When it comes to the future of sporting goods, it’s all being the fact that the future is being redefined by the next generation. As I observed in an SGMA newsletter: “…these kids live, breathe, learn, teach, talk, listen, create and innovate through a widely networked world that facilitates feedback so quickly it’s rapidly changing how this generation will expect results and satisfaction from new products.”
That’s the focus of my talk tonight for several hundred CEO’s, senior executives and others involved in the global sporting industry. Here are some of the key points I will be making:
- It’s happening faster than you think: As with all my talks, my key word for the dinnner keynote tonight is VELOCITY. The rate of change in the world of sports — by which everyday sporting goods are being connected, redeveloped, redefined and redeployed — is nothing short of astounding.
- It’s about much more than iPods: Everyone seems to be focused on the fact that Nike has linked a shoe to an iPod, and Burton has placed iPod controls on a snowboard jacket. That’s cool stuff. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you want a sense of what is really going on, read my blog post from last June, The Future of Snowboarding and Skiing.
- It’s not about accessorizing: It’s about re-defining the product : Imagine a baseball bat that has been chip-empowered; it now links into your home network data cloud, so that your kids can get instant analysis of their swing practice as they do it. Far-fetched? Scientifically, not at all. Freaks you out? Of course it does — but what is happening here is that empowering sporting gear with intelligence will completely re-define existing products, so that they end up doing new and different things.
- We might not get it, but they do!: A chip-linked baseball bat might not make sense to you, but it does to Gen-Connect! A lot of senior executives have a hard time believing that hyper-connectivity is really coming to the sporting world. Maybe it’s just a fad. What’s wrong with those kids anyways, they think?
- It’s happening because Gen-Connect expects stuff to do stuff: There’s the nub of the issue: while senior management baby boomers might not get it, the generation of young kids today do. They’re wired, hyper-connected, and are expecting a world in which they can easily link and interact with the stuff that surrounds them. To them, a baseball bat with a chip is as normal as is a movie with popcorn. Things link. That’s what they do. And when they link, they become a part of their massively interlinked world.
- It’s happening in the infinite global innovation idea loop: Leading sports innovators have come to realize that when it comes to the future, it’s often their customers who are defining the future before they do. Innovation is happening out in the infinite global idea loop, and it is by learning to tap into the loop that sports goods executives will discover the next wave of innovation that will affect their product.
- It’s about extensibility: Smart sports goods manufacturers won’t build a product and release to market. They will build a platform that customers can tinker with, add on to, modify and enhance. If I’m bringing a new set of skis to market that provide for all kinds of interactivity, I want to build into those skiis a set of capabilities that will let the customers develop things — that I might not even imagine is possible, let alone be able to imagine!
It’s going to be a great dinner, and a lot of fun!!!!