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“Why did this get me in trouble? The firm I was with had a contract with a large national postal services organization, and it seems the CEO took exception to someone internal promoting the virtues of a whacky new form of communication that could replace paper mail.”

The folks at Postal and Parcel Technology Magazine approached me some months back to write an article about the future of mail in the era of technology, and particularly, e-mail.

I suggested to them that rather than looking forward, why not look to the past for valuable lessons?

Such as, how organizations seem to always react in a negative way to new technologies, new ideas and innovation?

What better way to do so than by writing about the fact that I was almost fired in 1989 (yup, 28 years ago) because of a cover story that I was featured in about electronic mail. And the fact that some folks who had a vested interest in paper mail read the article, didn’t like it, and complained. Kind of loudly. Because they didn’t like change….

The folks at Postal and Parcel loved the idea – and so we ran an article, below.

So what happened in 1989? I wasn’t fired. I ended up quitting the firm some months later, after 10 years, because the senior leadership team couldn’t comprehend my indications that something ‘big’ was happening.

For a few years, I made a lot of money actually consulting to companies on technology. Then I wrote some books (34, actually) about the Internet, and sold about 2 million books. That got me on the speaker circuit. I started speaking about the future. Companies took notice of what I was saying. More and more people and companies noticed, and I soon found myself providing guidance on the future to some fascinating organizations. One day, I found myself in front of some astronauts and astrophysicists at NASA, speaking to them about the future of space, the space industry, and the realities of innovation!

The article — click the image for a full version. Or access the PDF : . Read it below!

 

 

Fright Club
Jim Carroll Explains Why Organizations Should Never Fear Change
Postal and Parcel Technology International, March 2017

In October 1989 I was almost fired from a job with a global professional services firm because of email! Not because of anything I had sent or received, but because I appeared in an office automation magazine extolling the benefits of using electronic mail over regular paper mail.

Why did this get me in trouble? The firm I was with had a contract with a large national postal services organization, and it seems the CEO took exception to someone internal promoting the virtues of a whacky new form of communication that could replace paper mail. After some explaining that I had no nefarious intent, cooler heads prevailed and I kept my job, although I later decided it was developments like email that really interested me, so I became a global futurist and expert on innovation, and today count Disney, NASA and Johnson & Johnson among my clients.

Email is an example of something that forever changed the way we communicate, but as my story shows, there are people who don’t like new technology and the change it represents. But it also makes the point that you have to move beyond that type of thinking if you are to survive.

Over the years, I have spent time with a tremendous number of organizations and have seen some business models decimated by technology – just as others turn the same ideas into an opportunity. Ideally you want to be in the latter camp, but how?

First of all, accept that in the future you won’t even recognize the industry you are operating in. That’s because the rate of business model change is accelerating in every single industry. In 10 years’ time your business model will look nothing like it does today, with a huge disruption most likely to stem from a younger generation with a better grasp of the latest technologies.

Now, the technology they use will probably seem unrelated or irrelevant to your area of business at first, and you may discount it, but the truth will be that if you don’t embrace it, your operation won’t survive. Examples of this type of disruption are occurring right now.

Battling against a culture of innovation can set you upward this. form of organizational sclerosis. It will clog up your ability to pursue new ideas. How do you recognize if you have a problem? There are a few recognizable signs For example, do you laugh at new ideas? Is your organization more focused on process than success/ Is the company culture very much, “Well, this is how we do it because we’ve always done it this way?”

Innovative companies are different. Ideas flow freely throughout the organization, and success and failure are championed. There are many leaders who encourage innovative thinking, rather than magaers who run a bureacracracy, and a number of creative champions who thrive on thinking about how to do things differently. These companies recognize that innovation is also about how to run, grow and transform the business.

The fact is, every organization should be able to develop innovation as a core virtue – if it isn’t, it certainly won’t survive the rapid rate of change that envelopes us today.

I am a big believer that the world of communications and logistics – as found in the postal industry – has a fascinating and marvellous future in this new, fast-paced, virtual/physical economy that is being created. But to do that, you must have an open mind and a willingness to embrace the future.

In other words, don’t fire the messenger. Ask yourself, “What is the messenger really trying to tell us?

 1989office_automation

Read the original 1989 article here!

I’m thrilled that I’ve again been cover in CG&T Magazine’s annual outlookCGT2015.  This marks 4 years in a row!

This year my comments are short and sweet – I continue to believe that accelerating change with retail models, products, technology, mobile and just about everything else makes it difficult for organizations to ensure that their capabilities are aligned to their strategies.

Here’s what I wroe for this years piece:


Going into 2015 and beyond, the biggest issue for CG executives will be to think about how they have big holes that they need to fix — and fast.

The challenge is that with this tsunami of change, many companies still aren’t capable of coping, and so many mismatches become painfully clear:

  • Strategy mismatch: Are you still trying to solve the social media challenges from 2013, while in 2015 it has shifted mobile?
  • Skills mismatch: What’s your bench strength with all the new technologies flooding the space?
  • Cultural mismatch: Are you equipped for speed? Everyone is talking about being agile and lean — but do you find that even with those strategies you are still falling behind?
  • Worse yet, your technology mismatch is probably becoming bigger than ever. How are you going to fix these holes?

Here are some key secrets of success in an era of high-velocity change: an accelerated innovation cycle, fuelled by the rapid ingestion of new technologies/methodologies. Work on your internal pipelines to gain a faster time to market, and know how to rapidly re-focus resources for opportunity or threat. All that needs to be done in a time in which volatility is the new normal. A pretty tall order, but it will help you close the mismatches that likely exist.

A few weeks ago, I was the opening keynote speaker in Las Vegas for the 2014 Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference (MURTEC). In the room were folks responsible for the technology investments of a vast number of major fast-casual and quick-service restaurant companies.

Murtech2014 The attendee list featured some of the largest such organizations in the world, as well as many of the new, young upstarts which are challenging existing business models, changing methods of customer interaction, and providing more menu options and choice.

I was brought in by Hospitality Technology Magazine, which is part of the Edgell Communications Group. This was the fourth booking of me for a keynote by the latter organization — I guess they like my message! It’s always fun to have a great client like that.

Hospitality Technology Magazine just ran this wrap-up summary with some observations on my talk:

HT just wrapped up the Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference (MURTEC) in March and, after moving through recovery phases one and two, I had a chance to reflect. The first thing to report is that technology showed up — big — for the foodservice industry. For those of you who keep hearing HT and other commentators talk about the importance of the CIO-CMO alliance; about the need to shift IT into a business mindset; and about the required transition to a more digitally-focused operation, my first major observation from MURTEC is that you hear us, and you’re in. This was the most high-energy, open-minded, marketing-savvy group of restaurant technology executives who have ever been a part of MURTEC.

Change is coming rapidly, and it won’t be possible to fully vet every IT roll-out as you’ve done in the past. As keynote speaker Jim Carroll stressed, you need to be able to think big, start small, and scale fast. Carroll delivered some of the best one-liners of the conference. Somewhere in between likening mobile payment to teenage sex (because no one’s really doing it as much as they say they are; and those who are, aren’t very good at it), and predicting that by 2017 we’ll be processing payments from our car dashboards, Carroll offered up this: 60% of Apple’s revenue today comes from products that didn’t exist four years ago.

Would you be prepared to be in that position four years from now?

That’s just a glimpse of what I covered in my keynote. Why not, for example, aerial drone delivery of fast food? Is that too farfetched? Maybe not.

But more seriously, think about what the restaurant sector has been faced with in the last year.

It’s been the year of the restaurant tablet, with at-table or wait-line ordering options. The rapid emergence of hidden-menus, as a unique method of building customer loyalty. The entire sector is under challenge with innovation — with faster prep-time and  two minute pizzas by Chipolte’s setting the pace. In some fast casual restaurants, we are suddenly seeing Go-Pro’s in the kitchen and food as a spectator sport! Then there is the whole reservation process, with immediate-customer-demand coming to the forefront with apps like GrubHub, Seamless, DrinkOwl, NoWait!

There are faster influencers too that lead to the more rapid emergence of new taste trends. Flavours now move from upscale kitchens to chain restaurants to grocery home-cooked meals, in 12 months, compared to 36 months 5 years ago…..  consumers are snacking more frequently, now making up 24% of all “meals,” and so restaurants have to come up with new ideas faster, particularly because snacks are like a fashion category. Food trucks lead to new competition, business model disruption and exotic new taste trends that QSR’s and fast-casuals must keep up with…..

And then there is the impact of mobile. Suffice it to say, we are going to witness more change in this sector because of mobile than anything other technology of the last 50 years. There are big changes underway in  terms of customer ordering, loyalty, payment, up-sell opportunities …..

Just three days ago, I did another session in this space for the Canadian division of one of the largest QSR’s in the world — a one hour keynote and a two hour workshop that helped the organization and it’s franchisees understand the unique and fast paced challenges in this space. Top of list and top of mind? Mobile and POS.

I spend a lot of time in this sector, having keynoted the global Burger King Franchise conference, an annual meeting of the top leadership of Yum! Brands, and countless other restaurant and franchise groups. There’t no time for complacency, and an organization certainly cannot rest on it’s laurels….

 

 

Two years ago, I was the keynote speaker for an annual conference of Consumer Goods and Technology Magazine, and from that a great relationship was born, with a few repeat bookings into other conferences and events that they run.

 pacesetters today can swiftly and suddenly change the pace and structure of an industry, and other competitors have to scramble to keep up

“Pacesetters today can swiftly and suddenly change the pace and structure of an industry, and other competitors have to scramble to keep up” – Grab the full CGT report with the image above!

And for the second year in a row, I’m featured in their 2013 Review & Outlook: The best and brightest minds in consumer goods share predictions and guidance for the coming year publication, with many other luminaries in the industry.

My contribution follows below. You can grab the entire PDF of the report by clicking on the image of the cover. Registration is required.


Jim Carroll, Futurist, Trends & Innovation Expert

The future belongs to those who are fast!

In the world of retail in 2013 and beyond, we will be seeing 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 made 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 Store checkout process, which involves the elimination of the cash register. Apple has such an impact on retail design and consumer behaviour today that many other retailers are now 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, which recently unfolded: Amazon. com announces a same day delivery in some major centers. Google and Walmart almost immediately jump on board. And in just a short time, retailers in every major city are going to have to be able to play the same game!

Then there is in-store promotion. We’re entering the era of constant video bombardment in the retail space. How fast is the trend toward constant interaction evolving? Consider the comments by Ron Boire, the new chief marketing officer for Sears in the United States (and former chief executive of Brookstone Inc.): ”My focus will really be on creating more and better theater in the stores.”

We are going to see a linking of this “in-store theater” with mobile devices and 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 customized commercial to run, offering us a personalized product promo- tion with a hefty discount. This type of scenario will be here faster than you think!

Fast format change, instant business model implementation, rapid-fire strategic moves — that’s the new reality for retail busi- ness, and it’s the innovators who will adapt.

CGT2013-Jim Carroll

Consumer Goods & Technology Magazine has just released their 2012 Review & Outlook Report – “”80 of the Biggest Names in Consumer Goods Join Together to Make Big Industry Predictions”.

I’m honoured to be one of those 80 contributors.

This year, they were focused on the major trends which would impact the consumer good space in 2012 and years to come. Here’s how I responded:

There’s a tremendous amount going on in the CG space, particularly with mobile, social and location. Packaging is about to become intelligent; the relationship that consumers have with products is becoming more interactive; the retail space is going to change in a huge a way as our cell phones become credit cards.

Put that into perspective, and I believe that the biggest issue that people within the industry need to think about is the speed of change that is occurring. If you think about the context of these trends, what is clearly happening is that CG companies are no longer setting the pace of innovation; it’s being driven at the speed of companies in Silicon valley.

Can they keep up with the blistering rate of innovation that drives high-tech companies? Can they respond fast enough to take advantage of opportunities or at the same time, ward off threats? A key phrase that I’ve been using for years is that “the future belongs to those who are fast.” I think for 2012, this is going to be a defining success factor for every single CG company.”

I think my message is resonating ; a few weeks ago, these folks confirmed me to headline another of their  major conferences in New York City in October 2012.

CGT previously booked me to headline their major conference last year

Press release: “Consumer Goods Technology Announces Jim Carroll as Keynote Speaker for 2011 Business & Technology Leadership Conference”  

The future belongs to those who are fast!

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