Keynote: “…. a whirlwind of a speech….”


2009PACA.jpgBack in November, I had the honor of providing the opening keynote address for the Picture Archive Council of America, at the 13th Annual PACA conference, in New York City.

This organization represents stock photographers : the folks who supply the amazing shots and footage used by advertising agencies, publishers, magazines and countless other groups in need of great creativity. A vastly diverse group, ranging from global powerhouses like Getty Images and Corbis, to small boutique specialty photographers. They’ve had a bit of a struggle as of late: advertising is down with the recession; they’re impacted by the emergence of new cost competitors; and ongoing challenges with copyright infringement.

I did a tremendous amount of research into their industry, and really walked off stage thinking I hit a home run. That’s why it’s nice to find this feedback from one of their recent newsletters:

Jim Carroll describes himself as an ‘International futurist, trends and innovation expert’ (and nice guy) and works with a number of large corporations here in the US and in the UK commenting on media trends and advising organizations on coping with rapid changes in the market place.

He started the session by asking members of the audience NOT to switch off their mobile phones, but to use them to text their responses to an instant SMS poll which was projected onto the screen in real time. The poll covered current issues that might be of most concern to the stock licensing business. However the point of the exercise was not really about the outcome measured onscreen, but more about the current use of interactive technology.

This is the way we can expect to operate in the future: very speedily and using communication methods which might not be familiar to all of us. One statistic, which surprised, was that there are supposedly more text messages sent each day around the globe than the number of people alive. No wonder our childrens’ phone bills are so high.

In a whirlwind of a speech, made while moving constantly around the stage, Jim took us through the 7 key issues he believes we need to focus on to stay not just in the game, but ahead of the pack, at a time when not only is technology moving fast, but product cycles are getting shorter and shorter as customer demands increase.

Jim claims to be hugely optimistic about the state of the world, having witnessed three or four previous recessions. He figures that this one may be over quicker than we might have imagined. That would be nice.

He also pointed out that while ten years ago there might have been a few thousand buyers of images worldwide there are now potentially 3 billion users. So there is cause for us to feel optimistic too. Well, I will–if we can get this great new potential market to understand that images actually belong to creators and that ‘copyright’ doesn’t really mean it’s ‘right to copy’ (editorial aside).

A few observations Jim made which were interesting to hear:

  • 65% of current preschoolers will work in jobs that do not exist today.
  • Scientific and technical evolution is moving at such a pace that half of what graduate students learn at university in their first year will have changed by the time they graduate.
  • Product life cycles are being radically shortened.

What do innovators need to do to stay ahead of fast-paced events? Jim gave us 7 (actually 8) ideas which we need to consider in order to meet the challenge of the future:

  • Focus on growth and opportunity: Listen to your customers and respond to what they want
  • Think Transformation: New business models, democratization of stock, new concepts, review trends in lifestyles
  • Check your speed: Am I operating at the speed of the market?
  • Immerse in fast ideas: Challenge the fundamental thinking that slows you down
  • Think upside-down: Get the assortment right, configure the merchandise, then market it
  • Get out in front: Value your quality relationships and work with your clients.
  • Focus on your strengths: Be a Master of Knowledge. Experiential capital is as important as financial capital

And BANISH the innovation killers in your company who tell you it can never be done, it won’t work, and you are crazy.

Noted the executive director of PACA in a followup message: “Thanks so much for an excellent presentation! We are already talking about having you return in a couple of years to re-access what has happened in our industry……. I’m happy to give a rave review to anyone who is considering your services.”

Think opportunity. Think growth!


THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO ARE FAST features the best of the insight from Jim Carroll’s blog, in which he
covers issues related to creativity, innovation and future trends.