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As with anything, the opportunity around the idea of the ‘smart home’, and the reality of what will transpire, varies to a large degree. We are in early days yet!

That was the essence of an exchange I had with a potential client in the home/condo construction market; they were looking at me for an executive offsite concerning their plans in this space, and wanted a senior level executive session that outlined opportunities with smart home construction in the future.

My key goal was to get across to them that a smart home doesn’t just involve throwing in some Internet-connected devices;  it’s not just about the Internet of Things; there is a lot more potential, and the scope of the opportunity is pretty significant in the long term. Given that, they really needed to take a substantive approach that involved not just short term goals but some long term thinking.

Here’s what I outlined:

  1. It”s bigger than you think. The smart home of the future will not only play a role in security and energy, but also also a role in economic development, healthcare virtualization, the reengineering of local energy grids and much, much more
  2. We’ve only just begun. Major organizations, such as appliance and other home device manufacturers, are only just starting to understand where they can go with the smart home. This is outlined in my recent post, The 11 Rules of IoT Architecture – they are coming to understand that just as Tesla is building cars that can be upgradable, they can play a role in smart homes that will be upgradable and changeable over time. That’s a pretty big scope of opportunity.
  3. The energy side is much more than just connected thermostats The real smart home of the future will be designed with major energy implications in mind. This will involve @ home energy generation, as well as sharable energy systems and support for local community micro-grids. Catch my video on this, Will the Energy Industry be Mp3’d?
  4. AI will play a big role, but no one is sure what that means yet. We are in early days with home AI devices such as Amazon Alexa and other intelligent assistants. Alexa and other devices have caught the attention of the innovators; someone out there is busy engineering future solutions that are barely an idea yet. We don’t know where this aspect will take us!
  5.  Virtual healthcare in the home is a bigger component of the smart home than you realize. Bioconnectivity – the virtualization of healthcare, is massive. The hospital is being reengineered to incorporate the monitoring of patients from afar. Big, bold thinking in the seniors care and other industries will lead to transformation of the very essence of what we think a hospital is – because the home becomes a part of the hospital. Look to the MedCottage for guidance on the opportunity with this issue.
  6. Making it work is pretty complex. An API has been built, but people are only just beginning to use it. Head over to the site, If This Then That. It’s at the vanguard of where we can go with this massive form of hyperconnctivity. It involves a series of rules -if this device does this, then do that. Talk to your phone to turn on your thermostat. Use your phone to see where you are and define a rule if your garage door should open. The number of companies joining IFTT is staggering — it is likely the World Wide Web for the Internet of Things!
  7. Existing players aren’t necessarily the major players. Google was big and early into the game with NEST, but don’t expect that big organizations like GE, Whirlpool and others will easily give up the potential market. While big companies aren’t necessarily the best innovators, I’m seeing a lot of deep, substantive thinking in these organizations as to the real nature of a smart home eco-system.
  8. The economic implications are huge. In the 1950’s, the modern suburb defined the future of economic relocation – companies made decisions based upon where the employees might live. In the future, smart communities wired by smart infrastructure, particularly those supporting the nomadic worker, will have an economic leg up. Wild card: self-driving cars and economic success.
  9. Architectural / design issues are only just being explored. If we can build ultra-smart, energy efficient, secure homes, have we yet hit an understanding of the design opportunity? In this area, think about the Jetsons – it really provides guidance!
  10. The skills issues are massive! I had one of the first Internet enabled thermostats about 17 years ago. My HVAC contractor flipped out when he saw it, complaining he didn’t know how to wire Ethernet stuff. I said that’s ok, my teenage son will do it — and he did! Its going to take a lot of knowledge re-skilling for the future of the smart home!

For each of these areas, I’ve spent a lot of time in the last 20 years. By way of examples:

  •  I’ve spent time with many of the companies in the home energy sector; all of Honeywell, Trane, and Lennox have had me in for CEO level events or dealer meetings
  • with the era of smart appliances, I just keynoted a session at Whirlpool/Maytag on the implications and opportunities of the Internet of Things.
  • in the energy field, I’ve spoken about the future of micro-grids and shared energy for the CEO of PG&E, as well as many global energy conferences
  • I’ve done multiple keynotes around the future of virtualized, community oriented healthcare, most recently, for several thousand folks in the seniors care industry
  • on the economic implications , lots of talks — I’ve just been booked by the Western Nevada Economic Development Association for a keynote around this theme, by way of example
  • on the architectural / design issues, I recently had a keynote in St. Louis for Alberici Construction…. and others
  • and on the skills issues, a lot of time, including talking about the future challenges for HVAC contractors and others at the WorldSkills conference in Sao Paolo, Brazil!

One of my favourite future phases is from Bill Gates: Most people tend to overstate the rate of change that will occur on a two year basis, and underestimate the rate of change on a 10 year basis. So it is with the smart, connected home. We’re going to be in a different space 10 years from now, but we are only just starting to define that!

Closing comment? Back in the late 90’s, I wrote a monthly column for one of the world’s leading airlines — Canadian Airlines! One of my columns had to do with the smart home of the future. It’s a fun read today – and I was pretty right about the trends going forward! Have a read!

Soon you’ll be programming the drapes
September 1999 – Canadian Magazine
by Jim Carroll PDF

The last few decades have been marked by promised of innovative new technology for the home. The presumption, of course, is that more technology is good for us and that, in the process, our homes will become “smart.” Yet today, as we consider the number of people whose VCRs still flash 12:00, we wonder just how smart our homes have become.

YESTERDAY

Ever since the 1930s, many industries have predicated a variety of fanciful technologies that would find their way into our homes and make our lives much easier. Most predictions are, in retrospect, hilarious.

Perhaps one of the earliest examples was the introduction of the automatic dishwasher at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City. Westinghouse presented a dishwashing contest between Mrs. Modern (using a Westinghouse dishwasher) and Mrs. Drudge (cleaning her dishes by hand). At the close of the contest (you know who won), the moderator commented that in addition to losing, Mrs. Drudge was not nearly as “neat and refreshed as when she started.” Yes, technology would make us feel better!

Washing dishes seemed to be a favourite theme of the World’s Fair: some 25 years later, the 1964 Fair featured the Norge Dish Maker. The appliance washed and dried plastic dishes – and then ground them up into tiny pellets, which it would then mould them into new plates, cups and saucers!

Walter Cronkite got in on the act, appearing on March 12, 1967 in At Home 2001, a half-hour show about the nature of the home at the dawn of the new millennium. He explained, for example, the duties of the host: “When a guest arrives, he just pulls out his inflatable chair – a small pressurized air capsule would inflate it and it would be ready for use. At the end of the evening he’d just pull out the plug and put the deflated chair back into his little bag.” Need to cook for the guests? Simply reach for the ultimate in convenience food. “A meal might be stored for years and then cooked in seconds,” he said, without a trace of scepticism.

Optimism continued to reign. In 1977, the Vancouver Sun reported on a “domestic android” manufactured by Quasar Industries, which could “serve your dinner, vacuum your rugs, baby-sit your kids and insult your enemies.”

There was a common undercurrent to many of the predictions about the “smart home.” We would have push-button control over everything, a “remote control for the home,” that would allow us to draw the drapes, water the plants, turn down the thermostat, and control virtually every other aspect of the house simply by punching a few buttons.

TODAY

Of course, few of us today have such capabilities – and we wonder if we’d be able to use it even if it were available. After all, how many of us could manage that “remote control for the home” when we find ourselves stymied by the typical 50-button VCR remote control?

The industry is certainly trying to deal with the problem. There is no shortage of ‘smart-home” technology available and apparently some people are buying this stuff – the U.S.-based National Association of Home Builders estimates that, worldwide, some $2 to $4 billion is spent each year on smart-home devices that link security systems, lighting, and entertainment communication systems.

Who buys them? John and Missy Butcher of Chicago, for example. They have spent $100,000 on a home automation system, which means that (if they are in the mood), they can click the “Romance” button on their home automation controller and watch as the curtains are drawn and the lights dim, while listening to music designed to get them in the mood. “Our lives are much easier,” they note.

Of course, we might think, anyone who can spend $100,000 on a home automation system already has an easy life.

TOMORROW

Will the smart home remain largely a concept, an expensive curiosity available only to the richest and most gadget-hungry among us? Likely not. This is one technology that is set to explode in terms of the number of customers it will gain and the practical role it will play in our daily lives. There are several reasons for this.

First, many people now have more than one computer in the home. The computer industry recognizes that linking them together into a home-based local area network is going to be one of the biggest opportunities of the next three years.

We won’t simply be linking the computers in our home. The technology will link all of our devices based on the computer chip into a central control panel, bringing us one step closer to the remote control concept of earlier decades. Three years from now, you may be buying a set of drapes with a microchip. Plug them in, program them – and forget about them.

Second, the emergence of the Internet plays a significant role. Though we think of it as a tool to surf the Web and read e-mail, it is also a technology that will one day link our refrigerator to its manufacturer, notifying the company when the appliance is about to break down – and, in the process, taking us through the next step in home automation.

And finally, there is the ever-decreasing cost of technology. The smart home has always been held back by the fact that the minimum investment was at least $2,000, but that figure is dropping quickly.

And, most significant of all, we’ll barely notice the technology as it sneaks into our home! We’ll be buying appliances, garage door openers, alarm systems and other things for our home, unaware that they contain the necessary intelligence to plug into our home network.

It’s not that we’ll choose to have a smart home – one day, we’ll discover that it’s already smart.

Not quite convinced? Let me quote Walter Cronkite, from that 1967 program. “Sounds preposterous,” he told his audience, with a bit of a smile, “but some people are convinced it will happen.”

One thing I always stress to potential clients is that they are getting much more than just a keynote or presentation for a leadership group — they are getting highly customized insight based on significant original research.

That fact has led to the client list that I have — which includes Disney, two (!) talks for NASA, the PGA of America and more….

I must admit, it’s always a thrill to read the tweets that are sent while you are on stage — realizing that you have really changed lives and changed perspectives!

edutech

You know you are doing something right when you research gets carried further into the industry:

insuretech

To that end, here’s an overview of some of the talks I’ve done this fall:

  • Disruption and Change in the Insurance Industry: a keynote for GAMA International, a global organization for leaders in the global insurance/financial services industry. There’s a tremendous amount of change happening, and much more yet to come. What did I cover in my keynote? You can read about it in my post, Insurance and Innovation: The Challenge of Change . This is one of many talks I’ve done in the insurance industry over the years; I’ve done talks for most major property and life insurance companies at one time or another, and have shared the stage with CEO’s of many of the organizations in the industry.
  • The Future of Insurance Risk: continuing on the insurance theme, an opening keynote for the client conference of FMGlobal, a leading underwriter of insurance risk in the commercial real estate space. My talk took a look at a broad range of trends that will impact the future structure of buildings, architecture, manufacturing facilities and more. Over the years, I’ve done many talks that have looked at the trends impacting the world of commercial real estate.
  • The Future of Medical Device Technology & Healthcare: a talk for an innovation recognition dinner, and then a talk for key R&D staff, for Philips Respironics, a division of Philips Medical Devices, on how the industry will be transformed through hyper-connectivity, changing consumer behaviour, the acceleration of science and much more.
  • The Future of Education. I was the opening keynote speaker for the EdNet 2016 conference in Dallas, with several hundred senior executives from the “education knowledge industry” (aka textbooks) in the room. Read at overview of my talk, Forge Ahead and Move Fast, in an article from an industry publication.
  • Wealth Management and Industry Change: a private event for CEO’s of 40 companies, each with $1 billion+ in revenue, for a private equity company. It’s one of many talks that I do to help senior executives think about the trends that might impact their lines of business and investments – read more in a blog post, Global Wealth Managers Turn to Jim Carroll for Insight on Trends .  It’s kind of cool to think that family wealth managers for such groups as the Wrigley family foundation, the Rothschild’s, the Bill & Melinda Gates family office, and the  Google and many, many others, have turned to me for insight over the years.
  • The Future of Manufacturing: keynotes for the Association of High Tech Distributors in Napa Valley; for Alignex in Minneapolis; and then a rip-roaring motivational keynote full of the latest manufacturing trends for the the Greater Philadelphia Manufacturing conference. The tweets coming out of these events have been astonishing — people in the manufacturing sector are looking for hope and inspiration, and I seem to be giving it to them in spades. Read more at my post, The Disruption and Reinvention of Manufacturing.
  • The Future of Seniors Care: two talks in Nashville for senior executives from the North American assisted living and seniors care industry. I was booked by the American Healthcare Organization and the Centre for Assisted Living, and took a look at the opportunities that come from innovative thinking in dealing with one of the most significant challenges of our time.
  • The Future of Construction, Architecture and Infrastructure: a keynote to open the annual conference of the American Concrete Institute. They admitted to me that they’ve never engaged a keynote speaker to open their event — they’ve been rather ‘stuck’ in their ways, if you pardon the pun. Will they do it again! You bet — my talk took a look at what happens when the world of concrete is influenced by fast trends — 3D printing is coming to concrete, and its coming fast!
  • The Future of Rail and Manufacturing: a talk for Amsted Rail, one of the leading manufacturers in the rail industry. This talk involved a lot of intensive preparation, with about 6 pre-planning conference call with the team bringing me in, as well as very specific, detailed research.

 

I’ve written another article for the global GE Reports publication : you can find it online here.

GoingGray

The U.S. and other countries are doomed by tremendous water usage and leaky infrastructure. But a thirst for innovative solutions is leading entrepreneurs and communities to rethink ways to use everyday wastewater.

Let’s talk about water.

There are big energy opportunities that come from innovative thinking about water usage, particularly given that much of the Western world’s infrastructure is not set up in such a way that wastewater is reused and recycled.

Consider some key statistics:

  • 16 percent of the U.S. water supply is lost due to leaky pipes and goes back in the ground.
  • Only 7 percent of U.S. communities recycle wastewater.
  • Compare that to Israel, where more than 80 percent of household wastewater is recycled, with half of that going to irrigation.

Bottom line for the U.S.? Utilities lose enough water every six days to supply the nation for a day.

That infrastructure challenge of wasted water exists for many Western nations. Canada is one of the highest per capita users of water on the planet. The average person there generates 300 liters of waste water per day, compared to 20 to 30 liters in developing countries. Other developed countries show similar patterns.

That doesn’t have to be the case if strategies are adopted to more aggressively recycle “grey water ” within a community. What’s grey water? Quite simply, it’s the water we send down the drain from showers, toilets, sinks and other commercial and residential sources. Most of it disappears, draining into oceans, lakes or ground aquifers.

What if we could recycle that water and reuse it, and thus engage some of the expense of moving so much other water around?

Consider the Irvine Ranch Water District in California, which has had a recycled water program since 1961, serving areas such as Newport Beach and parts of Orange County. The results are impressive: recycled water meets some 21 percent of the area’s water demands. While initially aimed at water use for agriculture, it now provides services for landscape irrigation, industrial use and toilet flushing in commercial buildings. The system now delivers 23.5 million gallons of recycled water to more than 4,000 customers daily.

This is while water supply and access are becoming increasing challenges in many areas of the world.

In California, the energy cost of water is particularly expensive. In an article in The American Journal of Public Health, some of the numbers are pretty clear:

  • Pumping, treating, transporting and heating California’s water currently represent nearly 20 percent of the state’s energy use.
  • Much of this energy use is the result of a heavy reliance on “imported” water, because the majority of California’s water users are concentrated far from major water sources.
  • Transporting water via California’s State Water Project –the state-built water delivery and storage system — is 2 to 3 percent of the state’s total energy alone and results in roughly 4 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

The potential energy savings are huge if more recycled grey water is utilized. If 10 percent of imported water in California was replaced by recycled water, there would be a savings of 80 million kWh of energy annually .

It is estimated that some 9 percent of U.S. carbon emissions are related to transporting water, and that heating water totals 58 percent of the national energy footprint of water usage.

That’s why the grey water opportunity is clear.

One of the companies using technology to deal with the challenge is Nexus eWater. They market themselves as the world’s first home water and energy recycler, providing a solution for residential water reuse. Nexus has some pretty bold goals that can be met utilizing their system:

  • reducing city water into the home by up to 40 percent;
  • reducing sewage from the home by 70 percent;
  • reducing water heating energy by 70 percent;
  • generating total savings of $50 to $200 per month per home for water, sewer and electric bills, at least for the the River Islands community in Lathrop, California.
  • Oh, and harvesting rainwater as well.

How does it work? With advanced filtering and energy capture technologies, they provide recycled water of a quality that is safe to use on lawns and in toilets. In addition, they can capture the heat in grey water, and thus produce hot water using 75 percent less energy than that from the electrical grid. The cost? Currently at least $10,000 per home.

Nexus is just one such initiative. ReWater Systems, also based in California, offers a grey water solution that reuses sink, toilet, shower and other residential water for lawn and garden irrigation. Spend some time on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, and you can find all kinds of initiatives geared towards the idea.

There are plans to develop communities that employ efficient recycled water systems. The Sea Cliff community, under construction in San Diego, is specifically built with this purpose in mind. It is estimated that each of the 52 upscale homes there will save up to 100,000 gallons of water per year.

It’s clear there are leaders who are looking at this problem as an opportunity. I’d hazard a guess that this will be a pretty big growth market in the years to come.

What should you do?

As I suggest with any new area of opportunity, you should “think big, start small and scale fast.”

Gain some inspiration from the many initiatives in this area; and maybe take on a pilot grey water program. Learn from your efforts, and then determine how to go further, either from a simple residential project or an overall community initiative.

From GE Reports, October 28, 2015 (link)

Technological advances from the Industrial Internet to renewables are transforming the energy industry. Here are the key trends to watch over the next decade.

Hyper-connectivity is transforming many industries — few more so than the energy sector. The expansion of the industrial Internet and power of Big Data analytics is enabling power companies to predict maintenance failures and approach zero downtime, while smartgrids and apps are empowering consumers to become producers.

Could the energy generation and distribution industry find itself in the same position as music companies did n the past — stuck defending an older and entrenched business model, rather than embracing new ideas, concepts and methodologies?

“We are now in the era of `personal energy infrastructure management,’” where connected consumers are gaining increasing control over energy consumption and production, says Jim Carroll, a futurist and energy expert.

The quickly shifting energy landscape means utilities and other industry players must be careful not to be “MP3’d” like the music industry, says Carroll in an interview, in which he also discusses the prospect of achieving energy access for all and the potential for renewals to replace fossil fuels as the dominant energy source:

How much progress will we make in improving energy access to everyone on the planet in 10 years, with the help of microgrids and off-grid solar and other solutions? 

One of my favorite phrases comes from Bill Gates: “People often overestimate what will happen in the next two years and underestimate what will happen in 10.”

I think we live in a period of time when there are several key trends impacting out future use of energy. An intelligent, connected and self-aware grid. An accelerated pace of innovation with non-traditional energy sources — there are now window panes for building construction that generate solar power. Major investments and innovation with energy storage battery technology. I don’t think any of us can really anticipate how quickly all of this is coming together.

Will renewables top fossil fuels as the dominant energy source?

History has taught us that significant progress is more incremental than dramatic. The key point is that globally, we are at an inflection point when it comes to energy. Right now, we’re 90 percent carbon, 10 percent renewables, give or a take a few points. At some point — 10, 20, 50, 100 years? — we’re likely to be at 50-50.

A lot will happen with scientific, business model and industrial change between now and then. We’ve had this predominant business model based on carbon that goes back 100 years, but will that last forever? We’d be delusional if we thought so. What is known is that the carbon energy industry has made tremendous and somewhat unforeseen strides with increasing output — shale, horizontal drilling, smarter drilling and production technologies. Yet the same thing is happening with renewables — and it’s probably happening faster. In the long term, I believe we will see a gradual and inexorable shift to renewables.

How much will we be able to reduce the carbon footprint of the power industry, as technological innovation brings down the cost of renewables?

The technology — as well as consumer/industrial demand for new alternatives — will continue at a faster rate but will run up against increasing regulatory and business model challenges. That’s why I have challenged utility CEOs to ask the question, “Could they be MP3’d?” Could the energy generation and distribution industry find itself in the same position as music companies did n the past — stuck defending an older and entrenched business model, rather than embracing new ideas, concepts and methodologies.

How will the relationship between consumers and producers of electricity change, given smartgrid technologies, mobile app connectivity and the increasing availability of small-scale renewable power sources?

I always stress that we are now in the era of “personal energy infrastructure management.” What does that mean? I have the ability to manage my heating and air conditioning spend through an iPhone app. In the not too distant future, I believe my local neighborhood will have some type of swarm intelligence — linked to local and upcoming weather patterns— that will adjust its consumption patterns in real time based on a series of interconnected home thermostats. My sons are 22 and 20 years old, and we’ve had an Internet-connected thermostat in our home and for over a decade. They live in a world in which they are in control of remote devices, include those that manage their energy use.

How much will energy efficiency improve, with the help of the Industrial Internet and Internet of Things and Big Data analytics?

Some people might view the IoT as being the subject of too much hype at this point. Maybe that is true, but it is probably such a significant development that we can barely comprehend its impact. Think about it this way: every device that is a part of our daily lives is about to become connected. That fundamentally changes the use and purpose of the device in major ways. Add on top of that location intelligence — knowing where the device is, and its status. Link together millions of those devices and generate some real-time and historical data — the possibilities boggle the mind.

We are increasingly in a situation in which the future belongs to those who are fast. That might be a challenge for the energy and utility sector, but it’s a reality.

I’m in the airport lounge at LAS. 3 keynotes in 13 days, all of them wildly successful.

LasVegas 2015

“When you are on stage in Las Vegas, you have a massive opportunity to do your best work : engage, inspire and motivate! And you come away with a feeling that as a global futurist and keynote speaker, you’ve changed lives!”

I realized this morning that I’ve now done close to 100 keynotes / executive sessions in this town in the last 15 years, with audiences as small as 30 (a group of legal executives for a massive global infrastructure company), to 7,000 (Burger King’s global franchise conference at the Centre for the Performing Arts,) to 1,000 executives for liquor companies …. how appropriate for Vegas!

Las Vegas is where a keynote speaker earns their stripes. You get on stage with an audience that is tired, overwhelmed, diverted by distractions, and needs a high energy speaker to get their attention.

Which is why my tag line, when people ask me what I do for a living, is “I go out and talk to large groups of hungover people!” And that’s the line I use when I walk out on stage and introduce myself to the audience.

The city provides a buzz that is comparable elsewhere for a speaker — with the result that some of my best work has been done in this city. (I’ve had some marginal results as well; every speaker does…..)

Let’s put it into perspective. In the last 13 days, I’ve done keynotes for:

  • a group of recruitment professionals, seeking insight into how to engage and attract the next generation of doctors
  • a major North American construction company
  • and an audience of 2,000 for the American Production and Inventory Control Society

When you get on stage on stage in Las Vegas, it can be the most exhilarating experience in your life. It’s Vegas! The staging is wonderful. The buzz is vibrant. The Twitter feed is alive. And if you do it right, you win the audience.

When you are on stage in Las Vegas, you have a massive opportunity to do your best work : engage, inspire and motivate! And you come away with a feeling that as a global futurist and keynote speaker, you’ve changed lives!

It might be a city that often has the toughest audience in the world, but it’s where as a keynote speaker, you prove your worth.

 

As a popular keynote speaker with a focus on future trends and innovation, I’m often called upon to deliver a talk that focuses on some very unique or current issues. This post will give you a sense of the types of events that I am being booked into today.

11173324_1139955206031162_1350127962545406975_n There are several key trends that continue to define my business:

  • corporate leadership meetings continue to be a big growth market – I’m often engaged by a CEO or other senior executive for an offsite meeting — on a highly customized topic. There’s more information below on some of the very unique and customized topics that I have taken on as of late.
  • economic uncertainty seems to be growing with the collapse in oil prices, the election, and ongoing questions about global economic growth. That’s a good thing — I’ve got plenty of video and blog posts around the theme of “innovating during uncertain economic times.” It led to strong bookings in 2009-2010, and I’m seeing an uptick for this type of topic again today. Global economic turmoil? Time to innovate! Read more.
  • a topic that is drawing continuing attention has to do with a new book I am working on: “Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast“. Many companies continue to be blindsided by the speed of technology change, business model change (think Uber), empowered consumers, new competitors — you name it! This simple phrase resonates with people as a keynote topic: read more!
  • in addition, the topic of the “Internet of Things” ties into the current high velocity change occurring in every industry as Silicon Valley comes to drive the speed d of industry. Industries that have had me in on this topic include the automotive/trucking industry (Volvo / Mack Trucks), packaging/paper (Mondi International out of South Africa), energy and infrastructure (GE Lighting, Lennox, Honeywell, and Trane Ingersoll Rand), among others. Read more.

Customized keynotes

This area continues to be my biggest growth market. I truly believe that clients today are looking for much more than a canned message; they want real insight, deep research, and a highly customized message. I’ve certainly been delivering; here are a few of the unique topics that I have taken on:

  • The Future of Steel” — a keynote for the global leadership meeting of the Finnish company, Konecranes. They build the massive structures used at container ports, shipyards, railroads, oil fields and other industries. They were looking for a keynote that looked at the future of the steel industry, one of their key industry verticals. Watch for an upcoming blog post on the unique research that I undertook
  • Physician Recruitment in the Era of Digital Intimacy” – PracticeMatch is a US company that specializes in the recruitment of doctors/physicians. They were looking for a talk that would take a look at the challenges in recruiting the Millennial medical professional. They didn’t want a canned talk about this unique generation — they wanted real insight. You can read my blog post, which gives you a sense of how deeply I dug into the topic, on this blog post.
  • The Future of Risk in the Era of Big Infrastructure” — this Friday, I’m in Las Vegas with Kiewit, a North American construction company involved in massive oil, energy, highway and other infrastructure projects. More specifically, I’m with their legal team — 50 executives responsible for managing risk throughout the business. My keynote takes a look at new forms of emerging risk, given trends unfolding globally. It’s a very unique and customized topic combining future trends and legal risk — I’ll be blogging about this next week
  • The Future of Energy Infrastructure” — the topic for which GE Lighting, Lennox, Honeywell, and Trane Ingersoll Rand engaged me. This is a good example of very specific customization to an industry of the broader “Internet of Things” topic. You can read a blog post and watch video from the GE event, held in NYC, on the blog post “5 Things to Know About the Connected Future
  • The Future of Intelligent Packaging” — Mondi, a South African based organization, brought me to Prague to open their global leadership meeting. They are deep into the packaging industry in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, and wanted a talk that would help their team understand the opportunities that would unfold as packaging materials become intelligent, connected, and interactive. You won’t look at a box of Wheaties the same after you’ve thought about this topic! An Atlanta based company, Neenah Paper and Packaging, was also looking for a similar topic — which is a good example of the fact that almost every industry is being reinvented by an era of “hyperconnectivity.” There’s more here.
  • The Future of Sports and Fitness” – I admit it was a thrill to open the CEO leadership meeting for the Sporting and Fitness Industry Association — and to be followed on stage by Roger Goodell, Commission of the NFL. (I didn’t bring up Tom Brady). This booking relates to the ongoing theme of the future of health, wellness and fitness, and “Healthcare 2020” :
  • Autonomous Vehicle Technology, Self Driving Cars and Intelligent Highways” — both the Colorado Department of Transportation and Volvo have had me in to look at this extremely hot topic. You couldn’t have failed to notice stories in the news that both Google and Apple are developing self-driving vehicles. There is a seismic change underway in this massive industry, and I’ve got some great background with keynotes for major players as it unfolds. Automotive World, one of the leading global publications in the auto industry, covered my thoughts on this topic in the article, Is the Auto Industry Ready for the World of 2030. Read more.

These are just a few examples of some of the unique topics I’ve been taking on. Remember — clients are looking for real, deep, specific, customized and tailored insight.

Feel free to contact me if you want to explore some ideas!

So I was on the phone today with the CEO of a major global organization headquartered in Canada. I’ll be opening a leadership meeting for the company in early 2013, and this was a call to begin planning for the structure of my talk.

During the call, comments by Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada about the US economic relationship came up. Clearly, this is a country that is seeing it’s share of challenge due to fast-paced challenges in it’s “special relationship” with the US.

I mentioned to the CEO that  as far back as 2009, I was already predicting that Canada would likely have challenges in selling it’s oil in the future into the US market. And many other challenges! And that it would have to re-orient its economy further away from the US and take on much more of a global view!

This was plainly evident to me back then — and look where things are today. What are serious people and politicians and everyday folk in Canada suddenly talking about that no one really took seriously just a year ago?“…a Pacific energy pipeline….”  “…. aligning more natural resources and commodities with long term Asian contracts….”    “…… a serious free trade relationship with Europe that goes beyond NAFTA.”

With that in mind, I just dug out an old post I wrote way back in 2009 that was written as a bit of a joke at the time — surmising that Canada would see many reasons to reorient it’s global economy in the future. It’s a press release written very much tongue-in-cheek. It was briefly posted to my blog. (I removed it after a short time, since I thought that many people might find it offensive. But back then, it was covered in Bourque.org and a few other breaking-Canadian-news blogs….)

I now find it remarkably prescient, though some of it is still very clearly written for fun. For example, the border wall!


Canada announces end of economic relationship with US, & a bold new strategy to 2020

Ottawa, May 14, 2009

The country of Canada today announced the end of its centuries long relationship with the United States, and a bold new seven-point “Canada Transformed!” strategy that will re-orient its economic, cultural, societal values and innovation engine towards the world economy of 2020.

“It has come to the point that we can no longer rely on the United States as a reliable economic partner,” stated Canada at a news conference. “It is time that we adopt a bold new strategy that will align our economy away from the US, and towards the growth economies of the 21st century in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. As well, we will immediately begin working to enhance our long standing relationships with reliable partner nations in Europe.”

The massive scope of the plan was not lost on Canada in the emotional conference. “We aim to reduce our role of being the largest trading partner with the United States, to becoming a marginal partner at best. We believe that this is the only right way forward.”

Bold new thinking is required Canada spoke bluntly at the news conference of the need for bold new thinking. “Our relationship with the US is one that has become, through no fault of our own, increasingly abusive. We’re honest, faithful, and do our part to provide to the relationship. We have been the largest trading partner to the United States for over a century. And yet, in return, we find ourselves taking on an increasing amount of abuse, neglect, and ever more hostile actions. We’re sad that it must come to an end, but we believe that it is time.”

Canada cited a long list of complaints and grievances, ranging from ongoing trade disputes, “downright hostile treatment” of Canadian citizens by US border guards, and increasingly aggressive use of a “Buy America” policy by state and local governments in the US — despite a promise in Ottawa by President Barak Obama that he did not believe protectionism was the right way forward.

Canada Transformed!

At the press conference, Canada announced a significant 10 year, 7 point plan, branded “Canada Transformed!”, that will re-orient it’s economy away from the United States to the AEA (Asia, Europe and Africa) markets, by the 2020, with a number of key goals:

  •  Energy & oil: Canada will invest in a massive infrastructure project that will allow it to deliver the bulk of it’s significant energy/oil resources to Asia, Europe and Africa within 5-7 years. The infrastructure project will consist of a number of significant pipeline projects that will direct Canadian oil, natural gas and other energy sources to east and west coast ports, as well as shipping and marine infrastructure, that will provide for a “ocean railway of energy” destined to the AEA countries.”Today, Canada is the largest supplier of energy to the United States. By 2020, Canada aims to provide almost no energy to the US,” noted Canada at the news conference. “We wish them well in their efforts to solve their energy crisis. We do not intend to help them any further.”
  • Food & agriculture: Global food production must double to meet world population growth, and Canadian grain, beef, pork and other producers will work to achieve an AEA target market of 90% by 2020. “Quite simply, the rest of the world beyond the US needs a stable, reliable food supplier, and Canada intends to become the leading global brand in that regard.”
  • Resources: Canada will seek investment from major Asian and mid-East sovereign wealth funds in an ambitious effort to re-orient the target markets for at least 80% of Canadian mineral commodities to AEA nations by 2015.”Quite simply, Canada has the natural resources — iron, nickel, copper, uranium and just every other type of metal — that the newly industrialized world in Asia needs. As we witness a continued declined in US economic power, particularly in the manufacturing sector, we must ensure that we pursue growth opportunities elsewhere in the world. As China re-industrializes with the economic recovery, we intend to be their partner of choice.
  • Manufacturing: Since the advent of the US-Canada free-trade agreement in 1994, Canada has shared in one of the modern world’s greatest economic successes — the highly integrated Canadian-US manufacturing network supply chain. However, the collapse of the US manufacturing sector, as well as continuous suffocation of the border flow of goods, it is clear that Canada must re-orient itself to the new realities of the 21st century.”A nation does not move forward suffering from the ongoing implementation of economic choke points,” noted Canada. “We will re-align ourselves to economies that believe the way forward is through intelligent, smart-border policies that encourage the free flow of goods and people; not a nation that has a border policy that is driven by  politics. We will immediately provide strong incentives for Canadian manufacturers to re-focus on Canadian markets, as well as the establishment of significant new markets in AEA countries. There are over 2 billion people in these markets, and but 280 million in the US.””Clearly, our future lies outside of North America, and we will align our manufacturing sector to this reality.
  • Immigration-based knowledge factories: Canada is the envy of other nations throughout the world for its’ open, welcoming culture towards new immigrants. It plans to build on this reputation by establishing itself as the world’s dominant source for high-level, specialized knowledge expertise in almost every single professional field.”We believe that we are entering the second era of off-shoring,” noted Canada, “with the next wave going far beyond customer support call centers. Nations around the world will need access to high level talent in the fields of medicine and health care, scientific research, agricultural and architectural skills, legal and professional services — and will seek to access that knowledge through the global communications networks that will dominate the economy of the 21st century” said Canada. “We will welcome global knowledge experts in every field of human endeavor to relocate to Canada, enjoy all the attributes that our nation has to offer, and provide their skills to a massive offshore groups of clients in AEA nations. In doing so, we will establish Canada as the global hub for the knowledge economy of the 21st century. Quite simply, Brand Canada will become the most widely recognized phase when it comes to the need for access to knowledge.”
  • Immediate border construction: Finally, Canada announced that it would immediately begin construction of border that would prevent unauthorized entry into Canada by US citizens. “We will immediately begin planning construction of a 4,500 mile physical border along our common frontier with the US,” noted Canada. “We increasingly view the US health care system to be in peril — within a decade, some US states will be devoting more than 60% of their GDP to health care. Clearly, many US citizens will plan to flee to Canada to take advantage of our world-class universal health care system. We must prevent this mass migration of Americans into Canada, and believe that significantly enhanced border structures are the only means of doing so.”

At the close of the news conference, Canada stated that it was taking these actions with reluctance, but with conviction that it was the right thing to do.

Nations have always achieved continued economic success by making bold leaps. We believe, given the continuing deterioration in our relationship with the US, and the ongoing and continued lack of respect that they provide to us, that it is time to move on.

Canada is the most resource rich, tolerant, energy abundant, agriculturally advanced, second largest country in the world, with a massive base of skills, energy, commodities, food, and capabilities. We intend to assert our place in the economy of the 21st century with a sense of pride, purpose, and clear direction,” said Canada at the conclusion of the press conference.

Besides that, we’re just plain nice,” said Canada, blushing, in a closing comment.

We are excited about our future, and believe that we have made the right decision at the right time for the right purpose. Canada Transformed! will see our nation emerge as one of the leading economies on the world stage by 2020, and we embark on this voyage with a sense of courage, enthusiasm, and certainty as to its’ impact.”

The United States was not immediately available for comment.

This kid is soon be the next lawyer in your legal practice – or the lawyer you hire to support your legal issues. Are you ready to deal with him? He’s wired, uber-connected, collaborative, fast, and is unlike any lawyer you have ever known!

I’ve been remiss in blogging – 20+ keynotes since January, so I’ve been on the road. I’ve got lots to report on what I’ve been focused on in a huge range of different industries.

Back at the start of this travel odyssey, I found myself in Palm Springs, California, as the opening speaker for the 2012 California Community Associations Institute annual conference. In the room were several hundred lawyers and legal professionals supporting condominium and other community developments.

My focus? The key trends that would impact their role, both as lawyers and as individuals involved with complex real estate, construction and building design issues. So I did my homework, and put together what I thought was a great keynote. Certainly the instant Twitter feedback emphasized that I likely hit a home run.

I addressed numerous issues — including what will happen to the legal profession when the next generation of kids — who have grown up never knowing a world without an iPhone — enter the legal profession. Everything changes….

And here’s the fun part of my job — its’ always fascinating to find, after the keynote, the impact that I might have made on some people in the room. Which leads me to a post I found at the blog for Goodman, Shapiro and Lombardi LLC, a firm specializing in this industry, but based in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

After a brief intro, the post, headlined “Embracing Technology: Insights from the CAI’s Law Seminar,” gets right to the point:

I was somewhat skeptical about what I’d glean from the keynote speaker, Jim Carroll, a corporate consultant who describes himself as a “futurist.”

 I’m often greeted by such a reaction. But that’s my job — I spend a huge amount of time thinking about future trends, undertaking research in dozens of industries, meet hundreds of executives at the events that I speak at and prepare for — and synthesize all of this into a concise 45 minute to 1 hour overview of what the folks in the room should be thinking about. In this case, my keynote focused on two big issues: the future of the legal profession, and the key trends that would impact the construction/condominium industry and communities going forward into the future.

After that introduction, the blog post goes on:

“Turns out he is recognized worldwide as a “thought leader” on global trends and has helped many companies, including NASA and the PGA, transform their businesses through creativity and innovation.”

This is true — you can read about my keynote for NASA in this post, and a simple search for PGA on my Web site reveals all kinds of posts on my keynote for the “largest working sports organization in the world.” You don’t get to to do my type of job if you aren’t on your “A-Game” all the time!

So what did he think? This makes for a good read:

Part of my keynote in Palm Springs focused on my “10 Big Trends for the Legal Profession” – read the PDF by clicking on the image.

Among the intriguing facts he imparted was a study citing that 65% of today’s preschoolers will work in jobs and careers that do not even exist yet.  He piqued our interest with other obvious-yet-provocative statements… our kids have never known TV without a remote and have never heard the phrase, “Please get up and change the channel.

It bears emphasizing that he was talking to a roomful of lawyers – people who, by definition, practice in a conservative profession averse to change or novelty. Indeed, much of the law is based on precedent and the notion that if it hasn’t been done before, it probably can’t be done now.

Yet our challenge, at this particular moment in history, is to get ahead of the curve, to dare to be groundbreaking.  This may seem threatening, but it’s a message that should resonate within our industry as we think about what this means in concrete terms. On the horizon, I see more green buildings; eco-design; solar panels; and electric cars, among other innovations.  There will certainly be legal implications for all this, and we need to be ready.  In short, we need to think creatively and to embrace change.

And there’s my home run from the keynote – right there: “In short, we need to think creatively and to embrace change” and “Dare to be groundbreaking.” My job is to get people thinking about the future, and challenging them to think and act differently to deal with an ever faster rate of complex change.

It’s always a thrill to look back to see that I’ve pulled it off!

Read more in another post I wrote: “What Goes Into Building a Great Keynote?”  

 

At the T. Rowe Price 2011 Investment Symposium in Baltimore on Friday, I listened to the technology panel that preceded my luncheon keynote.

It was a fascinating discussion as a number of their leading analysts spoke of the trends that they saw unfolding with consumer and other digital technology companies, such as Apple, Amazon and Samsung.

Name any industry – auto, health care, manufacturing, energy, banking — and the big trend over the next five years is that Silicon Valley is coming to control the pace of innovation in the industry. And it’s speeding it up!

But I thought that the crowd was hungering for a bit more — where are the next big trends, and the next big transformation opportunities that are going to unfold which are going to provide for the birth of new industries, fast growing companies, and billion-dollar market opportunities?

And so I outlined that reality: the next big areas of growth will come from the transformative change that occurs as Silicon Valley comes to drive the pace of innovation in almost every other industry. As it does so,  it will speed up the rate of innovation.

The impact of this trend is that it will also shift control from any particular industry – insurance, healthcare, banking, auto — to the technology companies. The result will be massive business model disruption as new, faster, more nimble competitors who understand technology based disruption, cast aside their slower, ingrained counterparts.

The future belongs, in other words, to those who are fast. Tech companies and tech based innovators certainly understand this! And the key issue is speed : Apple, for example, could innovate much faster with new credit card financial systems than any bank could. Google and it’s tests of automatic car navigation technology will certainly evolve faster than any auto company in Detroit, Japan or Germany could. Unless leaders in those organizations increasingly learn to focus on speed as a metric, and fast-innovation as a core capability.

Consider just a few of the trends:

  • Banks and credit companies risk losing control of their future as our mobile devices, cell phones and iPhones become credit cards
  • the energy industry and home construction is impacted as a new personal energy infrastructure management, in the form of such devices as the NEST Thermostat, provide for a significant change in the way people use energy
  • health care will be transformed by medical device connectivity and bioconnetivity — allowing hospitals and nursing homes to extend the reach of their medical professionals to an increasing number of remote locations
  • the auto industry will face trendmeondous change as an intelligent highway infrastructure emerges as the same time as intelligent, self-guiding cars and trucks become a regular part of our daily world
  • the world of insurance is upended as we head to a world of predictive insurance modelling through the use of sophisticated technologies such as on-board GPS devices which monitor driver behaviour

These are but just a few examples. I can go into any industry today and point out how Silicon Valley and technology is going to cause significant change and upheaval within the industry. I can spot the smart executives who understand the message and realize that right now is the time for aggressive innovation and big thinking.

And then in other clients, I can see this observation pass right over the heads of some of those in the audience, and realize we’ve got folks who are like deer in the headlights — the trends are blinding in their reality, but they are frozen by their inability to do anything.

I spoke about this trend in a recent keynote.



There are a whole series of related posts in which I’ve commented on the significance of this trend and the speed with which it is occurring. These are just a few.

  • Silicon Valley innovation velocity set to dominate every industry 
  • When Silicon Valley Takes Over Health Care Innovation 
  • This ghost town in New Mexico could turn into one of the most important innovation engines 
  • Reinventing the future with transformative technology
  • Silicon Valley: Is Innovation Dead? 

2010WorldClassInnovators.jpgI was in Chicago earlier this week; I had a keynote for the leadership team of a company that’s involved in a sector of the construction industry.

They’ve had some challenges with the economic downturn; they’re also likely to see a resurgence as infrastructure spending kicks in.

But they’re thinking beyond what happens after that — they’re positioning themselves for long term growth — and so they brought me in to stir up some creative thinking as to what they need to do.

The focus of my keynote was the theme: “What is it that world class innovators do that other organizations don’t do?” Here’s some of the insight that I covered.

  1. World class innovators possess a relentless focus on growth: I deal with a lot of CEO’s at a lot of organizations, and in almost every instance, they’ve engaged me because my message of future growth opportunities resonates with their own attitude. In my view, there are unprecedented opportunities for growth in almost every industry. Spend some time on this blog; read my Where’s the Growth overview and other information, and you’ll come away convinced we live in transformative times that offer tremendous opportunities for growth through innovation.
  2. World class innovators continually transition their revenue source: they’re focused on ‘chameleon revenue‘. They know that they have to evolve from being a commodity product competing on price, to one that offers a more complex, revenue rich solution. They’re aware that they need to have continuous, relentless product innovation in order to keep their new revenue pipeline full.
  3. World class innovators solve customers problems – before the customer knows it’s a problem: They excel at anticipatory thinking: where do we need to go with our customers to ensure that we continue to have a strong revenue relationship? What key trends can we ride to maximum advantage that will allow us to provide a constant flood of new, irresistible innovations for our customer base?
  4. World class innovators source innovation ideas through their customers.: Simply put, they derive new innovation ideas by observing what their customers are doing with their products or services. They know that they aren’t fully in control of the innovation agenda anymore, and that some of the most brilliant ideas are coming from a new source. Notes John Hanks, vice-president, industrial and embedded products for National Instruments: “We have the advantage of working with some of the most innovative people in the world. For example, we could find a customer who is using one of our products in an unexpected and innovative way. It’s then possible for us to take that and add value for another customer, which is one of the ways we can help the innovation process as a whole.”
  5. World class innovators focus on ingesting fast ideas: there are new technologies, business models, customer trends, product developments, scientific advances and countless other things that are increasing the pace of change. Innovators know that if they plug into the global idea machine, they can constantly discover a tremendous number of insights that help them to move forward.
  6. Innovators check their speed and focus on corporate agility: they know that to keep up with fast paced trends, it’s their ability to quickly act, react and do that will allow their future success. There’s not a lot of time for debate, studying; inertia is abhorred. They simply DO.
  7. World class innovators focus on long term wins through constant incremental improvements: they know that some pretty big growth can come from continual small wins and improvement on margins. For example, 7% of power on transmission and distribution lines are lost as heat. Reduce that loss by 10% – and that would equal all the new wind power installed in the US in 2006. That’s why ‘smart grids’ are such a hot topic. Take the auto industry: todays’ typical automotive system uses only 25% of the energy in the tank — the balance is lost to waste, heat, inefficiency. Work on increasing that on a year over year basis, and there are some pretty solid gains through innovation.
  8. World class innovators focus on skills partnerships as a key success factor: they know that with rapid change, knowledge is becoming an ever more precious commodity, particularly niche oriented knowledge. If they are entering a fascinating new, fast paced market, they realize that there might be but a few individuals or organizations in the world who could help them tackle that new market. They focus on forming fast teams and fast partnerships, drawing a lot of innovation oxygen from that external insight.
  9. World class innovators focus on pervasive connectivity for next generation product: they know that one of the key trends out to 2020 is that everything around us is plugging together. Soon, every device on the planet will have an IP address on the Internet; we’ll be able to access it’s status and its location. This is transformative stuff, and is one of the primary sources for the next new billions of dollars of revenue in countless industries. Consider the world of HVAC — industrial heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment: as it is transitioned to the world of “HVAC 2.0”, an intelligent, interlinked, fascinating new world of massive connectivity.
  10. World class innovators aren’t afraid to back away from big ideas: they know that right now it’s a great time to made bold decisions, and take decisive advantage to forge aggressive new paths against their competitors. While everyone else wallows in aggressive indecision and organizational sclerosis, world class innovators know that it is a great time to do great things.

You know what?

World class innovators win!

Did my keynote go well? Here’s what the client had to say: “Thanks again for your first class presentation! It really hit home and was right on the money!”

:

  • Where’s the Growth? (PDF)
  • Blog post HVAC 2.0

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