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Back in 2006, I keynoted the Society of Cable Telecom Engineers at their annual conference in Tampa. At the time, YouTube was only just beginning to have an impact, and social networking was still in a nascent stage. It was January — Twitter wasn’t even around!

My job was to alert them that forthcoming trends would mean that they would be  faced with the need to accelerate the bandwidth on their networks. I spoke to the trends I predicted in my book of 1999, Light Bulbs to Yottabits, which took a look at the forthcoming world of online video.


My job, as opening keynote, was to get them in the right, innovative frame of mind to deal with an upcoming tsunami of change.

I ended up writing an article for Broadband Magazine, on my keynote theme, Are We Thinking “Fast” Enough? I recently dug the article out the other day with respect to another upcoming talk within the industry.

It still makes for good reading today, starting with the observation that “in this era in which new developments and technology are coming to the market faster than ever before, everyone must become an innovator, whether it be with new business models, skills partnerships or customer solutions.”

Some of the key points I raised are even more critical today:

  • Innovation has moved from the corporate to the collective, a trend that is causing absolutely furious rates of discovery.
  • This rate of scientific advance is such that a world of yottabits and zetabits is going to arrive faster than you might think,
  • Things are happening so fast that some industries are beginning
    to witness the end of the concept of the product life-cycle
  • Rapid innovation and technology development means that new competitors can now come into a marketplace and cause fundamental, significant and long lasting change at the drop of a hat
  • Rapidly evolving technology is resulting in an increasing shortage of critical skills

Run through that list, and ask yourself if that is your industry situation today.

Read the full article below.

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I was interviewed recently by Independent Banker magazine for my thoughts on trends impacting the world of banking. I do a lot of keynotes in this area — with clients such as VISA, the National Australia Bank, the Texas Credit Union League, American Express, CapitolOne, the American Community Bankers Association, Wells Fargo and many, many more.

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To Carroll, anyone is capable of innovating an aspect of the community banking industry. However, he believes to do so, three essential questions must be asked. What can I do to run the business better? Grow the business? And most important, transform the business?

The full article is available at their Web site: 

 


Instill an innovative mindset to push your bank into the future
By Sam Schaust

Innovation is not a word solely owned by today’s tech giants in Silicon Valley. Or so thinks Jim Carroll, a futurist from Toronto who has given dozens of keynote speeches on the power of innovation to companies such as Walt Disney, Wells Fargo and NASA.

A lot of eyes gloss over the word ‘innovation,’ and people think the word only applies to someone like Steve Jobs who designed cool stuff that changed the world,” Carroll says. “They might think, ‘I’m a banker. What can I do?’”

To Carroll, anyone is capable of innovating an aspect of the community banking industry. However, he believes to do so, three essential questions must be asked , the first of which is: What can be done to run the business better?

There are plenty of opportunities to implement more information technology to reduce costs, streamline processes and become more efficient,” he says.

Which begs the second question: What can be done to grow the business?

Concepts regarding “how to use mobile to capture the millennial generation” and “how to utilize leading-edge transaction technology or new products to attract untapped customers,” Carroll notes, are typical subsections of this question. “Essentially, it all comes down to how you think differently to attract new sources of revenue,” he says.

Finally comes the question: What can be done to transform the business? “Transformation of the business is all about preparing for the fact that, for example, with credit-card payments, now Apple and PayPal are competitors,” Carroll says. “With an increasing number of organizations getting into the banking space, you may need to change the essence of what you do and how you do it to keep up with reality.”

Staying current with today’s banking industry—along with innovating for the future—could require an internal shake-up. As Carroll suggests, “By hiring somebody who thinks just like you, you aren’t going to get any creative, innovative ideas. Instead, if you hire somebody you don’t like or who is dramatically different from you, then you’ll get those different opinions.

Groundbreaking ideas often can come from outside of your field of business, Carroll believes, adding that adopting “an outsider mentality” could prove to be a valuable asset.

“With an increasing number of organizations getting into the banking space, you may need to change the essence of what you do and how you do it to keep up with reality.”
—Jim Carroll, Futurist

Thinking opportunistically

To bring about a new revenue opportunity, Carroll sees an advantage in embracing methods that break from the traditional structure. “Part of what I talk about is speed of opportunity,” he says. “What’s happening out there is new opportunities are emerging faster and you’ve got to have a culture and capability to grab onto that very quickly.”

Growing through experience

Carroll believes that an innovative attitude at a community bank needs to be set from the top. “It’s got to start at the board,” he says. “Although, that’s the toughest thing and it simply doesn’t come overnight.”

By adopting a forward-thinking mindset, mistakes are sure to be made, Carroll adds. “Be an organization that doesn’t just celebrate wins, but failures, too,” he says. “In today’s world, organizations will get ahead through the depth of their financial capital. That’s important, but there’s also our experiential capital—the experience we gain from trying something new.

By hiring somebody who thinks just like you, you aren’t going to get any creative, innovative ideas.” — Jim Carroll, Futurist

Innovation typically comes from a general interest for what’s occurring beyond one’s industry, Carroll notes. By simply embracing the what’s new or unusual, “we build up our experience,” he says. “And the more experiential capital we have, the better positioned we are to make big, bold leaps in the future.

 

I spend my time providing guidance on future trends & innovation to some of the most fascinating companies and organizations in the world, such as Disney, NASA, BASF and IBM.

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Often these are in the form of offsite senior executive leadership meetings …. where a team gets together to examine the deep, substantive changes that must be made in order to move forward. I lend my insight in terms of highly customized talks that focus on future trends affecting the industry in the room, and deep insight into innovation ideas and methodologies that move us forward.

It’s a proven model that has a track record of 20+ years — and I can see many organizations where I’ve made a meaningful impact….

Over those 20 years, I’ve noticed that at times, companies tend to go into an innovation funk. They defer decisions; they lose their focus on the future; they drop their innovation spark. It usually happens during economic downturns and recessions. Fair enough – they’ve got other things to worry about!

But today, we aren’t in a recession. The global economy, although uncertain, is doing ok. And yet this seems to be one of those times. I’m seeing the resurrection of aggressive indecision  (That’s a phrase that I coined years ago ; see below for articles and video on the topic…) — yet this it seems to be driven by a culture of inaction at the top! The CEO has, it appears, gone into a state of inaction!

Example: I’ve had a number of situations where I’ve had extensive exploratory calls with clients about coming in for such a session. They’ve expressed to me that they need to deal with business model disruption; the impact of technology on their industry; the rapid emergence of new competitors; or other countless challenging issues.

And then it has gone to the CEO for approval, and word comes down — “it’s not the right time to do this.”

Really?

Why is this happening? I think that it relates to the current uncertainty with the upcoming US election – and the uncertainty that has brought to many an organization.

Which makes me wonder — if now is not the right time to focus on the future, and what you need to do as organization to align yourself to fast-paced trends, when  is the right time?

History bears out the lesson that those who focus on big ideas and big opportunities during times of uncertainty are those who win in the long run. The head of innovation at GE did a study years that looked at the history of innovation in times of concern — particularly, during previous economic downturns. He found that real innovation breakthroughs came from those who stayed relentlessly focused on ideas and the future, despite that uncertainty. I often tell this story on stage to spur people into action.

The fact is, there are countless examples where history has shown us that it is those organizations who focused on ensuring that they were still actively pursuing innovation — whether through product development, the exploration of new business models, external partnerships, the pursuit of new markets and customer groups — were those who managed to achieve the greatest success in the long run.

The fact is, in todays fast-moving world, the greatest mistake any organization can make right now is to do nothing.” If you don’t do something today, you can be sure that others in your industry are!

So what do companies need to do to make the most of this period of election-driven uncertainty? First, accept reality and uncertainty, but make a determined effort to move along. Those unable to move past shock, denial and anger through to acceptance will be innovation laggards a. Unfortunately, that may be too late.

Be prepared to keep your idea factories running (perhaps not at full tilt, but running nevertheless) in the face of uncertainty. Know that there is still a place for innovative thinking despite what is really a bizarre state of affairs.

Inertia — real or implied — establishes a culture of inaction, and that can lead to another slippery slope.

oday, innovation isn’t simply an option — it’s critical because it is the best way to gain traction.

#brexit #uselection #economic meltdownWhat should you do? Here’s some video guidance for your innovation soul!

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I recently found myself at 37,000 feet on a flight from San Francisco to Toronto, Skyping with my son who is at university. After a brief “can you hear me now” exchange, the call signal adjusted itself and the quality of the video call became crystal clear. Say goodbye to one of the last bastions of refuge from the interconnected world.

A typical day in the typical life of a typical cell phone customer!

Internet access on flights isn’t new; several carriers have featured the service for a number of years and I’ve been using the Internet “up in the air” for some time. What became evident to me on that recent flight, however, is the continuing improvement in the quality and speed of the connection. And that’s a trend for bandwidth overall, whether by satellite (as is the case on planes), cable/phone lines or wireless devices.

According to research firm IDC, Internet traffic will grow 32% per year from 2010 to 2015. We currently send about 46 terabits per second, and that should grow to more than 200 terabits per second by 2015. Cisco suggests total annual Internet traffic will grow to 966 exabytes by 2015.

Of course, such numbers can become meaningless without interpretation, so let’s just say we will be able to send the equivalent of a million four-drawer filing cabinets filled with 20 million pages — every second. Each year, we’ll send information equivalent to twice the number of words spoken by all humankind since the beginning of time. Whoa.

As our demands on the system grow, technologies behind the scenes will emerge to support huge transmissions of capacity. A recent IBM press release, for example, noted the company has developed “the first parallel optical transceiver to transfer one trillion bits — one terabit — of information per second, the equivalent of downloading 500 high-definition movies.”

Someday, we’ll have this type of bandwidth in our homes and on our mobile devices. Which brings me to accountants and wireless companies. Given the reality of these trends, why do wireless companies use a business model that deploys thousands of accountants at a cost of millions of dollars to track individual bits of information and charge customers every time they go over a usage cap? I seem to be in a perpetual state of war with my wireless/Internet service provider. Our family has four iPhones — and we spend a substantial sum of money to support our data-driven lifestyle as well as a high-speed Internet connection. Every time we make some small change that involves an incremental adjustment in bandwidth, the fee goes up.

The approach of these companies seems to be that in a world of continuous bandwidth growth, they should track each and every byte. Couldn’t they save a ton of money if they just offered a simple flat-fee service that recognizes the reality of our times? They’d eliminate a bunch of sophisticated IT systems, the staff who supports them, the marketing staff who dreams up complex campaigns that revolve around bit-tracking, and the support staff who has to clean up the mess after the inevitable showdown with the customer when things (usually) go wrong.

Here’s the conundrum in a nutshell: Internet usage and capacity will continue to grow at an exponential pace. But the industry that handles the flow of data sees tracking individual bits as a critical part of the business plan. I’d say this is one of those industries where you really question the value of the accounting mind-set, don’t you think?

 

Hundreds of thousands have seen Jim Carroll on stage with a keynote focused on future trends, innovation & creativity….with a focus on the trends that will drive their future.

What are the major trends that will shape our world in the future? Here’s what you need to be thinking about now!

How SMALL is your world? Are you thinking BIG enough in terms of just how many big trends are going to impact your future?

Many people ask me how I spend my time in nailing many of the trends that will redefine society, industries, markets and nations into the future….

It involves a lot of research and a great deal of listening to other experts. But it also comes from the fact that I spend my time as a speaker at corporate meetings, massive association events and board retreats, with the resultant opportunity of seeing what many of the most innovative organizations in the world are focused upon. Just take a look at my client list, and you’ll get a sense that I have a constant stream of global executive level insight that drives my view of the future. Take a look at the track record of what I’ve been up to. There’s some pretty solid and significant insight happening here. Take a look at what world class innovators do that others don’t do.

My trending observations also involves a lot of common sense. Take the “expectation gap” which I outline below. This is a pretty significant trend, and it’s pretty well blindingly obvious when you think about it,

So what comes next? Here’s a quick list of 10 trends that you could be thinking about as we go into 2011. I’ve got dozens — no, hundreds — more. Hang out on this blog, track my thoughts, jump in, and let’s continue to innovate our way into the future!

  • the expectation gap: it’s one of the most obvious, most significant, and most challenging trends going forward into the future. Quite simply, Western society is defined by an increasing divergence between what people expect, and what they will get. People expect the world’s greatest health care services; with the aging of society, it is dramatically clear that the system won’t be able to deliver what they expect. Boomers expect that they will have a comfortable retirement pensions; the economic reset and collapsing home values have made it increasingly clear that their hopes will likely have been dashed. People expect that they can live longer, but the increasing prevalence of lifestyle diseases due to obesity and other factors means that in some areas of the Western world, 60 is the new 70. People expect that they can reduce the size of “big government” but have no sense of just how to go about doing this without a great deal of pain. Whatever the case may be, our future is increasingly defined by this gap, and it is going to have huge ramifications for just about everything around us. And here’s the reality: a lot of organizations are going to make a lot of money in helping to close the gap! Take health care and what is really going to happen in terms of future trends. Huge opportunities for growth!
  • industries blur: In the past, we’ve have “industries” which have focused on particular products and markets. Increasingly, the concept of an “industry” is going to blur as fascinating new trends provide interesting new opportunities. Consider this: the world of fashion and healthcare are going to merge. We are going to see an increasing number of bio-connectivity health care devices that will be used for the remote monitoring of health care conditions. Quite simply, people will increasingly wear small “smart appliances” that will monitor their compliance with exercise programs or that will keep their doctors up to date with key health indicators. But people won’t want to wear medical appliances though: they’ll want to wear fashion! Health-care jewelry anyone?
  • energy gets smart: Clearly we’re going to see continued high-speed innovation with renewable energy sources, and velocity with grid-parity: the point in time at which the cost of producing renewable energy equals that of carbon based sources. Much of this is coming about as Silicon Valley gets aggressively involved in the energy sector Taiwan Semiconductor, one of the largest chip manufacturers in the world, has invested $193 million in solar-cell maker Motech Industries. That’s but a small example of a major trend in which hi-tech companies are getting aggressively involved in every single aspect of the renewable energy marketplace. Just look at what Google is up to with wind-farms off the Eastern Seaboard!
  • the collapse of attention spans: Everything changes when people lose their ability to focus: sports, shopping, living…..the numbers with the next generation of consumers are simply staggering. The average teen sent 435 text messages per month in 2007; it’s now 2899! That’s 97 messages per day, an increase of 566% in just a few years. It’s estimated that they now spend 7.5 hours a day engaged with some type of media screen; if you add in the fact they are multitasking, it comes out to 11 hours of screen time per day — or 53 hours a week. Thats’ more time than involved in a full time job, and more time than their parents spend at work. What’s the impact? Continued hyper-speed in the evolution of branding and advertising; surreal rates of change involving products and services; unbelievable rates of change in how decisions are made and people are influenced. If you don’t know how to think, market and promote at nano-speeds, you’re not ready for the future!
  • faster market evolution: If we’re thinking faster, than we are innovating faster! New products flood the market at ever increasing speeds, and fast-consumers snap them up in a moment and evolve their lifestyles quicker. We’re all going to begin moving at Apple-speed as Silicon Valley increasingly comes to control the pace of innovation in many industries. Put it this way: it took two years for Apple to sell two million iPhones, but only 2 months for them to sell 2 million iPads! And just about a month to sell 1 million iPhone 4’s! We’re seeing the same trend in many other industries and product lines: the business of outsourcing the manufacturing LCD TV’s exploded from $9.4 billion in 2009 to over $21 billion in 2010, and an estimated $30 billion in 2011. Some products are obsolete before they are released: Lenovo learned this fact when they cancelled their planned “tablet computer” this June due to the unbelievably fast success of the iPod with market domination.
  • innovation partnerships. Given this rate of change, companies are quickly learning that in this fast paced world, they can’t innovate on their own; it is simply too difficult to keep up. And they’ve realized that they can enjoy greater success through open innovation and other external innovation partnerships. A great example of what happens when innovation “opens up” is seen with the partnership between consumer appliance maker Phillips and Sarah Lee on the single-serving coffee machines. It’s a market that grew from nothing to 12 million machines and 7 billion coffee “pods” in just 5 short years! Everywhere I go, I see organizations focused on challenging the core concepts of how they do “new things.” There’s a new mindset, and this is going to drive a big part of the growth for organizations going into the future.
  • the fight against workplace boredom. When there’s so much fun and fast change in the world, a job can be a mind-numbing experience. That’s why one survey suggested that 67% of Gen-Y admitted on their very first day on a new job, they were already thinking about another job. Organizations are fighting back against boredom by trying to keep staff engaged. At IBM’s Bromont Canada plant, the “3×10” program aims to combat workplace boredom by changing employees full set of responsibilities 3 times every 10 years. The program is managed by someone who has worked in 10 different jobs within the plant over the last 28 years. Expect within a few years the likelihood that a 3×10 program will have shifted to a 2×1 program….
  • American-Idolatry : People love competition, they love winners, and they relish the battle! Everyone is learning that if they are to succeed in the future, they have to appeal to the new base of hero-worship that comes from our new awards driven society. Everywhere I go, I see companies who are far more willing to celebrate and elevate heroes. DHL holds an annual innovation day which includes an award ceremony with partners who have worked with them on innovative ideas. Deloitte South Africa hosts an annual “Best Company To Work For’ survey and combines into it an elaborate awards ceremony. The future of workplace and partner renumeration is all about the red-carpet, the spotlight, and the celebration of success!
  • the big impact of small incrementalism. Everyone is learning that one way to win the future is by having a lot of small wins that add up to big gains. The oil industry currently retrieves only 1 out of 3 barrels per well on average, yet a 1% improvement represents huge revenue gains! 7% of power on transmission and distribution lines are lost as heat, yet reduce that loss by 10% – and that would equal all the new wind power installed in the US in 2006. Todays’ typical automotive system uses only 25% of the energy in the tank — the balance is lost to waste, heat, inefficiency. Work on increasing that on a year over year basis, and there are some pretty solid gains through innovation. .At DuPont, the savings add up: globally, they now produce 40% more material as a global company using the same amount of energy they used in 1990. Up to 30% of the energy used in a typical industrial or commercial building today is wasted, but new, incremental improvements in green building design and other eco-principles are fixing this fast. Every industry I am dealing with sees small marginal wins adding up to huge tactical advantage! Small is the new winner…
  • communities redefined: there were 37 million senior citizens in the US in 2006, or about 12% of the population. By 2030, there will be 71.5 million of them, representing 20% of the population. Other nations in the Western world are seeing the same trend: we’re all about to become like Japan! And the reality of funding issues means it will be impossible to have the same seniors-housing or assisted living type of infrastructure that we’ve had in the past. The next generation of retirees are going to live at home longer; they’ll live with each other more; the hippies of the 60’s are going to find themselves in the seniors communes of 2015! Community-bliss: far out, man! What does it mean? Communities are going to have to be rethought, re-designed and reconstructed – community ergonomics is going to be a massive growth industry! Overall, we’ll see a lot more growth in high density, compact, mixed-use communities – and a lot of innovative thinking as to just what the concept of ‘community’ means.

These are but a few trends that I’m thinking about. I’ve got HUNDREDS more.

Think about these trends from this perspective: there is a lot of transformative change that is underway.

This is no time to think “small.” This is the time in which you need to be thinking “big.” How “small” is your world: do you have a narrow view of opportunity? The reality is that right now, thinking BIG in terms of opportunity and the future will be crucial to your future success.

What does that does it mean for your future? In the old days, companies had “industries” that they worked within, “markets” that they sold into, and “business models” that they pursued. Assumptions that drove their decisions.

Every single assumption that you might have about your future could be wrong. Challenge those assumptions, think about the rapidity of future trends, innovate — and you’ll find the growth opportunities that seem to elude so many others.

I’ve got a 5 1/2 hr flight to San Francisco today and lots of work today. My old IBM Thinkpad battery is toast — and I don’t want to invest the $200+ to buy a new one, given that I’ll trash this laptop soon.

So I’ve arranged, courtesy of a friend, to try out the Electrovay PowerPad 160 — a slim, 1 1/2 lb flat lithium-battery device that promises me 16hrs of juice. It should prove interesting — heck, I’ll even have power left over to watch a DVD once my work is done.

Enough is enough. Consider these headlines from the last few days:

  • Computer glitch disrupts Air Canada Jazz, National Post, 06 Feb 2003
  • Hard drive theft affects 650000, Edmonton Sun, 03 Feb 2003
  • Sapphire/Slammer Worm Shatters Previous Speed Records For Spreading Through The Internet, Science Daily, 05 Feb 2003

There is a common theme here — companies continue to ignore security issues, and the result is significant business damage. And to be frank, this isn’t just a small issue anymore — we are witnessing the actual destruction of corporate value due to negligence! THIgridlockS IS A CEO LEVEL ISSUE NOW, FOLKS!

Consider Air Canada Jazz. Yesterday, the CEO announced they would like to sell that division in a bid to raise money. Who would possibly be interested in buying an airline that saw its entire ability to provide service grind to a halt — because a single hard drive on a single computer failed? They had no redundant backup system in place! Absolutely appalling, massive negligence with resultant destruction in corporate value. This is no small issue – at a time of critical business strategy, the organization has managed to effectively destroy significant value at the time they need it most.

ISM, a subsidiary of IBM, had a hard drive stolen due to lax security. What company might ever entrust their business to this organization again? Regardless of the spin that we will see, my guess is that ISM is finished, kaput, done. Computer services are all about confidence, and this company has truly destroyed any confidence customers might have. Through one fatal security mistake, it is likely that the company has been forever destroyed.

Slammer? Companies can’t complain — they’ve ignored security for so long.

The point is this — what more evidence do we need that SENIOR EXECUTIVES are security-negligent?

Security is a CEO-level issue – it isn’t just some small-fry geek thing that needs to be taken care of.

Until senior management wakes up and realizes that without action, they can see their corporate value destroyed over night, we’ll see more of this.

If I was on a board of any company, I would be demanding to know, from the CEO, today, right now, what the corporate attitude is towards security. If I didn’t get the answers, I’d suggest that I get them — damned quick.
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