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Back in the fall, I was the opening keynote speaker for the Annual Coffee, Tea & Water show in Dallas, put on by the National Automatic Merchandising Association. Great feedback – one fellow wrote “Jim, it was just simply astounding. I go to a lot of events and see a lot of speakers, but you hammered home the point that change is inevitable with solid insight, indisputable facts and powerful motivation. Well done!

That’s my job – to take you in the future. It’s why organizations like NASA, Disney, BASF and hundreds of others have engaged me to come in for a talk to rattle their cages.

“Talk about disruption, in just 90 minutes, Jim Carroll, futurist, and trends and innovation expert, managed to terrify me, Miss geeky nerd!” Is this the right approach to the future? Read on!

And sometimes, fear is a great motivator!

Read this article which just ran in CoffeeTalk, the magazine for the industry association, which just ran. In the context of the quote above, at least I know I am getting through!

Transition and Relentless Disruption as the New Reality
by Kerri Goodman, CoffeeTalk, January 2018

While attending the recent NAMA Coffee, Tea & Water conference, I was impressed/terrified by the keynote speaker whose topic was Innovation, Disruption, and Our Industry. Now, I have always prided myself at being not at just the ‘leading edge’ of technology, but at the ‘bleeding edge’ blazing trails through trial and error, rather fearlessly. In fact, CoffeeTalk launched our website in 1994, quite some time before even Coca Cola!

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This November, I’ll keynote the National Automatic Merchandising Association Coffee Tea & Water Show. I did a little promo video teaser about the event during my visit to Walt Disney World last week. Give it a watch!

NAMA also issued a press release about my talk.

Chicago – Jim Carroll, futurist and innovation expert, will kick off NAMA’s Coffee Tea and Water show (CTW) as the keynote speaker. Carroll will lead the at the opening session on Monday, Nov. 6, at 12:45 pm.

Carroll inspires organizations to reframe the opportunity for innovation in the context of significant, transformative change. He is a worldwide authority on global trends, rapid business model change, business model disruption in a period of economic uncertainty and the necessity for fast-paced innovation.

Carroll can offer deep insights into the cutting edge trends of our time, including:

• Autonomous vehicle technology
• Sensors and the Internet of Things (IoT)
• 3D printing
• Virtual reality
• Artificial intelligence
• Block chain and virtual cash
• Machine learning and robotics
• Crowd-thinking
• Next generation R&D

“Jim’s keynote address will help CTW attendees understand the impact of innovation and disruption on their businesses and explore the possibilities the Internet of Things brings for growth,” said Rori Ferensic, NAMA’s director of education in a press statement. “Audience members will gain the tools required to stay relevant in today’s changing business landscape. We’re delighted to welcome Jim to CTW.”

Carroll is also an author, with books including Surviving the Information Age; The Future Belongs To Those Who Are Fast; Ready, Set, Done: How to Innovate When Faster is the New Fast and What I Learned From Frogs in Texas: Saving Your Skin with Forward Thinking Innovation.

People interested in attending CTW can register today at Look for early bird rates and special group rates for operators. The early bird rates end Oct. 2. Attendees can also register for the WIN Boot Camp as part of their initial event registration.

Let’s face it: the trends impacting life and property/casualty and groups benefits insurance companies are real.

The industries will be disrupted by tech companies. Existing brokerage and distribution networks will be obliterated as more people buy insurance direct. Predictive analytics will shift the industry away from actuarial based historical assessment to real-time coverage. Policy niches, micro-insurance and just-in-time insurance will drive an increasing number of revenue models. The Internet of Things (IoT) and massive connectivity will provide for massive market and business model disruption. Fast paced trends involving self-driving cars, the sharing economy, blockchains, personal drones, swarmbots, smart dust, artificial intelligence and augmented reality will either mitigate, accelerate or challenge the very notion of risk assessment and underwriting! What happens when Amazon, Google or some kid in a garage decide to really change the insurance business model?

What seemed to be science fiction just a few short years ago has become a reality today, as time compresses and the future accelerates. Whichever way you look, all sectors of the insurance industry are set for an era of disruption, challenge and change! Is the industry ready for transformative change? Not really! A recent survey indicated that while 94% of Chief Strategy Officers at insurance companies agree that tech will “rapidly change their industry in 5 years,” fewer than 1 in 5 CSOs believe their companies are prepared.

Does the insurance industry have the innovation culture necessary to deal with the potential for what comes next? Maybe not.

Jim has been the keynote speaker for dozens of conferences, corporate events and association annual meetings in the insurance sector, including • Certified Professional Chartered Underwriter Association • LIMRA International • Assurant Insurance • Chubb Commercial • Lincoln Financial • GAMA International • Cigna  • Blue Cross Blue Shield  •Equitable Life Insurance Company  •RBC Life Insurance •MetLife •SwissRe •American Institute of Actuaries • American Automobile Association • FM Global and SunLife. Jim led a discussion on the future of insurance at a private meeting that included CxO’s from most major insurers, including Allianz, XL Insurance, Travelers, AIG,  Zurich Financial Services, Allstate, AXA, MetLife Auto & Home, Farmers,  CNA,  Nationwide, American Famity, Chubb, Ping An, Lloyd’s of London, Liberty Mutual, The Hartford, Generali, GEICO, State Farm, Progressive, and RSA.

Jim Carroll has been helping insurance organizations in the world understand the tsunami of change that is FinTech, the impact of mobile technology, social networks, rapid business emergence, accelerated risk, the emergence of new global competitors and heightened customer expectations.

In his keynotes he puts into perspective the real trends impacting the future of insurance, offering critical insight into the key innovation and leadership strategies in a time of disruptive change.

Videos on Disruption
August 18th, 2016

If you think the industry you operate in will look the same in 10 years, you’re wrong!

Here’s a variety of video clips in which I put in perspective how various industries are being subjected to transformative change and disruption. Rethink your assumptions going forward into the future!

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Next Monday morning, I’ll deliver the opening address for WEFTEC 2012  New Orleans, LA; it will be the kickoff for the  Water Environment Federation’s (WEF) 85th annual technical exhibition and conference, a five-day event that is expected to draw thousands of water quality professionals and exhibitors to the New Orleans Convention Center.

It’s going to be an interesting talk – there’s a tremendous amount of potential for innovation the sector, and I’ll be speaking to the theme of a “new direction.”

Last week, I ran a blog post  for the WEF ; it’s on their site via that link, and also reprinted below!

Water’s Worth It – and So Is Initiative!
by Jim Carroll 

To many, it could seem that the phrase “Water is the oil of the 21st century” is one of the most common phrases in use today. After all, there does seem to be a widespread recognition both in industrialized countries and emerging economies that going forward into the future, water is certainly going to be one of our most important resources.

That’s why, when I walk up on stage to keynote the 2012 Water Environment Federation’s annual conference, I’m hoping to see a sea of faces, each bearing a look of confidence that echoes a bright future for abundant and sustainable water resources worldwide!

After all, if water IS the new oil, then it’s the folks in the room at WEFTEC 2012 who have the potential to take us to a world in which water REALLY is worth it. It is those folks in the room who will play a huge role in pursuing the opportunity for deep transformative change that is possible in the industry. It is the folks in the room who will be able to undertake the big ideas, the big strategies, the big initiatives — and the big risks — to ensure that society can best preserve, protect, recycle, and reuse water.

Should they choose to!

Even with my limited exposure to the industry so far, it is clear that with accelerating science, the rapid emergence of a new slew of water treatment methodologies, potential for chemical and metallurgical extraction and more– that there are all kinds of new opportunities for innovative thinking in the industry of water. That’s what I encounter in many industries today — the world is full of opportunities – if we choose to pursue them.

Yet it can be difficult to do so. An environment of municipal, state and federal government cutbacks makes the pursuit of big ideas ever more difficult. Many days it is simply important to get through with what you have in terms of resources, funding and ideas, rather than taking big, bold steps into the future. Ever increasing complexity of the technology and science around water makes it more difficult to source and access the right skills often necessary to pursue bold new initiatives

It’s easy to fall into a state of inertia when it comes to pursuing the future. Yet water’s worth it now and even more for the future. It’s the folks at WEFTEC 2012 who can and I hope will use the conference as a spark to turn their innovation engines on, and align themselves to the opportunities of the future rather than the challenges of the past.

I’m thrilled to be selected to be the opening keynote speaker for WEFTEC 2012, which is recognized as the largest annual water quality conference and exhibition in the world. It will be held in New Orleans this fall; it will be the 5th major conference that I have headlined in New Orleans this year.

You can read the press release here from the Water Environment Federation. 

This is an extremely important event, dealing with one of the most significant challenges of our time. The issue of water is critically important as we go into the future, and there are huge opportunities for innovation with regard to water safety, quality, sourcing, recycling and treating. Consider just a few critical facts:

  • demand for water is expected to rise 50% in developing countries between now and 2025
  • 85% of US water utilities, desperately working to upgrade dated infrastructure, indicated in a  survey that said that the average water consumer has no idea as to the size of the gap between what they pay for water / wastewater services, and the actual cost of delivery
  • around 30% of the food produced worldwide is never eaten, and the water used to produce it a real loss

Balance such stark trends — and there are many of them — against the innovative thinking that is occurring within the industry. Consider the “Seawater Greenhouse”, which can, according to an article in The Independent Newspaper, which can “make the desert bloom with seawater, corrugated cardboard and wind.”

Wow! This is going to a fascinatingly innovative industry to get involved with. I look forward to the research on this one, and inspiring the world of water to more aggressively innovative with the future.

Some extracts from the press release:

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Jim Carroll, a respected author, columnist, media commentator and consultant who links future trends to innovation and creativity, will deliver the keynote address during the Opening General Session of WEFTEC 2012 this fall in New Orleans, LA. The opening session will kick off the Water Environment Federation’s (WEF) 85th annual technical exhibition and conference, a five-day event that is expected to draw thousands of water quality professionals and exhibitors to the New Orleans Convention Center from September 29 to October 3, 2012.

As one of the world’s leading international futurists, trends and innovation experts, Carroll has provided strategic guidance and insight to some of the most prestigious organizations in the world. He is recognized worldwide as a thought leader and authority on global trends, rapid business model change, business transformation in a period of economic uncertainty, and the necessity for fast paced innovation.

“We live and work in a period of unprecedented change”, said Carroll. “Intelligent infrastructure concepts continue to emerge from the hypothetical to the real while new design methodologies and concepts challenge water professionals to keep ahead of these fast paced developments. I’ll cover the key trends that will provide challenge in the future and outline how to turn them into opportunity.”

The theme of this year’s Opening General Session will focus on “A New Direction for WEF” and tie into the organization’s new Strategic Direction that was announced earlier this year. Carroll’s presentation on innovation and transformation strategy is expected to frame the larger program theme and provide some tools and tips for how to achieve a higher level of success through significant, transformative change.

The International Dairy, Deli and Bakery Association has invited me to be the closing keynote speaker for the 2012 international conference in New Orleans. I’ll appear before an audience of 8,000 key players in this massive global industry.

I’m honoured to join a list of previous keynote speakers that includes Mike Ditka, General Colin Powell, Emeril Lagasse, John Cleese (!), and even Sinbad.

This is another sign that innovation, and keeping up with high velocity change — my main themes — continues to rise to the top in many corporations and associations. Consider what I’m talking about : here’s the brochure copy which announces my participation:

The New Normal: Innovation, Hyper-niching, and Transformative Change

The “new normal” says nothing will ever be normal again. Instead, deep substantial change is transforming nations, markets, industries, jobs, and knowledge. We’re at the leading edge of the merger of three perfect trends: the rapid and massive mobile infrastructure with increasingly intelligent devices; pervasive location awareness as a result of GPS and location intelligence-mapping trends, and a consumer mindset that is increasingly open to new forms of interaction. The result is massive business model disruption, market change, and obliteration of old assumptions aobut the nature of customer relationships. Futurist, Trends & Innovation Expert Jim Carroll will show new ways to uplift product in retail space, how to change customer loyalty through new forms of interaction, and how to enhance one-to-one conversations through hyperniching. He’ll walk us through the impact of increasing business intensity, innovation, and creativity as it relates to the world of food.

The key phrase to think about is “deep substantial change.” And the key thing to think about, is are you ready for it? Is your leadership team, innovation strategy, partners, infrastructure, culture and mindset aligned for transformative change?

Folks, we’re going to look back at 2012 as a year in which the world began to change even faster than any other year prior.

My key phrase has always been, “the future belongs to those who are fast.”

Are you?

At the T. Rowe Price 2011 Investment Symposium in Baltimore on Friday, I listened to the technology panel that preceded my luncheon keynote.

It was a fascinating discussion as a number of their leading analysts spoke of the trends that they saw unfolding with consumer and other digital technology companies, such as Apple, Amazon and Samsung.

Name any industry – auto, health care, manufacturing, energy, banking — and the big trend over the next five years is that Silicon Valley is coming to control the pace of innovation in the industry. And it’s speeding it up!

But I thought that the crowd was hungering for a bit more — where are the next big trends, and the next big transformation opportunities that are going to unfold which are going to provide for the birth of new industries, fast growing companies, and billion-dollar market opportunities?

And so I outlined that reality: the next big areas of growth will come from the transformative change that occurs as Silicon Valley comes to drive the pace of innovation in almost every other industry. As it does so,  it will speed up the rate of innovation.

The impact of this trend is that it will also shift control from any particular industry – insurance, healthcare, banking, auto — to the technology companies. The result will be massive business model disruption as new, faster, more nimble competitors who understand technology based disruption, cast aside their slower, ingrained counterparts.

The future belongs, in other words, to those who are fast. Tech companies and tech based innovators certainly understand this! And the key issue is speed : Apple, for example, could innovate much faster with new credit card financial systems than any bank could. Google and it’s tests of automatic car navigation technology will certainly evolve faster than any auto company in Detroit, Japan or Germany could. Unless leaders in those organizations increasingly learn to focus on speed as a metric, and fast-innovation as a core capability.

Consider just a few of the trends:

  • Banks and credit companies risk losing control of their future as our mobile devices, cell phones and iPhones become credit cards
  • the energy industry and home construction is impacted as a new personal energy infrastructure management, in the form of such devices as the NEST Thermostat, provide for a significant change in the way people use energy
  • health care will be transformed by medical device connectivity and bioconnetivity — allowing hospitals and nursing homes to extend the reach of their medical professionals to an increasing number of remote locations
  • the auto industry will face trendmeondous change as an intelligent highway infrastructure emerges as the same time as intelligent, self-guiding cars and trucks become a regular part of our daily world
  • the world of insurance is upended as we head to a world of predictive insurance modelling through the use of sophisticated technologies such as on-board GPS devices which monitor driver behaviour

These are but just a few examples. I can go into any industry today and point out how Silicon Valley and technology is going to cause significant change and upheaval within the industry. I can spot the smart executives who understand the message and realize that right now is the time for aggressive innovation and big thinking.

And then in other clients, I can see this observation pass right over the heads of some of those in the audience, and realize we’ve got folks who are like deer in the headlights — the trends are blinding in their reality, but they are frozen by their inability to do anything.

I spoke about this trend in a recent keynote.

There are a whole series of related posts in which I’ve commented on the significance of this trend and the speed with which it is occurring. These are just a few.

  • Silicon Valley innovation velocity set to dominate every industry 
  • When Silicon Valley Takes Over Health Care Innovation 
  • This ghost town in New Mexico could turn into one of the most important innovation engines 
  • Reinventing the future with transformative technology
  • Silicon Valley: Is Innovation Dead? 

One of the biggest challenges in being an innovator is keeping faith in your belief as to where trends are going to take you.

You’ll find no shortage of people who will detract you from your goals, using one of the most effective innovation killer phrases: “that’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.”

Certainly history has taught us this lesson! Consider how some have reacted in the past to what proved to be very significant, transformative developments:

  • There will never be a bigger plane built.” A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that carried ten people.
  • There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.” – Albert Einstein, 1932
  • Computers may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.” – Popular Mechanics, 1949
  • There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” – Ken Olson, president of Digital Equipment Corp. 1977
  • This telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.” – Western Union memo, 1876
  • No imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?“- David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urging investment in the radio in the 1920’s.
  • The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.” – Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project.
  • Airplanes are interesting toys, but they are of no military value whatsoever.” – Marechal Ferdinand Fock, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre
  • While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility.”- Lee DeForest, inventor
  • Radio has no future. Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. X-rays will prove to be a hoax.” – William Thomson, Lord Kelvin English scientist, 1899
  • Nuclear powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality within 10 years.” – Alex Lewyt, quoted in the New York Times, 1955
  • Video won’t be able to hold onto any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” — Darryl F. Zanuck, Head of 20th Century-Fox Studios, 1946

When in a period of transformative change — as many industries now find themselves – it is all too easy to use disbelief to cling to the past. In order to be innovative, you’ve got to be willing to ignore the naysayers!

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