By Kathleen Laney - August 9, 2016
There is one standard question all parking professionals get.
“Why parking? How on earth did you ever get into parking?!”
While every parking professional’s story of how they ended up in our niche industry and why they decided to stay is unique, there is almost always one common thread.
No one ever sets out to work in parking.
But for those of us who landed here, we are damn lucky we did.
Parking seems to be an enigma when trying to classify it as an industry. Is it part transportation, part hospitality, part logistics, part consumer goods, part smart cities?
Regardless of what it is, it has a bright future even as we see the space going through significant disruption.
The rise of smart parking.
Technology has already and will most certainly continue to change parking. With the emergence of smart parking technologies such as mobile payments, wayfinding and guidance solutions, and online reservation services, just to name a few, parking isn’t what it used to be. We are in the midst of an all-out industry transformation with the emphasis now placed on providing a ‘frictionless’ customer experience while increasing operational efficiencies and reducing congestion, carbon emissions and other negative effects of cars circling for parking.
New mobility options.
The technological changes in other industries, such as in the automotive industry, are also affecting parking. The future of mobility appears to be in autonomous or driverless vehicles that are connected and speak with other connected devices for a safer, cleaner and easier transportation experience.
Disruption has also caused structural changes in the way businesses in the industry operate. With the need for interoperability of smart parking technologies, companies are increasingly forming partnerships and merging or acquiring competitors and complementary entities. The recent breakthrough of the on-demand and sharing economy movements into our space will require traditional businesses to adapt and become agile in their service offerings.
Questions still loom about how parking will fit in the equation of autonomous vehicles, the sharing and on-demand economy, and the changing generational preferences.
However, there is one certainty.
All of these changes mean one thing for professionals in parking.
While these trends may translate into fewer front-line or unskilled jobs, the adoption of technology in our sector brings with it more skilled and higher paying employment opportunities. Parking employers have needs for new skill sets such as data science and cyber security. Software developers are needed to develop apps as mobile and connected devices increase in use and application. Business and market research analysts are in demand to help companies navigate the increasingly complex and competitive landscape of mobility.
Independent and entrepreneurial opportunities will also continue to become more prevalent. It is feasible today for a greater number of professionals to start their own business as communications technology and operational software are cheaper and more accessible. The advent of the ‘internet of things’ revolution presents itself with new business opportunities that are only limited by our imagination.
So to all you parking professionals, you may never have meant to get into such a niche industry, but be very glad you did. It’s a great time to be a parking professional.