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I have been providing my insight, and have been speaking to organizations about the future, for more than 25 years.

Over the years, I have come to realize that while the majority of my audience appreciates a whirlwind ride into the future, there are others who just wish the future would go away.

I used to worry and obsess over this challenge, often leaving a stage wondering why I wasn’t able to get through to everyone. Then years ago, I realized that no matter what I do, there will always be a core group who prefer the status quo. They fall prey to the sentiment of Ogden Nash: “progress is great, but its gone on way too long.”

This issue and challenge has become more pronounced and visible in the last year. And a recent event demonstrates to me that leaders today must work harder to deal with, manage and confront the internal conflict that exists over how to deal with the fast future.

Since I’m on a Jetsons’ theme this year with many of keynotes (Keynote: The Jetsons Have Arrived 50 Years Early: What are YOU Going to Do About it?) , I thought that the image below beset captures the nature of challenge!

Leaders today must steer their organization into a fast paced future — through the shoals of disruption, the emergence of new competitors, technology, automation and other challenges — while understanding that there is a core group that will do little to embrace that change. It’s the Flintstones and the Jetsons, in one workplace!

I’m having quite a bit of fun watching the movie in which the Jetsons meet the Flintstones. Consider what is happening with the acceleration of the automotive industry: self-driving cars, intelligent highways, prognostic self-diagnosing vehicles. The industry will be barely recognizable in 10 years! Cars tomorrow will be barely recognizable compared to what we drive today.

And yet, there remain folks who just refuse to participate in the inevitability of the future, and that can be a significant leadership, strategic challenge.

The issue became crystal clear to me with a recent keynote. Anyone familiar with my keynotes knows that I do a variety of text message polls while on stage, whether in front of a few thousand in Vegas or with a small executive group of 15 or 20. It’s a fun, interactive way to get insight from those I am working with.

I started out with my opening poll, after I spoke briefly about the fast trends that envelop our world. The response is typical : most people today feel that the world is moving way too fast for them! Fair enough — the pace of change is overwhelming.

My next question, before I dove into the issues of business model disruption and innovation? A question asking them if they thought their industry would see much change.

Not at all, indicated 40%! In 10 years, things would be the same as they would today. To be honest, this left me kind of stunned. It’s not the typical response.

 

In my wrap up, I asked the audience what barriers might exist in the way of dealing with change? And the answers here were untypical of the many hundreds of such polls I’ve done, with a majority indicating a belief that it isn’t necessary to do anything!

What are we left with? An organization that feels overwhelmed by change; in which almost half this change won’t impact them, and that they didn’t really need to do anhyting to deal with it.

In other words, the future can be safely ignored.

I started using the Jetsons-Meets-the-Flintstones cartoon as a joke; a bit of ill-conceived humour on some recent political events. But it’s not a joke, and this is a real and substantive leadership issue.

As a CEO or senior executive, how are you going to align a fast paced future — one full of challenge and opportunity — to an organization where a significant number of people don’t think that the future will impact them?

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Creating a Great Keynote!
November 15th, 2016

During a call yesterday, a client was asking whether I could customize my talk for their group.

Are you kidding?

Here’s a good case study of the typical process that I goes through.

This particular organization was in the retail space; through conversations with several member of global management, we built a list of the key issues that I would focus in on my talk: these being the key issues that the leadership believed that the rest of the team need to be thinking hard about.

  • faster emergence of new store infrastructure : i.e. contact-less payment technology is a fact with iPhone’s, and other smart-phones. What happens when this occurs on customer interactions ; how quickly can a retail / restaurant organization scale to deal with it (i.e. rapid technological innovation is continuing unabated despite the economic downturn, and things like this will have a big impact on how business is done!)
  • faster challenges in terms of freshness of brand image: today, with the impact of the Net and social networks, a brand isn’t what you say it it — it’s what “they” say it is
  • new influencers: consumers are influenced in terms of choice in ways that go beyond traditional advertising. For example, consider the Celebrity Baby Blog (yes, there is such a thing), and how it has come to influence fashion trends for infant wear
  • new forms of brand interaction: the concept of the “location intelligence professional” — corporations are deploying strategies that integrate location into the virtual web, interacting with above mentioned cell phones that provide for in-store product uplift
  • rapid emergence of store architecture issues: intelligent infrastructures – McDonald’s has a $100 million energy saving plan that is based on IP based management of in store energy We’re also seeing the rapid emergence of green / eco design principles that provide more opportunities for savings
  • faster evolution of consumer taste preference : new food trends go from upscale restaurant to broad deployment in as little as 18 months now, compared to 5 years ago; consumer choice changes faster, requiring faster innovation!
  • faster idea cycles. New concepts, ideas, business strategies, advertising concepts happen faster because of greater global collaboration ; brands have to keep up with the idea cycle

Next, my keynote would touch on how the client could be more innovative in dealing with fast paced trends? Some potential methods include:

  • the concept of upside / down innovation – customer oriented innovation
  • generational collaboration – how to unleash the creativity of Gen-Connect
  • concept of business agility: how do we structure ourselves to act faster
  • theme of experiential capital : how can we take on more risk oriented projects simply to build our expertise in new areas such as social networking
  • fast, global, scalable project oriented teams : how do we learn to collaborate better internally
  • innovation “factories”: how can we scale successful internal projects faster to achieve greater benefits
  • partnership oriented innovation: how do collaborate on innovation with our suppliers and others in the supply chain?

Some of the conclusions that came from the global discussions in the lead up to the event? These were responses draw from the audience through the use of online text message polling:

  • we need to learn how to innovate more locally but globally scale
  • a better “innovation factory” to rollout is critical
  • can’t compromise speed to market with structure/bureaucracy
  • spread R&D out
  • collaborate to a greater degree on an international basis
  • innovation should be part of reward and structure
  • more brand clarity, particularly given muddiness of impact of social networking
  • need a more forceful commitment ($, structure, rewards, goals) to innovation

From this, I built my keynote so that it had a structure of “what are the issues,” “what do we need to about them in terms of potential responses”, and “what are some of the organizational changes we need to make to deal with them.”

It turned out to be a great talk!

Office Products International Magazine contacted me for an article about the future of the workplace, for their 25 anniversary issue.

opi
Obviously this is an industry that has a keen interest in the issue — after all, if your target market is the office, and that office is changing, you need to know! Here’s what I wrote!


What’s the future of the office workplace? People love trying to figure out that question. Futurist Jim Carroll is one of them…

When trying to imagine the workplace of the future, a good start is to look back at the cartoon show The Jetsons, which was first aired in the US in 1962 and purported to show what the world would look like in 2062 – 100 years on.

Watch The Jetsons today and it would seem most of its predictions have actually come true: autonomous, self-driving cars (although their vehicles could fly); video calling apps such as Skype or FaceTime (George Jetson used to communicate with his boss at Spacely Sprockets like this). He also views his news and other information on a flat screen TV – let’s say, using a version of our internet. In addition, Rosie the robot maid scurries about doing all kinds of things for the people that are a part of her ‘life’.

jetsons

Taking note of science fiction, back-to-the-future scenarios, and even cartoons such as The Jetsons can provide glimpses into what the workplace might look like in the coming decades.

But let’s think in more practical terms, by aligning the office of the future to the careers and workforce that will be our reality.

In 1997, I coined the phrase ‘nomadic workers’ while writing Surviving the Information Age, and made the following predictions:

  • The number of full-time jobs will begin to dramatically shrink. Yet, we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg in the change of the relationship between employer and employee as the nomadic worker becomes the dominant form of corporate resource.
  • Companies will hire the best talent, regardless of where that person might be. A new form of career competitiveness will emerge with extreme rivalry for this group of nomadic workers – highly skilled individuals who call the shots.
  • Where people work from won’t matter – a trend that has implications for the future of both rural and urban economies.
  • Lifestyle choice will come to dominate career decisions. Nomadic workers have different attitudes towards life and work, and reject many of the currently accepted ‘norms’ of the corporate environment. Their attitudes will revolutionise the world of work.
  • Office walls won’t determine the shape of tomorrow’s company – the reach of its computerised knowledge network, and its ability to tap into the skills and capabilities of nomadic workers, wherever they might be, will define it.

I was pretty much bang on with those trends – certainly much of it has already become true. More people work from home than ever before (in my case, I’ve had a home office for 25 years; my kids grew up in a world in which their parents have always worked at home).

A global war for the best talent means that there is an entire economy of highly-skilled nomadic workers. And in my own case, I joke that I work really hard to not have to go and get a job – instead, I hire out my future-forecasting skills to organisations worldwide.

Those trends will continue to play out in the future. But what else will happen? In my view, there are three key trends that will define the future of the office and the workplace: the rapid emergence of new careers, the continued rapid evolution of technology, and the impact of the next generation.

1. Future vocations

First, consider what is happening with skills, jobs and careers. Last year, I was the opening keynote speaker for the global WorldSkills challenge in São Paolo, Brazil, and spoke about the fact that we are now witnessing the rapid emergence of all kinds of new careers.

I’m talking about vocations such as robotic pharmaceutical therapy monitors, water footprint analysts, vertical farming infrastructure managers, drone helicopter insurance crop risk managers, and – not forgetting – manure managers!

The key point here is that many of these new careers involve the processing of information which can be done from anywhere. An insurance risk manager that relies on drone technology doesn’t have to be on location, they can simply do their work from wherever they are.

The result of this is an even greater dispersion of highly skilled jobs around the world.

Organisations in the future will continue to hollow out, hiring skills and talent on an as-needed, short-term contract rather than permanent basis. Centralised offices will become smaller, with a core group focused on strategic goals that simply link to needed talent as and when required.

2. Connecting the workplace

The second trend is the Internet of Things (IoT) which will provide some of the most fascinating changes in the workplace and office of the future. What is it really all about? Simply put, every device that is a part of our daily lives is going to become connected and we will be aware of its status and its location.

I often joke on stage that this could get a bit out of hand: I might get on my weighing scales one day, and it will send an email to my fridge, blocking access for the day because I’m not living up to the terms of my wellness contract.

The IoT will lead to some of the The Jetsons-type forecasts of the past. It’s quite likely that self-driving cars will result in mobile offices on wheels – the car does the navigation, so we’ll have more time to get some work done on the way to the office.

Massive hyperconnectivity will keep employees aware of where fellow workers are, when office supplies are running low, or will link them to a specific location on a manufacturing assembly line that requires instant maintenance.

We will live and work in a world that is hyper-aware of the status of everything around us and that will lead to some fascinating workplace changes that I don’t think we can even yet comprehend.

3. The virtual workforce

It is perhaps the third trend that will have the most profound impact. Consider this fact: 10-15 years from now, most baby boomers will have retired or will be set to soon retire. This technology-adverse generation grew up with mainframes, COBOL and MS-DOS, and as a result, never really adapted to a workplace of videoconferencing, video whiteboards and other methods of collaboration.

Conversely, my sons, aged 21 and 23, grew up with the Xbox and PlayStation, Skype and text messages. This generation will soon take over the workforce, and most certainly take advantage of every opportunity to continue to virtualise the world of work. They will use Google Glass-type devices to embed live video into their everyday work routine. Virtual reality will become common enabling them to live and work in a world of massive augmented reality. They will be able to teleport their minds to far-flung locations where their virtual avatar will participate, interact and collaborate with others.

They are going to live in a world of technology acceleration unlike anything we have known, and rather than battling it as older generations have so often done, they will embrace it with open arms and open minds.

Does this all mean that the traditional office of today – a meeting place where individuals gather to share efforts on projects, ideas and opportunities – will disappear? I don’t think so. I believe that we are social creatures, and we crave opportunities for interaction. It will just be a very different form of interaction.

Brace yourself. The future will be here faster than you think.

Jim Carroll is one of the world’s leading futurists, trends and innovation experts, with a client list that includes NASA, The Walt Disney Company, Johnson & Johnson and the Swiss Innovation Forum. Follow him on Twitter @jimcarroll or visit www.jimcarroll.com

GE Lighting

Jim Carroll speaking at a GE Lighting event in New York City: “When it comes to lighting, we’re in the era of revolutionary new opportunities. The potential for significant efficiency and cost savings through deep analytical insight into usage patterns, and detailed, specific-spot addressability and management is real.”

Back in May, I participated in a key customer event for GE Lighting in New York City. Here’s a quick little article summary, and video, which captured my thoughts on the future of intelligent lighting and connected infrasucture.

5 Things to Know About the Connected Future
By Jim Carroll

When it comes to acceleration, we live in one of the most fascinating periods in history where the rate of technology change is absolutely staggering.

So what trends are driving this acceleration, and how are smart businesses adapting to not only survive but thrive in an ever-connected world? Read on to learn 5 things to know about the connected future—and how you can stay ahead.

Acceleration: Today’s is the slowest day of technology change for the rest of your life.

Bill Gates once observed that most people tend to overestimate the rate of change that’s going to occur in a two-year basis, but underestimate the rate of change that will occur in a 10-year basis. A few years ago I used to speak about 3D printing as if it were science fiction. Now it’s part of many businesses day-to-day operations.

In the not-so-distant future, we will likely have connectivity in cars that researches 3-bedroom, 2-bath homes for sale in your neighborhood, and then drives you directly to each house for a tour. We already have augmented reality displays built into ski visors and goggles that tell you, in real-time, how fast and far you’ve skied -this same technology will be integrated into automobiles in the not-too-distant future.

It’s important to be ready for this acceleration. Your opportunity in dealing with this is continuing to ingest new ideas, new technologies and new methodologies to solve problems.

Hyper-Connectivity….and endless possibilities.

Every industry is set to be transformed as an era of hyper-connectivity becomes the new norm. The result? Massive business model disruption; industries in which customers empowered with mobile devices control a wide variety of devices that are a part of their daily lives; unique opportunities for deep analytical insight into trends and opportunities emerging in industries; and a reinvention of manufacturing, logistics, retail, healthcare and other industries because of consumers that are empowered, connected and enabled with a new form of lifestyle management that we’ve never witnessed before.

Every device that is part of our daily life is becoming plugged into the Internet. We are becoming aware of its location and its status. And while this has been a trend for awhile, it is today’s businesses that are primed to turn this momentum into big wins.

By the year 2020, there will be more than 50 billion devices connected to the Internet. That’s roughly six devices per person.

The Internet of Things is happening everywhere, it is real, and it is unfolding at a blistering pace. We’re in the era of connected thermostats that link to an intelligent energy grid; autonomous vehicle technology that is self-aware and networked into sophisticated, intelligent highway flow control systems; a connected trucking fleet that is self-diagnostic, predictive and built for zero down-time.

We have scales that record our body mass index, transmit it to a password-protected website and create custom charts on our health. We have ceiling fans that will slow down when owners go to sleep. We have barbeques that send us text messages when the meat needs to be flipped.

These are staggering trends, and what is means is the possibilities are endless for growth and innovation.

Momentum & the potential for big wins.

When it comes to lighting, we’re in the era of revolutionary new opportunities. The potential for significant efficiency and cost savings through deep analytical insight into usage patterns, and detailed, specific-spot addressability and management is real.

New LED technologies change our very concept of lighting and individual addressability at the level of the light bulb leads us to an era that is unlike anything we’ve ever known. Consider these statistics:

Right now, lighting accounts for 12-15% of annual global power consumption, creating 1.7 billion tons of CO2 emissions per year.
According to the International Energy Agency, improving lighting efficiency by 20% can reduce total power consumption by 3.8% and cut total CO2 emissions by 0.8 percent.
According to industry reports, the global LED lighting marketing is expected to grow from $7 billion in 2010 to $40 billion in 2016.

There is so much momentum behind these changes because the potential for big wins are huge.

The next generation

Today’s younger generation—those under age 25—have never known a world without a mobile device that lets them access incredible amounts of information at their fingertips. They are globally wired, entrepreneurial, collaborative…and they thrive on change.

Gone are the days of MS Dos copy and computer courses like Cobalt. This generational trend is crucial to businesses that need to communicate with customers and employees that are used to receiving information in vastly different ways. Additionally, this generation is starting to drive rapid business model change and industry transformation as they move into executive positions.

According to author Cathy Davidson, 65% of children today will work in a career that has doesn’t yet exist. Think about titles like “water usage audit analysts,” energy usage audit architects,” and “location intelligence professionals.” We are at the forefront of a remarkable time in history as the next generation uses connectivity to advance some of the biggest energy successes.

The Future Belongs to Those Who Are Fast

As new technology, intelligent lighting and infrastructure emerge, the key phrase businesses need to remember is to Think Big, Start Small and Scale Fast. Take on a small-scale, experimental project in you municipality, industrial location or retail store. Test out a new technology with a target group of customers.

By starting small and learning to scale fast, you can adopt an innovation mantra and build a business plan that leads to success.

I was thrilled to have been invited to address the 2015 Graduating Class at the University of North Carolina School of Government -CGCIO program in Chapel Hill the other day!

IMG_7102It was part of a full day program which led to their graduation ceremony; I was invited in to challenge them to think of the opportunities and challenges they face as they go forward into the future at the start of their day.

Attendees were from a broad spectrum of local and municipal governments, as well as school boards and legal bodies; particularly responsible for information technology and infrastructure.  I’ve previously spoken to many such groups, including a keynote for 3,000 folks at the annual Government Finance Officers Association annual conference in Austin, Texas; 2,000 mayors and civic officials for the Texas Municipal League annual conference in Dallas, Texas; and 500 at the Utah League of Cities and Towns annual event in Salt Lake City (among many other events.)

Certainly the challenge for government today is pretty big;I opened with this quote:

“Increasingly, citizens are demanding that governments provide the same level personalized service that they receive from business organizations.” International Innovations in Public Sector External Service Delivery, 
Brock University, March 2010″

That certainly became evident with the rollout of the Web site for the Health Care Reform Act (aka “Obamacare”); with a failed implementation, it became clear that the expectations of society are that any government should provide the same degree of online service as Amazon, FedEx or others. I spoke of what people expect in terms of online interaction today, using the example of pension benefits:

  • extreme personalization
  • extreme simplification
  • complete interaction history
  • pro-active delivery by new platforms (i.e. instant text messages when pension plan changes occur)
  • Web interaction > call center (i.e. chat / video / Skype/ Google Hangout?)
  • and mobile!

Yet the problem for many government organizations is that they have to try to provide this service within the reality of the existence of a creaky, lumbering, complex back-end information technology platform. I use a simple picture to illustrate the problem (which brought down the house with laughter; they know all too well that the problem is very, very real.)

YourApp

But then I continued : that’s not the biggest challenge; it’s the fact that they very definition of technology and infrastructure — their area of responsibility — will be subject to rapid change.

My intent was to put into perspective that as CIO’s for government organizations, they had better be ready to assume responsibility for a lot more than just citizen facing service systems and other existing infrastructure. It’s the new, rapidly evolving technology and trends which will see them becoming responsible for even more technology — and it could all happen pretty quickly.

There were several themes:

  • Big, disruptive ideas: we all know big change is happening in every industry. How quickly will we see online voting; text message based democracy, and other new forms of technology based citizen democracy? I wrote about this in my “25 Trends for 2025” document — take a look at the trend, “Poll-democracy takes flight“, in which I suggest that “the mobile generation, weaned on the technology of text messaging and social networks, finally convinces a few brave countries to consider the idea of real time 
citizen-voting.” It’s not a question of if it will happen; it’s a question of when it will happen.
  • Infrastructure of 2025: it’s emerging now, and its happening fast. In cities and towns, we’ll see  local business and citizen groups using mobile energy shared insight apps to actively monitor and manage local lighting usage; global community vs. community challenges become common as gaming generation comes to manage their ‘personal energy infrastructure usage’ ; deep analysis capabilities move cities to prognostic maintenance of traffic, electrical, lighting, wastewater and water infrastructure systems. Wow!
  • Moore’s Law everywhere: Of course, the Internet of Things. Opportunities involving the virtualization of health care; seniors community care networks that allow seniors to live in their homes instead of seniors care facilities, supported through vast, interconnected medical devices ; intelligent LED networked streetlights with proximity sensors that indicate open parking spots; payment technology embedded into cars that will link and pay through smart meters.
  • Grand challenges: there are big challenges with civic infrastructure today. 16% of the water supply in the US is lost due to leaky pipes, and goes back in the ground!Put it another way: utilities lose enough water every six days to supply the nation for a day! Only 7% of the communities in the US recycle wastewater. Compare that to Israel: more than 80% of household wastewater is recycled, 1/2 going to irrigation. Of course, someone will solve this challenge with technology — perhaps this company. “Nexus eWater, maker of the world’s first home water and energy recycler, today announced that it is the first company ever to receive certification to the NSF/ANSI 350 global standard for residential grey water treatment for its ‘NEXtreater’ home water recycler. (Nexus eWater is World’s First Company to 
Obtain Certification for Residential Grey Water Treatment 13 March 2015, Business Wire). Their goals? reducing city water into the home by up to 40%; reducing sewage from the home by 70%; reducing water heating energy by 75% ; reducing home energy use by 15-25%; generating total savings of up to $50-$200 per month per home for water, sewer and electric bills. Oh, and harvesting rainwater. Pretty bold goals, but that’s the type of world we live in today
  • The next generation: My sons are now 21 and 20. I pointed out that they have never known a world without the Internet, and have never known a world for the last decade without some type of mobile device. They simply will not expect to deal with a government that is not prepared to service them quickly, efficiently and effectively through mobile.

It was a fun talk; and certainly inspired a lot of thinking, with a solid 1/2 hour of Q&A.

I’m extremely impressed by the level of insight provided by a program such as that at UNC. We should do more to encourage innovators in government to take on and assume more responsibility for some of the grandest opportunities of our time!

It’s an interesting time for many organizations. There is a wave of business model disruption, new competition, fast paced change, a massive transition in skills and knowledge — not to mention the impact of a massive wave of technology.

That’s often the context for the keynotes that I do;  many times over the last 15 years, I’ve been invited in to challenge a global leadership team to how to deal with a fast paced future. Innovation is a key theme, and my job is the wake people up to the trends that will change their industry, careers, and opportunities.

I’ll always work several text message polls into my talks (through PollEverywhere.com) to gauge the mindset of those in the room.

And in the last 18 months, I’ve woven into most of my talks, three key questions:

  • do you believe you are capable of dealing with a fast future?
  • do you think your business model will survive the next ten years?
  • are you prepared to innovate now, to deal with this reality?

I’ve come to this conclusion. Every single audience group has answered “No.” “No”. “No.”

In other words: we’re not ready for a lot of change; we know this change will likely have a devastating impact; but we’re just going to wait a while before we do anything about it!

The thinking, to me, is truly mind-boggling.

Case in point: here’s a recent poll with one recent global leadership meeting that I was asked to open.

The first question: are you ready to deal with a fast future?

FastFuture-1024x648

Well, not really

Next question: do you think your business model will survive?

Definitely not.

10YearsOut-1024x654

Last question: What are you going to do about it?

Excuse-1
Um, we will just wait it out.

I’ve tried this scenario with multiple groups through the last 18 months, and there is a deadly commonality to it.

It’s kind of scary, because it implies to me that a lot of organizations, associations, professions and industries are sleep walking into the future.

We live in fascinating times!

 

Trend: Mobile is Eating Retail
January 16th, 2015

“The next five years will bring more change to retail than the last 100 years” – Cyriac Roeding, CEO of Shopkick

I had the delight of leading a small, intimate talk to a group of leading retailers in New York City earlier this week, at an event sponsored by agile software development firm Thoughtworks. The focus of my talk was to put into perspective the reality of the high-velocity trends that are impacting every single aspect of the world of retail.

Tw3

If you are a CEO of any type of retailer, and do not understand the scope of these trends, you need to get onboard — fast.

1. Mobile is eating retail

The future of retail is all about mobile and if any CEO  doesn’t understand that, they should be out of a job.

Already by 2013, statistics show that sales through mobile and tablet devices were up 138% in 2013 from the year before. That takes us to the point where sales through some type of mobile device is estimated to be at least at 30% of *all* retail sales.

If that doesn’t get your attention then consider that another group suggests that by the end of 2015, every single retail transaction in the US will have some type of mobile element. It doesn’t matter what type of element — it could involve the actual purchase transaction, or logistics tracking, or a payment process, or some type of loyalty transaction.

Think about that. Every single retail transaction will somehow involve a mobile device somewhere along the way. That’s significant, because it provides big opportunity for business transformation — but it also provides for the potential for massive business model disruption, new competition, loss of market control and dozens of other challenges.

It gets even bigger over time. In the UK, leading retailer John Lewis suggests that every category will migrate to online shopping in a big way — with their estimate that by 2023, 27% of all fashion sales will be through a mobile device.

2. Control of the speed of innovation has shifted to Silicon Valley

The retail industry, like every other industry, is caught in a trend that  control of the speed of innovation moving to the pace set by Silicon Valley speed? For a long time, the pace of innovation in retail has been relatively slow and deliberate; aside from some cool new cardboard layouts for end-cap displays, and sprucing up a store layout, there wasn’t a lot of need to do anything really fast.

Whoops! Now when you enter a store, you’ll use your iPhone to confirm the transaction, and you’ll get an instant receipt. Loyalty transactions will occur through mobile. Consumers will be influenced by something on their mobile (see below) …..

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

3. Mobile “influence” is going to completely redefine in-store interaction

We’re in the era of what is known as “shopper marketing,” a method of promotion involving mobile devices. Booz & Company research suggests that shopper marketing is already at $50 billion in the US.IMG_6376

What is it?  I’ll walk into a store, and behind the scenes, the store will recognize me through an interaction with my mobile device, either because of an App that I have with the retailer; a permissive social relationship; or maybe a loyalty relationship. The result is that I’ll either get a message on my phone with an e-coupon. Or perhaps an LCD TV in the store will put up a welcome message for me, with audio, and suggest I walk over to  aisle 7 for a customized special offer just for me!

Farfetched? I don’t think so. Creepy? To us maybe, but perhaps not to the next generation. When we think of the strangeness of the future and our likely negative reaction to some of what might come next, we have to remember this: it’s not bad, it’s just different.

How fast is shopper marketing moving forward? Research suggests that 56% of food wholesalers, 61.1% of manufacturers and 38.3% of sales agencies will likewise invest more in shopper marketing in the coming year. What’s popular? Mobile coupons (51%), personalized mobile offers (44.8%), store-specific mobile apps (40.6%), text messages (36.5%) and location-based services such as Foursquare and Facebook Places (35.4%).

And we’re only in the early stages. If you want to understand the future, grab the Apple Store app, and allow it to check your location. Then go visit your local Apple store, and watch what happens.

4. The change to the mobile wallet provides more potential for massive disruption

Two things are happening: if you think about it, Apple has eliminated the concept of the cash register in stores. And more importantly, they’ve rendered the plastic credit card obsolete with Apple Pay.

And the fascinating thing is that most of the retail and banking world was seemingly caught unawares, which is staggering since everyone knew this was coming for at least the last 20 years! The result is that organizations like Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover now find themselves in a heated competition with Apple, Google, PayPal and other high-velocity, innovative tech companies.

Who would you put your money on?

It’s not just that; the battle of the small vs. incumbents (Square vs Visa/MasterCard/Discovery/Amex) continues. It is still terrifically difficult for any small retailer to get a ‘merchant’ accountant from any of the dinosaurian incumbents. That’s why you see so many new business organizations using devices like Square and other industry disruptors.

svenvintges_2015-Jan-13

There’s another aspect too! The move to the mobile wallet involves a need for a rapid and massive infrastructure change. Most retailers can’t move that fast; they are still working to solve the big ERP problems they inherited in 2010! So while they are trying to fix the past, the future is unfolding in front of them way too fast.

4. Same day shipping everywhere destroys markets

Can you say “Amazon-Prime?” I am speaking to countless industries that are suddenly waking up to a world in which Amazon might suddenly be able to dominate their retail business model. Flooring products. Thermostats. You name it.

Anne Zybowski, an analyst at Kantar Retail said it best a few years ago: “A few years ago retailers spent a ton of time trying to make their online stores look and act like their physical stores. Now they’ve sort of reversed course, and the challenge is how to take that online shopping experience that’s so personalized, socially connected and heavily layered with data, and essentially bring it into a physical environment.” The model in which stores carry a lot of inventory is disappearing — the future is all about fulfilment.

We live in the era of “omni-channel retail,” and nothing will ever be the same. The future of retail is all about Google vs. Amazon vs. Wal-Mart, all of whom have promised to build an infrastructure that will support same day delivery to 50% of the US population within a few short years. With that, we are witnessing the rapid emergence of instant delivery startups. Amazon is hiring bicycle couriers  to put in place a business model that will offer up one-hour delivery in New York and San Francisco.

But wait! There’s more! ‘Click-and-collect’ infrastructure in major urban centres is happening at a furious pace; sit at your desk, order your groceries, and pick up your order in just one hour from your local grocery store.

Caught flat-footed are a whole bunch of retailers who find that they can’t compete on price, don’t have comparable infrastructure, and frankly, don’t know what to do other than recoil in fear!

5. The “Internet of things” also involves intelligent packaging, which changes everything.

The hype out of CES last week was fascinating. The Internet of things is real — I’ve been talking about it for 15 years.

But what isn’t being talked about in many circles is the impact of intelligent packaging — which completely defines the retail process, not to mention the product.

Intelligent packaging has huge implications.  We are talking about packaging that talks to you — maybe we will see Apple’s SIRI embedded in the package. We’ve already got pharmaceutical packaging that does “electronic event monitoring” for patient adherence. We’re going to see food packaging that automatically uploads calorie, carb, sodium and other data to a customer’s smartphone. We’ve already got packaging that comes with a unique code — and will automatically send a text through your mobile to verify that the product is not counterfeit.

We’ll have packaging that lights up when you pick it up with a small LCD screen, and runs a customized video, just for you, because it links to the app on your phone.

We’re talking about …..interactive packaging, intelligent and active packaging, multi-sensory packaging, edible packaging … packaging as mini-billboards…!

6. All this is happening in the context of collapsing product life-cycles

We are in the era of era of instant obsolescence and disappearing lifespans.

Think about this: 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.

thoughtworks_2015-Jan-13

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. The impact on retailers is staggering.

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.

And so in the context of all the change noted above, retailers have to support faster logistics, marketing, branding, sales training, promotions…….

It’s a lot of change. That’s why innovation in the high velocity economy is all about:

  • an accelerated innovation cycle
  • rapid ingestion of new technologies / methodologies
  • faster time to market
  • rapid re-focusing of resources for opportunity or threat
  • rabid focus on operational excellence
  • rapid response to volatility
  • re-orientation to fast paced consumer and brand perception

Are retailers ready? I did two quick text message polls of my audience in New York City, and here’s what I got!

First, they don’t think their ready!

TW1

And second, they think they have a lot of mismatches that they need to fill;

Tw2

Retail?

The future belongs to those who are fast — particularly as mobile eats retails!

 

Last autumn, I was the luncheon keynote speaker for the Electronics Representatives Association in Chicago. This is a group of folks who act as middlemen between a vast number of large and small electronic/equipment manufacturers and their eventual sales targets — other manufacturing companies.

The truth, according to Carroll, is that businesses tend to underestimate the rate of change that will occur. Many companies sit around discussing what their competitors may be doing 10 years from now. Instead, they need to think in terms of what doesn’t even yet exist.

On stage in Chicago. “The truth, according to Carroll, is that businesses tend to underestimate the rate of change that will occur. Many companies sit around discussing what their competitors may be doing 10 years from now. Instead, they need to think in terms of what doesn’t even yet exist.”

My focus : how a world of fast change in manufacturing, product design, innovation, and other issues will come to challenge their role — and what they must do to “step up to the plate.”

My keynote ended with an interactive workshop based on live text message polling — I built the polls live in real time, on stage, with direct audience interation. You can read about it here. If you want something different with your keynote, I’m the guy to talk to! (We have video…..)


The ‘fast future’ is here!
How innovators are driving emerging markets
by  Suzi Wirtz, CAE, on assignment for ERA.

Change is no longer an option. It’s not only happening at lightning speed, but it has become a necessary part of the world in which everyone lives today. The secret to success lies in how a company responds to this rapid change and plans to meet its inherent challenges. In a word, it’s about innovation. Will your company be ahead of change and create ways to survive and succeed? Or will it be left behind?

To help reps, manufacturers and distributors answer these questions, ERA called on Jim Carroll, an international futurist and authority on global trends, to deliver the keynote presentations at the association’s 46th Management and Marketing Conference this past October. Carroll spoke about what it takes to recognize emerging markets and to become part of what he calls the “fast future.”

Benchmarking Rep Firm Income and Expenses
He urged conference attendees to rethink the role of “electronics” in a world that is hyperconnected, always on and always interactive. He quoted Rupert Murdoch, saying, “It’s no longer the biggest organizations that will win and own and control the future. It’s the fastest.” And, Carroll explained to the ERA audience, this “truth” couldn’t be any more appropriate for them.

“You [in the electronics industry] are in the whirlwind of the change that is occurring today,” he said. “Change is occurring faster than ever before. It’s the same for NASA as it is for the Electronics Representatives Association.”

He provided three rather mind-boggling statistics to put into perspective the rate of change:

  1. Sixty-five percent of the children who are now in preschool will work in jobs that do not exist today.
  2. For any scientific degree today (e.g., agriculture, architecture, medical), it is estimated that half of what students learn in their freshman year is obsolete by the time they graduate.
  3. In the technology industry, companies have three to six months to sell their product before it becomes obsolete.

With these facts in mind, Carroll stated emphatically that companies need to talk about the trends that are happening now so they make it a habit to think about their next set of opportunities and to challenge themselves to do things differently. The big question, he stressed, is, “What do world-class innovators do that others don’t do?” Furthermore, how can ERA members learn from these innovators in order to be well-positioned for success and to ensure they are maximizing the opportunities for the future?

Six things world-class innovators do

1. They are relentless in the face of uncertainty.

As far back as 2002, according to Carroll, this phenomenon was happening with respect to the dot-com bust. People were driven by indecision, and they simply didn’t want to explore or invest in new ideas because the economy was uncertain. He referred to this as “aggressive indecision.”

Interestingly, Carroll has been asking audiences for the past seven years when they feel the economy will recover. Consistently, they have responded that it’s between six months and two years. However, one industry felt it was happening “right now,” and that was the American manufacturing industry.

The lesson is that optimism can go a long way, and it’s a necessary function for not only survival, but success. In fact, as Carroll related, the Head of Innovation at General Electric (yes, that is an actual title!) decided it would be interesting to examine trends in economic recovery over the years. He found that 60 percent of companies performed typical things in the same situation. That is, they cut back on costs and didn’t make any bold moves. The result? Thirty percent didn’t survive while 60 percent just barely made it. However, 10 percent actually became break-through performers because they decided that, despite lingering economic uncertainty, they would make big moves.

2. They realign with the longer term.

World-class innovators think big picture and devise big ideas, Carroll described. They challenge their industries to do things in new and different ways.

He referenced Star Trek and The Jetsons, saying, “Some of what they envisioned is now being challenged to become reality today. The period of time in which we talk about science fiction and when it actually happens is compressing. That is part of the accelerating change today.”

The truth, according to Carroll, is that businesses tend to underestimate the rate of change that will occur. Many companies sit around discussing what their competitors may be doing 10 years from now. Instead, they need to think in terms of what doesn’t even yet exist.

As an example, he cited the auto industry and the notion of Google Maps back in 2003. Google Maps was just beginning, but Carroll suggested that cars would soon provide a way, within the car itself, for the driver to locate directions, destinations and so on. In fact, he predicted Google could also be responsible for delivering cars via FedEx.
The downfall, he suggested, was the response, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” Fast forward to 2013 and Tesla Motors. Tesla has transformed the auto industry with its distribution of cars.

Another emerging idea Carroll discussed was that cellphones will actually become credit cards in the near future. And he challenged the ERA audience with, “Will you be one of the representatives out there pounding the pavement discovering all the opportunity that lies in these emerging marketplaces?”

3. They watch the innovation at the edges.

Carroll urged the conference attendees to constantly monitor research and development and assess what is happening there. He recently talked with a home automation group about Ninja Blocks, which began as a crowdfunding initiative. Immediately, $100,000 was invested and, within a matter of weeks, a million dollars was raised via angel funding. Ninja Blocks are “cool,” Carroll noted, and “coolness” is very important with products going forward.

Consider the Ninja Blocks’ website address itself: ANinjaIsBorn.com. It’s not just cool, Carroll commented, but people then talk about how cool it is and spread the word to everyone they know. That kind of viral marketing serves to expand that market. Think about robotics and 3D printing, cloud computing and the ability to build something entirely unique. He believes, as do others, that these advances will bring in a new phase of luxuriant and wired home living that is highly personal and customized.

4. They align to Silicon Valley innovation velocity.

One of the most fascinating trends unfolding today, Carroll related, is pervasive connectivity. In other words, it’s the Internet and the fact that everything that is a part of everyone’s daily lives is about to become plugged into the Internet. Entire industries are being built around this soon-to-be reality.

He referenced a scale now being sold by Apple, whereby a person’s body mass is measured, charted and shared with other devices for an overall picture of the individual’s health and well-being. Chips and electronic sensors will plug into everything, and this is “massive” for the electronics industry’s future opportunity.

Think about healthcare and genetic-based medicine, Carroll encouraged. “It’s gone from a system that can fix you after you are sick into a system that can predict what you are going to become sick with, based on DNA and so forth, and then design solutions based upon that.”

Consider the notion of velocity in these terms: It took $3 billion to sequence the first genome. In 2009, the cost dropped to $100,000. It is now under $10,000, and Carroll feels it will likely go down to even $1,000.

He also cited the thermostat and how it now has programmable capabilities. In the not-too-distant future, there will likely be a facial recognition component built in so that the device can remember who you are when you enter a room and adjust to your preferences.

And as a final reference in this category of what world-class innovators do, Carroll discussed wearable technology, as in clothing with sensors in it. This should be another near-future opportunity for electronics industry companies.

5. They check their speed.

Carroll explained that Apple is in a position in which 60 percent of its revenue comes from sources that didn’t exist four years ago. It’s called “chameleon revenue,” and he urged every company to think about this fact because this is the type of future for which companies should be positioning themselves.

“Change your market, change your capability, change your products so that you are continually generating new sources of revenue,” he advocated.

Using the manufacturing industry as an example again, Carroll noted that it is focused on continually changing the manufacturing process. The business model has been one in which companies build to inventory. Here, Carroll referenced the auto industry and Henry Ford’s once-novel idea of the assembly line. Honda, on the other hand, is building to demand. The company watches the trends, sees what is selling one week and then changes to meet that demand. In today’s world, this type of almost-instant response is not only possible – thanks to rapid concept generation and rapid prototyping – but it is becoming necessary.

6. They know everything changes with the next generation.

To reinforce this fact, Carroll pointed out that about 90 percent of the ERA conference attendees (and those in their similar generations) are the only ones to have ever met the computer punch card, and no one else since even knows what Cobol and Fortan are. They are that obsolete.

Children who are now 18 to 20 years old have never known a world without the Internet. The older generation often feels battered and bruised by the rapid change and may likely just wish all the progress would just stop.

Carroll quoted Ogden Nash, “Progress is great, but it’s gone on far too long.” However, Carroll said, “It’s not going to go away, and one reason it will continue to accelerate is because of the next generation.”

Think about all the times older generations have had to look to their children to help with installing software or working on a computer. Then consider these statistics:
Half of the global population is under the age of 25.

Younger generations are globally wired, entrepreneurial, collaborative and change oriented.

Younger generations are also now driving rapid business model change and industry transformation as they move into managerial and executive positions.

To wrap up his presentation, Carroll delivered some succinct advice: Watch the emerging markets. Stop clinging to that which is familiar. Begin to thrive on innovation. Think big in terms of the scope of opportunities. Start small and get familiar with the technology today. Then, finally, scale fast.

The closing segment of the conference keynote program consisted of round table workshop discussions by attendees. For the first time at an ERA event, interactive polling was used so the entire audience could rank the various responses that were reported by table leaders from their discussions. (Carroll had employed the text message polling several times during his presentation, so attendees were famiiar with the method.). The attendees discussed and then ranked the responses to three questions. A summary of the feedback follows.

Workshop questions and discussions

Mark Motsinger, CPMR, of Wallace Electronic Sales, the conference workshop coordinator, and Carroll first asked the attendees, What is the most significant challenge facing your industry today?

There were many varied responses, and once those were all posted on the ballroom screens, Carroll asked the full audience to rank them. He felt there were four dominant answers (shown below with the percentage of the audience that gave a number one ranking to each answer). The top challenges cited were:

  • Relationship development (26 percent);
  • Attracting the next generation (17 percent);
  • Ability to innovate (16 percent);
  • Alignment of resources and picking a winner (15 percent).

The second question for attendees was, How will you respond to that challenge?

  • After using the same process of reporting as many responses as possible and then polling all attendees to determine their number one choices, the top vote-getters were:
  • Get young (17 percent);
  • Social media (14 percent); (Carroll noted this goes hand-in-hand with “get young.”)
  • Deeper CRM usage and analysis (13 percent); (Carroll commented that one of his leading agricultural clients knows which 87 customers, out of 12,000 farmers, generate 93 percent of the company’s profit.)
  • More flexible relationships (13 percent); (Carroll added that this could be at the core for ERA members. “You’ve built your relationships,” he said, “but are you challenging and changing your relationships?”)
  • Customer centricity/collaboration (9 percent). (“The opportunity here is great,” according to Carroll.)

The third and last question conference attendees answered was, When it comes to a “fast future,” how well positioned are you? The responses were perhaps more reassuring than some might expect. The majority of attendees felt that they are at least somewhat positioned or extremely well positioned for success. Here’s the percentage breakdown:

  • Extremely well positioned for success (19 percent)
  • Somewhat positioned for success (59 percent);
  • Behind in our ability to keep up (20 percent);
  • “We’re toast! It’s way too fast!” (2 percent).

On a final note, Carroll highlighted the fact that 297 out of 300 customers in the next generation are using smartphones, and “they are seeking your support on a mobile device!” He urged everyone to use interactive polling on smartphones with their own customers.

This article was written by Suzi Wirtz, CAE, on assignment for ERA.

ERAPoll

“I’m now building polls, live, in real time, while on stage in front of several hundred people. Talk about a deeply powerful method of providing for audience interaction.”

As my audiences become ever more engaged with their mobile devices, I’ve learned that I must continually step up my game and ensure that they remain engaged with me!

Attention spans in society are collapsing, and we who own and do our job on stage must ensure that we keep those attention spans on the message…. whether I’m in front of scientists, leadership and researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Center or 2,000 ERA real estate professionals in Austin, Texas.

And so my most potent powerful weapon in that regard is my use of PollEverywhere on stage.

Yesterday during a keynote in Chicago, in a pattern that I’ve been using for about a year, I took things a step further than simply using several multiple choice text message based questions from the stage.

I worked interactively with the audiences to build a list of the most difficult challenges that they may face — and another list of the responses they think might help them deal with those challenges. After coming up with each list, everyone in the room got a chance to vote on the responses!

Live, in real time, in front of hundreds of people. This is fun stuff! Think about it — working with the audience, I’m now building part of my keynote on the fly to delve deeply into the real issues and opportunities my audience is thinking about.

I’m doing this more often as of late : here’s a post I did about one recent talk, “Highly interactive, highly insightful – a private strategy meeting for 50!”.

Here is what the room came up with yesterday in Chicago, n terms of their most significant challenges — and after I built the list in my Web browser, how they voted on the list. (Click on either image below for a larger image)

SignificantChallenge-550

I then worked the room again, seeking answers on how they might respond to the challenge. Once again, I built poll in real time, and had the room vote on the results.

ChallengeResponse-550

This is POWERFUL stuff for a keynote presentation.

If you are seeking someone to wow your audience, challenge them to think differently about innovation and the future, then you might find this to be a really fascinating way to take your meeting or event to the next level.

By the way, when you’re on stage, you’ve got to keep your cool — and have a tech partner who excels at customer service! So it is with PollEverywhere. Somehow during the process, just after voting and building the second poll, I lost the results to the first one! While on stage, I commented about this to the audience, looked up the customer support phone number for PollEverywhere, and phoned them.

They picked up the call in just under two minutes — and immediately showed me how to fix my problem.

Astounding, wonderful, stupendous customer service!

I LOVE POLLEVERYWHERE!

 

Convenience Store Decisions gave me a call, and wanted to speak about some of the trends impacting the industry.

The intervivew was a piece of cake — I do a lot of keynotes in the retail space. And just last year, a leader in “forecourt marketing” (which is industry speak for c-store marketing…), featured me as the keynote speaker at their Digital Forecourt Marketing Summit

 “It won’t be too long before I am able to fill up my car while my iPhone is communicating with the c-store,” he said. “By the time I walk into the store an LCD TV panel up on the wall is going to recognize me and greet me with a customized commercial.”

Here’s the extract of my observations from the article. (Small error in the article though – I’m not based in Dallas, but Toronto!)

Shift in Consumer Demands
Dallas-based futurist Jim Carroll sees healthier foods becoming a more fundamental offering at more convenience store down the road. “You wouldn’t think it, but there is a very seismic change going on in terms of what the stores are selling,” he said. “I think they’re realizing that what people are consuming—fried foods and fatty snacks—is changing. People are much more conscious of their food consumption.”

This is a trend that Carroll has been hearing about personally—directly from c-store operators. “Wellness—focusing on nutrition and an active lifestyle—is certainly a trend,” he said. “You think about the number of convenience stores that have undertaken a shift to fresh food. The focus is not on Doritos and Twinkies. Sure, some operators do focus on these items, but your industry leaders and top quartile chains are embracing change.”

Retailers, Carroll said, are trying to get away from the traditional popping chips paradigm. “If you play into the sort of ‘life to go’ issue and recognize that people want to get in and get a healthy meal quickly, why not have those items at the ready in convenience and gas stations? Even 7-Elevens now are selling sushi.”

Promotions, too, will gain impact, Carroll predicted. “It won’t be too long before I am able to fill up my car while my iPhone is communicating with the c-store,” he said. “By the time I walk into the store an LCD TV panel up on the wall is going to recognize me and greet me with a customized commercial.”

Once the store recognizes a particular customer there are endless possibilities to upsell merchandise via text messages and electronic coupons. The constant in the equation is change.

“I see c-stores undergoing relentless change in terms of what they do,” said Carroll, “because I think consumers change so quickly. That’s a major part of what’s going on—a very fast format shift. There is a South African chain that is converting its entire c-store strategy over to fresh food—a complete format shift, because even over there they are seeing that same kind of demand for fresh food served fast.”

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