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I spent the morning yesterday with the Board of Directors of a multi-billion dollar credit union, taking a good hard look at the trends sweeping the financial services space. They know that disruption is real, and that it is happening now.

And disruption is everywhere: every business, and every industry is  being redefined at blinding speed by technology, globalization, the rapid emergence of new competitors, new forms of collaborative global R&D, and countless other challenges.


The speed with which these changes occur are now being increasingly driven by he arrival of a younger, more entrepreneurial generation; a group that seems determined to change the world to reflect their ideas and concept of opportunity. They’ve grown up networked, wired, and are collaborative in ways that no previous generation seems to be.

And therein lies the challenge.

Most organizations are bound up in traditions, process, certain defined ways of doing things — rules — that have helped them succeed in the past. Over time, they have developed a corporate culture which might have worked at the slower paced world of the past — but now has them on the sick-bed, suffering from an organizational sclerosis that clogs up their ability to try to do anything new.

Those very things which worked for them in the past might be the anchors that could now hold them back as the future rushes at them with ever increasing speed.

They are being challenged in a fundamental way by those who think big, and by some really big, transformative trends.

How to cope with accelerating change?  Think big, start small and scale fast!

I’m doing many keynotes in which I outline the major trends and opportunities that come from “thinking big, starting small, and scaling fast,” by addressing some of the fundamental changes that are underway.

1. Entire industries are going “upside down”

One thing you need to know is this: entire industries are being flipped on their back by some pretty big trends.

Consider the world of health care. Essentially, today, it’s a system in which we fix people after they become sick. You come down with some type of medical condition; your doctor does a diagnosis, and a form of treatment is put in place. That’s overly simplifying things, but essentially that is how it works.

Yet that is going to change in a pretty fundamental way with genomic, or DNA based medicine. It takes us into a world in which we can more easily understand what health conditions are you susceptible or at risk for throughout your life. It moves us from a world in which we fix you after you are sick — to one in which we know what you are likely to become sick with, and come up with a course of action before things go wrong. That’s a pretty BIG and pretty fundamental change. I like to say that the system is going “upside down.”

So it is with the automotive and transport industry. One day, most people drove their own cars. One day in the future, cars will do much of the driving on their own. That’s a pretty change — sort of the reverse, or upside-down, from how it use to be.

Or think about education: at one time, most people went to the place where education is delivered. But with the massive explosion of connectivity and new education delivery methods involving technology, an increasing number of people are in a situation where education is delivered to them. That’s upside down too!

You can go through any industry and see similar signs. That’s a lot of opportunity for big change.

2. Moore’s law – everywhere!

Another big trend that is driving a lot of change comes about as technology takes over the rate of change in the industry.

Going forward, every single industry, from health care to agriculture to insurance and banking, will find out that change will start to come at the speed of Moore’s law — a speed of change that is MUCH faster than they are used too. (Remember, Moore’s law explains that roughly, the processing power of a computer chip doubles every 18 months while its cost cuts in half. It provides for the pretty extreme exponential growth curve we see with a lot of consumer and computer technology today.)

Back to health care. We know that genomic medicine is moving us from a world in which we fix people after they are sick – to one where we know what they will likely become sick with as a result of DNA testing. But now kick in the impact of Moore’s law, as Silicon Valley takes over the pace of development of the genomic sequencing machines. It took $3 billion to sequence the first genome, which by 2009 had dropped to $100,000. It’s said that by mid-summer, the cost had dropped to under $10,000, and by the end of the year, $1,000. In just a few years, you’ll be able to go to a local Source by Circuit City and buy a little $5 genomic sequencer – and one day, such a device will cost just a few pennies.

The collapsing cost and increasing sophistication of these machines portends a revolution in the world of health care. Similar trends are occurring elsewhere – in every single industry, we know one thing: that Moore’s law rules!

3. Loss of the control of the pace of innovation

What happens when Moore’s law appears in every industry? Accelerating change, and massive business model disruption as staid, slow moving organizations struggle to keep up with faster paced technology upstarts.

Consider the world of car insurance — we are witnessing a flood of GPS based driver monitoring technologies that measure your speed, acceleration and whether you are stopping at all the stop signs. Show good driving behaviour, and you’ll get a rebate on your insurance. It’s happening in banking, with the the imminent emergence of the digital wallet and the trend in which your cell phone becomes a credit card.

In both cases, large, stodgy, slow insurance companies and banks that move like molasses will have to struggle to fine tune their ability to innovate and keep up : they’re not used to working at the same fast pace as technology companies.

Not only that, while they work to get their innovation agenda on track, they’ll realize with horror that its really hard to compete with companies like Google, PayPal, Facebook, and Apple — all of whom compete at the speed of light.

It should make for lots of fun!

4.  “Follow the leader” business methodologies

We’re also witnessing the more rapid emergence of new ways of doing business, and it’s leading us to a time in which companies have to instantly be able to copy any move by their competition – or risk falling behind.

For example, think about what is going on in retail, with one major trend defining the future: the Apple checkout process. Given what they’ve done, it seems to be all of a sudden, cash registers seemed to become obsolete. And if you take a look around, you’ll notice a trend in which a lot of other retailers are scrambling to duplicate the process, trying to link themselves to the cool Apple cachet.

That’s the new reality in the world of business — pacesetters today can swiftly and suddenly change the pace and structure of an industry, and other competitors have to scramble to keep up.  Consider this scenario: Amazon announces a same day delivery in some major centres. Google and Walmart almost immediately jump on board. And in just a short time, retailers in every major city are going to have be able to play the same game!

Fast format change, instant business model implementation, rapid fire strategic moves. That’s the new reality for business, and it’s the innovators who will adapt.

5. All interaction — all the time!

If there is one other major trend that is defining the world of retail and shopping, take a look at all the big television screens scattered all over the store! We’re entering the era of constant video bombardment in the retail space. How fast is the trend towards constant interaction evolving? Consider the comments by

Ron Boire, the new Chief Marketing Officer for Sears in the US (and former chief executive of Brookstone Inc.): “My focus will really be on creating more and better theatre in the stores.”

We are going to see a linking of this ‘in-store theatre’ with our mobile devices and our social networking relationships. Our Facebook app for a store brand (or the fact we’ve ‘liked’ the brand) will know we’re in the store, causing a a customized commercial to run, offering us a personalized product promotion with a  hefty discount. This type of scenario will be here faster than you think!

6. Products reinvented

Smart entrepreneurs have long realized something that few others have clued into : the future of products is all about enhancement through intelligence and connectivity. Nail those two aspects, and you suddenly sell an old product at significantly higher new prices.

Consider the NEST Learning Thermostat. It’s design is uber-cutting edge, and was in fact dreamed up by one of the key designers of the iPad. It looks cool, it’s smart, connected, and there’s an App for that! Then there is a Phillips Hue Smart LED Lightbulb, a $69 light bulb that is uber-smart, connected, and can be controlled from your mobile device. Both are sold at the Apple store!

Or take a look at the Whitings Wi-Fi Body Scale. Splash a bit of design onto the concept of a home weigh scale, build it with connectivity, link it to some cool online graphs and you’ve got a device that will take your daily weight, BMI and body-fat-mass tracking into a real motivational tool.  Where is it sold? Why, at the Apple store too!

Do you notice a trend here?

7. Careers reinvented

For those who that the post-2008 North American recovery from the recession was slow, here’s an open secret: there was a significant economic recovery underway for quite some time, as companies in every sector ranging from manufacturing to agriculture worked hard to reinvent themselves. It just didn’t involve a lot of new jobs, because the knowledge required to do a new job in today’s economy is pretty complex. We’ve moved quickly from the economy of menial, brute force jobs to new careers that require a lot of high level skill. The trend has been underway for a long, long time.

Consider the North American manufacturing sector, a true renaissance industry if there ever was one! Smart engineers at a wide variety of manufacturing organizations have transformed process to such a degree, and involved the use of such sophisticated robotic technology, that the economic recovery in this sector involves workers who have to master a lot of new knowledge. One client observed of their manufacturing staff: “The education level of our workforce has increased so much….The machinists in this industry do trigonometry in their heads.”

Similar skills transitions are underway in a wide variety of other industries….

8. The Rise of the Small over Incumbents

We are living in the era that involves the end of incumbency. Companies aren’t assured that they will own the marketplace and industry they operate within because of past success ; they’ll have to continually re-prove themselves through innovation.

Consider Square, the small little device that lets your iPhone become a credit card. What a fascinating little concept that has such big potential for disruption. And it’s a case where once again, small little upstarts are causing turmoil, disruption and competitive challenge in larger industries — and often times, the incumbents are too slow to react.

Anyone who has ever tried to get a Merchant Account from Visa, MasterCard or American Express in order to accept credit cards knows that it is likely trying to pull teeth from a pen – many folks just give up in exasperation. Square, on the other hand, will send you this little device for free (or you can pick one up at the Apple Store.) Link it to your bank account, and you’re in business.

So while credit card companies have been trying to figure out the complexities of the future of their industry, a small little company comes along and just does something magical! No complexities, no challenges, no problems.

* * * *
There are people who are making big bold bets, big bold decisions, who are going to change the world and who are going to do things differently.” That phrase was from my opening keynote for the Accenture International Utilities and Energy Conference in San Francisco some years back.

It’s a good sentiment, and is a good way to think about the idea of ‘thinking big.’

I have many speaker bureau business partners –agents around the world who book me into association or corporate events. One of these is Speaking.com, and a fellow named Mike Frick, who has booked me into many events in past years. They recently ran an interview with me around one of my key topics, “What Do World Class Innovators Do That Others Don’t Do?”

How to Become a World Class Innovator

jimcarroll2

Jim Carroll is at the forefront of global futurism, helping an array of blue-chip clients to predict the trends and innovations of coming years before they happen. In all of his guises, author, speaker, columnist, commentator and consultant, he is widely recognized as the best in his field. BusinessWeek chose him as one of their four leading sources of insight into innovation and creativity. He has also been featured in the Telegraph (UK), Capital Magazine (Dubai) and The Star (South Africa).

World-class innovators seem to have an uncanny ability to know when a customer has a problem — even before the customer does.

SPEAKING.COM: What do world-class innovators do that others don’t? What sets them apart from everyone else?

CARROLL: I deal with many global Fortune 500 companies, and through the years I’ve come to learn that while some really excel in innovation, others just don’t! And so based on my experiences I’ve developed this list of what it is exactly that world class innovators do differently.

They seem to be constantly focused on the unique opportunities and challenges that exist in their industry. They’re continually reinventing themselves — generating new revenue streams in places where there weren’t any before.

World-class innovators seem to have an uncanny ability to know when a customer has a problem — even before the customer does — and so they are very customer proactive. In fact, they seem to source customer solutions through their customer base by conversing with them in a unique way. They’re really good at ingesting ideas and thinking quickly. They’re very agile; they can switch tactics and strategies faster than their competitors. They know that accessing skills quickly in a fast changing environment is critical to the future.

And perhaps the most important thing is they are not afraid to think big. They realize that we live in the era of Elon Musk — a fellow reinventing both the space and automotive industries at the same time.

SPEAKING.COM: What are some common misunderstandings about innovation?

CARROLL: The first is that most people think that innovation just involves new product development. It’s much more than that! For a long time now, I’ve suggested that people need to think about innovation in terms of three questions:

What can I do to run the business better?
What can I do to grow the business?
What can I do to transform the business?

Many organizations focus on the first two issues, but in an era of complex business model change, it’s the transformation of the business that becomes critical, and doing that well involves highly innovative thinking. That’s where I focus, then, on opening people’s minds.

Silicon Valley is coming to drive the pace of innovation in most industries.

SPEAKING.COM: Are some industries coming to a technological plateau?

CARROLL: Not at all. Actually, what’s happening is that Silicon Valley is coming to drive the pace of innovation in most industries.

Think about what is happening in the corporate sector. The new competitors for credit card companies are companies like Apple, PayPal, Facebook, and Google. Visa, MasterCard, and American Express aren’t used to innovating as fast as these organizations.

That same rate of change is coming to every single industry. For example, it’s certainly happening in the auto sector as your car becomes more of a computer than a car. Take a look at what’s happening with bio connectivity and the change that is occurring in healthcare as tons of new Internet connected medical devices come to the marketplace.

You can give me any industry, and I can point out where we are witnessing absolutely furiously rates of change as technology comes to drive the agenda.

SPEAKING.COM: Will technology slow down?

CARROLL: I would think that the rate of technological innovation and the impact it will have in every industry will actually accelerate — that’s why my tag line is: “the future belongs to those who are fast!”

Why is this so?

It’s because of the much-hyped Internet of Things (IOT), but also because technology companies simply innovate faster. Add those trends together, and you’ve got some pretty potent fuel for some very fast change.

A truck used to be just a truck — a mechanical thing – but it might surprise you to know that the typical truck today puts out about 3 GB of data per month.

SPEAKING.COM: What are your thoughts on the iOT being “a bunch of hype and how long has this topic been on your radar?

CARROLL: iOT is very real — I’ve been talking about the Internet of Things since the early 1990’s, but back then, I called it ‘Hyper-Connectivity.”

There is some real hype around it, but what it really does is change industries, products, and markets in pretty significant ways.

Consider what’s happening with the trucking industry for example. Volvo / Mac Trucks has had me talk to their global truck group. That’s because the very essence of what we consider to be a truck is changing with this type of connectivity.

A truck used to be just a truck — a mechanical thing – but it might surprise you to know that the typical truck today puts out about 3 GB of data per month. Much of that has to do with engine performance; we know from this information when a truck is going to break down. If we can bring it in before things go wrong, we can minimize downtime. That has a big impact in terms of the value of a truck to a fleet manager.

So what Volvo and others in the industry realize is that they aren’t just selling a truck anymore – they can sell a service based on their ability to predict when the truck is going to break down. They can sell ‘service uptime.’ That takes them into a whole new different business model. Talk about opportunity! That’s what the iOT leads us to in every industry, and it’s pretty surreal when you think about the scope of the opportunities that come with it.

So that’s what I cover when I’m on stage.

SPEAKING.COM: What are the opportunities provided by the “Internet of things?”

CARROLL:

New revenue.
New products.
The reinvention of existing products.
The rapid emergence of new marketplaces.
The rapid emergence of new competitors.
Enhancements to existing products.

When every device that is a part of our daily life becomes connected, it fundamentally changes what that device is and how it can be used. It simply changes everything. A car is no longer just a car — it’s an upgradeable software platform!

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Change will happen at Silicon Valley’s pace, not that of the NFL or NBA or any other league or sanctioning body. Technology companies will become the driving force behind sports innovation

Last week, I appeared in USA Today, in an article about the future of sports.

They interviewed me just after my keynote on the main stage at the massive PGA Merchandise Show, and so there is an obvious slant towards golf. My quote and obserations are below.

This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about this aspect of the future of sport and fitness. I’ve done high profile keynotes for the Sporting & Fitness Industry Association CEO Summit; over 4,000 people at the National Recreation and Parks Association annual meeting, and two talks for the PGA of America!

You can read the full USA Today article In the future you’ll probably be able to pitch to Babe Ruth when you aren’t watching eSports here.

Jim Carroll
Futurist, trends and innovation expert

*Change will happen at Silicon Valley’s pace, not that of the NFL or NBA or any other league or sanctioning body. Technology companies will become the driving force behind sports innovation.

*Having just spoken to a PGA gathering, Carroll outlined a future in which any foursome will retreat to the clubhouse for post-round brews and … film breakdown. Within a few years, golfers will be able to post HD video to social media of their great shots, taken from cameras on the course and in the golf carts. They’ll also get detailed information about every shot they took; info will be gathered from the club, the ball, wearables and those cameras.

*The in-stadium (or arena) experience will be similar. Every object used in the game will soon be able to send information to a computer, so fans will be inundated with precise data about the speed of a baseball bat, the arc of a basketball shot and everything else.

Is this a bad thing? Is it a good thing? It’s easy to argue it both ways.

For example, after my PGA keynote, one traditional golfer who runs a site/blog known as “Wee Egg Mon” wrote Wee Egg Mon about how bothered he was by my talk.

It’s a good read, but he does make this observation: “Everything is going to change? Really? I hope not. I rather like the game the way it is.”

That’s the funny thing about the future. Sometimes it happens, and Ogden Nash captured the sentiment perfectly when he observed that for some folks, “progress is great but it’s gone on way too long.”

I doubt that the world of sports & fitness will look anything in 2025 will look anything like it does today, beyond the basics. Is that a bad thing? A good thing? Like I said, I have no idea. I just know it will happen.

A week ago, I had the pleasure to open the FutureVision, “an invitation-only event designed for the industry’s retail leaders, is an exclusive relationship-building event packed with industry insights.” I shared the stage with some pretty impressive visionaries!

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It’s a small, intimate 50 CEO level event held in Sonoma County, California, with the focus being “the key trends coming over the next three years for retailers. This exclusive format allows retailers to listen and connect with industry visionaries and elite manufacturers — through exceptional networking, business meetings and strategic information sharing sessions. These featured speakers will address critical shifts that will impact your business over the coming years”

Here’s an excerpt from Technology Integrator Magazine on Day 1.


 

The inaugural FutureVision Conference’s first day in Sonoma Tuesday was a forum for three visionaries – futurist Jim Carroll , ShopRunner CEO and former Yahoo and PayPal executive Scott Thompson , and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone – to present their views of how technology has shaped and will continue to shape the retail industry, the consumer and the content that is delivered to that consumer. Some of the comments were colored by anecdotes from the speakers’ personal experiences.

Carroll spoke about consumer technology’s “furious rate of change.” He cited statistics to the effect that 65 percent of preschool children today will work in a career that does not exist today, and that half of what they learn in science will be obsolete by the time they graduate. These realities pose a challenge to CE product-production and marketing cycles as never before, he said. “Sixty percent of Apple’s revenue comes from products that didn’t exist four years ago,” he said, to drive home the point. Crucial to survival in this new normal, he said, is flexibility, and the ability to react to fast-paced change – to the “fast future,” as he phrased it.

Furthermore, he said, “the consumer is increasingly in control. The control of the speed of innovation is shifting from individual industries to technology companies. You need to turn those trends into opportunities and redefine the future.”

Three trends he identified were:

  • the rapid emergence of new business models and new competitors (warning listeners to be careful that what happened in the livery cab industry doesn’t happen to them: “don’t be Uber’ed”);
  • fast-changing media-consumption trends where consumers can get whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want;
  • and the shaping of innovation, which is increasingly occurring on the fringes rather than from established sources (“R&D is being changed by crowd-funding”).

He warned against clinging to routine, paraphrasing Steve Jobs, who never worried about cannibalizing his own business because “if you don’t do it, someone else will.”

He told the audience, “Think big, start small, scale fast. What to do? Observe, think, change, dare, banish (as in banish innovating-killing statements like, ‘That’ll never work’ – which create ‘organizational sclerosis’), try, question, grow, do – and enjoy.”

You can find the full article here.

CNBC interviewed me a few weeks ago on the question of “trends that could shake up the financial industry.” Over the years, I’ve done thousands of such interviews.

They just ran the resulting article, “4 Trends Changing the Way You Manage Money.09MonarchBanking1.jpg

A couple of key points:

The article observes:

Last year Accenture, a global consulting firm, released a report that peered into the banking sector’s future. It concluded that by 2020, banks could lose 15 percent of their market share to technology companies.

“Who gains in this market share?” asked the authors of the Accenture report. “Digitally oriented disruptors that are far more agile and innovative—the equivalent of speedboats competing against schooners.”

That certainly fits the key theme I’ve been explaining to many of my clients  since 2009 — that the pace of innovation in every industry is shifting to Silicon Valley.

My part in the interview? Cash is disappearing. As with any trend, I explained my thoughts on the future by viewing the world through the eyes of my sons:

On a recent kayak trip, Jim Carroll asked his 19- and 20-year-old sons if they had any cash that he could use at the store. Instead of handing over a few bills to the Mississauga, Ontario-based futurist and author, they gave him a blank stare. “They told me they don’t use cash, and that’s huge,” he said. “The next generation doesn’t use money at all.”

According to Carroll, in the future every payment, including credit card purchases, money transfers and business bill payments, will likely be done virtually. “We won’t have credit cards in our pockets,” he said. “Every payment will be done through our mobile devices.”

The global mobile wallet market is expected to grow by 35 percent a year between 2012 and 2017, and mobile payment transactions topped $235 billion by the end of last year, according to Gartner Research.

This has implications for credit card companies, banks and other financial institutions that lend money, issue credit cards and wire cash between countries.

I know everyone is talking about mobile payment, but do folks realize where it is really taking us.

I often challenge my clients to think about the long term, substantive trends that are forever changing every industry. I truly believe one day in the future, cash simply won’t exist in the form that we know it today — bills and coins. The question is when; it’s simply a matter of timing.

And as that comes about, there is going to be a tremendous amount of change and disruption occurring. Fianncial organizations have to be relentlessly focused on innovation and the ingestion of new ideas and technologies if they have any hope of coming out the other side in acceptable shape.

 

 

Here’s an interview that was done after I keynoted a recent conference of automotive dealers. Key theme? As I wrote in a previous blog post, “quite simply, the pace, control and speed of innovation is shifting from auto companies in Detroit (and elsewhere) to the technology companies of Silicon Valley.

There are a couple of other blog posts that you might find relevant to the thoughts expressed in the video:

We know dramatic change is going to happen; the key question has to do with the speed with which it will occur!

(July 2016 update: Most of my servers are now on droplets on Digital Ocean. LEMP stack with Ubuntu is the current favourite. Raspbian on Pi’s with Ubuntu for #IoT projects. sudo-apt get update should apply to old blog posts!)

A big shout-out to the 10 companies that helped the most in keeping the JimCarroll.com Web site infrastructure in great operating shape throughout 2011. If you want to do a great Web site, you need to do it right. These are some of the technology companies that have supported my site in various ways through the year.

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Throughout 2011, my Web site has played an incredibly powerful role in supporting my speaking activities worldwide.

Quite a few clients have told me that they’ve found it through a Web search for a ‘futurist’ or ‘innovation speaker’, or have been sent there by one of my speaker bureau clients. They’ve told me they’ve watched the video clips throughout the site, and that with other background information, has convinced them that I’d be a great addition to their corporate leadership meeting or association event.

Keeping a Web site such as JimCarroll.com up and running with little downtime,  in a way that it is fast, responsive, and always available, takes a bit of effort. I do all the maintenance, blog postings and updates on my own. But it’s also through the help of a variety of partners that I’ve got a site in which the average Web page loads in under 3 to 4 seconds — pretty good for a media rich, complex site.

And so as we wind down the year 2011, I thought it would be a good time to give a shout-out to the many technology partners that I use to keep this Web site in tip top shape, or let me watch how well it is working. In no particular order, these partners include:

  • Blogvault: A fabulous WordPress backup service. Plug it in, pay a small fee, and you’ve got peace-of-mind knowing that your Web site is being backed up on a regular minute by minute basis. What’s better is their 1-button Web site restore. For example, I just had to move my son’s Web site over to my main Web server, and using the backup copy it worked like a charm – instantly!. Highly recommended!  
  • VaulltPress; another WordPress backup service that I am using. I started out with VaultPress before I met Blogvault, but I’m not one to easily leave a relationship that is working so well. Like Blogvault. this service does a regular minute by minute backup of my entire WordPress based Web site. Redundancy of backup can be a good thing – that’s why I’ve got two backup services!  
  • Woopra – Web site analytics software. With these folks, I’ve got a fabulous real time dashboard that shows me how people are using my Web site — how they found me, what they’re looking at, and what pages they are spending their time on. This has allowed me to continually redesign my site, ensuring that my clients can easily find the insight they are looking for. There are almost 1,000 blog posts — and I’ve discovered where people really spend their time. 
  • OpenTracker. These folks are a competitor to Woopra — and have their own unique strengths. I particularly like how I can do some pretty deep analysis of Web traffic as it is happening in real time – it gives me a real sense of what people were looking for, and what pages really draw significant attention. 
  • MediaTemple: extraordinary Web hosting with incomparable service — if you are willing to pay for a strong, reliable host, you’ll get stellar service. I had a support question on Thanksgiving Day — and it only took minutes for them to respond. I started the year out with a shared Web hosting service, and to be honest, you can take a significant performance hit if your site gets busy. In April I moved over to their DV (Dedicated Virtual) service, so that I’m the only one running as a server on the space I share. I’ve seen major performance improvements and fabulous reliability. Pingdom tells me I’ve only had 5 outages, and I know that each of those times has been due to something I’ve screwed up on my own. 
  • W3TC: a typical Web site / WordPress blog can slow down when it is serving up a variety of video, images and other information rich sources, particularly under heavy traffic loads. That’s where this service comes in — it spreads out the content to my “content delivery provider,” Amazon CloudFront …so that the images that you see on the Web site don’t actually come from my site, but from a variety of Amazon servers around the world. If you want to speed up a WordPress based Web site, W3TC is likely the best tool out there. 
  • CopterLabs: every once in a while, you need some custom programming done on a Web site. I found and hired Copter Labs to design the cool ‘image slider’ that you see on the top of this post. They do great work, are extremely professional, and truly do draw upon a team of WordPress experts worldwide – while my project was managed from Portland, Oregon, the actual work was done by a fellow in the UK. 
  • GTMetrix: to keep this complicated infrastructure moving and in great operating shape, you’ve got to able to do some deep analysis of where any bottlenecks might be emerging in your site. Every time you add a new feature, you run the risk of introducing some slow performance. GTMetrix lets me look into performance and continually fine tune its operations.  
  • easyDNS: the key component to any Web site is having a domain service that figures out just “where” jimcarroll.com happens to be located — and where and when images are being serviced from Amazon Cloudfront. Not just that, but a great domain service should automatically flip your Web site to a backup host in case things go wrong. That’s the role of easyDNS — I’ve been using them for 15 years — and could not recommend them more highly!  
  • Poll Everywhere: last but not least, but PollEverywhere ranks as my favourite tech tool of 2011. I was described in a blog post as a ‘raving fan’ of this service, and that is extremely true. I use PollEverywhere to do live text message polling while on stage – while they’re not really a part of my Web site, they are a very, very important partner! 

That’s my list of my key 10 providers for 2011. Obviously, there is a lot more at work here in terms of the technology infrastructure. I must mention Apple in light of the  : the home office consists of a Mac Pro, new Macbook Pro, iPad, iPhone, and just about everything-Apple. Between the home and the chalet, we’ve got 4 Apple TV’s and just about ever other whiz-bang iDevice possible. The fact is, Apple has helped to take my business to new levels — Pages, Number, and most importantly, Keynote have all replaced the Microsoft office tools that I was using up until 2007. Earlier this year, while on stage, I actually had to use Windows 7 when I wasn’t allowed to use my Mac on stage — and I was completely, totally lost!

Not to forget as well Keynote Pro: these folks designed the Keynote presentation template that I use on stage — one that has now probably been viewed by over 100,000 people in the last two years alone. It’s not a key part of what I do on my Web site, but from a stage perspective, it’s certainly a key part of my success! 

Thanks to all – and here’s to 2012!

Update: For those asking about how I manage to walk on stage and do what I do, and also manage the tech infrastructure — you can’t figure out the future if you don’t deeply into the technology that will drive it! For what it’s worth, I’ve been geeking out as a hobby since 1982, starting with a Radio Shack Model III. My latest project, in my ongoing effort to keep the Website humming along, is to utilize a MediaTemple VE server running on an “LEMP stack.”  (I’ve had a test site running with Apache and Nginx as a proxy, but there’s still a lot of Apache overhead.) So the next stage involves a barebones Ubuntu operating system (Linux), running Nginx (instead of Apache, for performance), Mysql and PHP. (Hence, LNMP, not LAMP). It’s based on this article here. Looks awesome!

At the T. Rowe Price 2011 Investment Symposium in Baltimore on Friday, I listened to the technology panel that preceded my luncheon keynote.

It was a fascinating discussion as a number of their leading analysts spoke of the trends that they saw unfolding with consumer and other digital technology companies, such as Apple, Amazon and Samsung.

Name any industry – auto, health care, manufacturing, energy, banking — and the big trend over the next five years is that Silicon Valley is coming to control the pace of innovation in the industry. And it’s speeding it up!

But I thought that the crowd was hungering for a bit more — where are the next big trends, and the next big transformation opportunities that are going to unfold which are going to provide for the birth of new industries, fast growing companies, and billion-dollar market opportunities?

And so I outlined that reality: the next big areas of growth will come from the transformative change that occurs as Silicon Valley comes to drive the pace of innovation in almost every other industry. As it does so,  it will speed up the rate of innovation.

The impact of this trend is that it will also shift control from any particular industry – insurance, healthcare, banking, auto — to the technology companies. The result will be massive business model disruption as new, faster, more nimble competitors who understand technology based disruption, cast aside their slower, ingrained counterparts.

The future belongs, in other words, to those who are fast. Tech companies and tech based innovators certainly understand this! And the key issue is speed : Apple, for example, could innovate much faster with new credit card financial systems than any bank could. Google and it’s tests of automatic car navigation technology will certainly evolve faster than any auto company in Detroit, Japan or Germany could. Unless leaders in those organizations increasingly learn to focus on speed as a metric, and fast-innovation as a core capability.

Consider just a few of the trends:

  • Banks and credit companies risk losing control of their future as our mobile devices, cell phones and iPhones become credit cards
  • the energy industry and home construction is impacted as a new personal energy infrastructure management, in the form of such devices as the NEST Thermostat, provide for a significant change in the way people use energy
  • health care will be transformed by medical device connectivity and bioconnetivity — allowing hospitals and nursing homes to extend the reach of their medical professionals to an increasing number of remote locations
  • the auto industry will face trendmeondous change as an intelligent highway infrastructure emerges as the same time as intelligent, self-guiding cars and trucks become a regular part of our daily world
  • the world of insurance is upended as we head to a world of predictive insurance modelling through the use of sophisticated technologies such as on-board GPS devices which monitor driver behaviour

These are but just a few examples. I can go into any industry today and point out how Silicon Valley and technology is going to cause significant change and upheaval within the industry. I can spot the smart executives who understand the message and realize that right now is the time for aggressive innovation and big thinking.

And then in other clients, I can see this observation pass right over the heads of some of those in the audience, and realize we’ve got folks who are like deer in the headlights — the trends are blinding in their reality, but they are frozen by their inability to do anything.

I spoke about this trend in a recent keynote.



There are a whole series of related posts in which I’ve commented on the significance of this trend and the speed with which it is occurring. These are just a few.

  • Silicon Valley innovation velocity set to dominate every industry 
  • When Silicon Valley Takes Over Health Care Innovation 
  • This ghost town in New Mexico could turn into one of the most important innovation engines 
  • Reinventing the future with transformative technology
  • Silicon Valley: Is Innovation Dead? 

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