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

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

Recent Posts in the Media/Technology category


More news from my keynote for Potato Expo 2015 …. this time from The Packer magazine, one of the leading agricultural publications with a focus on — everything packaging! Except the article goes beyond packaging into many of the other things I talked about, including genomics, autonomous vehicles, vertical farms and more!

"What is happening is that packaging is becoming part of the product"

“What is happening is that packaging is becoming part of the product”

ORLANDO, Fla. — Intelligent packaging for produce will become one of the most important trends in the industry in the next five years, agricultural futurist Jim Carroll said at the closing session of Potato Expo 2015.

The expression “Internet of things” refers to the fact that everything that is part of our daily lives will be plugged into the Web, and Carroll said that trend also applies to packaging.

“What is happening is that packaging is becoming part of the product,” he said at the Jan. 9 event.

For some pharmaceutical companies, the packing monitors whether the patient is taking the medicine and monitors whether it is working, he said.

Carroll predicted there will be packaging for potatoes that will monitor the health of the potato while it is transit, constantly monitoring and perhaps reporting that data to consumers.

In his presentation called “Big Trends in Agriculture: What Ag will look like in 2045,” Carroll said it is likely that driverless, autonomous tractor use will be commonplace in decades to come. Automated spraying and harvest technology also will be used, he said.

“We will see staggering rates of change with autonomous vehicle technology,” he said.

By 2045, he said changes in farming also will include a dramatic expansion of vertical, indoor farming methods as global cities become larger and urbanization increases. One acre of indoor farming can match the yields of four to six acres grown outside, he said.

Automated robots that monitor crop stress, disease, weeds, pests and soil status will become commonplace. Geospatial analysis will allow farmers to know exactly what nutrients and other inputs they need to apply on a specific acre.

The cost of to sequence DNA in crops is declining, he said, and that will lead to rapid advances in crop breeding. Carroll said the cost of sequencing human DNA has dropped from about $3 billion in 2009 to about $1,000 in 2015, he said.

“The cost to come up with perfect produce is collapsing,” he said. “We can’t deny that science will accelerate faster into the future.”

Already, Dupont can adjust the genetics of genetically modified corn to account for climate differences between western Iowa and eastern Iowa, he said.

In closing remarks, Carroll said urged growers to be bold and daring in how they adapt technology for their farms.

You can read the original article over at The Packer Web site.

A week ago, I had the pleasure to open the FutureVision, “an invitation-only event designed for the industry’s retail leaders, is an exclusive relationship-building event packed with industry insights.” I shared the stage with some pretty impressive visionaries!

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 9.16.50 AM

It’s a small, intimate 50 CEO level event held in Sonoma County, California, with the focus being “the key trends coming over the next three years for retailers. This exclusive format allows retailers to listen and connect with industry visionaries and elite manufacturers — through exceptional networking, business meetings and strategic information sharing sessions. These featured speakers will address critical shifts that will impact your business over the coming years”

Here’s an excerpt from Technology Integrator Magazine on Day 1.


 

The inaugural FutureVision Conference’s first day in Sonoma Tuesday was a forum for three visionaries – futurist Jim Carroll , ShopRunner CEO and former Yahoo and PayPal executive Scott Thompson , and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone – to present their views of how technology has shaped and will continue to shape the retail industry, the consumer and the content that is delivered to that consumer. Some of the comments were colored by anecdotes from the speakers’ personal experiences.

Carroll spoke about consumer technology’s “furious rate of change.” He cited statistics to the effect that 65 percent of preschool children today will work in a career that does not exist today, and that half of what they learn in science will be obsolete by the time they graduate. These realities pose a challenge to CE product-production and marketing cycles as never before, he said. “Sixty percent of Apple’s revenue comes from products that didn’t exist four years ago,” he said, to drive home the point. Crucial to survival in this new normal, he said, is flexibility, and the ability to react to fast-paced change – to the “fast future,” as he phrased it.

Furthermore, he said, “the consumer is increasingly in control. The control of the speed of innovation is shifting from individual industries to technology companies. You need to turn those trends into opportunities and redefine the future.”

Three trends he identified were:

  • the rapid emergence of new business models and new competitors (warning listeners to be careful that what happened in the livery cab industry doesn’t happen to them: “don’t be Uber’ed”);
  • fast-changing media-consumption trends where consumers can get whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want;
  • and the shaping of innovation, which is increasingly occurring on the fringes rather than from established sources (“R&D is being changed by crowd-funding”).

He warned against clinging to routine, paraphrasing Steve Jobs, who never worried about cannibalizing his own business because “if you don’t do it, someone else will.”

He told the audience, “Think big, start small, scale fast. What to do? Observe, think, change, dare, banish (as in banish innovating-killing statements like, ‘That’ll never work’ – which create ‘organizational sclerosis’), try, question, grow, do – and enjoy.”

You can find the full article here.

GE is running an article, A Fresh Perspective from Many Minds, that explores the impact of crowdfunding on the world of R&D. I’ve long been pointing out that such efforts are accelerating R&D in countless industries, and in many cases, are challenging incumbent ‘owners of the industry.’

Greenbox

Carroll says that interest in crowdsourcing is spreading, thanks to the inherent desire of small independent firms to make a big hit. “They can get a prototype out in about a month. Big companies can’t do that. If you’re a small startup competing for ideas you can do it and get it to market a lot faster.”

For example, I recently spent time with a company in the lawn irrigation business. It’s been a pretty simple industry: some sprinkler heads, pipes, control systems. But now, what is coming to the industry — hyper connectivity, individually accessible sprinkler heads that are linked to an ethernet network. Not just that, but sophisticated control panels from iPads that provide for individually controllable water application, and sensors that feed moisture and other soil data on a square meter by square meter basis.

A good part of this innovation is occurring out on KIckstarter; there are dozens of examples, but perhaps the best is the Greenbox project, which goes with the tagline, “Your Garden, Connected.”

What this is leading to is an acceleration of change and innovation in many industries, and startups challenging incumbents in new and different ways. It continues to lead us to the future in which the future belongs to those who are fast!

GE Survey: Canadian companies are turning to crowdsourcing to solve R&D challenges

” Essentially, crowdsourcing is distributed problem-solving. It is also called “open innovation” for its collaborative approach to finding new solutions to technical challenges. Canadian futurist, trendspotter and innovation expert Jim Carroll says: “It’s changing the classical approach to research and development. A lot of R&D is being done through crowdsourcing. I call it innovation occurring on the edges.”

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Carroll says that interest in crowdsourcing is spreading, thanks to the inherent desire of small independent firms to make a big hit. “They can get a prototype out in about a month. Big companies can’t do that. If you’re a small startup competing for ideas you can do it and get it to market a lot faster.”

—-

Then there’s the issue of compensation and ownership of crowdsourced innovations. Large corporations may pay little more than a few thousand dollars for a bright idea that may make them far more money. This risks alienating the crowdsourcing ecosphere. However, leveraging the resources and ability to scale of a large organization may be worth the risks for some. Carroll says that the phenomenon will “play out in different ways. People will come to realize the currency of their ideas.” Conversely, he says, a lot of promising ideas touted by crowdsource participants may not deliver on time or on spec. “It’s very hard work to get the bloody thing built and tested, and that’s a risk with crowdsourcing.”

The economics of crowdsourcing is only one aspect, however, and the compelling attraction of a thousand independent minds finding ways to solve your innovation challenge is undeniable. A fresh perspective is always welcome.

You can read the full article here.

Back at the end of March, I worked on a custom video project with the Wall Street Journal Custom Digital Studios Team on behalf of CapitolOne; it involved  a small, invitation only panel discussion with a follow up custom video production. The latter is now running through out the WSJ.Com digital network.

It took place at the Modern, the restaurant area of the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. Sharing duties on stage with me was Soraya Darabi, a digital strategist and social media entrepreneur,  Charles Devaney, senior director of investments, Capital One Commercial Bank, and David Brinker, Senior Vice President of Operations and business development and Operations at The Daily. Our general discussion was around the opportunity for organizations to make bold, innovation moves through the leveraging of technology. Click the PDF to read the entire “Special Advertising Feature.”

WSJ-TBSMSFThumb

Click the image to read the PDF. “Of the companies in existence during the economic recessions of the 70s, 80s, 90s and the recent “Great Recession” of 2007-2009, on average, 60 percent survived, 30 percent died and 10 percent became breakthrough performers. How did the top 10 percent do it? They specifically decided to make bold moves, to invest in world-class innovation, despite economic uncertainty.” – Jim Carroll, Futurist, Trends & Innovation Expert

It was a fun event to participate in, with a very lively discussion around the theme. I certainly emphasized that technology will continue to drive rapid business model, competitive and structural industry change:

Rapid changes in technology and an ever—shifing media stage have leveled the playing field such that big truly doesn’t beat small anymore — an exciting and intimidating space for any organization. ‘‘If you think your industry is going to look anything like it does now in 10 years, you’re wrong,” he said. “You’ve got to keep up with the change that’s occurring because today’s 20—year—olds are going to be your customers and your employees.”

Here are two teaser clips from the production, 15 seconds in length:

The custom production  is now running throughout the entire WSJ network, including Barron’s and other properties. I caught the thumbnail yesterday in a news story. From there, you can hit the video clips from the panel. (Note: It’s a targeted campaign, so it’s only hitting the US market.)

WSJ-June23

All in all, a great project, and an opportunity to make some key points about innovation!

CNBC interviewed me a few weeks ago on the question of “trends that could shake up the financial industry.” Over the years, I’ve done thousands of such interviews.

They just ran the resulting article, “4 Trends Changing the Way You Manage Money.09MonarchBanking1.jpg

A couple of key points:

The article observes:

Last year Accenture, a global consulting firm, released a report that peered into the banking sector’s future. It concluded that by 2020, banks could lose 15 percent of their market share to technology companies.

“Who gains in this market share?” asked the authors of the Accenture report. “Digitally oriented disruptors that are far more agile and innovative—the equivalent of speedboats competing against schooners.”

That certainly fits the key theme I’ve been explaining to many of my clients  since 2009 — that the pace of innovation in every industry is shifting to Silicon Valley.

My part in the interview? Cash is disappearing. As with any trend, I explained my thoughts on the future by viewing the world through the eyes of my sons:

On a recent kayak trip, Jim Carroll asked his 19- and 20-year-old sons if they had any cash that he could use at the store. Instead of handing over a few bills to the Mississauga, Ontario-based futurist and author, they gave him a blank stare. “They told me they don’t use cash, and that’s huge,” he said. “The next generation doesn’t use money at all.”

According to Carroll, in the future every payment, including credit card purchases, money transfers and business bill payments, will likely be done virtually. “We won’t have credit cards in our pockets,” he said. “Every payment will be done through our mobile devices.”

The global mobile wallet market is expected to grow by 35 percent a year between 2012 and 2017, and mobile payment transactions topped $235 billion by the end of last year, according to Gartner Research.

This has implications for credit card companies, banks and other financial institutions that lend money, issue credit cards and wire cash between countries.

I know everyone is talking about mobile payment, but do folks realize where it is really taking us.

I often challenge my clients to think about the long term, substantive trends that are forever changing every industry. I truly believe one day in the future, cash simply won’t exist in the form that we know it today — bills and coins. The question is when; it’s simply a matter of timing.

And as that comes about, there is going to be a tremendous amount of change and disruption occurring. Fianncial organizations have to be relentlessly focused on innovation and the ingestion of new ideas and technologies if they have any hope of coming out the other side in acceptable shape.

 

 

I’m featured, this month, in an article in Medical Products Outsourcing Magazine, entitled “Artful Adaptation: Packaging and sterilization providers must keep pace with rapid change to innovate, grow and improve product safety.”

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“The medtech industry—perhaps more so than other industrial sectors—has long subscribed to the Carroll Testament. Medical device manufacturers with an “adapt or die” core philosophy, for instance, have higher survival rates than those resistant to changing market forces”

You can read the full article here — it’s well worth a read! Very much focused on several of my major themes, include that organizations must continually seek and hunt new revenue opportunities where those opportunities have not existed before.

It’s kind of funny, though — while the author (the Managing Editor) quotes me and some my video clips at length, he does seem to be a little disparaging at times. I’m called an “Innovation Whisperer”) (that’s a first for me) and a preacher with disciples! Interesting stuff!

Whatever! It’s all fun — here’s some choice quotes from the article. I really recommend you read the entire article.


 

Artful Adaptation: Packaging and sterilization providers must keep pace with rapid change to innovate, grow and improve product safety”
Medical Products Outsourcing Magazine, June 2014

Jim Carroll, a.k.a. the “Innovation Whisperer,” is a preacher of sorts.

The internationally-renowned futurist and social trends expert has crisscrossed the globe, extolling the virtues of change and creative thinking to thousands of business owners searching for the secret to entrepreneurial immortality.

Carroll, however, spreads his gospel in a most paradoxical and unoriginal way—usually by repeating the same tag line in keynote speeches: “the future belongs to those who are fast.

While it’s not the catchiest aphorism, it effectively conveys Carroll’s professional doctrine to his faithful disciples: Embracing innovation and keeping pace with a rapidly changing world will ensure future business growth and survival. “The world is changing very fast. Things are evolving at lightning speed,” Carroll told an audience of business executives several years ago in Las Vegas, Nev. “The reality going forward at this point in time is that it isn’t necessarily the big organizations who will own, win and control the future. It will be the fast, the agile…it will be those who can keep up with very rapid change and ingest that change. The high-velocity economy demands that we do, demands that we think, demands that we collaborate, demands that we share, and demands that we innovate in different ways.”

The medtech industry—perhaps more so than other industrial sectors—has long subscribed to the Carroll Testament. Medical device manufacturers with an “adapt or die” core philosophy, for instance, have higher survival rates than those resistant to changing market forces. Medtronic Inc. is a classic example: The Minneapolis, Minn., firm ascended to Fortune 500 heaven by catering its products to physicians, once the sole agents of purchasing decisions. Now, however, innovation revolves around cost containment and clinical efficacy to satisfy penny-pinching hospital administrators and insurers.


 

“The world demands that we look at the future and constantly ask ourselves, ‘Given the rapid rate of change coming at us, how do we ingest that future?’ “Carroll said during one of his countless public sermons. “How do we do things differently in order to deal with the future in which the future is happening faster than ever before? We have to completely rethink what we are doing and focus on innovation. Because the same rules of the past do not apply in the future.”


 

All companies innovate but few, if any, live up to Jim Carroll’s definition of the word. In his eyes, innovators are not the quintessential “cool” people developing “cool” products but rather the ordinary minions who have learned how to grow and transform their business. “Innovation is a funny word. We hear the word ‘innovation’ and who do we think of? We think of Steve Jobs,” Carroll once mused to CEOs and senior executives. “But innovation is about much more than people who innovate new products. To a degree the ability to innovate hinges on how quickly you can ingest all of the new ideas, capabilities and methodologies that are emerging. We’re in a world in which it can no longer take five years to plan and release something new. Innovative organizations know we’re in a world where volatility is the new normal. Everything is changing faster than ever before. Innovative organizations concentrate on how to build global scale. Innovative organizations know that things are going to evolve and change and twist and turn, particularly with the global economy.”

The most innovative organizations perfectly fit all those curves and evolve just as quickly as the hypercompetitive world in which they exist. They are the ones to first invest in emerging markets, or support new, unproven yet potentially disruptive technologies. Innovative organizations can anticipate trends before they happen, enabling them to avoid the “tyranny of success” trap that has led to the demise of countless corporations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Six things world-class innovators do

1. They are relentless in the face of uncertainty.

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

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

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

2. They realign with the longer term.

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

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

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

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

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

3. They watch the innovation at the edges.

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

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

4. They align to Silicon Valley innovation velocity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. They check their speed.

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

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

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

6. They know everything changes with the next generation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Workshop questions and discussions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ve just had an article published in STOrai Magazine. This is the monthly magazine for the Retail Association of India, one of the largest such groups in the world.

The article takes a look at the trends which will define the world of retail through the next 1, 2, 5 to 10 years.

You can grab a PDF version of the file — it’s 2 pages long.   

Grab the PDF of the article above! “…most retail experts believe that retail stores will evolve, so that they simply become showrooms for a massive backend logistics system that is their e-commerce system.”

I’ve been doing quite a few keynotes in the world of retail for quite some time, with clients that including for The GAP, the Walt Disney Company, Loblaw and global conferences for both Yum! Brands and Burger King. There’s a lot more information in the Retail Trends section of my blog.

These have ranged from speaking for small groups around a boardroom table (with the CEO and senior management team of several major retailers) to 7,000 person events in Las Vegas.

While dong my research for a recent event, I came across a great quote from Cyriac Roeding, CEO of Shopkick (which develops location- based shopping apps available for Macy’s, Target and other top retailers) ….. “The next five years will bring more change to retail than the last 100 years.”

I certainly believe that to be true.

I also believe that there are quite a few retailers who aren’t quite ready for the scope, speed and breadth of the change that is underway.

The article does a good job of putting into perspective just a few of the trends that are sweeping the world of retail. Much of it is being driven by mobile technology — which is coming to influence not just purchasing behavior, but the entire checkout process.

And think about how quickly dramatic change is occurring in the world of retail – by simply visiting an Apple Store – which is redefining the layout and purpose of a retail store, as well as causing significant upheaval in the entire retail process.

Consider this fact: Apple Stores devote at least 50% of their retail process to what they call “ownership experiences”. The Genius Bar, training, and exploring. That in itself is a fascinating statistic.

And then there’s process: the Apple checkout process, for example. All of a sudden, cash registers seem obsolete! They’ve had such an impact that countless other retailers are now scrambling to put the same type of process flow in place, trying to link themselves to the coolness of the Apple cachet.

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

Here’s the article in it’s entirety – and remember, you can grab the PDF from the image above!

Logistics, E-commerce and Attention Spans!

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about the future of retail is that e-commerce, or virtual commerce – which was so hyped in the late 90’s and then came into it’s stride in the last decade -will probably come to define the future of the physical retail experience. Jim Carroll, a futurist trends and innovation experts with clients such as The Gap, the Walt Disney Company, the Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association, Loblaw and other, has an interesting take to share on the future of retail.

 Isn’t that the obvious conclusion in a world in which, in the US at least, Amazon.com is now promising same day delivery?

Buy online, get it delivered, all in an instant. So imagine that you go into a store, see something you like, buy it and the same e-commerce system kicks in to deliver it to you later in the day!

Why? Well, why carry inventory if you don’t have to if you’ve built a big e-commerce infrastructure for your brand, you might as well use it!

This is the obvious conclusion  in a world in which the customer in the typical retail store probably spends more time looking at the screen on their smartphone than looking at store shelves. So why not adapt to that reality?

Certainly it is becoming more difficult for retailers to keep the attention of their customers. It is said that the average consumer scans some 12 feet of shelf space per second – because they are spending a lot of other time looking at their phones.

In a recent keynote with a world-leading retailer, I made the observation that most retail experts believe that over time, retail stores will evolve, so that they simply become showrooms for a massive backend logistics system that is their e-commerce system. Stores won’t carry much inventory anymore, and instead will become integrated into the sophisticated e-commerce systems which they have built for the online shopping experience.

Anne Zybowski, an analyst at Kantar Retail, stated this possibility perfectly: “A few years ago retailers spent a ton of time trying to make their online stores look and act like their physical stores. Now they’ve sort of reversed course, and the challenge is how to take that online shopping experience that’s so personalized, socially connected and heavily layered with data, and essentially bring it into a physical environment.

And it is for reasons like that, that we have Ron Boire, the chief marketing officer at Sears (and former chief executive of Brookstone Inc.), commenting that his focus is about “creating more and better theater in the stores.”

In other words, pump up the in store experience to grab the attention of the customer. Send promo codes to their smartphones, interact with them heavily through technology, give them the excitement of shopping and deliver the product to them the same day through the logistics system that you have already put in place.

Continual re-invention

Of course, if the consumer is losing their attention, then retail needs to ensure it can do the right thing to stay relevant.

We are seeing this as many retailers invest heavily in the in-store experience. In the UK, Marks & Spencer is spending $600 million revamp of its High Street Kensington store! And Macy’s in New York is spending $400 million on flagship store.

But it’s not just big global mega-stores, mega brands that are reinventing. Trends involving everything from safety to energy to health are causing retail chains to reformulate their stores at a fast pace.

Consider Fresh-Stop, a chain in South Africa that is own owned by Chevron. With the push to healthier diets in the country, the gas-bar chain is now moving away from a mix of unhealthy snack foods, to shelves that offer  fresh produce, meat, fish, a delicatessen and even up-market meals!  And they are converting stores at a furious pace with results. Converted stores have recorded a 12 per cent footfall increase and a 40 per cent sales increase in 2010 against the background of a convenience store sector where sales fell 6 per cent.

What’s most fascinating about this is the fact that they are learning how to change an entire store extremely fast. They can convert an entire store in just two weeks so the future belongs to those who are fast!

And then the credit card disappears

The biggest change to the world of retail comes about as credit cards disappear – because our cell phones become the credit card!

This is a huge trend in North America, it is estimated that payments using digital wallets will grow from $4 billion in 2012 to $191 billion in 2017, breaking $100 billion in 2016.

We’re already seeing the signs of this change consider the Silicon valley upstart Square. Plug the little (square device) into your iPhone, and all of a sudden, you can accept credit card payments.

The service is growing at a furious pace with over 2 million users in just 2 years. They’re doing $8 billion in payments, and just had equity investment by VISA. Even more momentum Starbucks planning a massive rollout to 8,000 stores throughout the US. Square has an unmitigated cool factor!

Yet, despite the excitement of such initiatives, it will take some time for the ‘digital wallet’, or mobile commerce, to become real. Even Google admits this their VP of Wallet and Payment Systems, Osama Bedier, commented that “there’s a lot of ideas and not a lot of problems being solved.”

That’s because there are a lot of BIG problems that need to be solved concerning credit card infrastructure. The New York Times noted this, commenting that “one of the bigger problems that has to be overcome is that mobile payments involve deals between companies that aren’t used to working together like wireless carriers and banks.” (Mobile Payments Slow to Catch On, New York Times, March 2012).

Certainly smartphones are everywhere but retail stores and credit card companies are going to have to invest a HUGE amount of money to put in place the technology that will support near-field-communications.

How much work? “Yankee Group analyst Nick Holland estimates it will cost $15 billion to deploy the technology that will make mobile payments ubiquitous.” Wall Street Journal, November 2011.

So I’ve been running around for years, preaching my mantra to many global organizations that a key chance for innovation success will come from the ability to align yourself to fast paced future trends…

We’re in the era of the end of incumbency, in which small dominates big, fast trumps ponderous, and indecision spawns failure.

I’ve even written books on the theme: both The Future Belongs To Those Who Are Fast and Ready, Set, Done: How to Innovate When Faster is the New Fast carry this key message.

So I was thrilled when I was discovered by, and eventually booked, by the Toronto Agile community, for the 2012 Agile Tour Toronto conference, being held next Monday morning in Toronto.

As with all clients, I’ve spent some time to understand who these folks are, what they do, and what they think. One evening, over some refreshments, I had a wonderful discussion with their team that helped me to realize that my theme, and the spirit of Agile (yes, it’s capitalized) are perfectly aligned.

So here’s the thing: if you want to understand how your organization will survive and thrive in a world in the future belongs to those who are fast, you should understand and learn about Agile. It’s pretty darned important. Here’s a good starting point – the session description for my keynote on Monday below. But more important, you want to take a look at the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, and the Principles behind the Agile Manifesto.

And then dig deeper from there. Talk to some of these folks. Discover if you’ve got them on your software team, internally or externally. If you don’t, find out why not — because it’s probably a key indicator that you aren’t positioned to keep up with the change that is occurring with your company and the industry that you compete in.

Oh — and if you want to come on Monday, you can’t. The event sold out months ago. Agile is that important!

Aligning Acceleration and Agility: The Business Case for Fast!
To say that we live in a fast world would be an understatement. Small, quick upstarts like Square are challenging the global credit card industry, at the same that GPS based driver monitoring devices are rewriting the rules of the auto insurance industry. The NEST Learning Thermostat morphs from a quiet startup to a worthy challenger to industrial energy device powerhouses. Autonomous vehicle technology leads us to road trains and a more rapid emergence of intelligent highway infrastructure. We’re in the era of the end of incumbency, in which small dominates big, fast trumps ponderous, and indecision spawns failure. Everywhere we look, we can see acceleration, speed, and velocity: and in times like these, time isn’t a luxury.

For any software professional, these trends matter — because we are at the dawn of a time in which “software is poised to take over the world.” That’s not an understatement – it’s a reality. And with that trend, the role of Agile is shifting, from a means of bringing reproducibility, consistency and sanity to the software development process — to a foundation for “what comes next.” It’s clear that the values and practices behind Agile, such as the focus on testing, tight feedback cycles and accelerated learning, continuous or frequent releases, responding to fast change, serve as the backbone of what you need to be a fast organization.  Today, companies like Google can succeed because of their ability to get new functionality out to end users quickly, in order to test the market, or to respond to accelerating trends.

Agile is a great facilitator to help you be fast. Join us as Jim Carroll takes us on a voyage into how the new rules of business and technology are
providing for a reality in which the spirit of agility isn’t just an option – it’s the new normal.

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