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Here’s some of the key trends that I see unfolding through 2012 and beyond.

My unique job allows me the opportunity to see and hear what a lot of CEO’s and senior executives in a lot of organizations are thinking about. The  nature of my keynotes and small board / leadership meetings allows me to understand what folks are focused on. The research I do, whether for a major manufacturing conference in Las Vegas or a small corporate meeting with an ice cream company allows me to see the key trends that are unfolding right now.

And so given this unique perch, here’s some of the most important trends which will play out in the year to come.

  •  Biz competes again. North American and Western European companies have lived with constant fear, with the rapid rise of China, the BRIC countries and the N11 on the world  stage. And yet, we’re now witnessing a scene from the movie 2010: “HAL-9000 – ‘What’s going to happen?’ DAVE – ‘Something wonderful.‘ My sense is that a wide variety of industries, from agriculture to manufacturing to industrial design have been going through a renaissance of thinking in the last few years, and have learned what they need to do to re-innovate, grow again, and aggressively return to local and global markets. Read my “Build-America” blog post for some of what I’m thinking here — and stayed tuned!
  • The rise of the tinkering economy. The future is once again being built in the garage next door. But this time, it’s the hyper-connected, innovation oriented tinkering economy which is driving things forward. Get used to phrases like “micro factories,” “hobby designers” and”personal factories.”  The future of design, business and manufacturing is being reinvented at collaborative idea factories such as Ponoko, Etsy and  eMachineShop.com. There’s a revolution underway which is being driven by a globally connected, creatively driven new generation of hobbyists, and the impact is going to be massive!
  • Relationships change. Everywhere around us, the relationship that we have in our lives with the things that surround is, well, changing. Our relationship with food is changing as mobile technologies come to influence what we buy, how we shop,  and how we track our food intake. Our relationship with our body is undergoing a change as we come to use those same mobile technologies to monitor our diet, track our blood pressure another vital signs. Our relationship with clothing is changing as embedded technology becomes a part of what we wear — think about GPS enabled shoes for Alzheimers patients and Zephyr’s smart-clothing — which can be used by athletes to track their performance. When relationships change, everything changes, and opportunities for growth and innovative thinking abound!
  • Generational re-generation: everywhere we look, there’s a massive generational turnover underway, with a change in ownership of organizations from slow moving change adverse baby-boomers to a younger generation that inhales change as a form of innovation oxygen. As family farms and ranches are passed on from father to son and daughter, the rate of adoption of new farming and herd management ideas takes on a greater degree of speed.  As older doctors and nurses who were weaned on the paper-heavy patient file head into retirement, they being replaced by new medical residents who are arriving in the clinic, operating room and by the hospital bed with their iPads, ready to plug in! A shift from change-aversion to change-is-the-greatest-drug is a trend that speeds up our world even more!
  • Revenue reinvention. Every company is coming to face the reality that they have to become just like Apple in order to survive. The fact that Apple generates over 60% of its revenue from products that didn’t exist 4 years ago might today be an aberration, but given the increasing velocity of business cycles, product innovation, the arrival of new business models, changing customer expectations, the impact of social networks and a series of other trends, and soon every organization will find itself in a reality in which constant, relentless reinvention of its product or service line will the crucial to future success.
  • The Dominance of Design. We’re on the edge of a massive new era of creativity, with a trend that we might even call the ‘IPad-ization of Life.’ All one has to do is look at the new Nest thermostat to realize that a new generation of brilliant creativity is about to remake our world. We’re not doomed to a future in which everything around us in the future is going to look just like it did in the past – Apple’s design influence is quickly going to impact everything around us – from the cars we drive to the lamps we use to the fridges we open, to the buses we catch. Clean, simple, easy interfaces and crisp, cool lines, But it’s not just the looks — its the fact that with this new era of design comes intelligence. Our future is going to look great , intelligent and interactive!
  • Chip-velocity! Moore’s law used to apply only to the computer industry. Yet the rule that the processing power of a computer chip doubles every year while its cost cuts in half is taking on new meaning, as your phone becomes a credit card, your car watches how well you drive on behalf of your insurance company, and your clothing talks to your doctor! All of a sudden, in the era of relentless, pervasive connectivity, innovation in every single industry speeds up when Silicon Valley takes over the innovation agenda!
  • Life beyond politics. While the US Presidential election and political turmoil will dominate the headlines for 2012, a new generation of leaders are focused on BIG THINKING, BIG IDEAS, and BOLD MOVES. There’s a realization that political gridlock is the new normal, whether its the Democrats and Republications staring each other down, or France and Germany looking at Italy and Greece with a mystified sense of stunned confusion. So while politicians fail to get things done, innovative organizations are casting their mind to the future trends which will really provide opportunity in the future. It’s fascinating — the future is back in vogue again! And the thinking that is driving it is that we aren’t going to fix the problems of the future by doing what we’ve done in the past. And if we do things differently with those problems – that’s how we’ll discover the next big opportunity. This is the new mindset driving activities in the world of energy, the environment and healthcare!
  • Leading locally. There’s something odd going on — as the world gets global, we’re all going local.  We’re seeing it with sustainability  and local foods; angst and anger at banks and moves to credit unions; and a new volunteerism – as unemployment grew to 7.6%, volunteer service grew by 16%! We’re seeing it with local business – a University of Pennsylvania study found that areas with small, locally owned business (<100 employees) had greater per capita income growth than those with the presence of larger, nonlocal firms! There’s a new focus on local co-ops — with more than 100 million people employed worldwide in some type of local co-op. Thats’ why its fitting that 2012 is the International Year of the Cooperatives, a business model that has stood the test of time for over 150 years. Where-ever you look, while we are thinking global, we’re acting local!
  • Strategy re-dos. The impact of all these trends? Executives quickly coming to realize that what they’ve been doing in the past isn’t to hold them forward into the future. It’s time to throw out all the old assumptions and try things that are new!

Here’s to 2012!

Approaching a new year is always a good time to check your mindset. Do you have the right degree of optimism and enthusiasm to tackle the opportunities of the future? Are you spending enough time of thinking about what you can really do if you are innovative? Are you really prepared for how the ‘next generation’ of wired kids is going to change our world? Here’s a few video highlights from various keynotes throughout the year that might get you thinking!

As we wind down 2011, it’s a good time to reflect on some of the events I highlighted this year. It proved to be quite the year year, with many fascinating events where I opened or closed a large scale conference or corporate meeting with a keynote address.

One of Jim's key themes is the opportunities of the future - at one in Las Vegas, one fellow was so inspired by the message that he asked Jim when he might consider running for President of the United States. Click to watch!

As we approach the end of the year, everyone turns their attention to 2012 — and begins to wonder “what comes next?” All of my clients are focused on that theme when they engage me for a keynote or corporate workshop — and so a sense of what they were thinking about in 2011 gives you a good sense of what’s going to be important in 2012!

Some of the highlights from this year includes these events:

  • CSC Executive Exchange 2011, St. Andrews, Scotland. A small, intimate, invitation only event where I shared keynote duties with Jimmy Wales, the Founder of WikiPedia. I had CEO’s, CIO’s and CFO’s of some pretty major global organizations. Key theme: “The Next Wave of Digital Game-Changers” – I took a look at how every industry is soon to be caught up in Silicon Valley velocity, as technological comes to change every industry at lightening speed.
  • McKesson IdeaShare 2011, San Francisco, California. Changing roles, changing opportunities. I open this annual event with a message for 4,500 pharmacist / owners that with significant challenges and change in the world of healthcare and retail, the time is ripe for them to innovate with their role and their methods because their has never provided a bigger time for opportunity. The big theme: “Healthcare 2020: The Transformative Trends That Will REALLY Define Our Future.” This proved to be a huge topic for this year, and continues into 2012, as people come to seek insight on what will really happen in the world of healthcare beyond the current political rhetoric.
  • Multi-Unit Franchising Conference 2011, Las Vegas. I share the stage with Sean Tuohy, subject of the Blind Side, who owns quite a few franchise operations on his own. The focus in my keynote is on the fast changes occurring in the world of retail with consumers, technology, advertising and branding, social networking – you name it all!
  • US Air Force Research Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio: This group, which controls the entire research budget for the Air Force, brings me in to open a conference in which they examine new opportunities and methodologies for innovative thinking. Fascinating audience, and indicative of the fact that every organization realizes that the world is changing so fast that a lot of traditional assumptions about innovation and R&D are changing at lightening speed!
  • Consumer Goods Technology Magazine 2011 , Orlando, Florida. The pre-eminent conference for packaged goods, food and consumer products companies, with a huge number of Fortune 500 executives. My theme focuses on ‘what world class innovators do that others don’t do‘, particularly to keep up with changing consumers, mobile technologies, social networks and a variety of other trends. It leads to a blog post by one fellow, “Some mind blowing stats from Jim Carroll ….” Big themes: “Mobile, Social, Location!
  • Maple Leaf Foods, Toronto, Canada. A blog post, “Food industry trends 2011; Report from a keynote” was based on this talk. This blog post is now one of the first search results for anyone searching for anything having to do with food trends — and is now easily the most trafficked Web page on my site. After health care, food trends is probably the second busiest topic area for the year.
  • T. Rowe Price 2011 Investment Symposium. 600 investment managers, senior executives and CEO’s. The other keynotes are Colin Powell and Charlie Cook. My job is to close this two day event with an inspirational, motivational message based on the theme “When Do We Get to Normal? Why Thinking BIG Will Help You Seize The Opportunities of the 21st Century.”
  • World Pharma Innovation Congress, London, UK. I’m honored to open this renowned global conference on innovation within their crucial sector – most of the global heavy hitters from the world of pharma and bio-science are in the room. Opportunities for growth and innovation are coming from hyper-science, opportunities for externally sourced innovation insight, and the big global ‘idea machine’ that is revolutionizing opportunities for innovative thinking.
  • Interactive Manufacturing Exchange, Las Vegas, Nevada. A massive highlight from September — with a dinner keynote for 600 major manufacturing executives, and a morning keynote for 1,000 more. My keynote focus is that there is plenty of room for growth in the North American manufacturing sector, given the tremendous advances that have occurred with methodology and technology. My message must have resonated — after my talk, one fellow got up during the Q&A and asked if I would consider running for President of the US!
  • DSSI Forum, San Antonio, Texas. One of the largest seniors care conferences in the US. I spoke at length and with passion about the big opportunities for innovative thinking in the sector, particularly in light of the big challenges that society faces. This was a very personal event; those who know me well know that we have learned quite a bit about the challenges society faces with Alzheimer’s as a close family member has suffered from the disease.
  • Lockheed Martin, Washington, DC. I’m asked to speak at their 2011 global HR conference. The organization is aligning itself to deal with fast paced change in ever sector of its operations: my theme is what companies are doing o achieve “skills agility”, and why the issue of “deploying the right skills at the right time for the right purpose” is an increasingly important model for the future.
  • Pearson 2011. The future of education. A talk that linked key future trends to the need for massive, transformation thinking in the world of knowledge delivery. Noted one attendee: “Jim Carroll gave a particularly poignant keynote address about the need for true, innovative thinking.  (Think of a 5 year mission on steroids…)”
  • Bombardier Global Operators Conference. The future of corporate and leisure travel. Manufacturing innovation. Consumer change, and the impact of mobility. A wide ranging talk that challenges global airline operators to think about innovation in every aspect of their operations.
  • Fairmont / Raffles Hotels International. A corporate event, focused on the future of the global meetings and events industry. Key theme: organizations will increasingly require short, sharp shocks of knowledge delivery — corporate meetings and events are a big part of this trend, and are a key part of the short term strategic planning cycles that organizations are focused upon.
  • Texas CattleFeeders Association, Amarillo, Texas. The 2nd of two major talks for the cattle/beef industry in the US. Earlier in the year, I opened a private event that had in the room the top 100 cattle ranchers from across the country – representing a  multi-billion dollar investment. My keynotes focus on the significant opportunities for growth in the agricultural industry.
  • International Foundation 57th annual Employee Benefits Congress, New Orleans, LA. A morning keynote for 4,500 people at 730AM in New Orleans — and they all show up, confirming that description that “what I do for a living is go out and talk to large groups of hungover people.” It’s a rousing talk on the theme of Healthcare 2020: Today’s Trends, Tomorrow’s Opportunities
  • Linde Health Group, Munich, Germany. Global opportunities in the world of healthcare – how do we link future trends to opportunities for growth.

There were quite a few other keynotes for associations, government and corporations. In addition to these high profile engagements, which featured audiences of up to 6,000, I also hosted a number of small CEO level events. In one case in Washington, I spent the morning with a small group of 15 CEO’s/CIO’s/CFO’s in a boardroom style setting, where we explored the opportunities for growth that coming from linking future trends to innovative thinking.

Advance bookings for 2012 are exceedingly strong — so far, I know I’ll be in Palm Springs, Tampa, Orlando, Phoenix, Aspen, New Orleans (x2), San Antonio and many other locations.

Think growth. Think opportunity. Think trends. Think positive!

If knowledge is doubling every eight years, no single person can keep up with it. That fosters greater fragmentation of skills, and thus greater competition in the marketplace for niche-oriented skills.

I’m working away at preparing for a keynote for an ice-cream and dairy company today. Not that this has anything to do with the topic of the “future of knowledge.”

But going through some old slide decks while preparing, I came across a list I used a year ago for a keynote that summarized my thoughts about the “future of knowledge.”

I’ve written extensively about all of these topics online or speak to them at various keynotes, particularly in the education sector. In essence, we’re living in a period of time that is witnessing these trends unfold at blinding speed, all related to the evolution of knowledge.

  1. Rapid knowledge obsolescence
  2. Rapid knowledge emergence
  3. Disappearance of existing careers due to 1)
  4. Rapid emergence of new careers due to 2)
  5. An ongoing need for continuous knowledge replenishment because of 1-4
  6. The migration of knowledge generation further away from academia (i.e. community colleges, high end manufacturing skills) because of the need for faster new knowledge deployment
  7. A massively increased challenge from overseas knowledge generation
  8. The fast emergence of new micro-careers because of specialized knowledge
  9. An economy that succeeds through knowledge deployment
  10. A fundamental transformation in knowledge delivery

Putting a little more detail on these trends? A few years ago I addressed a prestigious groups of educators on this theme. Here’s what I covered. All the quotes are verbatim from my keynote.

1. Knowledge is growing exponentially. For example, the rate of discovery based on research into gene variants for common diseases is increasing rapidly: One or two were discovered each year beginning in 2000; thousands were discovered in 2007. “This knowledge reorients the entire medical system, from one where patients are treated once they are sick to one where patients are treated for what they are likely to develop as a result of their genetic makeup.
The volume of medical knowledge is doubling every eight years, and similar changes are occurring in other trades and professions.”

How is the fundamental business model of education challenged by exponential growth? Should it continue to focus on providing a fundamental body of knowledge over four years of higher education and then send graduates out into the world? Or should it be doing more?

2. The foundation of knowledge generation has changed. Academia was once the home of most of the fundamental research that occurred in the world; a majority of new discoveries took place in the world of higher education. “Higher education is no longer the central force in the generation of knowledge There are different terms for what has replaced it: peer-based knowledge, community knowledge or the infinite global idea cycle. For example, in terms of renewable energy and green technologies, some of the research and development is occurring in the world of academia, but it is also occurring in the global idea machine. Ten years ago, knowledge generation was based on peer-review journals (a slow, careful and deliberative process) — but today, backyard tinkerers are plugged into a global network of peers. The impact of this trend is that the rate of scientific discovery speeds up; the new way leads to much faster innovation.”

What is the role of traditional academia in the era of community knowledge? How should the business model change to respond to this new reality?

3. The velocity of knowledge is accelerating. The typical video game makes 60 to 70 percent of its money in the first four or five days after it is released. Everything is focused on maximizing revenue at the beginning. The next generation of televisions, LED televisions, is expected to have only 18 to 24 months to maximize revenue before they are obsolete and replaced by the next generation of televisions. “Ideas can go from concepts to an industry literally overnight. Anyone can put an idea out into the global idea machine where someone else can grab it and build on it. Knowledge is being impacted by velocity.”

All areas are affected; for example, in construction, new methods, new materials and new priorities, such as eco-design, are changing the way buildings are built. In every profession and career, the ability to keep up with new knowledge and to act upon it defines success. College graduates will encounter constant change in their work lives. Can education challenge itself to deploy knowledge faster? Or do we have a fundamental business model that is slow to react in a world that is quickly catching up?

4. Exponential growth of knowledge leads to massive career specialization. It increases the volume of knowledge workers are expected to have, and it speeds up the pace of developments that can impact careers. “If knowledge is doubling every eight years, no single person can keep up with it. That fosters greater fragmentation of skills, and thus greater competition in the marketplace for niche-oriented skills.”

For example, in terms of the trades, there is a huge volume of new technical knowledge to master. There is a niche for manufacturing engineers who understand all the new manufacturing methodologies and thus can help companies compete with offshore manufacturers. There is a need for manufacturing engineers who are “process transformation specialists,” focused on how to streamline an existing manufacturing process. “We are reaching a world in which everything around us is getting plugged into everything else. And as everything is getting plugged in, manufacturing is fundamentally changing.”

Is our future narrow in terms of what we deliver? Is our future wide? Do we focus on narrow niches, wide areas of knowledge, or both?

5. Fundamental structural organizational change is occurring. How we think about careers and jobs is undergoing a substantial change. There are unique ideas as to what constitutes a career. “Evidence of this shift is that baby boomers tend to ask, ‘What do you do for a living?’ while those under age 25 ask, ‘What do you like to do?’ Watch for this. The new generation prefers to get work done in odd hours, using BlackBerrys; they care less about structure. They define their lives not by what they do for a living, but what they like to do. It is a fundamental, significant transformation — and I don’t think we appreciate the depths of what it means in terms of the future of knowledge.

But it’s not just happening with them. There is a prediction that in the U.S., 60 percent of consulting engineers will be freelancers — nomadic workers for hire — making their specialized skills available to organizations on a just-in-time basis. Do you think a lot of Fortune 1000 companies will hire full-time employees after the current economic situation is resolved? No, because they will recognize the cost of employees in terms of health care and other long-term investment. Increasingly, American workers will become nomadic workers for hire. We are witnessing the end of the concept of the organization as we know it. As far back as 1987, an op-ed in the New York Times referenced a ‘world without walls,’ where corporations would hire people with specialized skills on a demand basis. What’s fascinating here is that we are seeing the development of the extreme specialist at the same time that we see the emergence of the extreme knowledge generalist. For example, “hospitalists”: People who understand all the medical specialists and understand how hospitals work; their role is to guide patients through the increasing complexities of the system. This career is expected to grow from the current 12,000 hospitalists to 130,000 by 2010. We have to acknowledge these two key trends — the fast emergence of niche skills deployment and the emergence of masters of generalization — to determine how to educate people to simply understand the high-velocity knowledge niching that is occurring in the world today.

6. By 2020 or sooner, it will be all about “just-in-time knowledge.”In a world of fast knowledge development, none of us will have the capability to know much of anything at all. The most important skill we will have will be the ability to go out to get the right knowledge for the right purpose at the right time.”

The folks at PollEverywhere — the service that I use to conduct live text message polling while on stage — have just run an interview with me over on their blog as to how I utilize the tool.

I’m reposting it here since it does provide a good overview of just how wonderful and interactive their service is.


Jim Carroll is recognized one of the world’s leading international futurist, trends & innovation experts — and he’s got the client list to prove it, having provided his insight to such organizations as NASA; Lockheed Martin; National Australian Bank; Pfizer; Diners Club; HJ Heinz; and PPG.

And he’s a raving fan of Poll Everywhere – using the service in a huge range of global Fortune 1000 and other organizations as well as countless association events, such as being the opening keynote speaker for 4,000 people at the annual National Recreation and Parks Association annual conference in Salt Lake City.

“I’ve been using [Poll Everywhere] on stage as part of my keynote for at least two years, and the service has truly helped in building a live, rich interactive experience with my audience. I’ve used it in small CEO level sessions with just 20 people, and in large scale Las Vegas events where you’ve got to be a top-notch performer to keep a crowd engaged – particularly if they are in rough shape after a night out on the town!”

One of Jim’s most thrilling moments came when he found himself on stage in front of 500 golf pros for the 94th Annual General Meeting of the Professional Golfers Association of America. “The management team at PGA invited me in to speak to their members on the need for innovative thinking. They never had an outside speaker in before, in their entire history. And so starting out by having them pull out their cell phones in order to gauge some of their opinions about change, the future and challenges facing the game — it certainly made them think! The reaction was powerful and pretty astounding, because I was able to quickly shape my talk to respond to their concerns.”

While Jim can speak to audiences of 7,000 in Las Vegas or Orlando, he recently found himself on stage in front of 250 kids at his son’s high school. “My son knows that I’ve had a strange job for the last 20 years – flying around all over the world to speak at events — and his teachers thought it would be great if I could come in and talk about the future of their careers.”

Jim’s opening comments, as found in his blog post “What happens when high school students are told to text” (www.jimcarroll.com/2011/04/what-happens-when-high-school-students-are-told-to-text) captures the fascinating dynamics that occur on the big screen when PollEverywhere grabs the minds and attention of the ultimately wired generation. “That was a pretty cool moment,” says Jim. “And it really should get anyone thinking about the future of education, corporate and association meetings, and conferences.”

 

 

 

Jim’s method of audience interaction has proven to be a big selling point with his client base —  so much so that he devotes a Web page to what he does. www.jimcarroll.com/keynotes-workshops/interaction-from-the-stage

 

Not only that, but his blog offers a sometimes fascinating look into his client base – consider the opinions offered up by a group of manufacturers from Ohio: “Report from the heartland: Is there life in manufacturing in Ohio? You bet!” http://jimcarroll.com/2011/02/report-from-the-heartland-is-there-life-in-…

“People want to interact and be engaged with a speaker. This tool lets me reach out to their minds and hearts, and make them immediately part of the talk. And it has certainly provided me with a very unique tool in getting across some of the key trends which are impacting the future and opportunity for innovation.”

I’m off to Europe to keynote two events; the first, a private talk on future health care trends for a major European organization.

The second is in St. Andrews Scotland, where I will be speaking to a a group of business executives.

Yes. I will golf.

The family is coming along, and so I’m otherwise busy.

If you do need to reach me, send me an email or call. I will be checking messages once in the morning, and once at the end of the day.

Enjoy your summer!

In the last few weeks, I’ve done a number of insurance oriented keynotes, including one for a meeting with the CEO and top leadership team of one of the largest insurers in the world, as well as a top insurance association.

We are quickly moving into an era of "performance oriented insurance" with policies / pricing based on performance. There will be huge opportunities for disruptive business model change as this trend unfolds.

And I’ve been busy speaking to the trends and opportunities for innovation that are going to come into this often-slow-to-react industry at lightning speed.

In an era in which everything around is plugging together,  there are tremendous new opportunities for some pretty massive business model change. I often make a joke on stage that perhaps one day my weigh scale might send an email to my fridge one day if I’m not living up to the terms of my life insurance wellness clause.

Yet, is such thinking far fetched?

Maybe not!

One of the biggest trends which is going to hit the world of insurance like a tidal wave is performance based insurance policies. If you live up to or exceed some performance standard, you’ll get a rebate or reduction on your insurance  policy rate.

It’s going to happen extremely quickly in the field of automotive insurance. A flood of GPS enabled performance measuring devices will soon come to inhabit most automobiles throughout the industrialized world. Insurance companies will set a policy price, and then give you a rebate if you exhibit better than average behavior.

Consider a program already underway in the UK:

Insure The Box measures drivers’ mileage, when they drive, and how they drive. Excessive G-forces, sudden braking or cornering and long periods of driving without a break are monitored.

Policyholders are charged by the mile and motorists initially pay for 6,000 miles. Once these are used up they can buy more miles as they need them. Policyholders are rewarded with “free” miles if they drive safely.

Money: A spy in the car that could cut cost of cover for young drivers
The Guardian, UK, April 2011

You can expect most North American insurance companies to roll out similar technology and performance. Or maybe not — some organizations won’t have the speed, agility and flexibility to do this at the pace that the market, competitive and customer pressure will require.

The result is a classic opportunity for big business model disruption.

The same type of thing is going to occur in the world of life insurance.

It has long been the assumption that despite the rapid emergence of genomic, preventative medicine, that it would never be desirable, ethical or even fair to underwrite policies based on a DNA test.

I’m a believer that this is a pretty big assumption to make. History shows that assumptions that underlie a business model barely last. When I speak about innovation, I advise people it’s often best to challenge assumptions — those who don’t often miss the biggest opportunities.

Clearly, we know that there are some powerful trends at work:

  • the cost for a DNA test that can be used to predict with a high degree of accuracy the disesases and conditions you will inherit in your lifetime is set to collapse, as Moore’s law comes to drive the cost of DNA sequencing machines that do the test
  • hence, greater numbers of people will have the opportunity to gain such insight (whether it be good or bad)
  • those who have a test that shows a life that will be relatively disease and condition free would likely be able to offer themselves up to a group of speciality insurers and get a policy discount compared to the average population

Again, there’s opportunity for big business model change and upheaval as this happens.

So too is the concept of a rebate of your life, medical or disability insurance, if you can prove that you are taking regular, active steps to ensure that you are in good health. Certainly there are those in the the health care system, who know that with the massive challenges in front of, the system, a lot of big, bold transformative thinking is necessary.

A federal grant program authorized in the health overhaul law is offering states $100 million to reward Medicaid recipients who make an effort to quit smoking or keep their weight, blood pressure or cholesterol levels in check. The grant program is meant to encourage states to experiment with an uncertain approach to wellness: offering incentives for healthy behavior.

Healthy behaviors pay off; Medicaid recipients who commit to improving their health will be eligible for financial rewards, Los Angeles Times, April 2011

Extend this type of thinking into what comes next in our hyperconnected world — individuals who monitor their blood pressure, glucose levels and other vitals that they are willing to share with their insurer. Exercise and wellness apps on their iPhone that they can use to demonstrate the commitment to a regular series of workouts. Adherence to a personalized lifestyle plan — with insurance cost reductions based on performance.

This type of stuff isn’t far-fetched at all. And it’s going to hit the insurance world quicker than it thinks.

Then there’s the issue of the underwriting of insurance risk. Today, in the life insurance industry, you must undergo a battery of medical and blood tests so that they can make an assessment as to whether you are insurable.

Tomorrow will be completely different, and it will be here before the industry knows it:

“Assuming privacy regulations require it, by 2020 underwriting will consist of one question: ‘Can I look up everything about you?’”

The Next Decade in Innovation, Insurance & Technology, May 2011

Tomorrow? They might simply look you up on Facebook, and based on what they see, come to a decision as to whether they will insure you or not.

Farfetched? Not at all!  In fact, some in the insurance industry are already talking about it:

“Insurers are preparing to use people’s Facebook profiles and online spending habits as a way of setting premiums based on their lifestyle. The Sunday Times, December 2010

The article goes on to note:

“Studies for the insurers suggest that people’s online data detailing their food purchases, activities and social groups can be as good an indicator of their life expectancy as conventional medical examinations.

The trials were conducted by Deloitte Consulting LLP and showed that consumer data, based on a sample of 60,000 people, was as effective in identifying potential health risks as if the applicant for insurance had gone for a blood and urine test

Aviva, one of Britain’s largest insurers, is planning to introduce the new “predictive modelling” in Britain next year after studying the results of trials in America. Swiss Re is also working on a similar scheme.

The Sunday Times, December 2010

The bottom line is that in the next several years, at a very fast paced, the world of insurance is going to be challenged through innovation involving analytics and predictive modelling, performance based policies, and a whole series of other opportunity.

The future will belong to those who are fast!

It’s been a whirlwind of activity over the last two months, with about 20 major keynotes under my belt.

One of these was a corporate event for a food company with $7 billion in revenue and 24,000 employees ; my talk was on the key food industry trends of today that should be driving innovation from a marketing, product development and branding perspective.

Jim Carroll on stage at the Readers Digest Food and Entertainment Group Summit, in front of several hundred food and consumer product executives, advertising agencies, grocery and retail organizations and publishers of the world's most popular food magazines, speaking to the trends driving the food industry today, .

This is one of many events I do for food and consumer product clients – my global client list includes high profile keynotes or leadership meetings for the Readers Digest Food & Entertainment Division (the publisher of such innovative magazines as Everyday with Rachel Ray), the Produce Marketing Association Annual Fresh Summit, HJ Heinz, Nestle , FMC FoodTechnologies, Burger King, Yum! Brands and many more.

I was the keynote speaker for a meeting of their top 250 marketing executives; my mandate was to focus on how to innovate around the trends that are today impacting the food industry today, with a particular focus on consumer behaviour.

Below are a few of the many trends that I spoke about. I took on an extensive amount of research for this keynote, which is typical of how I approach these events.

In effect, I built my keynote around the theme “….these are the trends that will drive your brands……”, and from that, they could best learn how to change and innovate with their branding and marketing message.

1. Biggest trend: We are witnessing a changing relationship with food

My main observation is that we live in a period of time that sees consumers interacting with food, the purchasing of food, and the consumption of food in new and different ways.

An article, Observer Food Monthly in the Guardian Newspaper, 15 May 2011 caught this sentiment perfectly:

  • “… never before has our culture been so engaged in discussing and experimenting with and agonizing over and fantasizing about and plain enjoying what is on the end of our forks”

Consider what is happening:

  • we have a new form of interaction when purchasing food. Consider the number of iPhone apps by which we can research calorie counts, nutrition facts and other information while in the grocery store.
  • we have new influencers in how we make these in-store food decisions. Think about the Monterrey Aquarium Seafood Watch iPhone app, which will give you background that can help you with your ethical food decisions.
  • a change in how we manage our food intake. iPhone and Web sites apps such as Lose It, which allow us to track our food consumption on a calorie-by-calorie, product by product basis.
  • a change in food packaging: ““…..interactive packaging, intelligent and active packaging, multi-sensory packaging, edible packaging … packaging as mini-billboards…” as noted by the research firm Reportlinker. Paackaging is going from passive to active, and is becoming more than just the vehicle for branding – increasingly, it is defining our relationship with the food.
  • a change in our food relationships. Consider the impact of food traceability based on DNA. “Tonning’s restaurant is among more than 11,000 that Richmond-based food distributor Performance Food Group is supplying with DNA-traceable beef as an added value for customers of its premium Braveheart brand. The company, which has annual revenues of about $11 billion, said it is among the first distributors to use the technology.” Where’s the beef, Iowa Press Citizen, May 2011
  • A more direct involvement with the ethics of food. “Wal-Mart, which sells more than 20 per cent of all US groceries, is developing an eco-labelling program that will give a green rating to all items sold in its 7500 stores worldwide.” Unlikely alliance, Sydney Morning Herald, February 2011
  • and very significant transitional trends. Whole grains are the hottest trend in sliced bread, with whole wheat edging out soft white bread in total sales for the first time……… The whole-grain craze has, after all, raised the bar on what consumers are willing to pay for bread that’s perceived as healthy…..” Grains gain ground; Focus on healthy eating helps wheat surpass white in sliced bread sales 1 August 2010, Chicago Tribune

All in all, these are pretty significant, systemic, long term transformative trends that will have a major impact through the next 5-10 years. Smart food companies will recognize that the very nature of our relationship with food is changing and will innovative around that reality. Massive opportunities for innovative thinking exist here!

2. A need to respond to faster consumer preference/taste change

I’ve long been pointing out that consumer preference is changing faster when it comes to food, and that leads to the rapid emergence of new opportunity, or the rapid decline of existing product lines. A few of my observations:

  • behavioural change and food as fashion! Fresh-cut snack food grew from $6.8 billion in to $10.5 billion in one year. Notes one publication: “Snacks are like a fashion category…..People want a change. it’s going to be short-lived–maybe a quarter, maybe six months, then changed out” Private Label Buyer, May 2010.
  • We spend more of our day with our food – it’s not just breakfast, lunch and dinner anymore. Canadian consumers are snacking more frequently. Snacks were 24% of all “meals” consumed by 2010. Fruit leads in the category, and healthy snacks are driving growth – the top 7 snacks include yogurt and granola bars.
  • Food categories can explode in growth over night. US Greek Yogurt sales grew from $33million in 2007 to $469 million today!

The key point with all of these trends is that it reflects our busy, compressed lives — smart food companies will continue to learn how to innovate within that reality with new products, aligning themselves to health concerns, and other trends.

3. The impact of business model change and social networks on food and taste trends

Business model change with pop-up restaurants drives the more rapid emergence of new exotic tastes and flavors!

Clearly, massive connectivity is coming to influence the growth of new foods, brands, tastes, patterns.

I spoke, for example, how bacon has quickly become so trendy as something used to enhance countless recipes. It can be traced right back to an effective social networking campaign.

  • “If there’s one food trend that illustrates how top-down and grassroots phenomena combine it might be bacon….. in southern California about six years ago, Rocco Loosbrock paired peppered bacon with Syrah wine at a tasting….”swine and wine…..!” The mysteries of food trends: How bacon got its sizzle, Associated Press Newswires, March 2011
Social networks are also lining up with a change in business models in the restaurant sector, which helps to drive faster change in consumer taste trends…..
  • In the last few years, we’ve seen an explosion in the number of pop-up restaurants and “Eat St” food – street food!
  • what is happening here is a lower barrier to entry in terms of new restaurant start up cost — more people can get out and start out a restaurant as “street food”, and experiment with new, bold, and exotic tastes and flavors
  • there’s also a very big trend underway that links restaurants and markets together in one location. Go to the restaurant, like the food and want to cook it at home next time? Visit the market in the same building, and buy the exact ingredients for that exact recipe. We call these Resto 2.0′s : for example, Murray’s Market in Ottawa, based on locally farmed food, “….sells cheeses, meats, produce and house-made foodstuffs, providing customers with many of the same raw ingredients they use as their restaurant next door.” Globe & Mail, June 1, 2011
  • all of these trends involve a new breed of restaurateur / entrepreneur;  they’ve learned to link these efforts with very effective social network campaigns. The result is that we now have even faster emergence of new taste trends. Smart food companies will learn how to innovate around the sheer velocity of what is occurring here – ‘faster is the new fast!’

My key point? Innovation is all about time to market … and the brand message needs to match the new speed metric…

4. A new consumer volatility

Back in 2009, I keynote global events for both Burger King and Yum! Brands. One of the major points in both keynotes was the consumer and public health concerns would come to drive more of a focus on a healthier diet; hence, the need for more aggressive innovation around a balanced menu that offered up more healthier choices.

Since then, looking back, it looks like one chain took the message to heart, and the other didn’t. Can you guess which ones?

What’s happened since then? Restaurant chains — and by extension, food companies — are discovering that consumer activity has become very volatile. They might talk of the need to go out and eat healthier, but then go out and continue to buy big, fat juicy cheeseburgers.

But then the news continues to hammer home the cold realities of North American food lifestyles, and the impact of childhood obesity.

  • over the past 30 years, childhood obesity rates in North America have tripled
  • 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese
  • 1/3 of all children born in 2000 or later will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lives
  • many others will face chronic obesity-related health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and asthma

Add to that new messages from Michelle Obama, Jamie Kennedy and other influencers around this debate — and all of a sudden, behaviour begins to change faster than people expect. Consider comments in the article Dining chains shape up menus ;Customers place low-cal orders now, 13 April 2011, USA Today

  • :Something odd is afoot in restaurants where Americans have typically gone to gorge: healthier grub. This nutritional U-turn is taking place at some of the unlikeliest of eateries, including Denny’s, IHOP, Friendly’s, Sizzler and even at the nation’s biggest casual dining chain, Applebee’s, where the numbers are eye-popping.
  • “For the first two months of 2011, the top-selling entree at Applebee’s wasn’t a gloppy burger or flashy fajita plate. It was a sirloin and shrimp entree from the chain’s diet menu. This marks the first time that a low-calorie item ever ranked as the chain’s best seller for a single month — let alone two in a row.
  • “I’ve been in the restaurant business for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” says Mike Archer, president of Applebee’s.
  • “When Applebee’s launched the under-550-calorie menu in 2010, it didn’t immediately take off, says Archer. But after some tweaks, it caught fire early this year. It now accounts for up to 8% of sales”

8 percent of sales! For healthy options! The key innovation opportunity is to keep innovating with food and taste trends around trends such as health, local, regional. The consumer is volatile, and will change faster than ever before.

Key marketing and branding innovation points?

  • consumer behaviour is now more unpredictable than ever before!
  • sudden, dramatic shifts driven by sudden external influences or other pressures are the new reality
  • it’s easy to abandon marketing momentum / commitment due to slowness of trend (i.e. healthy lifestyle – consumers say one thing, and do another!)
  • yet success from ability to quickly rejig marketing message based on trend spikes – speed matters!

And  so branding innovation is … sticking to the message behind the key trends, even if the trends unfold at a curious and unpredictable pace….

I spoke about many other trends within the keynote, particularly the impact of mobile marketing and moving into hyper-nice marketing. I’ll cover more of that later.

This is typical of the type of unique research I often do for a keynote. If you are interested in bringing me in to a leadership meeting at your corporate organization, feel free to give me a call!

I found myself in Sonoma County, California earlier this week; I was the opening speaker for a small corporate conference that featured what were probably the top 100 cattle, stockyard and feedlot operators in the US.

This was a pretty heavy duty event, so to speak, with some individuals representing ranches with upwards of 30,000 to 50,000 head of cattle. We’re talking billion-dollar operations here. A very exclusive group – as noted in the invitation, the sponsors ” have partnered to create an advanced leadership development curriculum entitled the 4C Summit – an experience that will be unlike any other ever offered in animal agriculture.”

My role? To encourage this group to think about future trends in the world of agriculture and food production; opportunities for innovation; and how to live out on the edge in terms of thinking about big ideas.

What the client DIDN’t want was what he found  from a lot of other innovation speakers he spoke to, who seemed to offer up the same refrain: “Plug into Twitter, get onto Facebook, get social, and you’ve mastered innovation!”

Uggh. Yah, right! Real innovation comes from studying obvious future trends, and aligning yourself to those trends to seize opportunity and achieve growth.

So it was a thrill to speak to such an exclusive group — and I had a lot of ground to cover! First off, recognizing that this could be a dispirited crowd given past trends — they could be in a mindset that might not encourage innovative thinking.

After all, as I pointed out, they’ve suffered from:

  • stagnant growth (6.4% over 25 years) while imports have tripled
  • a continuing drop in the number of feedlots
  • consolidation of buyers (top 4 meatpackers control 80% of market from 36% in 1980), which give them fewer options
  • an overall decline in consumption in the US (94.3 lbs per capita to 59.1lbs from 1976 to today….)

What’s the result of these trends, and the impact of the recent recession? Aggressive indecision — a mindset that I’ve talked about on this blog for a long time.

“Many ranchers are wary of investing in expanding their herds, even with exports rising and prices climbing, because “they’re uncertain about the future,” said Gregg Doud, chief economist at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which represents ranchers and feedlots.” Where’s the Beef: Food Inflation Fears, Wall Street Journal, August 2010

Yet given this uncertainty, what are the trends that drive the opportunity for innovation? I covered many; here’s a few.

1. There is massive, significant opportunity for global growth.

The statistics are simple and clear:

  • the world’s population will increase 47%, to 8.9 billion, by 2050
  • a simple fact: global agriculture production must double to sustain growth
  • a stark reality: little new arable land will come to play a role in that production

In other words, existing producers will have to double production to keep up with global demand.

Clearly, a substantial number of people are entering the global middle class through the next decade; as noted by McKinsey: “Almost a billion new consumers will enter the global marketplace in the next decade …. with an income level that allows spending on discretionary goods.

As this transition to middle class occurs, entire societies will transition to a diet that involves more consumption of meat. In India, the #1 “aspirational purchase” is a television. What do you think is #2? If you said a car, you are wrong — it’s a refrigerator! And right now, refrigerators have only a 13% market penetration! Talk about opportunities for growth.

The opportunity is clear – per capita meat consumption growth from 2000 to 2030 will be 49% in China, 79% in India, and 22% in Brazil.

2. There are significant long term trends that will drive global agricultural innovation and opportunity, if approached from the right perspective

I also covered four key trends that will have a huge impact on agriculture from every single perspective:

  • food security becomes a foremost “national interest” agenda
  • significant international agricultural investments
  • sustainability practices moves to the forefront of customer agenda
  • food quality and safety ratings become commonplace

On the first issue — we are going to witness many nation states work fast to ensure the security of their food supply. We are seeing it happen now with China, in order that it can ensure a sustainable reliable supply of food for its population in the future. How big an issue this is this?

“Food security will be the greatest challenge to civilization this century, with shortages leading to higher prices, political instability and mass migration, warn scientists, farmers and academics.” Looming food crisis showing on our shelves Sunday Age, April 2011

The issue of food security leads to the second big trend, and that is significant international agricultural investments. Quite simply, there’s a lot of investment money sloshing around involving agriculture.

“The World Bank reported this month that the number of large-scale farmland deals in 2009 amounted to about 45 million hectares, compared with an average of less than 4 million hectares each year from 1998 through 2008.” Investors bet the farm, Los Angeles Times, September 2010

Even Harvard University is getting into the act,  with a significant investment into one of the biggest ranches in New Zealand — the Big Sky Dairy Farm in Central Otago. (New Zealand Herald, June 2010)
These two trends are unfolding at the same time that sustainability practices moves to the forefront of customer agenda. Consider a very unique partnership between some “unlikely allies” that involve sustainable business practices in agriculture. This is going to affect EVERYONE in the industry:

“Food manufacturers, retailers and WWF are joining forces to address how to feed the world’s population, writes Paul Myers. When the World Wildlife Fund engages the ideologically distant interests of the cattle industry, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s to discuss global food production, it’s clear something is cooking…..Unlikely alliance, Sydney Morning Herald, February 2011

What is cooking is an effort by these organizations to move to sustainability practices to the forefront, in order to respond to consumer demand. And what the sustainability trend leads to is a world in which food quality and safety ratings become commonplace.

Wal-Mart, which sells more than 20 per cent of all US groceries, is developing an eco-labelling program that will give a green rating to all items sold in its 7500 stores worldwide…. Unlikely alliance, Sydney Morning Herald, February 2011

This will trickle right down to the farm and the ranch: agriculture is going to have to demonstrate sustainability at a micro-level:

“A group of cattle producers in Gippsland, Victoria, is marketing beef sourced from properties with independently audited environmental management systems that comply with the international ISO 14001 standard. Their “enviromeat beef”, sourced from 15 suppliers, is thought to be the first labelled food product backed by an environmental management system in Australia.” Unlikely alliance, Sydney Morning Herald, February 2011

Many farmers and ranchers might view these issues as a challenge, and a threat. But as I emphasized in my keynote, “Some people see a trend and see a threat. Others see opportunity!” The key innovation opportunity is now to work within these new realities in order to stay ahead of what the customer demands!

3. Ranchers need to think big! There are huge transformative opportunities!

In my keynotes, I always try and challenge the team to adapt to the mindset of Bill Gates, who observed that “we always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”

I always pull out a number of examples of some of the big, bold, whacky innovative thinking that is occurring in any particular industry.

I’ve long observed that one of the key global economic drivers is that a lot of people are spending a lot of time solving the big problems faced by the industrialized world. In my “Where’s the Growth” trends document, I make the observation:  “What’s likely to lead us out of this recession? A combination of bold goals on energy and the environment, significant investment in health care to fix a system that is set for absolutely massive challenges, combined with high-velocity innovation in all three sectors.”

In the spirit of that observation, think about this report!

America’s dairy farmers could soon find themselves in the computer business, with the manure from their cows possibly powering the vast data centers of companies like Google and Microsoft…..With the right skills, a dairy farmer could rent out land and power to technology companies and recoup an investment in the waste-to-fuel systems within two years, Hewlett-Packard engineers say in a research paper to be made public on Wednesday…According to H.P.’s calculations, 10,000 cows could fuel a one-megawatt data center, which would be the equivalent of a small computing center used by a bank.

”The cows will never replace the hydroelectric power used by a lot of these data centers,” Mr. Kanellos said. ”But there is interest in biogas, and this presents another way to make manure pay.”“One Moos and One Hums, But the Could Help Power Google”, New York Times, May 2010

Whacky? Crazy? Who is to say! I actually wrote about this opportunity back in 2004 when I penned my “I found the future in manure” article!

4. Innovators concentrate on all kinds of innovation opportunities

I’ve always stressed that people can challenge themselves to innovate by focusing on 3 key questions; what can we do to run the business better, grow the business, and transform the business.

In that context, for these ranchers, there’s plenty of innovation opportunity. When it comes to running the business better, there is a massive opportunity for the continued deployment of technology to better manage the herrd, deal with food safety and tracability issues, manage the health of the herd; the list is endless! Growth of the business? Consider the opportunities that come about with direct-to-consumer relationships as our world of connectivity continues to expand. Transform the business?  Change the business model! One Australian group was faced with the challenge of getting fresh meat to Indonesia — and so they built the MC Becrux — basically a floating stockyard for thousands of head of cattle! (I admit, to go forward this will have to be done to fit into the sustainability model….)

5. Innovators ride accelarating rates of change

Quite simply, there’s a lot of scientific driven innovation in the agricultural sector. One conference I spoke at noted that we are seeing a lot of “advances in genomics, combinatorial chemistry, high throughput screening, advanced formulation, environmental science and toxicology, precision breeding, crop transformation, nanotechnology, synthetic biology and bio-informatics are tools that will transform the industry.”

It couldn’t be said better. Even the field of animal genomics is evolving at a furious pace — the same trend in which Moore’s law is driving down the cost of sequencing the human gene, so too it is with animal genetics, which has a big potential impact on the quality of future production.

6. Innovators adapt to accelerating generational change

Perhaps the biggest trend occurring in agriculture today is that we are seeing a generational turnover. As the family farm and industrial ranch transition from the baby boomer to today’s 25-30 year, there will be more rapid ingestion of new technologies. Quite simply, we are going to witness more change on the farm and ranch in the next ten years than we have seen in the last 50! That’s providing even yet more opportunity for innovation.

—-

As always, I had a lot of interaction with the audience through Q&A, and live text message polling. I walked through the innovation killer attitudes that I often talk about, and asked the audience what they thought they were most guilty of. Here’s what they had to say!

Overall, it was a great day, a great keynote, with a lot of the unique research and background that I take on for this type of assignment!

 

It’s an interesting time in the US. The healthcare reform debate continues; the future is uncertain. Health care groups everywhere and those impacted by the bill are spending a huge amount of time thinking about the implications of the bill, and the role of innovation.

Real innovation in the healthcare sector will come from riding the future trends that will allow for the reinvention and re-architecture of the the entire system. Click to read more!

In my own case, I’ve been doing and am scheduled to do quite a few keynotes for health care or related institutions (insurance, tax, financial, pharmaceutical, and others..) that focus on future trends in health care. And I’m finding that people are bringing me in as the ‘thought leader’ to really open the minds of people beyond the policy and political discussions which are underway in these leadership meetings.

For example, for an upcoming conference in Arizona, there will be two days looking at health reform issues. There will be:

  • a policy wonk, looking at the politics of health care in Washington
  • an economist, who will take a look at the global and US economies, and the impact on health care dollars
  • a health system specialist, who will talk about how to implement the requirements of the health care bill
  • and me — the future — to provide a closing keynote on the REAL trends that will impact healthcare into the future!

There are a lot of policy and political issues on the table today, and organizations need to address them. But I’m also finding that quite a few CEO’s and senior executives are working hard to move their team beyond just those issues, and are looking for the real opportunities for innovation within the system. That’s where I come in!

As I note in my healthcare keynote description:

When Jim Carroll began a recent keynote talk for the Minnesota Hospital Association CEO Summit, he announced that he wouldn’t even mention health care reform — and the audience of 300 senior executives cheered! Instead, he told the audience that he would take them on a voyage to the world of healthcare in the year of 2020, and provide them the insight they really need to deal with the challenges and opportunity of the future.”

What are some of these trends, that go well beyond reform? I cover them in my talk:

Where will we by the year 2020? We will have successfully transitioned the system from one which “fixes people after they’re sick” to one of preventative, diagnostic genomic-based medicine. Treating patients for the conditions we know they are likely to develop, and re-architechting the system around that reality. A system which will provide for virtual care through bio-connectivity, and extension of the hospital into a community-care oriented structure. A consumer driven, retail oriented health care environment for non-critical care treatment that provides significant opportunities for cost reduction. Real time analytics and location-intelligence capabilities which provide for community-wide monitoring of emerging health care challenges. “Just-in-time” knowledge concepts which will help to deal with a profession in which the volume of knowledge doubles every six years. That and much, much more.”

Health care reform is a big issue, and likely one of the biggest in the US economy today. But you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you think that innovation in the health care sector is limited to the impact of the bill. There are so many trends providing so much opportunity for innovation, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t understand them.

Think BIGGER – read my “It’s January 15, 2020: What Have We Learned About Healthcare in the Last Decade” document!

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