I have many speaker bureau business partners –agents around the world who book me into association or corporate events. One of these is Speaking.com, and a fellow named Mike Frick, who has booked me into many events in past years. They recently ran an interview with me around one of my key topics, “What Do World Class Innovators Do That Others Don’t Do?”
How to Become a World Class Innovator
Jim Carroll is at the forefront of global futurism, helping an array of blue-chip clients to predict the trends and innovations of coming years before they happen. In all of his guises, author, speaker, columnist, commentator and consultant, he is widely recognized as the best in his field. BusinessWeek chose him as one of their four leading sources of insight into innovation and creativity. He has also been featured in the Telegraph (UK), Capital Magazine (Dubai) and The Star (South Africa).
World-class innovators seem to have an uncanny ability to know when a customer has a problem — even before the customer does.
SPEAKING.COM: What do world-class innovators do that others don’t? What sets them apart from everyone else?
CARROLL: I deal with many global Fortune 500 companies, and through the years I’ve come to learn that while some really excel in innovation, others just don’t! And so based on my experiences I’ve developed this list of what it is exactly that world class innovators do differently.
They seem to be constantly focused on the unique opportunities and challenges that exist in their industry. They’re continually reinventing themselves — generating new revenue streams in places where there weren’t any before.
World-class innovators seem to have an uncanny ability to know when a customer has a problem — even before the customer does — and so they are very customer proactive. In fact, they seem to source customer solutions through their customer base by conversing with them in a unique way. They’re really good at ingesting ideas and thinking quickly. They’re very agile; they can switch tactics and strategies faster than their competitors. They know that accessing skills quickly in a fast changing environment is critical to the future.
And perhaps the most important thing is they are not afraid to think big. They realize that we live in the era of Elon Musk — a fellow reinventing both the space and automotive industries at the same time.
SPEAKING.COM: What are some common misunderstandings about innovation?
CARROLL: The first is that most people think that innovation just involves new product development. It’s much more than that! For a long time now, I’ve suggested that people need to think about innovation in terms of three questions:
What can I do to run the business better?
What can I do to grow the business?
What can I do to transform the business?
Many organizations focus on the first two issues, but in an era of complex business model change, it’s the transformation of the business that becomes critical, and doing that well involves highly innovative thinking. That’s where I focus, then, on opening people’s minds.
Silicon Valley is coming to drive the pace of innovation in most industries.
SPEAKING.COM: Are some industries coming to a technological plateau?
CARROLL: Not at all. Actually, what’s happening is that Silicon Valley is coming to drive the pace of innovation in most industries.
Think about what is happening in the corporate sector. The new competitors for credit card companies are companies like Apple, PayPal, Facebook, and Google. Visa, MasterCard, and American Express aren’t used to innovating as fast as these organizations.
That same rate of change is coming to every single industry. For example, it’s certainly happening in the auto sector as your car becomes more of a computer than a car. Take a look at what’s happening with bio connectivity and the change that is occurring in healthcare as tons of new Internet connected medical devices come to the marketplace.
You can give me any industry, and I can point out where we are witnessing absolutely furiously rates of change as technology comes to drive the agenda.
SPEAKING.COM: Will technology slow down?
CARROLL: I would think that the rate of technological innovation and the impact it will have in every industry will actually accelerate — that’s why my tag line is: “the future belongs to those who are fast!”
Why is this so?
It’s because of the much-hyped Internet of Things (IOT), but also because technology companies simply innovate faster. Add those trends together, and you’ve got some pretty potent fuel for some very fast change.
A truck used to be just a truck — a mechanical thing – but it might surprise you to know that the typical truck today puts out about 3 GB of data per month.
SPEAKING.COM: What are your thoughts on the iOT being “a bunch of hype and how long has this topic been on your radar?
CARROLL: iOT is very real — I’ve been talking about the Internet of Things since the early 1990’s, but back then, I called it ‘Hyper-Connectivity.”
There is some real hype around it, but what it really does is change industries, products, and markets in pretty significant ways.
Consider what’s happening with the trucking industry for example. Volvo / Mac Trucks has had me talk to their global truck group. That’s because the very essence of what we consider to be a truck is changing with this type of connectivity.
A truck used to be just a truck — a mechanical thing – but it might surprise you to know that the typical truck today puts out about 3 GB of data per month. Much of that has to do with engine performance; we know from this information when a truck is going to break down. If we can bring it in before things go wrong, we can minimize downtime. That has a big impact in terms of the value of a truck to a fleet manager.
So what Volvo and others in the industry realize is that they aren’t just selling a truck anymore – they can sell a service based on their ability to predict when the truck is going to break down. They can sell ‘service uptime.’ That takes them into a whole new different business model. Talk about opportunity! That’s what the iOT leads us to in every industry, and it’s pretty surreal when you think about the scope of the opportunities that come with it.
So that’s what I cover when I’m on stage.
SPEAKING.COM: What are the opportunities provided by the “Internet of things?”
The reinvention of existing products.
The rapid emergence of new marketplaces.
The rapid emergence of new competitors.
Enhancements to existing products.
When every device that is a part of our daily life becomes connected, it fundamentally changes what that device is and how it can be used. It simply changes everything. A car is no longer just a car — it’s an upgradeable software platform!