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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)


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.”

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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.)

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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.

The NEST Learning Thermostat is a great example of the type of typical business model disruption that we are going to witness through the next decade!

Give it a few years.

You won’t even recognize the industry you are operating in.

That’s because the rate of business model change is accelerating in every single industry. Here’s why:

  1. Right now, there are probably a bunch of really smart people figuring out to disrupt your business model
  2. If you aren’t busy thinking about to disrupt your business model, they most certainly will.
  3. They’ll probably do this sooner than you think they will.
  4. The result is that 10 years out (or less), your business model will look nothing like it does today.
  5. Those that do mess up your business model are quite likely to be younger than you; for many folks, age provides complacency.
  6. The fundamental change to your business model driven by this younger generation will be the result of digital, smart, intelligent, location-oriented technology.
  7. They’ll use this technology in such a way they’ll come out of left field with a business model idea that you’ve never even thought of before.
  8. Their business model will carry an undeniable ‘coolness factor’ that you can’t simply match.
  9. Most likely, you’ll discount the importance of their innovation, until it is much too late.
  10. The result will be dramatic change : such that perhaps 1/2 of what you sell right now won’t exist in 5 years, and 1/2 of what you’ll sell in 5 years doesn’t exist now.

Examples of this type of disruption are occurring all around us right now.

Simply take a look at the Square credit card reader for the iPhone, or the NEST Learning Thermostat. The future belongs to those who are fast!

Every industry in the world today finds itself in the midst of dramatic change, as mobile smartphone technology comes to change business models, consumer behaviour, and entire professions.

No where is this more evident today than what is happening in the world of healthcare, wellness and fitness, as a flood of new apps and technologies emerge that will forever change this world.

Back in late September, I was the opening keynote speaker for the 2012 Chronic Disease Fund annual conference in Dallas, Texas. Here’s a video clip in which I’m talking about the significance of the change that is occurring … compelling to watch!

As for me? I just bought a FitBit this morning — it would be fascinating to see how much territory I cover during one single keynote!

I keep advising my personal trainer that she needs to get an iPhone. She shrugs, noting that there is a queue in the family for the next mobile upgrade, and her 14 year old daughter might have more of a claim in the line than she does.

Hogwash! There is an absolute revolution going on involving the “consumerization of fitness and wellness” — and this super long blog post will put into perspective why. And maybe this will help to sort out some of her family politics over the ‘next phone.’ The fact is, the very nature of the future fitness opportunity is changing ….

Update: After I wrote this blog post, Adweek ran the article, “Nike+ Officially Turns Your Workout Into a Video Game” – you want to read it.

Here’s the main gist of this post — In May and June, I spoke at a tremendous number of corporate, association and private events; it was a busy couple of months, and hence the lack of regular postings to the blog.

Three of these were events related to the issue of corporate wellness programs.

It was the perfect timing for such a keynote; through the last year and I half, I’ve been following what I believe to be a fairly aggressive personal fitness regime, with the help of my personal trainer, as well as personally exploring the wealth of new fitness and wellness mobile applications that are flooding the market.

The entire premise of my keynote? At this moment in time, we are witnessing the perfect confluence of several major trends:

  • the first signs of the reality of the massive scope of the health care crisis (both disease, lifestyle and funding related) as baby boomers begin to flood the health care system with requirements for extra care
  • a renewed and significant focus on “preventative” health care concepts” ;
  • structural change aimed at wellness programs so that people work harder to avoid or reduce the impact of lifestyle disease;
  • and the rapid emergence of new technologies — many involving the smartphones that have become a ubiquitous part of our lifestyle – that can motivate consumers to do so much more with their personal fitness and wellness.

Why a keynote on wellness? Because companies are recognizing there is a big opportunity to be innovative with managing healthcare costs through a proactive approach that involves wellness. It’s a good example of the deep, transformative thinking that is occurring with many organizations in the healthcare system worldwide . Organizations are moving beyond the endless political debate, and are instead, putting in place practical, innovative programs that can help organizations manage healthcare costs, and employees can actively work at improving their overall health and fitness.

Let’s consider the trends which are all coming together.

1. It’s crisis time!

Throughout the western worldwide, the obesity, diabetes and lifestyle health care crisis is really making itself felt with massive demands being placed on the system. The future is stark ; if something is not done, we will continue to see:

  • a continued rapid increase in lifestyle disease, resulting in even more massive future demands on the system
  • a bigger demographic challenge – more boomers placing demand on the system, with fewer workers to support the massive uptick in spending that results
  • a resultant massive supply / demand imbalance
  • and an expectation gap likely to increase scope of challenge : a trend I wrote about in my “Trending in 2011: 10 Major Trends to Start Thinking About Now.” It’s worth a read — check the first big trend in the list.

Clearly, something needs to be done. Hence, a lot of innovative thinking!

2. A massive shift to preventative medical concepts

Given that the Western world has such a big problem, it’s also fascinating to note that there is a huge amount of innovation occurring in the health care system now – and it has absolutely nothing to do with the raging (and now seemingly pointless) political debate occurring in the US.

What is happening is this: we are in the midst of a long term trend in which “preventative medical care” will come to exceed what we spend on “reactive medical care.” Preventative care takes many forms, from genetic testing (to determine what conditions people are likely to develop in their lifetime) to wellness and other preventative programs. Simply put, let’s fix people before they are sick, rather than treating them after they’ve developed a condition.

We’ve got a heck of a long way to go with this trend: according to a PriceWaterhouseCoopers report, “a mere 3% of spending goes towards prevention of chronic disease among industrialized countries.”

But what is happening is an acceleration of the trends that take us to a world of preventative healthcare. Consider the trend line with genomic medicine:

  • it took $3 billion to sequence the first human genome
  • by 2009, that was down to $100,000
  • it’s now under $10,000
  • and it is estimated by the end of 2012, $1,000

Give it a few years, and you’ll be able to go out and buy a $5 genomic sequencing machine at Radio Shack! That might seem like a joke, and it is. But the significance of a cost curve such as this is that it accelerates a significant shift in spending.

It isn’t occurring with genomic medicine — its happening everywhere throughout the world of healthcare. Last year, when I keynoted one of the largest seniors care conferences in the US, I noted the same type of focus on preventative thinking was becoming routine:

  • “Identifying dementia early can cut the cost of care by nearly 30 percent … routine screening that identified patients with early signs of dementia helped cut average healthcare costs by nearly $2,000 per patient in the first year, often by eliminating money spent on unnecessary tests and treatments. Early diagnosis can cut Alzheimer’s costs, Reuters Health E-Line, July 2010

The health and wellness theme fits into this agenda as well, which have undergone very much a sea-change in the last, in terms of perception, importance and approach:

  • “In businesses across the nation, workplace wellness has morphed from a “nice-to-have” fringe benefit to a “must-have” cost-containment strategy.” 23 April 2012, GlobeNewswire
  • Employers determined to contain medical costs must focus on creating a culture that supports healthy behaviors. If they can do that, they can enhance not only their bottom lines but also transform the lives of their workers. 28 April 2012, Obesity, Fitness & Wellness Week
  • “In businesses across the nation, workplace wellness has morphed from a “nice-to-have” fringe benefit to a “must-have” cost-containment strategy.” 23 April 2012, GlobeNewswire
  • “64 percent of employers surveyed indicated that wellness initiatives are among the top three most effective tactics for controlling health care costs” 2012 Annual Plan Design Survey, National Business Group on Health

Studies show that for every $1 spent on a wellness program, medical expenses fall by at least $3.

Part 3: Time for some more aggressive action!

What is interesting is that in corporate organizations throughout the Western world, wellness programs are rapidly shifting : they’re going from a “nice-to-have” type of program, to a “we really need to see some results!” approach. Consider the trends; certainly many more organizations are putting such programs in place:

  • A recent study by Willis North America’s Human Capital Practice found about 60 percent of the companies surveyed have wellness programs, an increase of 13 percent from 2010. Companies encourage wellness, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 22 April 2012

But not only are more organizations adopting wellness programs: they are working to put in place structures, methodologies and measurement technologies that can help to ensure that employees are benefitting from such programs:

  • One of the fastest-growing categories of new insurance includes significant penalties for those who don’t participate or backslide on targets – penalties that may include deductible spikes or loss of health-savings accounts. Workers’ wellness can turn a profit Insurers offer incentives for health and penalize workers who can’t meet goals, The Denver Post , 25 December 2011
  • A national survey of large employers by the National Business Group on Health found that 80 percent plan to offer financial rewards for health in 2012, up from 54 percent this year. Workers’ wellness can turn a profit Insurers offer incentives for health and penalize workers who can’t meet goals, The Denver Post , 25 December 2011

And this is where tech comes along at the perfect time!

4. In comes technology – and the new consumerization of health care!

Technology is going to provide for more creative disruption in the world of healthcare than we’ve ever seen. Simply put, it changes everything.

  • “Imagine a far more extreme transformation, in which advances in IT, biology and engineering allow us to move much of health care out of hospitals, clinics and doctors offices, and into our everyday lives.” Our high-tech health care future, New York Times, 10 Nov 2011

The Withings Wi-FI Body Scale measures weight, BMI and fat mass, and transmits the info to a password protected site. I’ve got one and love it. They sell them at the Apple Store!

Cast your mind out 5 years or more, and we will see significant change in everything we do in the world of health care:

  • “…. you’ll be sitting in front of a big multitouch screen actually watching what’s going on in your body in a very intuitive, fun kind of animation. When you leave, the doctor will download prescriptions and treatments onto your cellphone – which not only remind you, but encourage you to follow the medicine’s or other lifestyle procedures. [You’ll see] a periodic video message from the doctor to encourage you if you’re doing well or maybe to encourage you if you’re not. It’ll be continuous care rather than the episodic, periodic care that occurs today.” Better living with technology, The Boston Globe, 21 November 2011

Extend that type of thinking, and we are headed to a future in which we literally have a dashboard for the human body…..

And it is starting to happen now — with a flood of new mobile and other healthcare technologies that help consumers to take more of an active role in their level of wellness and fitness. Consider the current trends:

  • 78% of consumers are interested in mobile health wellness fitness solutions
  • medical fitness health care apps are 3rd fast growing category for iPhone and Android phones
  • the Apple App store now has 17,000 health care related apps, 60% of which are aimed at the consumer
  • sports, fitness and wellness apps will grow from 154 million downloads in 2010 to 908 million by 2016
  • the number of wearable wireless “gadgets” will grow from 8 million to 72 million over the same period

I’m using a number of mobile wellness and fitness apps — for example, MapMyWalk, which I use to track the pace and timing of the five mile — or more — walk that I do while at home or travelling. I’ve also got a Withings Wi-Fi Body Scale — which tracks weight, BMI and body-fat mass, transmitting those details to a personally-password protected Web site. Utilize such technology, and all of a sudden you’ve got the opportunity to be more involved in your own well being.

Or, as I commented in New York at the keynote the impact of consumer fitness, wellness and healthcare technologies is that  “...they increase how often individuals think about their health…”

And clearly, it’s a pretty big trend:

  •  “500 million mobile users, or about 30% of an estimated 1.4 billion smartphone subscribers worldwide, will be using health/fitness apps by 2015. Healthcare in your hands
International Herald Tribune, March 2011

The Withings Blood Pressure Monitor works with your iPhone. It’s an example of the start of the trend I call “bio-connectivity.”

It isn’t just consumers who are rapidly adopting such technology — so are doctors and other professionals throughout the healthcare system.

  • By the end of the year 90 percent of physicians will have smart phones. Health apps soon will get an incubator, The San Francisco Chronicle, 11 April 2011

We are only beginning to scratch the surface of the innovations that will occur here. I’ve been suggesting that one of the biggest trends to sweep the world of healthcare and medicine will be that of ‘bio-connectivity,’ a phrase I coined well over a decade ago. Consider this post which I wrote before keynoting the World Healthcare Innovation & Technology Congress in Washington.

Bio-connectivity provides huge opportunity for innovation in the space of healthcare. The same company – Withings — has brought out the Withings iPhone Blood Pressure Monitor — seen on the right. All of a sudden, someone working to manage their blood pressure doesn’t need to rely on pencils and paper to track their progress — it’s automatically captured through the smartphone which is becoming an integral, everyday part of their life.

Not only that, but they can transmit their blood pressure readings and charts to their doctor or other health care provider via email. This provides for the virtualization of healthcare ; no longer are hospital or doctor visits restricted to actual physical locations known as hospitals or doctors offices — instead, it becomes a part of the global Internet. If you think about what is happening here: there is a change in the centuries old relationship between doctor and patient!

Did you know that researchers have already figured out how to make an ultra-thin heart monitor that goes on like a tattoo? Talk about a trend that is going to drive a lot of change!

Link all of these trends together, and the simple fact is this: we are going to witness more change in the world of healthcare, wellness and fitness in the next five years, than we have seen in the previous one hundred years.

And if you follow that path down the road of wellness and fitness — the very nature of fitness is changing. Ten years out, most folks going to the gym will have a smartphone attached to their hip, and will be working with their trainer on a regimen that includes this type of personal fitness tracking.

Sure, it sounds odd, but ten years ago, we didn’t have Facebook, Twitter, Youtube or many other of today’s life changing technologies.

My personal trainer really needs to get an iPhone!