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Your car is about to become your concierge. A personal robot. And so much more.

You probably don’t have a lot of time to think about all the things that are going on with the rush to self-driving cars and electric vehicles. I do – that’s my job as a futurist. The things is, you don’t know what you don’t know, until you know it.

So I’m going to let you know!

We are currently seeing a massive acceleration of change hitting the auto industry. I’m doing lots of keynotes around the theme — read Accelerating the Auto Industry in the Era of Self-Driving Vehicles.

What’s next? Here are some things you might not be thinking about:

  • the simplicity of design means more companies enter the car and truck industry. Carbon and gas is tough; electric and tech is much easier. Electric involves a motor, some wheels, and some stuff to connect the two, with a few computers thrown in. That’s a bit of a stretch, but talk to anyone in the industry, and its ‘way easier’. Simply put, the next generation of vehicles is easier to design, engineer and build, with the result that we will see more organizations entering the space.
  • the shift in legal liability is huge.  As in, what happens in a crash between an autonomous car and a human driven vehicle? Who do police take a statement from? Do we impound the data record? If so, from the cloud? Lots of fun is going to unfold in this area!
  • partnership is everywhere. The industry is blurring at a furious pace. Coming together are companies in the battery and alternative energy space; telematics and GPS and intelligent highway technology; cybersecurity companies and dozens more. Simply take a look at a few infographics on the number of companies getting involved.
  • the future will be full of surprises. For example, who would have predicted Nvidia, long known for making the graphics cards that were at the heart of the gaming industry, is now at the forefront of the self-driving car industry — because of the ability of their technology to process the vast volumes of data that are involved. There are lots more NVidia’s out there, repositioning themselves for this fast-future.
  • there might be an increase in automated muggings. A self-driving car will be programmed to stop when it senses a human in front of it. Hence, I could merely walk into a road, stand there, and the car will stop. It will then take me a moment to do something evil to relieve the occupants of their valuable. Who will program and mitigate against this scenario?
  • route and car hacking will be the next ransomware.  Have you seen the experiment where someone placed some concentric circles on a road that totally confused a self-driving car? What happens when the computer virus industry sets its sights on the new computer-car industry? Oh, the places we’ll go and the things we will see (or not see, as it were…)
  • there will be data wars. Self-driving cars generate lots of data, and many questions are as yet unanswered. As in, who owns the data, and what can they do with it? People buying, sharing or leasing cars will be presented with massive “I agree to all terms and conditions” word dumps like they get with their iPhones and software, and they will click away their right to any of that data. Expect massive new intellectual property issues to emerge, and lawyers who will make a lot of money going forward as these data issues get sorted out.
  • the data will be worth a lot of money. Google built a business on search. Car data companies will build a business based on location and navigation.
  • you car will become a credit card. At the same time that companies equip cars with cell capability to turn the vehicle into a Wi-Fi hotspot, they’ll also put a SIM card and technology in place that will let the car do an automatic credit card transaction. Apple put Apple Pay into a mobile device, and as the car becomes a phone, it will become an Apple Pay device too! You’ll pay at the drive-through simply by putting your thumbprint on the dash.
  • driver education will change. It will move from “how do I drive a car” to “how do I use a car?” Why? Consider a University of Iowa study : 65% of drivers didn’t know how to use adaptive cruise control, and many didn’t event know what it was! Expect befuddlement and bewilderment as cars become computers on wheels.
  • watch the drones to understand the future of electric cars. One major form of car innovation today is occurring with battery technology, which is at the heart of electric vehicle technology. Those in the drone space are working hard to figure out how to extend the range of flying drones, and are doing lots of research with new battery technologies that offer extended range through lower weight. This will bleed into the electric vehicle market, and will lead to rapid advances in electric car range and a decrease in cost.
  • your car will be personalized based on biometrics and technology. – Your car will know who you are when you get in, when you approach it, or when you phone it, and will adjust its settings based on that knowledge. Your car will have a trusted relationship with your mobile device, your fingerprint and your eyeball. You will start it simply by having it examine your retina, rather than pressing a button.
  • the purpose of a car will fragment. Cars today are designed to get you from point-A to point-B. In the future, specific cars will be designed for a specific purpose, with the result that the very concept of a car is going to fragment. There will be cars for long distance vs those built for a short commute; those built for peloton travel (i.e. interlinking with other cars in a pack) vs. those which are engineered to excel at navigation for narrow city streets. There will be cars which will be decked out as a home office for a self-driving commute, and others which will be tricked up to be rolling bedrooms on wheels for tourists. We’ll see lots of new types of cars, with different cost implications the result!
  • self-driving cars might obliterate pizza delivery jobs and other activities. Your car will simply go out and get pizza when you tell it too. In this way, your car will evolve to become a personal-concierge-robot, undertaking various activities at your command. Car-as-a-service concepts will unfold.
  • big bets are being made, big bets will be lost; Business books will be written in the future as to who won, who lost, and which big bets they made along the way It’s an epic battle between car companies and tech companies, and we are in the midst of a 100 year revolution. One estimate suggests that there are currently 50 major competitors in the space today; that might be reduced to 5 or 6 within a decade.
  • video gaming will come to cars. With that in mind, we’ll see video game consoles and controllers built into cars. After all, while its busy taking you to work, you’ll have some time to kick back and destroy a few daemons!
  • we’ll see ‘network of cars‘, and network-subscriptions will be available. You’ll be able to link to your friends and go off on a self-driving voyage somewhere, because your car will link to other cars and you’ll be able to share an automated voyage together. You might find a network of folks in your neighbourhood who self-drive to work together, and you’ll sign up to their morning commute, sharing a peloton experience on the HOV lanes in order to reduce your cost.
  • car mechanics become computer techies. Geek-squads for cars will be the new normal. We’ll reboot our cars more often than we will change the oil.
  • disruption will be fun! Self-driving car tourism will combine Uber and AirBNB into something new. Use your imagination,
  • trailers will take on more importance. It will be a growth market — since you’ll have so much more to do with your car, you’ll have to take a lot more stuff with you!
  • a steering wheel of today is already is a thing from the olden days. One day, a kid will be born who will be the first to never use a steering wheel, and will never know how to ‘drive’ in the context of driving today. The concept of telling a car what to do will simply seem silly. Maybe that kid is already alive. They’ll only ever know a world in which a car drives itself.
  • gesture control and eyeball scanning might be the future of navigation. Didn’t think to tell your where you were going, or are simply going through a new, unknown neighbourhood? You’ll simply point or look and your car will figure out where you want to go. Video game developers that excelled at writing human-machine interface code for the gaming industry will find hot new carers in the automotive sector.
  • design is shifting from the exterior to the interior. More money will be made on the function, apps, and purpose of things you can do inside the car than outside.
  • legacy companies will try to fight the future, thinking it is a marketing war, not an innovation war. They’ll realize it won’t work. Consider Lexus, for example, which doesn’t want to talk about ‘self-driving cars‘ – they want people to talk about “automated safety technology.” Sure. It won’t work.
  • race car drivers will complain when a self-driving car wins the Indy 500. Such is progress, but it will take on the form of many other grand challenges, such as 3D printing Michelangelo’s David in concrete, having a robot play in the World Cup of soccer, or a world in which a computer beats a human in chess. (That one has been done.)
  • there’s a massive rush for skills : Delphi is hiring 5,000 software engineers and wants to double it in the years to come. Most car companies don’t have the skills they need, and the war for talent will go super-nova.
  • self-driving cars will have personalities. You’ll be able to press a few buttons and have it drive like your grandmother, or another button to have it become a race car driver (GPS restricted, of course)
  • some car company executives are saying some pretty dumb things right now. Just like CEO’s in the past: Bill Gates at Microsoft (‘640k should be enough for everyone‘); Ken Olsen at DEC (‘no one will ever need a computer in their home‘); IBM’s Thomas Watson (‘computers in the future may weigh no more than 5 tons‘). Smugness and complacency is not a business strategy.
  • the stories for the business books of the future surround you right now. Years from today, we’ll have a flood of innovation books and detailed case studies which will compare Deliberate-Detroit vs. Speedy-Silicon Valley. The story is still being written. Right now, there are a few Research-in-Motions about, convinced that heir business model has longevity. Maybe not, and I know who my money is with!
  • people will get ticked with highway lanes dedicated to self-driving cars. There are always those who hate the future and progress. But lanes dedicated to self-driving cars will make sense, because they will be able to support big volumes of smart cars, reducing overall traffic growth. San Jose in California is already considering doing this.
  • it’s all about the airwaves. If self-driving cars are throwing off 7GB of data per hour, the data has to float through the ether. There will be a huge rush to support new data transmission channels – and smart governments will realize there will be money to be made by auctioning off new spectrum.
  • Siri, Alexa and other botnet technology will be everywhere. That’s a simple conclusion, but it will be kind of interesting to be driving next to someone who is engaged in a long conversation with their car.
  • networked battery technology will emerge. The big pursuit with mobile phone technology today involves dockless-or-plugless charging : you simply charge your phone through the air. That will eventually come to electric car batteries — and maybe I’ll sell you a little bit of my excess battery energy while we cruise down the highway next to each other
  • the evolution of self-driving cars is really a story about Moore’s law. Processing power will collapse on a regular basis, and capabilities will exponentiate. Study the past of the computer industry to understand the future of the auto industry.
  • it’s really a big data story with big implications : Tesla already has compiled millions of miles of data about the folks driving its car. The future might be less about the vehicle and more about the data they generate.
  • the economic development implications are huge. Industry will relocated to regions that have smart highway infrastructure, excellent re-charging services, and progressive policies when it comes to supporting this revolution. Does your Mayor get it?
  • self-driving cars don’t involve just cars. It involves trucks, and tractors, and ships, and planes, farm combines and boats. It’s not just an era of self-driving cars — it’s an era of autonomous, self-operating things.
  • a bunch of other innovations are happening all at once. In fact, there  are a whole bunch of parallel innovations occurring with self-driving vehicles, involving such things as advanced energy storage technologies and methodologies, energy microgrids, robotics and AI, deep data and analytics, smart highway technologies, advanced materials, and so much more. And just as with the space program, all of these developments are leading to other new opportunities, industries and new billion dollar industries.
  • outsourced driving will be a thing. Your car might have the smarts to drive for you. Or, if it is a complex route and it doesn’t have the smarts, you’ll simply be able to outsource the driving to someone on the other side of the world. “Leave the driving to us” will take on new meaning.
  • your car will know when its going to break down, and will tell you. It will also tell the auto company or local computer geek. Maintenance models will turned upside down through prognostic diagnostics.
  • there’s a massive skill set shift underway. As in, this ain’t your fathers carburetor! The new skill sets in automotive will involve electronics, programming, electrical circuit mastery, advanced route optimization insight, and so much more!
  • the future of the industry might be determined by a geek in a garage. Just like the computer industry and HP, the future of the car industry might unfold by some hacker hacking away with big dreams and big visions. Such as, say, comma.ai 
  • modularity will be a thing.  In fact, the very concept of ‘fixing a car’ might go by the wayside. We’ll see more modular technology — parts that you simply drop in to replace another one that has gone bad.
  • no one is talking about open source vs. closed source cars. Linux vs. Microsoft anyone? As cars become computers, some people believe that they should be built on an open source foundation, because this will be the best way to provide for reliability and safety. 20 years ago, the running joke was that if Microsoft built the operating system for the car of the future, the car would shut down in the middle of the highway randomly, and the dashboard would simply say, “General Car Fault.” Open source concepts will quickly come to the car industry, and could be pretty disruptive. Watch the video below – I was talking about this in 2004!
  • faster obsolescence will be a reality. Cars will take on the innovation curve of the smartphone: you’ll replace them every 24 months or less. In the same way, your car will become a fashion statement: disposable, instant, with the result that cars will a new form of fashion. With that, resale values will collapse — who wants to be seen driving around with an old outdated car, using an outdated iPhone 4?
  • we’ll see a lot of stranded assets throughout the auto sector. For example, what happens to all those lube/tire replacement/auto repair facilities? Smart entrepreneurs will figure out smart things to do with all that infrastructure.
  • it’s all about the penguins. Simply put. Read the post.
  • Amazon might own a big chunk of the future of highways. Not the physical part, but the data part. Right now, they have a few significant patents, including one which involves the allocation of highway lanes. Expect HOV-as-a-service business models!
  • not many people realize that light poles are a big part of the self-driving car future. You average local light pole is changing: it’s become a Wi-Fi hotspot, a car charging station, and a ‘FitBit for a City’ with environmental monitoring capabilities built in. People who understand the evolving role of light poles also understand they can be a big thing in terms of the future of smart, interconnected highways and streets
  • no one is talking about smart highway technology, but there is a lot happening there. The future is not just about how the fact that the cars that drive on highways are gaining intelligence, but the roads they drive on are becoming intelligent too. Highways will be built with embedded sensors, network technology and other gear that will interact with smart cars to provide the best
  • the really smart people in the industry are carefully reading an older book. It’s called Traffic, and it’s all about the science of traffic jams. Figure out how to program your way through the inefficiency of traffic jams, and you’ve got a product or service that people are willing to buy!
  • spatial data bubbles are a thing, and you’ll learn about them. You’ll be immersed in a lot of spatial data bubbles and if you understand that, you’ll understand the future. You don’t know what they are? Learn about them!
  • get ready for zombie cars. I bet you haven’t even thought of that one! 
  • robotic highway cones will be a thing. I’ve been talking about them since 1995, and no one has built them yet. I still believe it will happen, just like perfect microwave popcorn did. Watch both videos.

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Some people really don’t understand what a unique career a futurist like me has. Every once in a while, I pinch myself, and feel so lucky to have a remarkable opportunity to change the lives of so many people!

As so as 2016 draws to a close, it’s  a fun time to have a look back at some of the events I was invited to participate in as an opening or closing keynote speaker. It was a big year — I’ve been on stage now for close to 25 years, and adding it up, I figure I’ve spoken to well over 2 million people, with the 50,000 from this year putting me over that magic number.

Below you’ll find my ‘top-10’ list of some of my favourite memories from the year!

1. PGA Merchandise Show, Orlando

It’s not often you get invited in to open one of the most prestigious events in the world of golf, let along the world of sports. But there I found myself in January, opening this event. I was on stage after Lee Trevino and David Leadbetter, and then Bubba Watson was on stage after me! I spoke about the new opportunities that fast moving technology trends were bringing to the world’s largest working sport. It was a repeat engagement for the PGA – they previously had me in a few years to open their AGM.

2. New York Life, New York

This was my final event of the year, just two days ago, and it was just plain fun! It was an end of year “town hall”, and the organization wanted an upbeat, optimistic view of the future. (Not surprising, given that so much went on during 2016!) . It was sort of a launch event for my newest keynote theme, The Jetsons’ Have Arrived 50 Years Early : What Are YOU Going to Do About It? Based on the vibes in the room, this is going to be a SMASH HIT topic into 2017!

3. QAD Explore, Chicago

A massive manufacturing oriented conference for this major software company operating in this space. There are two views of manufacturing in the US – the political wish, and the reality of what is occurring on the ground. This audience of 4,000 was eager to discover how the industry is busy reinventing and transforming itself for the 21st century, through digitization, robotics, 3D printing, and more. Based on what I heard and saw, that trend is well underway.

4. Philadelphia Manufacturing Summit

Another manufacturing themed event; this one with 500 manufacturing execs from throughout the region. There was a palpable buzz in the room — it was another event that affirmed to me that there is just so much innovation occurring in the industry, it can be staggering.

5. Amsted Rail, St. Louis

This wasn’t a big event, but it really hit me at an emotional level. This was an internal leadership meeting; this organization is a manufacturer in the rail industry. My wife and I had the opportunity for a factory tour before my keynote; with that, and the additional planning calls well in advance of the event, I encountered an organization that seems to be enthused with the idea of reinvention through innovation in the heartland. Eveyrone from the leadership on down seemed to have one overriding belief — if we think we can do it, we can. If there is hope for manufacturing in the US, it’s to be found in this remarkable organization!

6. Volvo/ Mac Trucks, Greensboro, NC

A repeat engagement for this organization — in this case, an internal leadership meeting, whereas the first one was for dealers. Self-driving vehicles, autonomous technologies, intelligent highway infrastructure, prognostic diagnostics — the talk covered the gamut of trends occurring in the automotive space. I’m doing many events around the self-driving car theme and the revolution occurring in transportation, with several gigs already confirmed well into 2017.

7. American Concrete Institute, Philadelphia

I drove my family crazy with the lead-up to this keynote. It would take a lot of hard work. My keynote would require a solid foundation, and my message would take some time to settle. (They told me to stop it with the concrete jokes soon enough.) This was the first time this organization had a keynote speaker to open their conference, and it was obvious that there was some concern about bringing in an outsider to launch the event! That changed fast — feedback had me hitting a huge home run, with subsequent coverage in American Concrete Magazine and elsewhere. In this shot, I’m talking about how quickly the concept of 3D printing with concrete is becoming a reality.

8. Manufacturing in America Summt, Detroit

Wow, manufacturing was hot this year! This one was in the midst of the automotive sector in the US, and I brought my message of acceleration, velocity and Moore’s Law, combined with the self-driving juggernaut of change, to the heart of the industry.

9. Phillips Medical Devices, Pittsburgh

Bio-connected medical devices, the virtualization of healthcare, big data and analytics — two events for this group focused on the massive, transformative opportunities occurring in the industry. I didn’t have a photo from this one, other than this wonderful picture of my wife and I at the innovation awards dinner I hosted for the client the night before my main talk. I am truly blessed that she accompanies me on all of my travels! Road life can be a lonely life, and instead, this has turned it all into a marvellous adventure!

10. PowderMet 2016, Boston

Accelerating science, the rapid emergence of new advanced materials, the reinvention of business models, new chemical compounds. A science heavy keynote for a science heavy audience! One of several events in Boston through the year.

 

There were so many other events through the year that were equally great to participate in, and I’ll continue with another blog post.

2 million people. Lives changed. Opportunities to help to shape the world. I have a fascinating job!

An operation like this doesn’t happen by chance. There’s a loving family in the background — my wife, business and office partner of 25 years, Christa, who accompanies me on all my trips! My two sons, Willie and Thomas, 23 and 21, who’ve grown up with a dad who has the strangest job they’ve ever known. All of whom have continued to show me unconditional love and support through the years — and particularly this year. Ahh, the rigours of the road!

Stay tuned for 2017!

While the popular media and opportunistic politicians portray a picture of a sector in crisis, smart manufacturing executives are furiously busy with innovation, reinventing their capabilities, processes and business models.

And as they do so, they are certainly keeping me busy, as I do an ever increasing number of keynotes in the manufacturing sector.

My talks are helping them to  understand the opportunities for innovation that come from aligning to fast paced trends. The impact of the cloud. Additive manufacturing. Build to demand, as opposed to build to inventory, business models. The role of the Internet of Things in product innovation as well as manufacturing process innovation. Spatial-innovation with advanced manufacturing robotics. New materials and substances that allow for change in product development. Rapid prototyping, sketch to scale, and agility-based business models….

What a time for innovation opportunity, and for insight from a great keynote that really puts all of these trends into perspective…

In just a few weeks, for example, I’ll be the opening keynote speaker for the Greater Philadelphia Manufacturing Summit.

dvirc

Tomorrow, I’m in Minneapolis for Alignex, where I keynote their Solidworks  2017 event:

alignex

And just last Friday, I was the closing keynote for the annual conference of the Association of Hi-Tech Distributors out in Napa, putting into perspective how the Internet of Things provides them massive opportunity.
ahtd

Through the years, I’ve keynoted some of the largest manufacturing conferences in the US, including over 2,000 manufacturing engineers at the Interactive Manufacturing Exchange (IMX) in Las Vegas, as well as a ‘private’ dinner talk for 600 manufacturing CEO’s at the same event. I headlined the BigM Manufacturing Conference in Detroit, with a focus on how the automotive sector is busy transforming itself, as well as the Siemens Manufacturing in America conference just a few months ago.

The list goes on.

Take some time to explore the video and blog posts in the manufacturing section of my Web site. You’ll be amazed to realize that rather than being a sector that is in the midst of decline, it’s a renaissance industry!

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.

Back in June, I was invited to open The BigM, a major manufacturing conference held in Detroit; I followed President Obama’s Treasury Secretary, Penny Pritzker on stage.

There were about 1,000 folks in the room – this is a pretty significant conference that is focused on the renaissance that is North American manufacturing.

This is the 3rd clip from that talk — in which I talk about how world class innovators ‘focus on speed.’ The focus on generating revenue where revenue has not existed before; they reinvent their product lines faster; they plan for shorter product life cycles.

Give it a watch — this is the reality of business velocity today!

s911_complete_moronIt’s summertime, and I’m trying to relax and golf and stuff, but really?

Some guy from Harvard in a BusinessWeek article about Tesla Motors had this to say:

“It’s just too expensive to build your own tool to stamp out individual parts.” Tesla will offset some of those costs by selling electric powertrains to Toyota (TM) and Daimler (DAI:GR). That business is growing, but still small—it accounted for 3 percent of revenue last quarter.

“When it comes to manufacturing, Detroit is much farther down the learning curve,” says Willy Shih, a professor at Harvard Business School. Shih says he’s skeptical of electric cars in general, and of Tesla’s chances of building the infrastructure it needs to support the charging and battery-swap systems, because so many pieces of the Tesla equation rely on immature technology. “As a result, they’re at the expensive end of so much new technology,” Shih says. “It’s a very costly and challenging proposition.”

Ten years out, this dude will be talking about how quickly various bits of immature technology suddenly appeared and became part of everything around him. And the fact that he was shocked that one day, you could buy tools for pennies to stamp out your own parts (3d printing). Electric car skepticism (“we will never land a rocket on the moon.”) Infrastructure. (FedEx’s Fred Smith being told in university that his business model was stupid.”) Immature technology. Right — a Radio Shack TRS-80!

“Wow, I never saw that coming,” say Wall Shih in 2017. “WTF?”

Folks. Google Car. Massive business model disruption. The massive rapid emergence of new technologies. The pace of innovation shifts to Silicon Valley for every industry. Of which auto is but one. There are probably a bunch of links below to let you explore this.

No wonder universities cost so much.

They have to pay money to keep these boneheads around.

Here’s an interview that was done after I keynoted a recent conference of automotive dealers. Key theme? As I wrote in a previous blog post, “quite simply, the pace, control and speed of innovation is shifting from auto companies in Detroit (and elsewhere) to the technology companies of Silicon Valley.

There are a couple of other blog posts that you might find relevant to the thoughts expressed in the video:

We know dramatic change is going to happen; the key question has to do with the speed with which it will occur!

Canadian Auto Dealer News,  January 2013

by Todd Phillips

He says dealers need to ensure their staff is ready to adapt to the change. “A car you sell today might be out of date two years from now,” he says. “How do you keep your salesforce and service force up to date with that speed of change?”

Futurist and retail expert Jim Carroll will take the stage at the CADA Summit on Feb. 13 in Toronto and give dealers a wake up call about how quickly their world is about to change. “The pace of innovation in the automobile or truck that they are selling has shifted from Detroit to Silicon Valley,” says Carroll in an interview with Canadian auto dealer. “That’s a huge and seismic change.”

Carroll is one of the keynote speakers at the one day summit event created by the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association. “Detroit is losing control of its innovation future as it shifts to the technology industry,” he says. “The industry is going to innovate at the speed of Apple, Google and high-tech companies as opposed to the speed of Detroit. There is a massive and sudden acceleration of change that comes with that.”

Shifting customer expectations are driving part of that change as drivers will now expect their vehicles to be as advanced, easy to use and even as “replaceable” as their smartphones and tablet devices that are so central to their lives.

He says dealers need to ensure their staff is ready to adapt to the change. “A car you sell today might be out of date two years from now,” he says. “How do you keep your salesforce and service force up to date with that speed of change?”

“Some people see a trend and see a threat. Real innovative people see the same trend and they see opportunity. That’s what dealers need to ensure they do when they think about this very fast paced future,” says Carroll.

Mobile will also forever change the retail experience and dealers will need to adjust to provide better customer experiences. “I will talk about the changes going on in retail,” says Carroll. “Mobile is the big story.”

He says social media and mobile shopping is having a huge impact on purchasing decisions. “There is a lot of technology that is coming that will link to mobile.” These new technologies will forever change the customer interaction with retailers. “It’s happening very, very quickly,” says Carroll.

Carroll is one of more than 20 speakers and panelists who will be featured at this one day summit aimed at helping Canadian dealers get a glimpse of what lies ahead so they can be better prepared.

After his keynote address, Carroll will join a panel of recognized dealer retail experts for a discussion about these trends. The retail panel is hosted by Canadian auto dealer columnist and industry expert Chuck Seguin. CADA Laureates Christian Chia, Trevor Boquist and Paul Shaw will be on the panel.

Another high profile keynote speaker is Bob Lutz, former vice-chairman of GM, and an auto industry insider who is highly regarded and whose views are much sought after. President Obama’s former Car Czar Steven Rattner is also a featured keynote speaker.

Sessions at the CADA Summit range from updates on economic trends, retail and consumer trends, a panel of manufacturers featuring the Canadian leaders of Ford, VW and Kia, insights from the elite of Canada’s auto dealers — the CADA Laureates, perspectives from media pundits, and more.

Paul Clark, President & CEO, TD Auto Finance will present economic insights as part of the morning session. TD Auto Finance is the exclusive CADA Summit sponsor.

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? 

From my CAMagazine column….

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Can you keep reinventing your business at the speed demanded?

I am not alone in thinking we’re in the midst of a significant economic transformation. As Mick Fleming, president of the American Chamber of Commerce Executives, said recently, “It’s going to be a move from a bad economy to the next economy.”

What is the shape of the next economy? In many cases, it will involve structural change based on an acceleration of business cycles. Consider manufacturing, for example. We’re moving from a world of mass production to mass customization, or what I call agility-based manufacturing. I often cite the case of Honda, as noted in a 2008 article on the financial website Bloomberg: “Honda’s assembly lines can switch models in as little as 10 days.” By contrast, the article suggests, it could take months for most rivals to make the same change.

Companies such as Honda can see what’s selling strongly and quickly reorient their production to fit that demand. In the meantime, its competitors are busy cranking out 700,000 versions of the same old car, hoping to sell it to consumers who have already moved on to something different. It’s no wonder Detroit is being killed off by its long-term reliance on gas-guzzlers.

Everyone now understands that the old Detroit-based manufacturing business model was deeply flawed. The newer model, based on agility and flexibility, is the model of the future. If an organization can rapidly change its production to accommodate what consumers are willing to buy, it has a good chance of future success.

This ability to respond quickly to change is a corner-stone of opportunity. Competitors will emerge, particularly as the new connected generation rejects existing business models and innovative people continue to shake up the fundamentals. Take the business model of Wizzit, a South African cellphone-based banking system, which could cause upheaval throughout the banking sector as mobile technology garners more of our attention.

Furthermore, the nano-cannibalization of markets is becoming a business trend rather than an aberration. For example, Apple broke new ground years ago by tossing out an entire iPod Nano product line worth billions of dollars of revenue, replacing it with a newer, up-to-date product. Imagine even considering that. How could it cannibalize its own product revenue?

I recently spoke at a leadership meeting for a global organization, where the CEO spoke of a future in which the company’s success would come from what he called “chameleon revenue” — the sales derived from entirely new product lines. The chart he presented said it all: the organization’s future consisted of a steady decrease in baseline revenue and accelerating revenue streams from markets it currently does not participate in.

I think this will become the norm for most organizations. The ability to rapidly enter and exit markets will define future success. The ability to sustain multiple, short-term product life cycles, each perhaps no more than 36 to 48 months long, will be a critical success factor. Agility at discovering, producing and capitalizing on new revenue sources will be a fundamental necessity. In other words, your ability to change your spots and your colour on a dime will be the key driver for your potential.

Which begs the question: does your financial system have the capability to provide information on your chameleon revenue streams? Does it provide the insight and analytical tools to tackle product life-cycle revenue so the organization can assess how quickly its chameleon revenue streams are evolving? If it doesn’t, what do you need to do to adapt?

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