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A report from T. Rowe Price on my recent keynote for the 2011 Investment Symposium follows, where I was one of three keynote speakers (the other two being Colin Powell and Charlie Cook). You can find some blog links to each of the three key themes in the article at the end of the article below.

""We thought Jim was amazing - just the positive message we wanted to leave folks with"

It was a fabulous event, and a great opportunity to get a pretty impressive audience — investment managers for a broad range of investment managers for a broad range of Fortune 1000 organizations, pension funds and government agencies.


Futurist Jim Carroll, one of the world’s leading experts in global trends and innovation, described how advances in technology and human innovation will combine to create positive change in the future. He explained how businesses can be held back by what he calls “aggressive indecision”— postponing action because they are constantly waiting for economic conditions to improve. Carroll noted that as the pace of change accelerates, the companies that prosper will be those that can adapt and innovate most quickly.

Key Points

  • Long-term trends that will lead us into the future. Silicon Valley is redefining everything—industries that get involved with Silicon Valley will be brought up to their speed. One powerful trend is pervasive interconnectivity—the fact that electronic devices are connected and can communicate with each other—as a driving force. For example, a staid industry such as air conditioning and heating benefits when people can control their entire home environment remotely through a cell phone. On the health care front, sensors can monitor the activities of seniors and report any changes in behavior, allowing people to live independently longer. On a more dramatic note, he believes advances in exploring the human genome will change medicine’s focus from reactively treating disease to proactively searching for potential health problems before they occur.
  • The paradox of pessimism and reality. While many business people are pessimistic about the future and believe economic recovery is at least two years away, technological advances are creating the potential for greater productivity and efficiency. For example, the auto industry now has the flexibility to produce in response to demand instead of building huge inventories that may go unsold. Products can also be brought to market much faster to take advantage of changes in consumer tastes.
  • The next generation. The next generation has grown up with rapid advances in technology, so they are at home with change. This familiarity means young people will greatly increase the rate of innovation as they enter the workforce. This group is not afraid to take independent action—50% believe self employment offers more job security than working for a company. The next generation will receive $12 billion to $18 billion in intergenerational wealth transfers in the next 12 years alone, which could help fund their ambition.

  • Major 10 year trend: The future of every industry to be controlled by Silicon Valley Innovation  
  • The new face of manufacturing: agility, insight and execution 
  • Creativity and the new workforce 


As an association executive, are you thinking BIG enough?

That’s the challenge I raise in a forthcoming article for the April / May CSAE Association publication, due out in print any minute.

You can get a sneak preview right now!

How small is your world? Are you thinking BIG enough?

Here’s how I close the article.

There is a lot of transformative change that is underway. This is no time to think “small.” This is the time in which you need to be thinking “big.” How “small” is your world? Do you have a narrow view of opportunity? The reality is that right now, thinking BIG in terms of opportunity and the future will be crucial to your future success.

What does that does it mean for your future? In the old days, companies had “industries” that they worked within, “markets” that they sold into, and “business models” that they pursued. Assumptions that drove their decisions. And associations that represented them in a world that moved relatively slowly.

Every single assumption that you might have about your future could be wrong. Challenge those assumptions, think about the rapidity of future trends, innovate — and you’ll find the growth opportunities that seem to elude so many others.

Think about this NOW!


Last year, I was the opening keynote speaker for the 2010 International Association of Conference Centersl my focus was on the future of the meetings and events industry (in which, as a keynote speaker, I play a frequent role.)

Jim Carroll's thoughts on the future of the global meetings industry

I just found that they ran a report on my talk, and it’s a good summary of what I believe to be the key trends driving this industry forward. It was a fairly accurate overview, in that signs for 2011 are that by and large, many aspects of the global meetings and events industry, though still challenged, are bouncing back from their lows of 2009 and 2010.


From IACC’s CenterLines Publication

Futurist Jim Carroll confidently assured his audience of IACC conferees that their bread & butter – face-to-face meetings – is not leaving the business landscape.

The words of his Thursday morning keynote were music to the ears of an audience that is battling business downturns. Carroll said he’d lived through five recessions and the thing they have in common is that they all are temporary.

What happens with an economic correction, even a significant one?” Carroll asked. “We always get to the point where we see articles about economic growth. The collective sense in this room is that we’ll see this happen in six months to two years. … We know how this movie ends.”

While acknowledging the wonders of evolving technology and the specter of developments not yet imagined, Carroll said the need to meet face- to-face is fundamental and will not be replaced.

New products are developed and updated with amazing speed, and how do you have a sales force that can deal with that continual flood without providing proper education?” he pondered. “Effective sales teams are built through sheer enthusiasm for a goal that comes from face- to-face meetings.”

Carroll pointed to an Australian study that predicted that 65 percent of preschoolers would eventually work in jobs and careers that do not currently exist. And, in any degree program based on science, because knowledge is evolving so fast, it is estimated that half of what somebody learns in the first half of the degree program will be obsolete or revised by the time they graduate.

The reality of the future of meetings is that learning is what most people will do for a living in the 21st century,” he said. “There will be a requirement to constantly replenish that knowledge, and a huge focus on knowledge delivery.

Carroll observed that Microsoft has suggested that in the coming years, 50 percent of U.S. gross domestic product will be taken up by training and knowledge delivery. Progressive organizations will continue to bring people together to meet. Carroll ignores the purveyors of doom who say the meeting business is in a death spiral.

We’ve been there before. Remember the post- 911 buzz? Everybody was going to stop flying, stop going to hotels – it was the end of the event industry,” Carroll said. “People said it was the end of face-to-face. It didn’t happen then, and it isn’t going to happen now.”

Carroll suggested that constant re-evaluation and the quest for new ideas is key to staying ahead of the curve. Observing key habits and attitude, Carroll said that world class innovators …

  • possess a relentless focus on growth
  • move beyond the short term
  • constantly replenish revenue streams.
  • obsess over the concept of corporate agility
  • don’t fear the future; they just do the future
  • invest heavily in experiential capital
  • banish the innovation killers.

I was in Baltimore last week, where I was the opening keynote speaker for the 2010 Passkey Corporate Housing Forum.

Passkey is a company that provides software for the corporate and association event management industry; in attendance were meeting planners, executive who manage corporate functions for hotels, and a lot of folks from various convention and visitors bureaus. My goal was to speak about the trends impacting the meetings and events industry, such as found in  my recent article, Does Your Future Suck?

I ran a quick text message poll at the start to find out what these folks see as the big challenges they are faced with.

There are some obvious issues : budget cutbacks, organizations beginning to explore more virtual event technologies, or challenges with delegates bypassing conference facilities and booking on their own (‘booking outside the room block’).

But what is most fascinating is that fully 1/3 of those in the room felt that the biggest challenge / trend that they are seeing is that more organizations — particularly corporations — are organizing more strategic meetings at the last moment, of a smaller scale than before.

That’s certainly what I’ve been seeing: I continue to get bookings for a significant number of small, CEO or senior management level strategic planning meetings. These folks want to bring their team together to discuss innovation, future trends and key strategies for exploring growth opportunities.

I’ve framed many of these talks around the theme of What Do World Class Innovators Do That Other Organizations Don’t Do?, which is a theme that has been quite popular since January of this year.

In my talk for PassKey, I noted two key statistics from Dana Communications, a company that specializes in the events industry:

  • only 17% of meeting planners have “meeting planner” in their job titles
  • less than 20% of meeting planners spend over 50% of their work time planning meetings

This echoes my experience: many of the calls that I get exploring my services are from a senior executive, or the executive assistant to an executive.

Clearly, organizations are of a mindset that is focused on taking them out of a recession, and into a world of exploring future opportunities. The fact that event planners, CVB’s and hotel event managers are seeing the same trend is a significant sign that the economy continues to bounce back.


Does your future suck?

by Jim Carroll

Written for “Content Matters Newsletter, March 2010”, Content Management Corporation

So the big question, of course, is this: is there a future for the meetings and conference industry?

What a silly question!

Of course there is: the fundamental trends that are shaping our future demand that organizations continually deliver regular, short sharp shocks of updated knowledge, and despite all the new fangled technology that surrounds us, many will demand that we continue to do so in human-to-humanget-togethers.

You know what’s fascinating about a recession? We all know how the movie ends: we return to a period of economic growth. What’s also fascinating about recessions is that it provides an opportunity for all the naysayers to suggest that meetings and conferences are going to go virtual, and that we’ll all meet online. Then, when the recovery comes about, we all start scrambling to pull together our events, because people demand a form of non-silicon based networking. There’s nothing like people getting together at a conference for a cold beer or a glass of wine after a long day of sessions: that’s when the real business gets done!

Back during the last recession of 2001-2002, “those in the know” said that this would be the end of meetings and events. I wrote an article in Successful Meetings magazine, ‘Get Real,’ that said no, that wasn’t going to happen. And so from 2003 to 2008, we saw some pretty impressive growth in the industry, followed by an inevitable pullback. Such a cycle will continue.

I’m a futurist, and spend my time providing advice and guidance to some of the largest organizations and associations in the world. And as I futurist, I have to be optimistic about the future. After all, there aren’t a lot of folks who want to hear a futurist come out on stage and say, “Guess what? The future sucks!”

So here’s my belief on what is really going to continue to drive the meetings and event business forward, and why the future doesn’t suck.

We live in a period of ongoing, relentless, fast paced change. I’m dealing with associations who are witnessing the disappearance of traditional careers at the same time that new careers emerge. I deal with companies that are seeing product life cycles collapse due to the furious rates of innovation within every industry today. I’m witnessing companies challenged by new competitors intent on disrupting their business models. I see professionals who realize that the knowledge they need to know to do their job is going out of date at a ridiculous pace, and who realize that the way to the future is to concentrate on developing the capability for just-in-time knowledge.

Given all this change, what do people and organizations need to do? Continually adjust and prepare themselves for a future that will be constantly different, changing faster, with a lot more volatility. That’s going to require a lot more innovation, and certainly the ongoing delivery of a lot more knowledge and information.

And it’s the pace of change that is perhaps the biggest factor at work here. Bill Gates once suggested: “People overestimate the change that will occur on a two year basis, and underestimate the pace of change on a ten year basis.” Add to this the observation by Rupert Murdoch: “The future belongs to those who are fast.”

In essence, successful professionals, associations and companies will be those who can adapt to rapidly evolving trends.

How do we do this? I’m convinced that one of the primary tools will continue to be a get-together where people share insight, strategy, knowledge and tips.

Associations are in a world in which they must help their members adapt to massive, fundamental transformation in their role, scope, function and purpose. I’m a big believer that such transformations can only occur if the membership is given an overwhelming sense of purpose, passion and enthusiasm through the focus that an annual conference provides.

That said, I recently spoke to 4,000 professionals at the annual National Recreation and Parks Association annual conference in Salt Lake City. I challenged the audience — most of them responsible for civic or state recreational activities and park infrastructure — to think about the baseball bat of 2015 or 2020. From my vantage point, it’s going to look the same, but it’s likely to have a variety of sensors built into it that will provide a kid with instant feedback as to the strength and accuracy of their swing; the same sensors will trigger their nearby cell phone to automatically capture a video of their time at the plate.

Far fetched? I don’t think. Weird? To us maybe, but perhaps not to the next generation. As I stressed to the crowd at this event, “When we think of the strangeness of the future and our likely negative reaction to some of what might come next, we have to remember this: it’s not bad, it’s just different.”

The world is going to be different; the role and mandate of the recreation professional is going to be different; the concept of recreation will be transformed. You can read about this in a magazine or see it on Twitter, but it won’t have the same impact as having 4,000 people in a room realizing that their lives are going to change — fast!

Consider medical professionals – it is estimated that medical knowledge is now doubling every eight years, with the result that the vast majority of individuals in any field of medical science are unable to keep up to date with the most recent new treatments and protocols. One study suggests that the typical patient is receiving the most current medical treatment only about 50% of the time. The same holds true in almost every single profession and career, and leads to some significant association challenges, all of which revolve around the ongoing need for continuous knowledge delivery.

Sure, we’ll see more knowledge delivery online; new business models around the conference and event industry; and continued rapid change in the sophistication of online conference tools. And most important, the next generation of silicon-enabled 25 year olds might not think about annual meetings in the same way that their forebears do. But I believe they’ll still go — and as we are seeing now, will make it a far more different and interactive experience. Heck, maybe the beer bottles in their hands will Tweet each other. It’s still beer.

So the bottom line is this: you’ve seen this movie before. You know how it ends. So prepare for the future now, rather than waiting for the full economic recovery to be underway. The winners in the meetings, conventions and conference industry of tomorrow will be those who are willing to be an optimist about the future, as I am!

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!

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.”

Convene Magazine is the official publication of the Professional Convention Management Association.

In their December 2009 issue, they have part 2 of their annual technology forecast : how will technology continue to shake up the meetings and convention industry.

My prediction focuses on the impact of location intelligence on the industry; here’s what I wrote:

With the meeting and convention industry still all abuzz about the impact of Twitter, a far more dramatic and far-reaching trend is soon upon us, with the impact of what has come to be known as location intelligence

Let’s put it this way: in the next several years, many of the things that surround us in our daily lives will become linked into the ever pervasive network. I often joke on stage that one day I’ll get on my weigh scale, and it will proceed to send an email to my fridge if I happen to skew in terms of weight gain.

This trend is unfolding now: in my home and ski chalet, I have thermostats that have their own Web page and Internet connectivity. Link that trend to mobile applications, and we’re not too far away from a day when my iPhone might sense that I’m getting close to home, and will turn the heat on automatically.

What does this have to do with the future of meetings? We’re entering an era where delegates cell phones will sense when friends are nearby, and will spontaneously organize a social get-together. Planners will use applications which will pull together spur-of-the-moment topic sessions when a certain number of attendees fitting a profile approach a particular room. We’ll have automatic, interactive maps that will help us track the flow of folks through a trade show floor, giving us the opportunity to dynamically adjust the layout to better steer the crowd toward a key sponsors booth.

Location intelligence is likely the biggest of the many waves that are already impacting the industry — and it will be here sooner than you think.

It’s a timely topic. I’ll be the keynote speaker for the International Association of Conference Centers annual conference in March 2010, speaking to the trends that will impact this all-important industry.


  • Convene Magazine technology predictions
  • IACC 2010″ with a keynote by Jim Carroll

Tomorrow, I will be doing an opening panel session for Meeting World 2004 one of the world’s premiere meeting industry events — in New York City. I’m honored to participate on a panel with the well-known experts Joan Eisenstodt and Laila Rach, focusing on the theme of “Creating meetings in a changing world.”

I’ve written a discussion paper that outlines some of the trends that will impact the meeting industry in the years to come — you can read it here (PDF)

The session description: “The way meetings are present is a reflection of a society we live in. In this highly facilitated discussion, we’ll explore how shifting demographic, generational, multicultural and gender trends, as well as an aging population, are influencing the needs and wants of meeting attendees.”

I’ve long been a proponent of the view that a world of changing complexity, rapid innovation and change, new business models, and everything else, is leading to an increase in the need for just-in-time-knowledge, just-in-time-training, and just-in-time-strategy application — and that corporate and association meetings and events are a key cornerstone by which organizations can prepare themselves for the future.

Check out the conference site and learn more. [ details ]

I’m featured on the cover of this month’s Small Market Meetings magazine, reporting on my comments in my keynote at the MPI MidAmerica session last March in Cincinatti. My belief? Based on the rapid rate of change and innovation in the economy, “there’s an even greater need than ever to bring people together, to share the passion, and build relationships.” You can read the article online. (PDF, 800k)

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