What My 2013 Means for YOUR 2020!


It’s been an incredible run! 2013 proved to be another fun year with a number of keynote presentations and workshops, once again in a vast number of different industries.

Usually, at the end of every year, I write a ‘trend report’ related to key trends that will impact you in the future. You’ll find some of them in the 2014 and beyond section to the right.

This year, I thought I would do something different though — why not outline for you what you should thinking about in terms of the trends that will affect you between now and 2020, based on what I’ve been speaking to my clients about in the last year.

A typical working day at the office for me during 2013!
A typical working day at the office for me during 2013!

Here’s a list of just a few clients where I’ve had the privilege of speaking, with a message focused on one or several key trends that we need to think about as we head towards 2020:

  • NASA Goddard Space Center — a keynote and a half day working session with senior leaders, research scientists and project managers – including those who are building the James Webb telescope, the replacement for the Hubble! Perhaps one of the most extraordinary working days of my life, and it was a thrill to bring my 20 year old son along with me – I have long been a space exploration junkie! The focus of my talk? Broadly, putting some context on the theme “the business of space is changing.” NASA is faced with dramatic trends that define new challenges but vast opportunity, from the increasing commercialization of space, rapid advancement of national space programs (think Iran and China) and the impact of the distribution of global R&D. That’s a key trend to 2020 for every single organization and every single industry: there are vast changes underway in terms of business models in every industry, and they are bigger than you think. Transformation is a key word going forward: no industry or company will look anything in 2020 like it does today. Innovators will make sure they are part of it, not blindsided by it.
  • Sandia National Laboratories – a keynote and a half day working session with a room full of, literally, nuclear scientists. I must tell you, when I walk into one of these situations, I often ask myself as to how I ended up in this very strange job. Then I focus on the task at hand: in this case, the broad theme being the fact that there is a fundamental, deep and substantive change in terms of how global R&D is carried out : the knowledge tentacles of an organization into the global collective mind will define its future success. Every organization must align to this new reality, and understand how to realign its knowledge acquisition and development process.
  • Private wealth managers, Athens, Greece – a keynote for a group of “family office managers.” In the room, I had folks who represent and manage the wealth of a vast swathe of some of the wealthiest families on the planet. Key message: on a long term basis, growth abounds in the global economy, and world class innovators focus on opportunity despite economic volatility. Perhaps that’s why it was held in Athens — read my blog post on the “Miracle that is Greece.”
  • American Medical Group, Phoenix, Arizona – a keynote for this group, which represents a vast cross-spectrum of the US healtcare system. Key message? The real future of health care isn’t found in the ridiculousness of the politics, but in that the rapid acceleration of science will provide more opportunity for innovation in the next 5 years than we have seen in the last 100. Looking out to 2020, we are going to see massive change in everything we think about healthcare. Genomic medicine is undergoing a cost curve that equates to what happened with computer chips – in 5 years, you’ll go into Radio Shack and buy your own genomic sequencing machine for $2. That’s but one trend of many – check out the health care section of my blog under the trends area, and dig deeper.
  • Lender Processing Group – a keynote built on the theme of my book of 15 years ago, Surviving the Information Age. The client was celebrating a 25th anniversary of a customer event, and wanted to look back at trends from the past and cast them into the future. What turned out was a talk that was a huge amount of fun – you can find the full video online as well as a number of clips! Key theme? Baby boomers are a very unique generation because of their relationship with the earliest days of the computer revolution. Key trend? We are in the midst of an absolute massive generational transformation  that relates to attitudes towards innovation and change, as baby boomers retire and Gen-Connect takes over positions of power and influence. Looking out to 2020, this is probably one of the deepest, most profound and sweeping trends to impact us. Right now, half of the global population is under the age of 25. What do you think happens next? It’s going to be different!
  • ERA 2013, Austin, Texas – this keynote and many others involved a dramatic look at some future trends sweeping our world, such as the “car of 2017” Key trend? Increasing acceleration of change means that we are living, for the first period of time, in which modern technologies come into our life,  become a part of our life, and then disappear. Do you think your car will even have a GPS 5 years from now? Probably not — GPS will disappear as the car begins to drive itself. Things are becoming “things from the olden days” literally before our very eyes.
  • FMC Agriculture, Los Cabos, Mexico  – a lot of talks this year in the agriculture and related industries. Think about what is coming soon: driverless, autonomous tractors! Drone aerial technology for monitoring of crop health. Pinpoint targeted seed varietals that are designed for a particular acre of ground that meets certain, key characteristics. Global Acceleration of change. And above all, growth opportunities. Key message: don’t presume that the way your industry works today will be how it works tomorrow: everything around you is going to be very, very different.
  • Black & Veatch , Aspen, Colorado – a keynote for their annual Utility Executive Leadership Institute Conference. My focus? The future of infrastructure, energy, utilities — and what happens when everything around us becomes intelligent, connected, aware, and location oriented. Key message? From now to 2020, industries will be redefined by those who dare to go with big, bold thinking as to solve some of the leading challenges of our time
  • Pella Doors & Windows, Pella, Iowa – and so I found myself in Idaho in the middle of Febraury for a talk to this long established manufacturing company on the key trends that are redefing the manufacturing sector — and every industry, into the future. One of my key messages: out to 2020, a world of rapid concept generationr, rapid concept development and rapid prototyping are the new normal. This requires a new type of skill set and new ways of bringing products to market — as we’ve seen with Tesla Motors and many other new startup manufacturing organizations. Key message – as we head to 2020, we’re witnessing organizations toss away the 20th century mass production methodologies in favour of highly customized, uniquely designed, fast developed new ways of getting things done. It involves flexibility, agilgiy, and the ability to innovate in ways that previously have not been possible, using technologies that were barely conceived of just five years ago.
  • Surge Accelerator, Houston, Texas – an opening keynote for this event involving pitches by young, growth oriented startup companies focused on opportunity in the energy sector. I must admit, it’s the only event at which I’ve seen the audience drinking Bloody Mary’s first thing in the morning (they were served as part of the event)  – this is Texas after all! One of my main points was that we can expect a lot of ongoing, unexpected change over the long term in the energy sector and other industries. By way of examine, I showed multiple headlines from 2008 about the forthcoming “boom” in nuclear power. (i.e. it was on June 29, 2008, that the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a breathless headline : “Nuclear Renaissance: Nuclear Power is Safer Than Ever And We Need it To Reduce Pollution and Our Dependence on Foreign Oil.“) Of course, they weren’t thinking or aware or cognizant of what was bubbling below the surface, so to speak, in the revolution  is shale-gas, horizontal drilling and other leading edge exploration and production techniques. Key message? Between now and 2020, be prepared for a lot of surprises that might challenge everything you know, and ensure you’ve got the innovation capability to adapt to short, sharp shocks of change.

There’s one more item that should be on the list – eye surgery! Three days ago, I had two intraocular lenses implanted, in what is known as Lens Replacement Surgery. It’s the same surgery as cataract surgery – before you get the cataracts. The benefit? For the first time in 34 years, I’m not wearing contact lenses or eyeglasses. I joke to my wife that I’ve become a bionic man! Whatever the case may be, I’ve got better vision — and hopefully, even more insight into what the future might hold.



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.