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I’m thrilled that I’ve again been cover in CG&T Magazine’s annual outlookCGT2015.  This marks 4 years in a row!

This year my comments are short and sweet – I continue to believe that accelerating change with retail models, products, technology, mobile and just about everything else makes it difficult for organizations to ensure that their capabilities are aligned to their strategies.

Here’s what I wroe for this years piece:


Going into 2015 and beyond, the biggest issue for CG executives will be to think about how they have big holes that they need to fix — and fast.

The challenge is that with this tsunami of change, many companies still aren’t capable of coping, and so many mismatches become painfully clear:

  • Strategy mismatch: Are you still trying to solve the social media challenges from 2013, while in 2015 it has shifted mobile?
  • Skills mismatch: What’s your bench strength with all the new technologies flooding the space?
  • Cultural mismatch: Are you equipped for speed? Everyone is talking about being agile and lean — but do you find that even with those strategies you are still falling behind?
  • Worse yet, your technology mismatch is probably becoming bigger than ever. How are you going to fix these holes?

Here are some key secrets of success in an era of high-velocity change: an accelerated innovation cycle, fuelled by the rapid ingestion of new technologies/methodologies. Work on your internal pipelines to gain a faster time to market, and know how to rapidly re-focus resources for opportunity or threat. All that needs to be done in a time in which volatility is the new normal. A pretty tall order, but it will help you close the mismatches that likely exist.

There was an interesting article in the New York Times on Feb 18: “Careers: ‘Board Doctors,’ to Supervise the Supervisors — More companies bring in experts to scrutinize effectiveness of directors, creating a growth business.” (read the article)

board_of_directors

Sadly, with all the current focus on “compliance,” I’ve come to believe that there is a critical lack of future planning on many other corporate boards around the world — Jim Carroll

The article opens with the observation: “Amid unprecedented pressure from investors, more boards are tapping outside experts so they can monitor management better and clean their own house. The legion of advisers — which some dub “board doctors” — scrutinize boards’ inner workings and prescribe cures for such ills as an entrenched chief executive, 800-page briefing books, or even a director who plays Sudoku during management presentations. The experts often enable board members to make tough choices they are too squeamish to do on their own.”

Essentially, the gist of the article boiled down to three key points:

  • boards are becoming less effective at making ‘hard decisions’
  • the result is a trend in which there is more outside (hired) scrutiny of the effectiveness of board performance
  • the scrutiny adds in assessment of the effectiveness of individual board members

In an amusing point, the article comments on one director who was known to regularly play Sudoku during board meetings.

The article is a good read, and a great outline of some of the problems facing the world of corporate governance today. But from my perspective, it missed a key point that I’ve been raising in many of my sessions with Boards through the years — most boards are not structured to deal with issues of future strategic direction.

If you understand how boards work, there are two key issues:

  • it’s a very insular club ; still, globally, very much an ‘old boys network’ (although gender diversity is a key issue that many national Director associations are working hard to solve)
  • the board ‘skills matrix’ — that is, the type of people that boards seek to recruit — generally consists of finance/accounting; legal; executive compensation; IT; human resources; and specific industry experience. Few seem to have expanded their matrix to include “future strategic insight.”

A few years ago, I thought it might be interesting to apply my skill of anticipating and outlining future trends by actively seeking involvement in a few boards. I took a director education course at the University of Rotman. It was a fascinating world to immerse myself in. Sadly, since then, I’ve had few opportunities (probably, to be honest, because I don’t network with the board world as most other folks do.)

What’s the looming crisis? I outlined this back in a post in 2007, “The Future of Governance.” Essentially, there are numerous boards who do not take on the responsibility of actively and regularly assessing trends for future threats and opportunities, and include this assessment in their evaluation of the effectivness of the CEO (which is one of their key responsibilities.)

I’ll repost the 2007 post in fulll below; it still makes what I believe is a useful and powerful read.

I’m not sure much has changed since I wrote it; consider, for example, the recent security/hacking issues with Sony. Should they not have had a high level Board member who would be asking tough questions as to what structure the CEO had in place to deal with an obvious looming security infrastructure challenge. You can lay the Sony debacle at the door of the CEO. You can also lay blame directly against the Board of Directors.

Have a look at the article, and then consider if the Board you participate on has a significant ‘future oriented challenge.’

—–

I was in Colorado Springs yesterday, as the opening keynote of the Leadership Institute for Directors for FCCServices — they’re the business services arm of the US federal Farm Credit System.

In attendance were members of the Boards of Directors for a wide variety of state and community farm credit co-ops; these folks are the backbone of the US farm lending infrastructure. The Directors are local farmers, community leaders and business executives, and hence, need to be aware of the trends impacting the local and global agricultural industries, so that they can plan accordingly, assess risk, and make sound business decisions with respect to their co-ops.

My keynote took a look at “what comes next in the agricultural sector” – it’s one of many talks I do within the industry. And agriculture is certainly subject to high velocity change: there’s rapid evolution in science (bio-crops); new markets (bio-fuel) ; rapidly changing skills; new direct to consumer market opportunities; globalization (current food production must double in the next 30 years to keep up with global population growth.) All of which could spell opportunity if approached correctly — or turmoil and challenge if ignored.

The intent of the talk — and the overall theme of the leadership conference — was to ensure that these folks have the insight to direct their organizations into the future. That’s an important and critical role for Boards; and FCC Services is an example of an organization that has made sure that the “future” is closely linked to the issue of “governance.”

I think there are too many organizations that don’t do this. Sadly, with all the current focus on “compliance,” I’ve come to believe that there is a critical lack of future planning on many other corporate boards around the world. The result is that potential risks are often ignored; then things go wrong; then the company gets sued for significant sums of money. Is this Board negligence? That’s an interesting question, isn’t it!

Here’s an example: years ago, I wrote an article indicating that one of the critical CEO/Board level issues that must be addressed had to do with network security; certainly, everyone knows that organizations should properly secure their information assets. Yet in the article, I suggested that I believe that many Boards aren’t dealing with the issue, and that it was an area ripe for future exposure, noting that: “If I were a tort lawyer, I’d be licking my lips in anticipation of the opportunities to come in the next few years.”

Boards and CEO’s should ensure — as they are required to do with financial controls — that the information assets of the organization are properly locked down. They must understand obvious future trends, and ensure that management has planned accordingly. I strongly believe this to be the next wave in Board responsibility.

Do many Boards of Directors ensure that the organization is properly preparing for the rapidity of trends? Not many. Witness the shenanigans with the TJX Group, which had its corporate network hacked and millions of credit card numbers stolen. (The company runs HomeGoods, Marshalls, A.J. Wright, Bob’s Stores and The Maxx stores; in Canada the chain consists of Winners and HomeSense.) Now comes news that a group of banks want to sue the company with respect to the issue.

I can only imagine the questions that the Board of TJX is now asking!

Currently, much of the focus of board governance has to do with “compliance” — how well are boards, and the companies they are responsible for, dealing with the new realities of the post-Enron era.

I believe that within the next decade, we will see Board responsibility quickly evolve into a new and much more complex era than simply making sure that “i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed.’ All we need are a few savvy lawyers to launch a few negligence suits against a few public companies, alleging that a Board failed to develop a plan for and respond to obvious future trends.

It’s a trend worth watching.

Some years back, I worked on a project for Deloitte, which resulted in the video, “What Do World Class Innovators Do That Others Don’t Do?” It’s become a very popular video, and keynote topic.

I’ve gone back and had a look at the raw footage, and there is some great stuff that wasn’t used in its entirety. Here’s a clip around the theme of ‘the acceleration of knowledge.’

Cayman

“Of particular interest to your editor were the words—and the AK-47 speed at which they were uttered—of Jim Carroll”

At this time back in 2007, I was the opening keynote speaker for the Cayman Business Forum.

I had about 700 people in the room; international financiers, wealth managers, bankers. At the timel, Cayman was one of the world’s leading offshore banking centers.

I write about this now, because I return there tomorrow with my family, for a personal vacation. No keynotes! But having visited Cayman, I always vowed to go back, and am thrilled to be doing so.

When I was preparing for my keynote, I had the delightful opportunity of speaking for about 1/2 hr the prior evening with the Governor of the Cayman, H.E. Stuart Jack, at his home, where he hosted a small party with the local elite.

Part of my discussion with the Governor revolved around my belief that with forthcoming growth in Asia, and other major trends involving high-end skills, Cayman was certainly in the position of losing its lustre and standing in the global money race.

My keynote was open, honest, aggressive, and blunt.

Later press coverage showed that I certainly caught some attention — and that my message resonated with the Governor.

To set the scene, the best and the brightest from both Cayman’s private and public sectors had gathered at the Ritz-Carlton to hear presenter after presenter look into their crystal balls to predict the future of the Cayman Islands. Each year Fidelity Bank sponsors this event, bringing in distinguished speakers from overseas.

Of particular interest to your editor were the words—and the AK-47 speed at which they were uttered—of Jim Carroll, a chartered accountant from Canada who now bills himself as a “futurist.” Carroll makes a tidy sum sharing his knowledge and insights with large corporations and audiences throughout the world.

Carroll believes—and certainly convinced many in the room — that the global velocity of change is affecting every area of our lives. He cautioned that if we don’t adapt to this super-synapsed new world, well, we all recall what happened to Tyrannosaurus Rex.

To illustrate the concept of velocity, Carroll projected on a large screen an image of a charging
cheetah in full pursuit of one thing or another—our guess is a gazelle (lunch) — but it makes no difference to our tale . . .

By chance, after Carroll finished his dissertation, it was time for a coffee break, and we approached our good Governor, H.E. Stuart Jack, with a smile on our face and a question on our lips: Do you see any irony between the cheetah on the screen and the fact that the national symbol of the Cayman Islands is a turtle?

Today, Singapore, Dubai and London have transitioned to take over the role as global economic powerhouses in terms of wealth, money and banking. And the Cayman still finds itself playing a powerful role as the world’s sixth largest international banking center — but lagging behind the growth rates of other financial centersas most global wealth concentrates in Asia and the Mid-East.

What’s the moral of the story? I’m not sure — but sometimes, I hope that in some small way, my thoughts on stage, and the opportunity to speak at such an event, can help to shape future outcomes! Maybe turtles can transform into cheetah’s!

I did a keynote a few weeks back for a leading North American food company.

It was a highly customized keynote, built around the theme, “Being Agile: How Innovators Thrive in the High Velocity Economy.” I think it took about 5 or 6 conference calls with senior executives at the client as I worked to build my content and insight into their overall theme. They had about 200 of their top executives at the corporate offsite. (This is typical of about 50% of the events I do ; a lot of “corporate off-sites” for Fortune 1000 companies, often at the behest of a CEO).

Agility2015

A quick screen shot of one of my opening slides!

What is “corporate agility” or “business agility”? From my perspective, it involves an organization that has aligned itself so that it can “respond to fast external trends in order to spot opportunity, ward off challenge and align resources for fast success.”

Of course, a good part of my talk focused on the trends in this particular sector that are driving the need for agility; specifically, the rapid emergence of new forms of in-store promotion known as “shopper marketing,” which combines location intelligence, mobile technology and in-store display technology; massive changes to the in-store payment process, including mobile payment involving Apple Pay and the complete elimination of the concept of the cash-register; the emergence of same-day shipping from titans such as Google, Amazon and Walmart; the rapid installation of “click and collect” infrastructure (i.e. an online purchase, with same day pickup at a retail location); faster ‘store fashion’ with rapid evolution of in-store promotion, layout and interaction; the arrival of intelligent packaging and intelligent (“Internet of Things”) products; and collapsing product life-cycles, rapid product obsolescence and the implications on inventory and supply chain! (All of which is covered in depth in a previous retail trends post….). Not to mention all the fast changing consumer, taste, food and social networking trends influencing today’s food purchasing decisions…

How do achieve agility in a fast moving environment? I focused on these issues:

  • structure for execution
  • rebuild your competitive intelligence capabilities
  • watch the “edges”, particular crowdfunding initiaitves in your space
  • abandon tradition – get more projects on the leading edge
  • be decisive – avoid aggressive indecision
  • innovate with structure – form fast teams!
  • enourage entrepreneurial units – spin out units rather than reining them in
  • partner up in unique ways
  • redefine strategic planing – flex it to short term thinking
  • build a culture that supports new ideas
  • challenge decisions
  • rapidly ingest new technology
  • “test and learn”
  • spots trends quicker
  • risk failure faster
  • align different generations on social projects

I spent some time walking through each of these issues in a fair bit of depth; and there is a copious amount of insight on each elsewhere throughout my blog.

And of course, avoid the “innovation killers” — which can shut down opportunities in learning how to be agile!

It was a great keynote talk on agility, and the client was genuinely thrilled.

Agility is a critical issue that organizations need to think about in a world in which the future belongs to those fast….! Here’s a video clip to whet your appetite!

 

25 Trends for 2025 – PDF
January 26th, 2015

I’ve put together a full size PDF of my “25 Trends for 2025” document – grab it by clicking the image below.

25Trends

Every industry is set to be transformed as an era of hyper connectivity becomes the new norm. The result? Massive business model disruption; the rapid emergence of new competitors; industries in which customers empowered with mobile devices control a wide variety of devices that are a part of their daily lives; unique opportunities for deep analytical insight into trends and opportunities emerging in industries; a reinvention of manufacturing, logistics, retail, healthcare and other industries because of consumers that are empowered, connected, and enabled with a new form of lifestyle management that we’ve never witnessed before.

The Internet of Things is happening everywhere.

The CEO of a major US energy company hired Jim Carroll to do a video that put into perspective the impact of the Internet of Things on the global energy. There are some pretty profound changes underway.

Think about the video in the context of literally any other industry, and you realize the scope of the potential disruption that is occurring.

The Internet of Things is real, and it is unfolding at a blistering pace. We’re in the era of connected thermostats that link to an intelligent energy grid; autonomous vehicle technology that is self-aware, and networked into sophisticated, intelligent highway flow control systems. A connected trucking fleet that is self-diagnostic, predictive, and built for zero down-time . Intelligent home appliances that link to packaged food products that automatically upload carb, sodium and other dietary information as part of an overall health and wellness program.

Jim Carroll has been talking on stage about the Internet of things since the late 1990’s, when he began using the phrase “hyper connectivity” to describe a world in which “every device that is a part of our daily lives is about to become plugged in.” Since then, he has delivered his insight on the topic to a wide variety of organizations: several global technology leaders with a keynote talk on the future of home automation; several of the world’s largest HVAC companies about what happens when a global, intelligent home and industrial energy infrastructure emerges through widespread connectivity; consumer, food and packaged goods conferences about the impact of intelligent packaging. He has been booked by many leading global health care organizations for keynotes that have focused on what happens when consumers start aligning their wellness strategies through their own personal healthcare infrastructure.

The Internet of Things is a substantive, transformative trend that will provide more change in every industry in the next ten years than they’ve seen in the last thirty.

Jim Carroll already over a dozen years of on-stage experience with the topic, and can help you understand the strategies, risks and opportunities that you need to be aware of you move into a hyperconnected future. Consider one of the world’s most widely recognized futurists, trends and innovation experts for your next association, CEO leadership meeting or other keynote!

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 few weeks ago, I was the closing keynote speaker for Potato Expo 2015 in Orlando, with a talk titled “Big Trends in Agriculture: What Ag Will Look Like in 2045.” It was quite a bit of fun, and drew a SRO audience.

2015 jan potato expo-2

“Carroll considers agricultural people to be some of the most innovative, tech savvy, people in the world. Carroll said that the general public remains uninformed about current agricultural practices. He said that many people continue to view farming from the sepia-toned photos of the 1940s and 1950s.”

Prior to the event, I was interviewed by Spudman Magazine; they ran an article in the daily show newspaper on day 2.  It’s a good summary of my thoughts on the agricultural sector. I did cover a lot in terms of trends for agriculture in the future; I’m working to get a video of my keynote. But for now, you might enjoy reading the article.

Article: Going fast? The Future Will Be Faster
By Bill Schaefer, SpudMan Magazine

You have to be fast to succeed in today’s business climate, and you’re going to have to be even faster to succeed in the future.

That’s the message Jim Carroll is bringing to his presentation at today’s POTATO EXPO.

“My message for the folks in the room is, ‘look there is still a lot more change yet to come and your success is going to come from your ability to ingest that change,’” Carroll said.

“The key thing is the rate of change is accelerating, it’s getting faster, so you’re going to have to innovate faster. You’re going to have to pursue those new ideas faster. You’re going to have to try things faster. You’re going to have to keep an open mind faster,” he said in a rapid, staccato beat.
Carroll is an author, columnist and consultant, with a focus on linking future trends to innovation and creativity. He is based in Toronto,

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

Carroll considers agricultural people to be some of the most innovative, tech savvy, people in the world.

Carroll said that the general public remains uninformed about current agricultural practices. He said that many people continue to view farming from the sepia-toned photos of the 1940s and 1950s.

“They don’t realize how many technological and scientific advances have occurred,” Carroll said.

With world population currently estimated at 7.3 billion and projected to be 9.6 billion in 2050 and the increasing demand for better diets in China and India, there’s huge opportunities for those willing to pursue them, Carroll said.

“Global food production has to double to keep up with population, that’s a given. There’s little new arable land,” he said.

He emphasized that while the farming community has readily incorporated advances such as GPS steering and mobile apps to control irrigation pivots and storage sheds, the changes are coming at an ever faster pace and farmers are going to have to keep up.

“I know I’m talking to a very sophisticated, very innovative audience,” Carroll said in anticipation of his appearance at the POTATO EXPO. “But the key message is ‘look, you think you’ve dealt with change so far? Wait until you see what’s coming.’”

Carroll maintains that part of the formula for success is to maintain a degree of agility when it comes to making decisions at a time of transition in consumer demand.

“New consumer food trends now emerge faster than ever before,” he said. “If you’re anywhere in the food market, you’ve got to be able to respond very quickly.”

The days of having two or three years to roll out a new product can be found in the pay-phone booth in front of the video rental store.

“You have to have a team that is nimble and can react fast and understand and predict those trends as they’re unfolding,” Carroll said.

Carroll said that there’s a quote he often uses at conferences to distill his message . “Some people see a trend and see a threat. Innovators see the same trend and see an opportunity and that’s where you’ve got to be as a producer,” he said.

Trend: Mobile is Eating Retail
January 16th, 2015

“The next five years will bring more change to retail than the last 100 years” – Cyriac Roeding, CEO of Shopkick

I had the delight of leading a small, intimate talk to a group of leading retailers in New York City earlier this week, at an event sponsored by agile software development firm Thoughtworks. The focus of my talk was to put into perspective the reality of the high-velocity trends that are impacting every single aspect of the world of retail.

Tw3

If you are a CEO of any type of retailer, and do not understand the scope of these trends, you need to get onboard — fast.

1. Mobile is eating retail

The future of retail is all about mobile and if any CEO  doesn’t understand that, they should be out of a job.

Already by 2013, statistics show that sales through mobile and tablet devices were up 138% in 2013 from the year before. That takes us to the point where sales through some type of mobile device is estimated to be at least at 30% of *all* retail sales.

If that doesn’t get your attention then consider that another group suggests that by the end of 2015, every single retail transaction in the US will have some type of mobile element. It doesn’t matter what type of element — it could involve the actual purchase transaction, or logistics tracking, or a payment process, or some type of loyalty transaction.

Think about that. Every single retail transaction will somehow involve a mobile device somewhere along the way. That’s significant, because it provides big opportunity for business transformation — but it also provides for the potential for massive business model disruption, new competition, loss of market control and dozens of other challenges.

It gets even bigger over time. In the UK, leading retailer John Lewis suggests that every category will migrate to online shopping in a big way — with their estimate that by 2023, 27% of all fashion sales will be through a mobile device.

2. Control of the speed of innovation has shifted to Silicon Valley

The retail industry, like every other industry, is caught in a trend that  control of the speed of innovation moving to the pace set by Silicon Valley speed? For a long time, the pace of innovation in retail has been relatively slow and deliberate; aside from some cool new cardboard layouts for end-cap displays, and sprucing up a store layout, there wasn’t a lot of need to do anything really fast.

Whoops! Now when you enter a store, you’ll use your iPhone to confirm the transaction, and you’ll get an instant receipt. Loyalty transactions will occur through mobile. Consumers will be influenced by something on their mobile (see below) …..

All of which means — new business models, disruptive competition, a shift in control, customer churn — everything is up for grabs once Silicon Valley seizes control and defines your future!

3. Mobile “influence” is going to completely redefine in-store interaction

We’re in the era of what is known as “shopper marketing,” a method of promotion involving mobile devices. Booz & Company research suggests that shopper marketing is already at $50 billion in the US.IMG_6376

What is it?  I’ll walk into a store, and behind the scenes, the store will recognize me through an interaction with my mobile device, either because of an App that I have with the retailer; a permissive social relationship; or maybe a loyalty relationship. The result is that I’ll either get a message on my phone with an e-coupon. Or perhaps an LCD TV in the store will put up a welcome message for me, with audio, and suggest I walk over to  aisle 7 for a customized special offer just for me!

Farfetched? I don’t think so. Creepy? To us maybe, but perhaps not to the next generation. When we think of the strangeness of the future and our likely negative reaction to some of what might come next, we have to remember this: it’s not bad, it’s just different.

How fast is shopper marketing moving forward? Research suggests that 56% of food wholesalers, 61.1% of manufacturers and 38.3% of sales agencies will likewise invest more in shopper marketing in the coming year. What’s popular? Mobile coupons (51%), personalized mobile offers (44.8%), store-specific mobile apps (40.6%), text messages (36.5%) and location-based services such as Foursquare and Facebook Places (35.4%).

And we’re only in the early stages. If you want to understand the future, grab the Apple Store app, and allow it to check your location. Then go visit your local Apple store, and watch what happens.

4. The change to the mobile wallet provides more potential for massive disruption

Two things are happening: if you think about it, Apple has eliminated the concept of the cash register in stores. And more importantly, they’ve rendered the plastic credit card obsolete with Apple Pay.

And the fascinating thing is that most of the retail and banking world was seemingly caught unawares, which is staggering since everyone knew this was coming for at least the last 20 years! The result is that organizations like Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover now find themselves in a heated competition with Apple, Google, PayPal and other high-velocity, innovative tech companies.

Who would you put your money on?

It’s not just that; the battle of the small vs. incumbents (Square vs Visa/MasterCard/Discovery/Amex) continues. It is still terrifically difficult for any small retailer to get a ‘merchant’ accountant from any of the dinosaurian incumbents. That’s why you see so many new business organizations using devices like Square and other industry disruptors.

svenvintges_2015-Jan-13

There’s another aspect too! The move to the mobile wallet involves a need for a rapid and massive infrastructure change. Most retailers can’t move that fast; they are still working to solve the big ERP problems they inherited in 2010! So while they are trying to fix the past, the future is unfolding in front of them way too fast.

4. Same day shipping everywhere destroys markets

Can you say “Amazon-Prime?” I am speaking to countless industries that are suddenly waking up to a world in which Amazon might suddenly be able to dominate their retail business model. Flooring products. Thermostats. You name it.

Anne Zybowski, an analyst at Kantar Retail said it best a few years ago: “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.” The model in which stores carry a lot of inventory is disappearing — the future is all about fulfilment.

We live in the era of “omni-channel retail,” and nothing will ever be the same. The future of retail is all about Google vs. Amazon vs. Wal-Mart, all of whom have promised to build an infrastructure that will support same day delivery to 50% of the US population within a few short years. With that, we are witnessing the rapid emergence of instant delivery startups. Amazon is hiring bicycle couriers  to put in place a business model that will offer up one-hour delivery in New York and San Francisco.

But wait! There’s more! ‘Click-and-collect’ infrastructure in major urban centres is happening at a furious pace; sit at your desk, order your groceries, and pick up your order in just one hour from your local grocery store.

Caught flat-footed are a whole bunch of retailers who find that they can’t compete on price, don’t have comparable infrastructure, and frankly, don’t know what to do other than recoil in fear!

5. The “Internet of things” also involves intelligent packaging, which changes everything.

The hype out of CES last week was fascinating. The Internet of things is real — I’ve been talking about it for 15 years.

But what isn’t being talked about in many circles is the impact of intelligent packaging — which completely defines the retail process, not to mention the product.

Intelligent packaging has huge implications.  We are talking about packaging that talks to you — maybe we will see Apple’s SIRI embedded in the package. We’ve already got pharmaceutical packaging that does “electronic event monitoring” for patient adherence. We’re going to see food packaging that automatically uploads calorie, carb, sodium and other data to a customer’s smartphone. We’ve already got packaging that comes with a unique code — and will automatically send a text through your mobile to verify that the product is not counterfeit.

We’ll have packaging that lights up when you pick it up with a small LCD screen, and runs a customized video, just for you, because it links to the app on your phone.

We’re talking about …..interactive packaging, intelligent and active packaging, multi-sensory packaging, edible packaging … packaging as mini-billboards…!

6. All this is happening in the context of collapsing product life-cycles

We are in the era of era of instant obsolescence and disappearing lifespans.

Think about this: 60% of Apple’s revenue came from products that didn’t exist three years prior to the earnings release, according to an analysis of Apple’s revenue by mobile app developer Asymco.

thoughtworks_2015-Jan-13

Think about that in the context of your operations. What if you had to replenish your product or service line every two or three years? It could become the new normal in many industries. The impact on retailers is staggering.

Think about the graph in your marketing textbook from years or decades ago when you first learned about the concept of product life cycles. Remember how it showed a product coming to market: sales increase, reach market maturity and eventually begin to drop off. That’s been the model of product life cycles as taught in business schools for the past 100 years or so.The rule of thumb was that companies would innovate and introduce a new product. If it succeeded, the company would experience growth. At some point, sales would peak. The product would then become obsolete or overtaken by competitors and sales would decline.

That might involve a time period of 10, 15 or even 25 years.

What a quaint model. Too bad it bears no resemblance to today’s reality. The product life-cycle model today is being turned on its ear by instant obsolescence. In some industries, that product obsolescence now occurs during the growth stage; in the high-tech industry, the decline phase caused by instant obsolescence can occur during the introduction of a product or even before a product makes it to the marketplace.

And so in the context of all the change noted above, retailers have to support faster logistics, marketing, branding, sales training, promotions…….

It’s a lot of change. That’s why innovation in the high velocity economy is all about:

  • an accelerated innovation cycle
  • rapid ingestion of new technologies / methodologies
  • faster time to market
  • rapid re-focusing of resources for opportunity or threat
  • rabid focus on operational excellence
  • rapid response to volatility
  • re-orientation to fast paced consumer and brand perception

Are retailers ready? I did two quick text message polls of my audience in New York City, and here’s what I got!

First, they don’t think their ready!

TW1

And second, they think they have a lot of mismatches that they need to fill;

Tw2

Retail?

The future belongs to those who are fast — particularly as mobile eats retails!