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The average consumer scans some 12 feet of shelf space per second. Mobile interactions in the retail space are about to become common. You've got but multi-seconds to grab their attention.

When the GAP went looking for a trends and innovation expert to speak to a small, intimate group of senior executives, they chose Jim Carroll. He has been the keynote speaker for some of the largest retail conferences in the world, with audiences of up to 7,000 people in Las Vegas, including Consumer Goods Technology Business & Technology Leadership Conference • Subway • Multi-Unit Franchise Conference Las Vegas • Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit • Consumer Electronics Association CEO Summit • Retail Value Chain Federation • Yum! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut) Global Leadership Conference • Burger King Global Franchise Meeting • VIBE (Very Important Beverage Executives) Summit • Manufacturing Jewelers Suppliers of America • National Home Furnishings Association • Do It Best Corporation • US Department of Defence Commissary Agency • Readers Digest Food & Entertainment Group Branding/Retail Summit • Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association • National Association of Truck Stop Operators • Convenience U annual conference • Point of Purchase Advertising International Association • Chain Drug Store Association of Canada • Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors • Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers

The folks at the UK’s Retail News publication recently interviewed me on the future of retail; I’ll be featured in their upcoming 125th anniversary edition coming out in mid-July.

eplThey’ve just run a teaser for the article on their Web site.

I promise to put up a full version of the article when it appears; for now, here’s the tease!


Step into the future with RN as we celebrate 125 years
by BetterRetailing.com / Retail News, May 1, 2014

Picture this: you are driving along and ask Siri in your dashboard where you can buy a dozen eggs.

She will put up five stores on the map and you will pick one. The car’s autonomous driving technology will take you there and the embedded payment technology will pay for your purchase.

This may seem like science fiction, but it is likely to happen by 2017, according to Canadian futurist Jim Carroll, and was just one of the topics discussed when I interviewed him last week.

If you are thinking about the future of your business and how to make it profitable you won’t want to miss RN’s 125th anniversary issue on 18 July He has run sessions for the leadership teams of NASA, the PGA and global retail brands like Gap on preparing for the future. He agreed to talk to RN when I pitched him to appear in our 125th anniversary issue coming up on 18 July.

It’s a project the whole team is working on. Rather than looking back at our history of helping retailers run successful businesses, we will look forward to the future of local shops.

Our aim is to get the most proactive retailers to think about the things they need to do now to be successful next year and long into the future. Our main article will look at the future of convenience retail in 125 objects.

We are also interviewing retail industry leaders and celebrities like Sainsbury’s head of convenience Simon Twigger, Glamour and Private Eye editors Jo Elvin and Ian Hislop and JTI managing director Daniel Torras, as well as many others in the run up to 18 July throughout June and July.

RN has produced nearly 6,500 issues over the past 125 years, including four days after D-Day and the day before England won the World Cup.

But if you are thinking about the future of your business and how you can make it profitable, you won’t want to miss RN this summer.


 

I’ve been saying at many of the retail conferences I’ve had the opportunity to keynote, that we will see more change in retail in the next 5 years than we have seen in the last 100. These folks have been around for 125 years. This promises to be a fun article!

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 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.

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!

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

 

Franchise

I found this recently from a keynote two years back….

Future Trends: Futurist, Trends, and Innovation Expert to Keynote Multi-Unit Conference

Jim Carroll loves to predict where the world is going. As such, he has become one of the world’s leading international futurists, trends, and innovation experts. His analysis digs deep into topics such as technology, business model change, fast paced innovation, and global challenges and growth. He’s been in demand with such clients as Northrop Grumman, Visa, Rockwell Collins, Lincoln Financial, and the Walt Disney organization. He was featured as an innovation expert on the global CNBC show, the Business of Innovation, and was named one of four leading sources for insight into innovation by Business Week magazine.

Jim Carroll loves to predict where the world is going. As such, he has become one of the world’s leading international futurists, trends, and innovation experts. His analysis digs deep into topics such as technology, business model change, fast paced innovation, and global challenges and growth. He’s been in demand with such clients as Northrop Grumman, Visa, Rockwell Collins, Lincoln Financial, and the Walt Disney organization. He was featured as an innovation expert on the global CNBC show, the Business of Innovation, and was named one of four leading sources for insight into innovation by Business Week magazine.

He’ll be bringing his latest insight to the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference this April at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas where he’ll be a keynote speaker.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Carroll and posed some franchise-specific questions. Here’s what he shared with us.

In terms of the future, what do multi-unit franchisees have to fear?

Well, 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.

What kinds of things do multi-unit franchisees have to look forward to?

Oh, there are just so many opportunities to grow the business. We’ve got all kind 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!

What kinds of things do multi-unit franchisees need to be doing in their businesses right now?

Investing in experiential capital. Look, there’s so much new stuff happening out there, and markets are changing so quickly, that the only way to get ahead is to try out a lot of new ideas. In a world in which Apple generates 60 percent of its revenue from products that didn’t exist four years ago, it’s critically important that an organization constantly enhance the skill, capabilities, and insight of their people. They do this by constantly working on projects that might have an uncertain return and payback – but which will provide in-depth experience and insight into change. It’s by understanding change that opportunity is defined, and that’s what experiential capital happens to be. In the future, it will be one of the most important assets you can possess.

What kinds of things should multi-unit franchisees stop doing?

Making excuses. Look, it’s all too easy to avoid the future and not do the tough things. Stop using what I call the “innovation killers,” phrases like:

  • “We’ve always done it this way”
  • “It won’t work”
  • “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard”
  • “That’s not my problem”
  • “You can’t do that”
  • “I don’t know how”
  • “I don’t think I can”
  • “I didn’t know that”
  • “The boss won’t go for it”
  • “Why should I care?”

What can multi-unit franchisees do better right now and how?

Change their attitude to try new things. Innovation is critical. Innovative companies act differently.

In these organizations ideas flow freely throughout, subversion is a virtue and success and failure are championed. There are many, many leaders who encourage innovative thinking, rather than managers who run a bureaucracy. There are creative champions throughout the organization – people who thrive on thinking about how to do things differently. Ideas get approval and endorsement rather than stating “it can’t be done,” people ask, “how could we do this?”

People know that in addition to R&D, innovation is also about ideas to “run the business better, grow the business, and transform the business.” The word “innovation” is found in most job descriptions as a primary area of responsibility, and a percentage of annual remuneration is based upon achievement of explicitly defined innovation goals The fact is, every organization should be able to develop innovation as a core virtue — if they aren’t, they certainly won’t survive the rapid rate of change that envelopes us today.

A quick article from a quick interview over at Property Biz Canada, about a keynote that I did last week for the Building Owners and Managers Association.
future-of-retail1

Jim Carroll has seen the future of retail – and it will be vastly different from today’s environment.

The Mississauga-based futurist has just returned from a trip to the United States, where he spends much of his time consulting with clients and on speaking engagements. While south of the border, Carroll said he found out that retail giant Amazon.com is in the midst of setting up infrastructure that will allow the company to provide same-day delivery to 50 per cent of the U.S. population.

Walmart, Google and, closer to home, Canada Post are planning to provide the same kind of service. “That has pretty big and profound implications on the retail space,” Carroll said in a phone interview.

It’s these types of insights that Carroll will share in Halifax as part of BOMEX 2013, the annual conference and trade show of the Building Owners & Managers Association. Some 300 delegates from across Canada are expected to attend the Oct 1-3 conference.

Carroll is one of the world’s leading futurists on global trends and innovation. Business Week magazine cites him as a top source for creative insight, while Fortune frequently covers his observations.

The author, columnist and media commentator focuses on linking trends to innovation and creativity. He has a 20-year track record in providing direct, independence guidance to a diverse, global client base.

Keynote to cover retail and workplace trends

Carroll said he was recently with one client, a global retailer, who told him they believe fashion retail stores will evolve into showrooms where they don’t necessarily stock all the inventory. Instead, clothes will be ordered through sophisticated band-end logistics systems supporting their online shopping technology with consumers receiving same-day delivery.

“I’m going to get into stuff like that,” Carroll said of the upcoming conference, where he will discuss where the workforce is headed and how it might contract and expand, what happens when intelligent technology comes to the building space and other trends on what it means to the building managers and owners of the future.

The RVCF – Retail Value Chain Federation — represents a membership of some of the largest and most sophisticated retailers in the world. Organizations such as Wal-Mart, Neiman Marcus, Costco, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Saks Ffth Avenue.

Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 1.39.45 PMAnd so I’m thrilled to announce their announcement that I’ll be the opening keynote for their upcoming annual conference — speaking the rapid trends that are rapidly reshaping every aspect of the world of retail.

The conference will be held in November in Scottsdale, Arizona.

I am sure there will be an opportunity to golf!

Here’s the press release.


RVCF Announces Keynote Jim Carroll for the Upcoming 2013 Annual Fall Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona

“The future belongs to those who are fast!” by Jim Carroll, Futurist, Trends & Innovation Expert. In the world of retail in 2013 and beyond, we will be seeing the more rapid emergence of new ways of doing business, and it’s leading us to a time in which companies have to instantly be able to copy any move by their competition – or risk falling behind.

South Plainfield, NJ (PRWEB) April 18, 2013

In the world of retail in 2013 and beyond, we will be seeing the more rapid emergence of new ways of doing business, and it’s leading us to a time in which companies have to instantly be able to copy any move by their competition – or risk falling behind.

For example, think about what is going on in retail, with one major trend defining the future: the Apple Store checkout process, which involves the elimination of the cash register. Apple has such an impact on retail design and consumer behavior today that many other retailers are now scrambling to duplicate the process, trying to link themselves to the cool Apple cachet.

That’s the new reality in the world of business — pacesetters today can swiftly and suddenly change the pace and structure of an industry, and other competitors have to scramble to keep up. Consider this scenario, which recently unfolded: Amazon announces a same day delivery in some major centers. Google and Walmart almost immediately jump on board. And in just a short time, retailers in every major city are going to have be able to play the same game!

Then there is in-store promotion. We’re entering the era of constant video bombardment in the retail space. How fast is the trend towards constant interaction evolving? Consider the comments by Ron Boire, the new Chief Marketing Officer for Sears in the US (and former chief executive of Brookstone Inc.): “My focus will really be on creating more and better theater in the stores”.

We are going to see a linking of this ‘in-store theater’ with our mobile devices and our social networking relationships. Our Facebook app for a store brand (or the fact we’ve ‘liked’ the brand) will know we’re in the store, causing a customized commercial to run, offering us a personalized product promotion with a hefty discount. This type of scenario will be here faster than you think.

Fast format change, instant business model implementation and rapid-fire strategic moves. That’s the new reality for retail business, and it’s the innovators who will adapt. Join RVCF as international futurist, innovation and trends expert Jim Carroll challenges us about a world in which the future belongs to those who are fast. Jim’s clients include The GAP, the Walt Disney Corporation, ESPN, Johnson & Johnson, the PGA of America, and many, many more.

The RVCF 2013 Annual Fall Conference will take place at the Westin Kierland in Scottsdale, AZ from Sunday, November 3 through Wednesday, November 6. For more information and to register, please visit us on the web athttp://bit.ly/RVCF2013Fall.

About Jim Carroll

Jim Carroll, Futurist, Trends and Innovation Expert.
Jim Carroll is one of the world’s leading futurists, trends & innovation experts. And it’s his inspirational, transformative thinking that will help you discover opportunity in an era of high-velocity change. And in his most recent keynotes and leadership sessions, he has been helping his clients meet the challenges of the economic contraction by focusing on innovation, and by aligning their strategy to fast-paced future trends.

He speaks on a wide variety of topics, including technology, business model change, innovation, and global challenges and growth.

He is the author of several books, including “The Future Belongs To Those Who Are Fast”, “Ready, Set, Done: How to Innovate When Faster is the New Fast” and “What I Learned from Frogs in Texas: Saving Your Skin with Forward Thinking Innovation.”

About Retail Value Chain Federation.

Driving Continuous Innovation, Collaboration and Perfect Execution
RVCF promotes best practices, trading partner alignment, collaboration, and technology solutions to streamline operations, lower costs and speed goods to market throughout the retail value chain. For more information, visit http://www.rvcf.com.

Media Contact:

Sheri Kurdakul
media(at)rvcf(dot)com
646-442-3701

I had the honor of being a keynote speaker for the recent Canadian Automotive Dealers Association Summit 2013, sharing the agenda with the legendary Bob Lutz, former Vice Chairman of GM, and Steve Rattner (Obama’s “Car Czar” and the main architect of the 2009 North American auto industry restructuring).

Think forward to how quickly technology and automobiles are going to evolve, particularly with autonomous driving technology. Who will win at this race? Google or Ford? Apple or GM?

Think forward to how quickly technology and automobiles are going to evolve, particularly with autonomous driving technology. Who will win at this race? Google or Ford? Apple or GM?

It’s a fascinating time for the auto industry — in many regions of the world, signs of significant recovery abound, sales are up, and happy days are here again!

On the other hand, there’s still the rest of the future to contend with.

And that was the focus on my keynote. There’s certainly a lot that’s happening, and some pretty big changes. For auto dealers, it will be their ability to innovate in the context of these trends that will define their future success.

So what did I concentrate on? I framed my keynote around 4 major trends, which I called:

  • transformation
  • acceleration
  • interaction
  • generations

Let’s take a look.

1. Transformation

The most significant change to the auto industry is already well underway, and is easily summarized by one of the slides from my deck:

AutomotiveInnovation

Quite simply, the pace, control and speed of innovation is shifting from auto companies in Detroit (and elsewhere) to the technology companies of Silicon Valley. This was the focus an article run in an industry publication before my talk, Detroit isn’t keep pace with innovation, says futurist Jim Carroll.

“Shifting customer expectations are driving part of that change as drivers will now expect their vehicles to be as advanced, easy to use and even as “replaceable” as their smartphones and tablet devices that are so central to their lives.

He says dealers need to ensure their staff is ready to adapt to the change. “A car you sell today might be out of date two years from now,” he says. “How do you keep your salesforce and service force up to date with that speed of change?”

“Some people see a trend and see a threat. Real innovative people see the same trend and they see opportunity. That’s what dealers need to ensure they do when they think about this very fast paced future,” says Carroll.

Mobile will also forever change the retail experience and dealers will need to adjust to provide better customer experiences. “I will talk about the changes going on in retail,” says Carroll. “Mobile is the big story.”

He says social media and mobile shopping is having a huge impact on purchasing decisions. “There is a lot of technology that is coming that will link to mobile.” These new technologies will forever change the customer interaction with retailers. “It’s happening very, very quickly,” says Carroll.

In my keynote, I played into this theme. To start out, I asked the audience how many people in the audience used all the features of their new “Smart TV’s.” Very few hands went up.

Why? Because many people are coming to the conclusion that most smart TV’s are actually pretty dumb! What we’ve seen in the last several years, with most so-called smart TV’s, is a situation in which television manufacturers, who have never been really part of the Silicon Valley technology and design culture, suddenly began throwing all kinds of features onto televisions, such as Facebook, Twitter, Netflix.

The result is, if you pardon the expression, a real barf-bag of clumsy screen navigation, confusing remotes, ill-designed apps, and, well, just a bit of a major FAIL.

Smart TV’s? No one uses smart TV’s because they’re dumb. And that seems to be a message that is resonating on the Internet; such as this article recently featured on Wired.

SmartTVSucks

“People aren’t using their internet-connected smart TVs for anything beyond, well, watching TV. It turns out, nobody wants to tweet from their TV. Or read books. Or do whatever it is people do on LinkedIn. Worse, more than 40 percent of the people who buy a connected TV aren’t even using it for its ostensible primary purpose: getting online video onto the biggest screen in your home. “

Contrast the Smart TV experience to the Apple TV. The latter has a crisp design, clean, simple and intuitive interface. Quite simply, it just works.

Now think about the new car that you might own. It’s got a new, cool GPS navigation system. Perhaps an interface to your iPhone. Some entertainment options. And most likely, it’s probably clunky as heck. Slow. Cumbersome to use. Just difficult to navigate. Noted the New York Times in an article in June 2012: “‘See, you spin this knob here, which moves you through these selections up here. Then you press down on the knob to select something, but don’t forget about the other menus under this button…”

And that where we are in the auto industry today: we have a lot of car companies working to try to figure out how to make technology work. And the fact is, in a world in which the future belongs to those who are fast, they are having a difficult time doing so. They don’t get great, clean design. And they have horrifically long development lead times: PCMagazine observed that “a 2012 car could have a system originally designed in 2006 and put into production in 2008 when that model first hit the streets.”

Maybe what is happening is that car companies are making the same mistakes that TV companies made. They’re making a lot of cars with a lot of cool technology that few people will use, because, well, the interface and design sucks!

Contrast any auto company and their dashboard experience to that of Tesla Motors, the “Silicon Valley” car company! This is a technology company that is figuring out how to make cars, a completely different paradigm. And most people would conclude that they’ve nailed the part of in-car design. The reviews of the in-car dash, with it’s crisp 17″ screen, show a passion and delight within the customer base. It’s like the Mac or OS/X design for automobiles!

Tesla isn’t a car company. It’s a tech company, headquartered in a hive of innovation that helped lure the sharp minds who conceptualized the car from an outsider’s perspective……If Tesla is a technology company, the evidence starts with the car’s innovative infotainment system. The 17-inch touch screen controls nearly everything — including navigation, stereo, climate control and driving settings. As clear and touch-sensitive as an Apple iPad, the huge screen can easily accommodate multiple functions at once.
Although Tesla’s future remains uncertain, its Model S delivers on the firm’s grand ambitions, 9 February 2013, Los Angeles Times

Think forward to how quickly technology and automobiles are going to evolve, particularly with autonomous driving technology. Who will win at this race? Google or Ford? Apple or GM?

I think my answer is probably pretty clear!

2. Acceleration

The second trend I spoke too was the fact that the problem above was coming about because the auto industry was now finding itself subject to the dramatic change that is wrought by Silicon Valley when it starts to take over the rate of innovation in an industry. This is a topic I frequently cover — take a look at my post, “Silicon Valley Innovation Set to Dominate Every Industry.”

Consider the auto industry just over 5 to 6 ago:

  • cars were starting to arrive with built-in GPS!
  • a multi-disc CD changer was a REALLY COOL accessory!
  • auto companies were putting “MP3 plugs” into cars!
  • Bill Gates announced Ford Sync at the Detroit Auto Show!

Now consider what could be really big in the auto industry just five years from now; I suggested that the pace of innovation is such that we could see:

  • autonomous vehicles everywhere
  • a SIRI button in every car
  • augmented reality screens with heads up display in most cars
  • glasses-free 3D dashboards
  • interactive in-car billboards (i.e. a store interacts with you via your social network relationship, and alerts you there’s one nearby. You simply say, “take me there!”)
  • open-platforms for extensibility and customization of the in-board dash!

Of course, many people in the room probably sat back and reacted “that’s the dumbest thing I ever heard!” — which I pointed out, observing that this is one of the key attitudes that holds people back from trying to pursue new ideas!

I suspect we are going to see a tremendous amount of technologiical innovation occuring in the automobile space in the next five years, and most people will simply be floored by the velocity of what occurs.

3. Interaction

The third trend I spoke on was the change that would quickly come to automotive dealers, around the theme of the ‘future of retail.’ I’ve done quite a bit in this space; most recnetly, for example, I spoke at a senior leadership meeting with senior executives of The GAP, the global fashion/clothing brand.

There’s a key quote I found that I think summarizes the reality facing us: “The next five years will bring more change to retail than the last 100 years” (from Cyriac Roeding, the CEO of Shopkick, a location- based shopping app available at Macy’s, Target and other top retailers)

There is much happening here — I’ve recently been speaking at a variety of retail conferences — and will summarize that into a different post.

4. Generations

The fourth topic on the list? As automobiles become more technologically advanced, there is an increasing amount of generational discomfort with some dealers, particularly with some who are struggling to deal with all this change!

The UK Birmingham Post, reporting on a Ford dealership training session, noted  that….35% of sales staff had little confidence in their own ability to demonstrate hi-tech in-car equipment such as Bluetooth devices and voice control systems”

That’s a pretty staggering observation if true!  And that is happening in the context in which more young people are visiting the same dealers, and participating in the practive of “showrooming.” In an article from the Dow Jones News Service  Dealers Take Notice as More People Use Phones to Buy Cars9 February 2013,, it was said that 

  • “...more than a third used their mobile phone to help research pricing and other factors while on dealer lots. That’s compared to 19% for other age categories.”

And so clearly, we have a really unique generational dynamic happening in auto-showrooms!

—–

Put it all together, and it is clear that the automotive industry, and the dealers who support it, are in a particularly unique period of time that involves a lot of change, transition and tranformation!

 

Two years ago, I was the keynote speaker for an annual conference of Consumer Goods and Technology Magazine, and from that a great relationship was born, with a few repeat bookings into other conferences and events that they run.

 pacesetters today can swiftly and suddenly change the pace and structure of an industry, and other competitors have to scramble to keep up

“Pacesetters today can swiftly and suddenly change the pace and structure of an industry, and other competitors have to scramble to keep up” – Grab the full CGT report with the image above!

And for the second year in a row, I’m featured in their 2013 Review & Outlook: The best and brightest minds in consumer goods share predictions and guidance for the coming year publication, with many other luminaries in the industry.

My contribution follows below. You can grab the entire PDF of the report by clicking on the image of the cover. Registration is required.


Jim Carroll, Futurist, Trends & Innovation Expert

The future belongs to those who are fast!

In the world of retail in 2013 and beyond, we will be seeing the more rapid emergence of new ways of doing business, and it’s leading us to a time in which companies have to instantly be able to copy any move made by their competition — or  risk falling behind.

For example, think about what is going on in retail, with one major trend defining the future: the Apple Store checkout process, which involves the elimination of the cash register. Apple has such an impact on retail design and consumer behaviour today that many other retailers are now scrambling to duplicate the process, trying to link themselves to the cool Apple cachet.

That’s the new reality in the world of business — pacesetters today can swiftly and suddenly change the pace and structure of an industry, and other competitors have to scramble to keep up.

Consider this scenario, which recently unfolded: Amazon. com announces a same day delivery in some major centers. Google and Walmart almost immediately jump on board. And in just a short time, retailers in every major city are going to have to be able to play the same game!

Then there is in-store promotion. We’re entering the era of constant video bombardment in the retail space. How fast is the trend toward constant interaction evolving? Consider the comments by Ron Boire, the new chief marketing officer for Sears in the United States (and former chief executive of Brookstone Inc.): ”My focus will really be on creating more and better theater in the stores.”

We are going to see a linking of this “in-store theater” with mobile devices and social networking relationships. Our Facebook app for a store brand (or the fact we’ve ‘”liked” the brand) will know we’re in the store, causing a customized commercial to run, offering us a personalized product promo- tion with a hefty discount. This type of scenario will be here faster than you think!

Fast format change, instant business model implementation, rapid-fire strategic moves — that’s the new reality for retail busi- ness, and it’s the innovators who will adapt.

CGT2013-Jim Carroll

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