replace the horse-carriage, it just adds to the number of usages and possible use cases.
- Horse-carriages are here to stay. STEP will protect customers’ investments in their horse-carriage fleets and the skills of the coachmen’s community.
- You should buy an automobile, but this will not render your existing horse-carriage obsolete. In fact, there are valid scenarios in which an automobile and a horse-carriage coexist, complementing their strengths.
The latter point is especially interesting. Further examination reveals a number of typical integration scenarios bearing minimal disruptiveness:
- A horse-carriage is pulled by an automobile.
- An automobile is pulled by a horse-carriage.
- Both drive side by side, adding up their horse-powers and each vehicle acting as a back-up, should the other vehicle’s propulsion fail.
A detailed roadmap with an emphasis on integration and coexistence will make sure that customers’ investments in valuable assets such as governance processes for horseshoe-renewal procedures, coachmen’s skills and organizational structures, and haysacks are preserved for years to come.
Fig. 2: Integration scenarios combining the strengths of WAMA and horse-carriages
Thought leaders in the industry foresee a convergence of both technologies, possibly resulting in horses with exhaust pipes or cars with oversized blinders.