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The phrase is bit of a mouthful, isn’t it?

Get used to the concept. It’s part of an overall massive trend in which computational analytics come to play an
increasingly more important role in helping us solve some of the big problems in society, in the fields of health care, energy, the environment and other industries. I wrote about this some time ago in a post, “Computational Analytics is the New Platstic.” It’s one of the next new billion dollar industries and it’s happening now.

Here’s a video from a recent keynote in which I’m talking about these “From a recent healthcare keynote, based on my Healthcare 2020” keynote. The slides are running at the same time that I’m speaking – watch the screen as the data unfolds! Then cast your mind into the future….

Last week I was invited to speak in Cincinnati, Ohio by Techsolve, an organization that provides assistance to the manufacturing sector in Ohio

It was a tremendously fun keynote, because my talk was being transmitted — with both video and slides being shown — to remote locations in Cleveland, Dayton, Akron and elsewhere. Overall, we had about 350 people participating, representing a good cross-section of small and medium sized manufacturers from throughout the state.

My theme was “What do world class innovators do that others don’t do,” with a sub-theme of “Manufacturing 2.0” – what is it that leading manufacturers are doing to ensure they can thrive despite challenging economic times?

As with many of my keynotes, I used a series of text-message based polls to interact with the audience. It’s a very effective way of delivering a keynote in which the audience is fully engaged and active throughout my talk.

And as with most keynotes, I led with an opening survey in the first few minutes, to gauge the attitude in the room, in which I asked, “When do you think we’ll see an economic recovery. In moments, I had close to 100 responses.

And I must admit, the majority response surprised me. I do these text messages across North America to a huge range of organizations, and for the last two years, the consensus answer everywhere has been “2 to 4 years.”

Not in Ohio — almost half the respondents see that they see a global economic recovery happening now! That’s a lot of optimism!

They're more optimistic in Ohio than you think!

To be fair though, half the respondents also believe that the recession is still hanging on and that we won’t see progress for at least six months or more.

Which gave me a chance to hammer home a key point I often use with my audiences — and that comes from a study by GE which found that organizations who chose to innovate during a recession often emerged as breakthrough performers “on the other side.” In other words, the time to focus on innovation is now!

On to the next issue — I often frame innovation for the audience as pursuing a wide variety of opportunities to “run the business better, grow the business, and transform the business.”

What’s the priority in Ohio? Again, the results might surprise you!

Focused on growth and transformation!

Innovation aimed at “running the business better” is often the major focus for organizations in a recession – it involves cost cutting, and often major steps to save money for mere survival.

Clearly a good part of my audience had moved beyond that, and were thinking about growth and transformative opportunities!

This is great stuff, since it shows a real mind-set of innovation in the state of Ohio.

I was feeling playful by this point — and zipped in another text message poll further into my talk. Given their mindset, I asked the room, was there a fair picture being portrayed in the media about the state of manufacturing in Ohio? Not at all!

What do they think about the media?

Fascinating stuff. Overall, it was a great day, and I will post a longer blog about the manufacturing trends I focused on. Did it go well? I put up a slide part way through, to see how I was doing with the audience. The results came flying in:

Reaction to Jim Carroll's keynote

I received quite a few email messages, including this one from particular fellow — so it’s great to have an impact and provide some encouragement!

I wanted to drop you a quick line and thank you for a great morning this past Wednesday when you spoke at theTechsolve/Magnet Ohio simulcast.

Your presentation was outstanding and really validated much of what I am trying to do at my company. I am the General Manager at a company that has been very out of touch with innovation and has been a sleeping giant. Our new team is driving significant change. I needed a dose of motivation and your presentation certainly provided it to me!

Thanks for taking the time to share your exciting views and vision with us, Ohio companies certainly need it!

Is there a manufacturing sector in Ohio! You bet!

When you are on stage in front of several hundred people, you’ve got to be prepared to be interactive and open to insight.

That’s why I regularly use a text message polling tool on stage — I can quickly get a sense of what people in the room are thinking about.

Here’s the results from a recent poll – at the start of a talk I asked the audience (in this case, a group of professionals from a national organization) when they thought we might see an economic recovery. Within 2 minutes, I had 218 responses, which probably represented 75% of the audience.

Of course, that gave me the opportunity to lead into a very important observation — if the majority of folks in the room think that economic recovery is still some time off, what are they doing now to prepare for the inevitable economic upturn?

This was a great time to hit them with a key observation by GE’s Chief Innovation Consultant — breakthrough performers manage to accomplish great things because of a decision to focus on innovation right in the middle of an economic challenge — rather than waiting till they came  into a recovery phase.

Here’s the bottom line : during the oil shock of 70’s, 80’s and 90’s recession, and the 2000 dot com bust, of those companies surveyed, 70% of companies barely survived, 30% died, and 10% became breakthrough performers.

Noted the GE head of innovation: it was explicitly “…because of choices they made in the recession..”

So it really comes down to this: when do you innovate? Are you going to wait until you are comfortable that we’re in a sustained period of economic recovery? Bad decision — because economic volatility is the new normal. Everything we have learned from past recessions has taught us that the winners were those who decided that it was an important thing to keep moving ahead despite massive amounts of uncertainty.

When do you innovate?

I captured this sentiment on stage in Las Vegas some time back. Maybe it’s worth a watch. Ask yourself the question, and look around at what you are doing right now to prepare for the future. Are you in an innovation frame of mind right now?

I was in Billings, Montana last week, speaking at the annual meeting of a financial group.  The audience included a large cross section of business executives from throughout the Midwest. My talk centred around the trends that might provide for sustainable economic growth. Here’s what I focused on:

  • a significant and lasting change in perspective. I spend a lot of time with major international organizations, either in strategic leadership meetings or at various association events or conferences. I often run a text message poll at the start of such sessions to gauge the audience perspective of the current rate of economic growth. As I noted in this post, I’ve seen quite a change in attitude and perspective in the last few months.
  • significant growth is emerging from “solving the big problems.” I am a big believer that the efforts to solve the big challenges with respect to energy, the environment and health care will provide the momentum to kickstart the economy once again. I spend a lot of time examining signs of innovation and growth; and there is a tremendous amount of mind share being devoted to each of these areas.
  • fundamental and long lasting growth trends in global markets. Before the economy went sour in 2008, McKinsey was extremely bullish on the prospects for economic growth driven by the rapid industrialization of emerging economies, noting that “almost a billion new consumers will enter the global marketplace in the next decade …. with an income level that allows spending on discretionary goods,” and that “the ranks of the middle class will swell by 1.8 billion to become 52% of total population, up from 30% today.” I think on a long term basis, those trends are still valid and will provide for tremendous economic growth.
  • rapid response of organizations to the fast emergence of new markets and opportunities. I am seeing a significant number of organizations focused at the top on “revenue innovation” — that is, generating revenue by entering new markets or through new products and solutions. One CEO of a major global organization put it to me this way: “traditional markets are declining … we’re going other places that have better growth opportunities.” This is the concept of chameleon revenue, which you should read about here.
  • signs of various industries reinventing themselves. China and India and Brazil are cleaning our clocks when it comes to manufacturing, with sheer brainpower and design capabilities; the period from 1990 to 2010 saw the decline of the North American manufacturing industry with the resultant massive economic shock. But what I’m seeing out there tells me that North American companies will learn to compete again by challenging old assumptions, and by challenging themselves to do things differently this time around; for example, with mass customization, and through the reinvention of traditional manufacturing processes.
  • the emergence of intelligent infrastructure. Quite simply, every device around us is going to gain intelligence in the next decade. We’ll have awareness of their status, location, and address; this leads to the birth of countless new products, companies and industries. There is real transformative industry growth will come when everything plugs into the cloud, and as location intelligence becomes a significant transformative trend.
  • the impact of the next generation. While many people bemoan the ‘work ethic’ of Gen-Y, I think they are likely the most entrepreneurial generation ever. They collaborate, think, and generate ideas in exciting and different ways, and I think that provides them with a motivation to “do their own thing” unlike any other generation in history. And that is a significant driver for economic growth. During the recession of 2001, 569,750 new companies were created in North America – mostly small businesses. And companies with less than 20 employees accounted for 100% of the new job growth from 1990 to 2000. Global experience shows similar trends. That’s the context of what this ‘next generation’ will do.

As a futurist, I’m optimistic and bullish on the future. (I have to be; I can’t quite go on stage and say to people — “guess what — your future sucks!”)

I don’t think there is any wishful thinking behind this sentiment ; it comes from the discussions and observations I get from going out and speaking to tens of thousands of people at various conferences and events through the last several months.

In a whirlwind of activity over the last ten days, I’ve been the keynote speaker for conferences that probably represents the vast majority of global Fortune 1000 organizations, speaking to the trends that will impact the future of ‘corporate facilities.’

These have included keynotes for the  Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association annual conference in Orlando; the CoreNet Global Summit in New Orleans, and the International Asset Management Council Spring Summit in Colorado Springs. With these groups, we’ve got the folks who manage facilities for a good chunk of the world’s biggest retailers (including Apple, the Gap, Costco and others); commercial real estate executives for Fortune 1000 and government; and the senior executives who manage the same for large industrial and manufacturing organizations (Alcoa, Caterpillar, Whirlpool).

What are they thinking about? Adjusting to an economy that is more and more turning to growth. And to do that, I covered a wide variety of trends:

  • they need to actively shift their role from tactical (managing costs in a downtown) to strategic (‘how do I help my organization to scale and support growth strategies?’
  • ensure that the organization has the flexibility in terms of facilities and workforce to adjust to more rapid market and product innovation, faster competition, and more rapid change in consumer demand and choice
  • take advantage of emerging opportunities with intelligent building management infrastructure
  • be willing to challenge process and assumptions as to operations. I consistently used my story of broken business models, vs. business models built on rapid change – my Honda vs. Chrysler story
  • adapt to a reality in which skills flexibility and innovation will be a key success factor. These folks need to access a lot of unique skills that are in short supply (i.e. green engineers), and so increasingly their success will come from their ability to access the right skills at the right time for the right purpose

Are people really thinking about growth? Here are the live results from a text message poll that I ran from the stage at the IAMC conference in Colorado Springs yesterday:

  • Innovation and the concept of ‘chameleon revenue’
  • Riding fast paced trends in the consumer / retail sector 
  • Finding growth with knowledge exponentiation (construction trends)  

jim-carroll-238x300.jpgHere’s a blog post that ran over at the Chicago Hospitality Insider blog with a report on my keynote last week.”


Moving Beyond The Meltdown” with Jim Carroll
Posted on February 18th, 2010 by Jody Robbins

How is the tourism business impacted by a world where information is passed feverishly around the globe? Immediately and directly; that’s how, says Jim Carroll (Futurist and Trends & Innovation Expert!), today’s lunch-time speaker at the 2010 Illinois Governor’s Conference on Tourism.

“The future happens faster than you think,” said Carroll. “The likelihood is that seven out of ten kindergartners today will work in jobs that don’t exist today.

“[It’s also] estimated that half of what college students learn in their first year is obsolete by the time you graduate,” he continued. “The typical digital camera today has a shelf life of three to four months before it’s behind current technology.”

How can a company or a government entity make that change happen? Look for experienced people that know what they’re doing; i.e. build experiential capital and stay nimble.

“It’s not necessarily big corporations that will own the market, but those who innovate — try things they haven’t done before in order to stay in front of a very fast pace.”

How? Accelerate your innovation cycle, Carroll says. “It’s not, ‘We’ll get you in our brochure next year; it’s what can we do to partner with you right now?’

Other important factors: faster time to market and continuous reinvention to meet rapid consumer preference shifts. Again, how to do this? Go online, go mobile and use your staff and outside resources to find your customer and sell them your product when and where they want it.

Carroll’s Pertinent Points:

  • *1/3 of all leisure travel is booked last-minute
  • * Average planning time down to 15 days
  • * 36% of last-minute vacations 3-4 nights in duration
  • * 30% are 1-2 nights
  • *”More than 147-million people interact globally on social networks via their mobile phones – expect one-billion (!!!) within five years,” says Carroll.

In other words, to use a cliche, THE TIME IS NOW!

It was a great talk, and I’ll have more to post on some of the observations from my keynote in the weeks to come!

2009EconomicBranding.jpgI had a long conversation with a Dubai-based journalist yesterday; he was seeking my insight for an upcoming article on what a nation, city or economic region should be doing to ensure that it can remain competitive in the global economy in these challenging times.

I spoke to a wide variety of issues, but one theme that I emphasized was that one of the most important things that politicians, economic development officers, community leaders, boards of trade executives and others should be thinking about right now was their “brand image.” Given the rapidity of the meltdown and changing circumstances, regions that were once seen as vibrant, progressive, growth-oriented, are suddenly finding themselves with a different “brand.”

Success in the global economy as the rebound comes about will go to those regions that can continue to draw growth industries, specialized skills, and global attention. That’s going to involve a lot of effort to freshen up a brand image that might have been hurt. Or, it will involve ongoing effort to ensure that national or regional attributes are pushed out as part of the branding process. My fear is that with the downturn, some political, civic and business leaders are losing sight of this important reality.

After the call, I dug into this theme a little bit more. Turns out that Dubai had just gone and hired itself to hire a PR firm for a ‘makeover.” He didn’t lead me in our conversation, but I guess I was hitting on a key issue!

Apr 2, 2009 – Dubai has hired London-based public relations expert Finsbury to help the emirate improve its image and offset the effects of the negative media coverage of its economic problems, the Financial Times reported.

WPP Group’s (LON:WPP) subsidiary Finsbury will be entrusted with handling the emirate’s global financial communications amid the downturn that has hit the city state.

— Dubai hires PR specialist to improve image, British Business Monitor<

Two years ago, I keynoted a global financial conference in the Cayman Islands …. and part of my theme was that one of the key battlegrounds for nations in the 21st century will be the war for talent. Those who can get appropriate momentum behind their “brand” — that are seen as progressive, fast to change, and rapidly respond to challenges — will be the ones to thrive. Now with the downturn, that type of thinking is becoming more important than ever before.

So I’m in an airport, on my way to keynote a conference on economic development.iStock_000005347387XSmall.jpg

And of course, I saw the latest news on the ‘bailout’, and the plunge in the Dow.

And so I went to look up the definition of being an optimist, to reassure myself:

  • Optimist: 1. One who usually expects a favorable outcome.

That’s me! And my keynote is being adjusted on the fly before I get on stage tomorrow.

Here’s the fascinating thing that is going on: I’m getting far more calls, and a lot of new business, from CEO’s and senior executives who have determined that one of the ways to stay in front of this mess is to keep innovating. In other words, innovation — adjusting business plans, tackling new markets, focusing on opportunity, seeking what to do next — is now more important than ever before.

That’s probably good news for the many folks who read this blog. There continues to be unparalleled opportunities out there. The short term might be rocky, but the longer term is very, very real.

sixtyfivepercent.jpgCareer issues are hot! And one of my favorite ways to open a keynote or executive session is by quoting from an Australian study, which indicated that sixty-five percent of the kids who are in preschool today will work in jobs or careers that don’t yet exist.

I passionately believe this to be true: and I’ve seen the trend occurring in countless professions and industries.

This week, I keynoted a Career Day event at Capitol One in Richmond, Virginia ; the focus was on the rapid emergence of new careers, and the rapid evolution of existing skills. My message, in looking at the future career opportunities, was that there’s nothing but upside, as long as people keep reinventing their skill set.

The topic of the future of careers is a big one these days; I’m being called into many organizations and events to talk about the issue, particularly in the context of recent economic trends. Some of these events have been local economic development conferences. In one talk in January, I spoke to an audience of executives and educators in an auto-sector city ; a group of people caught up in the throes of economic restructuring and turmoil.

Talk about an audience in the midst of challenge! Yet when you are in that type of economic bubble, it can be hard to see the future career opportunities that do exist. That’s why I didn’t focus on the short term economic turmoil, but instead, on the real, practical trends that are defining the careers of tomorrow.

Many sectors of the global economy: and in particular, the manufacturing and financial sectors, are being hit hardest by the US recession, the sub-prime meltdown, and global competition.

The auto-town event got covered in the local paper: and the story ended up being reprinted throughout the Canadian press, including in Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal. One of the key observations I made in the article: “We have to figure out how we can continue to move up the knowledge ladder because there’s going to be a massive shortfall in specialized skills because of the rapid growth of knowledge.

That’s an important issue to think about, and the article is well worth a read.


  • Read Knowledge Explosion Key to the Future
  • Read Global Economic Trends: An Interview with Jim Carroll
  • The reality of future trends: grab the What Comes Next trends overview

Canada-EconomicTrends.png Jim Carroll is frequently approached by global news organizations to comment on economic issues. He was recently interviewed by the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) for his perspective on how the Canadian economy will be impacted by recent global events. This document summarizes key components of the interview.

The interview includes a variety of topics, including this one: How can an economic region discover opportunity? From Jim’s perspective, it’s through skills transformation. He recently keynoted a community economic development summit in an auto-industry dependent city. He comments about the challenges that exist in the manufacturing sector: and how some regions are turning challenge into opportunity.

You’ll also find a news report that ran in newspapers across Canada after this economic development conference; you’ll find some unique views on the types of careers that are emerging in the future.

  • Read: Which Way Forward: An Economic Interview with Jim Carroll
  • Read the news cover: “Knowledge Explosion Key to the Future”

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