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A report from T. Rowe Price on my recent keynote for the 2011 Investment Symposium follows, where I was one of three keynote speakers (the other two being Colin Powell and Charlie Cook). You can find some blog links to each of the three key themes in the article at the end of the article below.

""We thought Jim was amazing - just the positive message we wanted to leave folks with"

It was a fabulous event, and a great opportunity to get a pretty impressive audience — investment managers for a broad range of investment managers for a broad range of Fortune 1000 organizations, pension funds and government agencies.

Summary:

Futurist Jim Carroll, one of the world’s leading experts in global trends and innovation, described how advances in technology and human innovation will combine to create positive change in the future. He explained how businesses can be held back by what he calls “aggressive indecision”— postponing action because they are constantly waiting for economic conditions to improve. Carroll noted that as the pace of change accelerates, the companies that prosper will be those that can adapt and innovate most quickly.

Key Points

  • Long-term trends that will lead us into the future. Silicon Valley is redefining everything—industries that get involved with Silicon Valley will be brought up to their speed. One powerful trend is pervasive interconnectivity—the fact that electronic devices are connected and can communicate with each other—as a driving force. For example, a staid industry such as air conditioning and heating benefits when people can control their entire home environment remotely through a cell phone. On the health care front, sensors can monitor the activities of seniors and report any changes in behavior, allowing people to live independently longer. On a more dramatic note, he believes advances in exploring the human genome will change medicine’s focus from reactively treating disease to proactively searching for potential health problems before they occur.
  • The paradox of pessimism and reality. While many business people are pessimistic about the future and believe economic recovery is at least two years away, technological advances are creating the potential for greater productivity and efficiency. For example, the auto industry now has the flexibility to produce in response to demand instead of building huge inventories that may go unsold. Products can also be brought to market much faster to take advantage of changes in consumer tastes.
  • The next generation. The next generation has grown up with rapid advances in technology, so they are at home with change. This familiarity means young people will greatly increase the rate of innovation as they enter the workforce. This group is not afraid to take independent action—50% believe self employment offers more job security than working for a company. The next generation will receive $12 billion to $18 billion in intergenerational wealth transfers in the next 12 years alone, which could help fund their ambition.

  • Major 10 year trend: The future of every industry to be controlled by Silicon Valley Innovation  
  • The new face of manufacturing: agility, insight and execution 
  • Creativity and the new workforce 

 

A few weeks ago, I was the opening keynote speaker for the 2011 Multi-Unit Franchising Conference held at The Venetian in Las Vegas.

The audience were owners and operators of multiple franchise operations, primarily from the restaurant / food sector, but also from other franchise operations in auto, pet care, home supplies and other retail product lines.

An audience of close to 1,000 listens to Jim Carroll's keynote on fast paced consumer, retail and restaurant industry trends in Las Vegas

My keynote topic was built on the theme “”Where Do We Go From Here? Why Innovators Will Rule in the Post-Recession Economy – And How You Can Join Them!”

 

What did I take a look at? A wide variety of the fast-paced trends impacting the retail / restaurant sector today. I broke my talk down into 3 key trends, what I might call:

  • Consumer velocity
  • Mobile madness
  • Intelligent infrastructure

1. What We Know: Consumer behaviour shifts faster today than ever before

The average consumer scans 12 feet of shelf space per second.” That’s a stat I’ve long used to emphasize that the attention span of the typical shopper of today is shorter than ever before — and retailers need to innovate to ensure they can keep the attention of today’s consumer.

It’s not just keeping up with fleeting attention spans — it’s about adapting to the fast pace of how quickly consumer choice changes. Consider what is happening with the rapid emergence of revenue in the late night business segment – it was up 12% in 4th quarter 2010, compared to 2-3% for other parts of the day. That’s why major chains have been focusing on new “happy hour” offerings — and so their success increasingly comes from how quickly they can scale and adapt to fast moving trends.

We’ve seen plenty of fast innovation from various organizations in the sector to respond to quick consumer change. Morton’s capitalized on the new consumer sensitivity towards value when it jumped on the trend that involves the “casualization of fine dining” with its’ $6 mini-cheeseburger.

Other fast trends drive the industry. The Sydney Morning Herald ran a great article in April of 2011, noting that “… the world of cooking and restaurants is becoming more like an arm of show business …..” with the result that “everyone wants to see the chef.” That’s why we are seeing many restaurants from fine-dining to fast casual moving the kitchen to the “front of the house,” or in other cases, a lot of TV display technology that provide for video links from tables to the kitchen. The evolution that is occurring is that the chef is becoming the star, and more and more of the staff are becoming ‘performers.’ Innovators in appropriate sectors would see the opportunities and jump on this trend.

Whatever the case may be, the consumer of today changes quickly, and innovators check their speed and agility in being able to respond to this reality.

2. What We Know: Technology – especially mobile – has become the key influencer of today’s consumer decision making.

Simply put, the velocity of mobile adoption, local search and product promotion is evolving at a pace that is beyond furious.

Consider the growth rates underlying today’s technology. It took two years for Apple to sell two million iPhones. It took 2 months for them to sell 2 million iPads! It took 1 month to sell 1 million iPhone 4’s!

The impact of such trends is an explosive rate of growth of wireless Internet usage. Mobile represented but 0.2% of all Web traffic in 2009. That grew to 8% by 2010, and is expected to hit 16% of all traffic this year.

Some suggest that mobile searches now exceed the number of computer based searches. What is also well known is that most mobile searches are for “local content.” Not only that, but Google has found that when someone gets a smartphone, the number of searches they make increases 50 times!

What is clear is that people are using their mobile devices to find nearby – stores, retailers, restaurants and just about everything else. Combine this with the emergence of new promotion opportunities (through apps and other tools) and you’ve got a revolution in the making in terms of local product promotion. That’s why the success of many retailers / restaurants will come from their success with location-sensitive coupon technology.

Bottom line? Innovation is: rethinking in-store uplift in terms of new methods of interaction!

3. What We Know: We will have far more opportunity for operational innovation through the rapid emergence of new technology, infrastructure and other trends

Consider how quickly near-field payment technology is going to steamroller the retail / restaurant sector. Simply put, over the next few years, the credit cards in our wallet will disappear as our iPhones, Blackberries and Android phones become the credit card infrastructure of the future. This is a HUGE trend — it provides countless opportunities for innovation, disruptive business model change, new competitors, and all kinds of other fun opportunities.

The trend has enormous velocity – we can expect $113 billion in transactions by 2016,  with 3.5 billion transactions – and with this comes new opportunities for loyalty and contact followup. From an innovation perspective, the sector will have to ensure they can ingest the new infrastructure quickly enough, and keep on top of the industry change that it will cause to ensure that challenges are turned into opportunity.

There are all kinds of other areas of fast change that present opportunity. Consider the issue fo ‘green buildings’ and sustainability. The West Australian newspaper recently noted that “with the rapid increase in knowledge, skills and availability of materials, costs have fallen. The industry now understands how to build green and building a 5-star Green Star building is now generally cost neutral.”

Some franchisees are taking this to heart, with aggressive plans involving eco-friendly buildings. Chick-fil-A has a  LEED initiative in building a test model restaurant that has water usage down by 40% through rainwater collection; an electricity reduction of 14% through the use of skylights & energy efficient appliances; 20% of the building content is from recycled material; and 30% more fresh air than regular buildings. While the structure is 15% more expensive to build, they expect a fairly quick payback — and will manage to get a branding image to their customer base that they don’t just talk sustainability – they do it!

From this perspective, innovation is keeping ahead of and planning for hyper-innovation with IT, energy, environmental and other infrastructure trends that impact facilities or the nature of the customer interaction.

 

Innovators get ahead by focusing on bold ideas, and exploring the concept of 'experiential capital' - Jim Carroll

I also emphasized that innovators aren’t afraid to make bold moves. Every franchise and retail organization today is looking for opportunities for cross-promotion, cross-selling and product placement. So consider this observation from the Dallas Morning News in March 2011 in an article titled: Funeral home adds little sip of heaven: Starbucks Coffee.

At McKinney’s Turrentine Jackson Morrow Funeral Home, it’s now possible to pay your respects to the dead or plan your own funeral with a venti Caramel Macchiato in hand

Craziness, or smart niche-marketing? I think it’s innovation!

So what do you do? My message to the folks in Las Vegas was to get involved and explore these fascinating new worlds that surround you!

Many of them might hold themselves back from Facebook advertising, because the concept might simply seem overwhelming for a small to medium sized mulit-unit franchise operation. Yet, today Facebook now accounts for 1 of 3 every online ads. And we are seeing the rapid emergence of new online ‘aggregators’ that are focused on helping small business take advantage of that fact. These organizations — such as Blinq — manage the buying of thousands of individualized ads, based on age, location, interests.

They should simply try the world of mobile promotion. Buffalo Wild Wings gave it a shot for one recent NFL based initiative, and indicated that they tripled the return on their investment.

Think differently in terms of new ways of reaching the consumer. Pizza Pizza, a Canadian chain, recently released a new iPhone App that allows online ordering. Nothing new or special about that – such apps are becoming a dime a dozen, and are quickly becoming de rigueur. What is cool is that the chain has revealed that it is working to link the  app payment system to university meal card plan, in recognition of the fact that many students in the target market might not have credit cards (or “credit worthy” cards.)

Bottom line? One of my key closing messages was that innovators focus on the concept of “experiential capital” -there’s a lot going on, and to figure out, we should just get out and do it! Try new ideas, explore new initiatives, undertake new projects. One of the only ways to get ahead is to work quickly to build up your experience in all the new opportunities that surround you.

It was a busy September, with keynotes and leadership events for the likes of PPG, the Utah League of Cities and Towns, St. Joseph’s Health Center, Transcontinental Media, the Ohio League of Bankers, the Illinois League of Financial Institutions, the Minnesota Hospital Association CEO Summit, Allied Solutions and many other events.

A common theme for many of the keynotes I’ve given for senior executive events at these groups has been the focus on ‘what do world class innovators do that others don’t do?” In that context, there are several key themes I’ve been relentless on:

  • fast beats big: we have never lived in a period of time that has involved such rapid change with business models, competitive landscapes, product and service innovation, challenging consumers, a new political dynamic, and countless other new realities. World class innovators are those who move fast, get things done, and keep getting things done.
  • bold beats old: all around you right now, there are countless numbers of people and organizations who are out to mess up your business model. They’re making bold steps, aggressive moves, and big decisions. This is not a time for timidity; it’s a time for BIG ideas and the pursuit of the offbeat
  • velocity trumps strategy: careful strategic planning can be a critical step in adapting to the future, but in some areas, things are happening so fast that you can’t take the time to strategize: you just need to jump in and go. That’s experiential capital it’s one of the most important investments that you need to be making now. Understand what it is, and why you need to be investing in it NOW.
  • flexibility beats structure: successful innovators have mastered the ability to form fast teams: they know their that their ability to quickly scale resources to tackle fast emerging opportunities or challenges are the only way that they can win in the future. They avoid the organizational sclerosis that bogs too many organizations down
  • disruptors destroy laggards: step into any industry, and there are people who are busy messing about the fundamental business models which have long existed. Start your own disruption before you find yourself disrupted
  • connectivity is the new loyalty: with the forthcoming dominance of mobile technology in everyday lives, everything you know about customer relationships is dead. Right now, it’s all about exploring and building new relationships throughout the mobile data cloud in which the customer lives. If you don’t get that, your brand is dead.
  • location is the new intelligence: with connectivity comes location, which results in new applications, business models, methods of customer interaction, and just about everything. If you don’t have a location strategy for your business, you really don’t understand how quickly your world is changing around you

For more on this thinking, check out the ‘innovation’ tag on my blog.

I just came from giving a keynote for the annual conference of a major customer loyalty organization, with the talk focused on some of key trends impacting the world of retail today.

There’s certainly a lot going on and a lot to think about. Extremely rapid business model change, the emergence of new competitors, ongoing consumer confidence volatility, rapid product turnover and faster product life-cycles.

So what are they really, really worried about? Let’s put in context the people I had in the room — senior VP’s and managers in major retailers representing several billions in revenue in a wide variety of markets, including pharmaceutical, grocery, consumer goods and electronics. Not to mention quite a few bankers, responsible for credit card portfolio’s, loyalty programs and other customer oriented programs and infrastructure.

Given all that, the top of mind issue is — new methods of customer interaction.

Look at the poll results below. The issue stands out far and away as the most important concern of the day!

Hence, my keynote was bang-on. I didn’t touch too much on the social networking phenomena, as this type of crowd has been drowning in social-networking Powerpoints.

My focus was on interactivity, location, and intelligence,, and the extremely rapid emergence of new forms of in-store interaction and product sales uplift. Things like digital signage, in-store electronic promotional displays, iPod based coups. A flood of new stuff and new ideas that promote new ways of

Listen folks, I know I’ve said it here before, but I’ll say it again.

2010 is the year of location, combined with mobility, and it’s happening faster than you think.

I’m pumped about this topic and the reaction, so I’ve rolled this into a new keynote description:

Location is the New Intelligence: Customer Interaction in the Era of Pervasive Mobile

We’re at the leading edge of the merger of three perfect trends: the rapid and massive emergence of a massive mobile infrastructure with increasingly intelligent devices. Pervasive location awareness as a results of GPS and location intelligence/mapping trends in those very same tools. And a consumer mindset that is increasingly open to new forms of interaction. The result is massive business model disruption, absolutely transformative market change, and complete obliteration of old assumptions as to the nature of the customer relationship. Smart, innovative super-heroes know that this is an unprecedented time to jump on the emergence of location as the new intelligence, in order to provide for new ways of product uplift in the retail space, changing the very nature of customer loyalty through new forms of interaction, and enhancing existing one-to-0ne conversations through a more direct, distinct and fascinating new form of location based relationships. Futurist, Trends & Innovation Expert Jim Carroll is setting the retail, marketing and advertising world on fire with his fast paced insight into one of the most important trends to shape the customer-business relationship in the last few decades. Move over social networking — location is the new intelligence!

Read more: Location is the new intelligence

What happens when Silicon Valley takes over the innovation agenda within an industry? In this video clip from a recent keynote, Jim challenges his audience to think about what happens in the world of banking, particularly with the likely fast paced emergence of contact-less payment technology based on mobile devices.

Innovative organizations need to make sure that they understand the external factors that will influence their future, and need to react appropriately. And as we enter the era of hyper-connected intelligent devices, with the impact of location-intelligence technology and the rapid adoption of mobile technologies, we’re likely to see every industry — even beyond financial services — impacted.

New business models, disruptive competition, a shift in control, customer churn — everything is up for grabs once Silicon Valley seizes control and defines your future!

It’s big, and its’ getting bigger!

That’s the location intelligence industry, which is resulting from the rapid dominance of location-aware mobile devices, the rapid emergence of massive sources of spatial (geographic oriented information, i.e. Google Maps), the rapid user adoption of location-based applications (i.e. iPhone Apps), and a significant amount of innovative thinking as to how to capitalize on these very fast paced trends.

There’s a lot of people building a lot of new businesses around these trends. And it’s happening extremely quickly:

    • in a just-announced test of location based advertising in Finland, MacDonalds’ has reported that location-relevant mobile ads resulted in a 7.0% click-through rate. Of those who clicked through, 39% then used the click-to-navigate option to find the closest restaurant. These are significant numbers
    • one if 4 American’s uses location based mobile services, and half of those who noticed an ad while using such services too some action
  • there has been a 68% increase in the use of mobile mapping and direction services in Europe in ONE YEAR according to comScore
  • MarketResearch.com predicts increases of 37% compound annual growth for mobile advertising and 65% for mobile commerce, influenced by the speed of adoption of location-based services
  • Juniper Research suggests that location based service revenues will top $12.7 billion by 2014, up from $3 billion last year
  • another survey by RCNOS suggested that the mobile locations technologies market will grow at annual compound rates of 20%, reaching $70 billion by 2013, which includes both consumer and business intelligence/application (survey, mapping etc) applications
  • it’s estimated that 1 billion people will access social networks by 2014. Most of them will use some form of location based application as they do so.
  • GPS-enabled mobile phone devices will dominate the technology space, comprising 66% of all GPS devices by 2013

This is pretty significant stuff. Actually, its more than significant – it’s huge. Location is set to lead to significant industry transformation; some pretty dramatic business model disruption (think real estate); changes in consumer behaviour (product promotion and uplift); new business models (mobile, text message based banking which starts out via a proximity relationship.). There’s a huge amount of velocity out there!

There are two angles to the emerging market: consumer (i.e. iPhone) driven applications which will involve marketing, branding, product promotion, customer loyalty, point-of-purchase and a huge variety of other opportunities. The second involves corporate applications such as risk-minimization (i.e. mortgage risk analysis based on spatial data).

Regardless of how you look at, the overall impact of location intelligence is going to be dramatic.

It’s even going to come to impact sports. Here’s a clip from a keynote I gave for 4,000 individuals as the recent National Recreation & Parks Association: “Location intelligence and the future of recreation,” and spoke about the concept of a location intelligence professional.

Location is the new intelligence. And its’ happening faster than you think!

And an increasing number of my keynotes and clients are asking me to focus upon the business opportunities that are emerging in this world. Stay tuned.

Related posts:

  • Location intelligence, financial industries and business model change 
  • Location intelligence and the conference industry
  • Extract from Jim’s book, Ready, Set, Done: How to Innovate When Faster is the New Fast 

IMG_0279.jpgLast fall, Microsoft invited me to speak at a series of events related to its Windows 7 launch; I’d be addressing C-level executives on the key business strategies organizations are adopting as we come out of the recession.

For the first stop on the tour, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer spoke to the audience, so I went to hear what he had to say. He certainly stoked enthusiasm for the new Windows 7 product in the manner for which he is known, but he also spoke to the broader plans for Microsoft in the future. One comment about mobile devices stood out: that the reason why Apple is selling so many apps for the iPhone is because generally the browser on the phone isn’t very user friendly.

That’s quite true. I find when I access the Internet on my iPhone the screen resolution seems particularly challenging for these middle-aged eyes. My own website features fonts and a layout that look great on a big monitor but when accessed on an iPhone don’t work very well.

So I decided I should have my own app that features a variety of information found on my regular site. Hence, my voyage into the world of iPhone app development. Apparently it’s a voyage many people are pursuing, with some 80,000 apps already available on the iTunes store.

As I began looking around, I found quite a few artists and entertainers (which I think my career is increasingly evolving into) were releasing iPhone apps. Heck, I even found an app for Pat Boone. That blew my mind.

It was a timely decision: I had already started down the path toward promoting compatibility with the new world of wireless devices by creating a special version of my website uniquely formatted for small screens. I did this in a matter of hours by setting up a WordPress blog; I added to it the iPhone/PDA “theme” that reformats pages to fit within the narrow screen size found on a BlackBerry or iPhone. I then added code to my website that figures out if someone is coming in via such a device: when someone does, it redirects him or her to the mobile version.

It was a bit challenging to get the blog section of my website into the iPhone version – until I found Mippin, that is. This nifty free service automatically formats a blog feed for wireless devices in a matter of seconds. If you have a blog and a PDA, try it out; it is quite a magical service.

Voila. I now had a version of my website that worked well for PDAs. But I thought I still should have an app that is available to people in the iTunes App store. Where to start? A friend put me in touch with iEveryware, an app developer based in California. From there, a phone call led to a cost estimate and within hours, I was on the way to having my own app. It was that fast. Until then, I had thought the process of app development would be some deep secret known to a chosen few. The reality is that there are already thousands of developers out there.

One key step in the process was setting myself up as an Apple iPhone Developer, for a fee of US$99. Once that was done, I was able to register the name Futurist for my app. I registered a few other app names for future use; right now, it seems a little bit like the early days of domain name registration. (Hint, hint.)

As I write this column, I’m actively involved in testing daily updates from the development team as they put together the application; it features a variety of videos within the app itself; access to video feeds from YouTube; direct access to my blog and Twitter feeds and some information resources about innovation and trends. We’re hoping to submit it to Apple shortly; by the time you read this, it should be out there. The cost to develop my app? Just US$995.

All this from hearing Ballmer suggest the experience of browsing the web on an iPhone sucked.

(This article was written in December 2009. The app was submitted December 21, and was approved for release 10 days later!)

:

  • iEveryware
  • Mippin
  • Jim Carroll’s iPhone app
  • Pat Boone’s app

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Here’s an article that I wrote for Food Manufacturing on trends in the consumer, food and packaging sector.

I spend a huge amount of my time as a keynote speaker at countless conferences and events, many of them within and to the food, packaging, retail and restaurant sector. I also spend quite a bit of time with smaller, strategy-oriented leadership session designed around the theme of ‘how to innovate in a high velocity economy.’

And I do know that while volatility rocks the economy, some fundamental truths about that velocity remain: the food, packaging and retail industries continue to be subject to dramatic rates of change–and innovative organizations succeed by mastering the pace of this new high-velocity economy.

Think about what is going on out there: customer mindset has become increasingly difficult to capture as we become a society with massive attention deficits–the Twitter era is having a profound impact on brand image. Marketing and advertising dollars are fleeing traditional media and moving online at a pace that surprises even the more hard-core technology-evangelists. Faster innovation means faster in-store format change. New digital signage technologies and other innovations march forward at a furious pace, providing yet another new influencer in the retail space.

And in the midst of all this change, business models are subject to upheaval due to economic turmoil, commoditization of product and the rapid emergence of new competitors.

It’s a fast paced world–and that’s why cutting-edge organizations are focused on key leadership strategies that provide for a fast-paced future. So what should you do to confront the “big trends” that have so much velocity–and what you should be doing right now?

I approached this very question as the opening keynote speaker for an audience of 5,000 at a recent Las Vegas event. The client organization certainly finds itself in the midst of high-velocity change. There are fast paced trends in terms of new branding challenges and marketing methodologies (think Web 2.0), consumer behavior, and many other issues. Yet, there are tremendous opportunities for growth through innovation.

My keynote addressed a variety of trends that impact every aspect of the food, packaging and retail sector today. For example, to be a leading edge innovator, you must confront and have a strategy that deals with a variety of fast-paced trends:

  • Rapid emergence of new methods of customer interaction. For example, in the next few years, we will likely see the emergence of contact-less payment technology, as our credit card infrastructure migrates to Blackberry, iPhone, and smart phones. This presents new opportunities in terms of customer contact.
  • New methods of brand and product promotion. Organizations must be able to scale to meet the demands of new intelligent infrastructure, and that will require a tremendous amount of innovation. Consider text messaging: technologies that provide for the remote retrieval of mobile coupon offers will define the future of brand interaction. With 147 million people already interacting globally on social networks via their mobile phone–and up to 1 billion in but five years–there are tremendous opportunities for new methods of achieving brand and product awareness.
  • Rapid change in consumer choice. Take the issue of health concerns and balanced diet. Fresh-cut snack foods grew from $6.8 billion in to $10.5 billion in a short time, according to the International Fresh-Cut Produce Association. Innovation comes from changing product mix to keep up with fast-changing consumers.
  • Rapidly emerging new menus and taste trends. It’s estimated that new flavors now move from upscale kitchens to chain restaurants in 12 months, compared to 36 months 5 years ago. This means that faster innovation is not a luxury–it’s a necessity. Change faster, and you’ll yeild new growth-based products.
  • Fast emerging issues involving green strategies. The Grille Zone, a restaurant chain in Boston, generates about 15 pounds of waste per restaurant, compared to an industry average of 275 pounds. The Green Restaurant Association took 14 years to go to 90 restaurants; it’s now at close to 1,000, with thousands more going through the certification program. Growth can come from evolving a brand so that it matches the social desires of the customer base.

What I stress at events like this is that organizations need to realize that innovation isn’t just about “big innovation”–the launch of new products and services. There’s also the issue of “fast innovation”–in which success is defined by the ability of the organization to respond to rapidly changing products, markets, business models, economic trends, competitive moves, consumer trends and just about everything else.

Innovation today is moving from more than just “products” to process, structure, capability, and speed.

Here’s the thing: in my keynotes, I focus on growth opportunities. There are enough people out there who are so focused on the doom and gloom of the economy, that they lose sight of the fact that if they focus on fast innovation–and keeping up with rapid trends–they can discover all kinds of new ways to grow the business.

Faster is the new fast. Think growth. Think innovation.

2010Globalevents.jpgHere’s an article that just ran that offers some of my thoughts on what’s up with the global meeting and events industry.

———

Convene Magazine, January 2010
by Maureen Littlejohn

During 2009, many organizations battened down the hatches and waited for the recession to pass. As we enter the new year – and a new decade – the time for waiting is over. It’s the organizations that keep their eyes peeled for budding opportunities – and are prepared to pounce on them – that will succeed. Convene asked futurist and trends and innovation expert Jim Carroll to identify five emerging megatrends of particular interest to the meetings industry.

  1. Faster business-model reinvention – Industries need to listen to what clients want and be able to change without getting bogged down in traditional, time-consuming approval stages or administrative red tape. In the meetings industry, according to Carroll, this means that organizations need to watch for members’ shifting needs and respond quickly. For example, delegates might want more customized options during online registration, or more room to make last-minute confirmations. “The newer model, based on agility and flexibility, is the model that will take many businesses into the future,” Carroll said. “To understand the link between future trends and innovation, you must get into that mindset.”

    Since the economic meltdown, some business procedures have been turned upside-down. Carroll points to the American automobile industry: “The big automakers used to build up their assembly lines to produce 700,000 cars in a year and hope to sell them. Then they would tear the assembly line down a year later and rebuild for the next year’s model. That formula is broken. Honda looks at this week’s consumer demands, sees what is working, and can tear down and rebuild the assembly line in 10 days.”

    Carroll said that organizations seeking an edge over their competitors are motivated to mess up their rivals’ business models. “Before that happens [to you], you should mess it up yourself, so that you better control the endgame. Technology has and will play a huge role in business-model transformation, and your infrastructure has to be up to the task,” he said.

  2. Rapid ingestion of new technologies – Companies must stay current with technology, especially in the delivery of services, Carroll said. “There’s going to be a huge amount of adaptation as the tsunami of technology continues unabated,” he said. “An example would be in retail, where there will be a rapid transition to cell-phone-based payment technology. Credit-card companies need to stay on top of this. Winners will be able to transition at the speed of Silicon Valley. The leaders will be those who continue to find operational innovation in ways they had not thought of before.”The lesson for meeting planners? Integrate the latest technologies into the meeting’s infrastructure by partnering with technologically up-to-the-minute companies, Carroll said. Planners need to be early adopters of technologies at every stage of the meeting – prior to, during, and after the face-to-face event. This includes everything from promoting the meeting to Web sites, to offering the latest technology-enabled services to delegates on site, to gathering metrics and following up after the event.
  3. Faster knowledge requirements – Carroll believes that “the future belongs to those who are fast.” Organizations need to get smart quicker. “There are a tremendous number of new companies and new industries being built around the high velocity of ideas that surround us – which is increasing the pace of business startups,” Carroll said. “New ideas continue to be explored, markets grow, and industries emerge as rapid innovation occurs in health care, agriculture, and countless other fields. It’s all about rapid science – and exponential knowledge growth – leading to faster discovery of the next thing.”That translates into the need for meetings to deliver more education, to be seen as “knowledge events.” Carroll said: “This can take the form of short-term, high-level management meetings where the intent is to do things differently. Rapid ingestion of knowledge is needed by sales forces, management, and associations. Face-to-face education, done off site, will continue to be very effective. Networking is important for relationships and learning, especially human bonding with beer at 5 p.m. That’s when participants are willing to share tips and ideas.”
  4. Rapid partnerships – Social networking is the best way to form more successful partnerships in a short amount of time, according to Carroll. “This way, people with expertise can be brought in to help work out the problems on new projects,” he said. “Teams that are gathered rapidly and work quickly are critical to solving problems and achieving success.”
  5. End of the “AIG effect” – This, Carroll believes, is the biggest trend. “It is silly to think we shouldn’t go to meetings,” he said. “It’s time to beat back the hysteria. In Las Vegas, where so many workers were laid off, it’s had an effect. Politicians are paying attention and realizing they were shooting themselves in the foot by discouraging meetings.”Carroll predicts that 2010 will usher in a return to long-term thinking. “Companies and associations will be making plans and strategizing how to reach goals in the next two to 10 years,” he said, adding, “To that end, I’ve noticed an increased demand in my services as a futurist. We’re all coming back with a vengeance.”

(This post was originally written back in 2010 after I did a talk for the National Australia Bank financial advisory team. Sometimes, trends posts don’t bear up well with longevity. I think this one does)

I spend a lot of time speaking to global financial organizations — some of the world’s largest institutions — helping them understand what they need to do from an innovation perspective to stay ahead of fast paced change.

These talks are often aimed at the idea of “how do we need to transition our advisory services — financial planners, investment advisors, insurance agents and brokers — to keep up with fast paced change?” Here’s a laundry list of some of the strategies that I’ve been talking about:

1. Focus on growth

With so much volatility in the financial sector, it’s all too easy to take your eye off of the opportunity ball. As I noted in my remarks for a recent keynote to a group of senior bankers:

Never before has the need for financial advice for Australians been greater; only 20% of Australians are currently getting professional advice.”

That means there are tremendous opportunities for growth! For many, access to financial advice is still too hard and complicated – that’s why it’s a great time to innovate, in order to build market share!!!!

2. Structure for fast paced change

There are several certainties in the financial sector:

  • more business model change
  • more sophisticated competition
  • continuous business model disruption with new, young upstarts
  • continual shifts in consumer behaviour
  • technology-driven fast change, such as with the impact of mobile technologies

Quite simply, an innovative financial organization concentrates on aligning its structure and capabilities so that it can change quickly

3. Reshape brand messages faster

Clearly there’s a lot of fast-paced change in financial services with the rapid economic pullback, and it’s critical that financial institutions continue to reshape their brand at the pace of rapidly changing consumer perception.

Noted Jim Buchanan, Senior VP of Consumer Marketing at the Bank of America in an article in Advertising Age, October 2009:

Six months ago, we were trying to re-assure the market and consumers that we are safe and secure….now consumers are telling us they’re not worried about those things anymore…..What they are interested in is ‘How can you help me manage my finances?‘”

Innovative organizations ensure that the brand message evolves at the pace of a world in which volatility is the new normal.

4. Adapt to momentum of financial consumer change

Quite simply, the new financial client is online in a big way, and smart financial organizations will evolve their service and support message to these platforms. The numbers are staggering; in the case of my Australian keynote, I emphasized that:

  • 147 million people interact globally on social networks via their mobile phones – we can expect 1 billion within five years!
  • there are 1.6 million Twitter users in Australia – up 1,000% from last year
  • Australian’s now spend 16.1 hours a week on the Internet, compared to 12.9 hours watching TV
  • 25% of that time is spent on Facebook

The impact is clear: as noted by Mondaq Business Briefing in November 2009:

Australians visit social networking sites more often than financial services sites.”

The bottom line for financial and investment advisors is that social networks are an extremely effective tool to keep core clients in the loop; as an outreach tool, they’re fast, effective, unique, quirky, and certainly the story of the day.

Financial advisors have to go where the client is going, and should be thinking about how to become socially-networked oriented advisors.

5. Adjust platforms to this changing behaviour

I continue to emphasize with my global financial clients that the impact of mobile technologies on financial services is absolutely massive. Think about Wizzit, a South African service that is essentially a text message based banking system.

The reality is that the new financial consumer expects to be served on new platforms: as noted by Thomas Kunz, Senior VP at PNC Financial:

Gen-Y doesn’t reconcile checkbooks, and they don’t believe in float. For them, their balance is their balance.”

That’s why PNC has released a “virtual wallet app” available for iPhones. They’re reaching out to this new financial consumer in a big way.

Aggressive change with business platforms provides big opportunity for business model disruption. A key factor here has to do with new client acquisition: what’s happening is the point of origination of the relationship might change as people transition their banking to mobile devices. Opportunity can come from continuing to build the advisor and distribution channel into these new platforms.

And that’s not a threat – that’s a huge opportunity!

6. Leverage off of new peer-to-peer behaviour trends:

The new financial consumer relies more than ever before for advice from their social networks.

Peer-to-peer social driven advice through sites such as TradeKing is coming to the forefront: it’s a service that allows people to share stock tips and research through extended social networks.Does this diminish the role of advisory services — not at all, if you dive in and become a part of the peer-to-peer conversation!

7. Re-orient distribution channels

Here’s another key point: I’ve emphasized to my insurance and other financial clients that the next-generation advisor/broker/agent expects ever more sophisticated technology platforms to help support their role.You’ve got to make sure you are keeping up with their needs. In one survey in the insurance sector, 80% of brokers indicated that the sophistication of the technology platform of the provider would influence who they would choose to do business with.

According to Kevin Murray, EVP and CIO at New York-based AXA Equitable:

The younger generation of financial professional will almost demand online self-service….they will want to text any questions they have in to the service centre or self-service from their mobile device. We’re going to have to be able to provide that capability. It’s how they will operate.”

8. Build your own peer-to-peer collaborative knowledge networks

The new financial advisor is also thinking socially, and is actively looking for peer-to-peer collaborative knowledge.Imagine building a financial advisory team that is collaborative for ideas, shares insight on market wins, constantly leverages insight from new branding campaigns that work in unique ways, and constantly shares great ideas on new methods of converting leads into clients — that’s how this next generation works!

Back to Kevin Murray:

“They will also want an online collaboration tool to …find answers concerning product or questions from their customers. The X and Y generations are going to demand a different way of selling and servicing their customers.”

What’s it really all about? Freeing up their time to build opportunity, make sales, close deals.

9. Reduce churn through electronic relationships

Hsomething else to think about according to Chief Marketer (October 2009),

The average brand saw one third of highly loyal consumers in 2007 completely defect to another brand in 2008“.

People are far less loyal, and far more likely to jump ship at the drop of a hat. That’s why continuous innovation in terms of the relationship is critical — and that’s maybe why continually transitioning to new technology platforms such as an iPhone app might
reduce that churn

10. Better, more focused niche marketing

We’re in the new era of analytics and analysis, which provides new opportunities for advisors to reach out to markets previously unattainable. As noted by Money Management Executive in October 2009:

Financial advisers generally prefer to manage a small number of high-net-worth clients rather than a large number of small accounts, but recent advances in automation technology could change this dynamic.”

11. Innovate hard with the next generation

One of the biggest trends going forward is that right now, we are witnessing the early stages of a massive transition of wealth from one generation to another. The numbers are staggering: we’ll see $12 to $18 trillion in intergenerational wealth transfer In the next 12 years (US GDP is $12 trillion); and by 2053, some $130 trillion will have moved from one generation to another. That’s a lot of money sloshing around — and much of it is going to this new, tech-savvy financial consumer.

12. At the same time, rethink importance of boomer market

It’s easy with all of these points to think that new markets will come from new, uber-hip young people and hot new technologies.

But don’t stop with innovating with that market — also realize that there continues to be huge growth potential with the boomer market. In Australia, baby boomers will control 51% of the nations wealth.

Put that in the context of the reality that there is a huge adoption by Boomers of Facebook. They continue to more aggressively integrate technology into their lives; they’re busy researching health care, insurance, retirement planning and investment advice.

Online makes more sense than ever before — get your advisors there!

13. Evolve the approach

Insurance and financial services are products that are always sold based on fear — they aren’t bought. This reality doesn’t go away because of new technologies. What does change is that technology is a powerful enabler that frees advisors from having to focus on the mundane, routine, time wasting stuff, in order to focus on providing the advice & guidance that advisors can provide. Focus on the core role!1

14. Enact change

Many advisors will be in comfortable, established routines. Change is not easy. That’s why organizations in the financial sector that are trying to be innovative need to help existing advisors focus on the opportunity and the benefits that come with rapid change, rather than being fearful of the change that technology is bringing to the industry.

Bottom line? As I summed up in my talk — “Innovative organizations make bold leaps, in order to keep up — and stay ahead — of a faster future.”

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