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Spinal Tap went to 11 – why can’t I go to 20?

Why not do one more trend and bend your mind a bit! With that, here’s trend #20 of my ‘19 Trends for 2019′ – ‘A Child Alive!’ 

Can you imagine what the world of 2062 – the year the Jetsons’ TV show was set in – might look like for a child alive today? 

I find it hard to do so, given that the pace of change is accelerating so quickly. We will probably see advances with science, technology, society and more that we can barely begin to comprehend. And yet, there are also warning signs. What we do right now has the good chance to destroy the world that they might find themselves in.

And yet there is no doubt these children will live in a fascinating, wonderful world if *we* do the right things.

A child alive today? Consider my buddy Chase! His dad had a brief visit with my son and I in the home office to ‘talk shop’, and he brought Chase along. I had to keep Chase busy while his dad worked on a technical issue with my son, and so I put him in front of my home studio green screen. In moments, he understood it, and Chase went travelling!

What types of travels might he have in the future? Will he actually go to space? Will he be able to time travel? Will he have virtual reality travels that are incomprehensible today?

Or consider Ivan! He’s a precocious 10 year old who I had the good fortune to discover just before I keynoted a global event for Godiva Chocolates in London, England. Watch this clip!  It’s a great, fun story – but consider this: we are in a world in which 10 year olds have food video blogs. What will happen when these kids – who show so much initiative at the age of 10 – grow up and are in the workforce?

They will probably be working in jobs and careers that do not yet exist, utilizing knowledge not yet generated, with scientific discoveries not yet discovered. A few years ago, I went into the Grade 5 class of my good friend Ian Bates – and we did a project to encourage the children to think about the careers that they might work in at some point in the future.

The simple fact is – there is a child alive today who will do the amazing science fiction like things that we find unimaginable – and yet which they find routine!

Simply put, megacities are the future. This results in new careers, new infrastructure, new innovation, new trends! Cities own the future, and the impact will be everywhere. One example? The acceleration of vertical farming concepts!

But there is a bigger trend at work here: and that is, by watching the big trends, you can discover how the essence of innovation within an industry is changing. With that, I bring you the impact of vertical farming.

Much of the vertical farming innovation is occurring in megacities, in Africa and elsewhere. Here’s a clip from December 2018, where I’m on stage at an agricultural conference, talking about vertical framing, desert farming, and floating cow farms!

Why does this trend matter? Because mega trends matter! Megatrends drive mega change, and no where is this seen than with the growth of urban cities. That’s trend #5 for today.

Watch the big trends, and you get a real sense of how the source of innovation is shifting. Such as within the world of agriculture.

Simply put, megacities are the future. This results in new careers, new infrastructure, new innovation, new trends! Cities own the future, and the impact will be everywhere. One example? The acceleration of vertical farming concepts!

Much of the vertical farming innovation is occurring in megacities, in Africa and elsewhere. Here’s a clip from December 2018, where I’m on stage at an agricultural conference, talking about vertical framing, desert farming, and floating cow farms!

Worldwide, there is a massive migration of urban populations to cities; the majority of the world’s population will live in less than 30 mega-cities by 2025. With that trend comes fascinating challenges with water, waste treatment, energy and other infrastructure. We can expect accelerating R&D in each of these fields as global society steps up to the challenge presented by ‘hyper-urbanization,’ and the birth of entire new lines of business involving “mega-city’ infrastructure support services.”

Why is this trend important? Because a lot of money will go into redefining these megacities for the future. Those trends will leak everywhere else… and so a farmer in Iowa will find that his or her future is, to a degree, being determined by the fact that a farmer in Ghana, Africa, will increasing be in a city, and will define one of the biggest trends in the world of farming.

There’s an important lesson in innovation from all of this – specifically, ‘your future might no longer be invented here!” It’s by watching the big trends, learning what they mean, and how they are accelerating change, that you can discover new pathways to the future!

Another article on a recent keynote I did on the future of manufacturing; in this case, from The Fabricator, the publication for the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association.

A chat with futurist Jim Carroll indicates that fabricators should be open to embracing technological possibilities or risk being left behind.

At one time you needed a room of skilled craftsmen just to make even a simple prototype. Tomorrow it might all be done by the design engineers themselves in hours instead of days because of advanced 3-D modeling software and virtual reality technology.

In helping out with some editorial preparation for The FABRICATOR’s sister magazine, Canadian Metalworking, I had the opportunity to chat with futurist Jim Carroll. (He gave the opening keynote address for the Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show on Sept. 25.) Conversations with such industry and societal observers are always interesting because they take the time to consider what may be possible in the years to come while others have their heads buried in the drudgery of everyday life. My talk with Carroll was no different, and the following three conversation highlights only promise to make those that are technology-averse even more nervous about the future.

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The folks at New Equipment Digest interviewed me a few weeks back for an article on manufacturing,  ahead of a major keynote I had earlier this month.

You’ll have a 50-year old guy or lady in the factory, and you bring these tools to help streamline processes and they say, “Oh my God! This is terrible that can take my job away. I’m done; I’m toast.” And somebody in their 20’s is going to say, “cool.” It’s a much more agile workforce, much more willing to try new things.

It’s but one talk I do in this sector; on Monday, I’ll headline the International Asset Management Council on future manufacturing trends. They’re the folks from Fortune 1000 organizations who make the decisions on where to locate future factories, logistics locations and supply chain investments.

INDUSTRY TRENDS
Futurist Says “Fast & Furious” Changes Coming to Manufacturing

Forget your Magic 8-Ball or fancy-schmancy predictive analytics. Futurist Jim Carroll knows what lies ahead for manufacturing and technology, and we have the scoop for you here. Bet you didn’t see that coming.
John Hitch | Sep 21, 2017

Jim Carroll, a former accountant and current author/corporate speaker, is confident he knows what’s going to happen in the world of manufacturing. And the world renowned Canadian futurist doesn’t need a flux capacitor or any other sci-fi MacGuffin to make bold claims in front of millions about what technologies they need to adopt now, and what the world will look like for our children after we’re rocketed to our Martian retirement homes — where our corpses will no doubt be used as fertilizer for space yams. (You’re welcome, Elon.)

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I spent the morning yesterday with the Board of Directors of a multi-billion dollar credit union, taking a good hard look at the trends sweeping the financial services space. They know that disruption is real, and that it is happening now.

And disruption is everywhere: every business, and every industry is  being redefined at blinding speed by technology, globalization, the rapid emergence of new competitors, new forms of collaborative global R&D, and countless other challenges.


The speed with which these changes occur are now being increasingly driven by he arrival of a younger, more entrepreneurial generation; a group that seems determined to change the world to reflect their ideas and concept of opportunity. They’ve grown up networked, wired, and are collaborative in ways that no previous generation seems to be.

And therein lies the challenge.

Most organizations are bound up in traditions, process, certain defined ways of doing things — rules — that have helped them succeed in the past. Over time, they have developed a corporate culture which might have worked at the slower paced world of the past — but now has them on the sick-bed, suffering from an organizational sclerosis that clogs up their ability to try to do anything new.

Those very things which worked for them in the past might be the anchors that could now hold them back as the future rushes at them with ever increasing speed.

They are being challenged in a fundamental way by those who think big, and by some really big, transformative trends.

How to cope with accelerating change?  Think big, start small and scale fast!

I’m doing many keynotes in which I outline the major trends and opportunities that come from “thinking big, starting small, and scaling fast,” by addressing some of the fundamental changes that are underway.

1. Entire industries are going “upside down”

One thing you need to know is this: entire industries are being flipped on their back by some pretty big trends.

Consider the world of health care. Essentially, today, it’s a system in which we fix people after they become sick. You come down with some type of medical condition; your doctor does a diagnosis, and a form of treatment is put in place. That’s overly simplifying things, but essentially that is how it works.

Yet that is going to change in a pretty fundamental way with genomic, or DNA based medicine. It takes us into a world in which we can more easily understand what health conditions are you susceptible or at risk for throughout your life. It moves us from a world in which we fix you after you are sick — to one in which we know what you are likely to become sick with, and come up with a course of action before things go wrong. That’s a pretty BIG and pretty fundamental change. I like to say that the system is going “upside down.”

So it is with the automotive and transport industry. One day, most people drove their own cars. One day in the future, cars will do much of the driving on their own. That’s a pretty change — sort of the reverse, or upside-down, from how it use to be.

Or think about education: at one time, most people went to the place where education is delivered. But with the massive explosion of connectivity and new education delivery methods involving technology, an increasing number of people are in a situation where education is delivered to them. That’s upside down too!

You can go through any industry and see similar signs. That’s a lot of opportunity for big change.

2. Moore’s law – everywhere!

Another big trend that is driving a lot of change comes about as technology takes over the rate of change in the industry.

Going forward, every single industry, from health care to agriculture to insurance and banking, will find out that change will start to come at the speed of Moore’s law — a speed of change that is MUCH faster than they are used too. (Remember, Moore’s law explains that roughly, the processing power of a computer chip doubles every 18 months while its cost cuts in half. It provides for the pretty extreme exponential growth curve we see with a lot of consumer and computer technology today.)

Back to health care. We know that genomic medicine is moving us from a world in which we fix people after they are sick – to one where we know what they will likely become sick with as a result of DNA testing. But now kick in the impact of Moore’s law, as Silicon Valley takes over the pace of development of the genomic sequencing machines. It took $3 billion to sequence the first genome, which by 2009 had dropped to $100,000. It’s said that by mid-summer, the cost had dropped to under $10,000, and by the end of the year, $1,000. In just a few years, you’ll be able to go to a local Source by Circuit City and buy a little $5 genomic sequencer – and one day, such a device will cost just a few pennies.

The collapsing cost and increasing sophistication of these machines portends a revolution in the world of health care. Similar trends are occurring elsewhere – in every single industry, we know one thing: that Moore’s law rules!

3. Loss of the control of the pace of innovation

What happens when Moore’s law appears in every industry? Accelerating change, and massive business model disruption as staid, slow moving organizations struggle to keep up with faster paced technology upstarts.

Consider the world of car insurance — we are witnessing a flood of GPS based driver monitoring technologies that measure your speed, acceleration and whether you are stopping at all the stop signs. Show good driving behaviour, and you’ll get a rebate on your insurance. It’s happening in banking, with the the imminent emergence of the digital wallet and the trend in which your cell phone becomes a credit card.

In both cases, large, stodgy, slow insurance companies and banks that move like molasses will have to struggle to fine tune their ability to innovate and keep up : they’re not used to working at the same fast pace as technology companies.

Not only that, while they work to get their innovation agenda on track, they’ll realize with horror that its really hard to compete with companies like Google, PayPal, Facebook, and Apple — all of whom compete at the speed of light.

It should make for lots of fun!

4.  “Follow the leader” business methodologies

We’re also witnessing the more rapid emergence of new ways of doing business, and it’s leading us to a time in which companies have to instantly be able to copy any move by their competition – or risk falling behind.

For example, think about what is going on in retail, with one major trend defining the future: the Apple checkout process. Given what they’ve done, it seems to be all of a sudden, cash registers seemed to become obsolete. And if you take a look around, you’ll notice a trend in which a lot of other retailers are scrambling to duplicate the process, trying to link themselves to the cool Apple cachet.

That’s the new reality in the world of business — pacesetters today can swiftly and suddenly change the pace and structure of an industry, and other competitors have to scramble to keep up.  Consider this scenario: Amazon announces a same day delivery in some major centres. Google and Walmart almost immediately jump on board. And in just a short time, retailers in every major city are going to have be able to play the same game!

Fast format change, instant business model implementation, rapid fire strategic moves. That’s the new reality for business, and it’s the innovators who will adapt.

5. All interaction — all the time!

If there is one other major trend that is defining the world of retail and shopping, take a look at all the big television screens scattered all over the store! We’re entering the era of constant video bombardment in the retail space. How fast is the trend towards constant interaction evolving? Consider the comments by

Ron Boire, the new Chief Marketing Officer for Sears in the US (and former chief executive of Brookstone Inc.): “My focus will really be on creating more and better theatre in the stores.”

We are going to see a linking of this ‘in-store theatre’ with our mobile devices and our social networking relationships. Our Facebook app for a store brand (or the fact we’ve ‘liked’ the brand) will know we’re in the store, causing a a customized commercial to run, offering us a personalized product promotion with a  hefty discount. This type of scenario will be here faster than you think!

6. Products reinvented

Smart entrepreneurs have long realized something that few others have clued into : the future of products is all about enhancement through intelligence and connectivity. Nail those two aspects, and you suddenly sell an old product at significantly higher new prices.

Consider the NEST Learning Thermostat. It’s design is uber-cutting edge, and was in fact dreamed up by one of the key designers of the iPad. It looks cool, it’s smart, connected, and there’s an App for that! Then there is a Phillips Hue Smart LED Lightbulb, a $69 light bulb that is uber-smart, connected, and can be controlled from your mobile device. Both are sold at the Apple store!

Or take a look at the Whitings Wi-Fi Body Scale. Splash a bit of design onto the concept of a home weigh scale, build it with connectivity, link it to some cool online graphs and you’ve got a device that will take your daily weight, BMI and body-fat-mass tracking into a real motivational tool.  Where is it sold? Why, at the Apple store too!

Do you notice a trend here?

7. Careers reinvented

For those who that the post-2008 North American recovery from the recession was slow, here’s an open secret: there was a significant economic recovery underway for quite some time, as companies in every sector ranging from manufacturing to agriculture worked hard to reinvent themselves. It just didn’t involve a lot of new jobs, because the knowledge required to do a new job in today’s economy is pretty complex. We’ve moved quickly from the economy of menial, brute force jobs to new careers that require a lot of high level skill. The trend has been underway for a long, long time.

Consider the North American manufacturing sector, a true renaissance industry if there ever was one! Smart engineers at a wide variety of manufacturing organizations have transformed process to such a degree, and involved the use of such sophisticated robotic technology, that the economic recovery in this sector involves workers who have to master a lot of new knowledge. One client observed of their manufacturing staff: “The education level of our workforce has increased so much….The machinists in this industry do trigonometry in their heads.”

Similar skills transitions are underway in a wide variety of other industries….

8. The Rise of the Small over Incumbents

We are living in the era that involves the end of incumbency. Companies aren’t assured that they will own the marketplace and industry they operate within because of past success ; they’ll have to continually re-prove themselves through innovation.

Consider Square, the small little device that lets your iPhone become a credit card. What a fascinating little concept that has such big potential for disruption. And it’s a case where once again, small little upstarts are causing turmoil, disruption and competitive challenge in larger industries — and often times, the incumbents are too slow to react.

Anyone who has ever tried to get a Merchant Account from Visa, MasterCard or American Express in order to accept credit cards knows that it is likely trying to pull teeth from a pen – many folks just give up in exasperation. Square, on the other hand, will send you this little device for free (or you can pick one up at the Apple Store.) Link it to your bank account, and you’re in business.

So while credit card companies have been trying to figure out the complexities of the future of their industry, a small little company comes along and just does something magical! No complexities, no challenges, no problems.

* * * *
There are people who are making big bold bets, big bold decisions, who are going to change the world and who are going to do things differently.” That phrase was from my opening keynote for the Accenture International Utilities and Energy Conference in San Francisco some years back.

It’s a good sentiment, and is a good way to think about the idea of ‘thinking big.’

A time when technology arrives to market obsolete
Futurist Jim Carroll describes trucking trends likely to shape disruptive years to come
Mar 17, 2017 Aaron Marsh | Fleet Owner

It’s a pretty wild concept: that technology today — including that in trucking — is being eclipsed and outdated almost as soon as it can be brought to market. But if you want to know what’s around the next corner for trucking, that’s where you need to start, says futurist Jim Carroll.

According to this future trends analyst and foreseer of sorts, if you want to get out in front of the next big change in trucking, keep in mind that when it comes to the future, you may have no idea what you should really be thinking about.

To set the stage and “bring you into my world — and that is a world of extremely fast-paced change,” Carroll referenced research on the future of careers in the U.S. that suggests about 65% of children now in preschool will have a job in a career that does not yet exist.

“Think about that: if you have a daughter, son, granddaughter, niece, nephew or whatever who’s in kindergarten or grade one, roughly seven out of 10 of them are going to work in a job or career that does not even yet exist,” Carroll told listeners. He spoke at the recent Omnitracs Outlook user conference in Phoenix.

How does something like that happen? It already did recently: he gave the example of smartphones and GPS services, which have sprung up over about the same time period. It’s resulted in geographically and directions-oriented apps and location intelligence professionals. Oh, wait a minute — “location intelligence professionals”?

“Think about that phrase, and think about what’s happening in the world of trucking and logistics,” Carroll noted. “Think about how integral all of those mapping applications have become in the world of your business.”

“That’s a career that didn’t exist 10 or 15 years ago,” he continued. “Now, cast your mind into the world of trucking 10 years from now and think about the careers and jobs that might exist.”

Here’s another guiding example. If you take “any type of degree today based on science” at a college or university, Carroll contended, “things are evolving so quickly that it’s estimated that half of what we learn in the very first year of a degree program will be obsolete or revised by the time we graduate three years later.”

Those who are fast

The point is, technology changes are coming from seemingly everywhere, and change — including in trucks and their growing embedded technology like Internet connectivity or advanced safety products — is accelerating.

And that is so much the case, noted Carroll, that many kinds of technology are out-of-date almost as soon as they hit the market and you can buy them. Think about smartphones, which often see multiple models of a given phone issued in a single year.

“We live in a time of absolute, instant obsolescence.”
—Futurist Jim Carroll

That drive for the latest model has now even filtered into social standing. “The way your friends judge you today is very much based on the technology you carry around,” Carroll observed. “So in other words, if you go to a party and take out a flip phone, people will be kind of looking at you like, ‘What a loser — he’s got something from the olden days.'”

Carroll gave another example of digital cameras — actually something of a moot point, he suggested, since “this is back in the old days five years ago when people actually bought cameras and weren’t all just using their phones” — where products have about 3-6 months after they’re brought to market before they’re obsolete.

“We live in a time of absolute, instant obsolescence,” he argued, attributing that phrase to global media magnate Rupert Murdoch. Some years ago, Murdoch had pointed out that there is such change happening and at such speed, “that increasingly, the future belongs to those who are fast,” Carroll said.

Trucking: unrecognizable

Polling the audience, he asked listeners what they thought the trucking industry — its methods, its equipment, its technology — would look like in a decade. Most everyone, 86% of those who texted in, voted that they think the industry will be “barely recognizeable, or fully and completely disrupted.”

That’s a clear expectation of considerable change in trucking. “So let’s try another question: if we are in the midst of so much change,” Carroll said, “are we prepared for it?”

And on that note, he added that being prepared for the potentially disruptive/ disrupted future of trucking is to realize that change has been happening faster, particularly in these latter years, than people expected.

To illustrate how, Carroll referenced a time he’d spoken before a roomful of astronauts and astrophysicists at NASA about the future of space. Carroll’s choice of what to present on? The Jetsons. That animated TV show came out in 1962 and was meant to depict life 100 years in the future in 2062.

Except, if you watch some of those old episodes, “George [Jetson] is using Skype. He’s getting his news off the Internet,” contended Carroll. “Elroy has a drone. You can watch one episode where he’s sitting in the living room and using a controller just like we have with our drones.

Along with the Jetsons, here’s another example of the sci-fi, fictional future arriving sooner than expected: a group of scientists has prototyped this device, Carroll noted as he held it up to his head, which essentially works like the Star Trek medical tricorder set in the 23rd century.

“You can watch another episode where they’ve got an Apple Watch,” he continued. “George communicates with his boss via Facetime. Obviously, they’ve got self-driving cars, autonomous vehicles, all over the place, albeit they fly.”

“My point is this: we believed that this future would arrive in 2062, and all of a sudden, it is here much sooner than we thought,” he told the audience. “Could that be the case with our future overall?”

In terms of envisioning the future, perhaps think a little offbeat but observe the trends converging. Here’s an example. “Think about trends, and think about what has happened with drone technology,” noted Carroll. “I think a trend which is going to lead us to the world of self-driving, flying cars is we’re going to learn how to scale up our drones and sit a human in them.”

Warehouses on wheels

Carroll advised trucking professionals to think big change when they’re picturing what the industry will look like in the years to come. “Think about what’s happening here,” he said. “There are people with big, bold ideas. Think about what’s happening in the transportation space.”

What kinds of things could happen? Maybe a new type of truck or vehicle will be developed. Autonomous technology could be accelerated and advanced. New distribution models could emerge. Or maybe something else could — something entirely different that turns the trucking you know now into the trucking you knew way back when.

“We’re going to talk to our truck just as we talk to our iPhone. We’re going to have augmented reality screens in the visor. We’ll probably have robotic handlers built into the truck for loading and unloading. We’ll have payment technology built into the vehicle — not only has our cell phone become a credit card, but so has our truck.

“We’ll simply do a biometric thumbprint to complete a transaction,” Carroll painted his future trucking portrait. The only thing, though, is that those technologies, and testing of them, is happening now.

There’s also this: “Part of the changes you see happening [in trucking] is we are witnessing very significant changes in what retailers and manufacturers are doing with their supply chains,” he added. Trucks can now become something more like mobile distribution hubs, for example.

Because of the rise of online shopping and fulfillment, stores will become more like showrooms, and “we’re witnessing the end of inventory,” Carroll contended. Consumers will browse these showrooms and purchase a product, he suggested, and then a streamlined distribution system will deliver that item to the purchaser’s home — hint: trucking would have to be involved here — perhaps even within an hour.

“You are becoming warehouses on wheels, and everybody has this in their sights in terms of big, transformative thinking in your industry,” he argued. “And what is really also happening is that every single industry out there is speeding up.”

I was interviewed the other day by the National Association of Colleges and Employers; this group is heavily involved in supporting career opportunities for college graduates. The focus of the interview was on generational diferences, and what happens in the workforce in the future.

Read the PDF! “Don’t mess with my powder, dude.” Such was the rather flippant response by an engineering graduate to a job offer from a leading architectural/engineering company. The CEO of the organization was explaining this story to me while we discussed the global trends that I should address during my upcoming presentation to staff of the organization. “What’s with these kids?” he asked.

Certainly there has been a lot of focus on how different the Millennial generation when it comes to the future of careers; I’ve been speaking about this issue for more than 20 years!

The article is below…… but read my article, ‘Don’t Mess with my Powder, Dude” for more insight on the work/life thoughts of the next generation. 

Also have a look at this video from an education conference, in which I speak about how video is the knowledge ingestion tool for the next generation.

/2015/02/video-the-acceleration-of-knowledge/


Technology the Catalyst for Generational Differences
Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals
January 11, 2017

When we talk about generational differences, we no longer can just identify differences between generations, but we can identify differences within generations as well, according to Jim Carroll.

Carroll, a futurist and trends expert, says technology is the catalyst for the rapidity with which generations now evolve.

“It’s not politics or sociology, because they don’t move fast enough,” Carroll says. “The speed with which technology has come into their lives has made the differences within Generation Z that are amplified when compared to the Millennials.”

For example, Carroll says that there are definitely differences between a 30-year-old Millennial and a 25-year-old Millennial.

“There was a lot of technology coming at them as they grew up, but it wasn’t a huge amount,” he says. “But if you take an 18-year-old and a 23-year-old today—both members of Generation Z—it’s almost like they grew up in entirely different periods of time because they would have been exposed to different sets of technology.”

This carries over into the workplace. Carroll says Generation Z shares common traits with Millennials.

“They have very short attention spans,” he says. “They need multiple different things to do. These are all traits that were common with Millennials, but they are much more pronounced with the generation entering the work force.”

He says that a realization many organizations have not come to grips with yet is that this is the video generation.

“These young employees consume video like it’s oxygen,” Carroll says. “When it comes to training or any type of education or professional development, the use of video is paramount. These employees have never known a world without YouTube, so if you’re doing anything to engage them, it has to be video based. They are not going to sit and read policy and procedure manuals. Nor are they going to spend their time dealing with complex reports.”

They also have little time for what they consider unnecessary or unwieldy tasks or formats.

“They don’t subscribe to the idea of performance reviews or long, laborious processes in stages to move up the ladder,” Carroll says. “They don’t have a lot of patience for complexity and rules and structure. They get frustrated with antiquated practices. It has been a command and control workplace. Instead, they want to get in and get their work done without a lot of talking about it.”

Carroll explains that, with members of Generation Z, organizations also have a powerful source of collaborative powers that they need to harness.

“By growing up with mobile devices and social networks, the skills they bring into the workplace for collaborative capabilities is profound compared to what we saw with Millennials just 10 years prior,” he says. “Employers have to support that and take advantage of these collaborative capabilities.”

While technology allows employees of all generations to work remotely, Carroll believes Generation Z still will value connecting in person.

“The common prediction is that the new generation of employees is going to unplug, work remotely, and not congregate in offices,” Carroll notes. “I might be proven dead wrong on this, but I think that’s going to flip around so we’ll see a trend back to the workplace and increased human interaction.

“The employees entering the work force have untapped tools and skills for the workplace. We have to give them more credit than we do. They have surprised us in the past and I’m certain that they will continue to surprise us in the future.”

17 Trends for 2017
December 19th, 2016

What are the trends I’m watching as we head into 2017?

In 2017, low-tech innovation will gain increasing attention as the marvel of ‘smart things’ begins to wear off, and people realize that many smart things are really ‘dumb things.

Far too many; indeed, the list is almost too long to consider. I’ve got keynotes, leadership or Board meetings in almost every sector in the coming months: transportation, construction, healthcare, retail, automotive, advanced materials and manufacturing, agriculture, insurance … the list goes on and on.

And that’s just with the confirmed bookings for the early part of the year!

This means that at any one time, I’ve got big stacks of research material on my desk as I delve into key trends and issues impacting my clients. I’m often engaged by CEO’s or association leaders to come into their organizations with concise, detailed research on the key issues that will come to impact them in the coming year. I don’t just show up and do a canned keynote: I provide some pretty detailed insight.

Given that, it’s always difficult to prepare a comprehensive trends overview – there is just so much going on! But to give you a sense of what is happening here’s a fun little list of “17 trends for 2017!”

Some of the things I am watching include the following:

1. 4D Printing:  3D printing is already so yesterday. In fact, while it’s getting a lot of attention, it’s actually 30 years old. And yes, it’s got a long way to go in terms of its real adoption and impact; it’s barely scratched the surface in the world of manufacturing.  But the newest buzz is around 4D printing, or what we might call ‘customizable’ smart materials.‘ It’s the printing of an item that can change shape depending on particular conditions: a good example is a pipe that might change its size depending on the volume of water or other liquid flowing through it. It’s pretty new, involves a lot of advanced science, and has caught the imagination and attention of innovators worldwide. It’s a real game changer.

2. Amazonification of Industries: Amazon has everyone in its crosshairs as it moves beyond the sale of hard products. This include the home repair/renovation business, to optometrists or heading specialists, to automotive repair. Amazon isn’t just about selling goods — increasingly, it’s about selling the services that go with those goods. And if your industry is targeted by Amazon, you’re faced with the stark choice of a race to the bottom, forced to compete on price — or figuring out some other business model. I’m being retained by an increasing number of CEO’s or other senior executives in a wide variety of industries to come in for a talk on innovation strategies to deal with the realty of what to do when Amazon chooses to compete with you. Amazonification is real, and will pick up speed throughout 2017.

3. The Impact of Generational Time Shifting. Baby boomers are living longer and retiring later. Millennials are marrying later, having kids later, and buying houses later. The next generation moves out of their parents homes later.  Take a look around, and whatever the case may be, people are doing things later in life than they used to! The implications throughout the economy and on every single industry are pretty profound: this time-shift challenges business assumptions, brand messaging, and in some cases, the very nature of the product or service being sold. If you don’t understand the impact on your business, you better take some time to do so.

4. The expectation gap: This is a huge issue for 2017, obviously, but people aren’t really thinking about what to do with it. Quite simply, people have developed expectations that won’t be met. The gap has always been there, but it is evident that it is growing! For examples, consider the perception that people have with respect to the payout that their pension plans will provide them in their retirement years, and the likely payout that they will actually receive. People expect a cleaner environment, and  yet seem to continue to insist on driving large, gas guzzling SUV’s and high performance cars. People want smaller “big government” but don’t want to see any of their sacred government spending programs to be touched. They want top-notch healthcare, but don’t want to have to pay for it. They expect to be able to ‘live large,’ but don’t think that they will be impacted by the resultant lifestyle dieseases of diabetes, hypertension and more. The expectation gap will become more profound throughout 2017 as the political juggernaut of 2016 continues to play out in the US, the UK and elsewhere.

5. Ransomware of things. If you thought Internet-of-Things denial of service attacks were bad, wait until you start seeing the impact of this trend. We’ll see the emergence of fascinating new hack attacks in which someone will be able to take control of an entire range of Internet connected devices from one manufacturer — home thermostats, house alarms or other smart devices – and prevent them from operating until some type of ransomware fee is paid. Oh, the lawyers are going to make a lot of negligence-money from this trend!

6. Prognostic diagnostics takes centre stage: While autonomous and self-driving vehicles are all the rage, an equally important transformation is underway. That’s the fact that hyper connectivity (aka the Internet of Things) brings companies the ability to diagnose things from afar. It means that transportation, utility, appliance, and other companies can understand and determine when particular products are going to break down or require maintenance. That changes business models, since they are no longer restricted to selling just a physical ‘thing’, but a service. Guaranteed uptime becomes a major selling feature; skills retraining is necessary; marketing/branding messages undergo change.

7. Gadgets get dumb: In 2017, low-tech innovation will gain increasing attention as the marvel of ‘smart things’ begins to wear off. People are beginning to realize that many smart things are really ‘dumb things’ because of bad design. They’ll  begin to rebel or lose interest in many aspects of the Internet of Things, and all the complexities that comes from making devices connect, work, sync and generally, behave. In addition, the trend will be driven by a desire to come up with simple solutions to the complex problems of the third world, where simplicity, low cost, and un-connectedness are the driving factors for design. This means that we can expect innovations with water, small scale energy production, and other areas, which will flow back into the Western world. Combine both of these issues, and maybe the era of hi-tech gadgetry will begin to slow or be supplanted by simple, dumb things.

8. Micro-personalization. We’ll witness the acceleration of the trend to the world of ‘you.’ One size solutions that don’t ‘fit-all’, but fit you. Think, for example, about advances in genomic medicine that allow for engineering of medical treatments for particular genetic profiles – a trend that is closer to reality as a result of the ongoing reduction in cost of genomic sequencing. Retail stores will speed up their adoption of location and in-store technology that will deliver a highly personalized shopping experience.  Personal concierge service will become all the rage as the elite-service concepts of the airline industry become mainstream in health care and other industries. In 2017, smart companies will realize ‘it’s all about you, and discover significant business opportunity in doing so.

9. “Exercise is medicine” is the new medicine: in which physical therapy becomes a formalized part of medical treatment programs. This will include prescriptions written by doctors that provide for treatment by fitness professionals. The goal of EIM is to slow, stop or reverse the progression of chronic diseases: and as those diseases and the resultant cost accelerates, innovative programs around EiM will pick up speed.

10. Collaborative careers take over. With ongoing specialization of knowledge, organizations will find that they will have to spend more time simply coordinating access to knowledge. The trend is already playing out in health care: one study found that physicians believe they will send more time on leading teams and coordinating care, than on the delivery of care directly by themselves! This trend will pick up speed for many reasons, not the least of which is digitization, as tech comes to accelerate the complexity of many industries.

11. Green China: in 2017, the environment will be under siege: the new political reality will likely result in a pushback against anything environmental in the US. A new of uncertainty  will drive away investment. The result? Many of the next wave innovations with wind, solar, tidal and other alternative forms of energy will come from a most unsurprising source: China!

12. UI Supremacy. As dumb-devices take centre stage, innovators will work to reverse the trend through better design. User interface design will be HOT, and one of the most in-demand skills going forward! Think about it: in many industries, the first efforts into the world of smart things resulted in some pretty stupid devices! Have you ever tried to use a smart-TV? Infuriating, isn’t it – since there is nothing smart about their ease-of-use at all. Consider this too: most car companies have failed in developing simple, easy to use dashboard systems, but Tesla has not. Result? The iPad design concept will increasingly dominate automotive and other forms of product design. NEST-style thermostat thinking will come to drive the design of residential, commercial and industrial appliances. In store kiosks, self-checkouts and other systems will be rebuilt from the ground up by innovative companies that recognize that good UI is the new winning formula for success. Easy, clean interfaces are in; clunky retrofits are out. Related trend? Upgradability defines future success!

13. The Yottabit era. It’s said that a self-driving car is capturing and processing 7 terabytes of data per hour !That’s a huge amount of information, and is indicative of the fact that the big shift in transportation is that cars are essentially just becoming computers on wheels. The typical truck today contains more technology than a Cessna airplane, and generates massive amounts of logistics, maintenance and other data. It’s not just self-driving cars or connected trucks — as every device becomes a computer device, volumes of data grow at a furious pace. We’re entering yottabit territory, a phrase that I wrote about way back in 1999. (Check out who owns yottabits.com). The exponentiation of data generation doesn’t just mean big data : companies will be dealing with massive data sets, and have to figure out what to do with it. Data-farming will be the new form of analytical insight!

14IoIT takes over from IOT – Connected intelligence is the new AI, as the Intelligent-Internet-of-Things takes over from boring old Internet-of-Things devices. Quite simply, smart devices become smarter by talking to other smart devices. As they do so, insight gained from connectivity comes to redefine the future of the product. Consider this simple idea: a Cadillac CTS sports sedan can share information with other vehicles about  weather, speed, accidents, as well as their own status (breaking, accelerating, etc). That changes the very nature of what the vehicle is, and provides big opportunities for innovation. In the auto-sector, we can expect a lot of advances in this field, known as V2V (or Vehicle to Vehicle communication) . That’s but one industry — what happens when thermostats in a region can talk to other thermostats and online weather sensors, and come to figure out what they should be doing in terms of heating or cooling activities? Or when health care monitoring technologies can determine the emergence of a flu outbreak, and network with other devices to build a predictive analytical healthcare dashboard?

15. Chief Robotics Officers / Chief Automation Officers . According to IDC, 30% of tech and companies in the automation space will fill such a position in the coming year. Automation is all the rage, with many dire predictions on the impact on jobs and careers. But there is more to it than that, with the result that as robotics and automation continues to be deployed after in manufacturing, travel, transportation, retail and elsewhere, companies will come to discover that they will need a senior executive position to strategize, manage and deploy such technologies.

16. Same Day Infrastructure Hubs: As ‘same day’ becomes a regular part of our daily lives, more companies will invest in the infrastructure required to support it. It won’t involve just the same day shipping of goods. For example, the trend for same food delivery is leading to the emergence of commercial kitchens being created in low-rent, low-cost facilities, strictly for the purpose of home delivery. Expect big developments  in the world of commercial real estate and related industries as we see the mergence of these supportive hubs in retail, food, grocery, fashion and elsewhere.

17. Complexity partnerships drive innovation. AS things become more complex, companies realize they can’t do it all on their own. More JV’s, skills partnerships, and other forms of talent access become critical. Consider a GE study: 85% of senior executives are concerned about the velocity introduced by digitization and are open to idea collaboration; 75% indicated they are open to share the revenue stream of an innovation collaboration; and 85% indicated such initiatives were growing over the last year. Partnership is the new bedrock for innovation!

A fun little list. There’s lots more! Here’s looking forward to 2017!

 

We live in terrifying times! Terrifying headlines! We’re all going to lose our jobs! The juggernaut of automation has us all in its sights!

Everywhere we turn, there’s terror in the news. Is it real, is it fake? I don’t know, but it sure seems that 2017 is the year of the big job automation disruption!

 

What should we do! Let’s come up with some sort of plan to help all these displaced workers! A big dialog is necessary. Plans. Guaranteed income strategies. Things like that.

 

 

OMG! It’s pretty clear that mankind is doomed by the era of automation! Doomed by the machine age!

 

 

After all, machines are destroying jobs! There are photos! Pictures even!

It’s even the end of jobs for musicians!

Not only that, but robot brains are even coming up with story plots, having a dreadful impact on creative industries!

 

And hey, maybe we shouldn’t worry — we can all just enjoy all the extra leisure time that we are going to have.

Look maybe everybody should calm down some.

The older images in this post are from Modern Mechanix and Popular Science, from the 1930’s.

I’m sorry, I don’t want to seem insensitive or anything, but can every body just calm down with all the hysteria about this issue?

Yes, there are serious issues at work here. And yes, the future happens. But as I wrote in my other blog post, Things That Won’t Happen in 2017: and What it Means,:

  • AI and robots aren’t going to make a lot of jobs disappear in 2017. People are freaking out about this one everywhere! This idea is perhaps one of the defining trends observations of 2016: that sweeping technological change – parituclarly AI and robotics — is going to render countless jobs, professions and skills obsolete. It’s certainly going to become real, and this is a pretty significant and profound trend. But like these other trends, it  isn’t something that is going to happen with split-second instantaneity. Also, missing in this conversation is the reality at the same time that existing jobs and careers disappear, we are seeing the emergence of all kinds of new jobs and careers.

Consider that last bit of that phrase:  the reality at the same time that existing jobs and careers disappear, we are seeing the emergence of all kinds of new jobs and careers.

Yes, automation has destroyed jobs in manufacturing and countless other industries. And yet, there are many new jobs in manufacturing and elsewhere. New jobs and careers being created, right before our very eyes.

That’s always been the case in the past. Will be in the future.

Can there be some rational discussion around this stuff?

And maybe, just maybe, it might be a good time for some tools to test the intellect of many of those at the forefront of the hysteria. There’s a tool for that. Click to enlarge….

So … there’s lots of talk about the future of jobs, careers, automation, the disappearance of jobs, and the emergence of new jobs. It seems to be one of the issues for 2016, and no doubt, will continue into the future.

I’ve been all over the topic for over 20 years, and am often engaged by small groups of senior executives at Fortune 500 companies to help interpret the trends.

One of my more fascinating events in 2016 was a small, high-level human resource/talent conference in Chicago organized by Whirlpool and Aon Hewitt. I had a lot of heavy hitters human resource executives in the room for my talk around future talent and HR issues. Senior VP’s of Human Resources for such companies as Owens Corning, Eli Lilly, Capital One, Proctor & Gamble, Goodyear Tire, Arcelor/Mittal, AT&T, Colgate Palmolive, Hewlett Packard, Intel, John Deere, Raytheon, Shell International, Sunoco, Boeing, Stryker, Target, Yum! Brands and more. Whew! A small, intimate group of people responsible for managing the talent and human capital requirements for companies worth, perhaps, several trillion dollars in market capital.

(This is typical of many of the low key senior leadership meetings that I do. For example, I had a session on the impact of business model disruption as technology comes to define the future of every industry. In the room, I had the Chief Information Officer’s for such companies as Johnson & Johnson, American Airlines, Siemens, Elsever, Owens Corning, Nationwide Mutual, Marriott International, MetLife, Cardinal Health, Chubb, Merck & Co, and Progressive Insurance!)

Many global organizations have had me in for a keynote at leadership meetings of their entire HR team, including Deloitte, Lockheed Martin, Johnson & Johnson (after they saw me in this session above), Honeywell, and others. I’ve also headlined many major human capital conferences over the years.

It’s these types of events that give me a front row seat to the high velocity change that is occurring as disruption comes to take hold of every industry and eery organization. And with that pace of change, I’m a big believer that the success of organizations in the future will come from human skills agility. I caught this years ago in one key comment: “In the high velocity economy, talent, not money, will be the new corporate battlefront. Your ability to deploy the right skills at the right time for the right purpose will define your future opportunity.”

What did my keynote at the Chicago event focus on? It’s best captured in a great graphic, done in real time, of my key themes. Click the image for a high-resolution image — its’ worth a visit!

 

Need more insight into human capital and skills issues? Visit the Human Capital section of my Web site for more!

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