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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 



Hundreds of thousands have seen Jim Carroll on stage with a keynote focused on future trends, innovation & creativity….with a focus on the trends that will drive their future.

What are the major trends that will shape our world in the future? Here’s what you need to be thinking about now!

How SMALL is your world? Are you thinking BIG enough in terms of just how many big trends are going to impact your future?

Many people ask me how I spend my time in nailing many of the trends that will redefine society, industries, markets and nations into the future….

It involves a lot of research and a great deal of listening to other experts. But it also comes from the fact that I spend my time as a speaker at corporate meetings, massive association events and board retreats, with the resultant opportunity of seeing what many of the most innovative organizations in the world are focused upon. Just take a look at my client list, and you’ll get a sense that I have a constant stream of global executive level insight that drives my view of the future. Take a look at the track record of what I’ve been up to. There’s some pretty solid and significant insight happening here. Take a look at what world class innovators do that others don’t do.

My trending observations also involves a lot of common sense. Take the “expectation gap” which I outline below. This is a pretty significant trend, and it’s pretty well blindingly obvious when you think about it,

So what comes next? Here’s a quick list of 10 trends that you could be thinking about as we go into 2011. I’ve got dozens — no, hundreds — more. Hang out on this blog, track my thoughts, jump in, and let’s continue to innovate our way into the future!

  • the expectation gap: it’s one of the most obvious, most significant, and most challenging trends going forward into the future. Quite simply, Western society is defined by an increasing divergence between what people expect, and what they will get. People expect the world’s greatest health care services; with the aging of society, it is dramatically clear that the system won’t be able to deliver what they expect. Boomers expect that they will have a comfortable retirement pensions; the economic reset and collapsing home values have made it increasingly clear that their hopes will likely have been dashed. People expect that they can live longer, but the increasing prevalence of lifestyle diseases due to obesity and other factors means that in some areas of the Western world, 60 is the new 70. People expect that they can reduce the size of “big government” but have no sense of just how to go about doing this without a great deal of pain. Whatever the case may be, our future is increasingly defined by this gap, and it is going to have huge ramifications for just about everything around us. And here’s the reality: a lot of organizations are going to make a lot of money in helping to close the gap! Take health care and what is really going to happen in terms of future trends. Huge opportunities for growth!
  • industries blur: In the past, we’ve have “industries” which have focused on particular products and markets. Increasingly, the concept of an “industry” is going to blur as fascinating new trends provide interesting new opportunities. Consider this: the world of fashion and healthcare are going to merge. We are going to see an increasing number of bio-connectivity health care devices that will be used for the remote monitoring of health care conditions. Quite simply, people will increasingly wear small “smart appliances” that will monitor their compliance with exercise programs or that will keep their doctors up to date with key health indicators. But people won’t want to wear medical appliances though: they’ll want to wear fashion! Health-care jewelry anyone?
  • energy gets smart: Clearly we’re going to see continued high-speed innovation with renewable energy sources, and velocity with grid-parity: the point in time at which the cost of producing renewable energy equals that of carbon based sources. Much of this is coming about as Silicon Valley gets aggressively involved in the energy sector Taiwan Semiconductor, one of the largest chip manufacturers in the world, has invested $193 million in solar-cell maker Motech Industries. That’s but a small example of a major trend in which hi-tech companies are getting aggressively involved in every single aspect of the renewable energy marketplace. Just look at what Google is up to with wind-farms off the Eastern Seaboard!
  • the collapse of attention spans: Everything changes when people lose their ability to focus: sports, shopping, living…..the numbers with the next generation of consumers are simply staggering. The average teen sent 435 text messages per month in 2007; it’s now 2899! That’s 97 messages per day, an increase of 566% in just a few years. It’s estimated that they now spend 7.5 hours a day engaged with some type of media screen; if you add in the fact they are multitasking, it comes out to 11 hours of screen time per day — or 53 hours a week. Thats’ more time than involved in a full time job, and more time than their parents spend at work. What’s the impact? Continued hyper-speed in the evolution of branding and advertising; surreal rates of change involving products and services; unbelievable rates of change in how decisions are made and people are influenced. If you don’t know how to think, market and promote at nano-speeds, you’re not ready for the future!
  • faster market evolution: If we’re thinking faster, than we are innovating faster! New products flood the market at ever increasing speeds, and fast-consumers snap them up in a moment and evolve their lifestyles quicker. We’re all going to begin moving at Apple-speed as Silicon Valley increasingly comes to control the pace of innovation in many industries. Put it this way: it took two years for Apple to sell two million iPhones, but only 2 months for them to sell 2 million iPads! And just about a month to sell 1 million iPhone 4’s! We’re seeing the same trend in many other industries and product lines: the business of outsourcing the manufacturing LCD TV’s exploded from $9.4 billion in 2009 to over $21 billion in 2010, and an estimated $30 billion in 2011. Some products are obsolete before they are released: Lenovo learned this fact when they cancelled their planned “tablet computer” this June due to the unbelievably fast success of the iPod with market domination.
  • innovation partnerships. Given this rate of change, companies are quickly learning that in this fast paced world, they can’t innovate on their own; it is simply too difficult to keep up. And they’ve realized that they can enjoy greater success through open innovation and other external innovation partnerships. A great example of what happens when innovation “opens up” is seen with the partnership between consumer appliance maker Phillips and Sarah Lee on the single-serving coffee machines. It’s a market that grew from nothing to 12 million machines and 7 billion coffee “pods” in just 5 short years! Everywhere I go, I see organizations focused on challenging the core concepts of how they do “new things.” There’s a new mindset, and this is going to drive a big part of the growth for organizations going into the future.
  • the fight against workplace boredom. When there’s so much fun and fast change in the world, a job can be a mind-numbing experience. That’s why one survey suggested that 67% of Gen-Y admitted on their very first day on a new job, they were already thinking about another job. Organizations are fighting back against boredom by trying to keep staff engaged. At IBM’s Bromont Canada plant, the “3×10” program aims to combat workplace boredom by changing employees full set of responsibilities 3 times every 10 years. The program is managed by someone who has worked in 10 different jobs within the plant over the last 28 years. Expect within a few years the likelihood that a 3×10 program will have shifted to a 2×1 program….
  • American-Idolatry : People love competition, they love winners, and they relish the battle! Everyone is learning that if they are to succeed in the future, they have to appeal to the new base of hero-worship that comes from our new awards driven society. Everywhere I go, I see companies who are far more willing to celebrate and elevate heroes. DHL holds an annual innovation day which includes an award ceremony with partners who have worked with them on innovative ideas. Deloitte South Africa hosts an annual “Best Company To Work For’ survey and combines into it an elaborate awards ceremony. The future of workplace and partner renumeration is all about the red-carpet, the spotlight, and the celebration of success!
  • the big impact of small incrementalism. Everyone is learning that one way to win the future is by having a lot of small wins that add up to big gains. The oil industry currently retrieves only 1 out of 3 barrels per well on average, yet a 1% improvement represents huge revenue gains! 7% of power on transmission and distribution lines are lost as heat, yet reduce that loss by 10% – and that would equal all the new wind power installed in the US in 2006. Todays’ typical automotive system uses only 25% of the energy in the tank — the balance is lost to waste, heat, inefficiency. Work on increasing that on a year over year basis, and there are some pretty solid gains through innovation. .At DuPont, the savings add up: globally, they now produce 40% more material as a global company using the same amount of energy they used in 1990. Up to 30% of the energy used in a typical industrial or commercial building today is wasted, but new, incremental improvements in green building design and other eco-principles are fixing this fast. Every industry I am dealing with sees small marginal wins adding up to huge tactical advantage! Small is the new winner…
  • communities redefined: there were 37 million senior citizens in the US in 2006, or about 12% of the population. By 2030, there will be 71.5 million of them, representing 20% of the population. Other nations in the Western world are seeing the same trend: we’re all about to become like Japan! And the reality of funding issues means it will be impossible to have the same seniors-housing or assisted living type of infrastructure that we’ve had in the past. The next generation of retirees are going to live at home longer; they’ll live with each other more; the hippies of the 60’s are going to find themselves in the seniors communes of 2015! Community-bliss: far out, man! What does it mean? Communities are going to have to be rethought, re-designed and reconstructed – community ergonomics is going to be a massive growth industry! Overall, we’ll see a lot more growth in high density, compact, mixed-use communities – and a lot of innovative thinking as to just what the concept of ‘community’ means.

These are but a few trends that I’m thinking about. I’ve got HUNDREDS more.

Think about these trends from this perspective: 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.

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.

It was a busy September, with keynotes and leadership events for the likes of PPG, the Utah League of Cities and Towns, St. Joseph’s Health Center, Transcontinental Media, the Ohio League of Bankers, the Illinois League of Financial Institutions, the Minnesota Hospital Association CEO Summit, Allied Solutions and many other events.

A common theme for many of the keynotes I’ve given for senior executive events at these groups has been the focus on ‘what do world class innovators do that others don’t do?” In that context, there are several key themes I’ve been relentless on:

  • fast beats big: we have never lived in a period of time that has involved such rapid change with business models, competitive landscapes, product and service innovation, challenging consumers, a new political dynamic, and countless other new realities. World class innovators are those who move fast, get things done, and keep getting things done.
  • bold beats old: all around you right now, there are countless numbers of people and organizations who are out to mess up your business model. They’re making bold steps, aggressive moves, and big decisions. This is not a time for timidity; it’s a time for BIG ideas and the pursuit of the offbeat
  • velocity trumps strategy: careful strategic planning can be a critical step in adapting to the future, but in some areas, things are happening so fast that you can’t take the time to strategize: you just need to jump in and go. That’s experiential capital it’s one of the most important investments that you need to be making now. Understand what it is, and why you need to be investing in it NOW.
  • flexibility beats structure: successful innovators have mastered the ability to form fast teams: they know their that their ability to quickly scale resources to tackle fast emerging opportunities or challenges are the only way that they can win in the future. They avoid the organizational sclerosis that bogs too many organizations down
  • disruptors destroy laggards: step into any industry, and there are people who are busy messing about the fundamental business models which have long existed. Start your own disruption before you find yourself disrupted
  • connectivity is the new loyalty: with the forthcoming dominance of mobile technology in everyday lives, everything you know about customer relationships is dead. Right now, it’s all about exploring and building new relationships throughout the mobile data cloud in which the customer lives. If you don’t get that, your brand is dead.
  • location is the new intelligence: with connectivity comes location, which results in new applications, business models, methods of customer interaction, and just about everything. If you don’t have a location strategy for your business, you really don’t understand how quickly your world is changing around you

For more on this thinking, check out the ‘innovation’ tag on my blog.

What happens when Silicon Valley takes over the innovation agenda within an industry? In this video clip from a recent keynote, Jim challenges his audience to think about what happens in the world of banking, particularly with the likely fast paced emergence of contact-less payment technology based on mobile devices.

Innovative organizations need to make sure that they understand the external factors that will influence their future, and need to react appropriately. And as we enter the era of hyper-connected intelligent devices, with the impact of location-intelligence technology and the rapid adoption of mobile technologies, we’re likely to see every industry — even beyond financial services — impacted.

New business models, disruptive competition, a shift in control, customer churn — everything is up for grabs once Silicon Valley seizes control and defines your future!

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.”

2010SiliconValleyInnovation.jpgMy January / February CA Magazine article is out; entitled “Stranger than Science Fiction,” it examines a major theme that has been part of many of my keynotes throughout 2009: what happens to your industry when the pace of innovation is no longer set within the industry itself, but rather, is set by the blistering rate of change as set by Silicon Valley?

Stranger than Science Fiction
by Jim Carroll, CAMagazine

Is your industry in the midst of a transition at Silicon Valley speed? If it isn’t, it could be very soon, because I’m seeing it happen wherever I go. Take the global credit card industry. For a long time, the pace of innovation has been relatively slow and deliberate; aside from the chip found in your new credit card, it’s still been about the same old piece of plastic.

All that is about to change, because as I observed at a recent global financial conference, it is quite likely that our cellphones, BlackBerrys and iPhones will become the credit card of the not-too distant future. When you enter a store, you’ll punch a code into your iPhone to confirm the transaction, and you’ll get an instant receipt. As this transition occurs, the financial payment industry will find it has suddenly lost control of its innovation agenda. Rather than having the future figured out in boardrooms of bank towers, control will have been wrested away by someone in Silicon Valley who innovates at hyper-speed.

The trend is happening everywhere I look, even in the world of sports. I spoke to 4,000 professionals at the National Recreation and Parks Association’s 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 players with instant feedback regarding the strength and accuracy of their swing; the same sensors will trigger their nearby cellphone to automatically capture a video of their time at the plate.

Retail will change at the same fast and furious pace. I’ll walk into a store, and behind the scenes, the store will recognize me through an interaction with my mobile device. That will cause a plasma TV in the corner to start displaying a customized advertisement for me based on prior shopping history, at the same time I’m zapped a coupon for a 20% discount for a few items over on aisle 12.

Farfetched? I don’t think so. Creepy? To us maybe, but perhaps not to the next generation. 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 key point is that entire industries will be swept along at a raging rate of innovation. All of a sudden, those people who have managed in-store design, layout and promotions will find their old skills don’t transfer as easily to this strange new world as the digital denizens reshape the customer experience.

Even the slow, staid senior citizen housing industry is being impacted. Five to 10 years out, we’ll have a lot of baby boomers living out their golden years in regular homes as opposed to retirement homes (simply because society won’t be able to afford it). Medical professionals will manage their care from afar using a vast array of bio-0connectivity medical devices; sensors embedded throughout the home will detect if their behaviour patterns are out of the norm and will trigger an alert. Science fiction? Research into this type of sensor-application is well underway at the University of Missouri.

Here’s a good way to think about innovating at Silicon Valley speed: in my home office, I have an MP3 player from somewhere around 1999. It can hold about three or four songs. It seemed cool at the time. Today, it’s positively a joke compared with the modern iPhone.

Could the fundamentals of your industry as quickly become something like a joke?


Think about this article, and then ask yourself:

  • what are the big transformations that are going to occur in my industry as Silicon Valley Velocity takes over?
  • where will there be business disruption as result?
  • how can I be a disruptor, and establish opportunity?
  • how will my target customers change – how can I reach new customers — how can I build new customer revenue that hasn’t existed before?

Think of many more questions like that, and you’ve found countless opportunities for innovation:

  • Video: Pervasive connectivity
  • Video: Location intelligence and the future of recreation
  • Video The future of seniors care ” “BIG challenges, transformations, opportunities!
  • Blog entry Reinventing the future with transformative technology</b>

2010GoForward.jpgHere’s a quick quote from a year end article that ran in Computer Dealer News:

CDN: How is the recession changing the way we do business?

Jim Carroll: “There’s a realization that we need to get to market faster, because consumer trends are happening faster, and IT plays a big role. If we don’t have a solid infrastructure, if we can’t collaborate, then we can’t push ideas through the organization faster.

And if you think about the rollout of IT, it’s becoming more critical than ever before – it’s the lifeblood by which we develop this ability to act fast.

I talk [to clients] about business model disruption. In the next few years it’s likely that our iPhones, BlackBerrys and mobile devices are going to become credit cards, and the entire financial industry will find that innovation will occur not at the previous speed of banking innovation, but at the speed of Silicon Valley innovation.

So going forward into this next economy they need to ingest new technology faster and respond to faster business model disruption.”

That’s a key trend that impacts every single industry today : into 2010 and going forward, many industries are going to find that the pace of innovation is no longer dictated by the traditional suspects, but by the pace of innovation as set by Silicon Valley. More on that theme to come!

2009InstrastructureChip.jpgWe live in transformative times. The sad fact is, many are unaware of that fact, and as a result, are missing out for opportunities for innovation.

Bill Gates once observed that “most people overestimate the amount of change that will occur in two years and underestimate the change that will occur over ten years.”

Certainly that’s true today. All around us, there’s a tremendous amount of creative thinking occurring as people work to solve some of the biggest challenges of our times. Ten years from now, we’ll sit back in awe at some of the fascinating ideas that came to fruition.

Much of this transformation is coming about as we enter the next phase in our often unique relationship with technology –what we might call pervasive connectivity. Quite simply, everything around us is starting to “plug in” –and there are tremendous opportunities for change as this happens. To ensure that we capture these opportunities, business and government must ensure that they’ve got a good, solid technology infrastructure that can carry them into this odd new world.

Consider the issue of energy and the environment, and the revolution that is now underway in terms of intelligent building infrastructure. In the not too distant future, most residential and commercial properties will have an HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) infrastructure that has ‘gone smart.’ Right now, major industrial players are adding intelligence to the next generation of HVAC systems. We’re seeing remote monitoring and management through Internet-linked thermostats; better analysis and insight into energy usage through remote management of energy production assets ; rapid response to out-of-norm operations. In the not too distant future –maybe by the time you read this article –you’ll use a mobile application that will utilize its GPS connection to determine when you are getting close to home –and it will turn your furnace on.

Technologies such as these allow people to more actively control overall energy usage, and reduce the environmental impact of that use. There are broad benefits to society from encouraging the more rapid adoption of such technologies.

Then there’s the revolution in thinking that is occurring in the world of long-term seniors care. Clearly, the future challenges we face are pretty stark: a massive ramp-up in demand with a shortfall in available and planned units; a funding crisis brought about by plunging investment / housing values, and a bigger tax deficit as a result of the economic challenges of today; not to forget ongoing skills and staffing issues as the very same baby boomers exit the economy in staggering numbers.

So what’s going to happen? We’re starting to see some big, transformative thinking that involves a lot more community and family care. With this, we’ll witness the emergence of the concept of the “virtual retirement home.” By 2020, most seniors will live in their own homes, and their health conditions will be actively monitored by medical professionals through a network of intelligent bio-connectivity and other devices. We won’t have a lot of senior citizen homes — we’ll have virtual seniors networks.

Research is already well underway into the concept; at the University of Missouri, they’re actively working with technology that allows for the use of sensors and other technologies to monitor seniors living at home. Behavioral changes involving sleeping patterns, a reduction in physical activity or other changes can trigger contact; and remote medical devices will allow for routine blood pressure and other medical test.

Then there’s the transformation that is occurring throughout many industries as they learn to rethink the basic business models by which they operate. Think of efforts towards ‘Car 2.0′, which involves a fundamental reinvention of current transportation mindsets. There is a strong belief that we will see a reinvention of the auto industry as the restructuring occurs; particularly as Silicon Valley begins to laser-aim its focus at the next generation of business model. Contrast the thinking of Ford versus Honda. The former retools their plant annually, building several hundred thousand models of a particular vehicle, hoping it will sell. The latter can change things up on a dime, shifting production to meet changing consumer demand in as little as ten days. It’s that type of fundamental transformation that will help to encourage the economic recovery, because business organizations will be operating with far more agility and flexibility.

There are thousands of similar, low-key trends that put together, will have a huge impact on our future.

And here’s a key point: all of these trends involve connectivity and technology; intelligent infrastructure and the intelligent deployment of computing horsepower. We are already in the midst of the next phase of our march to the world of pervasive connectivity. Society is only to become more reliant upon sophisticated, reliable computer infrastructure. We won’t be able to get by with some of the creaky, tired, slow-to-scale systems that many of us have in place.

Here’s the conundrum: one impact of the slowing economy is that leaders have stopped “thinking big” when it comes to the transformative opportunities for innovation through technology. And yet, it is clear that the world of transformative thinking and the solution to our big problems is increasingly occurring at the pace of Silicon Valley.

That means, to keep up with innovation, you have to keep up with that pace of change.

08MoneyBag.jpgThat’s the new value proposition for today, and you’ll do well to think about the phrase as you look to grow or maintain your top line.

The number one concern for many organizations today (beyond mere survival for some) is cost reduction.

If you can give them the chance to do this quickly, they’ll be willing to pay you a premium to do so.

This line of thinking came to line when I spent time two weeks ago in Silicon Vally. I was there to speak to a group of CIO’s from throughout the hi-tech industry.

I met a client from a few years back in the hotel lobby while checking in. He’s now involved in a different IT venture. While catching up on things, I realized that this was the exact value proposition that his new organization was selling.

They’ve got a solution that, when implemented, can help organizations save quite a bit of money on their overall technology spending. Given the scope of the potential savings, and the fact that this company has maintained growth despite economic turmoil, they’ve got a key innovation strategy nailed.

You can learn from this line of thinking. The key things to think about:

  • how can you partner up with your customers to help them achieve cost savings with what they do?
  • how can you help them quickly achieve those cost savings : faster, say, than in the alternate economy of a few months past? Remember, faster is better.
  • are there changes that you might make to your product/service line that can help to accelerate cost savings?
  • can you innovate like mad — thinking about what you do and how you do it — to generate cost savings for those who rely upon you?
    you do it — to generate cost savings for those who rely upon you?

Think about it in the context of any industry. If you are in travel/hospitality, and you offer cost savings with what you are selling, you’ve got a leg up on the competition. If you are selling a service, get the potential cost savings that the service provides out front, and clearly defined — highlight them. If you are selling an industry solution, re-examine the cost savings that your solution provides — and see what you can do to make them bigger.

Think about the phrase, and look for opportunity in it.

leadership08.jpgLast week, I spoke in Palo Alto for a a small, intimate dinner of a number of CIO’s for a variety of companies based in Silicon Valley. The focus of the talk was “how to provide for a culture and focus on innovation during a down market?”

I spoke to this issue from a number of perspectives. One issue I touched on was the inevitability of a rebound in the fortune of IT. If we cast our minds out two to five years, or perhaps even sooner, there are certain key trends in which we see a massive amount of innovation:

  • pervasive connectivity: we’ve barely scratched the surface of the era in which everyday devices gain connectivity and intelligence. The Internet enabled thermostat in my home is but a harbinger of what is yet to come. With it’s own Web browser, it has become a fascinating tool by which energy usage can be more closely monitored. The same device is deployed throughout the Arby’s chain, and offers a significant new method of controlling energy-spend.
  • continued growth of mobile: One recent survey of consumers suggested that while they might be willing to give up buying the latest plasma TV, there was no way they’d give up mobile or the Internet. Mobile is weaving itself into daily life, sophisticated platforms are finally here, devices are fashion, developers are on board in a big way, and the emerging applications are either real and useful, or just a tremendous bit of fun.
  • location intelligence: we’re barely scratching the surface with this one. Every device around us is becoming connected (pervasive connectivity), and we’ll gain knowledge as to its status through sensory awareness. Not only that : we’ll know exactly where it is. Search for “location intelligence professionals” online, and you’ll discover a group of people who understand how unique our future is set to be.
  • computational analytics: I’ve written about this before, in the context of this being “the next billion dollar industry.” Some of the biggest challenges we face and the solutions that we find for them — in terms of transportation, energy and the environment — will come from applying massive computing power and complex alogorithms to them. Think about smart highway infrastructure as an example: it would be ludicrous to not believe that we will see 5, 10, 15 or 20% incremental increases in energy conservation that will come from ever-more
    automated traffic systems.
  • staggering new mass markets: six months ago, it was believed that in the next 10 years, 1 billion people worldwide would move into the middle class. Maybe it’s only half that now : who knows? But 500 million is still a staggering number. There is plenty of potential for connectivity, mobile, hardware and software to newly emerging mass markets.
  • bio-connectivity: if I were a betting man, I’d have my money on this trend. Simply put, the global health care system is massively broken. Ten years out, home health care will pre-dominate, supported by a sophisticated infrastructure of smart health care energy devices. Yes, I’ve written about this trend on this blog too; see below.
  • transformational thinking: an entire generation has been stuck in an older paradigm of how to network; the election of a younger President, wired to the nation and the world, who thinks, interacts, moves, plans, and acts differently, sets even more velocity to the power of connectivity. The Internet, mobile, social networking and blogs changed an entire presidential race; they’re set to change everything else in society on a continuous basis.

Like everywhere, Silicon Valley is being impacted today by a focus on the downside. This happened in every earlier recession; but at the same time, innovators toiled away, coming up with the next amazing devices, concepts, software, ideas and infrastructure that later boggles the mind. We’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of what comes next.


  • Read about what happens When Thermostats get connected
  • Read the article about bio-connectivity, The Doctor is in around the clock
  • Read the article Minds of their own
  • Read “Bioconnectivity and the rapid emergence of new markets”
  • Read the article Command and Control – Opportunity Awaits Companies that Master Hyperconnectivity

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