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Microsoft runs one of the largest training and certification communities in the world, related to its Microsoft Developer program. And they certainly “get knowledge” ; indeed, I often use a quote from the organization that outlines their belief that in the future, half of GDP will be generated from knowledge acquisition and education.

One of the observations from Jim Carroll during his keynote: "How do we test and certify people for jobs and skills that don’t exist yet?"

One of the observations from Jim Carroll during his keynote: “How do we test and certify people for jobs and skills that don’t exist yet?”

That’s why I was thrilled to see that they had some representatives in attendance for my opening keynote in March for the Association of Test Publishers ; folks who manage such things as SAT and LSAT tests, and scores of technical and professional testing programs. I had about 1,000 folks in the room.

Microsoft just ran a blog post over their at their “Born to Learn Training and Certification Community” blog with their thoughts on the conference ; near the end, you’ll find their observations on my talk, which I think offer up a pretty good summary of what I spoke about on stage.

At the end of this post, you’ll find a lot of links on how I view the future of knowledge. Click on the running dude on the right for my thoughts on ‘The Future of Knowledge!”


The Changing Face of Certification, by Liberty Munson – Microsoft

The key note speaker was Jim Carroll, a futurist and author, who spoke at length about the need for our industry to look at the accelerating rate of change around us and embrace it so that our businesses are well positioned for the future.

He repeatedly said “The future belongs to those who move fast.”

Here are some of the challenges we face in the testing industry given that knowledge is being refreshed at an increasing pace and is quickly outdated:

  • How might the acquisition of knowledge be measured in a way that’s both timely and relevant?
  • How do we stay ahead of change? How can we be proactive rather than reactive? How do we keep our assessment content in line with those frequent changes?
  • How do we test and certify people for jobs and skills that don’t exist yet?
  • Today, learners want real-time knowledge ingestion based on video offerings, such as YouTube, Khan Academy, etc. because they have a desire for continuous knowledge replenishment; how do we continually update our offerings to meet this demand?

This session underscored our industry’s (training and certification) need to adapt to the lightning speed at which technology changes and how those changes are affecting our students’ and test takers’ expectations about training and exam content. As I mentioned, this theme/conversation/concern re-asserted itself through many of the sessions as testing organizations struggle with how to manage

  1. the rapid speed with which knowledge and skills become obsolete, and;
  1. the impact that instant availability of information has on candidate expectations (known as “finger tip” knowledge–we don’t have to know the answer…we just need to know where to find it online; in fact, research shows that if someone knows they can find the answer later, they have more difficulty remembering it but have a good memory for how to find it!).

Along these lines, more organizations are looking to gamification (game-based exams) as the next big thing in testing because it can be very engaging and new entrants (in most cases, these are those young whippersnappers just starting out in a field) are largely engrained in the gaming universe in one form or another. I find this concept intriguing and am trying to figure out how Microsoft might apply it to our certification exams. Clearly, there are many hurdles in the implementation of something like this, but the notion of gamification in terms of certification may be one way to start thinking differently about what certification means and what exams might look like.

To me, the conversations around the future of certification are the most intriguing as we explore how to meet the demands of the future and embrace the speed at which technology changes things. After all, “the future belongs to those who move fast.” What do you think the future holds for certification? Where do we go from here? What do you think changes? What stays the same?

Back in February, I was the opening keynote speaker for 2014 Ameriquest National Symposium, speaking about trends related to transportation, infrastructure, fleet management, business model disruption — you name it!

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“Many companies suffer from organizational sclerosis. They try to do things the way they’ve always done them, but we’re moving at such speed when it comes to innovation and invention that the old ways just don’t work.”

Bridget Fediuk is the Marketing Manager for NationaLease, and is responsible for overseeing the marketing of NationaLease meetings and events, the NationaLease NEWS, Webinars, and various other projects.

She was at the conference, and wrote about her views over in the NationalLease blog.


Business Mantra for the Future … Think Fast. Act Faster,
by Bridget Fediuk

Successful companies in the future will be agile, flexible, and willing to embrace change, says futurist Jim Carroll.

Many speakers at the 2014 Symposium spoke about connectivity; how we’re all connected by technology and how those connections seem to grow faster and faster. Renowned futurist Jim Carroll was one of those speakers. He made it clear to those attending the Symposium that a company’s success now and in the future will be decided by its agility, flexibility, and willingness to embrace change. We all know that technology has been expanding at an incredible pace.

If you want to know how fast things are changing or will change, here are a few factoids from Carroll:

  • 65% of pre-school children today will work in jobs or careers that do not yet exist
  • ½ of what a student learns in the first year of college is obsolete by graduation
  • Most digital cameras have a 3 – 6 month shelf life before they are obsolete
  • 60% of Apple’s revenue this past year came from products that didn’t exist just four years ago

Carroll kept repeating the phrase that is the title of this posting, “The future belongs to those who are fast.” Many companies suffer from organizational sclerosis. They try to do things the way they’ve always done them, but we’re moving at such speed when it comes to innovation and invention that the old ways just don’t work. Businesses need to understand that fully half of today’s global population is under the age of 25; that most of them are globally wired and connected. These are your customers and your employees, and they’re used to nearly immediate gratification and acknowledgement. So if your business can’t adapt to fulfill their expectations; if you can’t embrace and implement changing technology, you are going to find difficulty achieving and maintaining success.

Carroll illustrated the pace of change by talking about the Jetsons, a cartoon show popular in the ‘80’s. Although the show was supposed to take place in 2062, he talked about some of the technology in that show that actually exists today. We may not have flying cars; however, tanning beds, video chat (think Skype), robot vacuums (think Roomba), and TeleViewer (think iPads) are items we no longer think of as futuristic. For the transportation professionals attending the meeting, Carroll stated that the typical truck cabin today contains more technology and computing power than a Cessna and that, by 2017, SIRI will be available for most new trucks.

So what is the secret to adapting to change; how do people and companies become world-class innovators.

According to Carroll, there are five key ways:

  • Appreciate the unique time we live in and the rate of change that is occurring. Embrace it, don’t fear it.
  • Think now of how much change will occur and pursue that change. Innovators don’t follow the rules, they rewrite them.
  • Control the speed of innovation.
  • See change and search for opportunity to capitalize on it.
  • Ride the generational acceleration.

When it comes to your business and the future, Carroll suggests that you “think big, start small, and scale fast.”

The tortoise might have beaten the hare in the old fable, but in today’s world, slow and steady will not only lose the race; it will be lucky if it gets past the starting line.

With almost 200 video clips on my site, people have been asking me to organize them into manageable chunks.

I’ve finally found a great tool that will help me to do that — the SmartSlider from NextGen. Here’s a quick set of quick clips about innovation — enjoy!

A video clip from a recent keynote in New Orleans. It was a look back at the past and a glimpse into the future, in a keynote theme built upon my long-ago book, Surviving the Information Age. It’s good for a laugh. This particular keynote topic is picking up steam — contact me for details!

A few weeks ago, I was the opening keynote speaker in Las Vegas for the 2014 Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference (MURTEC). In the room were folks responsible for the technology investments of a vast number of major fast-casual and quick-service restaurant companies.

Murtech2014 The attendee list featured some of the largest such organizations in the world, as well as many of the new, young upstarts which are challenging existing business models, changing methods of customer interaction, and providing more menu options and choice.

I was brought in by Hospitality Technology Magazine, which is part of the Edgell Communications Group. This was the fourth booking of me for a keynote by the latter organization — I guess they like my message! It’s always fun to have a great client like that.

Hospitality Technology Magazine just ran this wrap-up summary with some observations on my talk:

HT just wrapped up the Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference (MURTEC) in March and, after moving through recovery phases one and two, I had a chance to reflect. The first thing to report is that technology showed up — big — for the foodservice industry. For those of you who keep hearing HT and other commentators talk about the importance of the CIO-CMO alliance; about the need to shift IT into a business mindset; and about the required transition to a more digitally-focused operation, my first major observation from MURTEC is that you hear us, and you’re in. This was the most high-energy, open-minded, marketing-savvy group of restaurant technology executives who have ever been a part of MURTEC.

Change is coming rapidly, and it won’t be possible to fully vet every IT roll-out as you’ve done in the past. As keynote speaker Jim Carroll stressed, you need to be able to think big, start small, and scale fast. Carroll delivered some of the best one-liners of the conference. Somewhere in between likening mobile payment to teenage sex (because no one’s really doing it as much as they say they are; and those who are, aren’t very good at it), and predicting that by 2017 we’ll be processing payments from our car dashboards, Carroll offered up this: 60% of Apple’s revenue today comes from products that didn’t exist four years ago.

Would you be prepared to be in that position four years from now?

That’s just a glimpse of what I covered in my keynote. Why not, for example, aerial drone delivery of fast food? Is that too farfetched? Maybe not.

But more seriously, think about what the restaurant sector has been faced with in the last year.

It’s been the year of the restaurant tablet, with at-table or wait-line ordering options. The rapid emergence of hidden-menus, as a unique method of building customer loyalty. The entire sector is under challenge with innovation — with faster prep-time and  two minute pizzas by Chipolte’s setting the pace. In some fast casual restaurants, we are suddenly seeing Go-Pro’s in the kitchen and food as a spectator sport! Then there is the whole reservation process, with immediate-customer-demand coming to the forefront with apps like GrubHub, Seamless, DrinkOwl, NoWait!

There are faster influencers too that lead to the more rapid emergence of new taste trends. Flavours now move from upscale kitchens to chain restaurants to grocery home-cooked meals, in 12 months, compared to 36 months 5 years ago…..  consumers are snacking more frequently, now making up 24% of all “meals,” and so restaurants have to come up with new ideas faster, particularly because snacks are like a fashion category. Food trucks lead to new competition, business model disruption and exotic new taste trends that QSR’s and fast-casuals must keep up with…..

And then there is the impact of mobile. Suffice it to say, we are going to witness more change in this sector because of mobile than anything other technology of the last 50 years. There are big changes underway in  terms of customer ordering, loyalty, payment, up-sell opportunities …..

Just three days ago, I did another session in this space for the Canadian division of one of the largest QSR’s in the world — a one hour keynote and a two hour workshop that helped the organization and it’s franchisees understand the unique and fast paced challenges in this space. Top of list and top of mind? Mobile and POS.

I spend a lot of time in this sector, having keynoted the global Burger King Franchise conference, an annual meeting of the top leadership of Yum! Brands, and countless other restaurant and franchise groups. There’t no time for complacency, and an organization certainly cannot rest on it’s laurels….

 

 

The CEO’s are starting to notice.

That is, a lot of my clients (I do a lot of private, corporate off sites with major companies in addition to my conference and association keynotes) that the speed of change in their industry is increasingly being dictated by the speed of innovation of companies in the technology space.

I spoke about this on stage during my keynote for the Human Capital Institute Conference in New Orleans in 2010, in a clip, “When Every Company is Like Apple,” and spoke about the need to align our workforce for increasing speed.

The CEO’s are starting to notice, in that I’m getting an increasing number of bookings – leadership meetings and Board of Director meetings — that are focused on  the theme of ‘how do we align ourselves for faster change.’ My role — I do a full on keynote that outlines the trends impacting the organization, and then a series of interactive discussions in a workshop setting around the biggest opportunities and challenges faced by the organization.

I was quoted on the essence of this trend in Mashable in 2012 in an article, 9 Bold Predictions for the Digital World of 2020.

By 2020, if not before, most industries – health care, agriculture, financial – will have found that they have been transformed by the velocity of Moore’s law. Mobility, wireless, pervasive connectivity – everywhere we look, we see that the big trend for the next eight years is that technology will drive the pace of innovation in every single industry.

Credit cards will be replaced by smartphone transactions systems; auto insurance will be forever changed through GPS-based monitoring devices that reward good driving performance; hospitals will become virtual through the extension of bio-connectivity, involving remote medical monitoring and management.

The big trend is that as tech comes to change industries, change in those industries will occur faster than ever before. The winners will have been those who understand this reality, and adjust their innovation engine to keep up with this new speed of change.”

Jim Carroll, Futurist, Trends & Innovation Expert

I use the tag line “the future belongs to those who are fast” in many of my keynotes, whether on stage in Las Vegas or in small corporate settings with 20 senior executives. It’s not supposed to be just a snappy tag line (and the name of my latest book.) It’s also very much the reality that every industry finds itself in.

Is your organization positioned to be fast? Is Moore’s law and technology accelerating the rate of business model change, customer interaction methods, allowing the emergence of disruptive new competitors, and driving down profit margins? Then you had better be thinking about the role of innovation in order to assure you can align your organization to an increasingly fast future.

At the end of the month, I’ll be the opening keynote speaker for the Camstar Global Conference 2014, in Orlando, Florida.

I will be focused on the theme of the acceleration of product life cycles, the need for new, fast paced manufacturing methodologies, and the issue of what happens as every industry is aligned to the velocity of Moore’s Law.

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Camstar Systems, Inc. announced today that future trends and innovation expert Jim Carroll will deliver the keynote address at Camstar Global Conference, April 27-30, 2014 …… Carroll will lay the framework for the conference theme and kick off a packed agenda consisting of multiple tracks, manufacturing industry trends, case studies, invaluable learning and networking opportunities, a Partner pavilion and an Expert Lab.

I’ve been speaking in the manufacturing sector for ages. And it’s been kind of fascinating to watch, what with the prognostications in 2009 and 2010 that North American manufacturing was ‘dead.’

Take a look around now, and it’s obvious a significant and profound renaissance is underway. Just like I was saying on stage way back then….

What’s the key to the renaissance? Smart technologies that realign the manufacturing process. Rapid prototyping and rapid development. Mass customization to a market of one. Agility, flexibility, and redesign of manufacturing methodology. You name it — there’s a lot of opportunity for organizations to re-invent themselves.

This is what people lose sight of when an industry sector turns down, as it did in late 2008 and 2009. People instantly focus on the negative, and assume the worst is yet to come.

I never do that — I’m always looking into every industry for the bright side; the innovators; the people who are thinking and dreaming big on how to re-invent and renew a sector — and most important, the significant intelligent opportunities that are providing an opportunity for an industry to do things in a way that haven’t been done before.

And this touches people — at one manufacturing event during the downturn, one manufacturing CEO was so inspired  that during the Q&A section, he asked if I might consider running for President! I’d love to, but….

To learn more about my thoughts on the world of manufacturing, hit the Manufacturing Trends section of my Web site over on the right.


International Futurist Jim Carroll to Keynote at Camstar Global Conference 2014

Global authority to link future trends to innovation, creativity, and rapid business transformation.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (November 14, 2013) – Camstar Systems, Inc. announced today that future trends and innovation expert Jim Carroll will deliver the keynote address at next year’s Camstar Global Conference, April 27-30, 2014 at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes in Orlando, Florida.

A leading international futurist, Carroll is widely recognized as a thought leader and authority on global trends, rapid business model change, business transformation during economic uncertainty and the necessity for fast-paced innovation. He is an author, columnist, media commentator and consultant with a focus on linking future trends to innovation and creativity. His previous speaking engagements include events for Lockheed Martin, Stryker Technologies, Johnson & Johnson, Siemens, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), among others.

The Camstar Global Conference is an opportunity for Camstar customers to join other global leaders in manufacturing including thought leaders, analysts, and partners. Carroll will lay the framework for the conference theme and kick off a packed agenda consisting of multiple tracks, manufacturing industry trends, case studies, invaluable learning and networking opportunities, a Partner pavilion and an Expert Lab.

“This signature event engages manufacturers of all sizes in all locations with industry leading discussions on Camstar products, future direction and best practices to meet today’s manufacturing challenges head on,” said Scott Toney, CEO of Camstar.

Toney said he is very pleased to announce Jim Carroll as the keynote speaker. “Carroll will challenge our audience to broaden their perspective on the issues rapid change, hyper innovation and future growth opportunities’. He is renowned as a ‘thought leader’ and authority on global trends; some of the world’s leading organizations turn to Mr. Carroll for insight into the future trends and innovation.”

“World-class innovators possess a relentless focus on growth,” said Jim Carroll. “They continually transition their revenue source through relentless product and service reinvention and solve customer problems before the customer knows there’s a problem. They focus on upside down innovation by sourcing innovation ideas through their customers and focus on long-term wins through constant incremental improvements. Carroll will also share his perspective on why right now is a great time to make bold decisions and do great things.”

To learn more and register visit the Camstar Global Conference 2014 website.

Another video clip, hot off the press from a keynote I did for 2,000 in New Orleans a few months ago.

My apologies to Scanadu – the project isn’t happening at NASA’s JPL, it’s over at Ames.

The folks over at DealNews gave me a call to chat about a few of the trends I see occurring in the world of retail.

photo-2My main comments?

From an interaction perspective, Apple has completely eliminated the checkout line,” says Jim Carroll, a retail futurist trends and innovation expert based in Toronto. “Cash registers have disappeared, and that’s a pretty significant change. It’s weird when you pay them through one of these iPhone devices and just walk out — and in five years we’ll see a lot more retailers doing that.”

What’s Ahead: Advertisements That Talk to You

In terms of the future, experts say that you can bet on mobile and digital technology playing even bigger roles in the retail shopping experience. “Ten years ago, cardboard end-cap displays were stuffed with a product at the end of an aisle,” Carroll says. “Today it’s all about screens everywhere. When you start to link it to smartphones, it gets very interesting. Soon we’ll see customized commercials in the store: ‘Hey Jim, we’ve got a deal for you in aisle number seven.’”

The first point is significant, and will become even more so once near-field-communication chips become ubiquitous, our plastic credit cards disappear, and our smartphones effectively become cash registers. There’s a lot of *profound* change going on in the world, and I’ve given talks to numerous organizations on these trends, including one for folks at the global HQ of The GAP.

The second point is something I’ve been talking about for over a decade. There’s even a video clip where I speak about the trends at play here — “Cardboard People, Plasma People!” I use the story to talk about innovation, but it also puts into perspective my thoughts on what happens when personal, interactive in-store promotional videos become routine.


You can check out the full article here.

On Monday, I was the opening keynote speaker in St. Louis for an event for the National Rural and Electrical cooperative, and spoke about a variety of energy trends.

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Trends analyst Jim Carroll gives a glimpse into the future for electric cooperative directors at the 2014 Directors Conference in St. Louis (Photo By: Steven Johnson)

And, as always, I had some fun with the audience while doing so!

The folks over at Electric Co-Op Today reported on my keynote. A fun, concise little read!


It’s time to take George Jetson seriously, says trends expert Jim Carroll.

After all, the ‘60s carton icon communicated with his boss on a video screen and read the daily news on a wall-mounted monitor. Nowadays, we call that using Skype and Face Time, and surfing the Web.

Therein lies a lesson, Carroll said, as he urged more than 600 electric cooperative directors to embrace the rapid pace of changing technologies and member expectations. The Canadian-based author of The Future Belongs To Those Who Are Fast spoke March 24 at the 2014 NRECA Directors Conference at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis Riverfront.

“If you go back and watch The Jetsons and look at a lot of the things they were talking about in the science-fiction cartoon show, a lot of these things have become true,” he said of the show which debuted in 1962. “The period of time between when science-fiction predictions are made and when they become reality is collapsing.”

Business as usual in the energy sector is a thing of the past, he said.

The electric grid, for example, is bound to become less centralized as residential ratepayers print three-dimensional solar cells from their home computers or run their heating and cooling systems from their cell phones.

“What’s going on in the world of energy with backyard production and the reduction in costs of solar and wind and biomass is where we’re going to see the emergence of local energy networks,” Carroll said.

That could lead to private grids, where small-scale generators share energy in a way that upends the traditional utility-customer business model, he cautioned.

On the plus side, Carroll said co-ops can capitalize on those changes because of the unique relationship they enjoy with their members, as long as they bring those discussions into the board room.

“You need to think about your passion, your purpose and what you need to accomplish,” he said. “Your role is to bring the future to your community.”

 

Each year, Consumer Goods & Technology Magazine puts together an issue that peers into the future. I’ve been named one of their esteemed visionaries in the past, and again this year for their 2020 Imperative issue.

Here’s the opening comment from the magazine: any my insight is shared below that.

“It’s no secret that consumer goods companies must drastically change the way they do business in order to compete — and the pace of change needs to happen faster than ever before.

CGT2014Gone are the days of executing large-scale technology implementations at a leisurely pace. In 2014, consumer goods executives must often jump head first into new initia-tives — like big data, digital marketing and omnichannel selling — without much of a safety net to protect their brands, businesses or investments. That’s the exciting, yet challenging, world we live and work in today.

But, what about five or 10 years from now? How can consumer goods companies best prepare themselves to stay in front of future trends, many of which are just educated
guesses at this point?

In the 2014 Review & Outlook Report, we asked 75 of
the industry’s brightest minds — each of whom is driving change in the consumer goods industry in his or her own right — to look into their crystal ball and tell us:
“What one initiative must consumer goods companies pursue now in order to compete and grow in the year 2020?”


Jim Carroll’s observations

Going forward, the biggest trend impacting the consumer goods and retail sector is that the pace of innovation has clearly shifted to the speed dictated by Silicon Valley — which means that the innovation will now occur at the speed of Moore’s law. 

(Remember, Moore’s law explains that roughly, the processing power of a computer chip doubles every 18 months while its cost cuts in half. It provides for the pretty extreme exponential growth curve we see with a lot of consumer and computer technology today.)

The checkout process? It’s now being driven at hyper-speed through the introduction of iPad-enabled checkout devices, which accelerates change.

The introduction of ever more intelligent, connected packaging technologies shifts control of innovation from traditional packaging companies to tech companies, the makers of bits and chips and RFID and tags.

In store interaction, with consumers more engaged with their iPhone than with a salesperson, now evolve at staggering speed as in-store promotion technologies no longer involve cool cardboard box end-cap displays, but hi-tech LED televisions wired to Facebook Like buttons.

And of course, there’s the Amazon helicopter drone delivery system. Science fiction? Maybe so — but if you think so, then I suggest you watch a few old episodes of The Jetson’s cartoon show. Watch carefully, and you’ll see that George was actually having FaceTime chats, read his news off the Internet, and has Internet-sensor, connected clothing. What was once sci- ence fiction now becomes reality faster than ever before.

This means that in the future, the consumer goods industry is going to have to learn to innovate at the speed of companies such Apple, Google, Twitter and Facebook, as opposed to a more leisure- ly pace of innovation found in the past. Clearly, Moore’s law rules! Hence, my catchphrase — the future belongs to those who are fast!

Observations on a keynote!
March 10th, 2014

A few weeks ago, I was the opening keynote speaker for the annual  Ameriquest Symposium. It’s always fun to look and see how people have reacted.

technology-world-moves-fast

Carroll’s breathless delivery focused on what world-class innovators will be doing that others won’t to keep pace with this runaway train known as “the future.”

In this case, I came across a blog post by Anita Alvaré  of Alvaré Associates.

I thought it was a great and fun little post, and I hope she doesn’t mind, so I’ve reposted it here in entirety. You can read the original post on her blog here.


The Future Belongs to Those Who Are Fast
by Anita Alvaré

I’m pretty fast on my feet. I think fast, walk fast, talk fast, and sometimes even eat fast. I have a (bad) reputation for finishing people’s sentences for them, and 20 minutes into a movie, I have the plot line pretty much wrapped up. But after listening to the machine-gun delivery and predictions about the workplace-of-the-future by Jim Carroll – Author, Global Futurist, Trends and Innovation Expert – I’m afraid I may need to pick up the tempo a bit.

When someone starts their presentation by saying, “No one understands what’s going on anymore,” you know you’re in for a wild ride.

At the AmeriQuest Symposium in Florida, Carroll told the invited audience what all of us already know and feel: change is happening faster than ever before.

For example:

  • Sixty-five percent of today’s pre-school age children will work in jobs and careers that don’t yet exist.
  • Your social standing with your peers will depend upon the cell technology you are carrying around (let’s talk shallow).
  • Half of what students are learning in college is obsolete before they graduate (time to write that worthless tuition check).
  • Digital camera manufacturers have 3-6 months to sell their “new” products before they become obsolete (click!).
  • And by the way, success for your business will have nothing to do with legacy, history or size but will be defined by your ability to change. Fast.

The future belongs to those who are fast.

Carroll predicted that smart phones are about to become credit cards in our wallets.

Many science fiction movie and TV scenarios that we’ve seen or are watching now will become reality.

To illustrate this point, Carroll showed a cartoon of George Jetson video conferencing (Skyping) with Mr. Spacely, his boss at Spacely Sprockets.

The animated sitcom, The Jetson’s, was set in the year 2062 “in a futuristic utopia.” It premiered back in “the olden days” (1962) of television. And believe it or not, it was the first program ever broadcast in color by ABC-TV.

Carroll’s breathless delivery focused on what world-class innovators will be doing that others won’t to keep pace with this runaway train known as “the future.”

1) They will put speed of change in perspective.

If your cell phone is older than three months, you’d better run (not walk) to the nearest phone store for an upgrade.

2) They won’t be afraid of thinking boldly.

The rules of automotive design, manufacturing and distribution will be re-written, new forms of business partnerships will be created.

3) They will align their businesses to Silicon Valley velocity.

Say “hello” to a world where facial recognition technology will anticipate your every need, where everything, everywhere is connected.

4) They will check their speed.

In the next five years there will be more changes in the retail sector than in the last 100 years.

5) They will ride generational acceleration.

Half of the global generation is under 25 (!). They are coming into industry “wired, connected, change oriented.”

I can’t speak for anyone else, but while Carroll was talking, the thought bubble coming out of my head was of a shack on a beach in Cuba. I’m not sure if I am (1) able and (2) willing to race through what’s left of my life at the pace he describes.

And after years of listening to futurists’ predictions at professional conferences, I’ve come to find that they are usually right.

So with that in mind, here’s Carroll’s advice for getting warmed up for the inevitable:

  • Think BIG.
  • Start SMALL.
  • Scale FAST.

‘Gotta go…

On March 6, 1994, a little book arrived from the printing company, was sent to our publisher, and but a scant six weeks later, was the #1 best-selling book in Canada.

Handbook-SmallMy co-author, Rick Broadhead and I, went on to write some 34 books together over the next six years, selling more than 1.5 million copies, and our lives were forever changed.

Today, I find myself continuing a fascinating role as a futurist, with clients such as NASA, Disney, The GAP and the PGA of America. I often find myself in shock and awe at how lucky I am to have had a career that has taken such a surprising and unexpected turn.

So it is also with my great and long time friend. Rick is now one of the foremost literary agents in North America — with such deals under his belt as Wheat Belly (98 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list!); The Disappearing Spoon, and astronaut Rick Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life.

It’s a remarkable story, and if you want to learn more, read on.

Every once in a while, you should reflect on where you are with your life, and be in awe of just how lucky you are.

I certainly do. Today is a milestone.

After the first book, Rick Broadhead and I went on to write 33 more books in the next six years. Life forever changed.

Then, like the Beatles, we had enough. We quit. We moved on, and celebrated our success by establishing ourselves in the world.

20 years on, I find myself spending my time working with fascinating organizations — NASA! The GAP — the PGA! — around the world to help them understand the future. My co-author Rick has gone on to become one of the leading literary agents in North America. He has brought to print some of the most important books of our lifetime.

And it all just happened — just like that!

It’s a remarkable story, and in this day of instant news, celebrity, and instant everything, I am in awe to look back at how it unfolded.

May anyone who ever reads this story find themselves with such luck and coincidence.

Put it in context. It’s 1993. Social media would come 12 years later. The dot.com collapse was not even yet imagined! There was no YouTube, Facebook, Twitter. The World Wide Web was barely existent! It was the time of “Gopher”, “uucp”, “Archie”, and “Telnet”. BBS systems, 300-baud modems, and a mystery to connectivity. You had to be special to even figure out how to get in on the game. How to connect. How to sign in. How to become part of the magic that was to become the global idea-machine known as the Internet.

In that context, there was suddenly, in mid-1993, a sudden hunger by everyone to understand what was going on. Book stores exploded with titles about “The Internet”.

Into this maelstrom and madness I suddenly found myself with my my good friend Rick Broadhead and my wife Christa Carroll.

It’s November 1993. I’m 15 years into the PC revolution at that point. I’m working in a home office, with a nice little business involving consulting around technology, connectivity, email — and writing a regular column for a technology publication about the Internet. Christa is a senior executive at the global powerhouse Unilever. We have a brand new son, Willie Carroll. Life is grand!

And then, three things happened all at once. The Internet exploded into public consciousness — it was all over the media — and books flooded the market: books like The Whole Internet Guide and Catalog by Ed Krohl. With that, an  astute publisher at Prentice Hall Canada named Ken Proctor realized few of them had any Canadian angle, found me, and asked me if I could write that book. And just about then, I got an email from a young fellow named Rick Broadhead.

At the time, Rick was an MBA student at York University. What he told me in his email essentially was that he had gold — a list of organizations that could help you get onto the Internet – in Canada.

You have to realize in the context of the time how valuable this type of list was — this information did not exist anywhere. He also understood the Internet. So did I.

So I called Ken Proctor back, and said we could do the book.

We got an advance of $2,500.

Boom! Within two months, Rick and I wrote the book. Christa took over with a brand new skill of editor, design, constructionist – she worked the layout, made it something that people could read. She and Rick debated for hours over how a particular section would work out – and together, they made it magical! We (they!) used Microsoft Word on Windows for Workgroups! (This was even before Windows 95!)

Christa typeset the thing. No one did this in 1993. No one ever, ever, typeset their own book. We were on a revolution!

And one day, we sent high resolution pages to our publisher. Prentice Hall, ready for print. They really weren’t used to authors sending in type-set ready copy. They worked on a  schedule that would bring books out 9 months later. We had a full book in 8 weeks!!! Concept to print! Folks – just like that! Jeff Bezos hadn’t even invented Amazon.com yet, since there was really no Internet.

The first edition of the Canadian Internet Handbook went to print on February 20th, 1994.

It came back from the printer on March 7, 1994.

And in 6 weeks, it was the number-1 bestselling book on the national book selling lists for the Globe & Mail and the National Post.

And then suddenly, it just got weird. You could not even began to imagine what it is like to have your life go from “normal” to “fast” in an instant.

Screenshot 2014-03-04 14.26.01

Suddenly, it became kind of weird.

What would unfold over the next 5 years, even today seems indescribable. Rick and I were all over the media. National news appearances. Satellite trucks appearing in my driveway. Both of my sons would wake up in the morning, with TV crews tramping down the hallway to get into my home office, which was simply a bedroom upstairs, for a morning interview. Constant, incessant media coverage. Inches, pages, columns of ink. I would go on to have regular news columns with major newspapers, airline magazines …

…. and suddenly both Rick and I found ourselves on stage. Describing to associations, global CEO’s, executives, kids, how this thing known as the Internet would revolutionize the world. We had a national radio show, NetTalk, describing how the Internet would change the world! In 1996, Rick and I were describing where our world would be in 2014. 2020. 2050.

Rick and I went wrote more books. We helped the world to understand how it would change. Wow! We had it nailed!

Then the money flooded into the Internet. I think we both decided we did not want to be a part of it. Greed. Ugliness. Not s.

In March 2000, at the height of the dot.com hysteria, people were suddenly becoming millionaires — billionaires! — from the Internet. I remember the instant it all became clear. I was with Christa, Thomas, Willie … driving to Washington for a vacation. Thomas and Willie were 7 and 5 years old.

I realized then that money didn’t matter – life did.

In 2001. the dot.com collapse happened. My newspaper column at the Globe & Mail was killed, because the publisher decided that was the end of the technology era. Rick and I stopped writing books. We had contract disputes with various publishers. Business models changed. We moved on, and both of us reinvented ourselves.

And 20 years later, all 3 of us are in awe. Magical times. You could not imagine!

Then came the next phase of the Internet….. revolutionizing the world, global politics, friendships, everything.

The point of this story?

Magic might happen in your life.

If it does, roll with it. It could always happen again!

Over the 20 years that I’ve been on stage, I’ve had the opportunity to meet numerous celebrities and entertainers, and have shared some of the most fascinating event venues in the world. But this weekend was kind of special – while travelling with me on a keynote/golf trip, my son Thomas got to meet Joe Biden while we were teeing off!

TomandVP

We were asked to move our tee time to a different starting hole — as the Secret Service and Joe Biden used our original slot! My son Tom has a chance to say hello after Vice President Joe Biden’s tee shot. (Awesome drive!)

On occasion, I’ve managed to bring along one of my sons or my wife to one of my event locations. Last year was a huge thrill, when I was invited into NASA’s Goddard Space Center to speak about future trends and innovation. I brought along my 20 year old son Willie, and we had a fabulous behind the scenes tour of the Center that will never be forgotten.

This time, for a keynote in Phoenix, I brought along my son Thomas, and we had opportunities for lots of golf (4 rounds in 3 days).

Including, at Kierland Resort, a surprise and a bit of a shock as Vice President Joe Biden teed off beside us. Tom politely asked for a picture, and got one.

A special thrill. (Biden had an awesome drive!)

 

It was a bit of a whirlwind the last two weeks, with keynotes in Anaheim (medical device industry), Phonenix (top farming producers) and two in Orlando (the first being for Ameriquest; more on that to come.

The other event I opened in Orlando was for the 2013 Innovation Takes Root conference with  Natureworks; they’re the manufacturer of plant-based Ingeo biopolymer (polylactic acid) product, most often used in food packaging. (You’ll remember the infamous “noisy” Sun Chips bag launch a few years ago; that was their product. They age since fixed the sound issues.

itr2013_jimcarroll

“….packaging is increasingly becoming THE brand (think about the consumer experience of opening an Apple iPhone packaging)…..”

There’s a bit of coverage of my talk on the Pack Web Asia Web site which my news filter picked up, so I’ll run. You can read the full article here.

Innovation Takes Root 2014: NatureWorks Conference – Day One

USA – Orlando, Fla, The Innovation Takes Root conference, organized by NatureWorks, brings together Ingeo users from across the product’s different global vertical market segments to share the innovative solutions being created using the PLA (polylactic acid) biopolymer, reports Trina Tan.

In the spirit of the conference theme, the program kicked off with a keynote presentation by Jim Carroll, a futurist, trends and innovations guru, who challenged the audience to reconsider their attitude towards innovation, and their willingness to adapt to change in our economic, social and environmental global ecosystem.

One of the interesting points raised by Carroll was about how packaging is increasingly becoming THE brand (think about the consumer experience of opening an Apple iPhone packaging), which in turn makes it even more vital for brand owners to make use of the Package to market themselves, and push the packaging supply chain to innovate.

Bearing in mind the constant shifts in the market, Carroll said, “We need to learn to look at the market trends, and see the opportunities that lie behind them.”

From my keynote in Orlando this morning, for a keynote on sustainability.

Some folks have asked for the bullet points, since it makes for quite a bit of fun from the stage.

So here we go: why is sustainability a lot like teenage sex?

NatureWorks

  • no one is sure what it is, but they hear that its great
  • everyone thinks that everyone else is doing it
  • those who say they are doing it are probably lying
  • the few who are doing it aren’t doing it very well
  • everyone hopes it will be great when they finally do it
  • once they start doing it, they’ll discover that it is going to take a while to figure out how to get really good at it
  • and they’ll realize that they’ll have to try to discover a whole bunch of new methods of doing it to really figure it all out

Did you know that the typical truck today contains more technology than your typical small plane? They shouldn’t be called truckers anymore — they’re “pilots!” That’s but one of the tidbits I’ll explore in my keynote next week for the Natioanl Association of Truck Stock Operators in National, when I open their annual conference!

2014Trucks

Autonomous road trains! That’s but one of the fast paced trends to drive forward the global trucking industry — topics I’ll cover in Nashville at the end of January.

World-Leading Futurist To Give Keynote Address At The NATSO Show
Thursday, November 14, 2013

Preparing for the future means focusing on innovation. This year at The NATSO Show,Jan. 26-29, 2014, Nashville, Tenn., world-leading futurist Jim Carroll will provide insight and inspiration to help NATSO members improve their business operations today while making innovative business decisions geared to the future.

In the keynote address, sponsored by Chevron Lubricants, Carroll will share ideas that will show operators how to link future trends to today’s creative decision making. He will also help attendees learn how to deal with the challenges of the economic correction through a focus on innovation.

“The rate of change today—whether with business models, product lifecycles, skills and knowledge, marketing methodologies or customer support concepts—is speeding up. We live in a world where being faster is better than being fast. That’s why innovation is the most important word that you need to be thinking about,” Carroll said.

Right now, truckstop and travel plaza operators are witnessing rapid technological advances with fuel economy impacting truck fleets and passenger vehicles and seeing shifts in business models that are affecting logistics and the routes heavy trucks travel. We’re also seeing customers that are demanding new ways of interacting with retailers and purchasing their products. These changes make staying ahead of the curve more important than ever. To capitalize on both current and future opportunities, operators need to be in a frame of mind in which innovation is at the forefront and Carroll will help get them there.

As an author, columnist, media commentator and consultant, Carroll has a 20-year track record in providing direct, independent guidance to a diverse global client base. He has spoken to hundreds of groups, including NASA, Disney, the PGA of America and Johnson & Johnson.

Carroll has researched key innovation success factors for dozens of associations, professions, companies and individuals. His books include The Future Belongs To Those Who Are Fast and Ready, Set, Done: How to Innovate When Faster is the New Fast.

- See more at: http://www.natso.com/press/press/view/52#sthash.7n59qchN.dpuf

I’m covered in the January / February issue of an Australian publication, Think and Grow Rich. It’s oriented toward franchise operations. Enjoy!

 The Power of One
from Think and Growth Rich
January/February 2014

TGR14_CurrentIssue

Notes Jim Carroll: ” look around and I just see a countless number of methods by which a franchisee can run the business better, grow and transform their business. And that’s what innovation is all about!”

Despite a small slump in figures during the Global Financial Crisis, franchising has come out of the mire relatively unscathed and in fact the numbers for franchisors and their franchisees are looking very healthy. TGR looks at what the franchise sector can expect as we embed ourselves in the 21st century.

Many top companies, from Disney to Visa, have hired futurist Jim Carroll to speak about his views on the future. So it is interesting to hear his views about franchising. He told Multi-unit Franchisee, “There’s nothing to fear really, if you view future trends as being full of opportunities rather than as a threat. I find that many of my clients think about future trends and think, ‘Oh, this can’t be good, it’s going to be pretty difficult to deal with.’ The first step with getting into an innovative frame of mind is to think of every trend as an opportunity, not a threat.

“So let’s think about a few of them. Consider social networks; there are huge impacts on how consumers perceive, interact and provide feedback on brands. Obviously, if you don’t pay attention to the trend, it can turn into a big negative for you. But if you get involved, engage the new consumer, and continually experiment with new ways of taking advantage of this new form of interaction, then you are doing the right thing.”

Carroll went on to say that to be successful you must keep up-to-date with current trends.

“There are just so many opportunities to grow the business. We’ve got all kinds of new location-intelligence oriented opportunities – people walking around with mobile devices that have GPS capabilities built in. Think about instant couponing apps that might encourage customers to drop in and purchase something. There are new methods of getting the brand image out there; we’ve seen so many franchise groups with successful viral videos. For restaurant franchisees, there’s the rapid emergence of the new health-conscious consumer and opportunities to reshape the menu to take advantage of that. I look around and I just see a countless number of methods by which a franchisee can run the business better, grow and transform their business. And that’s what innovation is all about!”

In Australia, the outlook is just as optimistic and there are many entrepreneurial franchisors taking this kind of innovative approach that would make Carroll proud. For instance, the Franchise Food Company led by Stan Gordon launched its Gives Back campaign in August 2013. The initiative hopes to help a number of local community groups and initiatives by donating a total of $10,000 to a variety of causes over the next 12 months.

Gordon says the program will provide much-needed support to charities and community initiatives, to help many Australians who have been met with adverse circumstances or might be doing it tough.

“Cold Rock is all about giving people a reason to smile. The campaign is for anyone and everyone who’s working hard to make a difference in their community; whether you’re supporting a local sporting team, raising money for serious illnesses or fighting to save a historic landmark, we want to hear from you so we can help you along the way.”

The unique and inclusive initiative, housed on the Official Cold Rock Ice Creamery Facebook page, offers charities and community groups four opportunities to receive a one-off donation of up to $2,500.

Community groups and individuals are asked to submit an application detailing why they need a helping hand via the Gives Back Facebook Application.

Running over the coming 12 months, Cold Rock hopes to assist a variety of organisations with meaningful donations and build on the strong history of giving that Stan Gordon and Cold Rock has developed through years of community involvement.

It’s a unique use of social media and a great marketing tool, as well as a community initiative.

Meanwhile, the FFC continues to acquire strong franchise brands. The company’s latest acquisition is the iconic Trampoline brand, which fits nicely into the treats niche along with Mr Whippy, Cold Rock, Nut Shack and Pretzel World. FFC is unique, but like any franchise business, systems are crucial and will remain so, no matter how many years we move forward.

Pacific Retail Management is one of the largest franchise companies in Australia, with ownership of Go Sushi, Wasabi Warriors and Kick Juice Bars.

Part of its success is its systems management. Julia Boyd is the project and marketing coordinator. She says, “Pacific Retail has implemented strong operational systems to assist their franchise partners at every stage of training. Travelling operational team members continue to visit all national stores throughout the year and stay for up to a week or more to assist the business. They help to improve sales and are heavily involved with the franchise partners and any issues they may have.

“Support can also come from fellow franchisees in the group who are experiencing the same things and working towards the same goals. When franchisees work together towards a common goal, you can achieve great success and a cohesive team.

“Being part of a franchise network also means assistance and guidance from industry experts with the set-up of the business. This can include help with site selection and brokering of the lease with the landlord; financing through franchisors relationship with lenders and major banks; expedited process from initiation of agreement to store opening; and ultimately the sale of the store including finding a buyer.”

Of course franchising won’t be for everyone. With the advent of social media and vast new ways to reach clientele, the model will become easier to manage and far more sustainable. However there remains a lack of independence.

“Some prospective business owners are put off franchise networks and prefer to remain independent to avoid such established systems with little room for individual creativity, having to adhere to the operating systems in place and the initial payouts including franchise fees and training and marketing launch costs,” Boyd says…


Excerpted from an article originally published in the February/March 2014 issue of Think & Grow Rich Inc. magazine. You can access the Web

 

A clip from a recent keynote, in which I’m outlining how organizations can fire up their “innovation engines” — through the simple process of “redefining innovation.”

It’s all about “running the business better, growing the business, and transforming the business.”

 

Last autumn, I was the luncheon keynote speaker for the Electronics Representatives Association in Chicago. This is a group of folks who act as middlemen between a vast number of large and small electronic/equipment manufacturers and their eventual sales targets — other manufacturing companies.

The truth, according to Carroll, is that businesses tend to underestimate the rate of change that will occur. Many companies sit around discussing what their competitors may be doing 10 years from now. Instead, they need to think in terms of what doesn’t even yet exist.

On stage in Chicago. “The truth, according to Carroll, is that businesses tend to underestimate the rate of change that will occur. Many companies sit around discussing what their competitors may be doing 10 years from now. Instead, they need to think in terms of what doesn’t even yet exist.”

My focus : how a world of fast change in manufacturing, product design, innovation, and other issues will come to challenge their role — and what they must do to “step up to the plate.”

My keynote ended with an interactive workshop based on live text message polling — I built the polls live in real time, on stage, with direct audience interation. You can read about it here. If you want something different with your keynote, I’m the guy to talk to! (We have video…..)


The ‘fast future’ is here!
How innovators are driving emerging markets
by  Suzi Wirtz, CAE, on assignment for ERA.

Change is no longer an option. It’s not only happening at lightning speed, but it has become a necessary part of the world in which everyone lives today. The secret to success lies in how a company responds to this rapid change and plans to meet its inherent challenges. In a word, it’s about innovation. Will your company be ahead of change and create ways to survive and succeed? Or will it be left behind?

To help reps, manufacturers and distributors answer these questions, ERA called on Jim Carroll, an international futurist and authority on global trends, to deliver the keynote presentations at the association’s 46th Management and Marketing Conference this past October. Carroll spoke about what it takes to recognize emerging markets and to become part of what he calls the “fast future.”

Benchmarking Rep Firm Income and Expenses
He urged conference attendees to rethink the role of “electronics” in a world that is hyperconnected, always on and always interactive. He quoted Rupert Murdoch, saying, “It’s no longer the biggest organizations that will win and own and control the future. It’s the fastest.” And, Carroll explained to the ERA audience, this “truth” couldn’t be any more appropriate for them.

“You [in the electronics industry] are in the whirlwind of the change that is occurring today,” he said. “Change is occurring faster than ever before. It’s the same for NASA as it is for the Electronics Representatives Association.”

He provided three rather mind-boggling statistics to put into perspective the rate of change:

  1. Sixty-five percent of the children who are now in preschool will work in jobs that do not exist today.
  2. For any scientific degree today (e.g., agriculture, architecture, medical), it is estimated that half of what students learn in their freshman year is obsolete by the time they graduate.
  3. In the technology industry, companies have three to six months to sell their product before it becomes obsolete.

With these facts in mind, Carroll stated emphatically that companies need to talk about the trends that are happening now so they make it a habit to think about their next set of opportunities and to challenge themselves to do things differently. The big question, he stressed, is, “What do world-class innovators do that others don’t do?” Furthermore, how can ERA members learn from these innovators in order to be well-positioned for success and to ensure they are maximizing the opportunities for the future?

Six things world-class innovators do

1. They are relentless in the face of uncertainty.

As far back as 2002, according to Carroll, this phenomenon was happening with respect to the dot-com bust. People were driven by indecision, and they simply didn’t want to explore or invest in new ideas because the economy was uncertain. He referred to this as “aggressive indecision.”

Interestingly, Carroll has been asking audiences for the past seven years when they feel the economy will recover. Consistently, they have responded that it’s between six months and two years. However, one industry felt it was happening “right now,” and that was the American manufacturing industry.

The lesson is that optimism can go a long way, and it’s a necessary function for not only survival, but success. In fact, as Carroll related, the Head of Innovation at General Electric (yes, that is an actual title!) decided it would be interesting to examine trends in economic recovery over the years. He found that 60 percent of companies performed typical things in the same situation. That is, they cut back on costs and didn’t make any bold moves. The result? Thirty percent didn’t survive while 60 percent just barely made it. However, 10 percent actually became break-through performers because they decided that, despite lingering economic uncertainty, they would make big moves.

2. They realign with the longer term.

World-class innovators think big picture and devise big ideas, Carroll described. They challenge their industries to do things in new and different ways.

He referenced Star Trek and The Jetsons, saying, “Some of what they envisioned is now being challenged to become reality today. The period of time in which we talk about science fiction and when it actually happens is compressing. That is part of the accelerating change today.”

The truth, according to Carroll, is that businesses tend to underestimate the rate of change that will occur. Many companies sit around discussing what their competitors may be doing 10 years from now. Instead, they need to think in terms of what doesn’t even yet exist.

As an example, he cited the auto industry and the notion of Google Maps back in 2003. Google Maps was just beginning, but Carroll suggested that cars would soon provide a way, within the car itself, for the driver to locate directions, destinations and so on. In fact, he predicted Google could also be responsible for delivering cars via FedEx.
The downfall, he suggested, was the response, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” Fast forward to 2013 and Tesla Motors. Tesla has transformed the auto industry with its distribution of cars.

Another emerging idea Carroll discussed was that cellphones will actually become credit cards in the near future. And he challenged the ERA audience with, “Will you be one of the representatives out there pounding the pavement discovering all the opportunity that lies in these emerging marketplaces?”

3. They watch the innovation at the edges.

Carroll urged the conference attendees to constantly monitor research and development and assess what is happening there. He recently talked with a home automation group about Ninja Blocks, which began as a crowdfunding initiative. Immediately, $100,000 was invested and, within a matter of weeks, a million dollars was raised via angel funding. Ninja Blocks are “cool,” Carroll noted, and “coolness” is very important with products going forward.

Consider the Ninja Blocks’ website address itself: ANinjaIsBorn.com. It’s not just cool, Carroll commented, but people then talk about how cool it is and spread the word to everyone they know. That kind of viral marketing serves to expand that market. Think about robotics and 3D printing, cloud computing and the ability to build something entirely unique. He believes, as do others, that these advances will bring in a new phase of luxuriant and wired home living that is highly personal and customized.

4. They align to Silicon Valley innovation velocity.

One of the most fascinating trends unfolding today, Carroll related, is pervasive connectivity. In other words, it’s the Internet and the fact that everything that is a part of everyone’s daily lives is about to become plugged into the Internet. Entire industries are being built around this soon-to-be reality.

He referenced a scale now being sold by Apple, whereby a person’s body mass is measured, charted and shared with other devices for an overall picture of the individual’s health and well-being. Chips and electronic sensors will plug into everything, and this is “massive” for the electronics industry’s future opportunity.

Think about healthcare and genetic-based medicine, Carroll encouraged. “It’s gone from a system that can fix you after you are sick into a system that can predict what you are going to become sick with, based on DNA and so forth, and then design solutions based upon that.”

Consider the notion of velocity in these terms: It took $3 billion to sequence the first genome. In 2009, the cost dropped to $100,000. It is now under $10,000, and Carroll feels it will likely go down to even $1,000.

He also cited the thermostat and how it now has programmable capabilities. In the not-too-distant future, there will likely be a facial recognition component built in so that the device can remember who you are when you enter a room and adjust to your preferences.

And as a final reference in this category of what world-class innovators do, Carroll discussed wearable technology, as in clothing with sensors in it. This should be another near-future opportunity for electronics industry companies.

5. They check their speed.

Carroll explained that Apple is in a position in which 60 percent of its revenue comes from sources that didn’t exist four years ago. It’s called “chameleon revenue,” and he urged every company to think about this fact because this is the type of future for which companies should be positioning themselves.

“Change your market, change your capability, change your products so that you are continually generating new sources of revenue,” he advocated.

Using the manufacturing industry as an example again, Carroll noted that it is focused on continually changing the manufacturing process. The business model has been one in which companies build to inventory. Here, Carroll referenced the auto industry and Henry Ford’s once-novel idea of the assembly line. Honda, on the other hand, is building to demand. The company watches the trends, sees what is selling one week and then changes to meet that demand. In today’s world, this type of almost-instant response is not only possible – thanks to rapid concept generation and rapid prototyping – but it is becoming necessary.

6. They know everything changes with the next generation.

To reinforce this fact, Carroll pointed out that about 90 percent of the ERA conference attendees (and those in their similar generations) are the only ones to have ever met the computer punch card, and no one else since even knows what Cobol and Fortan are. They are that obsolete.

Children who are now 18 to 20 years old have never known a world without the Internet. The older generation often feels battered and bruised by the rapid change and may likely just wish all the progress would just stop.

Carroll quoted Ogden Nash, “Progress is great, but it’s gone on far too long.” However, Carroll said, “It’s not going to go away, and one reason it will continue to accelerate is because of the next generation.”

Think about all the times older generations have had to look to their children to help with installing software or working on a computer. Then consider these statistics:
Half of the global population is under the age of 25.

Younger generations are globally wired, entrepreneurial, collaborative and change oriented.

Younger generations are also now driving rapid business model change and industry transformation as they move into managerial and executive positions.

To wrap up his presentation, Carroll delivered some succinct advice: Watch the emerging markets. Stop clinging to that which is familiar. Begin to thrive on innovation. Think big in terms of the scope of opportunities. Start small and get familiar with the technology today. Then, finally, scale fast.

The closing segment of the conference keynote program consisted of round table workshop discussions by attendees. For the first time at an ERA event, interactive polling was used so the entire audience could rank the various responses that were reported by table leaders from their discussions. (Carroll had employed the text message polling several times during his presentation, so attendees were famiiar with the method.). The attendees discussed and then ranked the responses to three questions. A summary of the feedback follows.

Workshop questions and discussions

Mark Motsinger, CPMR, of Wallace Electronic Sales, the conference workshop coordinator, and Carroll first asked the attendees, What is the most significant challenge facing your industry today?

There were many varied responses, and once those were all posted on the ballroom screens, Carroll asked the full audience to rank them. He felt there were four dominant answers (shown below with the percentage of the audience that gave a number one ranking to each answer). The top challenges cited were:

  • Relationship development (26 percent);
  • Attracting the next generation (17 percent);
  • Ability to innovate (16 percent);
  • Alignment of resources and picking a winner (15 percent).

The second question for attendees was, How will you respond to that challenge?

  • After using the same process of reporting as many responses as possible and then polling all attendees to determine their number one choices, the top vote-getters were:
  • Get young (17 percent);
  • Social media (14 percent); (Carroll noted this goes hand-in-hand with “get young.”)
  • Deeper CRM usage and analysis (13 percent); (Carroll commented that one of his leading agricultural clients knows which 87 customers, out of 12,000 farmers, generate 93 percent of the company’s profit.)
  • More flexible relationships (13 percent); (Carroll added that this could be at the core for ERA members. “You’ve built your relationships,” he said, “but are you challenging and changing your relationships?”)
  • Customer centricity/collaboration (9 percent). (“The opportunity here is great,” according to Carroll.)

The third and last question conference attendees answered was, When it comes to a “fast future,” how well positioned are you? The responses were perhaps more reassuring than some might expect. The majority of attendees felt that they are at least somewhat positioned or extremely well positioned for success. Here’s the percentage breakdown:

  • Extremely well positioned for success (19 percent)
  • Somewhat positioned for success (59 percent);
  • Behind in our ability to keep up (20 percent);
  • “We’re toast! It’s way too fast!” (2 percent).

On a final note, Carroll highlighted the fact that 297 out of 300 customers in the next generation are using smartphones, and “they are seeking your support on a mobile device!” He urged everyone to use interactive polling on smartphones with their own customers.

This article was written by Suzi Wirtz, CAE, on assignment for ERA.

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