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Change will happen at Silicon Valley’s pace, not that of the NFL or NBA or any other league or sanctioning body. Technology companies will become the driving force behind sports innovation

Last week, I appeared in USA Today, in an article about the future of sports.

They interviewed me just after my keynote on the main stage at the massive PGA Merchandise Show, and so there is an obvious slant towards golf. My quote and obserations are below.

This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about this aspect of the future of sport and fitness. I’ve done high profile keynotes for the Sporting & Fitness Industry Association CEO Summit; over 4,000 people at the National Recreation and Parks Association annual meeting, and two talks for the PGA of America!

You can read the full USA Today article In the future you’ll probably be able to pitch to Babe Ruth when you aren’t watching eSports here.

Jim Carroll
Futurist, trends and innovation expert

*Change will happen at Silicon Valley’s pace, not that of the NFL or NBA or any other league or sanctioning body. Technology companies will become the driving force behind sports innovation.

*Having just spoken to a PGA gathering, Carroll outlined a future in which any foursome will retreat to the clubhouse for post-round brews and … film breakdown. Within a few years, golfers will be able to post HD video to social media of their great shots, taken from cameras on the course and in the golf carts. They’ll also get detailed information about every shot they took; info will be gathered from the club, the ball, wearables and those cameras.

*The in-stadium (or arena) experience will be similar. Every object used in the game will soon be able to send information to a computer, so fans will be inundated with precise data about the speed of a baseball bat, the arc of a basketball shot and everything else.

Is this a bad thing? Is it a good thing? It’s easy to argue it both ways.

For example, after my PGA keynote, one traditional golfer who runs a site/blog known as “Wee Egg Mon” wrote Wee Egg Mon about how bothered he was by my talk.

It’s a good read, but he does make this observation: “Everything is going to change? Really? I hope not. I rather like the game the way it is.”

That’s the funny thing about the future. Sometimes it happens, and Ogden Nash captured the sentiment perfectly when he observed that for some folks, “progress is great but it’s gone on way too long.”

I doubt that the world of sports & fitness will look anything in 2025 will look anything like it does today, beyond the basics. Is that a bad thing? A good thing? Like I said, I have no idea. I just know it will happen.

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by  The Big Issue, a UK publication that is mostly sold by the homeless and long-term unemployed.

As noted on their Web site, “Since The Big Issue was launched in 1991 we have helped thousands of vulnerable people take control of their lives. We currently work with around 2000 individuals across the UK offering them the opportunity to earn a legitimate income; to ‘help them to help themselves’. We currently circulates around 100,000 copies every week.”

There’s a really good audio program — “The Energy Transition Show” — which will help you explore the ideas below in greater depth!

solar-1


Futurist Jim Carroll says renewable energy will soon allow people to beat the Big Six by creating microgrids with their neighbours.

Renewable energy projects have taken a beating in recent years – there was a lot of misspending in the early days, and production costs were too high. But we are getting much more intelligent about renewable energy and making it really efficient. I think we’re approaching a time that the cost of developing new, exciting alternative energy sources is going to rapidly decrease.

The individual is capable of playing a much bigger role here. Whether it’s wind generation, solar cells or bio-composting, the internet is allowing people to raise funds, share ideas and invent new energy technologies faster than ever before.

Traditional energy is all one-way: a big power plant that sends out energy to everyone on the grid. But the possibilities of creating a two-way system, where we can accept inputs from a large number of small-scale energy generators, is an incredibly exciting prospect.

The time is coming when more and more people will find they are capable of getting off the traditional grid. Or maybe connecting to the grid on only a part-time basis.

If you can connect a smart home energy thermostat with some solar, wind or biomass energy in your garden, you’re really not far off generating your own power. Soon people will be able to create local microgrids with their neighbours.

The big companies will have to become more flexible to adjust. Big data will enable the power sector to add far more intelligence to the grid, and make it a truly two-way, interactive system.

We’ve shared music – why can’t we share energy? The music industry thought it would be selling CDs forever but the model changed when people started sharing.

Long term, I’m optimistic we’ll be able to move away from carbon. We’re at a key inflection point. Right now, we’re roughly 90 per cent carbon, 10 per cent renewables. But I can imagine being at 50-50 in my lifetime. The next generation will look at renewables and say: “Wow – this just makes sense.”

Jim Carroll was talking to Adam Forrest

(Yes, it’s safe for work!”)

From a recent keynote for Volvo / Mack Trucks North America leadership meeting.

A dinner talk, so you have to build some tremendous fun into it. I had the crowd in stitches! But the clip makes a point — autonomous technology is coming quickly, but we’ll go through the Gartner Hypecycle before we get there….

The PGA of America invited me in again to headline their main stage, to talk about how various emerging technologies will provide opportunities to grow the game. I was delighted to share the same stage as Bubba Watson, Lee Trevino and Hank Haney among others!

Here’s the entire video, running about 35 minutes in length. If you love the game, you might find it to be a worthwhile watch!

The PGA of America (Professional Golfers Association) invited me back! I previously was the opening keynote speaker for the 2010 Annual General Meeting.

They brought me into the massive PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando last week; I was invited to provide a keynote on the main stage on the future impact of technology on golf, how this might provide opportunities to grow the game, and provide insight into what golf professionals should be doing to adapt to a world in which a greater number of players will be using GPS tracking devices, launch monitors and maybe even flyover drones!

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After  my keynote, I had the chance to interview some of the leading technology companies in the world of golf, including TopGolf, NextGenGolf, GolfTec, GameGolf and ClubCar.

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And backstage in the green room while waiting and preparing, I was able to meet both Lee Trevino and Bubba Watson. Truly a thrill.

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I’ll blog more on my keynote, including video, in the weeks to come, but must say it was certainly a thrill!

Energy2016

The rule of Moore’s Law is rapidly coming to renewables. This “law” — predicting that the processing power of a computer chip doubles ever year while the cost is halved — is coming to the manufacturing process of renewable technology, to the infrastructure built into renewables, and to the systems that drive renewable use.

From an article I wrote for GE Reports, a global publication of General Electric.

From advances in renewables to data-driven efficiencies and empowered consumers, 2016 offers the opportunity to shape the future of energy.

In my view, 2016 will prove to be a watershed year when it comes to sustainable energy. Years from now, we’ll look back and realize that a variety of technological, design and demographic trends drove the power sector forward, accelerated by one key event — the Paris climate accord.

The accord will prove to be a huge motivating factor for both individuals, as well as the industrial and utility sector, to start to think bigger in terms of what can be done with smart energy systems and non-carbon technology.

For the first time, we have a global consciousness that the time is right to try to accomplish something unique — to apply our technological, design, architecture and analytical capabilities to come up with solutions that will help to drive down our reliance on a carbon economy.

It’s happening at two levels. Individuals and small energy cooperatives are leading the charge through small crowdfunded initiatives, or through what has come to be known as the “maker” economy.

In addition, Paris will encourage large utilities to move faster with alternative energy opportunities. They’ll take a closer look at what they can do to help to achieve the bold goals of a cleaner energy future. They’ll be less willing to take criticism over those who might browbeat them over economic models that might sometimes be marginal. But going forward, it won’t just be the financial return on investment that matters — but the social return as well.

Here are a few predictions for the energy sector in 2016 and beyond:

The most promising breakthrough in renewable power will likely be a massive amount of innovation throughout every aspect of the sector. This is coming about because of our ability to apply more connectivity and computer intelligence to every single aspect of renewables — whether it’s generation, transmission, or deep analytics into the efficiency of operations.

Essentially, what I think is happening is that the rule of Moore’s Law is rapidly coming to renewables. This “law” — predicting that the processing power of a computer chip doubles ever year while the cost is halved — is coming to the manufacturing process of renewable technology, to the infrastructure built into renewables, and to the systems that drive renewable use.

It’s almost as if it’s 1981, when arrival of the personal computer caught the imagination of thousands of hackers and developers — and the rest is history. I think we are at the same tipping point with renewables, particularly small-scale energy generation.

Some of the most fascinating innovations are occurring in the global “maker” and crowdfunding initiatives. People interested in solar development are building small communities in which shared insight is accelerating the pace of pure science. This globally connected mind is turning itself toward solving some unique challenges in the world of energy and renewables.

Big Data will enable the power sector to add far more intelligence to the grid, and to have far better insight into operational conditions. Most of the grid today is pretty dumb — it’s built for one-way transmission, from big energy production facilities out to homes and industries. But there is a tremendous amount of investment in creating a two-way, intelligent and interactive grid. This changes everything, allowing us to more easily accommodate and utilize the energy production occurring in a more distributed world.

In homes across the world, the Internet of Things will enable energy consumers to build their own micro-climate monitoring systems, and better manage their personal energy infrastructure usage.

Consider this: it’s entirely feasible today for someone with just a little bit of technical knowledge to build their own local micro-climate weather monitoring system. Now imagine that you can link it to your intelligent home energy thermostat, one of the fastest-growing home-based IoT categories. Go a step further — add some solar, wind or biomass energy-generation capability — and link your own personal Big Data to that technology, in order to come up with the most optimal time to generate your own power.

Expand that to what’s possible in the industrial sector. Global companies with large-scale facilities now have the ability to monitor and manage all their energy infrastructure worldwide from one central data viewpoint. They can see what it necessary to reduce usage, avoid cost and be more intelligent about how energy is deployed.

I’m a big believer that we are on the edge of “real magic” when it comes to the future of energy and utilities. It’s not just the trends above; it’s the fact that we have new solutions that didn’t exist before — such as intelligent lighting technology that is so advanced that it is hard to put the efficiency it provides into perspective.

From my view, the future of energy is all about opportunity.

MosaicCollege

I’m honored to be one of the keynote speakers at the 2016 Mosaic AgCollege in Orlando in January.

It’s an annual event held by the Mosaic Company, the world’s leading producer of concentrated phosphate and potash, nitrogen fertilizers and feed ingredients for the agriculture industry, for their key clients.

My focus? The future of agriculture!

Big Trends In Agriculture: What Ag Will Look Like In 2045
Jim Carroll, an agriculture futurist and innovation expert, will look into his crystal ball and predict what agriculture will be like in 2045. Whether it’s driverless tractors, weed-zapping robots or data-transmitting crops, Jim will forecast what farms might be like 30 years from now, and encourage the industry to embrace high-velocity innovation. Jim is recognized worldwide as a “thought leader” and authority on global trends, rapid business model change, business transformation in a period of economic uncertainty, and the necessity for fast-paced innovation. You will not want to miss his predictions.

I do numerous keynotes throughout the agriculture industry, with a lot of detailed insight — so much so that after one talk, an audience member asked how long I had been a farmer!

Just this weekend, I was the closing keynote speaker for a dealer meeting for Reinke, the manufacturer of those large irrigation systems you see on farms all over North America.

As in every sector and industry, agriculture is an industry that is ripe for massive change and disruption — and the year 2045 might happen by 2025, if not sooner. We will certainly see a lot of autonomous vehicles, region specific plant varietals based on genomic science, rapid advances in precision farming, irrigation and big data technology, and more.

Spend some time in the agriculture section of my Web site for more insight — and stay tuned! I’ll report on my Mosaic AgCollege keynote in January!

I had a long conversation with a potential client in the manufacturing sector the other day; they’re looking to bring me in for a keynote in 2016. I’ve developed a reputation in the industry for some cutting edge insight into the key trends that are redefining every single aspect of the sector at an extremely furious, fast pace. I’ve headlined events for tens of thousands at major manufacturing conferences in Las Vegas, Chicago, Orlando and Detroit.

Jim Carroll on stage in September 2011, keynoting the IMXchange - Interactive Manufacturing Exchange -- conference, with a talk on the future of manufacturing and the necessity for continuous, relentless innovation

Jim Carroll on stage in Las Vegas keynoting the IMXchange – Interactive Manufacturing Exchange conference, with a talk on the future of manufacturing and the necessity for continuous, relentless innovation

What’s going on? Here’s a quick snapshot:

  • collapsing product life cycles – simply put, products don’t have as long a lifespan in terms of relevance, consumer attention, rapid escalation of design ideas — whatever the case may be, with shorter life spans, manufacturing organizations are having to pick up the pace!
  • the Internet of Things and product redefinition – every device becomes connected, intelligent, aware… this has major implications in terms of how devices are designed and manufactured. Suddenly, many manufacturers are finding that they must integrate sophisticated user interface capabilities into their products, not to mention advanced computer and connectivity technology.
  • rapid design and rapid prototyping. We’ve seen incredible advances in the ability to conceive, design and develop new products faster than ever before. There is a constantly rising bar in terms of capabilities, and if you can’t pick up on this, you can be sure that your competitors will. The first to market with a new idea is often the winner.
  • the influence of crowdfunding on product design. There is no doubt that the global connectivity that the crowdfunding business model provides is resulting in a change in product conception. Suddenly, anyone can have an idea, fund it, design it, and bring it to market. What I’ve witnessed are situations where these small scale projects are light years ahead of what we’ve seen with established industry players. Crowdfunding is the new garage in many industries.
  • build to demand vs. build to inventory business models. Big auto companies build hundreds of thousands of vehicles, and shove them out to dealers hoping they sell. Tesla Motors takes an order, and builds the vehicle to send to the customer. Big difference — and this model is driving fundamental business model change across every aspect of the manufacturing sector.
  • agility and flexibility. The impact of build-to-demand models is that manufacturers must provide for a lot more change-capability throughout every aspect of the process, from supply chain to assembly to quality control. The ultimate in agility? The Magna factory in Graz, Austria, which can custom build a wide variety of automobiles from completely different car companies.
  • post-flat strategies. What happens when the world gets flat? Put a ripple in it! That’s been the focus of a few of my keynotes for several manufacturing clients. I’ve spoken about organizations who have evolved from having to compete with low-cost producers by focusing on price, to a new product lineup that is based on quality, consumer perception, brand identity, or IoT connectivity.
  • faster time to market. Consumers today have perilously short attention spans. In some sectors, such as fashion, high-tech (smartphones!), food and others, you’ve got to get your product to market in an instant — otherwise, you lose your opportunity.
  • rapidly emerging consumer demand. Closely related to time to market is the fact that new fashion, taste trends or other concepts now emerge faster given the impact of social networks. Think about the impact of food trucks — people can now experiment with new taste trends at an extremely low price point. The result is that new taste trends emerge faster — and food companies must scramble to get new products out to the customer faster. Long, luxurious product development lead times are from ‘the olden days.’ If you can’t speed up, you won’t be able to compete.
  • the fast emergence of same day delivery business models. Amazon, WalMart, Google and others are quickly building big infrastructure that provides for same day shipping. This has a ripple impact on demand, inventory, logistics …. a massive change from the old world of stockpiled inventory.
  • the arrival of 3D, additive manufacturing 3D printers and the inevitable shift to “additive manufacturing” from “subtractive manufacturing based on cutting, drilling and bashing metal..  probably the biggest change the industry will witness in coming years.
  • the acceleration of education requirements. Robotics, advanced manufacturing methodologies, machinining-in-the-cloud, advanced ERP processes : you name it, the skill of 10 years or even 5 years ago doesn’t cut it today. I had one client in the robotics sector observe that “the education level of our workforce has increased so much….The machinists in this industry do trigonometry in their heads.” That’s the new reality going forward!

That’s a lot of change, and there’s even more underway.

Want more? Watch this!

VIDEO: Atlantic Design and Manufacturing 2013 Interview with Innovation Expert Jim Carroll from ThomasNet on Vimeo.

FutureCar

Popular Mechanix magazine envisioned the autonomous vehicle in the 1950’s. “Connected cars” and autonomous technology are expected to generate $131.9 billion by 2019 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34.7% from 2013 to 2019

I’ve been doing a number of keynotes in the automotive, trucking and transportation sector. Groups such as Volvo/Mac Trucks dealer conference; the Colorado Transportation Summit, the National Association of Truck Stop Owners, Chrysler, and various motor vehicle dealer association conferences. I’ve also had some fairly widespread coverage in the media. There are a large number of blog posts about my observations in the Automotive & Transportation section of my blog.

This is a FAST moving industry, with SEISMIC changes underway.

Basically, vehicles have been built the same way for the last 100 years — they run on carbon, are driven by people, don’t connect with other vehicles, and operate independantly. The business model has involved “car dealerships” and “car salesmen” and consumers frustrated with what they’ve always perceived to be a one-sided relationship.

Now, for the first time in 100 years, massive change is underway — more vehicles will not be carbon based, but based on alternative energy sources. A growing number will drive themselves. And they will interconnect with other vehicles and intelligent highway infrastructure, with profound implications on efficiency, traffic, urban and highway design, not to mention safety. A future in which a large number of the next generation might not actually purchase a car — but simply use some type of vehicle sharing service. If they do purchase a car, they will likely do it online.

You couldn’t have a bigger change than that!

And it promises a massive shakeup as the speed of innovation is shifting from automotive/trucking companies to Silicon Valley. Consider one implication: one estimate suggests that “connected cars are expected to generate $131.9 billion by 2019 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34.7% from 2013 to 2019.” (Connected Cars: Legal Hurdles and Issues Monitor Worldwide. Oct 2014)

The challenge is this: the auto industry is somewhat ill prepared to cope with the speed of change. They are still of a mindset that involves palatial automative dealerships, when an increasing number of consumers simply want to purchase a car that they’ve already researched online. Car dealers who cling to the same way of doing business that was in place in 1960 and 1970 — a very frustrating experience for most consumers.

At the same time, we see Tesla Motors selling cars online, and setting up ‘showrooms’ in shopping malls — and various state car dealer organizations fighting back in the courts. (The casket industry tried to fight a battle against people selling caskets online. It didn’t go well!) We see Uber indicating that its ultimate business model might involve being the car service for everyone, in a world in which few people actually buy cars!

That’s why senior auto executives, motor vehicle dealer associations and others in the industry need a good, frank discussion around the future of their industry, and what they need to do to turn these perceived threats into opportunity.

That’s what I’ve been doing a lot of lately — and so if you are reading this and are in the industry, give me a call!

I just remembered about this article; Real Estate Australia (the national association for realtors) interviewed me about future real estate trends. You can find the original article here.

6 ways the real estate game will be different in 2045
by REA , 26 JUN 2014

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If you view the current trends towards technology, private sales, and other disruptors as a threat, you are in the wrong frame of mind. Some people see a trend and consider it a threat. Innovators see the same trend and see an opportunity.

Close your eyes for a minute and just imagine how modern life, and modern real estate would look like to your old boss in 1985… (That is if you had a boss in the ‘80s, or were even born…)

While this new world of connectivity makes perfect sense now, much of the way we live, and the way we buy things for example, would have seemed absurd back then. Considering we’re still living in an age of paper rental applications, the real estate industry is often a late adopter when it comes to new technology. Sure, we’ve made some fundamental reforms over the last decade, with agencies embracing online profiles, mobile apps, and online lead generation. However, the industry is expected to undergo some major shifts in coming years.

The point is, agents need to be not only keeping up with tech trends but staying ahead of them. We speak to one of the world’s most famous futurists Jim Carroll and ask what the industry should expect over the next 30 years? Prepare to suspend your disbelief and your sense of what is possible…

1. Agents in jeopardy?

When asked whether the role of the real estate agent was in jeopardy, Carroll remains non-committal. “Will more clients opt to use private means of purchasing and selling property? Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on the agent.” Adaptation is the name of the game, with Carroll saying: “If you view the current trends towards technology, private sales, and other disruptors as a threat, you are in the wrong frame of mind. Some people see a trend and consider it a threat. Innovators see the same trend and see an opportunity. Your frame of mind on how the business is changing will define how you will reinvent yourself to turn it into opportunity.”

2. Farms in the sky?

The way future cities are developed (i.e. increasing urbanisation, higher density housing) will affect the real estate game, and Carroll brings up one of the major trends he perceives affecting real estate in the future: “Vertical Farming. My research tells me that 21st century farming infrastructure will involve towers – 25, 50, 100 storeys – that are dedicated to crop production. Why? Year-round crop production and increased productivity – 1 indoor acre is equivalent to 4-6 outdoor acres or more, there are no crop failures, and it adds energy back into the grid. Already there are 800 million practicing urban agriculture called ‘city-farmers’ according to UN statistics. So yes, cities are going to change. And real estate agents should be ready to sell farming listings in the middle of a city.”

3. Your patch of dirt?

Carroll denies that property ownership will become an unaffordable fantasy for much of the middle class in 2045. “A patio, a cold beer, and kids: It’s a dream for everyone. It always will be. People aspire to space. The space may change, the method to buy it, but the fantasy won’t.”

4. Suburgatory?

What will become of suburbs – will they continue to expand, or fall into slow decline, much like many shopping malls? “I heard this question 20 years ago. People change, design changes, and right now, there is some kid in a garage somewhere defining the suburb of the future. I have no idea what that kid is thinking, other than that her mind is wired unlike mine. She’s grown up in a world with Internet 24 hours a day. They will reshape the world – and their neighborhood – in their image.”

5. Senior housing?

In residential real estate, Carroll argues senior housing will be “one of the dominant trends”. “People are living longer,” he says. “The typical baby born in western society today will live to be 100. Longevity for a part of the population is one of the challenges of our time. Society won’t be able to build all the seniors homes required; and so they will live at home. Technology will lead to “bio-connectivity. Hospitals going virtual – a doctor will be able to monitor non critical care senior patients from afar using connected medical devices.”

6. The constants?

It’s easy to look around and wonder what elements of the business will disappear or lose relevance. Will open for inspections, auctions, or cold calling go the way of the fax machine? Carroll argues that while the minutiae of the business will undoubtedly change, the core elements will remain unchanged. In other words, “People matter. People will always matter. Trust, reliance, reputation. Keep that, and you’ve got what matters. But only if you are open to the future.”

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