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Another one of my articles for GE Reports has been published.


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The Future Belongs to Those Who are Fast features the best of the insight from Jim Carroll’s blog, in which he covers issues related to creativity, innovation and future trends.

In this era of hyperconnectivity, transformation is happening faster and impacting every industry. To thrive in this environment, you need to understand these five things.

Someday, we will look back and realize that we live in one of the most fascinating periods in history, with technology having entered a new era of what I call “hyperconnectivity” — where the rate of change is accelerating in nearly every industry.

What are the trends that are driving this faster future, and how are smart businesses adapting to not only survive — but thrive — in a faster world? Here are 5 things to know about the accelerating future and to stay ahead.

1. Speed — Today’s is the slowest day of technology change for the rest of your life

Bill Gates once observed that most people tend to overestimate the rate of change in a two-year basis, but underestimate the rate in a 10-year basis.

Take 3D printing. Just a few years ago, I would speak about 3D printing as if it was science fiction — far away and entirely theoretical. Now it’s becoming a part of day-to-day operations for many businesses.

Consider, for example, what is happening with dental medical implants, where the idea of printing dental bridges or other implants is becoming ever more real. Now, people are talking about 3D printing surgical knee replacements.

2. Hyperconnectivity — and endless possibilities

Every industry is set to be transformed as an era of hyperconnectivity — powered by the Internet of Things (IoT) — becomes the new norm. The result: a reinvention of manufacturing, logistics, retail, healthcare and other industries because of consumers that are empowered, connected and enabled with a new form of lifestyle management that we’ve never witnessed before. The capability of achieving deep analytical insights into emerging trends in industries also presents an opportunity for massive business model disruption.

By the year 2020, there will be more than 50 billion devices connected to the Internet — roughly six devices per person. The IoT is happening everywhere and unfolding at a blistering pace. We’re in the era of connected thermostats that link to an intelligent energy grid; a connected trucking fleet that is self-diagnostic, predictive and built for zero down-time; and scales that record our body mass index, transmit it to a password-protected website and create custom charts on our health.

Imagine a world in which that 3D-printed knee replacement reports that it is malfunctioning by sending a message to your iPhone. Seem far fetched? Hyperconnectivity is a staggering trend, which means the possibilities are endless for growth and innovation.

3. Momentum and the potential for big wins

Add these trends of acceleration and hyperconnectivity together, and you’ve got the opportunity for major industry transformation.

Consider the lighting industry, which is in the era of revolutionary new opportunities for significant efficiency and cost savings through deep analytical insight into usage patterns. In addition, since we can now build energy systems in which each individual light bulb is accessible via the Internet, very sophisticated energy management solutions are emerging.

LED usage is accelerating, with the global market expected to grow from $7 billion in 2010 to $40 billion in 2016, according to industry reports. At the same time, the ability to control those intelligent light bulbs is changing is enabling a reimagination of lighting. People can easily set up a smart home where they control their lighting and other energy systems via an iPad. They can become energy-conscious consumers, responsible for their own personal energy infrastructure management. If we empower millions of people, some fascinating opportunities for energy usage reduction result.

There is so much momentum behind these changes because the potential for big wins are huge.

4. The connected generation

Meanwhile, the next generation of youth are starting to embrace every opportunity for hyperconnectivity and acceleration — whether in their homes or businesses.

Today’s younger generation — those under age 25 — have never known a world without a mobile device that puts incredible amounts of information at their fingertips. They are globally wired, entrepreneurial, collaborative — and they thrive on change. As a result, this generation is starting to drive rapid business model change and industry transformation as they move into executive positions.

About two-thirds of today’s children today will work in a career that has doesn’t yet exist, according to author Cathy Davidson, Think about titles like “water usage audit analysts,” “energy usage audit architects” and “location intelligence professionals.”

We are at the forefront of a remarkable time in history, as the next generation uses connectivity to advance some of the biggest energy successes.

5. The future belongs to those who are fast

So how should you deal with fast-paced technological change? As new technology and connected infrastructure emerge, keep in mind a phrase I often use when I’m on stage: “Think Big, Start Small and Scale Fast.” Take on a small-scale, experimental project in you municipality, industrial location or retail store. Test out a new technology with a target group of customers.

By starting small and learning to scale fast, you can adopt an innovation mantra and build a business plan that leads to success.

 

GE Lighting

Jim Carroll speaking at a GE Lighting event in New York City: “When it comes to lighting, we’re in the era of revolutionary new opportunities. The potential for significant efficiency and cost savings through deep analytical insight into usage patterns, and detailed, specific-spot addressability and management is real.”

Back in May, I participated in a key customer event for GE Lighting in New York City. Here’s a quick little article summary, and video, which captured my thoughts on the future of intelligent lighting and connected infrasucture.

5 Things to Know About the Connected Future
By Jim Carroll

When it comes to acceleration, we live in one of the most fascinating periods in history where the rate of technology change is absolutely staggering.

So what trends are driving this acceleration, and how are smart businesses adapting to not only survive but thrive in an ever-connected world? Read on to learn 5 things to know about the connected future—and how you can stay ahead.

Acceleration: Today’s is the slowest day of technology change for the rest of your life.

Bill Gates once observed that most people tend to overestimate the rate of change that’s going to occur in a two-year basis, but underestimate the rate of change that will occur in a 10-year basis. A few years ago I used to speak about 3D printing as if it were science fiction. Now it’s part of many businesses day-to-day operations.

In the not-so-distant future, we will likely have connectivity in cars that researches 3-bedroom, 2-bath homes for sale in your neighborhood, and then drives you directly to each house for a tour. We already have augmented reality displays built into ski visors and goggles that tell you, in real-time, how fast and far you’ve skied -this same technology will be integrated into automobiles in the not-too-distant future.

It’s important to be ready for this acceleration. Your opportunity in dealing with this is continuing to ingest new ideas, new technologies and new methodologies to solve problems.

Hyper-Connectivity….and endless possibilities.

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

Every device that is part of our daily life is becoming plugged into the Internet. We are becoming aware of its location and its status. And while this has been a trend for awhile, it is today’s businesses that are primed to turn this momentum into big wins.

By the year 2020, there will be more than 50 billion devices connected to the Internet. That’s roughly six devices per person.

The Internet of Things is happening everywhere, it is real, and it is unfolding at a blistering pace. We’re in the era of connected thermostats that link to an intelligent energy grid; autonomous vehicle technology that is self-aware and networked into sophisticated, intelligent highway flow control systems; a connected trucking fleet that is self-diagnostic, predictive and built for zero down-time.

We have scales that record our body mass index, transmit it to a password-protected website and create custom charts on our health. We have ceiling fans that will slow down when owners go to sleep. We have barbeques that send us text messages when the meat needs to be flipped.

These are staggering trends, and what is means is the possibilities are endless for growth and innovation.

Momentum & the potential for big wins.

When it comes to lighting, we’re in the era of revolutionary new opportunities. The potential for significant efficiency and cost savings through deep analytical insight into usage patterns, and detailed, specific-spot addressability and management is real.

New LED technologies change our very concept of lighting and individual addressability at the level of the light bulb leads us to an era that is unlike anything we’ve ever known. Consider these statistics:

Right now, lighting accounts for 12-15% of annual global power consumption, creating 1.7 billion tons of CO2 emissions per year.
According to the International Energy Agency, improving lighting efficiency by 20% can reduce total power consumption by 3.8% and cut total CO2 emissions by 0.8 percent.
According to industry reports, the global LED lighting marketing is expected to grow from $7 billion in 2010 to $40 billion in 2016.

There is so much momentum behind these changes because the potential for big wins are huge.

The next generation

Today’s younger generation—those under age 25—have never known a world without a mobile device that lets them access incredible amounts of information at their fingertips. They are globally wired, entrepreneurial, collaborative…and they thrive on change.

Gone are the days of MS Dos copy and computer courses like Cobalt. This generational trend is crucial to businesses that need to communicate with customers and employees that are used to receiving information in vastly different ways. Additionally, this generation is starting to drive rapid business model change and industry transformation as they move into executive positions.

According to author Cathy Davidson, 65% of children today will work in a career that has doesn’t yet exist. Think about titles like “water usage audit analysts,” energy usage audit architects,” and “location intelligence professionals.” We are at the forefront of a remarkable time in history as the next generation uses connectivity to advance some of the biggest energy successes.

The Future Belongs to Those Who Are Fast

As new technology, intelligent lighting and infrastructure emerge, the key phrase businesses need to remember is to Think Big, Start Small and Scale Fast. Take on a small-scale, experimental project in you municipality, industrial location or retail store. Test out a new technology with a target group of customers.

By starting small and learning to scale fast, you can adopt an innovation mantra and build a business plan that leads to success.

Some months back, the folks at DeVry University interviewed me as part of a series of articles they were doing to focus on the new careers of tomorrow.

The future of long-distance trucking might look more like these “road trains,” as Carroll calls them. These are autonomous vehicles that can navigate long distances without direct operation, with a team of skilled technicians operating them from afar

The future of long-distance trucking might look more like these “road trains,” as Carroll calls them. These are autonomous vehicles that can navigate long distances without direct operation, with a team of skilled technicians operating them from afar

Their article arrived online today; you can read the original article here, or below.

Fueling America’s Future: New Energy Solutions, New Careers

As U.S. energy independence looms on the horizon, Americans need to start rethinking and transitioning our own energy usage.

Big changes are afoot for U.S. energy. And when energy changes, we all change with it.

American manufacturing, transportation, and technological infrastructures are all deeply affected by, and entangled with, how smartly we produce and consume energy.

According to the International Energy Association, we’re entering an energy renaissance: Its 2012 World Energy Report concludes that the United States will become self-sustaining, in terms of net energy produced, by 2035.[1] Part of that will mean an emergence of new career opportunities for people in the energy sector.

When we try to imagine what U.S. energy may look like in 2035, Jim Carroll, a futurist and energy expert, points to a few clues from very real energy trends emerging right now, changes which include new ways of transporting goods around the country, and new ways in which we think about energy infrastructure and workforces.

Whether we’re talking about renewable or natural energy, efficiency of use is approaching faster because of the acceleration of science, says Carroll, whose many books on innovation include “The Future Belongs to Those Who Are Fast.”

“Scientific knowledge happens and emerges faster than ever before because all of these scientists are plugged together,” he says. “Which means the new scientific discoveries in all these fields are faster, which again leads to higher levels of production in renewables, natural gas and oils.”

On the Road

The American long haul trucking industry has been dependent on traditional and diesel gasoline for decades. But not for much longer, according to Carroll.

“Energy companies are working to retrofit long-distance trucks for natural gas,” Carroll says. But that might be just an interim step toward a brand new paradigm for this industry. Carroll says that technologists are already asking questions like: “How do we use robotics, radar and GPS to link together seven or 10 trucks in a unit that can self drive down the road in a way that is energy efficient?”

The future of long-distance trucking might look more like these “road trains,” as Carroll calls them. These are autonomous vehicles that can navigate long distances without direct operation, with a team of skilled technicians operating them from afar.

A change like this requires us to think about reskilling the American workforce. Truck-driving jobs could potentially disappear, but the need for skilled technicians is growing considerably.

These emerging jobs will be in the management of what Jim Carroll calls “highly sophisticated highway control infrastructure systems,” which will arise from the need to redesign highways for smarter fueled vehicles with better efficiency.

And with smarter infrastructure for highways, there will be greater opportunities for innovating how personal cars are fueled. Many analysts have decried that the electric car is dead, but perhaps it just needs to be rethought. According to Carroll, the renewable battery model, which could take up to eight hours to charge, is outdated.

“Instead, let’s build a battery station that you drive your car into,” Carroll says. “A hydraulic arm reaches in and opens the underneath of your car, takes your battery and places in a brand new fresh one. Thirty seconds and you’re completely refueled and ready to go.”

Reshaping American Infrastructure

The same development is already occurring in many American industries: Think about how manufacturing jobs have shifted from assembly lines to technologically advanced robotics. Or how advanced oil drilling methodologies—hydraulic fracturing or horizontal drilling—have increased domestic oil production due to the efficiency of the processes. These process shifts require rethinking whole infrastructures, and with that, a need for a workforce with new skills.

These are major shifts, but small changes in energy consumption can also showcase how Americans are rethinking their energy consumption. Carroll mentions the Nest Learning Thermostat—a smart thermostat that adjusts the temperature in your house depending on whether you’re home, the time of day, and the outside weather.

A smart thermostat would just be part of the future of smart and energy-efficient homes, where frozen smoke—an expensive but very efficient form of matter—could be used in home insulation. Or, in a concept by the New York architects Cook + Fox, the walls of the home may be biomorphic—practically lizard-like—and able to better absorb sunlight and retain energy depending on the weather.

But, again, the future of energy depends as much on such refinements as bigger innovations that are already being conceived. Some analysts predict that homes will be equipped with hydrogen fuel cells that will create low-emission electricity via a chemical process that combines hydrogen and oxygen.

While there are many different views on when the United States may achieve energy independence, the prevailing opinion is that it will happen—and soon. But independence depends not only from producing more and consuming less energy: The next round of American energy innovation is also linked to scientific and technological advances as well as perhaps the most important feature—a highly skilled workforce.

“There are people who are making big bold bets, big bold decisions, we are going to change the world and we are going to do things differently.” From my opening keynote for the 2012 Accenture International Utilities and Energy Conference last week in San Francisco.

Where do you stand? In a company that is focused on small, incremental nothingness, or one that is set out to change the world?

Trend: The Future of Energy
April 11th, 2012

I’ve recently been the opening keynote speaker for two major energy events, with talks that focused on the future trends that will impact the energy industry, primarily from the perspective of energy utilities.

The first was for Accenture’s International Utilities and Energy Conference held in San Francisco, with a global audience from over 35 countries. My keynote was translated in real time into Russian and Chinese — that’s how diverse the audience was.

The second was for Enercom 2012, Canada’s leading energy conference held in Toronto, which featured a similar senior level audience from across Canada.

Both keynotes took a look at some of the key trends which will provide accelerating opportunity to provide for a more efficient energy grid, more rapid adoption of alternative energy sources, and respond to changing energy consumer profiles, among other trends.

One of my key messages? Opportunities for innovation are increasing because of a rapid acceleration in the velocity of knowledge.

So what are some of the issues I focused upon? I framed both talks in terms of the insight I’ve developed into “what world class innovators do that others don’t do.” Here are just a few of my key points:

1. World class innovators keep the goal in sight despite pushback

To a degree, it’s a bit tough to keep an innovative spirit in the utility industry today, as a number of trends seem to work against the need for continuous new thinking:

  • in many areas of the world, there is a massive pushback on solar / wind / alternative energy sources by the public, for a variety of reasons (which some might conclude is driven by an overstimulated by “Internet-fact” driven NIMBYism)
  • political turmoil over the incentive structure around alternative energy projects
  • well publicized major failures around the same (call it The Solyndra Effect)
  • growing public and government skepticism over the pace of change

Consider the latter point. In some areas of the US, there is significant pushback against the implementation of smart meter technology — 47 cities and counties have adopted resolutions opposing smart meters for various reasons. At the other extreme, there are some areas where people are impatient with the pace of adoption of alternative technologies. In Boulder Colorado,  there is a citizen inspired initiative to take over local power generation because of a belief that Xcel Energy is not moving fast enough with green and smart energy tech!

How can you win in an environment in which there are such dramatically different views? Keep focused on the goal! The International Energy Authority suggests that energy demand will grow worldwide by 35% between 2010 and 2035; in the US, by 22% alone. Globally, Shell suggests energy demand will grow 60% in developed countries by 2040.

Clearly there has to be a continued effort to focus on the need to continue to develop and implement alternative energy sources. There is a need for continual, relentless innovation!

 2. World class innovators aren’t afraid of thinking boldly

We live in a period of time that involves massive, sweeping transformations, and thinking longer term is always critical. I pointed out that Exxon Mobil believes that one out of every two cars will be either hybrids or some other alternative-fuel vehicle by 2040 – up from just 1% today. Clearly there is going to be a lot of innovation with the energy grid and everything that helps to generate power around in order to keep up with such a massive shift.

Big ideas lead to big opportunities – I spoke about the Gemasolar plant outside Villanueva del Ray in southern Spain — the world’s first  24 hour solar power plant. It involves a unique molton-salt heat storage system that solves one of the key problems with alternative energy : how to storage generated power so that it can be used at off peak periods. The slide from my deck tells it all: this was a big, bold project.

3. World class innovators ride rapidly accelerating science

That’s what the video clip above was from. In Canada, the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of Waterlook recently brought together a group of experts touching on every aspect of the energy industry. They issued the The Equinox Blueprint, with one of the key points being that we are going to see “.….extremely rapid advances in battery storage, enhanced geothermal, advanced nuclear, off-grid power and smart urbanization….

The MIT project I refer to in the video clip above? It involves “…organic photovoltaics … solar cells which are sprayed or painted onto surfaces.”

Cool stuff!

4. World class innovators ride generational acceleration

There are huge opportunities to drive efficiency in the global energy grid by shifting demand — the oft-cited example being if consumers use their dishwashers during off-peak hours when demand is lower and generation costs are reduced, we have a smarter system.

The challenge is that efforts to encourage this type of activity through smart meters has not met with great acceptance. But I pointed out that is simply a transitional issue, as the current generation of iPhone-weaned Gen-Connect individuals comes to buy their own homes — and bring their different technology-based lifestyle to the energy grid.

I pointed out that we are quickly going to witness four key trends come together:

  • energy costs continue to increase, continuing to drive the need for consumers to change their energy usage behaviour
  • system connectivity accelerates in the global energy grid, particularly with the consumerization of energy technology, as witnessed by the Nest LearningThermostat
  • the current “App generation” buys houses and installs such devices
  • and the incentive structure around power consumption matures with this generation

Think about it: this is the XBOX generation! They’ve grown up in a world of instant rewards for activity. In Call of Duty, you get a series of continual rewards based on actions. The same type of thing will happen with power consumption — if you use the technology that surrounds your personal energy infrastructure, you’ll get a cost reduction.

This generation will take advantage of Nest thermostats to a huge degree. They’re daily activities with simple activties such as dishwashers and dryers is changing :

  • Imagine your washing machine sending you a text when it’s time to move your clothes to the dryer…” Connect Home Appliances, PC Magazine

Smart appliances are emerging faster than ever before as Moore’s law comes to the industry:

  • Whirlpool recently announced it will be producing 1 million smart-grid compatible clothes dryers by the of 2011” Total home control. Residential Design & Build

These are appliances which are linked to the intelligence in the smart-grid, and which will automatically schedule themselves to run when rates are lowest, according to a defined set of consumer preferences.

In other words, consumer behaviour and interaction with the rapid emergence of smart grid technology is going to accelerate faster opportunities for efficiency in the grid.

The key message for global energy utilities? The future belongs to those who are fast!

From my November CAMagazine column …

I owe my optimism to Google
by Jim Carroll, CAMagazine, November 2011

I am a heavy user of the Google Alerts system; it constantly scans the web for articles about future trends, innovations and many other topics that are central to my business and beliefs.

It’s a perfect tool for keeping up to date on what is going on in the world, since it can focus on topics that are important to you.

It can also be the antidote to the sense of gloom that can develop if you rely on the 24-hour news cycle of radio and television. Stories of ongoing stock-market volatility, political gridlock in the US and a never-ending European debt crisis imply there isn’t much left to enjoy in the future — that it’s all downhill from here.

That’s why when Google Alerts pulls up a little nugget such as The Washington Post articleTech company to build science ghost town in NM; backer says project will be economic boost” (Sept. 6, 2011), you get some reassurance that everything is going to be A-OK.

Apparently, the plan is for a Washington-based company to build New Mexico’s “newest ghost town to test everything from renewable energy innovations to intelligent traffic systems, next-generation wireless networks and smart-grid cyber security systems.” This could be the perfect laboratory-type environment to help shape our world through the next several decades. For years, I’ve been suggesting that we are entering a world where everything around us is linking together and that this is going to lead to fascinating new developments.

Put this New Mexico town in perspective in relation to an article that appeared in the Globe and Mail a couple of weeks earlier (“Google gets behind the wheel,” Aug. 25, 2011). The piece outlined how Google was actively testing a series of vehicles in the San Francisco Bay area that would auto-pilot themselves through city streets, using Google Maps and a series of internal and external sensors on the car.

Fast-forward a decade or two — or maybe less — and you can see a world in which we’ve solved some of our energy, infrastructure, transit and city-crowding problems through some extremely intelligent infrastructure.

Science fiction? I don’t think so.

Everyone has an option as to how he or she wants to prepare him- or herself for the future: as a pessimist, convinced the frequent twists and turns in the global economy indicate economic gloom is our future, or as an optimist, who knows there are a tremendous number of innovative people dedicated to discovering the next big thing, and working to solve some of the major problems our global society faces.

This ghost town in New Mexico could turn into one of the most important innovation engines of our time. I have no doubt that at some point we will have highways and city streets full of cars that effortlessly guide themselves along. We’ll have extremely smart buildings that will regularly interact with the presence and activities of their inhabitants to manage their energy usage, helping to reduce our use of energy worldwide. We’ll see the emergence of fascinating, hyperconnected healthcare technologies that will allow an increasing number of baby boomers to live out their senior years in the comfort and safety of a connected community rather than traditional seniors homes.

The future is out there — and it’s yours if you choose to watch it and track it.

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