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As they say, timing is everything, particularly when it comes to the issue of getting involved in any particular trend. In the era of acceleration, it becomes even more critical. You’d better make sure you are ready with any trend of importance and relevance, because the future might happen before you know it.

I spend a lot of time on stage talking about the issue of timing on stage, particularly in the context of the “Gartner Hypecycle.” It’s been a key go-to on my client innovation guidance for well over 15 years. The interesting thing is that it’s really risen to the forefront in the last year, particularly as technology journalists have trie to explain the rise and fall of the BitCoin bubble.

The other thing about timing? The future is staggered and uneven – it doesn’t happen everywhere all at once. It’s phased by location, sector, and other discrete perspectives. Think about self=driving vehicles – we’ll see them happen in some ways faster, and in other ways, slower. I was in New Orleans, saw some crowded streets, and it was the perfect opportunity to talk about the issue of timing.

Any new technology, trend or idea goes along a curve – it appears, then hits the time of excessive hype and expectations. That is followed by the inevitable collapse of enthusiasm as people realize that it takes a lot of time and effort to implement the future, and determine the opportunity that comes from it. But inevitably, both the expectations, idea and capabilities mature, and the trend becomes a key component for innovation and so much more.

The timing issue? As Kevin Kelly, the founder of Wired noted, “the future happens slowly, and then, all at once.” Any particular trend can bubble along for a time, seemingly inconsequential and of little impact. And then, all of a sudden, it can ‘go supernova’, explode in importance and significance – and suddenly, be everywhere!

That’s why my mantra to “think big, start small, scale fast” gives a key shoutout to timing. “Start small” implies that you should be on board with any particular trend, despite the potential immaturity it might have, because you want to make sure that you understand it, have experience with it, know how to work with it – and are ready to go when it “goes supernova!”

We’re moving from a world of two-dimensional ‘location intelligence’ – think of all the things involving GPS technology – to a world of 3D spatial intelligence – and the this will lead the birth of several new “next” billion dollar industries

The opportunities are pretty significant. Location intelligence had us mapping in 2 dimensions; spatial intelligence will have us doing the same with 3dimensions. The trend will involve the data used by self-driving cars to ‘see’ around them; cobots or “cooperative robots” working in 3d dimensions to interact with other robots and humans around them; virtual operations using 3D insight headsets, and so much more!

The possibilities are limitless and the opportunities are endless, particularly if we combine smart clothing, spatial intelligence, mobile technology, sensor technology and gamification! To explain, I went to the gym!

What’s the essence of the trend? Simply put, you likely don’t have the skills that you need to get into our faster, more complicated future. You’ve got machine operators, but you need 3D printing experts; land surveyors when you require location intelligence professionals; or gas engine designers when you need experts in penguin behaviour.

The issue of having the right skills at the right time for the right purpose has long been one of  my key mantras from the stage.

The impact? Find your penguins! 

You never knew that you’d need to find the specialized skills who know the things that you never knew you needed to know! Here’s a few clips from the stage where I’m speaking to the issue of specialized skills.

Why penguins? Penguins hunt in groups & synchronize their dives to catch fish.  

Studying how they do so could provide invaluable insight into the evolution of self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are connected by telemetry, LIDAR and other technologies, and will operate in a pack mentality to coordinate their efforts. 

This permits the emergence of ‘pelotons’ — connected ‘trains’ of vehicles in communication with each other, and in communication with intelligent, connected smart highway technology. 

Penguins are great in travelling in packs, so why not learn how they do it, and engineer that into autonomous vehicle technology…. and so studying how nature does this will provide deep insight into what to do this with cars and trucks.

Do you know what penguin experts you’ll need?

Over a 25 year time span, I have built a remarkably successful career as a speaker, speaking to organizations worldwide about future trends, what comes next, and how best to get there. Take a look at my client list; many of the world’s biggest and most prestigious organizations have had me in for my insight. I must have some views and insight that are worthwhile.

Often, I am booked directly by those who find me online, but I am also regularly booked by some of the largest, most prestigious speakers bureaus in the world. Folks like the Washington Speakers Bureau and Canada’s National Speakers Bureau, among countless others – probably the top 30 agencies in the world actively work with me. I’ve spent a great deal of time over 20 years to build and nurture a relationship with these folks. It’s a pretty exclusive club — I am booked by the same people who book Barak and Michelle Obama, George W. Bush, various astronauts and business executives, sports figures, entertainers and more. It’s not a stretch to say that I operate at the elite level of the global speaking industry, with audiences of several thousand, in locations like Dubai, Oman, Tokyo, London and Washington.

In my spare time, my wife and business partner Christa volunteer our time to a local charity near our ski chalet north of Toronto. To that end, I would like you to watch this video clip about this group, known as Events for Life.

Events for Life provides daytime activities for young disabled adults; we have young people with autism and other disabilities, as well as those with Down Syndrome. Our goal is to give them a pathway and activities that helps them to live an enriching life. We are overjoyed with the results.

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A good friend just posted on LinkedIn that he thinks “big data” is a hoax.

Let’s start with my golf game. As I describe on stage, I get really good real time data on how bad my golf game is!

The pace and reality of big data depends on the industry, the company, and so much more. Precision farming? It’s very real.  Retail? Amazon has it! Other industries? Maybe not so much. It depends on the industry and so much more.

Big data is one of those things that is at different locations along the Gartner Hypecycle depending on a lot of different factors.

Fore!

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

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

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

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Last week, I was the opening keynote speaker for the annual SOMOS Toll-Free Users Summit – it’s the annual conference for the folks involved in the 1-800 industry. Obviously, there was a big focus on the issues of customer support and interaction, and my keynote took a look at those trends.

They’ve just run a blog post that captured one of the key themes in my keynote : that is, how do we keep up with the fact that consumer and customer demands are changing faster than ever before!


Keeping Up With Fast Customers!
SOMOS Conference Report, October 2017

Remember the Jetsons? Their lives in 2062 seemed like a dream — self-flying cars, automated home appliances, virtual reality shopping. But today, we’re already starting to live that dream, almost 50 years early.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This fall, I’m headling a major retail event in Las Vegas – Xcelerate 2017! Details are here.

 

There’s a lot of change underway – and certainly, the Amazon/Whole Foods situation is a wake up call for everyone. I’ve been speaking about the decline and transformation of traditional retail for over 20 years. In the 1990’s, I even wrote a book about e-commerce that was translated into German and Russian, as well as being picked up and distributed by Visa USA to it merchants.

Retailers must scramble to keep up with fast paced change. Maybe that’s why Godiva Chocolates has had me to Europe twice this year for insight on what’s going on.

Here’s the description for my September keynote.

The Disruption and Reinvention of Retail: Aligning to the World of Speed  

It’s hard to discount the speed of change occurring in the world of retail and consumer products. Consider this: E-commerce could be 25% of the retail – grocery and convenience — experience by 2021. Shopper marketing,” which combines location intelligence, mobile technology and in-store display technology for a new form of in-store promotion, continues to move forward. Mobile payment involving Apple Pay and disappearance of the cash-register, providing opportunity and challenge with loyalty, infrastructure and disruption. Then there is Amazon Alexa, AI and shopping bots! Simply talk and products are added to your shopping cart, and delivered within an hour! Let’s not stop — there’s also the rapid installation of “click and collect” infrastructure (i.e. an online purchase, with same day pickup at a retail location). And last but not least, the arrival of active, intelligent packaging and intelligent (“Internet of Things”) products, collapsing product life-cycles, rapid product obsolescence and the implications on inventory and supply chain!

We are going to see more change in the world of retail in the next 5 year than we have seen in the last 100. Savvy brands, retailers, shopping mall and retail infrastructure companies are working to understand these trends, and what they need to do from an innovation perspective to turn them from challenge to opportunity.  Futurist Jim Carroll will help us to understand the tsunami of change sweeping retail.

When the GAP went looking for a trends and innovation expert to speak to a small, intimate group of senior executives, they chose Jim Carroll. He has been the keynote speaker for some of the largest retail conferences in the world, with audiences of up to 7,000 people in Las Vegas, including Consumer Goods Technology Business & Technology Leadership Conference • Subway • Multi-Unit Franchise Conference Las Vegas • Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit • Consumer Electronics Association CEO Summit • Retail Value Chain Federation • Yum! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut) Global Leadership Conference • Burger King Global Franchise Meeting • VIBE (Very Important Beverage Executives) Summit • Manufacturing Jewelers Suppliers of America • National Home Furnishings Association • Do It Best Corporation • US Department of Defence Commissary Agency • Readers Digest Food & Entertainment Group Branding/Retail Summit • Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association • National Association of Truck Stop Operators • Convenience U annual conference • Point of Purchase Advertising International Association • Chain Drug Store Association of Canada • Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors • Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers

 

Location intelligence was the hot new opportunity 20 years ago as spatial (GIS) data came to be a big part of the world. 20 years on, it still is. My oldest son is building a fabulous career working in the industry – he’s a leading expert in the use of tools such as ArcGIS, for example.

But move over for spatial data bubbles — all of us are about to become immersed in many different bubbles, and the implications are bigger than you think!

What is a spatial data bubble? It’s a phrase I’ve coined as I’ve come to spend more time thinking about what happens when we add location oriented data to data-sets that will envelope us in multiple dimensions. I first hit upon the realization of how important they will be when I was working out with my personal trainer one day at the gym, and was continuing to ensure she understood the impact of emerging smart clothing technologies upon exercise routines.

The simple fact is, I drive my personal trainer nuts when I’m at the gym. She will try and get me to do a certain routine that has my limbs or torso moving within a certain defined area. If they move within that area, I’m doing it correctly. At the same time that she is trying to get me to do this, I’m busy formulating in my mind how we could reinvent exercise in the future with spatial data bubbles! Here I am on stage talking about this idea — in this case, an opening keynote for the YMCA/YWCA.

How will this work? First off, smart clothing will replace wearable technologies – read my post on that. I’ve been speaking and writing about smart clothing for years — two years ago, I outlined in a keynote for the Sporting & Fitness Industry Association that this would be a major trend to watch. Some of the bubbles which are emerging will be fascinating: a golf ball in the future will be its only little spatial-data bubble information generator as it starts to transmit real time information on speed, velocity, location and acceleration! Most sports equipment will exist in little spatial data bubbles that also align goals and objectives to performance.

So it will be with exercise routines. The  emergence of smart-clothing will solve the problem of ‘firing’ the right muscles during an exercise routine, by providing information on whether I’m in the right spatial area.  In the future, we will be buying clothes that will have a variety of embedded sensors and technology. When my trainer gets to me to do a routine in the future, and these sensors will be used to generate a data bubble around my body. She’ll be able to set a tolerance range — say, 10 or 20%. The bubble will determine if my activities are within that particular spatial range within the bubble — if so, I’ll be rewarded in some way. The better I get at the routine the lower the tolerance with the bubble will be!

If my activities stray outside the bubble — well, maybe the clothing will zap me! Big opportunities for performance-oriented exercise routines!

Spatial data bubbles will soon be everywhere! They are emerging at a furious pace with the rapid emergence of self-driving car technology.

Today’s collision avoidance systems have limited data bubbles, only looking at vehicles around them. In the future, the bubbles will be bigger, talking to the road, linking to other data bubbles, advance telemetry systems, road monitoring and lane allocation systems, and more!

The typical self-driving, connected car is putting off some 7 gigabytes of data per hour. That’s a staggering amount of information — and increasingly, more and more of it will be spatial data bubble oriented. Self-driving cars and trucks will talk to intelligent highway infrastructure technologies which might guide them on their journeys, and in effect, create a little bubble of data around the vehicle involving obstacles, other vehicles, road sensors and other stuff. Then there is stuff that is already here: peloton technology that has self-driving cars and trucks involved cars communicating their lo0cation in time and space with other vehicles so that they can travel in a space-saving, wind-resistant pack. The data bubble of a car has 360-sensing capability, looking for pedestrians, other cars and other information.

Spatial data bubbles aren’t new: they’ve been around for some time. Perhaps the best example are the robots used in advanced manufacturing systems. These robots need to have continual 3D awareness. They used to be able to operate on their own; but as their spatial data bubbles have grown, they’ve become collaborative, designed to work in proximity to people. They’ve become more spatially aware, with cameras, sonar and other tech. This has allowed them to become cognitive and quality-conscious , with feedback on whether assembly is done correctly. Increasingly, they are capable of working in multiple planes at once, with multiple axis movements. Their bubble will extend to human-operators, who might increasingly use spatial bubble technologies such as Google Glass, for remote operation, in a virtual reality scenario.

And therein lies a key point – virtual reality, more than anything else, will accelerate spatial data bubble technologies. This point was hammered home to me on the weekend when I visited Colony VR in Ottawa with my son, his girlfriend and my wife. Here I am smashing some balloons while in a virtual reality spatial data bubble!

A futurist in a spatial data bubble!

Virtual reality is going to have a massive impact on the rate of spatial-data bubble technologies, methodologies, data sets and more! VR will emerge as a significant tool for skills training, telemedicine, sports and so much more. And if you think about it, it’s all about data bubbles!

Location-oriented data is pretty easy and not terribly overwhelming in terms of quantity, because it essentially involves a couple of points on a map. Spatial data bubbles are infinitely more complex, because it will involve thousands or millions of data points involving that point on the map, and the areas above and around it.

If you think we’ve seen a data explosion in the past, we have, as they say, ”seen nothing yet!”

Spatial data bubbles are the new location intelligence!

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