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On stage in Dallas this week, opening EdNet 2016

On stage in Dallas this week, opening EdNet 2016

Earlier this week, I was the opening keynote speaker for EdNET 2016, a conference focused on those in the business and preparing knowledge delivery tools for the K-12 sector (aka textbooks!)

It was a fun talk!

Rather than speaking to the specifics of the education industry, I took an in depth look at the global mega trends which are shaping industries, jobs, careers and knowledge into the future.

I then took a look at a wide variety of approaches to innovation that they might consider to align themselves to fast paced knowledge trends.

The folks over at EdWeek Market Brief ran an article covering my talk.

‘Forge Ahead and Move Fast,’ Futurist Tells Education Businesses
by Michele Molnar, Associate Editor

The “fast-movers” in an industry are most likely to succeed, futurist Jim Carroll told about 400 representatives of education companies on Monday in his keynote address to kick off the EdNET 2016 conference here.

Carroll’s message to “think big, start small, and scale fast” was delivered to an audience of executives who are trying to gain market shaJimCarrollre in the historically slow-paced K-12 marketplace.

It’s advice he’s already given in presentations to NASA, Walt Disney Corp., major pharmaceutical companies, and the Professional Golf Association.

The group gathered here for EdNET are product and service providers in the education industry, meeting for three days to discuss their shared challenges, opportunities, and to network.

“It’s not big organizations that will control the future,” Carroll told the attendees. “It’s speed, agility, flexibility—the ability to respond to rapid change—that will increasingly define our success.” For instance, 60 percent of Apple Inc.’s revenues come from products that didn’t exist four years ago, he said.

Educators in everything from universities to elementary schools are “enveloped by speed,” he said, and asked the audience to reflect on “What can we do with this?”

Carroll drew on the perspective of Bill Gates as part of his rationale: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction,” wrote Bill Gates in his 20-year-old book, The Road Ahead.

Earlier this year, Gates predicted major changes on the horizon in education, particularly around personalized learning, within the next five years.

As educators are being asked to teach students for future jobs that don’t yet exist, Carroll said businesses can help with this challenge. He pointed to the disappearance of existing careers and the rapid emergence of new careers like creators of real-time predictive analytical dashboards to monitor people’s health, and programmers who provide location intelligence.

Carroll encouraged the audience to start thinking of ways it can prepare for a future in which students are accustomed to “just-in-time knowledge,” where they can learn what they want to know from watching a video online or doing an internet search.

“Be the Elon Musk of your industry,” Carroll said, referring to the co-founder of Tesla. “Build experience, build knowledge, build understanding. It’s only by trying to do things we haven’t done before that we can get ahead.”

I’m delighted to be the opening keynote speaker for EdNet 2016 in Dallas — what is arguably the most important conference for education content providers.

My keynote will take a look at the future of education, and what these folks — textbook publishers and others — must do to align themselves to an era of acceleration!

Here’s my keynote description — I’ll be sure to tweet and blog more about the event.


Jim’s client list is a veritable who’s who of global leaders from various Fortune 1000 companies and organizations. Jim has shared the stage at events with President George W. Bush, Carrie Fisher, Terry Bradshaw, Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11, and Newt Gingrich, among many others. 

Sixty-five percent of the children who are in pre-school today will work in a job or career that doesn’t yet exist. Half of what students learn in their first year at college is obsolete or revised—by the time they graduate. Fifty percent of the U.S. gross domestic product will be taken up by training and knowledge activities within the decade.

With all of these changes at hand, futurist, trends, and innovation expert Jim Carroll succinctly puts into perspective both the challenges and opportunities that exist in the future for education. He will provide concise insight that links a wide variety of global social, demographic, scientific, technological, business, and other trends to the impact on education. He provides a an understanding on the velocity of change impacting the industry and why we need to rethink the context of “how we educate” in light of the realities that has knowledge growing exponentially, the foundation of knowledge generation forever changed, and global social networks challenging traditional education delivery models.

Carroll challenges audiences to think about innovation in the education sector that takes on bold goals to deal with a reality that has rapid knowledge obsolescence and emergence, the disappearance of existing careers and the emergence of new careers, an ongoing need for continuous knowledge replenishment, and the migration of knowledge generation further away from academia. There’s a massively increased challenge from overseas knowledge generation, the fast emergence of new micro-careers, an economy that succeeds through knowledge deployment, and a fundamental transformation in the role of educational institutions-and an increasing focus on “just-in-time” knowledge.


Last week, I was the opening keynote speaker for a small insurance industry group — and had senior executives of quite a few major property & casualty and life insurance companies in the room.

As always, I undertook an extensive amount of detailed research on the latest status of innovation within the industry. In addition, I looked back on my research and interview notes for previous keynotes for CEOs and other executives for the largest insurance companies in the world.

(Last December, I was the opening keynote for the annual Insurance Executive Conference in New York City; in the room was the CEO for Transamerica Life, among others; this is typical of many talks I’ve done within the industry over the course of 20 years)

"Kicking off Executive Leadership Council meeting with our friends @GAMAIntl  & keynote @jimcarroll in Amelia Island"

@IntellectSEEC – “Kicking off Executive Leadership Council meeting with our friends @GAMAIntl & keynote @jimcarroll in Amelia Island”

Let’s face it: the trends are real. The industry will be disrupted by tech companies. Existing brokerage and distribution networks will be obliterated as more people buy insurance direct. Predictive analytics will shift the industry away from actuarial based historical assessment to real-time coverage. Policy niches, micro-insurance and just-in-time insurance will drive an increasing number of revenue models. The Internet of Things (iOt) and healthcare connectivity will provide for massive market and business model disruption. I could go on for hours!

To gauge the current thinking within the industry as to “how to deal with what comes next,” my session included some hands-on, live interactive text-message polling.

Right out of the bat, I asked the participants if they felt ready for the massive disruption now underway in the insurance sector.

And the fact is, they are not:


Having said that, they know that they are in the midst of some pretty significant change — the majority indicated that they believe that the insurance industry will not look anything in 10 years like it looks today.


The reaction in the room parallels that of a recent Accenture study that I referenced in my keynote:

  • CSO’s at global companies and 94% of CSO’s at insurance companies agree that tech will “rapidly change their industry in 5 years”
  • fewer than 1 in 5 CSOs in insurance believe their companies are prepared
  • fewer than 1 in 10 believe their companies are “high value achievers”

A similar observation was found in a recent PWC study on the insurance industry:

  • “Nine in 10 insurance executives polled by consultant PwC reckon at least part of their business is at risk over the next five years – a greater proportion than in any other area of finance”

Clearly, these executives know that something needs to be done to deal with the potential for business model disruption in the industry. Yet is the industry prepared to deal with it?

Not really:

  • “Fewer than 50 per cent of respondents in the life and general insurance sectors said they would increase IT spending to help them access new customers.” Fintech is booming – but where are 
the insurance tech startups? 
29 September 2015, City AM

Here’s the current problem: there is tremendous potential for complacency to seep into the industry, particularly as Google has pulled back from its’ Google Compare initiative. (This service let people use a Google tool to do comparison shopping for insurance policies from major carriers; the CEO of Google Compare also spoke at the New York event last December).

  • “Google’s initial failure shows technology firms won’t necessarily have “an easy road” to success in the new sector.” Beating Silicon Valley to the Punch; Digitizing Insurance, 11 March 2016

Is the complacency warranted? Not in my view — I think most tech companies, when disrupting an industry and suffer an initial setback, come back in a bigger and more significant way. It’s most likely that when Google, Amazon, Apple and other tech companies  come back in to disrupt insurance, they won’t be working with major carriers to do it!

  • “Expect that when the megatechs enter the insurance space, they will insist on taking control of a much bigger portion of the sales journey, positioning themselves as an alternative end-to-end solution provider, not just a lead generator.” Life Insurance Disruption, Asia Insurance Review, June 2016

Does the insurance industry have the innovation culture necessary to deal with the potential for what comes next? My next poll gave me a pretty stark response — the industry continues to be bound up in some pretty significant organizational sclerosis.


Is there a way out of this mess? Can the industry fix the clear strategic mismatch which exists?

In my keynote,  I suggested that disruption in such a significant issue that it really needs to be dealt with at the level of the Board; strategy needs to be kicked up a notch; clear responses and actions are warranted.

Quite clearly, specific responsibility needs to be put in place to implement a  disruption-strategy. Back to the Accenture report:

  • “Companies that have put in place chief digital officers and chief innovation officers and who report directly to the CEO tend to have a dedicated focus on technology-focused initiatives …. That’s a sign that they and C-level peers are taking technology-disruption seriously.”

Industry insight also clearly shows that insurance companies must “partner-up” to deal with the fact they simply don’t have the technology expertise to compete with Google, Amazon and others.

  • “an overarching theme …. not least among them insurers .. is that they cannot face technology driven innovation by themselves” – “How to disrupt the high-tech disruptors”
National Underwriter & Health
September 2016

Are many insurance companies following the path to partner up? Sadly, no:

  • “Only 28% of the respondents said they explored partnerships with fintech companies and less than 14% actively participated in ventures or incubator programmes.” Insurance Companies Slow in 
Bridging Fintch Gap, Mint, July 2016

I’ve been providing strategic level guidance to senior executives in the global insurance industry for over 20 years.

The issues, challenges and opportunities are stark. They’re real. They’re not going away.

Will most companies survive? Maybe not. Stay tuned!

Keynotes: A Note on Customization
September 15th, 2016

I’m about to head out the door to Amelia Island, Florida, where tomorrow morning I will do a talk for a small group of senior executives from the insurance industry — both property & casualty as well as life insurance companies.

I’m thinking its going to be a great talk — built around the theme, “10 Realities and Opportunities with Fintech Disruption.”

As with most talks, there’s been an extensive amount of research — conference calls with the client, not to forget 479 highly-specific articles on trends impacting the insurance industry.


What’s involved in building a great keynote? Detailed research, such as these articles on the future I’ve insurance that I’m reading through. If you want real insight on future trends and opportunities for innovation that are specific to your industry, give me a call.

On the flight down, I’ll fine tune my presentation, and wade through these articles once again.

I tweeted about this a week ago:

479 articles on the future of #fintech #insurance that I’m reading today – for my keynote in Florida next week for major insurance CEO’s/CxO’s. Some speakers offer pap. Others *customize*. ”Creating a great keynote” ->

This type of research helps me build a keynote that has detailed, industry specific information, such as these nuggets:

  • 2/3 of insurance CEOs see tech as both opportunity & threat” -from a PWC study. (Of course, it makes me wonder — are the rest asleep?
  • nearly 70% of insurance CEOs see the speed of technological change as a threat to growth and more than 60% are concerned about shifts in consumer spending and behaviour

This ties in with other specific, detailed research I’ve undertaken, not to forget the fact that in the last few years, my keynotes have involved audiences that have included the CEO’s of most major North American and global insurance companies.

My keynote includes observations from a  session I did in Philadelphia that included a private one-on-one with the CEO’s of the top 10 P&C companies in North America. 10 years ago, I had the CIO’s for the top 15 P&C/life companies in for a private meeting that went on for two hours.

People book me because they want real insight .

And that’s the reputation I’ve built in the industry — specific, detailed, information and statistic rich presentations that don’t offer motivational pap — but real concrete guidance on strategies, opportunities, challenges and innovation.

If you want real insight on future trends and opportunities for innovation that are specific to your industry, give me a call.

We can talk about the specific ways in which I can help.


Is your community positioned for success in the era of autonomous vehicle technology? Are you thinking about this from an economic development perspective?


“Towns withered and died on whether they were on the mainline of a railroad – Do you want to be a community that wants to be on the forefront of this shared technology…or are you going to sit back and wait? It’s going to be a big economic driver.” – Futurist Jim Carroll

It’s a valid question, and one that I’ve been addressing for a number of years. I covered this issue in a keynote for 2,000 mayors and elected officials when I was the opening keynote the Texas Municipal League, as well as the Colorado Department of Transportation Summit. There have been many other similar situations. But I think that perhaps now, the opportunities that come from community that supports advanced, intelligent and hyperconnected transportation infrastructure is only just beginning to hit the radar of those responsible for economic development.

At least, because I’m finding an increasing number of people reaching out to me to talk about the issue. For example, BisNow recently ran an article, The Future Intersection of Driverless Cars and CRE (Commercial Real Estate); read it here.

Jim Carroll, a noted futurist who has spoken to a number of automotive companies as well as such organizations as NASA and the PGA, says autonomous vehicles will have the same economic impact railways did in the 19th century and highways did in the 20th century. And those cities that quickly adopt and build “intelligent infrastructure” to accommodate driverless technology will be the ones to thrive in this new world. “Towns withered and died on whether they were on the mainline of a railroad,” Jim says. “The same went for highways: Cities that were connected directly by major interstates thrived. And now cities are facing a similar paradigm shift, “and really that becomes an economic decision,” Jim continues. “Do we want to be a community that wants to be on the forefront of this shared technology…or are we going to sit back and wait? It’s going to be a big economic driver.”

And Ian Frisch (who sometimes writes for : The New Yorker, WIRED, Bloomberg and Playboy), notes in his article, So, Do Self-Driving Cars Mean We’ll Work During Our Commutes? – read it here.

We will see situations where some cities will want to be at the forefront of this trend and encourage the infrastructure needed to support self-driving cars,” says Jim Carroll, a futurist, trends, and innovation expert. “That will have bigger implications because companies will want to relocate to where this technology is emerging first.”

If your company does relocate, and your commute gets bumped up a few hours, being able to work while your car drives you to the office would dramatically increase efficiency.

Right now, there are buses in the Bay Area with wi-fi,” Carroll says. “If you have a three-hour commute to San Jose, you’re fully equipped to jump in on a meeting on that bus. This will be a more personalized extension of that trend. People are already shifting how they work, but autonomous vehicles will push them to shift work in new and different ways. But, before that’s a reality, we will see organizations investing in communities that are open to the intelligent infrastructure that encourages things like auto vehicles. That’s the key to all of this.

I’ve covered this issue in numerous keynotes: here’s a clip from my Texas Municipal League keynote:

The key issues are this:

  • self driving cars, tractors and trucks – there’s a lot going on, but it’s not going to happen all at once
  • this new era isn’t just about the vehicle — it’s about the infrastructure that surrounds and supports them
  • in other words, there is a lot going on with intelligent highway infrastructure ….
  • there are going to be different levels of intelligence when it comes to the roads and highways that support such vehicles
  • communities will discover that they have an opportunity to get in front of others if they support advanced intelligent highway and road infrastructure
  • some will upgrade existing transportation corridors that accelerate the adoption and use of intelligent autonomous vehicles
  • others will put in place entirely new transportation corridors – self-driving dedicated roads
  • an increasing number of companies will begin to make relocation decisions to those communities who have advanced intelligent transportation plans in place

If you are involved at a political or economic delveopment level, the big issue for you is : where do you want to position your community?

Or will you go the way of communities that died when railroads and the interstate highway system came along?

"Who is going to fix the education system so that it works for me in the future?"

“Who is going to fix the education system so that it works for me in the future?”

I was recently interviewed about the future of knowledge and careers. It was timely; my oldest son has just completed a college degree but is immediately pursuing another educational path at a community college.

Does this make sense? Most certainly.

Here’s an extract from the article.

Want to future-proof your career?
The Globe and Mail, By LEAH EICHLER,
Saturday, 03 September 2016
Life-long education and training are increasingly becoming a key part of staying relevant in the employment world

For many, this week marks a new chapter in their lives: the first week of university. Like countless students before them, those first few weeks are a flurry of experiences and opportunities that sets out the road to independence. However, that expectation that in four short years their education will be complete is rapidly becoming a relic of the past. Rather, they will be entering a professional world where in order to compete, they must embrace the ethos of life-long student.

Jim Carroll, a futurist and speaker based in Mississauga, describes the work force that students can expect to graduate into as one of “rapid knowledge obsolescence.”

To adapt, professionals will need to possess “just-in-time knowledge” and continue learning in order to have the relevant information at the right time to suit a specific purpose.

“We are never going to have the right skills and knowledge to do what needs to be done. The only way we will is to continue to reinvent ourselves, by updating our skills in order to maintain our relevance. We need to accept that as our reality,” Mr. Carroll said.

That’s why it made perfect sense to him when his son, who graduated in June from Carleton University in Ottawa with a bachelor of arts in physical geography with a minor in geomatics, immediately enrolled in a certificate program in geographic information systems at Ottawa’s Algonquin College.

Yet, it’s not only employees that need to adapt; universities, colleges and employers need to change their approaches to in order to stay competitive.

“Everything is going to change,” Mr. Carroll said. “Universities and colleges aren’t really prepared to give us what we need. Employers aren’t really in the right frame of mind either since they rely on old outdated hiring models and recruitment. Also, if you are a graduate, and you don’t have the right frame of mind that you need to continually maintain your skills, then you are wrong as well,” he said.

The key, suggested Mr. Carroll, is to emphasize skill sets rather than degrees, but how? It’s a problem that New York-based Markle Foundation has been trying to solve.

The Unites States, they observed, has a critical need for a skill-based labour market. There are currently 5.5 million job openings, but 6.5 million people are unemployed. They attribute part of this disconnect to the outdated methods employers use to vet candidates and discern skills.


…. In other words, just-in-time knowledge, or as one of Mr. Carroll’s favourite quotes from a well-known educator named Lewis Perelman put it, “learning is what most adults will do for a living in the 21st century.”


The other day, my son and I visited Agnora, a world class innovator in the architectural glass industry. They produce the glass you see in Apple Stores, at the TKTS ticket booth in Times Square, and many more!

We filmed a video promo clip for my upcoming keynote for the 2016 Greater Philadelphia Manufacturing Summit – details here.

Video: The Future of Packaging
August 31st, 2016

Another clip from my keynote in Prague – this time around trends involving the future of packaging.

Smart packaging. Intelligent packaging. The packaging is the brand. The Apple-ization of packaging!

There’s tremendous opportunities unfolding in this space — packaging is no longer an inert container that simply holds the product — it’s becoming an integral part of what the the product is!

What’s coming fast? Packaging that talks to you. Pharma packaging that does “electronic event monitoring” for patient adherence. Food packaging that automatically uploads calorie, carb, sodium and other data to a customer’s smartphone. Packaging with a unique code — you can send a text to very the product is not counterfeit. Packaging that links to your phone and builds a relationship with you. Packaging that lights up when you pick it up!

And even packaging with mini-LCD TV’s built in!

I’ve been speaking to packaging companies since 2003 !

I keynoted a global packaging company in Prague, and took a look at the future of packaging, retail,and consumer behaviour.

Here’s a clip in which I take a look at how quickly change is coming to impact every aspect of retail.



What are the big issues that organizations need to be focused on?

Think about three simple words: transformation, acceleration and collaboration.

That’s been the focus of a number of CEO-level keynotes I’ve recently done. A good example was a dinner keynote I did for key clients of BASF, a global chemicals company, in San Antonio, Texas.

How do these three words help senior executives reframe the idea of innovation? Like this:

  • transformation: nothing will ever be the same, and complacency with strategy is not a great idea for going forward. What worked in the past surely won’t work in the future!  Everything is changing at a furious pace: business models, customers, products and services, new competitors, organizational structure. Give me a minute with your company or association, and I can give you deep insight into how your world will look entirely different five to ten years out.
  • acceleration. Companies need to relentlessly reinvent themselves, particularly in terms of the products or services they offer, the markets they operate in, the business proposition at their core. In this world of hyper-connected global business models, speed is the new metric for success going forward. Give me a minute with your company, and I’ll give you innovation heroes who are busy reinventing themselves at the velocity that is demanded today.
  • collaboration. To transform and accelerate, be relentless with structure. Constantly rethink you skills they employ, the partnerships you pursue and the insight you glean from shared ideas. We’re in the era of the global idea machine as witnessed with crowd-thinking and crowdfunding — align yourself to the new insight that comes from the connected organization. Give me a minute with your company, and I’ll give you insight into the new hive-mind of success that is a 21st century innovation hero.

Does it work? One fellow at the dinner came up to me after, observing: “I’ve seen a lot of speakers, but your crystallized todays’ world in a really unique hard-hitting way. Oh, and it was great fun too!

It was an awesome event, in an intimate setting, with senior executives of some of the largest energy and infrastructure companies in the world!