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All of us are immersed in a data cloud that envelopes us, where-ever we go and whatever we do. Rapid business model change, hyper-innovation, instant obsolesence: these are the new rules by which we must innovate.

The world's leading media and technology companies have engaged Jim as a keynote speaker for an internal or client-oriented event or meeting, including • Consumer Electronic Association CEO Summit • Transcontinental Media • British Broadcasting Corporation • CBC • CBS Radio / Infinity Broadcasting • Walt Disney Corporation • Pearson plc • Microsoft • Accpac • Ameritech • Fiber to the Home Council • Hewlett Packard • IBM • Ingram Micro • Electronics Representatives Association • Motorola • Oracle • SAP • Society of Information Management • Society of Cable Telecom Engineers • Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company • Toshiba Australia • Verizon Broadband Solutions • Verizon Wireless • Ameritech • Women in Cable & Telecommunications • Telecom Risk Management Association • National Rural Telephone Cooperative • Nortel • Texas Rural Telephone Cooperative • Utility Telecom Providers Association • Building Industry Consulting Service International (BICSI)

While I spend a huge amount of time travelling to speak at various events, I also spend a good chunk of time in the home office undertaking research for my next keynote; and I am continually working on marketing and support of the business. A big part of the latter comes from the Web site that you are just now visiting…

When you are viewing JimCarrollcom, you're dealing with a pretty sophisticated cloud computing infrastructure.... artwork courtesy of Fotolia!

When I’m not working, I break the office day wit with regular 5 mile walks, 50 kilometer / 30 mile bike rides, visits to the gym or other activities — there are a lot of extra hours in the day when you’ve been working at home for 20 years.

But sometimes you have to take a break in the office from working and exercising — and that’s where geek-time comes in. I’ve been online since 1982, dialling into bulletin boards with a 300 baud modem; I was using email from that year on. In 1985 I was running around telling people that “the Internet was coming” — some 10 years before it really went mainstream….

And so in addition to my role as an innovation expert and futurist, I’ve also got a hard core technology habit. Heck, I even know how to compile source code….. and at one point, had 7 Linux servers in my basement. (Long story; I’m over that now; it’s all a big Mac / OS/X infrastructure now…)

I get a lot of questions from some of the technology folks that I deal with about my Web site and blog, and so in response to that, for those of you who are technically inclined, here’s the skinny:

  • is served up from a DV server at MediaTemple. I was on a GS (shared service) for about a year, but just decided to take the plunge and for a “dedicated virtual” service just for the extra perfomrance boost
  • Does the domain name resolve quickly, and can it flip over to a backup site if my main server crashes? All of my domain hosting for this (and other domains) is handled by easyDNS. I’ve been with them for 15+ years, and they are likely one of the most dependable tech companies on the planet!
  • the site is based on WordPress, likely the most popular blogging platform on the planet
  • the Web site design was done by Echo Factory, who are somewhere out in California. I think they did a briliant job with the design …
  • cloud computing? Yup! All of the video throughout the site comes to you either via YouTube, or via Vimeo. That too cuts down on the load on my own Web server, which just helps to speed things up
  • then there is real cloud computing! Most of the images, javascript and other design files aren’t served up by my own host, but are actually pulled down “from the cloud” using Amazons’ Cloudfront service. That’s why you’ll see some images as coming from or That means they are actually coming at you from the cloud….which results in some pretty dramatic speed improvements in terms of Web page loading.
  • the cloud magic happens utilizing the W3TC cache-ing plugin from W3Edge. It’s a pretty remarkable piece of software that does a lot of cool stuff to make your Web pages and blogs load faster. (Right now, they’ve had a new release that hasn’t gone so well for 48 hours or so, but they’ll fix it…)
  • I’m a nut about backup, and utilize both the BlogVault and VaultPress plugins that provide automated regular backup of my entire site, blog database files and other stuff. I’ve had to use one or both on occasion, and both are highly recommended. When I moved my site from one server to another, it was a paineless, 1-click process using the most recent BlogVault backup
  • I’m constantly working to try to improve page loading performance. As of this week, I’m using Memcache so that rendering of some pages is happening from memory instead of disk at my Web host. I think I’m seeing some performance improvements!
  • the site is constantly tested for performance using the great service from GTMetrix — which does a series of daily tests for page loading times, architecture and design. There’s lots of work to continue to tweak the site, but the insight they provide is fabulous – test your own page! Some my pages now load in less than 2 seconds; they used to take 8 or 10 or more seconds…..
  • part of tweaking a Web site is knowing if it running with an adequate load? Monitoring done by Monit!
  • What people are searching for right now @

  • my business is increasingly global. Is my site up and accessible from London, Sydney, and Hong Kong? Lately, I’ve been playing around with WebSitePulse.Com, which does regular testing of site uptime and performance from locations worldwide. Every day I get a report as to how well the site was performing in various cities. Not only that, if the site crashes – I know about it just about 1/2 second later!
  • I’ve got instant, up to the second insight into how people are finding my Web site — the search phrases they use, the search engines they are on, and the pages they look at. I use two such services — Mint, which is just an absolute ton of fun to use, and Reinvigorate, which is actually part of MediaTemple. The screen shot shows some of the search phrases people have used to find my site in the last hour – that’s from Mint, which can work on a wide variety of different platforms.
  • Content? The photo at the top comes courtesy of Fotolia. I’ve long been a fan of professional online photo / artwork services, and this is a new one that I just added to my stable.

2 years ago, my site ran as a slow blog based on MovableType on a single server that was shared by countless other people and companies.

Today, my site is out on the cloud, utilizing some fascinating cutting edge technology, and scalable and flexible enough to meet the demands placed upon it.

So while its important to always be thinking about the future and innovation, it’s also critical to get in regularly and get your feet wet and your hands dirty. I certainly do!

(If your company is also being used by my site in some way, and I forgot to mention you, let me know and I’ll make sure to add you to this post…)

Most people overestimate the amount of change that will occur in two years and underestimate the change that will occur over ten years” – Bill Gates

In 2001, the future was over already! Slow growth was sure to follow!

That’s a phrase that I often use when opening a keynote. When I’m on stage, about to blast into a high velocity 45 minute presentation that links fast-paced trends to the need for various types of innovation, whether with business models, customer support, skills access or new forms of revenue where revenue hasn’t existed before — I need an effective hook to grab the attention of the audience.

With the phrase from Bill Gates put out to the audience, I sometimes reach into the past in order to put the future into perspective. After all, it is very true that most people really don’t think about how quickly their world is changing around them.

With that in mind, let’s go back to this week in the year 2001. It was an innocent time — pre 9-11. The world had just collapsed, and the world was in the midst of another economic downturn.

The Internet? It was over, folks! We’d just witnessed the flameout of a huge number of startups — and people had convinced themselves that technology had run its course. And yet others knew that something big was still yet to come. It’s fascinating to compare the different perspectives of the time with the reality that resulted today.

(By the way, Apple’s market cap in March 2001 was about $10 billion US. Microsoft? $319 billion US.Today, Apple is over $300 billion, while Apple is about $228 billion.)

Just ten years ago this week, this is what you would have seen:

Internet access in cars? If you want to go online, get the (beep) off the road!
The San Diego Union-Tribune, 31 March 2001

  • the implication being, of course, that we would never see anything so silly as having Internet access in automobiles. Today, of course, virtually every car company in the world is working feverishly to provide an enhanced dashboard experience involving a vast array of sophisticated technologies including, of course, all kinds of links to Internet-oriented data.

MLB to Start Charging For Audio on Internet
The San Francisco Chronicle, 28 March 2001

  • early on, it was apparent that major brands that had loyal followers could invent and build new business models which would reach out directly to their fan base. MLB has always been spot on in this regard. Ten years after charging for audio, they’ve launched an extremely sophisticated, flat-fee iPad application that allows streaming access to a full range of live and archived video. Innovators don’t fight the future — they adapt to it and discover opportunity.

Michael Jackson TV goes on the Internet
The Globe and Mail, 27 March 2001

  • back in the day, you had to be a global entertainment superstar to dump some video up on the Internet. It took megabucks to do it, and megageeks to figure it out. Ten years later, everybody has their own personal TV channel on YouTube, and the entire concept of TV has been forever reshaped.

Nortel Networks Teams to Create High-Performance Internet Village in California
Reuters Significant Developments, 30 March 2001

  • Nortel — and a few other tech companies — blew up in spectacular fashion just a few years later, a victim of bad business decisions, an accounting fraud or two, and a basic inability to keep up with furious rates of technologiical and market change. Key message: today’s heroes can often become tomorrow’s zeros, faster than you might think. Do any of today’s fast social media startups know that they could soon too be in the dustbin? Complacency is a dangerous thing, especially in the context of history.

Many teachers find Internet of little use
Milwaukee Sentinel Journal30 March 2001

  • well, this might still be true today in some cases, but certainly not in many other cases. Demographically, we’re just a few years away from a time when almost every teacher will have grown up with the Internet from their teens. And certainly students find the Internet to be of use – most studies show that it is the most important source for homework research!

Microsoft warns of problems with Internet Explorer
Associated Press Newswires, 30 March 2001

  • well, maybe some things just don’t change over a decade!

Sign of the times: Companies call for Internet appreciation day
Associated Press Newswires, 31 March 2001

  • put this headline in context. We’d just witnessed the great collapse. All kinds of dubious Internet startups were shutting down; there was gloom throughout Silicon Valley and other tech-hotspots. I remember one reporter calling me: “Since the Internet is now over, what’s next?” The mainstream and business media convinced themselves in this state of gloom that the Internet would have little to no impact on politics, business and society in the future. And so some folks thought it was important that we just sit back and consider how important the Internet might still be. Quaint.

Railroads, Like the Internet, Once Steamed the Economy
International Herald Tribune, 31 March 2001

  • the implication being, of course, that in this state of doom-and-gloom, the Internet would no longer have an impact on the global economy. Oops! Then the world went flat — the Internet proved to be the backbone which steamrollered business models, provided the genesis for the birth of entire new industries, had a major influence on marketing and branding, caused global revolutions, and led to a few new multi-gazzillionaires (Facebook, Twitter, MyTube didn’t come along till many years after this headline.)

Napster, CD Burning, Internet Retail Are Hot NARM Confab Topics
Billboard, 31 March 2001

  • back then, people stole music and burned it onto CD’s. Today, the music industry business model is all about the cloud, with systems like RDIO, Spotify and, maybe, Apple’s forthcoming cloud initiative set to continue to reshape the future. Ten years ago, the music industry was busy battling the future. Ten years later, many in the old music industry are still battling the future, while the new business models that will sustain music over the long term are being built today by faster, fleeted footed youngsters.

Any Patient Can Now Send Internet Messages Directly To Their Doctor’s Fax Machine
Internet Wire, 30 March 2001

  • some braniac dreamed up a new business model, except they forgot to realize that within a decade, 75% of American doctors would carry some type of mobile or PDA device with them while working. History has shown us that many folks often miss the signs of massive technological shift — the result being that a great idea is often out of date before it gets to go mainstream

Struggling eMachines cuts 16% of jobs Computers The new CEO also eliminates most Internet advertising ventures.
The Orange County Register, 30 March 2001

  • the beginning of the end of the “personal computer.” eMachines still exists, busy manufacturing low-end computers. 10 years later, technology growth is all about mobile devices, tablets / iPads, embedded technology, and who knows what else is yet to come?

Internet Is Dominated By the Rich World, Says Mando.
All Africa, 29 March 2001

  • to be fair, it was difficult to get onto the Internet 10 years ago in many third-world countries. It still is today. And yet, we’ve witnessed throughout the Middle East and northern Africa the impact that the network can have upon autocractic regimes. In terms of numbers, the Internet is no longer dominated by the ‘rich world,’ and in terms of democracy, it’s having its biggest political impact far beyond that world.

The great Internet firewall of China
The Nation (Thailand), 26 March 2001

  • ten years on, it is kind of chilling to realize that the nation has now spent a decade learning how to make the firewall work better. Here’s your challenge of the day: what will the headline of 26 March 2021 have to say about the ‘great Internet firewall of China?” Will they have succeeded, or will have it become the most massive FAIL of the century?

So that’s a look back at headlines involving the Internet but a mere ten years ago. What if we go back 20 years? In my news service, I could only find one for this particular week in which the word “Internet” was mentioned in the headline:

General Atomics, Performance Systems International, UUNET Technologies establish first Commercial Internet Exchange
BusinessWire, 27 March 1991

  • in other words, but 20 years ago, today’s Internet was but a glimmer in the eye of but a few thousand geeks worldwide. A few networks were beginning to realize they could do something awesome if they plugged together. I was one of them. By 1991, I had already been online for some 9 years, starting out with early BBS systems, services like the Source and BIX (Byte Information Network). Yet all of a sudden, in 1991, visions were crystallizing of an opportunity to use a fast-paced emerging standard known as TCP/IP to link together all the computers in the world. Many of us thought the results would be astonishing. That’s an understatment.

So let me ask this: what are the headlines that you think you’ll see this week in 2021?

How small is your world? How big is your thinking?

So what do you do with the information you learned from this post? Go and read, “How small is your world? How thinking big could save you in the 21st century economy

Perfect microwave popcorn!
March 22nd, 2011

When do you think you’ll be able to make perfect microwave popcorn?

I’d thought I’d be able to do it by about now….

For all it's successes, the hi-tech industry still has not figured out how to make perfect microwave popcorn!

The problem with making popcorn in a microwave is that every microwave has a different power output, so you can never do better than by carefully listening to the popping pattern to figure out when it might be finished.

I’ve always thought that there has to be a better way!. And so way back in the early 1990′s, as the concept of Internet-based home automation started to appear, I realized that there would one day be a perfect microwave popcorn machine!

While on stage talking about the future way back then, I would tell the story of perfect microwave popcorn on stage — predicting that I’d have a device in my home that would read the bar code on the popcorn bag, query a database through the Internet, and figure out the exact timing for that particular microwave device.

Orville Redenbacher would partner with appliance manufacturers, and come up with a really cool automated system that would provide perfect popcorn, every time! Internet-linked appliances, back-end databases, and a marriage of consumer food products to the Internet and technology. It seemed like a pretty simple idea.

Well, as far as I know, it didn’t happen — yet.

But this year at the Consumer Electronics Show, there were glimmers of hope. Clearly, there were two big trends on display – tech/connectivity in the car, and tech/connectivity in the home.

A lot of the news sizzle surrounds tech-in-the-car ; the tech-in-the-home field isn’t getting as much attention, because, well, it’s just not as exciting as wheels. For example, read this article on Samsung’s initiative with “smart appliances’ in the home. The innovation mindset is just starting to emerge….

Yet their thinking seems terribly limited. So in the interest of trying to move the future along, here’s an extract from one of my books from the 1990′s (written with an old friend, Rick Broadhead), which was called Light Bulbs to Yottabits: How to Profit By Understanding the Internet of the Future. By “IP-chip,” we were referring to the idea that most devices around us would contain one or more “Internet protocol” chips that would give the device connectivity.

“Let’s consider an IP-chip-based microwave. If you own a microwave today, you will know that there is no “exact” cooking time by particular make and model. Some microwaves take far less time to prepare foods than others, depending upon the wattage and power of the particular model used.

Microwaves are particularly tricky when it comes to popping popcorn. Buy a package of microwave popcorn, and you’ll notice that the cooking instructions tell you to carefully listen as it pops. When you hear one to two seconds between pops, you are advised that it is likely that your popcorn is ready. Of course, anyone who cooked popcorn in a microwave knows that there is a strong likelihood that they’ll burn it the first few times, until they get a sense of just how long it takes to cook in their particular microwave.

Enter the IP-chip based microwave. Buy it, bring it home, and plug it into the wall. The microwave will use the basic Internet connectivity found in your home to establish a connection to the Internet. (For example, it will link into the Internet via a wireless Internet connection in your home, via the Internet-connectivity that runs through your electrical wires, or will plug directly into your home network via an Ethernet connection.)

The package of microwave popcorn that you have purchased includes a bar-code on it that uniquely identifies it. When you press “cook,” the microwave will read the bar-code. It will then use the IP-chip to send a query through the Internet to a central database. There, it will ask a question, in effect: “For this particular model of microwave and for this particular package of popcorn, how long is the cooking time?” Receiving the answer, it will then proceed to provide you perfect popcorn — every time.

Far-fetched? We don’t think so — indeed, we believe that we are destined for a future in which the everyday appliances and technologies which surround you are soon to be linked into the Internet, often, through the home network or a wireless Internet connection that is set to invade your home! As this occurs, the devices will emerge with capabilities that are quite unimaginable today.

It is the IP-chip that leads us into the realm of the Jetson’s TV show: it involves some of the more outlandish and far fetched proclamations of where the Internet is taking us.

Yet if you think about it, such claims are probably not too out of touch with reality.”

I’m waiting, folks.

Someone has to be able to make an appliance that can make perfect microwave popcorn!

A clip from a conference for hundreds of health care executives in Orlando in December 2010 – I’m speaking to the issue of the rapid emergence of new careers – including the “location intelligence professional.”

Stretch your mind a little – location aware dashboards, health care alerts as to looming health care issues, and new forms of business analytics all of which provide real time insight based on location sensitive knowledge. This is a huge trend unfolding before our very eyes!

For more insight, read my post “Location is the new intelligence” which I wrote last April.

Analysis of Apple's revenue shows extent of innovation

This is from my January 2011 CAMagazine column.

The article was based upon a blog post by Asymco in October of 2010, and includes some commentary from a previous blog post I made on fast changing product life-cycles.

When Apple reported results last fall that blew past analyst expectations, there was a lot of talk about how this innovation juggernaut continues to redefine the technology market.

Yet much of the discussion overlooked a significant factor: 60% of Apple’s revenue came from products that didn’t exist three years prior to the earnings release, according to an analysis of Apple’s revenue by mobile app developer Asymco.

Think about that in the context of your operations. What if you had to replenish your product or service line every two or three years? It could become the new normal in many industries.

One of the most profound changes to come about during the past decade has been the collapse of product life cycles. Think about the graph in your marketing textbook from years or decades ago when you first learned about the concept of product life cycles. Remember how it showed a product coming to market: sales increase, reach market maturity and eventually begin to drop off. That’s been the model of product life cycles as taught in business schools for the past 100 years or so.

The rule of thumb was that companies would innovate and introduce a new product. If it succeeded, the company would experience growth. At some point, sales would peak. The product would then become obsolete or overtaken by competitors and sales would decline. That might involve a time period of 10, 15 or even 25 years.

What a quaint model. Too bad it bears no resemblance to today’s reality. The product life-cycle model today is being turned on its ear by instant obsolescence. In some industries, that product obsolescence now occurs during the growth stage; in the high-tech industry, the decline phase caused by instant obsolescence can occur during the introduction of a product or even before a product makes it to the marketplace.

For example, last year Lenovo pulled the plug on an iPad-like product even before it was released because it was obvious that its limited feature set had already made it irrelevant and obsolete in a very fast-paced market. The product simply had no chance of competing against the iPad. It was killed before it was even produced.

If you want to master innovation, you need to think about how your own product life cycle is changing. Look at the numbers: it took two years for Apple to sell two million iPhones; it took just two months for it to sell two million iPads. And, as my 17-year-old son pointed out when we were chatting about this at the dinner table, it took but a few weeks to sell a million iPhone 4s.

Clearly Apple is on a very significant innovation roll here, but there are lessons to be learned for other organizations. If product life cycles are collapsing in your industry, do you have the capability and wherewithal to generate revenue where revenue hasn’t existed before? Are you prepared to bust into new business models so you can enter markets where you haven’t participated before? Do you know how to add service and other revenue streams to commodity product lines so that you can generate additional revenue from previously stale product lines?

For years, I’ve been preaching to my clients that their ability to survive and thrive in the future is going to come from their ability to generate new sources of revenue and adapt — I covered the issue about a year ago in a column on the concept of chameleon revenue (Netwatch, December 2009). Apple’s numbers indicate that the trend might be picking up steam.

Product lifecyclesThis graph represents the model of product life cycles as taught in business schools for the last, oh, I don’t know, 100 years?

Companies would innovate, and introduce a new product. If it succeeded, they would experience growth. At some point, sales would peak. The product would then tend to become obsolete or overtaken by competitors,  and sales would decline.

What a quaint model. Too bad it bears no resemblance to todays’ reality. Many industries are now finding that product obsolescence now occurs during the growth stage; in the hi-tech industry, the “decline” phase caused by instant obsolescence can even occur during the introduction,

Back in June, I was the opening speaker for the Consumer Electronics Association CEO Summit in Ojai, California, and spoke to this trend. At the time, Lenovo had just pulled the plug on a pad-like product, even before it was released, because it was obvious that its’ limited feature set had already made it irrelevant and obsolete in a very fast paced market.

The reality of today’s market is that of instant obsolescence, and if you want to master innovation, you need to think about how your own product life cycle is changing.

Here’s a video take that is worth watching on the trend:

At the recent Consumer Electronics Association CEO summit in Ojai, CA, I focused on how social networks are coming to have a huge impact on brand perception.

But aside from that main thread, I also concentrated on my message of innovation in an era in which “faster is the new fast.” Here’s an older clip that looks at what’s happening in the world of product innovation.

I pointed out to the crowd – which included the CEO’s of some of the largest digital technology companies in the world — that some product lifecycles are collpasing to ZERO. Case in point — Lenovo announced a tablet computer at the CES show in January. They dropped it after the iPad came to market, perhaps because it was bound to be a dud compared to the feature set of the iPad.

But maybe if they got it out sooner, it could have established a beachhead.

What do you do in a world in which a product is dead before you can get it to market? Innovate faster. Focus on fast. Do fast. Be fast. In the high velocity economy, speed and agility are everything.

It’s big, and its’ getting bigger!

That’s the location intelligence industry, which is resulting from the rapid dominance of location-aware mobile devices, the rapid emergence of massive sources of spatial (geographic oriented information, i.e. Google Maps), the rapid user adoption of location-based applications (i.e. iPhone Apps), and a significant amount of innovative thinking as to how to capitalize on these very fast paced trends.

There’s a lot of people building a lot of new businesses around these trends. And it’s happening extremely quickly:

    • in a just-announced test of location based advertising in Finland, MacDonalds’ has reported that location-relevant mobile ads resulted in a 7.0% click-through rate. Of those who clicked through, 39% then used the click-to-navigate option to find the closest restaurant. These are significant numbers
    • one if 4 American’s uses location based mobile services, and half of those who noticed an ad while using such services too some action
  • there has been a 68% increase in the use of mobile mapping and direction services in Europe in ONE YEAR according to comScore
  • predicts increases of 37% compound annual growth for mobile advertising and 65% for mobile commerce, influenced by the speed of adoption of location-based services
  • Juniper Research suggests that location based service revenues will top $12.7 billion by 2014, up from $3 billion last year
  • another survey by RCNOS suggested that the mobile locations technologies market will grow at annual compound rates of 20%, reaching $70 billion by 2013, which includes both consumer and business intelligence/application (survey, mapping etc) applications
  • it’s estimated that 1 billion people will access social networks by 2014. Most of them will use some form of location based application as they do so.
  • GPS-enabled mobile phone devices will dominate the technology space, comprising 66% of all GPS devices by 2013

This is pretty significant stuff. Actually, its more than significant – it’s huge. Location is set to lead to significant industry transformation; some pretty dramatic business model disruption (think real estate); changes in consumer behaviour (product promotion and uplift); new business models (mobile, text message based banking which starts out via a proximity relationship.). There’s a huge amount of velocity out there!

There are two angles to the emerging market: consumer (i.e. iPhone) driven applications which will involve marketing, branding, product promotion, customer loyalty, point-of-purchase and a huge variety of other opportunities. The second involves corporate applications such as risk-minimization (i.e. mortgage risk analysis based on spatial data).

Regardless of how you look at, the overall impact of location intelligence is going to be dramatic.

It’s even going to come to impact sports. Here’s a clip from a keynote I gave for 4,000 individuals as the recent National Recreation & Parks Association: “Location intelligence and the future of recreation,” and spoke about the concept of a location intelligence professional.

Last week, I did a keynote for DMTI Spatial, a leader in this emerging space, particularly in the corporate application world. He has an interesting blog post that summarizes some of the unique issues that go with this fast emerging trend.

Location is the new intelligence. And its’ happening faster than you think!

And an increasing number of my keynotes and clients are asking me to focus upon the business opportunities that are emerging in this world. Stay tuned.

Related posts:

  • Location intelligence, financial industries and business model change 
  • Location intelligence and the conference industry
  • Extract from Jim’s book, Ready, Set, Done: How to Innovate When Faster is the New Fast 

2010FinancialLocationIntelligence.jpgI had quite a few financial oriented keynotes through the last year, for banks, mortgage groups, credit unions and others. If there was a key theme as to the insight my clients were seeking, it was this: what are the BIG trends that are going to impact us (I’m a futurist), and what do we need to do about it (I specialize in insight on what global leaders are doing in the area of innovation.)

The scope of some of these engagements is pretty significant; Diners’ Club featured me as the opening speaker for their global franchise conference; my focus was on the big trends that would impact the organization into the future.

I guess I had generated enough buzz on my theme within the financial services industry such that I was booked for a keynote down into a major bank in Sydney, Australia, via a fibre optic link. (I couldn’t make a flight connection work!)

What should financial executives be thinking about? There are dozens of significant trends. Perhaps the most important has to do with the fact that 2010 is the year that location intelligence is coming to the industry as a significant business model disruptor.

Here’s a snippet from an article that captures a bit of what I’ve been talking about. The world of banking is going to witness massive change as mobile and location intelligence technology becomes married together. Consider:

Jim pointed to an Australian study that found 65 per cent of children in preschool today will work at jobs that don’t exist today.

“Think about the concept of a location intelligence professional.”

He discussed the possibilities presented by marrying smartphones equipped with global positioning systems to spatial-oriented information websites such as Google Maps.

“In the not-too-distant future, it’s quite likely some real estate organization is going to roll out an iPhone app that you will go through and you will pre-identify the types of properties that you’re interested in. It’s going to use the location capabilities built into the iPhone to build you an interactive tour of those properties. And you’re going to use your (iPhone) to drive around the neighbourhood and look at these homes through your phone.”

The same application might refer users on to a mortgage broker, he said.

“What do you do when the essence of your business model and the nature of the referrals that you get into your business begin to change?”

Halifax Chronicle Heradld, “Expert: Essence of life is change”, November 25, 2009

Give me any financial organization, and I can give you an organization that likely isn’t prepared for the fact that their innovative agenda is going to be subject to some pretty significant change.

What I’ve been doing is outlining for my clients the trends that are going to impact them, and the innovative thinking they need to pursue to capitalize upon those trends.

2010SiliconValleyInnovation.jpgMy January / February CA Magazine article is out; entitled “Stranger than Science Fiction,” it examines a major theme that has been part of many of my keynotes throughout 2009: what happens to your industry when the pace of innovation is no longer set within the industry itself, but rather, is set by the blistering rate of change as set by Silicon Valley?

Stranger than Science Fiction

by Jim Carroll, CAMagazine, January 2010

Is your industry in the midst of a transition at Silicon Valley speed? If it isn’t, it could be very soon, because I’m seeing it happen wherever I go. Take the global credit card industry. For a long time, the pace of innovation has been relatively slow and deliberate; aside from the chip found in your new credit card, it’s still been about the same old piece of plastic.

All that is about to change, because as I observed at a recent global financial conference, it is quite likely that our cellphones, BlackBerrys and iPhones will become the credit card of the not-too distant future. When you enter a store, you’ll punch a code into your iPhone to confirm the transaction, and you’ll get an instant receipt. As this transition occurs, the financial payment industry will find it has suddenly lost control of its innovation agenda. Rather than having the future figured out in boardrooms of bank towers, control will have been wrested away by someone in Silicon Valley who innovates at hyper-speed.

The trend is happening everywhere I look, even in the world of sports. I spoke to 4,000 professionals at the National Recreation and Parks Association’s annual conference in Salt Lake City. I challenged the audience – most of them responsible for civic or state recreational activities and park infrastructure – to think about the baseball bat of 2015 or 2020. From my vantage point, it’s going to look the same, but it’s likely to have a variety of sensors built into it that will provide players with instant feedback regarding the strength and accuracy of their swing; the same sensors will trigger their nearby cellphone to automatically capture a video of their time at the plate.

Retail will change at the same fast and furious pace. I’ll walk into a store, and behind the scenes, the store will recognize me through an interaction with my mobile device. That will cause a plasma TV in the corner to start displaying a customized advertisement for me based on prior shopping history, at the same time I’m zapped a coupon for a 20% discount for a few items over on aisle 12.

Farfetched? I don’t think so. Creepy? To us maybe, but perhaps not to the next generation. When we think of the strangeness of the future and our likely negative reaction to some of what might come next, we have to remember this: it’s not bad, it’s just different.

The key point is that entire industries will be swept along at a raging rate of innovation. All of a sudden, those people who have managed in-store design, layout and promotions will find their old skills don’t transfer as easily to this strange new world as the digital denizens reshape the customer experience.

Even the slow, staid senior citizen housing industry is being impacted. Five to 10 years out, we’ll have a lot of baby boomers living out their golden years in regular homes as opposed to retirement homes (simply because society won’t be able to afford it). Medical professionals will manage their care from afar using a vast array of bio-0connectivity medical devices; sensors embedded throughout the home will detect if their behaviour patterns are out of the norm and will trigger an alert. Science fiction? Research into this type of sensor-application is well underway at the University of Missouri.

Here’s a good way to think about innovating at Silicon Valley speed: in my home office, I have an MP3 player from somewhere around 1999. It can hold about three or four songs. It seemed cool at the time. Today, it’s positively a joke compared with the modern iPod.

Could the fundamentals of your industry as quickly become something like a joke?


Think about this article, and then ask yourself:

  • what are the big transformations that are going to occur in my industry as Silicon Valley Velocity takes over?
  • where will there be business disruption as result?
  • how can I be a disruptor, and establish opportunity?
  • how will my target customers change – how can I reach new customers — how can I build new customer revenue that hasn’t existed before?

Think of many more questions like that, and you’ve found countless opportunities for innovation.

More information:

  • Video: Pervasive connectivity
  • Video: Location intelligence and the future of recreation
  • Video The future of seniors care ” “BIG challenges, transformations, opportunities!
  • Blog entry Reinventing the future with transformative technology</b>

I’m a big believer that many of the big transformations that will occur in the future — and which will drive new billion dollar industries — will come from innovations around solving the “big problems” that society faces.

Here’s a video clip from a recent keynote, in which I talk about what will happen in the long term care industry, as we transition to a world of home based, community oriented senior citizen care

A lot of people have convinced themselves that there aren’t a lot of growth markets out there. They don’t see what I see. Think “BIG challenges = BIG transformations = BIG opportunities!”

09Tech.jpgOver the next several weeks, I will be speaking at a series of events sponsored by Microsoft related to their Windows 7 launch. The audience includes key executives (CIO’s, CFO’s, CTO’s and IT managers) from a wide variety of industries.

While much of the news coverage of Microsoft focuses around the “consumer” side of the Windows 7 launch, of equal significance is the release of several new server infrastructure upgrades that permit large and small business to take their business into the next level of operational innovation.

In Toronto the other day, Steve Ballmer was speaking to this aspect of innovation. I find that some media gave the message short shift, because their planned story spin didn’t fit his message.

That’s too bad, because the reality is that having an infrastructure that provides for a lot of business flexibility is going to be critical as we transition into the “next economy.” Clearly, there’s a lot of business turmoil out there, and organizations need to be able to change quickly to deal with new circumstances.

Given that, part of my message at these events will focus on what I’ve come to call the “new rules for the next economy.” What are those rules?

  • structure for growth: In many industries, the painful process of contraction is either over, or coming to an end. Once you’ve done the cost cutting, you only grow the profit line through new revenue. New revenue means new products and services; that comes from insight, collaboration, and thinking. Smart companies are ensuring they have a razor-sharp growth oriented culture, and technology enablers that help them get there.
  • focus on “chameleon revenue”: in many industries, the revenue stream five years from now won’t come from the products or services offered today. You have to keep a product/service innovation pipeline full in order to generate these new revenue sources — and do it faster and better than before. Crayola has two supply chains: one for existing revenue, and one for innovation-based revenue. Interesting concept!
  • speed up: I spoke at a global travel conference a few weeks ago, and noted that 1/3 of all leisure travel is now last-minute; the average time frame for planning now down to just 15 days; 36% of last minute vacations are 3-4 nights; and 30% are 1-2 nights. Smart travel companies have in place an infrastructure that allows them to rapidly change their product lineup, marketing message, brand image, and the flexibility to communicate a new message to a massive client base quickly.
  • ingest new technology faster. There’s going to be a huge amount of business model change as the tsunami of technology continues unabated. Anyone in retail will be hammered by the rapid transition to cellphone based payment technology. Winners will be able to transition at the speed of Silicon Valley — with the result that leaders are those who will continue to find operational innovation in ways they hadn’t thought of before
  • shake up methodology: think Manufacturing 2.0, and a blog post I wrote here some time ago. The future is all about Honda’s thinking: “how quickly can I change” is the defining question in terms of market flexibility. Manufacturing models are undergoing a huge shakeup, and those who transition them for maximum agility and flexibility will dominate the next marketplace.
  • be offensively defensive: no matter what industry you are in, there is someone out there who wants to mess up your business model. Before that happens, you should mess it up yourself, so that you better control the end game. Technology has and will play a huge role in business model transformation, and your infrastructure has to be up to the task.

Bottom line: business will continue to get faster, more complicated, and far more challenging.

Will you be able to ahead with a creaky, finger-in-the-dyke infrastructure?

2009ThinkingFast.jpgBack in 2006, I keynoted the Society of Cable Telecom Engineers at their annual conference in Tampa. At the time, YouTube was only just beginning to have an impact, and social networking was still in a nascent stage. It was January — Twitter wasn’t even around!

But there was a lot of talk at the conference about the rapid rate of change that the cable and telecom industry was facing. My job, as opening keynote, was to get them in the right, innovative frame of mind to deal with an upcoming tsunami of change.

I ended up writing an article for Broadband Magazine, on my keynote theme, Are We Thinking “Fast” Enough? I dug the article out the other day with respect to another upcoming talk within the industry.

It still makes for good reading today, starting with the observation that “in this era in which new developments and technology are coming to the market faster than ever before, everyone must become an innovator, whether it be with new business models, skills partnerships or customer solutions.”

Some of the key points I raised are even more critical today:

  • Innovation has moved from the corporate to the collective, a trend that is causing absolutely furious rates of discovery.
  • This rate of scientific advance is such that a world of yottabits and zetabits is going to arrive faster than you might think,
  • Things are happening so fast that some industries are beginning
    to witness the end of the concept of the product life-cycle
  • Rapid innovation and technology development means that new competitors can now come into a marketplace and cause fundamental, significant and long lasting change at the drop of a hat
  • Rapidly evolving technology is resulting in an increasing shortage of critical skills

Run through that list, and ask yourself if that is your industry situation today.

Are you thinking fast enough?

  • Read Are we thinking fast enough? from Broadband Magazine

For years, I’ve been advising my clients that one of the biggest trends for the next decade is the rapid emergence of an intelligent energy infrastructure.

It’s happening now — it’s happening all around you — and the implications are pretty huge in terms of economic growth.

Here’s a video that was filmed two years ago, in which I talk about what happens “when thermostats join the cloud.”

Today, I bought the new ipThermostat app for my iPhone; it provides instant, seamless access to the two Internet-enabled Proliphix thermostats in my home and ski chalet/cottage. I’ve written about these devices previously on this blog. (I could link to my thermostat before, but it was via a Web page. iPThermostat makes it seamless and fast.)

Such connectivity allows me to actively manage my energy spend, and better manage my own little environmental footprint. Take us into a world in which hundreds of millions are doing the same thing, and you put a serious dent into heating and air conditioning spending.

Device connectivity is but one small trend in a number of major trends that are coming together all at once:

  • HVAC 2.0: major industrial players are adding intelligence to the next generation of commercial, industrial and resident heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment. We’re seeing remote monitoring and management; better analysis and insight into ; rapid response to out-of-norm operations. All of this allows people to more actively control overall energy usage
  • increasing energy / electrical system demand: quite simply, despite the recession, the demand on our electrical grid continues to increase. This demands new solutions, with the result that a lot of people are putting a lot of mindshare to the issue of how to squeeze more out of our existing energy infrastructure.
  • the new NIMBYism: one impact of social networking is that it is far more difficult for any utility to build a new power plant. The new activism can slow and delay such efforts, and often, successfully shut them down. This only makes the challenge of doing more with what we have now ever more important.
  • Energy grid 2.0: do a search for “smart grid” and you’ll see a flood of news stories. There’s a tremendous amount of hype, but much of it is real. Cisco recently suggested that the connectivity component of the infrastructure will be worth more than $100 billion over five years. That’s some serious spending.
  • the impact of analytics: raw computing horsepower will help to build the smart grid — companies like Google are aggressively involved. The same horsepower will help consumers and users better understand their usage, and allow more intelligent demand. Big, big trend!

So what does it all mean?

As thermostats plug into the cloud, everything changes.

More information:

  • iPThermostat app from Our Home Spaces
  • Blog post When thermostats get connected
  • Blog post Silicon Valley: Is Innovation Dead?
  • Blog post HVAC 2.0
  • Trends document (big PDF); page 3 Analytics & the energy grid
  • Proliphix Internet enabled thermostats

Here’s an interesting way to think about the issue of high-velocity product innovation.

I was keynoting a conference at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, last September, and was playing into the theme of how product innovation occurs today at a faster pace than ever before.

I told the story of a ‘dive-in movie’ that I held at home for my sons, and how a simple blog posting got picked up by a huge number of consumer technology companies — with an obvious result.

This particular story was a followup to a trend I was speaking about at an event in New York City in 2005 – that involving the rapid emergence of “outdoor living rooms.”

The key point? No matter what industry you are in — consumer products, financial services, technology — product innovation continues to speed up. New markets and products emerge faster than ever before. New brands, potential challengers, and innovative new ideas emerge at a higher velocity.

Related postings:

  • Next big home entertainment trend? Dive-in movies!
  • It’s in to be out! – outdoor trends:

2008analytics.jpgLast November, I released my “What Comes Next” trends perspective, outlining some of the significant trends that I believed would have the most impact in our longer term future. It’s still worth a read, and I don’t think the economic turmoil has changed anything written there.

So I admit I was surprised, given the massive quantity of doom-and-gloom thinking which is smothering creativity everywhere, when I came across this advertisement, offering a 3-day executive level course on ‘Competing with Analytics.” And right there, they’ve quoted my “What Comes Next” document, which was re-printed in Toronto, Canada’s Globe and Mail earlier in January of this year: “Analytics is hot….it’s where the next-billion dollar industries will be born.

I don’t disagree with that assessment, and neither does IBM CEO Sam Palmisano.

As quoted widely, and from an article in eWeek, in early November he made a speech in which he “called on the next administration to invest more money in refurbishing the electronic grid system to reduce the amount of energy required to power it, make better use of information technology to reinvent the way healthcare is provided and green technology investments that would enhance traffic and mass transit systems to make everybody who depends on these systems more efficient.”

Which, if you study it, revolves around analytics, linked to infrastructure. Where’s the growth? We all know where it is!

Obviously Sam is a bit self-serving with his call to action, but the truth is IBM is one of many companies that is at the forefront of smart infrastructure development.

There’s lots of growth out there. Innovators stay focused on opportunity, the future, and educating themselves on the trends that are going to have real impact in the future. Ten years back, you’ll look at this advertisement and think — “man, those guys were on to something.”

I think I’ll write the folks running the 3-day course and see if they will give me a complimentary admission. (-;

More information

  • “What Comes Next: A Trends Perspective for the Future” adobe.gif
  • Competing with Analytics course Web site
  • Time for a new digital deal – eWeek

leadership08.jpgLast week, I spoke in Palo Alto for a a small, intimate dinner of a number of CIO’s for a variety of companies based in Silicon Valley. The focus of the talk was “how to provide for a culture and focus on innovation during a down market?”

I spoke to this issue from a number of perspectives. One issue I touched on was the inevitability of a rebound in the fortune of IT. If we cast our minds out two to five years, or perhaps even sooner, there are certain key trends in which we see a massive amount of innovation:

  • pervasive connectivity: we’ve barely scratched the surface of the era in which everyday devices gain connectivity and intelligence. The Internet enabled thermostat in my home is but a harbinger of what is yet to come. With it’s own Web browser, it has become a fascinating tool by which energy usage can be more closely monitored. The same device is deployed throughout the Arby’s chain, and offers a significant new method of controlling energy-spend.
  • continued growth of mobile: One recent survey of consumers suggested that while they might be willing to give up buying the latest plasma TV, there was no way they’d give up mobile or the Internet. Mobile is weaving itself into daily life, sophisticated platforms are finally here, devices are fashion, developers are on board in a big way, and the emerging applications are either real and useful, or just a tremendous bit of fun.
  • location intelligence: we’re barely scratching the surface with this one. Every device around us is becoming connected (pervasive connectivity), and we’ll gain knowledge as to its status through sensory awareness. Not only that : we’ll know exactly where it is. Search for “location intelligence professionals” online, and you’ll discover a group of people who understand how unique our future is set to be.
  • computational analytics: I’ve written about this before, in the context of this being “the next billion dollar industry.” Some of the biggest challenges we face and the solutions that we find for them — in terms of transportation, energy and the environment — will come from applying massive computing power and complex alogorithms to them. Think about smart highway infrastructure as an example: it would be ludicrous to not believe that we will see 5, 10, 15 or 20% incremental increases in energy conservation that will come from ever-more
    automated traffic systems.
  • staggering new mass markets: six months ago, it was believed that in the next 10 years, 1 billion people worldwide would move into the middle class. Maybe it’s only half that now : who knows? But 500 million is still a staggering number. There is plenty of potential for connectivity, mobile, hardware and software to newly emerging mass markets.
  • bio-connectivity: if I were a betting man, I’d have my money on this trend. Simply put, the global health care system is massively broken. Ten years out, home health care will pre-dominate, supported by a sophisticated infrastructure of smart health care energy devices. Yes, I’ve written about this trend on this blog too; see below.
  • transformational thinking: an entire generation has been stuck in an older paradigm of how to network; the election of a younger President, wired to the nation and the world, who thinks, interacts, moves, plans, and acts differently, sets even more velocity to the power of connectivity. The Internet, mobile, social networking and blogs changed an entire presidential race; they’re set to change everything else in society on a continuous basis.

Like everywhere, Silicon Valley is being impacted today by a focus on the downside. This happened in every earlier recession; but at the same time, innovators toiled away, coming up with the next amazing devices, concepts, software, ideas and infrastructure that later boggles the mind. We’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of what comes next.

More information:

  • Read about what happens When Thermostats get connected
  • Read the article about bio-connectivity, The Doctor is in around the clock
  • Read the article Minds of their own
  • Read “Bioconnectivity and the rapid emergence of new markets”
  • Read the article Command and Control – Opportunity Awaits Companies that Master Hyperconnectivity

100Days3.jpgOne of the key issues I point out when speaking about innovation strategies, is that organizations need to continually challenge themselves as to whether they can “act fast enough.”

In other words, innovative organizations “check their speed.” If they aren’t responding quickly enough to rapid market, product, competitive and business model change, then they aren’t following one of the key traits of successful innovators. If they aren’t ensuring they are keeping up with rapid consumer and customer preference, service levels or marketing and branding innovation, they become an innovation laggard rather than a leader. If they can’t collaborate and share knowledge as a team, in order to capitalize on new emerging opportunities or respond to threats, then they aren’t operating at the right pace.

I was reminded of this point today, when I saw that Workplace Today, an HR focused publication, reprinted my article, Are We Thinking Fast Enough, which was originally published in Broadband magazine in 2006. The article was written for folks working in the telecom and hi-tech industries, and challenged them to “check their speed.”

Looking back at the article, you can see the speed of change that has occurred. Take a look at the hi-tech gear that surrounds you, and think about quickly things become obsolete. In one of my cabinets in the home office, I’ve got about six generations of Blackberry devices. The first one looks absolutely ancient — and yet, is from about 2001. I’ve also got an MP3 player from 1998 that could hold about five songs. It seems positively old-fashioned.

Such things are reminders that we live in a fast paced world — and that innovators MUST check their speed in order to stay ahead in their markets. Here’s the clincher — it doesn’t matter what industry I’m speaking too — I can point people to similar degrees of high velocity change, and challenge them to think faster.

More information on the concept of “checking your speed:

  • Read the original article Are we moving fast enough?
  • Explore the concept of “thinking fast” in the blog section, “Faster”

bioconnectivity-08.jpgIt’s been announced that I will be a keynote speaker at the World HealthCare Innovation & Technology Conference, to be held in Washington, DC in December. In particular, I’ll be taking a look at the importance of one of the most significant trends that is just starting to unfold.

Twenty years from now, most people will look back and realize that right about now, we had three huge, transformative trends underway: device connectivity, geo-connectivity, and bio-connectivity

Essentially, everything around is about to become linked in — every device that surrounds your life. My home thermostat is linked to the Internet, and that has changed the scope of how I interact with energy.

Layered on top of device connectivity is spatial intelligence for each device — vis-a-vis Google Maps types of applications. Think about new forms of energy management built upon sophisticated geographic mapping applications.

Add to this the fact that this type of technology will migrate to devices that will help us better manage complex health circumstances.

I’ve been writing and speaking about the idea of bio-connectivity and the concept of “hyper-connectivity” for over a decade (before Nortel lamely built a lame marketing campaign around the latter phrase a year ago.) It remains one of the most significant trends that will yet unfold in the health care sector. Our concept of health care delivery will be forever transformed.

Simply put, link the scope of the looming health care crisis to the momentum that will come from Silicon Valley for medical device connectivity, and there are some pretty powerful things happening. Think about what happens as spatial device connectivity comes to everyday things around you — such as a baseball bat! Read more below. There’s a lot going on in this space, and you’d do well to understand it.

Opportunity through the next decade is going to be found by those who will adjust and adapt buisness models, attitudues, structures, methodologies and capabilities to this new reality.

More information:

  • HealthCare Innovation & Technology Conference
  • Read about what happens When Thermostats get connected
  • Read the article about bio-connectivity, The Doctor is in around the clock
  • Read the article Minds of their own
  • Read “Bioconnectivity and the rapid emergence of new markets”
  • Read the article Command and Control – Opportunity Awaits Companies that Master Hyperconnectivity

It’s been confirmed that I’ll be the opening keynote speaker for this large scale annual conference in mid-July.

My topic theme is “Smash that box” — I’ll take a look at the “key strategies and leadership ideas that have assisted some organizations to achieve breakthrough innovations and absolutely compelling levels of productivity.”

I’ve done an extensive number of high profile IT / hi-tech events like this – with clients like SAP, IBM, Ingram Micro., Microsoft, Motorola, NCR, the Society of Cable Telecom Engineers, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company and Verizon, in events that have been internally focus, or are large scale opportunities for executives to rethink the strategic role of IT.

It will be a pleasure to share my insight in Sydney. I’m a big believer that many organizations have barely scratched the innovation-surface when it comes to IT deployment; many organizations are still in basic implementation mode, and haven’t learned how to really leverage their investment to provide for significant transformation of their overall organizational capabilities.

  • More information
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