So if you are selling a product, but is transforms into some highly-connected, intelligent, Internet-of-Thing device, then the nature of your selling proposition needs to change. This association represents companies that sell a vast array of hi-tech products, and they had me deliver a keynote looking at the vast, disruptive trends occurring in the IoT era – and how it will challenge their sales role in the process!
Archives for September 2016
It’s been a fun week, with keynotes in Dallas and Napa Valley – one on the future of education, and the other involving the future of manufacturing.
Yet my talks don’t just include keynote presentations — I’m often engaged to come in to small, intimate leadership meetings to help senior executives understand some of the trends that will shape their world. This week, that included a presentation to a group of CEO’s at an off-site event in Colorado Springs. The event was organized by a private company that has equity interests in the organizations in the room — representing some $10 billion worth of value.
My talk focused on the trends that will provide opportunity and challenge in the future — ranging from business model disruption, to the Internet of Things, the impact of the next generation, accelerating science and the new R&D, and many other topics.
In these situations, I don’t provide insight on particular stocks to invest in — but do provide guidance on the trends that will shape our world on a 5,10, 15, 25 year basis.
And it is clear that with an increasing number of these bookings, private equity managers have come to rely on my insight in a way that helps them to assess where they are going with their own investments and interests.
What’s interesting is that through the years, I’ve done quite a few of these presentations for very-high net worth families and firms. It has included such groups as the Wrigley family foundation and companies that manage the Rothschild wealth.
And in one of the most fascinating events I’ve participated in, I was invited to Athens to address several hundred representatives of what are known as ‘family offices’ — organizations that manage the wealth of the world’s wealthiest. While I did not get a complete list of attendees, I do know that some of those in the room represent and manage the wealth of folks such as the Bill & Melinda Gates family office; the Accellor-Mittall families, those of the founders of Google and many, many others.
It was suggested to me that some $10 trillion of wealth was represented in the room.
What’s common to all of these talks?
Viewpoints on the trends that will define our world, and which will spell opportunity in the future!
What is it they do?
Many of them make big, bold decisions that help to frame their innovative thinking and hence, their active strategies.
For example, they:
- make big bets. In many industries, there are big market and industry transformations that are underway. For example, there’s no doubt that mobile banking is going to be huge, and its going to happen fast with a lot of business model disruption. Innovative financial organizations are willing to make a big bet as to its scope and size, and are innovating at a furious pace to keep up with fast changing technology and even faster evolving customer expectations
- make big transformations: I’m dealing with several organizations who realize that structured operational activities that are based on a centuries old style of thinking no longer can take them into a future that will demand more agility, flexibility and ability to react in real time to shifting demand. They’re pursuing such strategies as building to demand, rather than building to inventory; or pursuing mass customization projects so that they don’t have to compete in markets based on price.
- undertake big brand reinforcement: one client, realizing the vast scope and impact of social networking on their brand image, made an across the board decision to boost their overall advertising and marketing spend by 20%, with much of the increase going to online advertising. In addition, a good chunk of existing spending is being diverted as well. Clearly, the organization believes that they need to make bi broad, sweeping moves to keep up to date with the big branding and marketing change that is now underway worldwide.
- anticipate big changes: there’s a lot of innovative thinking going on with energy, the environment and health care. Most of the organizations that have had me in for a keynote on the trends that are providing for growth opportunities have a razor sharp focus on these three areas, anticipating the rapid emergence of big opportunities at a very rapid pace.
- pursue big math: quite a few financial clients are looking at the opportunities for innovation that come from “competing with analytics,” which offers new ways of examining risk, understanding markets, and drilling down into customer opportunity in new and different ways.
- focus on big loyalty: one client stated their key strategic goal during the downturn this way: “we’re going to nail the issue of customer retention, by visiting every single one in the next three months to make sure that they are happy and that their needs are being met.” Being big on loyalty means working hard to ensure that existing revenue streams stay intact, and are continually enhanced.
- focus on big innovation: one client stated their innovation plan in a simple yet highly motivating phrase: “think big, start small, scale fast.” Their key goal is to build up their experiential capital in new areas by working on more innovation projects than ever before. They want to identify big business opportunities, test their potential, and then learn how to roll out new solutions on a tighter, more compact schedule than ever before.
- thinking big change in scope. One client became obsessed with the innovation strategy of going “upside down” when it came to product development. Rather than pursuing all ideas in house, they opened up their innovation engine to outsiders, looking for more partnership oriented innovation (with suppliers and retailers, for example); open innovation opportunities, and customer-sourced innovation. This lit a fuse under both their speed for innovation as well as their creativity engine
- innovate in a big way locally: we’re in a big, global world, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t innovate locally. One client in the retail space pursues an innovation strategy that allows for national, coordinated efforts in terms of logistics, merchandising and operations, yet also allows a big degree of freedom when it comes to local advertising, marketing and branding.
- share big ideas. One association client pursued an innovation that was relentless on community knowledge sharing. They knew if they could build an association culture in which people shared and swapped insight on a regular basis on how to deal with fast changing markets and customers, that they could ensure their members had a leg up and could stay ahead of trends. Collaborative knowledge is a key asset going forward into the future, and there’s a lot of opportunity for creative, innovative thinking here.
- be big on solving customers problems. Several clients have adopted an innovation strategy that is based on the theme, “we’re busy solving customers problems before they know they have a problem,” or conversely, “we’re providing the customer with a key solution, before the customer knows that they need such a solution.” That’s anticipatory innovation, and it’s a great strategy to pursue.
- align strategies to the big bets. There’s a lot of organizations out there who are making “big bets” and link innovation strategies to those bets. WalMart has bold goals for the elimination of all packaging by a certain date; this is forcing a stunning amount of innovation within the packaging sector. Some restaurants aim to reduce food and packaging waste by a factor of dozens; this is requiring stunning levels of creativity in the kitchen.
These are but a few examples and the list could go on; the essence of the thinking is that we are in a period of big change, and big opportunity comes from bold thinking and big creativity!
Earlier this week, I was the opening keynote speaker for EdNET 2016, a conference focused on those in the business and preparing knowledge delivery tools for the K-12 sector (aka textbooks!)
It was a fun talk!
Rather than speaking to the specifics of the education industry, I took an in depth look at the global mega trends which are shaping industries, jobs, careers and knowledge into the future.
I then took a look at a wide variety of approaches to innovation that they might consider to align themselves to fast paced knowledge trends.
The folks over at EdWeek Market Brief ran an article covering my talk.
‘Forge Ahead and Move Fast,’ Futurist Tells Education Businesses
by Michele Molnar, Associate Editor
Carroll’s message to “think big, start small, and scale fast” was delivered to an audience of executives who are trying to gain market shaJimCarrollre in the historically slow-paced K-12 marketplace.
It’s advice he’s already given in presentations to NASA, Walt Disney Corp., major pharmaceutical companies, and the Professional Golf Association.
The group gathered here for EdNET are product and service providers in the education industry, meeting for three days to discuss their shared challenges, opportunities, and to network.
“It’s not big organizations that will control the future,” Carroll told the attendees. “It’s speed, agility, flexibility—the ability to respond to rapid change—that will increasingly define our success.” For instance, 60 percent of Apple Inc.’s revenues come from products that didn’t exist four years ago, he said.
Educators in everything from universities to elementary schools are “enveloped by speed,” he said, and asked the audience to reflect on “What can we do with this?”
Carroll drew on the perspective of Bill Gates as part of his rationale: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction,” wrote Bill Gates in his 20-year-old book, The Road Ahead.
Earlier this year, Gates predicted major changes on the horizon in education, particularly around personalized learning, within the next five years.
As educators are being asked to teach students for future jobs that don’t yet exist, Carroll said businesses can help with this challenge. He pointed to the disappearance of existing careers and the rapid emergence of new careers like creators of real-time predictive analytical dashboards to monitor people’s health, and programmers who provide location intelligence.
Carroll encouraged the audience to start thinking of ways it can prepare for a future in which students are accustomed to “just-in-time knowledge,” where they can learn what they want to know from watching a video online or doing an internet search.
“Be the Elon Musk of your industry,” Carroll said, referring to the co-founder of Tesla. “Build experience, build knowledge, build understanding. It’s only by trying to do things we haven’t done before that we can get ahead.”
Over the years, I’ve done quite a few talks for investment groups – equity investors seeking insight on the dramatic changes occurring in the economy so that they might assess and evaluate their next investment decisions in light of disruptive growth trends. In this case, I spoke to the leadership team as well as the CEO’s of the key companies they were invested in, providing insight into where we would see the next wave of big growth opportunities emerge.
This association represents much of the industry which puts out traditional education content: textbooks and such. And if you are going to be providing the foundation of knowledge for the education system, you’d better have good isight into how that knowledge is changing. They invited me in for a keynote on this topic; and I took a look at the sweeping career and knowledge trends of our time: the rapid emergence of new jobs while traditional jobs disappear at a faster pace; how knowledge velocity is increasing while existing knowledge becomes obsolete in real-time; how careers for life are ending, replaced by careers driven by just-in-time knowledge.