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This fall, I’m headling a major retail event in Las Vegas – Xcelerate 2017! Details are here.

 

There’s a lot of change underway – and certainly, the Amazon/Whole Foods situation is a wake up call for everyone. I’ve been speaking about the decline and transformation of traditional retail for over 20 years. In the 1990’s, I even wrote a book about e-commerce that was translated into German and Russian, as well as being picked up and distributed by Visa USA to it merchants.

Retailers must scramble to keep up with fast paced change. Maybe that’s why Godiva Chocolates has had me to Europe twice this year for insight on what’s going on.

Here’s the description for my September keynote.

The Disruption and Reinvention of Retail: Aligning to the World of Speed  

It’s hard to discount the speed of change occurring in the world of retail and consumer products. Consider this: E-commerce could be 25% of the retail – grocery and convenience — experience by 2021. Shopper marketing,” which combines location intelligence, mobile technology and in-store display technology for a new form of in-store promotion, continues to move forward. Mobile payment involving Apple Pay and disappearance of the cash-register, providing opportunity and challenge with loyalty, infrastructure and disruption. Then there is Amazon Alexa, AI and shopping bots! Simply talk and products are added to your shopping cart, and delivered within an hour! Let’s not stop — there’s also the rapid installation of “click and collect” infrastructure (i.e. an online purchase, with same day pickup at a retail location). And last but not least, the arrival of active, intelligent packaging and intelligent (“Internet of Things”) products, collapsing product life-cycles, rapid product obsolescence and the implications on inventory and supply chain!

We are going to see more change in the world of retail in the next 5 year than we have seen in the last 100. Savvy brands, retailers, shopping mall and retail infrastructure companies are working to understand these trends, and what they need to do from an innovation perspective to turn them from challenge to opportunity.  Futurist Jim Carroll will help us to understand the tsunami of change sweeping retail.

When the GAP went looking for a trends and innovation expert to speak to a small, intimate group of senior executives, they chose Jim Carroll. He has been the keynote speaker for some of the largest retail conferences in the world, with audiences of up to 7,000 people in Las Vegas, including Consumer Goods Technology Business & Technology Leadership Conference • Subway • Multi-Unit Franchise Conference Las Vegas • Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit • Consumer Electronics Association CEO Summit • Retail Value Chain Federation • Yum! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut) Global Leadership Conference • Burger King Global Franchise Meeting • VIBE (Very Important Beverage Executives) Summit • Manufacturing Jewelers Suppliers of America • National Home Furnishings Association • Do It Best Corporation • US Department of Defence Commissary Agency • Readers Digest Food & Entertainment Group Branding/Retail Summit • Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association • National Association of Truck Stop Operators • Convenience U annual conference • Point of Purchase Advertising International Association • Chain Drug Store Association of Canada • Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors • Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers

 

My message on the speed of change in retail is drawing attention, further and further afield.

Case in point – yesterday, I was a keynote speaker for a global leadership meeting of Pladis held in London, UK. This is the newly merged entity of three iconic global brands — Godiva Chocolate, McVitie’s biscuits from the UK, and Ulker from Turkey.  I was asked to provide my insight to 300 executives from around the world in a morning keynote, and then followed this up in an intimate discussion with members of the board and the senior management team.

It’s hard to discount the speed of change occurring in the world of retail and consumer products. Consider this:

  • e-commerce could be 25% of the retail – grocery and convenience — experience by 2021
  • “shopper marketing,” which combines location intelligence, mobile technology and in-store display technology for a new form of in-store promotion, continues to move forward
  • mobile payment involving Apple Pay and disappearance of the cash-register, providing opportunity and challenge with loyalty, infrastructure and disruption
  • the continued migration to the same-day shipping model from titans such as Google, Amazon, John Lewis
  • Amazon Alexa, AI and shopping bots! Simply talk and products are added to your shopping cart, and delivered within an hour
  • the rapid installation of “click and collect” infrastructure (i.e. an online purchase, with same day pickup at a retail location)
  • faster ‘store fashion’ with rapid evolution of in-store promotion, layout and interaction
  • the arrival of active, intelligent packaging and intelligent (“Internet of Things”) products
  • collapsing product life-cycles, rapid product obsolescence and the implications on inventory and supply chain
  • the evolution of the automobile to an online shopping and credit card platform (yes, this is real….)

Here’s the thing – we are going to see more change in the world of retail in the next 5 year than we have seen in the last 100. Savvy brands, retailers, shopping mall and retail infrastructure companies are working to understand these trends, and what they need to do from an innovation perspective to turn them from challenge to opportunity.

That’s my role. This is all happening in the context of massive and fast disruption as new competitors enter the food, CPG and retail space. Consider this chart of players in 2016 from Rosenheim Advisors, and look at the players in each category.

 

The rate of change is going from fast to furious, and innovation is critical!

My keynote title for London yesterday? “Achieving Agility: Aligning Ourselves for an Era of Accelerating Change!” Learn more in the retail and consumer products trends section of my Web site.

 

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I did a keynote a few weeks back for a leading North American food company.

It was a highly customized keynote, built around the theme, “Being Agile: How Innovators Thrive in the High Velocity Economy.” I think it took about 5 or 6 conference calls with senior executives at the client as I worked to build my content and insight into their overall theme. They had about 200 of their top executives at the corporate offsite. (This is typical of about 50% of the events I do ; a lot of “corporate off-sites” for Fortune 1000 companies, often at the behest of a CEO).

Agility2015

A quick screen shot of one of my opening slides!

What is “corporate agility” or “business agility”? From my perspective, it involves an organization that has aligned itself so that it can “respond to fast external trends in order to spot opportunity, ward off challenge and align resources for fast success.”

Of course, a good part of my talk focused on the trends in this particular sector that are driving the need for agility; specifically, the rapid emergence of new forms of in-store promotion known as “shopper marketing,” which combines location intelligence, mobile technology and in-store display technology; massive changes to the in-store payment process, including mobile payment involving Apple Pay and the complete elimination of the concept of the cash-register; the emergence of same-day shipping from titans such as Google, Amazon and Walmart; the rapid installation of “click and collect” infrastructure (i.e. an online purchase, with same day pickup at a retail location); faster ‘store fashion’ with rapid evolution of in-store promotion, layout and interaction; the arrival of intelligent packaging and intelligent (“Internet of Things”) products; and collapsing product life-cycles, rapid product obsolescence and the implications on inventory and supply chain! (All of which is covered in depth in a previous retail trends post….). Not to mention all the fast changing consumer, taste, food and social networking trends influencing today’s food purchasing decisions…

How do achieve agility in a fast moving environment? I focused on these issues:

  • structure for execution
  • rebuild your competitive intelligence capabilities
  • watch the “edges”, particular crowdfunding initiaitves in your space
  • abandon tradition – get more projects on the leading edge
  • be decisive – avoid aggressive indecision
  • innovate with structure – form fast teams!
  • enourage entrepreneurial units – spin out units rather than reining them in
  • partner up in unique ways
  • redefine strategic planing – flex it to short term thinking
  • build a culture that supports new ideas
  • challenge decisions
  • rapidly ingest new technology
  • “test and learn”
  • spots trends quicker
  • risk failure faster
  • align different generations on social projects

I spent some time walking through each of these issues in a fair bit of depth; and there is a copious amount of insight on each elsewhere throughout my blog.

And of course, avoid the “innovation killers” — which can shut down opportunities in learning how to be agile!

It was a great keynote talk on agility, and the client was genuinely thrilled.

Agility is a critical issue that organizations need to think about in a world in which the future belongs to those fast….! Here’s a video clip to whet your appetite!

 

“Daddy, is that from the olden days?” That’s a question I would often get from my sons when they were small — around 3 or 5 or 7 years old. (They’re 16 and 18 now…)

"Is that a thing from the olden days, daddy?"

Way back in 2003 or so, I wrote an article around their unique view on the world.

I called it “10 Things from the Olden Days.”

Today, August 2011, I’m getting a lot of media calls around the theme of innovation and the pace of change in the world; I think it is all part of the story angle having to do with Steve Job’s retirement, and the blistering pace of innovation that has existed at Apple.

I mentioned this article in one talk moments ago with a reporter, and realized that it might be a good thing to repost the article in full.

So in that spirit, I’ll repost the article.


10 Things My Kids Think Are From the Olden Days
by Jim Carroll, October 2003
One of the most important roles for any executive today is ensuring that the organization is strategically positioned to deal with relentless, ongoing change.

Everyone is faced with rapidly evolving business models, new and unique customer demands, heightened competition, rapid product development and even faster product obsolescence, and increasing career specialization, not to mention dramatic rates of knowledge growth. It is important to be cognizant of the potential impact of all of these trends, in order to clearly assess how an organization should be responding to change.

It is important that you don’t become complacent about the rate of change that envelopes us today. That’s why it can be very useful to have a barometer that helps to measure the rate of change.

In my case, I track what my two boys – aged 8 and 10 – happen to think about the world around them. Their world is a very different one, in that there are a number of things that we take for granted that already to them, are “things from the olden days.”

  • 35mm film.

The other day, I headed out to a local photofinishing store with a Compact Flash digital camera card in my hand, in order to get a variety of digtal picures printed. “Where are you going with the film, daddy?” asked one. Think

….they’ve grown up in a world of pixels, not acetate.

Which made me wonder, did they know what “real film” looked like? Not at all – since I’ve been doing digital photography since 1996, they’ve grown up in a world of pixels, not acetate.

One day, I grabbed some negatives from an old set of photographs, and showed it to them. They were fascinated, but wondered how you got that thing into a computer in order to see the picture.

  • CD’s.

In my home, there are 12,000 (legally acquired) songs on various servers in the basement. Music is pulled through the home network and played through a “digital audio receiver,” a computer-like entertainment device that will be common in homes five years out.

That’s why my son commented to his buddy a few years ago, when he was visiting, that he had “some of those things from the olden days,” referring, of course, to CD’s. Since I converted all of my music back in 1997 to digital format, the CD’s have sat in various boxes, packed away, simply a form of backup.

A few months back, I showed them some of my old LP records. That really freaked them out.

  • Airplane tickets.

I’m serious! We travel a lot, and we’ve been using e-tickets for as long as they can remember having memories.

I had a recent trip that involved an honest to goodness paper ticket, and they thought the red and green carbon paper was really neat. They wondered if they could do some type of art project with it, while I had to patiently explain that it was worth a lot of money, and that we shouldn’t fool with it.

  • TV Guides.

Saturday mornings in our home are “cartoon mornings.” It is the only day of the week that my wife Christa and I will let them “veg-out” for a few hours and watch their favorite shows.

I came down one Saturday morning, only to find both sons with very sad expressions.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. “There’s no data, daddy” said one. “No what?” I asked? He pressed the button for the “electronic program guide” on the TV – we have digital cable – and all the boxes showed the description, “no data.” I guess there must have been some type of hiccup in the system.

I went to the front door, grabbed the newspaper, took out the tv listing section, and said, “here, I’ll show you how we did it in the olden days.”

They weren’t impressed.
  • Analog clocks.

Call these kids digital or what! We were fortunate enough to be out of town when the Great Northeast Power Failure of 2003 occurred, vacationing in Phoenix. But both boys were very curious as to what the power outage would mean and curious about its effects.

“How do people go to sleep?” one asked. That was a new one – we weren’t quite sure what they meant. Until we realized that both of them have grown up with a digital clock beside their bed — if they wake up at night, they check the time, and know it is time to go back to sleep.

We’ve learned that they can’t even sleep without one.

  • TV’s with knobs.

One day, I mentioned that we didn’t have such devices in the “olden days.” “How did people change the channel?” they innocently asked.

I realized that they had no concept that back then – what, twenty years ago at most? – that most people actually had to get up off the couch to change the channel.

The thought seemed completely foreign to them!

  • Store clerks who punch in prices.

When my boys were 2 and 4, they use to play grocery store checkout. One would hand over the purchases, while the other would run the scanner and go “beep.”

They’ve grown up in a world of bar codes, and it is a rarity when they see someone using an actual cash register where you type in the numbers.

  • Portable vacuum cleaners.

“What’s that?” the eldest asked the day we were moving into our ski cottage, pointing at our old portable vacuum cleaner. We’ve had a built-in vacuum system for almost a decade, and so he was mystified as to the nature of the device in front of him.

They watched in awe as we used it the first time, particularly as we pulled it around bumping into walls and doors. One observed that it was kind of a “dumb design,” in that it seemed to do more damage then good.

  • Analog thermometers.

For year, as soon as we saw the bare hint of a fever, we’d quickly measure their temperature with a fancy digital thermometer. Which is why when they saw an old-fashioned, mercury glass thermometer at their grandparents house they were fascinated.

How was it used, they wondered. Better yet, did it go beep when it was finished?

  • A sky without the Space Station.

Ever since they can remember, they’ve gone into our backyard at dusk on clear evenings, watching for the International Space Station and various satellites. They know that mommy and daddy will tell them precisely where to look, at what time, and in what direction the station or satellite will be traversing overhead.

That’s because they’ve grown up with a Web site called Heavens-Above, which will tell you the exact details, for any particular point on earth, where you can easily observe such orbiting wonders.

To them, this is a normal and expected part of life—to me, it is fascinating that a system has evolved that lets me discover such magic.

What does all of this mean?

The interesting thing is that each one of these examples, when examined in the larger sense, involves some type of sweeping industry, product or corporate change, and hence dramatic change upon the careers of hundreds of thousands of people.

In but a few years, the world has changed to a sufficient degree that my boys are growing up in a world that is dramatically different, even from that which existed five years ago.

I remain convinced that the rate of change is only going to increase, and that preparing people to cope with change is one of the most important skills we need to provide.

Ogden Nash once observed that “progress is great, but its gone on far too long.”

That might be a worthy sentiment for some, but those who think like that are ill-equipped to cope in a world of tomorrow that will continue to be unlike anything we know today.

 

 

 

Analysis of Apple's revenue shows extent of innovation

This is from my January 2011 CAMagazine column.

The article was based upon a blog post by Asymco in October of 2010, and includes some commentary from a previous blog post I made on fast changing product life-cycles.

When Apple reported results last fall that blew past analyst expectations, there was a lot of talk about how this innovation juggernaut continues to redefine the technology market.

Yet much of the discussion overlooked a significant factor: 60% of Apple’s revenue came from products that didn’t exist three years prior to the earnings release, according to an analysis of Apple’s revenue by mobile app developer Asymco.

Think about that in the context of your operations. What if you had to replenish your product or service line every two or three years? It could become the new normal in many industries.

One of the most profound changes to come about during the past decade has been the collapse of product life cycles. Think about the graph in your marketing textbook from years or decades ago when you first learned about the concept of product life cycles. Remember how it showed a product coming to market: sales increase, reach market maturity and eventually begin to drop off. That’s been the model of product life cycles as taught in business schools for the past 100 years or so.

The rule of thumb was that companies would innovate and introduce a new product. If it succeeded, the company would experience growth. At some point, sales would peak. The product would then become obsolete or overtaken by competitors and sales would decline. That might involve a time period of 10, 15 or even 25 years.

What a quaint model. Too bad it bears no resemblance to today’s reality. The product life-cycle model today is being turned on its ear by instant obsolescence. In some industries, that product obsolescence now occurs during the growth stage; in the high-tech industry, the decline phase caused by instant obsolescence can occur during the introduction of a product or even before a product makes it to the marketplace.

For example, last year Lenovo pulled the plug on an iPad-like product even before it was released because it was obvious that its limited feature set had already made it irrelevant and obsolete in a very fast-paced market. The product simply had no chance of competing against the iPad. It was killed before it was even produced.

If you want to master innovation, you need to think about how your own product life cycle is changing. Look at the numbers: it took two years for Apple to sell two million iPhones; it took just two months for it to sell two million iPads. And, as my 17-year-old son pointed out when we were chatting about this at the dinner table, it took but a few weeks to sell a million iPhone 4s.

Clearly Apple is on a very significant innovation roll here, but there are lessons to be learned for other organizations. If product life cycles are collapsing in your industry, do you have the capability and wherewithal to generate revenue where revenue hasn’t existed before? Are you prepared to bust into new business models so you can enter markets where you haven’t participated before? Do you know how to add service and other revenue streams to commodity product lines so that you can generate additional revenue from previously stale product lines?

For years, I’ve been preaching to my clients that their ability to survive and thrive in the future is going to come from their ability to generate new sources of revenue and adapt — I covered the issue about a year ago in a column on the concept of chameleon revenue (Netwatch, December 2009). Apple’s numbers indicate that the trend might be picking up steam.

Product lifecyclesThis graph represents the model of product life cycles as taught in business schools for the last, oh, I don’t know, 100 years?

Companies would innovate, and introduce a new product. If it succeeded, they would experience growth. At some point, sales would peak. The product would then tend to become obsolete or overtaken by competitors,  and sales would decline.

What a quaint model. Too bad it bears no resemblance to todays’ reality. Many industries are now finding that product obsolescence now occurs during the growth stage; in the hi-tech industry, the “decline” phase caused by instant obsolescence can even occur during the introduction,

Back in June, I was the opening speaker for the Consumer Electronics Association CEO Summit in Ojai, California, and spoke to this trend. At the time, Lenovo had just pulled the plug on a pad-like product, even before it was released, because it was obvious that its’ limited feature set had already made it irrelevant and obsolete in a very fast paced market.

The reality of today’s market is that of instant obsolescence, and if you want to master innovation, you need to think about how your own product life cycle is changing.

Here’s a video take that is worth watching on the trend:

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