My January / February CA Magazine article is out; entitled “Stranger than Science Fiction,” it examines a major theme that has been part of many of my keynotes throughout 2009: what happens to your industry when the pace of innovation is no longer set within the industry itself, but rather, is set by the blistering rate of change as set by Silicon Valley?
Stranger than Science Fiction
by Jim Carroll, CAMagazine
Is your industry in the midst of a transition at Silicon Valley speed? If it isn’t, it could be very soon, because I’m seeing it happen wherever I go. Take the global credit card industry. For a long time, the pace of innovation has been relatively slow and deliberate; aside from the chip found in your new credit card, it’s still been about the same old piece of plastic.
All that is about to change, because as I observed at a recent global financial conference, it is quite likely that our cellphones, BlackBerrys and iPhones will become the credit card of the not-too distant future. When you enter a store, you’ll punch a code into your iPhone to confirm the transaction, and you’ll get an instant receipt. As this transition occurs, the financial payment industry will find it has suddenly lost control of its innovation agenda. Rather than having the future figured out in boardrooms of bank towers, control will have been wrested away by someone in Silicon Valley who innovates at hyper-speed.
The trend is happening everywhere I look, even in the world of sports. I spoke to 4,000 professionals at the National Recreation and Parks Association’s annual conference in Salt Lake City. I challenged the audience – most of them responsible for civic or state recreational activities and park infrastructure – to think about the baseball bat of 2015 or 2020. From my vantage point, it’s going to look the same, but it’s likely to have a variety of sensors built into it that will provide players with instant feedback regarding the strength and accuracy of their swing; the same sensors will trigger their nearby cellphone to automatically capture a video of their time at the plate.
Retail will change at the same fast and furious pace. I’ll walk into a store, and behind the scenes, the store will recognize me through an interaction with my mobile device. That will cause a plasma TV in the corner to start displaying a customized advertisement for me based on prior shopping history, at the same time I’m zapped a coupon for a 20% discount for a few items over on aisle 12.
Farfetched? I don’t think so. Creepy? To us maybe, but perhaps not to the next generation. When we think of the strangeness of the future and our likely negative reaction to some of what might come next, we have to remember this: it’s not bad, it’s just different.
The key point is that entire industries will be swept along at a raging rate of innovation. All of a sudden, those people who have managed in-store design, layout and promotions will find their old skills don’t transfer as easily to this strange new world as the digital denizens reshape the customer experience.
Even the slow, staid senior citizen housing industry is being impacted. Five to 10 years out, we’ll have a lot of baby boomers living out their golden years in regular homes as opposed to retirement homes (simply because society won’t be able to afford it). Medical professionals will manage their care from afar using a vast array of bio-0connectivity medical devices; sensors embedded throughout the home will detect if their behaviour patterns are out of the norm and will trigger an alert. Science fiction? Research into this type of sensor-application is well underway at the University of Missouri.
Here’s a good way to think about innovating at Silicon Valley speed: in my home office, I have an MP3 player from somewhere around 1999. It can hold about three or four songs. It seemed cool at the time. Today, it’s positively a joke compared with the modern iPhone.
Could the fundamentals of your industry as quickly become something like a joke?
Think about this article, and then ask yourself:
- what are the big transformations that are going to occur in my industry as Silicon Valley Velocity takes over?
- where will there be business disruption as result?
- how can I be a disruptor, and establish opportunity?
- how will my target customers change – how can I reach new customers — how can I build new customer revenue that hasn’t existed before?
Think of many more questions like that, and you’ve found countless opportunities for innovation: