Agriculture is a world defined by technology – and for the case of this manufacturer of irrigation equipment, one that is being subjected to the speed of change of Silicon Valley. Smart irrigation systems, intelligent plants that signal when they should be watered, micro-hyper-weather stations and more – the industry is being subjected to massive, fast transformative change, and it was my job to put the future of their industry onto the stage – and the creative mindset that is needed to thrive in the era of acceleration!
Archives for August 2014
I recently spoke at the Cattle Feeders Business Summit in Denver. Turns out the folks at Beef Magazine were in the audience, and here’s their report on my keynote!
Will You Be Ranching Like The Jetsons In 10 Years? – Beef Magazine (link to article)
“What will the beef industry look like in 10 years?” A simple question, that. But, in the same breath, one of profound depth and profound significance.
That’s the question Jim Carroll asked cattle feeders attending the recent Cattle Feeders Business Summit, sponsored by Merck Animal Health. The Toronto-based futurist then gave them a glimpse into a future that will, in some ways, be completely different from our current experience.
Remember George Jetson? The popular cartoon from the ‘60s was, in many ways, prophetic, Carroll told cattle feeders. So was Star Trek. In one episode of “The Jetsons,” George uses a flat-screen device to FacedTime with his family and his boss. In “Star Trek,” medical conditions were instantly analyzed with a hand-held tricorder.
Welcome to your future. FaceTime is already a reality. So is a device much like Bones’ medical tricorder. And the technology behind both will forever change how you manage your cattle, Carroll says.
Consider these facts:
An Australian study determined, given the rate of technological change we’re presently enduring, that the majority of kids entering grade school now will work at jobs that do not yet exist. Another study determined that half of what college students learn in the first year of school will either be obsolete or revised by the time they graduate. 60% of Apple’s revenue comes from products that didn’t exist four years ago.
One of those newly emerging careers that will have profound influence on how you manage cattle, Carroll says, are location intelligence professionals. That’s an emerging technology that is exploding in its capability.
“We’ve got a GPS in our pocket with our smartphone,” he says. But that’s just the beginning.
“Imagine a future in which we’ve got remote herd management monitoring technology in which we have instant insight into the health of our herd, the health of particular animals, that goes way beyond simple GPS tracking,” he says.
While you’re trying to bend your mind around the implications of that thought, consider this: “In 2017, if not sooner, we could be in a situation where minimally invasive surgery for large animals is common,” he predicts. “Remote monitoring of the effectiveness of animal pharmaceutical treatment (will be common) because the pharmaceuticals we give our animals are connected to the Internet.”
Science fiction? Not at all. “This is real stuff. Virtual understanding of every single aspect of your herd is coming sooner than you think,” Carroll told cattle feeders.
How will this change the cattle business? Carroll says we will quickly transition from a management approach where we deal with issues in the herd after they are diagnosed to an industry where we understand, with a high degree of accuracy, what conditions they will be susceptible to.
Not all of us, particularly those who can remember watching “The Jetsons” and “Star Trek” when they weren’t reruns, are comfortable with technology, and particularly aren’t comfortable with how quickly it is changing our world. My wife just bought a new car, and thank goodness it still has a steering wheel, because just about everything else on the dashboard is beyond my ability to operate.
We’re going to have to get over that. Carroll says one of his ag clients framed it perfectly. They have customers they call the apathetic minority—they tend to seek the same advice from the same places; they have a low tolerance for risk; they’re skeptical about the future.
Then they have clients who are future positive. These are farmers and ranchers who are optimistic; they’re business-minded; they’re innovation-oriented; they’re collaborative for advice; they seek input from other generations; they thrive on ideas that come from technology; they’re focused on profit and growth; they’re willing to approach everything in new ways.
That, Carroll says, is your future and that’s who you need to be.
So what do you think your ranch or feedyard will look like in 10 years? Will you still saddle a horse, heat up the branding irons, rope calves, turn the bulls out and do the many other things that have traditionally have defined both you and your livelihood? Or will you, as Carroll predicts, manage your ranch or feedyard completely differently?
Honey, let’s go get some ice cream. We’ll take the new car. Now, show me again how you start this darn thing.
Some months back, the folks at Retail NewsAgent in the UK sent me a series of questions asking about the future of retail. They were busy preparing for their 125th anniversary issue, and were interviewing a number of fellow futurists for insight into the trends that might shape and impact the sector in the future.
They’ve run a pretty lengthy article which I’ll post later this week, but here’s a short little article that they also ran in which two of us talk about the impact of the smartphone on the overall shopping experience.
The entire PDF is available on the right, but here are two quick extracts:
Canadian futurologist Jim Carroll, adds that the relationship between consumers and their smartphones introduces new shopper marketing opportunities too.
“I did a session with the leadership team at Gap. I played out a scenario where I had a Facebook relationship with Gap and ‘liked’ them. I walk into one of their stores and they recognise me and run a customised commercial on an in-store TV, saying ‘Welcome back Jim. We’re giving you a $20-off coupon today and in aisle seven there is something you might like’.
“Every 15-year-old is already giving away all their private life and they are not going to care about privacy when they get 20% off by linking their mobile to a screen in store.”
Mobile innovation is also changing payment technology at rapid pace.
“Control of the speed of innovation in every industry is shifting to Silicon Valley and the likes of Apple and Amazon are innovating a lot quicker than traditional retail companies,” says Jim Carroll. “As soon as Apple puts a chip in the iPhone that supports credit card transactions the industry will change at lightning speed.”
Over the years, I’ve done a tremendous number of presentations into the retail sector — check here for a glimpse! On the page, I use one of my favourite observations about the world of retail in a world of fast paced change: “The average consumer scans some 12 feet of shelf space per second. Mobile interactions in the retail space are about to become common. You’ve got but multi-seconds to grab their attention.
Obviously, if everyone is carrying around a smartphone, then that becomes a primary window in which to try to grab their attention!
Jim was invited to speak to a group of senior executives at their global headquarters in San Francisco, with a look at the key trends that will redefine the world of retail in the future.