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

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

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

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

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

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

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And just last Friday, I was the closing keynote for the annual conference of the Association of Hi-Tech Distributors out in Napa, putting into perspective how the Internet of Things provides them massive opportunity.
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Through the years, I’ve keynoted some of the largest manufacturing conferences in the US, including over 2,000 manufacturing engineers at the Interactive Manufacturing Exchange (IMX) in Las Vegas, as well as a ‘private’ dinner talk for 600 manufacturing CEO’s at the same event. I headlined the BigM Manufacturing Conference in Detroit, with a focus on how the automotive sector is busy transforming itself, as well as the Siemens Manufacturing in America conference just a few months ago.

The list goes on.

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

It’s been a fun week, with keynotes in Dallas and Napa Valley – one on the future of education, and the other involving the future of manufacturing.

Yet my talks don’t just include keynote presentations — I’m often engaged to come in to small, intimate leadership meetings to help senior executives understand some of the trends that will shape their world. This week, that included a presentation to a group of CEO’s at an off-site event in Colorado Springs. The event was organized by a private company that has equity interests in the organizations in the room — representing some $10 billion worth of value.

World of money

“At one event I spoke at, it was suggested to me that some $10 trillion of wealth was represented in the room”

My talk focused on the trends that will provide opportunity and challenge in the future — ranging from business model disruption, to the Internet of Things, the impact of the next generation, accelerating science and the new R&D, and many other topics.

In these situations, I don’t provide insight on particular stocks to invest in — but do provide guidance on the trends that will shape our world on a 5,10, 15, 25 year basis.

And it is clear that with an increasing number of these bookings, private equity managers have come to rely on my insight in a way that helps them to assess where they are going with their own investments and interests.

What’s interesting is that through the years, I’ve done quite a few of these presentations for very-high net worth families and firms. It has included such groups as the Wrigley family foundation and companies that manage the Rothschild wealth.

And in one of the most fascinating events I’ve participated in, I was invited to Athens to address several hundred representatives of what are known as  ‘family offices’ — organizations that manage the wealth of the world’s wealthiest. While I did not get a complete list of attendees, I do know that some of those in the room represent and manage the wealth of folks such as the Bill & Melinda Gates family office; the Accellor-Mittall families, those of the founders of Google and many, many others.

It was suggested to me that some $10 trillion of wealth was represented in the room.

What’s common to all of these talks?

Viewpoints on the trends that will define our world, and which will spell opportunity in the future!

 

A selection of video clips from keynotes around this topic.
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Get more on the category page for IoT!

I’ve been doing keynotes on the future of healthcare for over 15 years. Much of what I’ve focused on has involved the technological, scientific and other real trends (i.e. non-political) that will provide for transformation of a very complex system.

This includes the acceleration of genomic medicine, and the transition to a system in which we “fix people before they become sick.” Last week, I was the opening keynote speaker for the AGM of the YMCA of Canada, with a talk around the future of fitness and wellness. This included a bit on the impact of genomics, and the nature of the transition which is underway.

Here’s the thing: I’ve been talking about DNA testing for so long that I finally realized: I can’t just talk about it on stage — I should bite the bullet and have my actual DNA tested to see what health conditions I might be at risk for.

So I purchased my kit from 23AndMe, sent in my sample, and just received my results.

I must admit, it takes a bit of bravery to do this – after all, you can discover that you carry particular genes that make you at risk for some very complex diseases.

I’m thrilled to know that I don’t have any real risk factors! 

Beyond that, I find the entire voyage to be utterly fascinating. Not only did I receive a detailed overview of my genetic risk factors and inherited conditions (i.e. health risks passed down through families such as cystic fibrosis and Tay Sachs disease), I also got some detailed insight into some really quirky things.

For example, I will bore my friends forever with the fact that I carry a gene that is typical of high performance athletes and sprinters. Did I say the future belongs to those who are fast?

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The test confirms my Irish and British/Scottish ancestry. But the big surprise was the Scandinavian component. I carry the blood of Vikings!

 

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In addition, 2.5% of my DNA is from Neanderthal’s. Who would have thought?

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Another unique genetic trait: If I was to smoke, I carry the gene that would make me a ‘heavy smoker.’ Absolutely fascinating, in that before I quit 29 years ago, I was a heavy, heavy smoker!

And I have slightly higher odds of liking sweet foods. No surprise there!

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In addition to fascinating tidbits like there, there is a lot of detail on medical issues, such as your genetic response to various drugs. If I develop an ulcer, the typical drugs used for treatment would not be very effective. Good to know, but I don’t plan for an ulcer anytime soon.

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The entire field of genomic science is accelerating at a furious pace, particularly as the cost to undertake genetic sequencing starts to approach the cost curve of Moore’s law. There are massive legal, social, ethical, political and other issues that come with the territory.

There is a tremendous amount of information on my thoughts on the future of healthcare — check the trends section of my site for more. And check out this document which I wrote a number of years ago

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Click for the PDF

But it’s all based on science, and the science won’t slow down. We’re headed into a new and interesting world.!

Every industry is set to be transformed as an era of hyper connectivity becomes the new norm. The result? Massive business model disruption; the rapid emergence of new competitors; 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; 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 Internet of Things is happening everywhere.

The CEO of a major US energy company hired Jim Carroll to do a video that put into perspective the impact of the Internet of Things on the global energy. There are some pretty profound changes underway.

Think about the video in the context of literally any other industry, and you realize the scope of the potential disruption that is occurring.

The Internet of Things 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 . Intelligent home appliances that link to packaged food products that automatically upload carb, sodium and other dietary information as part of an overall health and wellness program.

Jim Carroll has been talking on stage about the Internet of things since the late 1990’s, when he began using the phrase “hyper connectivity” to describe a world in which “every device that is a part of our daily lives is about to become plugged in.” Since then, he has delivered his insight on the topic to a wide variety of organizations: several global technology leaders with a keynote talk on the future of home automation; several of the world’s largest HVAC companies about what happens when a global, intelligent home and industrial energy infrastructure emerges through widespread connectivity; consumer, food and packaged goods conferences about the impact of intelligent packaging. He has been booked by many leading global health care organizations for keynotes that have focused on what happens when consumers start aligning their wellness strategies through their own personal healthcare infrastructure.

The Internet of Things is a substantive, transformative trend that will provide more change in every industry in the next ten years than they’ve seen in the last thirty.

Jim Carroll already over a dozen years of on-stage experience with the topic, and can help you understand the strategies, risks and opportunities that you need to be aware of you move into a hyperconnected future. Consider one of the world’s most widely recognized futurists, trends and innovation experts for your next association, CEO leadership meeting or other keynote!

"Agriculture is an industry that is ripe for massive change and disruption — and the year 2045 might happen by 2025, if not sooner"

“Agriculture is an industry that is ripe for massive change and disruption — and the year 2045 might happen by 2025, if not sooner”

Farm & Dairy Magazine interviewed me a few months back, and have since published an article with some of my thoughts about the future of agriculture. It’s a good read!

Can’t ignore the trends in agriculture
Farm & Dairy, by Susan Crowell
January 2016

I must’ve read at least 10 “top trends for 2016” articles at the beginning of the year. Most of them were related to food or farming, but there was an interesting twist proffered by one of the grand dames of futuring, Faith Popcorn. Popcorn talked about “fear,” her word for 2016.

Fear — think Ebola, ISIS, terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino — escalated during 2015. We’re all just a little bit more worried that something bad could happen. Witness the entire stock market shaking on tremors emanating from China. Will the giant’s economic house of cards collapse this year, we wonder in the wake. It’s not just paranoia; bad things are happening all around us.

I think Popcorn gets a little extreme and says people are also looking for ways to “cocoon” and forget the outside world. They’ll look for an escape through virtual reality or seek protection programs, like armored school buses. But she says people are also looking for things to create memories of happiness and peace.

To me, that screams agritourism or bringing people together around the farm table. After all, you can’t have comfort food without farmers.

Here’s the thing about futurists and trend spotters: We don’t live in their world and often think their projections are wacky and “out there.” While they might not be spot on, however, there are kernels of truth in their outlooks, and that’s why we need to pay attention to them.

Another futurist, Jim Carroll, says there are three types of people: those who make things happen; those who watch things happen; and those who say, “Whoa, dude, what happened?”

You don’t want to be blind to a trend that could bring massive changes to your farm or ag business. You also don’t want to ignore changes that are already happening.

What’s already happening?

  • Consumers care more about how their foods are produced and sourced — and that’s impacting the entire food chain from your farm to the store or restaurant. Transparency, transparency, transparency. Information, information, information.
  • Local food is no longer a fad. Consumers want to support local farms, local businesses. Some are willing to pay, some are not.
  • Environmental responsibility and conservation.
  • The smartphone. It can purchase; it can find deals; it can suggest recipes; it can share nutrition information; it can pay; it can connect farmers with retailers, farmers with restaurants, farmers with their input suppliers, farmers with consumers.
  • Stronger links between health and food (and also convenience); stronger emphasis on “clean eating” — think back to basics, or products that are minimally processed. People want “real food.”
  • Food safety and traceability.
  • Minimizing food waste — which speaks to the processing chain, as well as finding new uses for previously undesirable meat cuts or products.
  • Water everything. (Ever hear of water footprint analysts? They’re already in demand.)
  • Longer life spans. The typical baby born in the U.S. today will live to be 100. What does that mean for family farm structures and transitions and retirement planning and real estate and housing?
  • New faces in farming. Carroll cites U.N. statistics that say there are 800 million practicing urban agriculture. More colleges beyond the traditional land grant universities are offering agriculture degrees. Embrace them all.

Yes, the current climate for traditional agriculture is challenging, so it’s hard to look at these trends and see how they play a role in your farm’s future, when you’re just trying to scrape by in 2016. (Ask yourself what each input costs relative to its contribution to yield. If you don’t what it contributes, get busy.)

Carroll, who does numerous, high-profile keynotes within agriculture, writes, “agriculture is an industry that is ripe for massive change and disruption — and the year 2045 might happen by 2025, if not sooner.”

And that’s one futurist’s prediction we can’t ignore.
By Susan Crowell

MosaicCollege

I’m honored to be one of the keynote speakers at the 2016 Mosaic AgCollege in Orlando in January.

It’s an annual event held by the Mosaic Company, the world’s leading producer of concentrated phosphate and potash, nitrogen fertilizers and feed ingredients for the agriculture industry, for their key clients.

My focus? The future of agriculture!

Big Trends In Agriculture: What Ag Will Look Like In 2045
Jim Carroll, an agriculture futurist and innovation expert, will look into his crystal ball and predict what agriculture will be like in 2045. Whether it’s driverless tractors, weed-zapping robots or data-transmitting crops, Jim will forecast what farms might be like 30 years from now, and encourage the industry to embrace high-velocity innovation. Jim is recognized worldwide as a “thought leader” and authority on global trends, rapid business model change, business transformation in a period of economic uncertainty, and the necessity for fast-paced innovation. You will not want to miss his predictions.

I do numerous keynotes throughout the agriculture industry, with a lot of detailed insight — so much so that after one talk, an audience member asked how long I had been a farmer!

Just this weekend, I was the closing keynote speaker for a dealer meeting for Reinke, the manufacturer of those large irrigation systems you see on farms all over North America.

As in every sector and industry, agriculture is an industry that is ripe for massive change and disruption — and the year 2045 might happen by 2025, if not sooner. We will certainly see a lot of autonomous vehicles, region specific plant varietals based on genomic science, rapid advances in precision farming, irrigation and big data technology, and more.

Spend some time in the agriculture section of my Web site for more insight — and stay tuned! I’ll report on my Mosaic AgCollege keynote in January!

I had a long conversation with a potential client in the manufacturing sector the other day; they’re looking to bring me in for a keynote in 2016. I’ve developed a reputation in the industry for some cutting edge insight into the key trends that are redefining every single aspect of the sector at an extremely furious, fast pace. I’ve headlined events for tens of thousands at major manufacturing conferences in Las Vegas, Chicago, Orlando and Detroit.

Jim Carroll on stage in September 2011, keynoting the IMXchange - Interactive Manufacturing Exchange -- conference, with a talk on the future of manufacturing and the necessity for continuous, relentless innovation

Jim Carroll on stage in Las Vegas keynoting the IMXchange – Interactive Manufacturing Exchange conference, with a talk on the future of manufacturing and the necessity for continuous, relentless innovation

What’s going on? Here’s a quick snapshot:

  • collapsing product life cycles – simply put, products don’t have as long a lifespan in terms of relevance, consumer attention, rapid escalation of design ideas — whatever the case may be, with shorter life spans, manufacturing organizations are having to pick up the pace!
  • the Internet of Things and product redefinition – every device becomes connected, intelligent, aware… this has major implications in terms of how devices are designed and manufactured. Suddenly, many manufacturers are finding that they must integrate sophisticated user interface capabilities into their products, not to mention advanced computer and connectivity technology.
  • rapid design and rapid prototyping. We’ve seen incredible advances in the ability to conceive, design and develop new products faster than ever before. There is a constantly rising bar in terms of capabilities, and if you can’t pick up on this, you can be sure that your competitors will. The first to market with a new idea is often the winner.
  • the influence of crowdfunding on product design. There is no doubt that the global connectivity that the crowdfunding business model provides is resulting in a change in product conception. Suddenly, anyone can have an idea, fund it, design it, and bring it to market. What I’ve witnessed are situations where these small scale projects are light years ahead of what we’ve seen with established industry players. Crowdfunding is the new garage in many industries.
  • build to demand vs. build to inventory business models. Big auto companies build hundreds of thousands of vehicles, and shove them out to dealers hoping they sell. Tesla Motors takes an order, and builds the vehicle to send to the customer. Big difference — and this model is driving fundamental business model change across every aspect of the manufacturing sector.
  • agility and flexibility. The impact of build-to-demand models is that manufacturers must provide for a lot more change-capability throughout every aspect of the process, from supply chain to assembly to quality control. The ultimate in agility? The Magna factory in Graz, Austria, which can custom build a wide variety of automobiles from completely different car companies.
  • post-flat strategies. What happens when the world gets flat? Put a ripple in it! That’s been the focus of a few of my keynotes for several manufacturing clients. I’ve spoken about organizations who have evolved from having to compete with low-cost producers by focusing on price, to a new product lineup that is based on quality, consumer perception, brand identity, or IoT connectivity.
  • faster time to market. Consumers today have perilously short attention spans. In some sectors, such as fashion, high-tech (smartphones!), food and others, you’ve got to get your product to market in an instant — otherwise, you lose your opportunity.
  • rapidly emerging consumer demand. Closely related to time to market is the fact that new fashion, taste trends or other concepts now emerge faster given the impact of social networks. Think about the impact of food trucks — people can now experiment with new taste trends at an extremely low price point. The result is that new taste trends emerge faster — and food companies must scramble to get new products out to the customer faster. Long, luxurious product development lead times are from ‘the olden days.’ If you can’t speed up, you won’t be able to compete.
  • the fast emergence of same day delivery business models. Amazon, WalMart, Google and others are quickly building big infrastructure that provides for same day shipping. This has a ripple impact on demand, inventory, logistics …. a massive change from the old world of stockpiled inventory.
  • the arrival of 3D, additive manufacturing 3D printers and the inevitable shift to “additive manufacturing” from “subtractive manufacturing based on cutting, drilling and bashing metal..  probably the biggest change the industry will witness in coming years.
  • the acceleration of education requirements. Robotics, advanced manufacturing methodologies, machinining-in-the-cloud, advanced ERP processes : you name it, the skill of 10 years or even 5 years ago doesn’t cut it today. I had one client in the robotics sector observe that “the education level of our workforce has increased so much….The machinists in this industry do trigonometry in their heads.” That’s the new reality going forward!

That’s a lot of change, and there’s even more underway.

Want more? Watch this!

VIDEO: Atlantic Design and Manufacturing 2013 Interview with Innovation Expert Jim Carroll from ThomasNet on Vimeo.

FutureCar

Popular Mechanix magazine envisioned the autonomous vehicle in the 1950’s. “Connected cars” and autonomous technology are expected to generate $131.9 billion by 2019 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34.7% from 2013 to 2019

I’ve been doing a number of keynotes in the automotive, trucking and transportation sector. Groups such as Volvo/Mac Trucks dealer conference; the Colorado Transportation Summit, the National Association of Truck Stop Owners, Chrysler, and various motor vehicle dealer association conferences. I’ve also had some fairly widespread coverage in the media. There are a large number of blog posts about my observations in the Automotive & Transportation section of my blog.

This is a FAST moving industry, with SEISMIC changes underway.

Basically, vehicles have been built the same way for the last 100 years — they run on carbon, are driven by people, don’t connect with other vehicles, and operate independantly. The business model has involved “car dealerships” and “car salesmen” and consumers frustrated with what they’ve always perceived to be a one-sided relationship.

Now, for the first time in 100 years, massive change is underway — more vehicles will not be carbon based, but based on alternative energy sources. A growing number will drive themselves. And they will interconnect with other vehicles and intelligent highway infrastructure, with profound implications on efficiency, traffic, urban and highway design, not to mention safety. A future in which a large number of the next generation might not actually purchase a car — but simply use some type of vehicle sharing service. If they do purchase a car, they will likely do it online.

You couldn’t have a bigger change than that!

And it promises a massive shakeup as the speed of innovation is shifting from automotive/trucking companies to Silicon Valley. Consider one implication: one estimate suggests that “connected cars are expected to generate $131.9 billion by 2019 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34.7% from 2013 to 2019.” (Connected Cars: Legal Hurdles and Issues Monitor Worldwide. Oct 2014)

The challenge is this: the auto industry is somewhat ill prepared to cope with the speed of change. They are still of a mindset that involves palatial automative dealerships, when an increasing number of consumers simply want to purchase a car that they’ve already researched online. Car dealers who cling to the same way of doing business that was in place in 1960 and 1970 — a very frustrating experience for most consumers.

At the same time, we see Tesla Motors selling cars online, and setting up ‘showrooms’ in shopping malls — and various state car dealer organizations fighting back in the courts. (The casket industry tried to fight a battle against people selling caskets online. It didn’t go well!) We see Uber indicating that its ultimate business model might involve being the car service for everyone, in a world in which few people actually buy cars!

That’s why senior auto executives, motor vehicle dealer associations and others in the industry need a good, frank discussion around the future of their industry, and what they need to do to turn these perceived threats into opportunity.

That’s what I’ve been doing a lot of lately — and so if you are reading this and are in the industry, give me a call!

For years, I’ve spoken throughout my client base as a keynote speaker as to how the essence of global research and development is changing.This includes keynote presentations to some of the world’s leading educational associations and corporations; industry and professional conference associations; and even two events for NASA, with a number of astronauts, astrophysicists and other deep thinkers in the room!

WCGatineau

Watch a true piece of art – this time-lapse video by my 22 year old son, using a ‘time-lapse slider’ running on a Raspberry Pi, that he built by drawing upon ‘the global colloborative mind.’

My emphasis has always been that the Internet has led us to a new world of ‘crowd-thinking’ in which anyone can look at any idea, and figure out how to pursue the idea, and develop a new skill, capability, form of insight or simply a new “thing.” The foundation for crowdthinking includes crowdfunding initiatives; vast knowledge and information archives; the sharing economy, global collaborative communities and other fascinating developments. It’s a trend that is shaking up R&D efforts worldwide, because it accelerates knowledge. Ultimately, crowd-thinking is leading to some very significant change in every industry. More on that later….

No trend is complete without it ‘hitting home’ in a personal way. That’s why you need to watch this this fabulous time-lapse video, which my 22 year old son Willie Carroll painstakingly filmed, edited and pulled together over a period of over a month. Watch it here, or view his blog post about the project WcFotography.

It’s a ‘time-lapse’ video — in which Willie’s 35mm camera takes a picture using a time-lapse slider ‘machine’ that he built. The slider makes the camera moves a fraction of an inch, then waits, and then takes another picture. Repeat, several times over an hour. Stitch together multiple photos into video clips; link those together, layer on some fabulous music, and you’ve got a true piece of art. Willie built the hardware and figured out the software, by tapping into the global creative mind. You can get a basic sense of how it works below. When he first got it working — which, even though I was away at a keynote — was a truly inspiring and fabulous moment!


As an avid part-time professional photographer (see WcFotography.com) involved in corporate, wedding and other photographic shoots, Willie is always eager to push his skills to the limit.

Willie spotted the idea for a time-lapse slider when it was floated as  a KickStarter project — but at $1,000, it was a bit out of his range. He decided that he could build one on his own; he researched the project and found both the hardware and software solutions online. Through a sometimes excruciating process through the summer, he saw the project through to success. The slider was built using a Raspberry Pi computer; rails, a motor and timing belt that he sourced through eBay; and software that was developed by a fellow named David Hunt in Ireland, who ultimately provided Willie with the inspiration for his project.

Once it was finished, Willie took the rig back to university, and on weekends and during time off, visited his beloved Gatineau Park to capture a wide variety of fabulous photographic-video sequences.

As a dad, I couldn’t be prouder.

I’d encourage you to share the video — it’s posted above on Vimeo. I’d also encourage you to check out his  photography Web site. If you’re based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, you might consider engaging him for your next photography project!

Learn more over at http://www.wcfotography.com.

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