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Without question, he is one of the most dynamic speakers and professional partners I've ever come across. Our audiences love him. He hits a home run every time.You will not be sorry if you use him. In fact, I'm willing to bet your first experience will lead to many, many more, as it has with SAP - comments from a client



The future happens slowly, and then, all at once!” – Kevin Kelly, Founding Editor at Wired magazine.

That, in a nutshell, was the modern day leadership dilemma that I presented to the CEO and senior team of a major company in the US financial services industry, at their corporate meeting last Monday in Dallas. Before I met with them, I put together my early morning “motivational quote of the day” and came up with this observation.

(Learn more about these daily quotes here – and take part by following me on various social networks!)

I put the quote together that morning based on my slide deck for the day: I was covering the key trends which would impact the world of insurance, banking, wealth management, investment advisory services and more going forward. And here was the big issue I was challenging them with that was the sub context of my talk – when it comes to the future, the big challenge is not necessarily knowing what the trends are — it’s increasingly, ‘when are they going to happen?’

We might have any number of trends which will impact financial services going forward – artificial intelligence, blockchain, disintermediation, robo-advisors, the acceleration of expectations, the emergence of new competitors, social-network driven wealth management and more. Yet, when might any of these trends become real and have a significant, disruptive impact? That can be a bigger issue than the trends themselves!

Consider one of the most overwhelming and challenging trends in the industry — will direct broker relationships survive in a world in which consumers are doing more and more online? It’s a trend known as “disintermediation,” and I’ve been speaking about it on stage for close to 25 years. Read my post from 10 years ago about the potential for change in the wealth management industry, when I did a talk for the National Australia Bank!

“Disintermediation” is the potential for individuals to bypass a relationship with a financial professional – such as a wealth management or investment advisor — by doing things on their own utilizing the Internet. It’s the idea that people will buy insurance directly, and thereby bypass any sort of relationship with an insurance broker. or, that they won’t use a wealth management advisor, because they believe they will be able to make better decision on their own – and thereby, cut out a commission-oriented relationship.

We’ve talked about disintermediation in the industry for a long time, and while it has happened to a degree, there are still many large firms that still have in place a business model that involves a broker network. Will it ever change that model? And if so, when? And how do we continue to deal with that potential reality?

That was part of the focus of my talk in Dallas. The trends in the wealth management, insurance and financial services industry are stark. In a nutshell:

  • how people search for financial services is changing
  • loyalty is declining
  • geography is collapsing
  • competition is increasing
  • relationship building is not always done in person
  • attention spans are collapsing, and with that, the foundation of interaction
  • Moore’s law continues to accelerate the structural change within the industry

In my keynote, I covered these and many more future trends, in order to outline the fact that in 10 years time, the very nature of the industry, and the business model in place, might no longer look the same. I ran a few online, interactive text message polls with my audience, as I do in all of my talks, and the senior executives in the room certainly agreed with me. This is what they responded with:

From that point, my talk took at a look at innovation opportunities to ensure that the broker, advisor, and others would play a powerful role into the future despite the potential for business model change. And the fact is, there is a lot of potential here, but it involves keeping up to date with the high-velocity expectations of today’s financial consumer.

They are influenced with wealth management decisions through the social networks in which they participative – Reddit is their Bloomberg!

How so? One of the most powerful methods is to align to the significant behavioural change introduced by the next generation client – today’s 20 to 25 year old financial consumer. They live in a different world – it’s all mobile, instant, interactive, and fast. They expect to able to get approval for a mortgage or car loan online in 45 seconds or less. They want instant, up to date summaries of their financial position through their iPhone. They are influenced with wealth management decisions through the social networks in which they participative – Reddit is their Bloomberg!

But its’ not just innovating with this new client demographic  – it also involves innovating with your own broker channel as well. Those of that age group who work within the financial services industry are fundamentally different too, in that they live in the same instant, short attention span, fast moving world. They expect to be able to do things fast, find clients fast, support those clients fast – and generally, adopt new ideas faster!

I’m getting a lot of hands on experience e with this new generation, in that my 23 year old son now works for a wealth management firm, similar to the one that I did my talk for in Dallas. He is busy building a career in the industry, at the same time that the industry is in the midst of massive potential upheaval. Will he be disintermediated? If the company that he works for does the right things, I don’t think so!

To that end, I spoke to my client last week about the reaction of the individual who hired him. She’s been in the industry for 35+ years, and has built a very successful wealth management firm. I understand that she was at a conference, and was speaking about some of the unique things she was doing to reach out to today’s new type of client.

Her response? “I hired a 23 year old!”

Brilliant! And that’s one of the key innovation success factors going forward – you can innovate in the context of a fast moving industry, by ensuring that you align yourself to todays’ fast moving client and employee. Generational innovation – understand it, and take advantage of it.

That’s one many trends I covered in my talk in Dallas last week. The future can often happen slowly – but can quickly happen all at once, particularly with the next generation!

 

Siemens has booked me to headline a major energy conference in Houston in May.

So I did a little video about what to expect. Give it a watch. We are going to see more change to the global utility/energy industry in the next 5 years, than we have seen in the next 100!

Despite the fact that I’m a futurist with a relentless focus on innovative thinking, I’m probably as guilty as the next person in making quick  judgement on people and companies – particularly with respect to the scope of what they do today compared to yesterday.

So it was when I saw that a company named Lewis Tree Services wrote a blog post about my recent keynote for the annual National Rural Electrical Cooperative Technology Show in Nashville. Read their post here; you’ll also find it below.

Hmm, I thought – what is a tree company doing at an energy conference, and why would they blog about my keynote with an observation on the future of that industry? After all, what do these people do – trim and cut trees?

Click to continue reading

In my keynote, I did speak about the emergence of new careers – including, location intelligence professionals! Watch it here:

That’s the type of limited thinking that I often accuse my clients of falling prey to! All too often, we miss the signs of significant change in an industry, unless we actually spend some time to work in that industry. Such it is with the cutting and clearing of trees….. who would have thought! Well, I should have!

I began reading the post (which does a great job in summarizing my talk!), and then started browsing their Web site. Tree cutting? It’s  no longer what it was. It’s bound up in spatial intelligence – location is everything. This organization provides utility, i.e. power companies, i.e. those at the conference, with intelligent mapping services that can provide for better overall municipal risk management among other things.  A key line in their service offerings caught my attention:

“The heart of the Intelligent Vegetation Management approach is a philosophy of leveraging investments in GIS, outage management, customer information and ERP systems to connect vegetation management operations into technology ecosystems – yours and ours.”

Of course! Intelligent vegetation management by location intelligence professionals. Of course their industry has transformed into  a technology driven industry – in which tech provides a pathway to the delivery of all kinds of innovative services and capabilities. And the fact is, this transition has been underway for a long time ; too many of us don’t spend time thinking just how quickly EVERY industry is being transformed.

Here’s the fun part – my entire morning before reading this blog post has been bound up in properly catching the essence of location intelligence as a professional service. Backstory: I’ve been talking about the emergence of the ‘location intelligence professional’ as a critical emerging career path for the last 20 years. Someone must have been listening, because my oldest son Willie Carroll went on to get a university degree and then a post-graduate college certificate in that very field!

And just as I was reading this blog post from Lewis Tree, I’m working with Willie in the home office as he rolls out his new freelance GIS company, Location Intelligence & Design.

Willie’s key skill set includes collection and interoperation of location / geospatial information with the leading such technology from ESRI, ArcGIS. Lewis Tree? The heart of their Intelligent Vegetation Management service is based upon ESRI’s ArcGIS!

I love this world. There is just so much coming together all at once.

I also love this line in their blog post: “We need to learn what we don’t know and fill our knowledge gaps.” Yup, me too!


The Future of the Energy Industry
Posted by Laura Ribas on Mar 13, 2018 12:42:22 PM

The fascinating keynote at TechAdvantage 2018 was given by Jim Carroll, a futurist, who spoke about the speed of change and provided some mind-boggling statistics. According to Carroll, seven out of every 10 kids today will work in a career that doesn’t yet exist. And half of all knowledge learned during the first year of college today will be obsolete by the time the students graduate. Carroll used the phrase “immediate obsolescence” which applies to new technologies, like digital cameras, that come to market and are out of date <6 months later.

The future belongs to those who are fast.

We’re in the midst of unprecedented change with more change expected in the next few years than has occurred over the last 150 years. The world will look vastly different in ten years than it does today.

Disruption and Innovation

The world is becoming hyper-connected and business models are shifting with this massive connectivity. Our smart phones are now digital cameras, credit cards and GPS devices. We can manage the heat and security of our homes from afar. Our kitchen appliances are connecting with food packaging and retailers. Home sprinkler systems have moisture sensors (because why water when we don’t need to?). We now have medical tricorders that provide an instant readout of our healthcare and physical condition. The science fiction of Star Trek and the Jetsons is here today.

When Napster introduced the ability to download MP3s, the music industry was threatened as their business model changed. The same will be true for utilities and those serving them. Will we see change as a threat or an opportunity?

Smart businesses will see change as an opportunity.

What does this new world look like? It’s a world where big data and analytics are key. It’s a world where precision farming is conducted by drones analyzing plant health, soil composition and more. Where real-time information is provided to vehicles to inform lane changing.  Where street lights monitor air quality and offer car charging stations. Where highway control is intelligent. Where we’ll have 24/7 solar energy even when it’s dark outside.

Carroll believes that these are near-term, not long-term, trends. That self-driving trucks are five years away. That flying cars are simply drones scaled up in size and able to carry people.

Moore’s law of innovation velocity is happening before our eyes. The advancements in battery technology are staggering (and small always beats big).

And Carroll believes that we’ll achieve grid parity faster than we think. Think: portable charging stations. Think: glass in buildings that generates electricity. Think: growing solar cells in plants. (Check out this article that highlights a new thermal resonator device from MIT that can generate energy anywhere using natural temperature changes.)

With grid parity, customers will generate their own energy and share it with each other via micro grids. According to Carroll, the micro grid is not a fringe idea; it is fundamental to the future. (Check out this ComEd press release sharing that they’ve been approved to construct one of the first utility-scale microgrid clusters in the nation.) Think of Napster but for energy: cooperative energy networks. Distributed technology resources are growing three times faster than other technologies. Advanced technologies will reshape the industry and edge thinking dominates.

By 2020, every industry will be a:

  • Software industry
  • Technology industry
  • Insurance industry
  • Battery industry

Maytag used to sell appliances. Now equipment manufacturers sell service levels and uptime using predictive diagnostics.

Utilities are also becoming insurance companies, hedging customers against risk using real-time data to eliminate outages. Blockchain technology, like that used for Bitcoin, will have a massive impact on smart grid technology transforming the architecture of the grid itself.

We’ve seen the costs of LiDAR collapsing from $75K to $100. Carroll joked that pretty soon they’ll be selling LiDAR packs at Dollar General. A massive shift in location-based services is underway. And mapping requires location intelligence professionals.

And with customers using smart thermostats like Nest and Ecobee, utilities can also provide innovative ways for customers to receive rebates. Think of today’s kids. They don’t know mainframes and DOS. They’re wired, collaborative and global. They’re gamers. What happens when gamers buy houses with Ecobees? They compete against their neighbors to win energy rebates.

Devices with participatory data are the future.

The grid is a complex data engine and data is the new oil in energy.

We need to learn what we don’t know and fill our knowledge gaps. To be prepared requires garage-like thinking. We need to ask ourselves, are we leaders or followers? And how quickly can we change?

At Lewis Tree Service, we believe that one of the benefits of introducing our Intelligent Vegetation Management solution as a forerunner in the industry is that it enabled us to become more agile, flexible and customer-centric when it comes to technology and innovation.

We’re big fans of Carroll’s adage: Think big, start small, scale fast.

Do you want to book the same old boring speaker who will show up and deliver a canned message – or do you want to book someone who truly cares, and goes the extra mile? If you are like most people, you’ll do what you’ve alway done, and will end up with the same old boring, predictable, uninspiring leadership event. That’s sad.

The Admiral Beverage Group in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has booked me to come in for an upcoming leadership meeting that will focus on the future of retail, consumer behaviour and more. They join good company – organizations like Disney, The GAP and Godiva Chocolates have had me in for similar events.

To get the leadership team thinking in advance about the event, I went and filmed this little video clip about the event, trends and more. Give it a watch!

Then ask yourself – are you going to go out and book the same old boring speakers like you always do – or do you want to kick up your event a notch?

You asked, we listened. I’ve got one client in 2018 who is bringing me in to demystify what is quickly becoming one of the most disruptive issues today.

Cryptocurrency, Blockchain, Bitcoin and the End of Money: Understanding The Ultimate Disruption”

In as little as ten years, the very concept of money will have been forever changed. And the fact is, it’s happening now in real time. But it isn’t just money that is being disrupted: the blockchain concept promises to unleash a wave of innovation that parallels and exceeds the impact that came with the arrival of the Internet economy.

Making sense of the trends and the reality of what it represents can be a challenge. A new vocabulary has emerged that involves radical new concepts, the decentralization of authority, and rapid hyper-innovation : blockchain, Ethereum, ASIC and currency miners, hard forks and smart contracts! At the same time, headlines speak of the ongoing rise in the value of grandfather of all crypto-currencies, Bitcoin, while other news outlets and experts label it a bubble.  Merely interpreting all of the components of this new world can be a fascinating journey.

Yet the voyage becomes even more challenging when faced with opinions that are all over the map. What does it meaan when when Jamie Dymon, the head of  JPMorgan Chase calls Bitcoin a fraud and the people who buy it “stupid,” and yet at the same time, the head of the IMF says that Bitcoin could give existing currencies and monetary policy a run for their money? When a cryptocurrency goes from a valuation of a few hundred dollars to over $10,000 in a matter of months? When 2018 will be defined by an acceleration of the acceptance of distributed ledger concepts at the same time that a horde of fraud artists invade this fascinating new world? When some countries state they will abandon long held concepts of a national currency in favour of digital cash?

But wait, there’s more! The impact doesn’t stop with the arrival of the first wave of concetps as found in ‘money’ such as Bitcoin. What is emerging is the infrastructure and a foundation for the next economy: one that is reliant on distributed, digital trust, the elimination of the middleman from many business interactions, and fundamental, disruptive concepts that run up against most of the economic models of the last 100 years. These are challenging times, and difficult questions are being presented.

What does this complex new world mean to your business and your business model? Is it a fraud, or is it a bubble? What’s real, and what’s not? Are we in the midst of the latest Tulip and dot.com phrase, or is there substantial change underway?

In this keynote, futurist and technology expert Jim Carroll peels away the layers of the world of cryptocurrency, outlining the challenges and opportnities that come with the end of the concept of money as we know it. These are truly transformative times – for the realty of blockchain goes far beyond the current hype surrounding Bitcoin. The concept of distributed ledgers will change entire industries, challenge the very nature of the legal concept of offer and acceptance, and unleash a torrent of hyper-innovation around business models.

I just wrote this one up for the brochure copy for an upcoming 2018 event.

The issue of Amazon isn’t just about retail — it is about any industry with a middleman. Insurance, wealth management, finance, medical or dental care, home services and renovations. You name it. And the big question is – what are you going to do about it?

Disrupting Amazon : Accelerating Strategies for Success in the Era of Industry Transformation

Amazon is the elephant in every industry room. They will challenge and disrupt your business model, and shake your belief in the future to the core.

Why not change that before it changes you? Don’t wait for Amazon to disrupt you – disrupt yourself and disrupt Amazon first! As we witness the Amazonification of industries, deep insight into this massive-but-cheetah-like-elephant is critical, a fast strategy is required.

Futurist Jim Carroll has a key message: Don’t compete — transform! When Amazonian scale disruption occurs, you can’t hope to complete on price, the sophistication of the online interaction, or the other areas in which Amazon (and similar disruptors) clearly excel. You need a different proposition, different ideas and a different strategy. In many cases, this will come about through an implicit decision to compete based on the unique value you can bring to the relationship – service, support, personal interaction and other factors. In doing so, you specifically choose to not compete based on a race to the bottom and price.

Futurist Jim Carroll has headlined ‘Amazonificaiton strategies’ at a wide variety of corporate leadership meetings and association events in the medical, dental and veterinary industries; in the global optometric industry; in the agricultural dealer market, in the home renovation sector, and many more. He has provided deep insight on the transformative strategies and mindset that needs to be pursued.

The acceleration of disintermediation via Amazon is a cruel reality of our modern day world. Think about the business model of a a group of agricultural dealers who sell products to farmers. The simplistic view is that they buy products from the manufacturer, and then sell them to the farmer, with an obvious markup in price. Amazon could do this (and will) with a more sophisticated online system, and avoid the cost of the markup, thereby offering a lower cost alternative. How to compete? Become an invaluable partner to the farmer in terms of advice, expertise and personal support for new initiatives, products and ideas.

In the era of Amazon, you can’t hope to compete on price — because you will watch your business disappear! Futurist and innovation expert Jim Carroll outlines the key trends, strategies and opportunities to be pursued in the ear of Amazonian acceleration!

Disruption in the insurance industry is real – and the largest broker/agent association in the US (Texas) has booked me to come in and provide a path forward.

In January, I will keynote the 55th annual Joe Vincent Management Seminar in Austin, Texas. Watch the preview video now!

You know you are doing something right when an organization brings you back for the 3rd time!

The International Asset Management Council is an organization relentlessly focused on economic trends, and represent two distinct groups – economic development representatives from government organizations, including states, provinces and cities, as well as individuals in many Fortune 1000 organizations responsible for future site locations for manufacturing plants, R&D facilities or other corporate locations. The content of my talk? Look at this picture. Now read this post.

IAMC had me in for a keynote in 2003 to put into perspective how the Internet and technology would continue to change the global economy, and again in 2010 to paint a picture as to why we would continue to see massive economic growth after the economic downturn of 2008. My predictions in both keynotes were bang on.

Fast forward to 2017: they just had me in to open their fall 2017 economic outlook conference in Richmond, Virginia, with a keynote focused on the trends that are providing for future opportunity in the manufacturing sector. That was easy for me to do – I’ve done dozens of keynotes in the world of manufacturing sector over the last decade, both for manufacturing associations as well as Fortune 500 companies.

The undercurrent of my talk, though, in putting manufacturing trends into perspective, was the broader theme : we live in a transformational period of time, in which people and organizations are making big bold decisions related to major trends, in order to discover and establish success in the next economic wave. Obviously, folks like Elon Must.

So what should someone in economic development do to discover the next wave of economic opportunity? Here’s a good list to start thinking about the question!

  1. Align to tectonic shifts – While there is only one Tesla Motors and Gigafactory, and but one Elon Musk, there are many other new companies and people reinventing our world. There are a massive number of new disruptive trends (such as detailed in my blog post, Disruption: There’s More to It Than You Think There Is! Each of these trends which can provide for big economic opportunity, massive industry shift, and the establishment of new companies. Watch those disruptive trends, and understand where future growth with occur.
  2. Be relentlessly positive.The trends defining the future are around us now, and are defining future economic growth! Over my 25 years as a futurist, I’ve been through several economic downturns, but have always preached that real opportunities are found in trends: science, technology, knowledge and transformation. When the next inevitable downturn hits (we’ve been on a great 8 year run since 2008), make sure you keep your thinking aligned to future opportunities.
  3. Think trends, not fads.  It’s all too easy for those in economic development areas to focus on the fad of the day: think, for example, of the hysteria around the recent Amazon 2HQ beauty contest. While you probably need to chase opportunities like this, don’t let it make you forget out about other trends that are charging the future forward.
  4. Challenge assumptions on speed. The future is happening faster than you think! Consider, for example, how quickly self driving cars are coming about, and the rush to electric vehicles. Both have profound economic development implications, such as what I suggest in this post, Self-driving Cars and Economic Success. Challenge yourself on velocity: be prepared to accelerate your efforts.
  5. Align to fast science. All trends are based, at their heart, on the result of scientific discovery. Think about the fast pace of evolution of battery technology, and how Nevada hit a home run with the placement of the Gigafactory in Reno. Here’s the thing: batteries are the new plastic, and there is going to be a lot of economic growth, investment and new industry established around this one single aspect of our world of science. 
  6.  Know when to jump. When should a community align to a trend? In the IT world, many of us rely on something called the Gartner HypeCycle. It’s a useful tool to understand when any particular trend might become real and hav major impact. Make the hype-cycle part of your overall process — jump in any get involved with any trend in order to understand
  7. Focus on ‘smart’. There’s a lot of hype about smart cities and the future, and some of it might be overplayed. But clearly, organizations in the future will choose to place facilities in locations that have smart infrastructure, smart highways, fast bandwidth, and all the other attributes of being at the forefront of trends.
  8. Don’t be dumb. I can’t think of a dumber economic initiative than the money that Wisconsin is putting behind the Foxconn plant. Expect to wake up in 5 years to headlines as to how idiotic the structure of the deal was. Don’t jump on board fake trends.
  9. Don’t be afraid to fail. Having said that, be prepared to make some mistakes along the way. Nevada put a lot of money into an initiative by Faraday involving an electric car factory that appears to have failed. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily so, since when it comes to aligning to the future — you win some, and you lose some.
  10. Be like Fiji. Fiji doesn’t have a potato industry, but no matter. They’ll build one. For a great economic development attitude, read this post.
  11. Think skills. Focus on the new job categories that are emerging. For example, in the world of agriculture, we are seeing the emergence of all kinds of new careers, such as vertical farming infrastructure managers, drone helicopter insurance crop risk managers, robotic herd health monitors and cattle ranch drone herder infrastructure managers! Go into any industry, and watch the new careers coming about – and then think about the economic development implications that might come from that.
  12. Go global for ideas. Think big trends. Vertical farming mentioned above? Already there are 800 million ‘city-farmers’ according to UN statistics – including 25% of population of Burkina Faso, 35% in Cameroon, 63% in Kenya, 68% in Tanzania. Fast fact: 90% of the fresh vegetables in Accra, Ghana come from farming within the city. So vertical farming is a major trend, and has implications for your local economy. Assess what it might mean in terms of opportunity, infrastructure, new companies….
  13. Get distributed. Make sure your infrastructure is aligned to the new decentralization. Consider local renewable energy generation, or “distributed energy resources.” It’s growing 3-5x faster than centralized energy — one California utility estimates investments in DER in solar and micro-grid is now growing faster than its own main new-energy & basic grid investment. Distribution is happening in every industry, resulting in fascinating new companies establishing wonderful new companies based on concepts that didn’t exist just a few years ago.
  14. Watch for clues. We live in the era of the ‘grand challenge” — initiative such as the XPrize Foundation, which challenge the global scientific community to solve some of the biggest problems of our time having to do with energy, healthcare, the environment, transpiration. The XPrize led to SpaceX; the Darpa challenge led to the emergence of the self-driving car trend. Other challenges are leading to the birth of other new billion dollar industries.
  15. Ignore those who are playing defence. Doomed business models fight losing battles to try to protect their future, and most often, fail. That’s happening right with automotive dealer associations as they try to protect a dying business model in the face of rapidly changing consumer behaviour, and upstarts like Tesla who dare to do something different with automotive stores in shopping malls. The same holds true for record companies in their battle against Mp3 music — we now live in a music streaming world. Place your bets on the disruptors, not the disrupted.
  16. Align to the bold changes. For example, take a look at how Saudi oil giant Aramco is realigning its business to petrochemicals and away from oil. That parallels other big shifts — from carbon cars to electric vehicles; from coal to renewables; from car-buying to car-sharing. Better to align yourself to those who are making big bold moves as opposed to those who are stuck in the status quo.
  17. Look for exponential trends. WE sequenced 1/10000th fo the human genome in 1990, and 2/10000 in 1991. It was only 1% by 2007 – but 7 years later, it was done. That’s exponential math: 1% is only 7 doublings away from 100%. The same type of trend is driving solar : we are at 2% solar today, but 2% is only 6-doublings away from 100%. We’re doubling solar capacity every 2 years, and so that leaves only 12 years to 100%. Understand exponential industries, and you’ll understand economic growth.
  18. Be like the Jetsons, not the Flintstones. Coal isn’t the future. Get over it.
  19. Think long term. Just like investing. Creativity doesn’t care about economic downturns. Those who invent the future will keep doing so despite any economic uncertainty. Have a long term economic success plan, and stick with it through the ups and downs.
  20. Think global. Look at the picture below which I put up on day as part of my daily motivational posting. Simply put. America isn’t everything.

But wait, there’s more!

    21. Hire me! Seriously. If you want to discover the future of economic opportunity, bring in a futurist like me. We’ll share with you what comes next, infuse you with our optimism, and show you a path forward.

On stage, I have a little bit of fun pointing out that the cartoon below seems to summarize  the state of the political situation in the US today. I used it a few weeks ago when I keynoted the Nevada Economic Development Conference, with a talk that look a look at the opportunities for growth in the state through trends other than gaming and tourism.

“We’re going to get to the 22nd century,” Carroll said. “We’re not going back to the 1950s. There are those who say, let’s focus on coal and wave a magic wand and bring back these manufacturing jobs, which are dead gone and not going to happen. If we look at the world of manufacturing, it’s all about robotics and 3-D printing. It’s all about mass customization and about the ability to design products faster and get them to market faster and highly intelligent connected products.”

Appropriately enough, my keynote featured the title: “The Jetsons Arrive 50 Years Early: What Are the Economic Development Implications?” (I love my job!). My talk examined the rapid evolution of science, business models, hyper connectivity, intelligent highways and autonomous vehicles, the future of agriculture and many other accelerating trends.

I guess it went well: the feedback just came in from the individual who booked me: “You were amazing.  Your presentation exceeded our expectations.  Your knowledge and insights were intriguing and inspirational!

After my talk, I had a chance to chat with a reporter for the Las Vegas Business Press, who ran an article about the conference. An excerpt from the article appears below. Obviously, the decision by Amazon to locate a 2nd headquarters somewhere had the attention of everyone in Las Vegas, as in every other jurisdiction in North America.

But the future isn’t just about Amazon! It involves a region aligning itself to the trends of the Jetsons in the 21st century, rather than trying to find hope in the era of the Flintstones of the past!


New Amazon headquarters buzz of Nevada Economic Development Conference
Las Vegas Business Press, September 2017

One of the speakers was Jim Carroll, a futurist and expert on trends and innovation and author of “The Future Belongs to Those Who Are Fast.” He said there’s a massive number of global trends and Amazon and online shopping is one that’s providing jobs and future economic growth. Robotics and artificial intelligence are part of the story line of the future as well.

Carroll said Northern Nevada landing the Tesla electric car gigabattery factory shows there are no limits of what the state can attract.

There’s an opportunity here, and Nevada is waking up to the fact that it’s not about agriculture, gaming and tourism,” Carroll said. “There’s a lot of other big trends going on in the world of which Amazon is just one. Why not get into the mindset that we can pursue all of these things?

Carroll said he speaks at conferences across the country, and there’s going to be a lot of competition to land Amazon and it seems that every state and metropolitan area is going after the headquarters.

“When it comes to Amazon, every jurisdiction in North America wants it,” Carroll said. “It’s going to be a massive competition. It got the attention of every single development group in North America.”

Nobody knows what’s Amazon’s preference is for locating the second headquarters, Carroll said. The company will be looking for skills, incentives and locations. It’s possible executives want a location closer to the center of the country, he said.

I think first and foremost any region shouldn’t get into defeatist mindset,” Carroll said. “We’re never going to get ahead if that’s the way we think. That’s why I encourage people to start with a positive mindset.

Carroll repeated that Amazon is only one of what will be many “big new initiatives” and companies that regions can pursue. He said the future will be about batteries, and it’s not just about Tesla’s electric cars but batteries in drones and for utilities and energy.

Amazon is but one thing of many things happening out there,” Carroll said. “What Nevada needs to do is get the mindset of how do we position ourselves for one of these many things beginning to unfold?

Carroll said the trends are heading toward “the world of “The Jetsons,” citing the 1960s futuristic cartoon. But instead of looking at the 22nd century, many want to stay in the world of “The Flintstones,” Carroll said of the 1960s cartoon depicting the dinosaur age.

We’re going to get to the 22nd century,” Carroll said. “We’re not going back to the 1950s. There are those who say, let’s focus on coal and wave a magic wand and bring back these manufacturing jobs, which are dead gone and not going to happen. If we look at the world of manufacturing, it’s all about robotics and 3-D printing. It’s all about mass customization and about the ability to design products faster and get them to market faster and highly intelligent connected products.”

Nevada is making the right bet focusing on solar and wind energy and microgrids, Carroll said. It’s about the acceleration of energy science rather than coal, he said.
Nevada shouldn’t worry about trying and failing like it did in landing a Faraday Future electric car plant in North Las Vegas, only to have the project stopped before it began, he said.

There’s a lot of angst about the car plant that didn’t go ahead, and my take is you have to try that,” Carroll said. “Some of that stuff works and some of it doesn’t, but you got to make sure you are out there and hitch yourself to a horse. Sometimes you fall off and have to get up again.

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We’re in the era of ‘connected energy,’ and everything is set to change in pretty dramatic fashion.

That will be the essence of my message when I speak to several hundred energy and water utility executives when I keynote the annual SAP Utilities conference in Huntington Beach, California. It’s great to spend some time with SAP again — I did about a dozen keynotes for them from 2003 to 2007, back in my “What I Learned From Frogs In Texas” days!


The session description reads:

“The future belongs to those who are fast! That’s the mantra of futurist Jim Carroll — and no where has this become a reality faster than in the world of utilities. There is no doubt that the next phase of the world of energy involves the convergence of a variety of trends, each of which is significant on their own, but combined, provide an opportunity for massive disruption — and opportunity. The era of massive hyper-connectivity at an industrial, commercial and residential level as a result of the acceleration of the Internet of things. The rapid advancement of energy science, particularly with battery storage, alternative energy sources and other leading edge technologies. Business model disruption through the fast arrival of technologies that support personal and local energy energy microgrids through backyard wind, solar, biomass and other forms of energy generation. New demand and infrastructure requirements arising from such significant trends as smart cities, self-driving cars and intelligent highway infrastructure. And then there are simple light poles — which are now becoming ‘fitbits for cities’ with embedded environmental sensors, car-charging technologies, Wi-Fi hotspot capability and traffic management technologies! But wait — there’s more! At M.I.T. they are even in the midst of research as to how to grow solar cells from plants! That’s why no less than the Edison Energy Institute has stated that going forward, ““The threats posed to the electric utility industry from disruptive forces, particularly distributed resources, have serious long-term implications for the traditional electric utility business model and investor opportunities.”

The challenges and opportunity in the energy sector are real, and it’s captured pretty accurately in that summary. Need a hint of what is going on? Simply take a look at what is happening with battery storage technology.

Quite simply, we are in a situation in which a centuries old business model – the centralized production of power, distributed one-way through a relatively unintelligent system — is set to change in so many ways.

I’ve spoken at numerous energy conferences through the years, including the global Accenture Energy & Utilities Industry conference. Just a few months ago, I spoke privately to the nuclear division of one of the countries largest energy utilities, literally with 20 nuclear engineers in the room. And a few years back, I was engaged by the CEO of PG&E to do a video on what happens if grassroots power production and micro-grids lead to the disruption of the industry.

 

Stay tuned: I’m sure I’ll have a lot to post, including an overview of why light poles are a harbinger of what’s to come with our connected future!

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