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I spent the morning yesterday with the Board of Directors of a multi-billion dollar credit union, taking a good hard look at the trends sweeping the financial services space. They know that disruption is real, and that it is happening now.

And disruption is everywhere: every business, and every industry is  being redefined at blinding speed by technology, globalization, the rapid emergence of new competitors, new forms of collaborative global R&D, and countless other challenges.


The speed with which these changes occur are now being increasingly driven by he arrival of a younger, more entrepreneurial generation; a group that seems determined to change the world to reflect their ideas and concept of opportunity. They’ve grown up networked, wired, and are collaborative in ways that no previous generation seems to be.

And therein lies the challenge.

Most organizations are bound up in traditions, process, certain defined ways of doing things — rules — that have helped them succeed in the past. Over time, they have developed a corporate culture which might have worked at the slower paced world of the past — but now has them on the sick-bed, suffering from an organizational sclerosis that clogs up their ability to try to do anything new.

Those very things which worked for them in the past might be the anchors that could now hold them back as the future rushes at them with ever increasing speed.

They are being challenged in a fundamental way by those who think big, and by some really big, transformative trends.

How to cope with accelerating change?  Think big, start small and scale fast!

I’m doing many keynotes in which I outline the major trends and opportunities that come from “thinking big, starting small, and scaling fast,” by addressing some of the fundamental changes that are underway.

1. Entire industries are going “upside down”

One thing you need to know is this: entire industries are being flipped on their back by some pretty big trends.

Consider the world of health care. Essentially, today, it’s a system in which we fix people after they become sick. You come down with some type of medical condition; your doctor does a diagnosis, and a form of treatment is put in place. That’s overly simplifying things, but essentially that is how it works.

Yet that is going to change in a pretty fundamental way with genomic, or DNA based medicine. It takes us into a world in which we can more easily understand what health conditions are you susceptible or at risk for throughout your life. It moves us from a world in which we fix you after you are sick — to one in which we know what you are likely to become sick with, and come up with a course of action before things go wrong. That’s a pretty BIG and pretty fundamental change. I like to say that the system is going “upside down.”

So it is with the automotive and transport industry. One day, most people drove their own cars. One day in the future, cars will do much of the driving on their own. That’s a pretty change — sort of the reverse, or upside-down, from how it use to be.

Or think about education: at one time, most people went to the place where education is delivered. But with the massive explosion of connectivity and new education delivery methods involving technology, an increasing number of people are in a situation where education is delivered to them. That’s upside down too!

You can go through any industry and see similar signs. That’s a lot of opportunity for big change.

2. Moore’s law – everywhere!

Another big trend that is driving a lot of change comes about as technology takes over the rate of change in the industry.

Going forward, every single industry, from health care to agriculture to insurance and banking, will find out that change will start to come at the speed of Moore’s law — a speed of change that is MUCH faster than they are used too. (Remember, Moore’s law explains that roughly, the processing power of a computer chip doubles every 18 months while its cost cuts in half. It provides for the pretty extreme exponential growth curve we see with a lot of consumer and computer technology today.)

Back to health care. We know that genomic medicine is moving us from a world in which we fix people after they are sick – to one where we know what they will likely become sick with as a result of DNA testing. But now kick in the impact of Moore’s law, as Silicon Valley takes over the pace of development of the genomic sequencing machines. It took $3 billion to sequence the first genome, which by 2009 had dropped to $100,000. It’s said that by mid-summer, the cost had dropped to under $10,000, and by the end of the year, $1,000. In just a few years, you’ll be able to go to a local Source by Circuit City and buy a little $5 genomic sequencer – and one day, such a device will cost just a few pennies.

The collapsing cost and increasing sophistication of these machines portends a revolution in the world of health care. Similar trends are occurring elsewhere – in every single industry, we know one thing: that Moore’s law rules!

3. Loss of the control of the pace of innovation

What happens when Moore’s law appears in every industry? Accelerating change, and massive business model disruption as staid, slow moving organizations struggle to keep up with faster paced technology upstarts.

Consider the world of car insurance — we are witnessing a flood of GPS based driver monitoring technologies that measure your speed, acceleration and whether you are stopping at all the stop signs. Show good driving behaviour, and you’ll get a rebate on your insurance. It’s happening in banking, with the the imminent emergence of the digital wallet and the trend in which your cell phone becomes a credit card.

In both cases, large, stodgy, slow insurance companies and banks that move like molasses will have to struggle to fine tune their ability to innovate and keep up : they’re not used to working at the same fast pace as technology companies.

Not only that, while they work to get their innovation agenda on track, they’ll realize with horror that its really hard to compete with companies like Google, PayPal, Facebook, and Apple — all of whom compete at the speed of light.

It should make for lots of fun!

4.  “Follow the leader” business methodologies

We’re also witnessing the more rapid emergence of new ways of doing business, and it’s leading us to a time in which companies have to instantly be able to copy any move by their competition – or risk falling behind.

For example, think about what is going on in retail, with one major trend defining the future: the Apple checkout process. Given what they’ve done, it seems to be all of a sudden, cash registers seemed to become obsolete. And if you take a look around, you’ll notice a trend in which a lot of other retailers are scrambling to duplicate the process, trying to link themselves to the cool Apple cachet.

That’s the new reality in the world of business — pacesetters today can swiftly and suddenly change the pace and structure of an industry, and other competitors have to scramble to keep up.  Consider this scenario: Amazon announces a same day delivery in some major centres. Google and Walmart almost immediately jump on board. And in just a short time, retailers in every major city are going to have be able to play the same game!

Fast format change, instant business model implementation, rapid fire strategic moves. That’s the new reality for business, and it’s the innovators who will adapt.

5. All interaction — all the time!

If there is one other major trend that is defining the world of retail and shopping, take a look at all the big television screens scattered all over the store! We’re entering the era of constant video bombardment in the retail space. How fast is the trend towards constant interaction evolving? Consider the comments by

Ron Boire, the new Chief Marketing Officer for Sears in the US (and former chief executive of Brookstone Inc.): “My focus will really be on creating more and better theatre in the stores.”

We are going to see a linking of this ‘in-store theatre’ with our mobile devices and our social networking relationships. Our Facebook app for a store brand (or the fact we’ve ‘liked’ the brand) will know we’re in the store, causing a a customized commercial to run, offering us a personalized product promotion with a  hefty discount. This type of scenario will be here faster than you think!

6. Products reinvented

Smart entrepreneurs have long realized something that few others have clued into : the future of products is all about enhancement through intelligence and connectivity. Nail those two aspects, and you suddenly sell an old product at significantly higher new prices.

Consider the NEST Learning Thermostat. It’s design is uber-cutting edge, and was in fact dreamed up by one of the key designers of the iPad. It looks cool, it’s smart, connected, and there’s an App for that! Then there is a Phillips Hue Smart LED Lightbulb, a $69 light bulb that is uber-smart, connected, and can be controlled from your mobile device. Both are sold at the Apple store!

Or take a look at the Whitings Wi-Fi Body Scale. Splash a bit of design onto the concept of a home weigh scale, build it with connectivity, link it to some cool online graphs and you’ve got a device that will take your daily weight, BMI and body-fat-mass tracking into a real motivational tool.  Where is it sold? Why, at the Apple store too!

Do you notice a trend here?

7. Careers reinvented

For those who that the post-2008 North American recovery from the recession was slow, here’s an open secret: there was a significant economic recovery underway for quite some time, as companies in every sector ranging from manufacturing to agriculture worked hard to reinvent themselves. It just didn’t involve a lot of new jobs, because the knowledge required to do a new job in today’s economy is pretty complex. We’ve moved quickly from the economy of menial, brute force jobs to new careers that require a lot of high level skill. The trend has been underway for a long, long time.

Consider the North American manufacturing sector, a true renaissance industry if there ever was one! Smart engineers at a wide variety of manufacturing organizations have transformed process to such a degree, and involved the use of such sophisticated robotic technology, that the economic recovery in this sector involves workers who have to master a lot of new knowledge. One client observed of their manufacturing staff: “The education level of our workforce has increased so much….The machinists in this industry do trigonometry in their heads.”

Similar skills transitions are underway in a wide variety of other industries….

8. The Rise of the Small over Incumbents

We are living in the era that involves the end of incumbency. Companies aren’t assured that they will own the marketplace and industry they operate within because of past success ; they’ll have to continually re-prove themselves through innovation.

Consider Square, the small little device that lets your iPhone become a credit card. What a fascinating little concept that has such big potential for disruption. And it’s a case where once again, small little upstarts are causing turmoil, disruption and competitive challenge in larger industries — and often times, the incumbents are too slow to react.

Anyone who has ever tried to get a Merchant Account from Visa, MasterCard or American Express in order to accept credit cards knows that it is likely trying to pull teeth from a pen – many folks just give up in exasperation. Square, on the other hand, will send you this little device for free (or you can pick one up at the Apple Store.) Link it to your bank account, and you’re in business.

So while credit card companies have been trying to figure out the complexities of the future of their industry, a small little company comes along and just does something magical! No complexities, no challenges, no problems.

* * * *
There are people who are making big bold bets, big bold decisions, who are going to change the world and who are going to do things differently.” That phrase was from my opening keynote for the Accenture International Utilities and Energy Conference in San Francisco some years back.

It’s a good sentiment, and is a good way to think about the idea of ‘thinking big.’

Follow Me!
May 7th, 2017

If you want to follow me, I’ve set up links over in the sidebar on the right.

 

Each business day, you’ll discover a new motivational stage quote posted to Instagram and Flickr. Visit those pages, and you’ll discover over 200 such quotes! Folks seem to be loving the unique insight that comes across as I shape may thoughts with my morning coffee.

In addition, blog posts are automatically linked to my Facebook page and Twitter feed.

I keep pretty busy on Twitter with insight into trends, commentary on news, and other issues.

My sons won’t let me use Snapchat. We’ll see about that!

Give me a follow, and share your insight!

Today’s photo is actually from a keynote for an agricultural organization, but the quote in the picture actually started out having to do with the fast pace of change in the automotive sector. The thought came to mind with my morning photo preparation, because I’m currently preparing for a hands-on, interactive session with a Board of Directors, on the future of self-driving cars and more.

Companies that don’t yet exist will build cars that aren’t yet designed, using materials not yet invented, with manufacturing methods that have not yet been conceived..…”

I could have made this quote back in 2000, in the context of where Tesla Motors is today. I pretty much did when I predicted the emergence of Tesla back in 2003 when I led a leadership team for an event with DaimlerChrylser at Mercedes Benz HQ in Germany.

After I prepare my morning picture, I send it out via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. (You can find all of them on my Instagram feed). This one drew some instant response:

Good point — every industry is subjected to the similar trend of uncertainty.

Since I still had the picture on my laptop and was having my morning coffee, I did a quick revision, to make it more general. “”Companies that don’t yet exist will build products that are not yet conceived, based on ideas that have yet been generated, using materials not yet invented, with manufacturing methods that have not yet been conceived..…”

That too got a fast response, with a number of shares  – but one curmudgeonly fellow decided to take a few shots:

So I tweeted back.  “Geesh you are in a bad mood. Cheer yourself up. The type of thinking is real.” I linked to a quote from Tesla Motors on their unique experience with the Model 3. It somewhat parallels my thinking.

I really should know better.

 

Futures-babble? Sure. Let’s check the assumptions and deconstruct my quote from a historical perspective to put this type of future-babble in perspective:

  • companies that don’t yet exist: Netflix, AirBNB, Uber are the easy ones. We’re seeing a lot of existing ones disappear. The entire history of business involves companies that come into industries, change it, do something new, and upset the balance.
  • products not yet conceived. Really? CD’s, DVD’s, drones, curved skis…. isn’t the whole human experience about conceiving new products?
  • ideas not yet generated. Um, iPads? Didn’t someone invent the concept of a car?
  • materials not yet invented. Velcro, folks. I actually just did a talk for the senior leadership team of Arconic — a new spinoff of the aluminum giant Alcoa. I can tell you that capitalizing on the rapid emergence of new materials based on advanced science is very much on their mind. Should I tell them that maybe it’s just future-babble?
  • manufacturing methodologies not yet conceived. Additive, 3DPrinted manufacturing? Build to demand manufacturing models? Mass customization? Rapid prototyping and SmartThings? Seems we have had a constant stream of new methodologies and capabilities.

I always find it fascinating when curmudgeons jump out and undertake critic-babble.

My quotes stand on their own. I don’t see anything the least bit wrong with them. They will become true, over and over and over again.

Challenge yourself to align to a future that is not yet invented, but in fact, is being invented all around you. Listen to the future-babble. Watch for all the signs and trends that are changing everything – faster. Refuse complacency.

It might make a difference in how you approach things.

In 2017, politics is bound to once again dominate the world of healthcare. When that happens, people tend to lose sight of the remarkable advances, driven by science and innovation that are occurring, that make this one of the most exciting industries out there.

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article that we are out of big ideas. WHAT A LOAD OF CRAP – consider, for example, what is occurring with the science and technology of medicine!

With that in mind, consider the tremendous advances that have occurred with the science and technology of medicine. This is a grab bag of a few of those trends:

  • technology is taking over medicine. BIo-connectivity devices such as remote blood pressure monitoring devices allows for the virtualization of many health care services (“bedless hospitals”) at a much lower cost
  • Google and other companies are working on a contact lens that will monitor blood sugar/glucose for diabetes patients
  • we will soon see ‘smart medical implants’. This will include a contact lens, surgically implanted, that will feature storage, a battery, sensors and other electronics to aid in vision
  • we have ingestible pharmaceuticals, such as from Proteus, that report on how well a particular cancer treatment might be working
  • global grand challenges and funding are set to solve big diseases, such as a $3 billion fund establish by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife
  • we will soon see a computer chip that will diagnose infectious diseases through continue bloodstream monitoring
  • 3D printing technologies now allows us to provide customized hip-replacements and other medical implants, or the printing of prosthetics for amputees — including in war ravaged areas such as Sudan and elsewhere
  • computational, real time analytical healthcare dashboards will allow us to monitor and track the emerging of infectious diseases and other conditions in real time; Google Flu Trends was a harbinger of what is coming
  • smart packaging allows the development of pharmaceutical/drug products that will aid in the use of the product
  • digital mobile technologies are allowing many people to ‘get closer’ to their health, by monitoring, gaining a better understanding and actively managing chronic conditions such as blood pressure and diabetes
  • wearable sensor technologies (such as the contact lens mentioned above) allows for continuous monitoring of medical conditions
  • personalized medicine and pharmacogenetics provides for more targeted drug and medical therapies
  • there is continued momentum towards virtualized healthcare concepts that don’t require visits to a doctors office, for common treatable conditions
  • patient generated data and shared patent edited medical records are providing for more consultative medical relationships
  • ‘frugal innovation’ is leading to such ideas as smartphone-based medical imaging capabilities
  • continued rapid advances in the cost collapse of genomic medicine
  • AI advances leading to an ongoing decrease in the cost of medical diagnosis, including pathology slides, x-rays, retina scans and more
  • continued advances in anti-aging strategies
  • inexpensive medical tests, often referred to as a “lab-in-your-pcoket” devices
  • the ‘exercise is medicine’ trend which recognizes real methods to reverse the staggering cost of lifestyle disease
  • robotic technology advances providing opportunities for those who have lost hands or limbs

But wait, there’s more!

Despite all that, the challenges in healthcare are vast. Aside from the political challenges (which will likely be a gong show), we are faced with a continuing rampup in self-inflicted lifestyle disease (which could cost Western society $150 billion more over 10 years), a shortage of specialized skills, a funding mismatch, expectation gap, anti-science hysteria and more.

But all-in-all, there are a lot of big ideas and bold solutions.

I knew ‘fake news’ was a thing in 2016. Who would expect to see it in the Wall Street Journal?

Does the science of healthcare make a difference? In 2012, I did a keynote for the health care professionals and senior leadership of Mercy Health, and suggested they get aggressively involved in exploring virtual health care ideas. Imagine my surprise when I came access this item today – Mercy Virtual! The initiative was established in 2006, but picked up significant steam from 2013 onwards…. with 300+ patients now being monitored from afar. I sspecifically remember suggesting that as an activity when some questions came up in the Q&A.

It’s nice to know that in my own small way, I am helping to effect big changes in the world of healthcare!

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Over the last month or so, I’ve started to put online a series of inspirational quotes and observations on my Instagram account – you can follow me at futuristjimcarroll.

Sometimes these involve comments and observations around innovation — I saw this one today, for example, about Tesla Motors! It aligns perfectly to my key bit of innovation advice – Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast!

tesla-motors-symbol

In other cases, I’m posting an innovation or trends idea that strikes me — usually  during my morning coffee.

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Through the magic of the If This, Then That web service, they are automatically resent to my Twitter and Facebook feeds.

survivingtheinformationageBack in 1997, my wife and I worked on a book to which this day I am most proud of — Surviving the Information Age.

It’s a book that takes a look at the unique relationship that Baby Boomer have with computers and technology.

Although it’s a bit dated, I still think it’s a great read! That’s because of the unique stories it shares of a generation that was often terrorized — by COBOL, punch cards and computer mainframes.

Christa and I spent *a lot* of time on research for the book, digging out articles from libraries with articles featured in Readers Digest, Time Magazine and other publications from 1960 to 1975. Unique stories on a period of time that no other generation in the history of mankind will every have to go through.

With that in mind, I just brought the book back into print, and it’s available today for the low cost of $15 – shipping included.

If you want a great read, you might consider grabbing a copy. You can order it below.

Here’s the back jacket copy:

Whether it’s HAL the murderous computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey or billing systems demanding payment for $0.00, baby boomers have grown up with a simple message — computers are not to be trusted! We are skeptics, but let’s face it, we know our discomfort with technology is leaving us behind as the world of work and leisure changes. It’s no longer something we can afford to ignore — quite simply, we must adapt to survive the dramatic economic change arising from an increasingly wired planet.

Originally published in 1997, Jim Carroll’s Surviving the Information Age is an engaging, humorous and non-technical account of the challenges that baby- boomers faced in the early days of the computer revolution. With today’s hyper-connected world of Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, it’s all too easy to forget just how strange the early days of the computer revolution happened to be. The book takes a fascinating look back at what happened when technology first began to invade our lives – and the challenges and opportunities that it presented along the way!

Order directly from Jim – shipping included!

Payment processing fully secured using SSL and Stripe.com. We never see your credit card details!

You will be charged $15.00 for the book, shipping is included.

 

Innovation is a mindset. Do you have what it takes?

Are you suffering from what I call ‘aggressive indecision’, unwilling to do the things you need to do to move forward? Set an action plan for innovation!

Here’s a few simple thoughts on how to get out of your innovation rut!

Reward failure, and tone down the “I told-you-so’s”

Too many people think when times are volatile, that it’s not a good time to focus on big ideas. Not true! Consider history: many people stuck their neck out in the 1990’s and tried out new ways of doing business, new technologies, and innovative methods of dealing with markets and customers. Yet many of those efforts collapsed in spectacular fashion due to the dot.com/technology meltdown, and a dangerous sense of complacency set in. Back then, innovators had to hang their head in shame, and the nervous nellies who dared not innovate reigned supreme! Yet those who took risk excelled — they invented Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram…. When times are volatile and fear reigns, that’s the best time to make big bold moves.

Listen up!

We live in a time of unprecedented feedback and communication – and yet few organizations are prepared to listen! Customers are telling you, loudly, what they want. Young people are defining a future that is different from anything we’ve dealt with before. Competitive intelligence capabilities abound. And yet most or- ganizations ignore these signals, or don’t know how to listen – or even where to look. Organizations should reconsider the many effective ways of building effective digital feedback systems, in order that they can stay on top of fast-changing events, rediscover markets, and define opportunity – which will help them understand how and where they need to innovate.

Let your customers in the building

Don’t just listen to your customers – lead them in through the front door! The vir-tual building, that is. Global connectivity now provides an unprecedented opportunity for interactive design and innovation. Customer-oriented innovation should be your guiding phrase — les customers become intimately involved in the overall design and evolution of your products and services.

Encourage frivolous education

Learning is what most adults will do for a living in the 21st century” – that’s a phrase that neatly captures the reality of the fast pace of change that envelopes us. Yet, how can employees innovate if they are restricted to formal education programs? Why not establish some “playtime” where staff can try out a multitude of new technologies, go shopping in a mall, or surf social networks – and then share what they’ve learned? Set them out onto frivolous activities with a goal in mind – to measure customer service, examine competitive activities, take a look at new products, or simply come up with some cool new ideas. Maybe you’ll get some unique insight that doesn’t come from traditional, boring, staid educational programs!

Promote offbeat time

Don’t stop at sending them to the mall – send them to the beach! Don’t restrict innovation into the organizational structure. Some years back, a mobile device company developed rainbow-colored cell phones, popular with young people, after some executives decided to hang out at the beach one day. It’s by promoting “whacky time” that organizations can come up with great ideas.

Destroy organizational sclerosis

It’s been said before, but needs to be said again – hierarchy is the enemy of inno-vation. Everyone knows that the big challenge in many organizations are silos, uncommunicative departments, and a culture that doesn‘t promote openness. To improve the ability of an organization to innovate, communication barriers need to be broken down.Today, there are countless methods to  destroy “organizational sclerosis,” particularly through frivolous employee communications. Establish informal innovation idea channels, and magic will flow!

Get young.

Throughout the next year, take the time to listen to young people — anyone 10 years younger than yourself, or even more. They’re building the future right now, and you’d do well to understand it. Their future is hyper-active, interactive and multi-tasking – this generation gets bored quickly, and they are beginning to dominate your workplace. They are also becoming your new competitors. Don’t expect them to subscribe to the same old beliefs as to structure and rules, working hours, and corporate culture, or business models. You won’t survive in their future if you don’t take the time to understand what they are doing, talking about, and thinking.

I have many speaker bureau business partners –agents around the world who book me into association or corporate events. One of these is Speaking.com, and a fellow named Mike Frick, who has booked me into many events in past years. They recently ran an interview with me around one of my key topics, “What Do World Class Innovators Do That Others Don’t Do?”

How to Become a World Class Innovator

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Jim Carroll is at the forefront of global futurism, helping an array of blue-chip clients to predict the trends and innovations of coming years before they happen. In all of his guises, author, speaker, columnist, commentator and consultant, he is widely recognized as the best in his field. BusinessWeek chose him as one of their four leading sources of insight into innovation and creativity. He has also been featured in the Telegraph (UK), Capital Magazine (Dubai) and The Star (South Africa).

World-class innovators seem to have an uncanny ability to know when a customer has a problem — even before the customer does.

SPEAKING.COM: What do world-class innovators do that others don’t? What sets them apart from everyone else?

CARROLL: I deal with many global Fortune 500 companies, and through the years I’ve come to learn that while some really excel in innovation, others just don’t! And so based on my experiences I’ve developed this list of what it is exactly that world class innovators do differently.

They seem to be constantly focused on the unique opportunities and challenges that exist in their industry. They’re continually reinventing themselves — generating new revenue streams in places where there weren’t any before.

World-class innovators seem to have an uncanny ability to know when a customer has a problem — even before the customer does — and so they are very customer proactive. In fact, they seem to source customer solutions through their customer base by conversing with them in a unique way. They’re really good at ingesting ideas and thinking quickly. They’re very agile; they can switch tactics and strategies faster than their competitors. They know that accessing skills quickly in a fast changing environment is critical to the future.

And perhaps the most important thing is they are not afraid to think big. They realize that we live in the era of Elon Musk — a fellow reinventing both the space and automotive industries at the same time.

SPEAKING.COM: What are some common misunderstandings about innovation?

CARROLL: The first is that most people think that innovation just involves new product development. It’s much more than that! For a long time now, I’ve suggested that people need to think about innovation in terms of three questions:

What can I do to run the business better?
What can I do to grow the business?
What can I do to transform the business?

Many organizations focus on the first two issues, but in an era of complex business model change, it’s the transformation of the business that becomes critical, and doing that well involves highly innovative thinking. That’s where I focus, then, on opening people’s minds.

Silicon Valley is coming to drive the pace of innovation in most industries.

SPEAKING.COM: Are some industries coming to a technological plateau?

CARROLL: Not at all. Actually, what’s happening is that Silicon Valley is coming to drive the pace of innovation in most industries.

Think about what is happening in the corporate sector. The new competitors for credit card companies are companies like Apple, PayPal, Facebook, and Google. Visa, MasterCard, and American Express aren’t used to innovating as fast as these organizations.

That same rate of change is coming to every single industry. For example, it’s certainly happening in the auto sector as your car becomes more of a computer than a car. Take a look at what’s happening with bio connectivity and the change that is occurring in healthcare as tons of new Internet connected medical devices come to the marketplace.

You can give me any industry, and I can point out where we are witnessing absolutely furiously rates of change as technology comes to drive the agenda.

SPEAKING.COM: Will technology slow down?

CARROLL: I would think that the rate of technological innovation and the impact it will have in every industry will actually accelerate — that’s why my tag line is: “the future belongs to those who are fast!”

Why is this so?

It’s because of the much-hyped Internet of Things (IOT), but also because technology companies simply innovate faster. Add those trends together, and you’ve got some pretty potent fuel for some very fast change.

A truck used to be just a truck — a mechanical thing – but it might surprise you to know that the typical truck today puts out about 3 GB of data per month.

SPEAKING.COM: What are your thoughts on the iOT being “a bunch of hype and how long has this topic been on your radar?

CARROLL: iOT is very real — I’ve been talking about the Internet of Things since the early 1990’s, but back then, I called it ‘Hyper-Connectivity.”

There is some real hype around it, but what it really does is change industries, products, and markets in pretty significant ways.

Consider what’s happening with the trucking industry for example. Volvo / Mac Trucks has had me talk to their global truck group. That’s because the very essence of what we consider to be a truck is changing with this type of connectivity.

A truck used to be just a truck — a mechanical thing – but it might surprise you to know that the typical truck today puts out about 3 GB of data per month. Much of that has to do with engine performance; we know from this information when a truck is going to break down. If we can bring it in before things go wrong, we can minimize downtime. That has a big impact in terms of the value of a truck to a fleet manager.

So what Volvo and others in the industry realize is that they aren’t just selling a truck anymore – they can sell a service based on their ability to predict when the truck is going to break down. They can sell ‘service uptime.’ That takes them into a whole new different business model. Talk about opportunity! That’s what the iOT leads us to in every industry, and it’s pretty surreal when you think about the scope of the opportunities that come with it.

So that’s what I cover when I’m on stage.

SPEAKING.COM: What are the opportunities provided by the “Internet of things?”

CARROLL:

New revenue.
New products.
The reinvention of existing products.
The rapid emergence of new marketplaces.
The rapid emergence of new competitors.
Enhancements to existing products.

When every device that is a part of our daily life becomes connected, it fundamentally changes what that device is and how it can be used. It simply changes everything. A car is no longer just a car — it’s an upgradeable software platform!

Back in January, I was thrilled to be invited by the PGA of America to be the opening keynote speaker for the 2016 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando.

Futurists

I will admit I was kind of disappointed Golf Digest didn’t ask me for my thoughts — after all, it sort of seems like I’m becoming the Futurist-in-Residence for the PGA of America. Maybe that might one day come about!

It was the second time they’ve invited me in – I was previously involved in providing an opening keynote for the 2010 Annual General Meeting of the PGA.

In both cases, I’ve done a talk that has focused on opportunities to grow the game of golf, by taking advantage and riding future trends, whether having to do with technology, demographics or economic factors.

There’s a wealth of insight, including video, scattered throughout my blog. And in my unwavering belief that everyone who has a passion for this sport must do everything they can do to help to growth the game, I’ve managed to get my entire 2016 keynote on my site in video form.

To that end, I was thrilled to see that Golf Digest Magazine ran an article on the Futurists who are providing opportunity for the game going forward. (I will admit though, I was kind of disappointed they didn’t ask me for my thoughts — after all, it sort of seems like I’m becoming the Futurist-in-Residence for the PGA of America. Maybe that might one day come about!)

Over on Facebook, there’s a group of passionate golfers who have established a group dedicated to sharing insight on how to Grow the Game. Anyone can join, but an invite and some bona-fides are suggested in order to keep the level of potential sales and other spam low.

When the Golf Digest article came out, some questions were made as to how much of it might come true. Given the number of PGA folks in the group who have seen me on stage, it was suggested I might offer up some thoughts. And so here I am!

David Cole – Virtual Reality

DavidColeDavid is certainly at the forefront of what is likely to be the biggest growth market in the world of technology in the next 5 years. The concept of virtual reality has been with us for quite some time; yet we are now at the tipping point where it is about to become very affordable, quite common, and certainly transformative.

There’s a lot of development occurring in the world of personal interactive sports and virtual reality; just a few weeks ago, we saw the release of the Oculus Rift, the first virtual reality device that provides for really fascinating, real interactive experiences. It will take us to a world of Xbox-like or FlightScope golf in our home that will make today’s experience seem primitive in comparison. Instead of just seeing August on a screen in front of us, we’ll be able to play Augusta, with our real clubs, in a fully interactive, lifelike 3D experience.

Yet David is talking about an even bigger future : that of immersive sports interaction. A few days ago, I was in discussion with a group that is seeking my insight on the future of the sports stadium experience. There is no doubt that fans in a football or baseball stadium — or at the TPC Stadium course — will use a lot more technology to enhance their experience, and become more involved…..

But David is going one step further. Let’s not just enhance the experience for those in the stadium — lets let others enjoy it too, from the comfort of their own home! Why not used advanced VR to let people travel to the Masters? Why not allow us to watch Brooke Henderson putt from just outside the ropes — even if we are a few thousand miles away — as if we were there? (A little shout out for a fellow Canadian there!)

The key will be putting the enabling technology out on the course in such a way that it doesn’t detract from the tournament or bother the players. To that end, I think Augusta has shown how this can be done with the immersive experience they already provide with the Masters!

David Douguet – Improving Lies – and Jihyun Moon – Making Grass Glow

DavidDoguetIn the world of agriculture, the acceleration of science is one of the most significant trends that is leading us to a fascinating new world, and both of the goals that are predicted in the article — turf engineered for particular climates, and grass that glows at night —  will most certainly come true.

It has to to do both with advances in genetic technology, as well as deeper insight into how to re-engineer plant varietals through non-genetic methodologies. And this ability to genetically reprogram seed varietals and combine them with traits from other species — while very science fiction like and probably pretty scary for some — is moving forward at a furious pace.

IMG_0064 copyRight now, DNA or genomic based science is hitting the accelerating speed of change known in the computer industry as “Moore’s Law.” That’s the rule that defines that the processing power of a computer chip  doubles every 18 months or less, and the cost cuts in half. That’s why we have the incredible power of a  supercomputer of just 10 years ago in our iPhones and Android devices of today. The cost of technology keeps decreasing at a furious rate.

The same trends is occurring with genetics. It took $3 billion to sequence the first genome; by 2009, that was down to $100,000, and just $1,000 a few years later. I often joke on stage that one day soon, we’ll be able to go into a local Best Buy and purchase a genomic sequencing machine. It might seem like a joke today, but it’s not.

What this collapse in cost represents s a future in which ideas like that of Jihyun are very, very real. Imagine what this will do for the game if we don’t have to quit at twilight but can continue on? Just a few years ago, the concept of 24 hour gyms seemed kind of off-the-wall – but because of shifts in work patterns and schedules, more people have a need to fit in their exercise routine at 3AM. So why not golf?

Dourest plans to rely on the same acceleration of science. We’re getting really, really precise in the world of agriculture, and turf management and designer-turf will have a huge impact on the game. In the world of farming, it’s already possible to have entirely different irrigation, fertilizer and pest control programs for one farm, and an entirely different set for another farm but a few miles away. I’ve been dealing with seed companies that can engineer a particular type of seed for one region that is totally different from the attributes of a seed engineered for another region.

In this world of micro-climates, we’re developing the ability to micro-engineer our actives for ever small land areas.

Overall, this means that the world golf superintendents will continue to become very, very interesting — and very, very challenging. But overall, it will only provide for opportunities of growth for the game. After all, why should we all have to suffer through the shame of blading the ball through Bermuda when a better, more localized version of turf has been engineered?

Kris Hart – Minding Millennials

I love these initiatives!

KrisHartEveryone knows that there must be tremendous efforts in growing the game through new and different methods of outreach to younger generations. After my keynote at the PGA Merchandise Show, I led a panel that included a number of folks who are making tremendous strides in this regard, including Kris!

CollegeGolfPass seems a like brilliant idea, particularly when you live through the experience of having a high performing golfer in the family who just didn’t quite “make the team.”

My 21 year old son Thomas boasts a 1-handicap, and in first year at university, tried out for the college team. It was fiercely competitive, and it didn’t go so well, such that his opportunity for competitive golf events pretty well disappeared. (I suspect that the sleepless nights that come with frosh week might have impacted his golfing ability that week, though.) Combine that with the idea that committing to the team would have meant playing every day, 7 days a week, with less time focused on his studies, didn’t exactly appeal to him.

Yet he would probably have loved the chance to play in a competitive environment without having to be on an elite squad — precisely what these two organizations seem to be focused on.

It’s good for the young people, and it’s good for golf.

David Williams – Searching for Golf Balls You Won’t Lose

DavidWilliamsGPS based golf balls are probably the holy grail of the marriage of technology and golf. I suspect they might be as common as nails in the next 5-10 years, and that today’s unlinked golf balls will soon be considered as ‘something from the olden days.’

The opportunity here is closely linked to the issue of engaging the Millennial generation as outlined above. My kids are 21 and 23; they’ve never known a world without the Internet, and actually laugh at the idea that their dad wrote 34 books back in the 90’s about how to use it! They’ve never known a world for the last 15 years at least, in which they haven’t had a mobile device or smartphone. GPS? It’s been a huge part of their world — I can’t even remember the last time they used an actual paper map.

And their generation will take to GPS golf balls like a duck takes to water. Not just for the convenience, but for the stats! For the last two years, I’ve been religiously using my GameGolf GPS tracker, which gives me a huge range of data on my game performance. (Or, as I tell some people, “it gives me really good data on just how bad a golfer I am.”) I’ve learned that 39% of my shots within 100 yards are within 15 yards (not bad!), and that . Yet it also tells me that….

The arrival of GPS golf balls with take us further down the world of interactive and personal-stats driven golf, which I think will be a great thing!

There’s also a big pace of play issue here. All of us know that one key complaint about golf is that it takes too long in today’s hyper-busy world. (Though personally, I live for the 4 hour 16 minute round that I get at my home club)

Tommy Morrissey – Ending Handicaps

TommyMorrisseyWhat an inspiring story — and it bodes well for society and for the future of the game. L

et’s give a shout out to Rich O’Brien, who runs *another* popular Facebook group that focuses on helping and encouraging disabled golfers.

I think that any golfer realizes that there can be tremendous payback from helping the disabled – both physically and mentally — discover the joy that can come from the world’s most maddening sport.

Over on Rich’s forum, I told the story of a friend of mine that was hugely inspirational.

LDRC

LDRICI dont’ disagree with the predictions made about the arrival of golfing robots, and the fact that it will engage  the next generation, provide for some unique entertainment opportunities, and generate a lot of news coverage.

I just hope that I don’t have to bring my high-handicap game to bear against one of these devices!

 

 

 

 

Henry Boulton – Measuring Mental Toughness

Which brings us to Henry’s concept — that just as we physically train for the sport of golf, we will place an increasing focus on mental preparation.

HenryBoultonTo a degree, it’s happened already — gone are the days of Henry Varden and others preparing for the tournament the next day with buckets of Scotch the night before; instead, we have a world of PGA Pro’s with an army of sports and game psychologists in tow.

And so if my GameGolf device can provide instant GPS based measure of my round, it’s not a stretch to think that there will be a device that will help me analyze and dig deep into my mental state, both during and after the round.

Paige Spirant

PaigeSpiranacThere was a huge uproar in the world of golf about the role of Paige in the article – and yes, we live in a world in which sex sells.

Despite that, the fact is we live in a celebrity-driven, media-heavy, social-network-immersed world. Paige is one of several who has understood this reality in the world of golf, either by chance/accident or through a deliberate strategy.

Just look at what happened when Bubba unveiled the Bubba-Hoveer — there were hundreds of thousands of views in just a matter of hours.

Like it or not, in our world of hyper-connectivity, we’re likely to see more folks like Paige gain local, national and global attention for their role as ‘influencers’ of the game, even though they might not have the ultra-low handicap of other golf superstars.

Certainly that’s the case with me — I’m a relatively high-handicap, yet have passionate love and enthusiasm for the game. It only seems natural as a global futurist who has advised organizations such as Disney, NASA and others, that I might be gaining more attention for my views in the world’s greatest sport.
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Bottom line: are the trends outlined in the Golf Digest article good or bad for the game?

My perspective?

Purists will argue that technology and fast science will come to ruin a very traditional game. After my opening keynote for the PGA Merchandise Show, one golfing traditionalist took exception to what I spoke about. I’ll dig out a link to that when I can — right now, I’m about to head out for a round of golf in Phoenix before my next keynote!

When I’m taking about future trends and innovation, my message can provide a degree of discomfort, concern, worry, and sometimes outright anger amongst my audience.

Yet the reality is this : we’re all going to be part of the future, and so we might as well make the most of it.

That’s why advice has always been this: “Some people see a trend and see a threat: other people see the same trend and see an opportunity.”

 

I was recently interviewed by the folks at the Speciality Foods Association, for my thoughts on what is happening in their sector.

How a Futurist Deciphers Trends
By Brandon Fox, January 2016

RD2008Food1.jpg

Fads have a shorter lifespan, trends have a shorter lifespan, consumers have a shorter attention span.

Author, speaker, and consultant Jim Carroll offers global trend analysis and strategies for change to companies as varied as Johnson & Johnson, the Walt Disney Corporation, and Yum! Brands. Here, he discusses why trends are more complicated than “what’s hot or what’s not,” the lightning speed of consumer influencers, and why experimentation is necessary to build shopper relationships.

WHAT TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY?

Boy, where do we start? I take a different approach—it’s not “what’s hot or what’s not,” but how are things changing and how quickly can specialty food come to market

People are influenced faster than say, five or 10 years ago—or even a year ago—and a lot of that has to do with social networks, but also with just the way new concepts and new ideas are put in front of them.

I spoke to a group of beverage executives a couple of years ago about what was happening with food and alcohol. I told them to think about “Mad Men.” All of sudden, 1960s retro drinks were all the rage. It happened quickly because people are influenced in new and different ways. It’s not, “what are the new taste sensations?” but “where are those new taste sensations coming from?”

[As for what’s emerging now,] consider how hummus grew as a trend—and then consider what comes next: more quinoa, buckwheat, and rice [products] as people seek similar healthy snack and meal options. And there are fascinating new developments like fruit sushi, chocolate-flavored soda, and even bacon-flavored vodka.”

WHERE DO YOU SEE INFLUENCES COMING FROM SPECIFICALLY?

One example I use all the time is bacon. I traced it back from an article that appeared in the Associated Press newswire in March 2011. The article was called “How Bacon Sizzled and People Got Sweet on Cupcakes.” [The author] followed the trend back to a wine distributor in Southern California who, about six years ago, paired a Syrah with peppered bacon at a tasting. That somehow got out onto the blogs of the time and all of a sudden, boom! Bacon became hot. Everyone talks about Facebook and Twitter all the time, but it’s a new kind of connectivity in terms of how we eat and drink and how we share and talk about it.

DO YOU THINK CELEBRITY CHEFS’ INFLUENCE HAS BEEN STRONG ENOUGH TO DRIVE THIS INDUSTRY?

Huge impact. It used to take a new taste trend from a high-end restaurant five years [to filter down] and now it takes six months or three months or less because there is so much exposure. And another thing is food trucks. People can’t meet the high capital cost of a new restaurant, so they roll out a truck. They’re everywhere. You have people with obvious skills. They can now do what they want and get in front of an audience. And with television shows like the Cooking Channel’s “Eat Street,” it’s a supernova that’s moving faster than ever before.

HOW DO YOU DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN SOMETHING THAT’S GOING TO BE SUSTAINED VERSUS A BLIP ON THE RADAR? YOU’VE TALKED ABOUT BEING NIMBLE, BUT IS THERE A DANGER TO JUMPING TOO QUICKLY?

Too fast or too slow? When the low-fat and low-carb trends came along, by the time [companies] got a product to market, the trend had come and gone. One fascinating experience was when I was doing a talk for Reader’s Digest’s food and entertainment magazines on the same day Lehman Brothers went down and the stock market crashed. The focus of the conference quickly became the economic downturn, comfort food, and the fact that people would focus on more grocery shopping and less time in restaurants. That was the day that Campbell’s Soup was the only stock that went up in value. The buzz around the room was that we, as a food industry, are not very fast or agile to respond to these fast-paced trends.

THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN IN 2008—HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THINGS CHANGE SINCE THEN?

I still worry. How far has the industry come along? Well, a little bit. To a large degree, many consumer food companies still have not made much progress. Fads have a shorter lifespan, trends have a shorter lifespan, consumers have a shorter attention span. While you might have had longevity of three to six to 12 months with a particular type of food, is that collapsing now? We’re no longer in a world in which we can sit back and have a one-year planning cycle.

YOU TALK A LOT ABOUT MOBILE TECHNOLOGY. EVERYONE SEEMS TO BE DOING EVERYTHING WITH THEIR PHONES, BUT HOW CAN A COMPANY REALLY LEVERAGE MOBILE?

Think big, start small, scale fast. If you think big and look five years out—you’re, say, an olive oil company—the bottle is going to be intelligent. It’s probably going to have a chip built into it. You’ll 
probably have some type of relationship, either direct or indirect, with the consumer. That’s a given.

HOW WILL A CHIP ON A LABEL OR BOTTLE HELP THE 
COMPANY GET TO KNOW THE CONSUMER?

The consumer might have liked the company on Facebook—maybe there was a very effective ad on Facebook and they have agreed to share their information. That establishes the relationship. When [the consumer] walks into the store, their mobile device has that 
relationship embedded in it and the product with the active 
packaging chip in it recognizes that they’re near and starts running a commercial on an LED screen while they’re walking into the store. It might say something such as, “You’ve liked this before, so here’s a coupon that we’ll zip to your mobile device.”

That kind of freaks me out.

I’m 56 and that kind of freaks me out, too. My son—he’s 20—is in a different world. He views contractual relationships in a very 
different way. Five years, 10 years from now, he’s going to have more of a budget for spending, and will he accept that idea of zipping a coupon to him? I think he will.

There’s a stat I dragged out years ago—the average consumer scans 12 feet of shelf space per second. Think about that. You have very little time to grab their attention, so you’ve got to experiment quickly with new ways of putting [your product] in front of them.

Brandon Fox is the food and drink editor of Style Weekly in Richmond, Virginia. Her work has also appeared in The Local Palate and the Washington Post.

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