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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 

 

I’ve just returned from delivering the opening keynote for the 14th Annual Portfolio Management for New Products & Services Conference in Fort Lauderdale, an event sponsored by the Product Development and Management Association.

I spoke to the broad theme of “innovating faster,” but also challenged the crowd to think about how the “source of innovative ideas” has changed.

There are some pretty dramatic trends which have gained traction. The source of innovation is rapidly shifting from:North America to Asia. Noted corporate R&D centers such as Bell Labs, Xerox’s Palo Alto, and the IBM TJ Watson Center play a far smaller role in global innovation today. On the rise? Overseas labs such as GE’s John Welch Center in Bangalore. Noted

  • North America to Asia. Noted corporate R&D centers such as Bell Labs, Xerox’s Palo Alto, and the IBM TJ Watson Center play a far smaller role in global innovation today. On the rise? Overseas labs such as GE’s John Welch Center in Bangalore. Noted Business Week in a recent article: “…we will soon witness a dramatic rise in the participation of India and China in global R&D…..the reason for this is the diminished role of corporate laboratories that were the birthplace of the ideas of the 20th century.”
  • corporate R&D groups to open-sourced ideas. The head of R&D for Johnson & Johnson recently observed that faster=paced scientific discovery and increasing complexity of discovery is driving this trend: “All simple diseases have been solved. The next generation drugs, therapies, are much more complex. You need much more information and science than what you can get out of your own labs.” Extend this thinking to the complexity of innovation in the energy, environmental and health care sectors — the scope of innovation is becoming too large, and an organization can’t simply master all the innovation knowledge they need to in order to discover what’s next. That’s why increasingly, organizations need to tap into the global idea cycle for idea generation and innovation research.
  • large to small. Simply put, innovation is switching from large corporations and labs, to smaller, more nimble competitors. Here’s some sobering numbers; big pharma’s 10 biggest companies spent $50 billion on R&D last year. For that sum, they could buy the entire US biotech industry, excluding the top five companies. Yet, 3/4 of all new approved drugs approved came from small biotech labs. Clearly, big R&D is quite broken — and perhaps even dysfunctional.
  • R&D departments to R&D partner implementation conduits. When ideas flow fast, companies can’t hope to master every skill set and knowledge niche. That’s why increasingly, they are turning to outsiders for insight and ideas. Enter the innovation-transfer partner: an organization that links innovative thinkers to those with a need for such insight. Take Bioline Israel : “….the company operates as a clinical bridge between drug researchers and inventors, and large pharmaceutical companies interested in purchasing viable new therapies: (Jerusalem Post, January 2009.) Expect this model to flow into every other industry quickly because of sheer complexity of fast knowledge! You want a business for the future? Think innovation brokering!
  • hidden innovation to public innovation. In the “old days” — say, one or two years ago — companies use to innovate secretly, carefully, and cautiously. Increasingly, organizations are willing to put their ideas out to the public at large, in order to get open, honest feedback on what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong. Consider McDonald’s — it’s D10 store in the airport in Sydney, Australia, is being used as a public innovation space.

The audience at the conference was representative of a broad swathe of Fortune 500 companies. I think my overview might have freaked them out to a degree: but we can’t deny the reality of this fast-paced shift in the source of innovation. My advise was to accept the transition, and begin to shift how you think about the source of new insight, and begin to adjust your corporate planning accordingly.

:

  • Visit the 2009 PDMA conference web site.

bioconnectivity-08.jpgIn a keynote to a health care industry conference last week, I emphasized that in the high velocity economy, new business models, products, markets, and careers are appearing at a fast and furious pace. And it’s by watching for, observing, and understanding these trends that you’ll discover opportunity for innovation.

Consider the rapid emergence of new markets. As new scientific discoveries occur at an ever more rapid pace — due to the massive global collaboration with Web 2.0 as well as new information research sharing paradigms within established peer review based research methodologies — there are countless new products and markets that are being brought to life.

Take that reality, and apply it to any industry. Say, health care. Then parse that industry down into dozens or hundreds of sub-markets, and you’ll discover forthcoming new, billion dollar markets.

Consider, for example, the concept of bioconnectivity, which will be one of the most significant trends — and new markets — to play out in the next twenty years in the health care industry. What is it? Quite simply, the marriage of the computer chip and connectivity technology to medical devices, and ultimately, to people.

One small submarket that will come with bio-connectivity is the emergence of smart, intelligent, home-based medical devices. Have you ever seen a Sharper Image catalogue, or its online Web site? It’s the ultimate source for unique gadgets and toys of every type. Think about what the catalog might look like in 10 years, when its full of home-based bioconnectivity devices aimed at the baby boomer set.

Digital Connect Magazine, which monitors development with home and business connectivity devices, suggests that U.S. revenue from digital-home health services will quadruple to exceed $2.1 billion by 2010.

The two fastest growing areas? “Wellness monitoring services” and “e-health services” will each achieve a compound annual growth rate of more than 50 per cent. The former allows doctors to remotely monitor a patient’s condition (such as their insulin levels), while the latter provides active medical care (such as an intelligent sub-dermal medicine patch, which not only provides a patient automatic ingestion of a particular pharmaceutical, but allows the doctor to monitor its effect.)

It might sound like science fiction, but it is a very real development. Sit back and think about the business models and opportunities that flow from such a transformative trend. Link it to another trend: a whole bunch of baby boomers are getting older, sicker, and the health care system is breaking down. Hospitals will go virtual, extending their services through bio-connectivity, so that non-critical care boomers can be treated and monitored at home. This is slam-dunk obvious!

It’s a BIG TREND. It’s but one of many.

Simply put, our new reality is that science, and hence markets, industries, products and services, are evolving and changing at a rate never seen before.

And that’s where your own opportunity for innovation comes from!

stage-CEO.jpgSupertramp — a band from the 80’s — had a minor hit with the song “On the Long Way Home,” which featured the memorable line, the line, “when you’re up on the stage, it’s so unbelievable.”

It is, quite. And when you’re up there, you realize how lucky you are to be able to share with the audience the wisdom you’ve picked up by observing some of the world’s top innovators.

Recently, after a presentation to an audience of 3,000 people, I was approached by a CEO who was quite inspired by my remarks. He then asked me a fascinating question: “what would you do if you took over the leadership of my company right now?” We chatted for a while and I believe I provided some pretty succinct insight; but since then, I’ve been thinking about that question. Here’s a part of my answer.

  • maximize your best revenue opportunities. I’d make sure that any existing revenue relationships remain intact, and then some. I’d work on having my team obsess on growing existing high value customer relationships through service excellence. Let’s make sure that we meet their needs. It will likely be easier to keep existing revenue flowing rather than finding new ones, particularly through a time of economic challenge.
  • obsess over time to market. I’d work hard to accelerate product innovation; market life-cycles are collapsing, and I’d make sure every member of the team reoriented themselves to that reality. I’d focus on getting R&D to think in terms of faster cycles; I’d ramp up sales force education so that they were better aware of what’s coming next. I’d have the team thinking in terms of 3-6-9-12 : here’s what will be doing in the marketplace 3, 6, 9 and 12 months from now. I’d layer on top of that some insight into 1-2-5-10: what we might be doing 1, 2, 5 and 10 years from now.
  • reduce product costs through process improvement and better project execution: there is no shortage of innovative ideas, structures and concepts involving process and production methodologies. I’d make sure we were looking at finding those who are doing leading edge work in this area, inside or outside our industry, and learn from them.
  • reduce structural costs through collaboration: at this point in time, in a global world that allows for instant, smart collaboration among teams, there is no reason for massive duplication of skills and talent throughout an organization. I’d start a rethink those silos, and restructure for a new skills deployment approach. Right off the bat, I’d encourage a few cross-organizational collaboration efforts, to get people used to the idea of tackling fast new problems rather than arguing about structure and hierarchy.
  • focus on the pipeline of talent innovation: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The depth the bench strength is critical to future success. I’d have everyone take a good look at our pipeline, to see if it will meet upcoming needs. If not, I’d get a program in place to fix that fast.
  • relentlessly and aggressively chase costs: I’m not talking about spontaneous slash and burn spending cuts: I’d refocus on transitioning the role of staff from tactical efforts to a strategic role. I’ve spent time with the CIO’s and CFO’s of some pretty major organizations: Hunt Oil, Adobe, J Crew, Under Armor. All of them have provided in-depth insight onstage during customer panels that have focused on the role of IT in the business to run the business better, grow the business and transform the business. There remain countless opportunities for IT oriented innovation to rip unnecessary costs out of the business, and it involves this tactical to strategic transition.
  • enhance quality and reliability of product: Last year, I spoke to 2,500 global quality professionals on the challenges that the high velocity economy presents to the concept of quality. The fact is, new issues hit us in the marketplace faster than ever before. And the global idea loop means that quality challenges can become a sudden, massive worldwide PR nightmare faster than we’ve ever been prepared for. That’s why avoiding quality problems remains a critical focus. I’d take a look at how well we’re dealing with quality issues, and whether we’ve got the agility to respond in this new world of heightened PR challenges. I’d also have a group prepare an immediate outline of challenges and problems with customer service and satisfaction.
  • capture new emerging growth markets faster: I’d begin to orient the team so that we knew about which market opportunities might come next, and then spend time aligning ourselves to innovate faster in such markets. I recently spent some time with one client, and the focus of our discussion was how a new market was set to unfold in the next three months. Expectations were that the market — for a unique consumer product, with potential sales in the billions of dollars — might last for a period of eighteen months, before being eclipsed by the next stage of development. Essentially, the CEO was looking at a situation where they had to figure out how to jump into this new fast market, and make the most of it in an extremely short period of time. That’s a new skill structure to wrap an organization around, and one that every organization must learn to master.

That’s a good starting point. The key issue: I’d begin by aligning the organization to the concept of “thriving in the high velocity economy.”

Oh, and one of the first things I’d do? I would immediately convene a senior management/leadership meeting, and bring in a futurist and innovation expert to wake my people up to the potential that can come from energizing ourselves towards future opportunities.

What happens when light stops?
February 13th, 2007

lightstops.jpgWell, for one thing, when light stops, velocity picks up!

A few weeks ago, I keynoted a crowd of 3,000 telecom professionals in Florida. One of the comments I made was this: when it comes to the velocity of change in the “big media universe,” we can only expect that the bandwidth and computing power in our lives will become ever more plentiful, and ever faster, because scientists are figuring out how to slow light to a crawl.

That’s important, because it migrates us from a world of “electronics based computing” to “photonics computing.” The difference in speed, capacity, processing power and everything else will be simply staggering. Think optical-chips based on light, not today’s model-T’s based on electrons.

This trend will make the electronic computers of today look like Cro-Magnon tools compared to the optical computers of tomorrow.

Last week, I caught an article in which the folks at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) predicted that optical chips will be here within 5 years

A year ago, at another telecom event in Florida, I made the then bold prediction that as scientists learn to stop light, we’ll see bandwidth improvements of a huge degree. Some industry folks in the room were taken aback: it’s kind of interesting to read the article that was printed at the time (found below.)

It’s awful nice to see predictions of the past become mainstream quicker than you might have expected!

——————–

Optical Futures: Another ET Look at Light
24 January 2006
CT’s Pipeline

Among the many intriguing observations and reports shared by the SCTE Conference on Emerging Technologies keynoter Jim Carroll in Tampa two weeks ago was the progress that optical researchers were making on the question of how to slow down light.

In our ET report in last week’s Pipeline, we’d written on how it might have been interesting to have one of the industry’s many optical experts comment on “when, where and how this could happen.” Since then, we’ve heard back from the futurist Carroll and checked in with one of those experts.

“The slowing of light is nothing new,” Carroll wrote, referring to New York Times article from last November that cited Harvard researchers who in 1999 who were able to slow light drastically and two years later were able to bring light to a stop.

Of most interest to Carroll about this science project, which already was well under way six years ago, is its new scale. Whereas the Harvard researchers required a roomful of equipment, according to the Times, IBM scientists now have created a tiny silicon device to slow down light from its usual 186,000 miles per second to 600 miles per second–or to about 0.3 percent of ordinary light speed.

“Heck, I could have a little light-stop-chip in my laptop some time in the future, plug into my optical-wall-plug, and access the yottabit universe,” Carroll wrote.

There’s no quibbling with ability of a wide-ranging, connect-the-dots futurist such as Carroll in getting those (trade journalists included) who may be stuck in a particular niche to drop the blinders and look around, and ahead. His talk certainly was an effective way to jolt ET attendees into a forward- leaning frame of mind.

New optical thinking

For input from one of the industry’s optical experts, we turned to OpVista CTO Dr. Winston Way, who noted up front how thinking about optical networking already is undergoing a shift.

“Before, people only thought that you could manage packets, frames or bytes, but I think right now people have just started to think about the fact that light, or colors, can be managed also,” Way said. One of OpVista’s calling cards is its novel approach to reconfigurable optical add/drop multiplexers (ROADMs).

As for not simply managing, but arresting lightwaves, Way said: “I think that is really out-of-the-box thinking. It’s interesting. Slow it down so you can see what’s inside, then let it go again.”

Way said this project reminded him of work done at AT&T Bell Labs in the late 1980s and early 1990s on optical signal processing, which sidestepped the physical limitations of the electronics domain. “I’m not sure it’s practical today,” he said.

What Carroll was talking about, of course, was not today but tomorrow, or rather the day or year (or decade?) after. “I don’t make my stuff up,” Carroll wrote. “The future surrounds us, is being developed all around us and all the (technologies) that people work on eventually come into our lives. I just think…that it is going to come into our lives quicker than we might think.”

Stopping light in its tracks
February 1st, 2006

An interesting article here.

Optical Futures: Another ET Look at Light
24 January 2006
CT’s Pipeline

Among the many intriguing observations and reports shared by the SCTE Conference on Emerging Technologies keynoter Jim Carroll in Tampa two weeks ago was the progress that optical researchers were making on the question of how to slow down light.

In our ET report in last week’s Pipeline, we’d written on how it might have been interesting to have one of the industry’s many optical experts comment on “when, where and how this could happen.” Since then, we’ve heard back from the futurist Carroll and checked in with one of those experts.

“The slowing of light is nothing new,” Carroll wrote, referring to New York Times article from last November that cited Harvard researchers who in 1999 who were able to slow light drastically and two years later were able to bring light to a stop.

Of most interest to Carroll about this science project, which already was well under way six years ago, is its new scale. Whereas the Harvard researchers required a roomful of equipment, according to the Times, IBM scientists now have created a tiny silicon device to slow down light from its usual 186,000 miles per second to 600 miles per second–or to about 0.3 percent of ordinary light speed.

“Heck, I could have a little light-stop-chip in my laptop some time in the future, plug into my optical-wall-plug, and access the yottabit universe,” Carroll wrote.

There’s no quibbling with ability of a wide-ranging, connect-the-dots futurist such as Carroll in getting those (trade journalists included) who may be stuck in a particular niche to drop the blinders and look around, and ahead. His talk certainly was an effective way to jolt ET attendees into a forward- leaning frame of mind.

New optical thinking

For input from one of the industry’s optical experts, we turned to OpVista CTO Dr. Winston Way, who noted up front how thinking about optical networking already is undergoing a shift.

“Before, people only thought that you could manage packets, frames or bytes, but I think right now people have just started to think about the fact that light, or colors, can be managed also,” Way said. One of OpVista’s calling cards is its novel approach to reconfigurable optical add/drop multiplexers (ROADMs).

As for not simply managing, but arresting lightwaves, Way said: “I think that is really out-of-the-box thinking. It’s interesting. Slow it down so you can see what’s inside, then let it go again.”

Way said this project reminded him of work done at AT&T Bell Labs in the late 1980s and early 1990s on optical signal processing, which sidestepped the physical limitations of the electronics domain. “I’m not sure it’s practical today,” he said.

What Carroll was talking about, of course, was not today but tomorrow, or rather the day or year (or decade?) after. “I don’t make my stuff up,” Carroll wrote. “The future surrounds us, is being developed all around us and all the (technologies) that people work on eventually come into our lives. I just think…that it is going to come into our lives quicker than we might think.”

-Jonathan Tombes

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