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Jim Carroll regularly writes reports on the key trends he sees impacting the future of various industries. Read this section for some fascinating insight about the future!


My son and I in front of one of Volvo’s newest trucks. “The typical truck now generates 3 gigabytes of diagnostic and other information every month!”

It was quite a thrill to be the opening speaker a short while ago for the annual Dealers Meeting of Volvo/Mack Trucks North America, in Dallas, Texas.

My role was to talk about the future of transportation and trucking, and put in perspective how the reality today and going forward that for trucks, connectivity is the new horsepower!

My talk focused around several broad themes; the evolution of trucks into a world of predictive diagnostic maintenance; data-driven hyper-connectivity that leads us into future efficiencies and opportunities; the increasing skills challenge that comes with the shift; and the opportunity that this presents to dealers as we move into an era of sophisticated, post-sale, connected service and support. That was a mouthful!

Going in, I already knew I’d be speaking in the exact same conference room where a few years ago, I was the opening keynote speaker for the Texas Municipal League.

In the audience at time I had more than 2,500 mayors and other elected officials of cities and towns large and small from throughout the state of Texas. And it’s just a few days after President Obama swept to his second term in office – and so I needed to move these folks into thinking about the opportunities of the future! Here’s a clip from that talk, in which I was speaking how quickly the intelligent infrastructure of the 21st — including intelligent highway technology — was becoming a big part of our world.

That’s part of the approach I took for the Volvo / Mac Trucks event as well, opening with a quote from their CEO which really summarizes the connectivity being built into the next generation of transportation technology: “We are rapidly approaching the point at which no trucks will ever really be ‘offline.’ “

Part of the big focus of the meeting, and the focus on my keynote, was the opportunities that come from building predictive maintenance technology into a truck. This provides for fascinating reductions in overall fleet downtime — we’ll know when a vehicle is going to have a problem, and can call it in for preventative maintenance before it gets worse. Volvo already has 80,000 trucks on the road with remote diagnistics buit in.  The typical truck now generates 3 gigabytes of diagnostic and other information every month! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

This is just one trend that is underway with all kinds of vehicle technology. We’ve also got an acceleration in all kinds of trends that is leading us to vehicle autonomy — that is, self-driving cars.

Already, we are seeing rapid advancements with :

  • collision avoidance
  • pedestrian and object detection
  • spatial awareness and GPS
  • V2V (Vehicle to Vehicle) communications for lane, distance, time compression
  • remote vehicle control
  • predictive fuel efficiency routing
  • intelligent highway technology
  • lane, distance, time compression

Noted Volvo, “We think that a few years from now the vehicle will have a 360-degree ‘awareness’ of what’s going on around it, and will even be able to predict what the moving entities it is scanning might do next.”

Of course, all of this leads into a fascinating new skill set requirement throughout the dealer support network as well for trucking/automative companies. This includes:

  • engineering and technology staff that can predict & prevent failure
  • marketing that can optimize the customer experience in terms of new opportunity
  • maintenance and warranty staff who can work with the new prognostic capabilities and realign their efforts
  • …. and the leadership who makes it go

How quickly will this come about? Pretty fast: consider this observation”

 “It is early spring in 2018. Most major fleets have become such sophisticated users of data to do prognostics or predictive maintenance these days that they don’t even use the predictive word anymore. It is just part and parcel of routine maintenance—business as usual” Maintenance in the cloud, 16 March 2015, Fleet Owner

The potential impact for truck dealers could be significant; according to Frost & Sullivan’s Fleet Dealer Magazine

  • parts, servicing and maintenance will grow as the “pillar” of successful dealerships
  • profit margins of 40-50% growing an additional 5-10% by 2020 (do the math!)
  • telematics, prognostics and remote diagnostics represents a new potential revenue stream of 10-15% of profits by 2020
  • (and as I noted on stage, anyone asking about, um, loyalty?)

Through the years, I’ve done a tremendous number of talks within the insurance industry, both the life and P&C (property and casualty) sides of the business.

For years, it’s been a pretty slow industry. That’s all about to change — in a big way! Indeed, we might soon see Google, or Amazon, or some other company with big technology, lots of data, and new methods of reaching potential customers that will forever disrupt and change the industry. Some folks have been talking to this potential for a few years, as seen in this article.


I just did a talk for the CEO and senior executive team of one of the largest life insurance organizations in the U.S.

The main thrust of my talk was that the opportunity for big,  disruptive transformation in the life insurance industry is now accelerating, as three major trends come together.

  • bio-connectivity drives medical care, with opt-in for performance oriented life policies based on real time reduction of morbidity stats. People are using health and fitness monitors on their iPhones. If they can show good results from their health and wellness goals, an insurer would be far more likely to take a risk on them
  • we’re moving into a world of real time analytical community healthcare status updates that feed into actuarial tables; think about Apple’s recent initiative with it’s HealthKit (first to be used for medical research). It’s only a matter of time before real time healthcare dashboards are part of the health system in the Western world. I wrote about that before, in my post: “Trend: The Emergence of Real Time Analytical Predictive Healthcare Dashboards.”
  • every industry is being disrupted, as big, bold thinkers take over the agenda of an industry. Maybe in just a few years, we’ll see the Amazon Prime “No Hassles, Real Time, No Questions” Life Policy.

Some people in the life insurance industry see this trend, and see a threat.

The most amazing thing is that this is happening in the context of an industry that, if it is not dead yet, is certainly in the triage department:

MetLife’s premiums on policies sold to individuals last year totaled $409 million, a decline of 26% from $553 million in 2005. Industrywide sales of individual life-insurance policies are down 45% since the mid-1980s, according to industry-funded research firm Limra. About 30% of American households have no life insurance at all, up from 19% about 30 years ago. People of Wal-Mart: Struggling Life Insurers Seek A Middle-Class Revival, 25 July 2014, The Wall Street Journal

Those are staggering numbers.

Real innovators see the same trends, and see nothing but opportunity. The industry is totally up for grabs.

“The next five years will bring more change to retail than the last 100 years” – Cyriac Roeding, CEO of Shopkick

I had the delight of leading a small, intimate talk to a group of leading retailers in New York City earlier this week, at an event sponsored by agile software development firm Thoughtworks. The focus of my talk was to put into perspective the reality of the high-velocity trends that are impacting every single aspect of the world of retail.


If you are a CEO of any type of retailer, and do not understand the scope of these trends, you need to get onboard — fast.

1. Mobile is eating retail

The future of retail is all about mobile and if any CEO  doesn’t understand that, they should be out of a job.

Already by 2013, statistics show that sales through mobile and tablet devices were up 138% in 2013 from the year before. That takes us to the point where sales through some type of mobile device is estimated to be at least at 30% of *all* retail sales.

If that doesn’t get your attention then consider that another group suggests that by the end of 2015, every single retail transaction in the US will have some type of mobile element. It doesn’t matter what type of element — it could involve the actual purchase transaction, or logistics tracking, or a payment process, or some type of loyalty transaction.

Think about that. Every single retail transaction will somehow involve a mobile device somewhere along the way. That’s significant, because it provides big opportunity for business transformation — but it also provides for the potential for massive business model disruption, new competition, loss of market control and dozens of other challenges.

It gets even bigger over time. In the UK, leading retailer John Lewis suggests that every category will migrate to online shopping in a big way — with their estimate that by 2023, 27% of all fashion sales will be through a mobile device.

2. Control of the speed of innovation has shifted to Silicon Valley

The retail industry, like every other industry, is caught in a trend that  control of the speed of innovation moving to the pace set by Silicon Valley speed? For a long time, the pace of innovation in retail has been relatively slow and deliberate; aside from some cool new cardboard layouts for end-cap displays, and sprucing up a store layout, there wasn’t a lot of need to do anything really fast.

Whoops! Now when you enter a store, you’ll use your iPhone to confirm the transaction, and you’ll get an instant receipt. Loyalty transactions will occur through mobile. Consumers will be influenced by something on their mobile (see below) …..

All of which means — new business models, disruptive competition, a shift in control, customer churn — everything is up for grabs once Silicon Valley seizes control and defines your future!

3. Mobile “influence” is going to completely redefine in-store interaction

We’re in the era of what is known as “shopper marketing,” a method of promotion involving mobile devices. Booz & Company research suggests that shopper marketing is already at $50 billion in the US.IMG_6376

What is it?  I’ll walk into a store, and behind the scenes, the store will recognize me through an interaction with my mobile device, either because of an App that I have with the retailer; a permissive social relationship; or maybe a loyalty relationship. The result is that I’ll either get a message on my phone with an e-coupon. Or perhaps an LCD TV in the store will put up a welcome message for me, with audio, and suggest I walk over to  aisle 7 for a customized special offer just for me!

Farfetched? I don’t think so. Creepy? To us maybe, but perhaps not to the next generation. When we think of the strangeness of the future and our likely negative reaction to some of what might come next, we have to remember this: it’s not bad, it’s just different.

How fast is shopper marketing moving forward? Research suggests that 56% of food wholesalers, 61.1% of manufacturers and 38.3% of sales agencies will likewise invest more in shopper marketing in the coming year. What’s popular? Mobile coupons (51%), personalized mobile offers (44.8%), store-specific mobile apps (40.6%), text messages (36.5%) and location-based services such as Foursquare and Facebook Places (35.4%).

And we’re only in the early stages. If you want to understand the future, grab the Apple Store app, and allow it to check your location. Then go visit your local Apple store, and watch what happens.

4. The change to the mobile wallet provides more potential for massive disruption

Two things are happening: if you think about it, Apple has eliminated the concept of the cash register in stores. And more importantly, they’ve rendered the plastic credit card obsolete with Apple Pay.

And the fascinating thing is that most of the retail and banking world was seemingly caught unawares, which is staggering since everyone knew this was coming for at least the last 20 years! The result is that organizations like Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover now find themselves in a heated competition with Apple, Google, PayPal and other high-velocity, innovative tech companies.

Who would you put your money on?

It’s not just that; the battle of the small vs. incumbents (Square vs Visa/MasterCard/Discovery/Amex) continues. It is still terrifically difficult for any small retailer to get a ‘merchant’ accountant from any of the dinosaurian incumbents. That’s why you see so many new business organizations using devices like Square and other industry disruptors.


There’s another aspect too! The move to the mobile wallet involves a need for a rapid and massive infrastructure change. Most retailers can’t move that fast; they are still working to solve the big ERP problems they inherited in 2010! So while they are trying to fix the past, the future is unfolding in front of them way too fast.

4. Same day shipping everywhere destroys markets

Can you say “Amazon-Prime?” I am speaking to countless industries that are suddenly waking up to a world in which Amazon might suddenly be able to dominate their retail business model. Flooring products. Thermostats. You name it.

Anne Zybowski, an analyst at Kantar Retail said it best a few years ago: “A few years ago retailers spent a ton of time trying to make their online stores look and act like their physical stores. Now they’ve sort of reversed course, and the challenge is how to take that online shopping experience that’s so personalized, socially connected and heavily layered with data, and essentially bring it into a physical environment.” The model in which stores carry a lot of inventory is disappearing — the future is all about fulfilment.

We live in the era of “omni-channel retail,” and nothing will ever be the same. The future of retail is all about Google vs. Amazon vs. Wal-Mart, all of whom have promised to build an infrastructure that will support same day delivery to 50% of the US population within a few short years. With that, we are witnessing the rapid emergence of instant delivery startups. Amazon is hiring bicycle couriers  to put in place a business model that will offer up one-hour delivery in New York and San Francisco.

But wait! There’s more! ‘Click-and-collect’ infrastructure in major urban centres is happening at a furious pace; sit at your desk, order your groceries, and pick up your order in just one hour from your local grocery store.

Caught flat-footed are a whole bunch of retailers who find that they can’t compete on price, don’t have comparable infrastructure, and frankly, don’t know what to do other than recoil in fear!

5. The “Internet of things” also involves intelligent packaging, which changes everything.

The hype out of CES last week was fascinating. The Internet of things is real — I’ve been talking about it for 15 years.

But what isn’t being talked about in many circles is the impact of intelligent packaging — which completely defines the retail process, not to mention the product.

Intelligent packaging has huge implications.  We are talking about packaging that talks to you — maybe we will see Apple’s SIRI embedded in the package. We’ve already got pharmaceutical packaging that does “electronic event monitoring” for patient adherence. We’re going to see food packaging that automatically uploads calorie, carb, sodium and other data to a customer’s smartphone. We’ve already got packaging that comes with a unique code — and will automatically send a text through your mobile to verify that the product is not counterfeit.

We’ll have packaging that lights up when you pick it up with a small LCD screen, and runs a customized video, just for you, because it links to the app on your phone.

We’re talking about …..interactive packaging, intelligent and active packaging, multi-sensory packaging, edible packaging … packaging as mini-billboards…!

6. All this is happening in the context of collapsing product life-cycles

We are in the era of era of instant obsolescence and disappearing lifespans.

Think about this: 60% of Apple’s revenue came from products that didn’t exist three years prior to the earnings release, according to an analysis of Apple’s revenue by mobile app developer Asymco.


Think about that in the context of your operations. What if you had to replenish your product or service line every two or three years? It could become the new normal in many industries. The impact on retailers is staggering.

Think about the graph in your marketing textbook from years or decades ago when you first learned about the concept of product life cycles. Remember how it showed a product coming to market: sales increase, reach market maturity and eventually begin to drop off. That’s been the model of product life cycles as taught in business schools for the past 100 years or so.The rule of thumb was that companies would innovate and introduce a new product. If it succeeded, the company would experience growth. At some point, sales would peak. The product would then become obsolete or overtaken by competitors and sales would decline.

That might involve a time period of 10, 15 or even 25 years.

What a quaint model. Too bad it bears no resemblance to today’s reality. The product life-cycle model today is being turned on its ear by instant obsolescence. In some industries, that product obsolescence now occurs during the growth stage; in the high-tech industry, the decline phase caused by instant obsolescence can occur during the introduction of a product or even before a product makes it to the marketplace.

And so in the context of all the change noted above, retailers have to support faster logistics, marketing, branding, sales training, promotions…….

It’s a lot of change. That’s why innovation in the high velocity economy is all about:

  • an accelerated innovation cycle
  • rapid ingestion of new technologies / methodologies
  • faster time to market
  • rapid re-focusing of resources for opportunity or threat
  • rabid focus on operational excellence
  • rapid response to volatility
  • re-orientation to fast paced consumer and brand perception

Are retailers ready? I did two quick text message polls of my audience in New York City, and here’s what I got!

First, they don’t think their ready!


And second, they think they have a lot of mismatches that they need to fill;



The future belongs to those who are fast — particularly as mobile eats retails!


There can’t be a more exciting industry in the world today than what is happening with the marriage of automotive/transport technology to Silicon Valley. And it’s a a trend I’ve previously reported on here ; there are a few blog references at the end of this blog post.

Jim at Summit

On stage, Jim Carroll makes the comment: “Today is the slowest day of technological change for the rest of your life — it is only going to get quicker.”

That’s why I was thrilled to be the opening keynote for the Colorado Transportation Department “Transportation Matters” summit last month.

It was a get together of state politicians, civic and municipal officials, economic development folk who have a vested interest in the evolution of the overall transit infrastructure in the state.  (The co-sponsor was the Denver Chamber of Commerce.) These are a group of people who spend their time thinking about what they need to do to ensure that the state can stay competitive in a fast changing future.

It’s a hot topic — there was a sellout crowd of over 500 people in the room; original plans called for an audience of about 325!

My goal was to give the audience of view of what’s coming — and more importantly, how quickly it is coming — with all kinds of autonomous vehicle technology. And of course, there’s a lot going on — drone helicopters, Google’s self-driving car, Audi’s and Volvo’s own efforts with autonomous vehicle technology. Everywhere you look, there are new announcements, which is why this will be one of the hottest areas for innovation, business model disruption, new thinking, and big infrastructure investments in the decade to come.

To put these trends into perspective, I broke my keynote down into five key sections:

  • bold thinking
  • the velocity of change
  • the hype vs. reality
  • elements of progress
  • the impact of generations

1. Bold thinking

One thing I try to get across to every audience is that in every industry today, we live in a period of transformative change — whether it is Tesla Motors disrupting the auto industry, personalized healthcare based on DNA, or the impact of precision farming in agriculture — we live in a period of very dramatic change.

To emphasize the concept of ‘transformation,’ I found this brilliant quote during my research

“It’s amazing: If you were an archeologist and you dug up a 1900 vintage car and you dug up a 2000 vintage car, you’d look at it, you’d say they have the same DNA, the same fundamental design DNA. Mechanically driven energy from oil, powered by combustion, controlled mechanically and hydraulically, driven by a person, operated pretty much independently.”

And what’s exciting right now is that we see a new DNA, a new design DNA for the automobile beginning to mature, electrically driven in addition to mechanically driven. Using diverse sources of energy, which can be in the form of electricity or hydrogen on board the vehicle as well as fossil fuels. Having the vehicle operate with electric motors. Very importantly, being able to control it digitally or electronically. And literally having cars that can drive themselves.

Future Car: Accelerating the Future
10 Nov 2014, IEEE Spectrum

 Think about the context of that observation. Essentially, when it comes to vehicle technology – cars, trucks, you name it — we’ve essentially had the same architecture for 100 years. But all that is now changing, and it is changing at a furious speed.

 2. Silicon Valley velocity

My second point is perhaps the most significant trend impacting transportation today – and that is that there is a very real shift in the innovation driver from traditional auto companies in Detroit, Germany, Japan — to Silicon Valley.

Vehicles are essentially becoming large, sophisticated computers on wheels. The challenge is that Ford, Mercedes and Honda have never been in the computer industry, and know very little about computer interface design issues. The result is that we end up with these dashboards with clunky interfaces, disgraceful methods of interaction, and design that is simply a dog’s breakfast of something thrown together at the last moment. Contrast that to the dashboard and interactive user experience of a Tesla Motors vehicle — a car essentially designed by a computer company….

I reported on this at length in a post from 2013, “Trend: The Future of Automotive and Automotive Retail”, which you can read here. I don’t see much has changed since then.

What does this shift to Silicon Valley mean? New dashboard technologies, power sources and power storage tech, intelligent highway technologies — all the stuff that goes into autonomous and 21st century vehicle technology — will increasingly emerge ‘in the Valley.’ And anyone in tech knows that hi-tech companies innovate a lot faster than any other industry. This is a pretty profound and significant shift — automotive companies are going to find that increasingly they are in a  world in which ‘the future belongs to those who are fast.’ If they can’t keep up, then their product lines will become increasingly obsolete, out of date, and uncompetitive.

With this shift comes a major change to the concept of road and highway infrastructure — as all matter of sophisticated intelligent infrastructure takes over.

And my challenge to the folks in the room was this — as people responsible for economic development, are you placing yourself at the nexus of the ‘transformers’ (incubators, startup hubs, etc…) in terms of the transport revolution? Because that’s where you will find job growth, economic growth, infrastructure growth….

3. The discordance of hype vs. reality

Having said that, I challenged my audience to think about to carefully manage the difference between the hype that can come from a fast future – and the reality of what is occurring.

Autonomous vehicle technology from 1939! Is such a future too far-fetched? Probably not...

Autonomous vehicle technology from 1939! Is such a future too far-fetched? Probably not…

I spoke, for example, of Elon Musk (found of Tesla, Space-X) and his much-discussed Hyperloop ….. and I ran through a variety of headlines such as “Morgan Stanley predicts the death of the automotive industry as we know it” (BusinessInsider, October 2014, read it here). Maybe things can be hyped a little bit too much, I cautioned…….. the challenge with anything having to do with the technology industry quickly becomes, as everyone has learned, subjected to the hyper-building-hype echo chamber that is Silicon Valley.

I pointed this out, because with the hype can easily come suspicion that perhaps the trend is too over-hyped, and won’t become real any time soon.

To solve that dilemma, I ran through a series of slides I originally used when I spoke to a senior leadership team at NASA, in a talk that focused on the transformation of the business of space — by taking them back to the 1920’s and 1930’s when people were discounting the idea that mankind would ever venture into the heavens. To do that, I used a whole series of slides from Popular Mechanix and other magazines of the time.

I bloggged extensively on that talk for NASA — you can see the original magazine photos and articles here.

The point? The future always happens — the rest is just timing.

4. Elements of progress

By this point, I was working with the audience to help them realize that we live in transformative times, that the pace of change is accelerating because the technology industry is now driving the speed of change in the auto industry, but as the future unfolds, we should carefully manage the hype that comes with that.

With that as a solid foundation, I began to cover the very real advancements that are occurring with the concept of autonomous vehicle technology. These include such things as:

  • collision avoidance
  • pedestrian and object detection
  • spatial awareness and GPS
  • V2V (Vehicle to Vehicle) communications for lane, distance, time compression
  • remote vehicle control
  • predictive fuel efficiency routing
  • intelligent highway technology – adaptive traffic light, connective flow control, etc.

The thing is — all of this is happening really fast. I used a quote from Google’s UK Automotive Chief, Hugh Dickerson: 

Today is the slowest day of technological change for the rest of your life — it is only going to get quicker

How fast are things changing? I then noted this great  great statistic:

Connected cars are expected to generate $131.9 billion by 2019 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34.7% from 2013 to 2019.”
Connected Cars: Legal Hurdles and Issues Monitor Worldwide. Oct 2014

Here’s something to think about: it is said that today the typical pilot, whether for an airline or flying privately, spends just about 14 minutes actually flying the plane. The rest of the time is autonomous — autopilot technology. That’s the reality of what we are headed for, one day, with ground based vehicle transportation. Remember — the future happens. The rest is just timing.

5. Generations

Finally, I closed out with the observation that the biggest trend to impact the auto industry is the arrival of the next, connected generation of drivers. My sons are now 19 and 21; they have never known a world without the Internet. Like everyone in their generation, their entire view into the world is through data and their mobile devices. As transportation changes, they will drive the change and acceptance of that generation faster than any generation before them.

It was a fun talk, and drew a great response, with this comment back from one of the key organizers:

People were really excited and energetic. I got comments about your presentation and the day as a whole like “home run” and “perfect.” One person said they had seen a futurist speak before and it was “blah blah technical and boring” and wasn’t particularly looking forward to your presentation- and they were “blown away.”…..I think many people walked in thinking they were going to get boring policy, and while we gave them a few doses of that for good measure, your presentation was policy in a thought provoking way- and with the focus on the future and technology, the Denver Chamber of Commerce will surely see this as a great “jumping off point” to their broader transportation conversation.


“Actuaries can expect that all of these technologies will continue to become more interconnected, said Carroll.” Read the article by clicking the image.

The American Academy of Actuaries has just released their July / August edition of Contingencies Magazine, with an article about the impact of technology on actuarial practice.

It’s a great article: with quotes such as this, you know its presenting some challenging ideas as to how insurance industry, and the actuarial profession that assesses risk, is in for wild ride:

From intelligent interfaces like Google’s Explorer glass to ingestible microsensors, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence, burgeoning technological advances stand poised to disrupt traditional practices within the actuarial profession and the insurance industry.”

I’m quoted liberally throughout the article.You can click the image to access the PDF.

From the intro to the article:

REMEMBER THE SLIDE RULE? For actuaries of a certain generation, slide rules were an invaluable accessory. Invaluable, that is, until the invention of the personal calculator. In the same way, many experts believe that Excel spreadsheets, the current workhorse of most actuarial departments, will soon be replaced by calculating in the cloud. Disruptive technology—the term of art for any technological advance that unexpectedly displaces an established process—is now expanding so quickly that one disrupter often is almost immediately superseded by another. (Consider the rapidity with which we’ve moved from using GPS devices in our cars to letting mobile apps on our smartphones do the job. By the end of the decade, it’s likely that automatic cars will not only navigate but also do the driving.)

Innovations that qualify as disruptive technology are actual ly both disruptive and connective, said futurist Jim Carroll. Not only is the way that people and devices are getting connected “unprecedented,” Carroll said, so is the manner in which all the interconnected data are being analyzed and used.

This goes to one of the main points that I raise with clients: control of innovation in every single industry is shifting to technology companies, and the pace of innovation is accelerating to that of Silicon Valley as a result.  Every industry is coming to be ruled by the reality of Moore’s Law! This is providing for a lot of fascinating change and disruption!

I also offer some comments on might happen with life insurance policies as we go forward

Using more personalized information will lead to what Carroll calls “performance-oriented insurance,” which he defined as coverage in which the risk will be accurately understood. “And if your measurable activities reduce or eliminate any risk, you will be rewarded through a rebate or reduction in insurance cost,” Carroll explained—something that is already happening with one of Progressive’s auto-insurance products.

There will be an emergence of insurance companies forthose who are willing to give up their privacy, while other insurers might write coverage for those who want to maintain their privacy,” Carroll said. “It is going to change business models.” The connectivity goes further when real-time vitals are sent not just to the doctor but also to an insurance com- pany that’s considering pricing, Carroll said.

It’s a good read, and worth your time. Read the article here.

At the end of the month, I’ll be the opening keynote speaker for the Camstar Global Conference 2014, in Orlando, Florida.

I will be focused on the theme of the acceleration of product life cycles, the need for new, fast paced manufacturing methodologies, and the issue of what happens as every industry is aligned to the velocity of Moore’s Law.


Camstar Systems, Inc. announced today that future trends and innovation expert Jim Carroll will deliver the keynote address at Camstar Global Conference, April 27-30, 2014 …… Carroll will lay the framework for the conference theme and kick off a packed agenda consisting of multiple tracks, manufacturing industry trends, case studies, invaluable learning and networking opportunities, a Partner pavilion and an Expert Lab.

I’ve been speaking in the manufacturing sector for ages. And it’s been kind of fascinating to watch, what with the prognostications in 2009 and 2010 that North American manufacturing was ‘dead.’

Take a look around now, and it’s obvious a significant and profound renaissance is underway. Just like I was saying on stage way back then….

What’s the key to the renaissance? Smart technologies that realign the manufacturing process. Rapid prototyping and rapid development. Mass customization to a market of one. Agility, flexibility, and redesign of manufacturing methodology. You name it — there’s a lot of opportunity for organizations to re-invent themselves.

This is what people lose sight of when an industry sector turns down, as it did in late 2008 and 2009. People instantly focus on the negative, and assume the worst is yet to come.

I never do that — I’m always looking into every industry for the bright side; the innovators; the people who are thinking and dreaming big on how to re-invent and renew a sector — and most important, the significant intelligent opportunities that are providing an opportunity for an industry to do things in a way that haven’t been done before.

And this touches people — at one manufacturing event during the downturn, one manufacturing CEO was so inspired  that during the Q&A section, he asked if I might consider running for President! I’d love to, but….

To learn more about my thoughts on the world of manufacturing, hit the Manufacturing Trends section of my Web site over on the right.

International Futurist Jim Carroll to Keynote at Camstar Global Conference 2014

Global authority to link future trends to innovation, creativity, and rapid business transformation.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (November 14, 2013) – Camstar Systems, Inc. announced today that future trends and innovation expert Jim Carroll will deliver the keynote address at next year’s Camstar Global Conference, April 27-30, 2014 at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes in Orlando, Florida.

A leading international futurist, Carroll is widely recognized as a thought leader and authority on global trends, rapid business model change, business transformation during economic uncertainty and the necessity for fast-paced innovation. He is an author, columnist, media commentator and consultant with a focus on linking future trends to innovation and creativity. His previous speaking engagements include events for Lockheed Martin, Stryker Technologies, Johnson & Johnson, Siemens, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), among others.

The Camstar Global Conference is an opportunity for Camstar customers to join other global leaders in manufacturing including thought leaders, analysts, and partners. Carroll will lay the framework for the conference theme and kick off a packed agenda consisting of multiple tracks, manufacturing industry trends, case studies, invaluable learning and networking opportunities, a Partner pavilion and an Expert Lab.

“This signature event engages manufacturers of all sizes in all locations with industry leading discussions on Camstar products, future direction and best practices to meet today’s manufacturing challenges head on,” said Scott Toney, CEO of Camstar.

Toney said he is very pleased to announce Jim Carroll as the keynote speaker. “Carroll will challenge our audience to broaden their perspective on the issues rapid change, hyper innovation and future growth opportunities’. He is renowned as a ‘thought leader’ and authority on global trends; some of the world’s leading organizations turn to Mr. Carroll for insight into the future trends and innovation.”

“World-class innovators possess a relentless focus on growth,” said Jim Carroll. “They continually transition their revenue source through relentless product and service reinvention and solve customer problems before the customer knows there’s a problem. They focus on upside down innovation by sourcing innovation ideas through their customers and focus on long-term wins through constant incremental improvements. Carroll will also share his perspective on why right now is a great time to make bold decisions and do great things.”

To learn more and register visit the Camstar Global Conference 2014 website.


I found this recently from a keynote two years back….

Future Trends: Futurist, Trends, and Innovation Expert to Keynote Multi-Unit Conference

Jim Carroll loves to predict where the world is going. As such, he has become one of the world’s leading international futurists, trends, and innovation experts. His analysis digs deep into topics such as technology, business model change, fast paced innovation, and global challenges and growth. He’s been in demand with such clients as Northrop Grumman, Visa, Rockwell Collins, Lincoln Financial, and the Walt Disney organization. He was featured as an innovation expert on the global CNBC show, the Business of Innovation, and was named one of four leading sources for insight into innovation by Business Week magazine.

Jim Carroll loves to predict where the world is going. As such, he has become one of the world’s leading international futurists, trends, and innovation experts. His analysis digs deep into topics such as technology, business model change, fast paced innovation, and global challenges and growth. He’s been in demand with such clients as Northrop Grumman, Visa, Rockwell Collins, Lincoln Financial, and the Walt Disney organization. He was featured as an innovation expert on the global CNBC show, the Business of Innovation, and was named one of four leading sources for insight into innovation by Business Week magazine.

He’ll be bringing his latest insight to the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference this April at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas where he’ll be a keynote speaker.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Carroll and posed some franchise-specific questions. Here’s what he shared with us.

In terms of the future, what do multi-unit franchisees have to fear?

Well, there’s nothing to fear really, if you view future trends as being full of opportunities rather than as a threat. I find that many of my clients think about future trends and think, “oh, this can’t be good, it’s going to be pretty difficult to deal with.” The first step with getting into an innovative frame of mind is to think of every trend as an opportunity, not a threat.

So let’s think about a few of them. Consider social networks, there are huge impacts on how consumers perceive, interact, and provide feedback on brands. Obviously, if you don’t pay attention to the trend, it can turn into a big negative for you.

But if you get involved, engage the new consumer, and continually experiment with new ways of taking advantage of this new form of interaction, then you are doing the right thing.

What kinds of things do multi-unit franchisees have to look forward to?

Oh, there are just so many opportunities to grow the business. We’ve got all kind of new location-intelligence oriented opportunities – people walking around with mobile devices that have GPS capabilities built in. Think about instant couponing apps that might encourage customers to drop in and purchase something. There are new methods of getting the brand image out there – we’ve seen so many franchise groups with successful viral videos. For restaurant franchisees, there’s the rapid emergence of the new health-conscious consumer and opportunities to reshape the menu to take advantage of that. I look around and I just see a countless number of methods by which a franchisee can run the business better, grow, and transform their business. And that’s what innovation is all about!

What kinds of things do multi-unit franchisees need to be doing in their businesses right now?

Investing in experiential capital. Look, there’s so much new stuff happening out there, and markets are changing so quickly, that the only way to get ahead is to try out a lot of new ideas. In a world in which Apple generates 60 percent of its revenue from products that didn’t exist four years ago, it’s critically important that an organization constantly enhance the skill, capabilities, and insight of their people. They do this by constantly working on projects that might have an uncertain return and payback – but which will provide in-depth experience and insight into change. It’s by understanding change that opportunity is defined, and that’s what experiential capital happens to be. In the future, it will be one of the most important assets you can possess.

What kinds of things should multi-unit franchisees stop doing?

Making excuses. Look, it’s all too easy to avoid the future and not do the tough things. Stop using what I call the “innovation killers,” phrases like:

  • “We’ve always done it this way”
  • “It won’t work”
  • “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard”
  • “That’s not my problem”
  • “You can’t do that”
  • “I don’t know how”
  • “I don’t think I can”
  • “I didn’t know that”
  • “The boss won’t go for it”
  • “Why should I care?”

What can multi-unit franchisees do better right now and how?

Change their attitude to try new things. Innovation is critical. Innovative companies act differently.

In these organizations ideas flow freely throughout, subversion is a virtue and success and failure are championed. There are many, many leaders who encourage innovative thinking, rather than managers who run a bureaucracy. There are creative champions throughout the organization – people who thrive on thinking about how to do things differently. Ideas get approval and endorsement rather than stating “it can’t be done,” people ask, “how could we do this?”

People know that in addition to R&D, innovation is also about ideas to “run the business better, grow the business, and transform the business.” The word “innovation” is found in most job descriptions as a primary area of responsibility, and a percentage of annual remuneration is based upon achievement of explicitly defined innovation goals The fact is, every organization should be able to develop innovation as a core virtue — if they aren’t, they certainly won’t survive the rapid rate of change that envelopes us today.

I’m doing a lot of insurance keynotes lately, in all sectors — property and casualty, life, employee benefit plans.2013Insurance

It’s catching some attention. The folks at ACORD, (Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development),  a global, nonprofit organization serving the insurance and related industries, reached out to me during the summer for a quick interview on some of the ‘big trends and challenges impacting’ the industry.

What’s moving the industry forward?
Published: 9/4/2013, ACORD

In searching the internet, looking for current events in the insurance industry, I recently came across an article from 2009 discussing the next big thing in the insurance industry by 2015. At the time, futurist Jim Carroll had plenty to say about the unavailability of niche skills due to increased underwriting complexity; the likely emergence of “social financial widgets”; and the implications of pervasive connectivity upon the insurance marketplace.

I reached out to him for an interview and asked him just how much his views on the future of the insurance industry have changed. Below is his response.

What are the most important things the insurance industry should consider as we move into the future?
The pace of innovation for the insurance industry – and indeed, every industry – is shifting to Silicon Valley. Think about the impact of GPS based driver performance tracking technology. The innovation with this type of tech occurs with computer and hi-tech companies who know how to innovate faster.

That fact will yield more significant business model disruption. If Silicon Valley has more control over insurance industry innovation, then it will have more control over the development and implementation of new and different, disruptive business models. Don’t think that ‘disintermediation,’ which was a big perceived threat during the years, has gone away!

Add to that the fact that the next generation of insurance customers are unlike any we’ve known before. My sons are 18 and 20, and will soon be responsible for big insurance decisions. They’ll be influenced by social networks and peers, online collaboration and research, online video. Generation Next is going to be a completely different type of customer, and they’re choice as to carriers, policies and distributions will be influenced in fast and new and interesting ways!

How will those changes impact the industry and the way the insurance industry conducts business?
It means that if you are a carrier, distributor, broker agent or anyone else, you need to learn to change – and change faster! Look, folks who work in the tech space innovate at tech speed. 65% of Apple’s revenue comes from products that didn’t exist 4 years ago. With such things as GPS auto tracking, there’s the opportunity for emergence of all kinds of new and wonderful insurance products. Some folks are going to get those to market quicker than others. And consider the wired, intelligent home – it’s happening now at blinding speed, and there are all kinds of opportunities to challenge ourselves as to the types of policies we underwrite, because the very nature of risk can change. I’ve got 3 webcams in my ski chalet that instantly notify me of any unusual activity – I should have a carrier that jumps out at me with some kind of innovative new policy.

What advice would you give to those who are having a tough time bracing for the future of the insurance industry?
Some people look at a trend, and see a threat. Real innovators – and long term winners – see the same trend, and see an opportunity!

Here’s a video clip from my opening keynote for ERA Connect 2013. In the audience were a thousand or so real estate brokers and agents — I’m working to encourage them to think as to how quickly their industry might change, by framing what might happen in the not too distant future with the cars that we drive.

I had the honor of being a keynote speaker for the recent Canadian Automotive Dealers Association Summit 2013, sharing the agenda with the legendary Bob Lutz, former Vice Chairman of GM, and Steve Rattner (Obama’s “Car Czar” and the main architect of the 2009 North American auto industry restructuring).

Think forward to how quickly technology and automobiles are going to evolve, particularly with autonomous driving technology. Who will win at this race? Google or Ford? Apple or GM?

Think forward to how quickly technology and automobiles are going to evolve, particularly with autonomous driving technology. Who will win at this race? Google or Ford? Apple or GM?

It’s a fascinating time for the auto industry — in many regions of the world, signs of significant recovery abound, sales are up, and happy days are here again!

On the other hand, there’s still the rest of the future to contend with.

And that was the focus on my keynote. There’s certainly a lot that’s happening, and some pretty big changes. For auto dealers, it will be their ability to innovate in the context of these trends that will define their future success.

So what did I concentrate on? I framed my keynote around 4 major trends, which I called:

  • transformation
  • acceleration
  • interaction
  • generations

Let’s take a look.

1. Transformation

The most significant change to the auto industry is already well underway, and is easily summarized by one of the slides from my deck:


Quite simply, the pace, control and speed of innovation is shifting from auto companies in Detroit (and elsewhere) to the technology companies of Silicon Valley. This was the focus an article run in an industry publication before my talk, Detroit isn’t keep pace with innovation, says futurist Jim Carroll.

“Shifting customer expectations are driving part of that change as drivers will now expect their vehicles to be as advanced, easy to use and even as “replaceable” as their smartphones and tablet devices that are so central to their lives.

He says dealers need to ensure their staff is ready to adapt to the change. “A car you sell today might be out of date two years from now,” he says. “How do you keep your salesforce and service force up to date with that speed of change?”

“Some people see a trend and see a threat. Real innovative people see the same trend and they see opportunity. That’s what dealers need to ensure they do when they think about this very fast paced future,” says Carroll.

Mobile will also forever change the retail experience and dealers will need to adjust to provide better customer experiences. “I will talk about the changes going on in retail,” says Carroll. “Mobile is the big story.”

He says social media and mobile shopping is having a huge impact on purchasing decisions. “There is a lot of technology that is coming that will link to mobile.” These new technologies will forever change the customer interaction with retailers. “It’s happening very, very quickly,” says Carroll.

In my keynote, I played into this theme. To start out, I asked the audience how many people in the audience used all the features of their new “Smart TV’s.” Very few hands went up.

Why? Because many people are coming to the conclusion that most smart TV’s are actually pretty dumb! What we’ve seen in the last several years, with most so-called smart TV’s, is a situation in which television manufacturers, who have never been really part of the Silicon Valley technology and design culture, suddenly began throwing all kinds of features onto televisions, such as Facebook, Twitter, Netflix.

The result is, if you pardon the expression, a real barf-bag of clumsy screen navigation, confusing remotes, ill-designed apps, and, well, just a bit of a major FAIL.

Smart TV’s? No one uses smart TV’s because they’re dumb. And that seems to be a message that is resonating on the Internet; such as this article recently featured on Wired.


“People aren’t using their internet-connected smart TVs for anything beyond, well, watching TV. It turns out, nobody wants to tweet from their TV. Or read books. Or do whatever it is people do on LinkedIn. Worse, more than 40 percent of the people who buy a connected TV aren’t even using it for its ostensible primary purpose: getting online video onto the biggest screen in your home. “

Contrast the Smart TV experience to the Apple TV. The latter has a crisp design, clean, simple and intuitive interface. Quite simply, it just works.

Now think about the new car that you might own. It’s got a new, cool GPS navigation system. Perhaps an interface to your iPhone. Some entertainment options. And most likely, it’s probably clunky as heck. Slow. Cumbersome to use. Just difficult to navigate. Noted the New York Times in an article in June 2012: “‘See, you spin this knob here, which moves you through these selections up here. Then you press down on the knob to select something, but don’t forget about the other menus under this button…”

And that where we are in the auto industry today: we have a lot of car companies working to try to figure out how to make technology work. And the fact is, in a world in which the future belongs to those who are fast, they are having a difficult time doing so. They don’t get great, clean design. And they have horrifically long development lead times: PCMagazine observed that “a 2012 car could have a system originally designed in 2006 and put into production in 2008 when that model first hit the streets.”

Maybe what is happening is that car companies are making the same mistakes that TV companies made. They’re making a lot of cars with a lot of cool technology that few people will use, because, well, the interface and design sucks!

Contrast any auto company and their dashboard experience to that of Tesla Motors, the “Silicon Valley” car company! This is a technology company that is figuring out how to make cars, a completely different paradigm. And most people would conclude that they’ve nailed the part of in-car design. The reviews of the in-car dash, with it’s crisp 17″ screen, show a passion and delight within the customer base. It’s like the Mac or OS/X design for automobiles!

Tesla isn’t a car company. It’s a tech company, headquartered in a hive of innovation that helped lure the sharp minds who conceptualized the car from an outsider’s perspective……If Tesla is a technology company, the evidence starts with the car’s innovative infotainment system. The 17-inch touch screen controls nearly everything — including navigation, stereo, climate control and driving settings. As clear and touch-sensitive as an Apple iPad, the huge screen can easily accommodate multiple functions at once.
Although Tesla’s future remains uncertain, its Model S delivers on the firm’s grand ambitions, 9 February 2013, Los Angeles Times

Think forward to how quickly technology and automobiles are going to evolve, particularly with autonomous driving technology. Who will win at this race? Google or Ford? Apple or GM?

I think my answer is probably pretty clear!

2. Acceleration

The second trend I spoke too was the fact that the problem above was coming about because the auto industry was now finding itself subject to the dramatic change that is wrought by Silicon Valley when it starts to take over the rate of innovation in an industry. This is a topic I frequently cover — take a look at my post, “Silicon Valley Innovation Set to Dominate Every Industry.”

Consider the auto industry just over 5 to 6 ago:

  • cars were starting to arrive with built-in GPS!
  • a multi-disc CD changer was a REALLY COOL accessory!
  • auto companies were putting “MP3 plugs” into cars!
  • Bill Gates announced Ford Sync at the Detroit Auto Show!

Now consider what could be really big in the auto industry just five years from now; I suggested that the pace of innovation is such that we could see:

  • autonomous vehicles everywhere
  • a SIRI button in every car
  • augmented reality screens with heads up display in most cars
  • glasses-free 3D dashboards
  • interactive in-car billboards (i.e. a store interacts with you via your social network relationship, and alerts you there’s one nearby. You simply say, “take me there!”)
  • open-platforms for extensibility and customization of the in-board dash!

Of course, many people in the room probably sat back and reacted “that’s the dumbest thing I ever heard!” — which I pointed out, observing that this is one of the key attitudes that holds people back from trying to pursue new ideas!

I suspect we are going to see a tremendous amount of technologiical innovation occuring in the automobile space in the next five years, and most people will simply be floored by the velocity of what occurs.

3. Interaction

The third trend I spoke on was the change that would quickly come to automotive dealers, around the theme of the ‘future of retail.’ I’ve done quite a bit in this space; most recnetly, for example, I spoke at a senior leadership meeting with senior executives of The GAP, the global fashion/clothing brand.

There’s a key quote I found that I think summarizes the reality facing us: “The next five years will bring more change to retail than the last 100 years” (from Cyriac Roeding, the CEO of Shopkick, a location- based shopping app available at Macy’s, Target and other top retailers)

There is much happening here — I’ve recently been speaking at a variety of retail conferences — and will summarize that into a different post.

4. Generations

The fourth topic on the list? As automobiles become more technologically advanced, there is an increasing amount of generational discomfort with some dealers, particularly with some who are struggling to deal with all this change!

The UK Birmingham Post, reporting on a Ford dealership training session, noted  that….35% of sales staff had little confidence in their own ability to demonstrate hi-tech in-car equipment such as Bluetooth devices and voice control systems”

That’s a pretty staggering observation if true!  And that is happening in the context in which more young people are visiting the same dealers, and participating in the practive of “showrooming.” In an article from the Dow Jones News Service  Dealers Take Notice as More People Use Phones to Buy Cars9 February 2013,, it was said that 

  • “...more than a third used their mobile phone to help research pricing and other factors while on dealer lots. That’s compared to 19% for other age categories.”

And so clearly, we have a really unique generational dynamic happening in auto-showrooms!


Put it all together, and it is clear that the automotive industry, and the dealers who support it, are in a particularly unique period of time that involves a lot of change, transition and tranformation!


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