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Back in February, I flew into Aspen, Colorado, to speak at the leadership meeting for a major consulting firm. My topic? An extremely customized keynote on the trends and opportunities that are unfolding with the new era of analytics and what has come to be known as “big data.”

There was a tremendous amount of customized research for the event; it’s a big topic, so to speak. After that, I ended up focusing my upcoming May CAMagazine column on some of the ideas and concepts that I covered.

Cashing in on Big Data
CAMagazine, May 2012 

By analyzing and tying together massive amounts of information, we can change the way we conduct business, manage healthcare, work in the world of agriculture or manage energy consumption.

Have you ever noticed how, all of a sudden, a new phrase enters our lexicon and becomes the next big thing? So it is with “big data.” If you

haven’t heard this term yet, you will. What is it?

By analyzing and tying together massive amounts of information, we can change the way we conduct busi- ness, manage healthcare, work in the world of agriculture or manage energy consumption.

As everything around us plugs into the Internet — thermostats, fridges, washers, dryers, industrial HVAC equipment — we are generating huge amounts of information. Companies can examine this information through powerful analytical software to look for unique patterns and insight, which might then help to drive key business decisions.

Consider the energy industry, for example. The NEST thermostat, created by one of the original iPad designers, can recognize you when you walk in the room and adjust the heat to your favourite temperature. It’s also plugged into the Internet — and that’s where the potential for big data comes in.

Imagine the possibilities for an energy company to easily poll how millions of customers are using energy through such thermostats — and to then link that data with a deep analysis of upcoming weather patterns. Suddenly, it can predict and manage upcoming spikes in energy consumption, which could have a direct impact on the purchase of natural gas or other sources of energy. Through this analysis, it can do a far better job of managing its costs.

IBM expects big data to be a large driver of future growth, noting that “there are upwards of a trillion inter- connected and intelligent objects and organisms .. all of this is generating vast stores of information. It is estimated that there will be 44 times as much data and content coming over the next decade …reaching 35 zettabytes in 2020. A zettabyte is a 1 followed by 21 zeros.”

In the field of agriculture, people have been talking for years about the concept of “precision agriculture.” A farmer would use a system which knows, for each particular square yard of ground, how much fertilizer and seed to apply, based on real-time data insight and GPS information.

That world is arriving pretty quickly. Kenna, a data analytics firm in Mississauga, Ont., has put together a system which cross references customer purchase data to weather patterns to real-time tractor position based on GPS to do just that, with the goal of helping a farmer get the best yield possible.

Las Vegas is said to be using the idea of deep analytical research to offer a free lunch to a slot payer who is marginally closer to a payout — thereby reducing it’s risk.

Of course, there are big opportunities in big data. The data and analytics market is already worth an estimated $64 billion according to global management consultants McKinsey & Co. The firm also predicts there will be a shortfall of 140,000 to 190,000 graduates with deep analytical talent by 2018. Similarly, a survey by data giant EMC suggests that 65% of data professionals expect a significant shortage in “big data” skills expertise in just five years.

Accountants are, of course, supposed to be the folks with deep analytical insight. Do we have the capability to step up to the big opportunity that is unfolding here?

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….

730AM, New Orleans, an audience of 4,500 executives. My keynote theme is “Today’s Trends – Tomorrow’s Opportunities.” I’m taking a look at the trends of Healthcare 2020 — the key trends that will provide for transformative opportunities in health care in the years to come. Trends that are unfolding today — one of them being the huge velocity behind wireless and mobile health applications, and the rapidity of changing patient / consumer behavior.

It’s a low-res video clip — I should have a higher quality version next week. But its worth a watch. (You need to turn the volume up!)

The statistics around mobile technology are, of course, well known, but worth repeating:

  • It took two years for Apple to sell 2 million iPhones.
  •  It took 2 months for them to sell 2 million iPads!
  • It took 1 month to sell 1 million iPhone 4’s!
  • It took 1 day to sell 1 million iPhone 4s
  • it’s estimated that Apple sold 5 million iPhone 4s’s in the first 4 days of release

But it’s what consumers are doing with these technologies that provide so much potential for innovation. With respect to health care, the numbers are quite staggering:

  • 78% of consumers are interested in mobile health solutions
  • medical and health care apps are 3rd fast growing category for iPhone and Android phones
  • the Apple App store now has 17,000 health care related apps
  • 60% of which are aimed at the consumer

What we have happening here is a massive trend in which people are changing their behaviours, actions, wellness, and day to day routines in which they actively manage their health circumstances through the personal digital assistants which are becoming an ingrained part of their lives.

Innovation is all about finding opportunity when business models change. The centuries old relationship between doctor and patient is changing in a massive way — driven with increased velocity by mobile and wireless technologies. This is HUGE.

This is a huge trend, and will probably provide one of the biggest areas for innovation in the world of health care out to the year 2020. I just wrote about this in a recent blog post – read “When Silicon Valley takes over health care innovation” for more.

People are getting sick to death of listening to politicians bicker about health care, and want to know where the real opportunities for change and  innovation.

".... data constantly generated by our bodies is monitored and informs better health and healthcare decisions..."

In light of this trend, I’ll find myself in October in New Orleans. I’ll be one of the keynote speakers for the 57th U.S. Annual Employee Benefits Conference. In the audience will be upwards of 5,000 trustees, administrators and professional advisors serving union and public sector benefit plans.

These folks have got some pretty tough issues on their plate, with dramatic challenges impacting state, municipal and federal spending; and certainly a lot of challenges in managing benefit costs into the future while providing the best support to their members.

My keynote will focus on opportunities for innovation through the transition to Healthcare 2020: and by riding the trends that will really influence healthcare through the next decade. I wrote a blog post on the theme some time back.

There has been a huge demand for this topic ; I’ve had many keynotes through the last year, involving situations where folks want to move beyond the health care reform debate, and are seeking insight into the scientific, structural, knowledge, skill set, technology, business models that will really impact health care. Just this month, I was the opening keynote speaker for the International Society of Medical Publications Professionals; last month, the opening keynote for a major seniors care conference.

And what’s been happening with these talks? When I began a recent keynote talk for the Minnesota Hospital Association CEO Summit, I announced that Ie wouldn’t even mention health care reform — and the audience of 300 senior executives cheered! Instead, I told the audience that I would take them on a voyage to the world of healthcare in the year of 2020, and provide them the insight they really need to deal with the challenges and opportunity of the future.

Everyone in a leadership position in the US health care system knows that even with health care reform, the challenges facing the US health care system are substantial and immense. That’s why innovation has quickly come to be one of the top issues that senior healthcare executives and medical professionals are thinking about. There is a realization that there is an urgent need to challenge the very philosophies upon which the system is built. They’re seeking insight into the major scientific, technological, consumer and social trends that will, by the year 2020, allow for some very dramatic change in the concept of health care delivery.

Where will we by the year 2020? We will have successfully transitioned the system from one which “fixes people after they’re sick” to one of preventative, diagnostic genomic-based medicine. Treating patients for the conditions we know they are likely to develop, and re-architecting the system around that reality. A system which will provide for virtual care through bio-connectivity, and extension of the hospital into a community-care oriented structure. A consumer driven, retail oriented health care environment for non-critical care treatment that provides significant opportunities for cost reduction. Real time analytics and location-intelligence capabilities which provide for community-wide monitoring of emerging health care challenges. “Just-in-time” knowledge concepts which will help to deal with a profession in which the volume of knowledge doubles every six years. That and much, much more.

The fact is, we are going to witness more change in the world of health care in the next ten years than we have seen in the last 200. There’s plenty of opportunity for innovation!

Here’s the press release for the upcoming keynote:

International Foundation Announces Annual Conference Keynote Speakers
12 April 2011, Targeted News Service

BROOKFIELD, Wis., April 12 — The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans issued the following news release:

The International Foundation announces the following keynote presenters for their upcoming 57th U.S. Annual Employee Benefits Conference to be held October 30 – November 2, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana:

Lou Holtz–Considered among the greatest motivational speakers in America, Mr. Holtz will share how to overcome seemingly impossible challenges by setting personal goals and striving to achieve them. As one of the most successful college football coaches of all time, he has tested and proven that philosophy.

Jim Carroll–One of the world’s leading futurists, Mr. Carroll will share his thoughts on transformative trends that will define the road ahead in the critical area of health care. He will forecast what paradigms will change as health care is transformed through the next decade, far beyond the impact of health care reform.

Bertice Berry, Ph.D.–Ms. Berry will bring a dynamic close to the conference with her message, “When you walk with purpose, you collide with destiny.” As a best-selling author and college professor, she is a gifted speaker with a comic edge and a comic with a serious message. Attendees will leave with a sense of renewal and commitment to life, family and work.

More than 5,000 trustees, administrators and professional advisors serving multiemployer and public sector benefit plans attend the Annual Employee Benefits Conference each year. Attendees to the event discuss the latest cost-saving ideas, get updates on legislative developments, find creative approaches to new challenges and collaborate with their peers who face similar issues.

The conference features more than 125 sessions ranging in complexity from basic to advance, that cover health and welfare, pension, investments, fiduciary responsibility, communication, administration, technology, public plans, and training and education funds.

Learn more about the Annual Employee Benefits Conference at

Leading in turbulent times! That’s a topic you need to focus on in the high velocity economy – particularly as volatility rages around you. And leading means focusing on growth: pursuing opportunities that will materialize over the longer term, rather than just managing short term trends.

That’s the focus of my “Where’s the Growth” document, which you can grab here. It provides a quick, concise overview of some of the many opportunities that are emerging in the the future.

Over the next 10 years, there are several certainties:

  • scientific discovery will continue to advance at an ever increasing pace, opening new markets, evolving existing markets, and establishing countless new opportunities
  • global collaborative knowledge communities will continue to lead to faster innovation in every industry and market
  • new products, methodologies, skills, ideas, organizational structures will continue to evolve at a fast pace;
  • agile organizations will continue to come out on top
  • the transition of economies in the Mid-East and Asia will continue despite regional economic challenges, and in the larger context,provide vast new opportunities for growth
  • rapidly aging economies in North America and Europe will drive rapid spending in certain sectors, particularly on healthcare and lifestyle relocation
  • innovation and knowledge discovery in the world of health care will drive new billion-dollar markets several times over, and then some
  • global energy consciousness will continue to lead to ever more rapid evolution of “green” solutions
  • 1/2 of the global population is under the age of 25. They’re change aggressive, and will continue to lead to the rapid adoption of new ideas
  • growth in specific markets often bear a simple reality which define them as a growth market: in agriculture, global food production still has to double in the next 25 years to keep up with population trends.

There’s a lot of growth out there: it’s simply a matter of looking around.

2010Globalevents.jpgHere’s an article that just ran that offers some of my thoughts on what’s up with the global meeting and events industry.


Convene Magazine, January 2010
by Maureen Littlejohn

During 2009, many organizations battened down the hatches and waited for the recession to pass. As we enter the new year – and a new decade – the time for waiting is over. It’s the organizations that keep their eyes peeled for budding opportunities – and are prepared to pounce on them – that will succeed. Convene asked futurist and trends and innovation expert Jim Carroll to identify five emerging megatrends of particular interest to the meetings industry.

  1. Faster business-model reinvention – Industries need to listen to what clients want and be able to change without getting bogged down in traditional, time-consuming approval stages or administrative red tape. In the meetings industry, according to Carroll, this means that organizations need to watch for members’ shifting needs and respond quickly. For example, delegates might want more customized options during online registration, or more room to make last-minute confirmations. “The newer model, based on agility and flexibility, is the model that will take many businesses into the future,” Carroll said. “To understand the link between future trends and innovation, you must get into that mindset.”

    Since the economic meltdown, some business procedures have been turned upside-down. Carroll points to the American automobile industry: “The big automakers used to build up their assembly lines to produce 700,000 cars in a year and hope to sell them. Then they would tear the assembly line down a year later and rebuild for the next year’s model. That formula is broken. Honda looks at this week’s consumer demands, sees what is working, and can tear down and rebuild the assembly line in 10 days.”

    Carroll said that organizations seeking an edge over their competitors are motivated to mess up their rivals’ business models. “Before that happens [to you], you should mess it up yourself, so that you better control the endgame. Technology has and will play a huge role in business-model transformation, and your infrastructure has to be up to the task,” he said.

  2. Rapid ingestion of new technologies – Companies must stay current with technology, especially in the delivery of services, Carroll said. “There’s going to be a huge amount of adaptation as the tsunami of technology continues unabated,” he said. “An example would be in retail, where there will be a rapid transition to cell-phone-based payment technology. Credit-card companies need to stay on top of this. Winners will be able to transition at the speed of Silicon Valley. The leaders will be those who continue to find operational innovation in ways they had not thought of before.”The lesson for meeting planners? Integrate the latest technologies into the meeting’s infrastructure by partnering with technologically up-to-the-minute companies, Carroll said. Planners need to be early adopters of technologies at every stage of the meeting – prior to, during, and after the face-to-face event. This includes everything from promoting the meeting to Web sites, to offering the latest technology-enabled services to delegates on site, to gathering metrics and following up after the event.
  3. Faster knowledge requirements – Carroll believes that “the future belongs to those who are fast.” Organizations need to get smart quicker. “There are a tremendous number of new companies and new industries being built around the high velocity of ideas that surround us – which is increasing the pace of business startups,” Carroll said. “New ideas continue to be explored, markets grow, and industries emerge as rapid innovation occurs in health care, agriculture, and countless other fields. It’s all about rapid science – and exponential knowledge growth – leading to faster discovery of the next thing.”That translates into the need for meetings to deliver more education, to be seen as “knowledge events.” Carroll said: “This can take the form of short-term, high-level management meetings where the intent is to do things differently. Rapid ingestion of knowledge is needed by sales forces, management, and associations. Face-to-face education, done off site, will continue to be very effective. Networking is important for relationships and learning, especially human bonding with beer at 5 p.m. That’s when participants are willing to share tips and ideas.”
  4. Rapid partnerships – Social networking is the best way to form more successful partnerships in a short amount of time, according to Carroll. “This way, people with expertise can be brought in to help work out the problems on new projects,” he said. “Teams that are gathered rapidly and work quickly are critical to solving problems and achieving success.”
  5. End of the “AIG effect” – This, Carroll believes, is the biggest trend. “It is silly to think we shouldn’t go to meetings,” he said. “It’s time to beat back the hysteria. In Las Vegas, where so many workers were laid off, it’s had an effect. Politicians are paying attention and realizing they were shooting themselves in the foot by discouraging meetings.”Carroll predicts that 2010 will usher in a return to long-term thinking. “Companies and associations will be making plans and strategizing how to reach goals in the next two to 10 years,” he said, adding, “To that end, I’ve noticed an increased demand in my services as a futurist. We’re all coming back with a vengeance.”

I’m a big believer that many of the big transformations that will occur in the future — and which will drive new billion dollar industries — will come from innovations around solving the “big problems” that society faces.

Here’s a video clip from a recent keynote, in which I talk about what will happen in the long term care industry, as we transition to a world of home based, community oriented senior citizen care

A lot of people have convinced themselves that there aren’t a lot of growth markets out there. They don’t see what I see. Think “BIG challenges = BIG transformations = BIG opportunities!”

2009ACHRI-2.jpgI’m at the airport in Austin, Texas, having just delivered the opening keynote for Facilities ’09: National Association of Children’s Hospitals Design conference.

The room was full of CEO’s, board members, architects, and managers responsible for transitioning the physical infrastructure of these facilities into the modern hospital infrastructure of the 21st century.

I’ve just discovered that someone from NACHRI is live-blogging the event, and they covered my talk. I’ll have more to write about this later, but there’s a quick summary of the challenges I raised to the crowd here.

Jim Carroll’s keynote at NACHRI: So the question becomes: what mindset should we have going forward, and what are we doing for the future?






  • We need a relentless focus on market growth. There is an unprecedented opportunity for growth through increased efficiencies, cost savings and greening of facilities.
  • The scope of the problem will drive a lot of innovative thinking, because only innovating thinking can keep pace, or get ahead of, change.
  • We are reinventing the concept of a hospital. Whe hospital will increasingly become virtual as it extends its reach into everyday life. “The hospital as we know it is coming to an end.”
  • Build up your experiential capital as well as your financial capital. If the world is changing so fast, experience is invaluable in navigating the complicated and ever changing landscape. Be afirmed to try new things.
  • One of the increasing changes is digital technology moving off the plug and into everyday, everywhere life

“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the changes that will occur in the next ten years. Don’t let yourself be dulled into inaction.” — Bill Gates

You can access the full live blog below.

You can also read where I think we’ll be with health care in the future. The key for organizations struggling to get through this economic mess right now is to focus on the huge variety of future trends that will impact you, understand them, and innovate from them!

Think growth!

  • It’s January 15, 2020: Do you know where your health care system is?
  • Facilities ’09: Rethinking the hospital
  • Live blog updates from Facilities’09:

From my May CAMagazine column.

As we worry and wonder about the state of the global economy, we should remind ourselves that one thing is certain. At some point in the future,newspapers will run banner headlines featuring the words “Economic Recovery.”

The challenge with this particular downturn is that every single event — downsizing, layoff, missed earnings target or corporate bankruptcy — is now repeatedly examined in depth on 24-hour news channels. As a result, it’s easy to lose sight of the following key trends, which will help lead us into economic recovery.

Infrastructure: There is no doubt there will be a significant national economic stimulus due to infrastructure spending, but I believe we’re entering the era of smart infrastructure, which will involve more than shovels and buckets. For example, roadworks projects will use smart-highway technology, such as the linkage of spatial databases (think Google Maps) to GPS technology embedded in cars. It won’t be long before you can put your car on autopilot, so to speak, carefully keeping up with traffic flow as measured by highway-embedded sensors. Science fiction? I don’t think so. Put it this way: every bit of new infrastructure will be integrated with the Internet, and that will provide for some fascinating opportunities.

Healthcare: The ramp-up in healthcare spending that will occur as boomers age will be staggering, and this will perversely drive job growth at the same time it strains the budget. In the US, healthcare spending could equal 60% of gross domestic product in some states within 10 years. Such stark realities are driving furious rates of business model, technological, structural and other innovations in healthcare, much of which will involve sophisticated Internet technologies. For years, I’ve been talking about the potential for bio-connectivity devices: smart home-based medical monitoring technologies doctors can use, via the Internet, to monitor noncritical-care patients. Such innovations will drive a variety of growth-oriented markets.

Environment: Despite the slowdown, there is no pullback in major efforts to deal with challenging issues, which means ecological spending will continue to drive growth markets. McDonald’s is investing in a new company-wide intelligent energy infrastructure management system to deal with annual energy costs of US$1 billion. It expects to reduce overall costs by 20% by having the ability to remotely manage and monitor fryers, air conditioning, water usage and other devices throughout thousands of its restaurants. This will involve using the Internet as a backbone to a sophisticated global energy management system.

Industry reinvention: Similarly, connectivity will play a key role in the reinvention of products and industries. There is a lot of talk about the concept of Car 2.0, which involves a fundamental reinvention of current transportation mind-sets. There is a strong belief that we will see a reinvention of the auto industry, particularly as Silicon Valley begins to laser-aim its focus at the next generation of automotive business model. The next-generation automobile, if it emerges from the land of high-tech, will have “connectivity” as its middle name.

The change agenda of Generation Y: As I described in last month’s column (“They’ll spice up your systems,” p. 14),the members of this technologically aggressive, entrepreneurial generation will completely reshape the fundamentals of every industry, driving economic growth.

All in all, my view is that beyond a three- to six-month horizon, we will start to realize areas of economic growth, and the Internet will continue to play a key role.


Grab the PDF by clicking on the image on the right!

The world of healthcare and medicine is on the edge of a period of massive transformation.

Do you have any idea as to how sweeping the forthcoming changes are?

Maybe not — the future of healthcare is often lost in a raging debate that focuses on the current challenges faced by the system.

But if you step back and think about where we’ll be in 2020, then you can appreciate the scope of the trends which are now underway.

Rapid technological development and relentless innovation are the two key trends that will provide for a forthcoming massive
of our health care system.

I’ve learned that sometimes, it is easier to open up the minds of people to big trends by taking a look *back* rather than by taking a look forward. When I was the closing keynote speaker for the 4th Annual World Healthcare Innovation & Technology Congress in Washington DC last December — one of the world’s premier health innovation events at the cusp of innovative healthcare thinking — I took the approach of looking back from 2020, to see what happened in the last 10 years.

It was a great talk — with lots of wonderful feedback. So I wrote it into a research report in a PDF, that you can share around. Maybe this can help you to stir up some creative and innovative thinking!

After all, when it comes to future trends, you’ve got to work to open up the minds of people!

So let’s say it’s the year 2020.

Let’s say you’ve looked at the big changes that occurred in healthcare from 2010 to 2020.

What do you see? Take a look.

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