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2017 and Beyond



Are you ready for 2018?

You need to be. Change is fast and furious, and it’s everywhere. Watch this to understand what comes next — and what you need to do!

 

Production note: ‘green screened’ in my basement with my new iPhone X. The video quality of this phone is staggering! Awesome video edit done by my partner in Moscow, Armine Simonyan, aka Alexandra. Her work is wonderful!

It’s always fun to watch the crystallization of a trend that you’ve been speaking about on stage for over 15 years. And that trend is what I’ve come to call ‘complexity partners.’

I recently did a keynote for Quintiq, which is a company that builds a software platform that helps companies to manage complex supply chains and workforces. And while there, I did an interview with them on why the need for ‘managing complexity’ is becoming critical in the context of faster trends.

 

It’s kind of fun, because this is a trend I’ve been speaking about for 20 years, going way back to my book, “Surviving the Information Age.” I it,  which I coined the phrase, “complexity partners,” describing in it that one of the key things organizations would need to focus on in the future was managing increasing complexity. Nailed it!

And I’ve written many posts around the issue, particularly around complex workforce issues. For example, in a blog post on 21st century capital, I wrote this:

  • complexity partnerships: in the 20th century, organizations focused on hiring the skills that they needed to get the job done. You simply can’t do that today — skills are too fragmented and too specialized. That’s why successful organizations have mastered the art of complexity supply and demand. They provide their own unique complex skills to those of their partners who need such skills. And when they are short other skills, they tap into the skills bank of their partners. By selling and buying skills with a broad partnership base, they’ve managed to become complexity partners — organizations that spend most of their time focusing on their core mission, and spend less time worrying about how they are going to do what they need to do.

It’s a big and important issue, and if you look at the client list for Quintiq, you’ll know that the trend has matured and gone supernova. Here’s a clip from the keynote! Enjoy!

You know you are doing something right when an organization brings you back for the 3rd time!

The International Asset Management Council is an organization relentlessly focused on economic trends, and represent two distinct groups – economic development representatives from government organizations, including states, provinces and cities, as well as individuals in many Fortune 1000 organizations responsible for future site locations for manufacturing plants, R&D facilities or other corporate locations. The content of my talk? Look at this picture. Now read this post.

IAMC had me in for a keynote in 2003 to put into perspective how the Internet and technology would continue to change the global economy, and again in 2010 to paint a picture as to why we would continue to see massive economic growth after the economic downturn of 2008. My predictions in both keynotes were bang on.

Fast forward to 2017: they just had me in to open their fall 2017 economic outlook conference in Richmond, Virginia, with a keynote focused on the trends that are providing for future opportunity in the manufacturing sector. That was easy for me to do – I’ve done dozens of keynotes in the world of manufacturing sector over the last decade, both for manufacturing associations as well as Fortune 500 companies.

The undercurrent of my talk, though, in putting manufacturing trends into perspective, was the broader theme : we live in a transformational period of time, in which people and organizations are making big bold decisions related to major trends, in order to discover and establish success in the next economic wave. Obviously, folks like Elon Must.

So what should someone in economic development do to discover the next wave of economic opportunity? Here’s a good list to start thinking about the question!

  1. Align to tectonic shifts – While there is only one Tesla Motors and Gigafactory, and but one Elon Musk, there are many other new companies and people reinventing our world. There are a massive number of new disruptive trends (such as detailed in my blog post, Disruption: There’s More to It Than You Think There Is! Each of these trends which can provide for big economic opportunity, massive industry shift, and the establishment of new companies. Watch those disruptive trends, and understand where future growth with occur.
  2. Be relentlessly positive.The trends defining the future are around us now, and are defining future economic growth! Over my 25 years as a futurist, I’ve been through several economic downturns, but have always preached that real opportunities are found in trends: science, technology, knowledge and transformation. When the next inevitable downturn hits (we’ve been on a great 8 year run since 2008), make sure you keep your thinking aligned to future opportunities.
  3. Think trends, not fads.  It’s all too easy for those in economic development areas to focus on the fad of the day: think, for example, of the hysteria around the recent Amazon 2HQ beauty contest. While you probably need to chase opportunities like this, don’t let it make you forget out about other trends that are charging the future forward.
  4. Challenge assumptions on speed. The future is happening faster than you think! Consider, for example, how quickly self driving cars are coming about, and the rush to electric vehicles. Both have profound economic development implications, such as what I suggest in this post, Self-driving Cars and Economic Success. Challenge yourself on velocity: be prepared to accelerate your efforts.
  5. Align to fast science. All trends are based, at their heart, on the result of scientific discovery. Think about the fast pace of evolution of battery technology, and how Nevada hit a home run with the placement of the Gigafactory in Reno. Here’s the thing: batteries are the new plastic, and there is going to be a lot of economic growth, investment and new industry established around this one single aspect of our world of science. 
  6.  Know when to jump. When should a community align to a trend? In the IT world, many of us rely on something called the Gartner HypeCycle. It’s a useful tool to understand when any particular trend might become real and hav major impact. Make the hype-cycle part of your overall process — jump in any get involved with any trend in order to understand
  7. Focus on ‘smart’. There’s a lot of hype about smart cities and the future, and some of it might be overplayed. But clearly, organizations in the future will choose to place facilities in locations that have smart infrastructure, smart highways, fast bandwidth, and all the other attributes of being at the forefront of trends.
  8. Don’t be dumb. I can’t think of a dumber economic initiative than the money that Wisconsin is putting behind the Foxconn plant. Expect to wake up in 5 years to headlines as to how idiotic the structure of the deal was. Don’t jump on board fake trends.
  9. Don’t be afraid to fail. Having said that, be prepared to make some mistakes along the way. Nevada put a lot of money into an initiative by Faraday involving an electric car factory that appears to have failed. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily so, since when it comes to aligning to the future — you win some, and you lose some.
  10. Be like Fiji. Fiji doesn’t have a potato industry, but no matter. They’ll build one. For a great economic development attitude, read this post.
  11. Think skills. Focus on the new job categories that are emerging. For example, in the world of agriculture, we are seeing the emergence of all kinds of new careers, such as vertical farming infrastructure managers, drone helicopter insurance crop risk managers, robotic herd health monitors and cattle ranch drone herder infrastructure managers! Go into any industry, and watch the new careers coming about – and then think about the economic development implications that might come from that.
  12. Go global for ideas. Think big trends. Vertical farming mentioned above? Already there are 800 million ‘city-farmers’ according to UN statistics – including 25% of population of Burkina Faso, 35% in Cameroon, 63% in Kenya, 68% in Tanzania. Fast fact: 90% of the fresh vegetables in Accra, Ghana come from farming within the city. So vertical farming is a major trend, and has implications for your local economy. Assess what it might mean in terms of opportunity, infrastructure, new companies….
  13. Get distributed. Make sure your infrastructure is aligned to the new decentralization. Consider local renewable energy generation, or “distributed energy resources.” It’s growing 3-5x faster than centralized energy — one California utility estimates investments in DER in solar and micro-grid is now growing faster than its own main new-energy & basic grid investment. Distribution is happening in every industry, resulting in fascinating new companies establishing wonderful new companies based on concepts that didn’t exist just a few years ago.
  14. Watch for clues. We live in the era of the ‘grand challenge” — initiative such as the XPrize Foundation, which challenge the global scientific community to solve some of the biggest problems of our time having to do with energy, healthcare, the environment, transpiration. The XPrize led to SpaceX; the Darpa challenge led to the emergence of the self-driving car trend. Other challenges are leading to the birth of other new billion dollar industries.
  15. Ignore those who are playing defence. Doomed business models fight losing battles to try to protect their future, and most often, fail. That’s happening right with automotive dealer associations as they try to protect a dying business model in the face of rapidly changing consumer behaviour, and upstarts like Tesla who dare to do something different with automotive stores in shopping malls. The same holds true for record companies in their battle against Mp3 music — we now live in a music streaming world. Place your bets on the disruptors, not the disrupted.
  16. Align to the bold changes. For example, take a look at how Saudi oil giant Aramco is realigning its business to petrochemicals and away from oil. That parallels other big shifts — from carbon cars to electric vehicles; from coal to renewables; from car-buying to car-sharing. Better to align yourself to those who are making big bold moves as opposed to those who are stuck in the status quo.
  17. Look for exponential trends. WE sequenced 1/10000th fo the human genome in 1990, and 2/10000 in 1991. It was only 1% by 2007 – but 7 years later, it was done. That’s exponential math: 1% is only 7 doublings away from 100%. The same type of trend is driving solar : we are at 2% solar today, but 2% is only 6-doublings away from 100%. We’re doubling solar capacity every 2 years, and so that leaves only 12 years to 100%. Understand exponential industries, and you’ll understand economic growth.
  18. Be like the Jetsons, not the Flintstones. Coal isn’t the future. Get over it.
  19. Think long term. Just like investing. Creativity doesn’t care about economic downturns. Those who invent the future will keep doing so despite any economic uncertainty. Have a long term economic success plan, and stick with it through the ups and downs.
  20. Think global. Look at the picture below which I put up on day as part of my daily motivational posting. Simply put. America isn’t everything.

But wait, there’s more!

    21. Hire me! Seriously. If you want to discover the future of economic opportunity, bring in a futurist like me. We’ll share with you what comes next, infuse you with our optimism, and show you a path forward.

Disruption is real, it’s big, and it’s happening faster than you think. My job as a futurist has me doing an increasing number of CEO level events for Fortune 500 companies around the world, participating in leadership meetings which are focused on the massive transformations and disruption occurring in every single industry. Clients such as NASA, Disney, Godiva, Nikon, Mercedes Benz, Johnson & Johnson, and many more.

There is so much coming together all at once, and it accelerates everything. You might not understand the multiple trends that are coming together, so let me take you there.

Here’s what you need to think about today, as the pace of change picks up:

1. Multiple trends merge. There’s a lot going on! Individually, any trend is disruptive. Combine them together, and it’s transformative. 3D printing, exponentiating bandwidth, hyper-connectivity, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, robotics, neural networks, deep analytics, autonomous vehicles, Bitcoin and blockchain, self-learning systems. All of these trends and more are merging together,  leading to a massively new, connected, intelligent machine that will transform, change, challenge and disrupt every industry.

2 Every company becomes a software company. From healthcare to insurance, home appliances to automotive, manufacturing to packaging, retail to sports & fitness, energy to agriculture: every industry is seeing massive change as it becomes enabled, challenged and transformed by technology and connectivity. From precision agriculture to self-driving cars, smart clothing to connected microwaves, remote medical monitoring devices to active packaging  — every company in every industry is becoming a computer company, with software and technology at its heart and soul.

3. Moore’s law innovation speed defines every industry. It’s the rule that defines that the processing power of a computer chip constantly increases while the cost collapses at an exponential rate — and that speed of change is coming to drive the speed of innovation in every single industry as we all become tech companies. Companies are having to innovate and transform at a pace never seen before.
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4. Science exponentiates. The volume of medical knowledge is doubling every six years, and the number is going down. The cost for genomic sequencing is following an exponential downward curve. Battery technology innovation is moving forward at a furious pace with new methodologies, ideas and more coming to market. One single new chemical substance allowed Apple to miniaturize the hard drive for the original iPod, which led to the birth of a billion dollar industry. Science is the heart of the future, and the future is happening faster!

5. Edge thinking dominates. Crowdfunding networks allow for a world in which small upstarts don’t need to follow long-established ‘rules’ for changing the future. To move faster, they source ideas and inspiration through crowd-thinking, raise their funds through new forms of financing, and prototype products through 3D printing and other fast-to-market methodologies. Global R&D has moved from massive labs to globally dispersed idea factories.

6. Small beats big. Legacy is death: agility and speed are the new metrics for success. Big organizations are often encumbered by history and are suffering from the disease of  organizational sclerosis. New, aggressive upstarts can move faster, with the result that they can make decisions that provide for big disruption and challenge.

7. Ideas accelerate. With the Internet, we have essentially built a big, global idea machine, and fast innovators know how to mine its riches. In every field, the pace of innovation and discovery is speeding up to an unprecedented level. What use to seem like science fiction just a few years ago is todays’ reality.

8. Revenue reinvents – regularly. With fast ideas comes faster innovation : 60% of Apple’s revenue comes from products that didn’t exist 4 years ago. That’s a blistering pace of innovation. Expect that to become the norm in most industries as the future accelerates, product lifecycles collapse, and disruption disrupts.

9. Attention spans collapse. All of this fast change is difficult to comprehend, and so we have become scattershot! We now scan some 12 feet of shelf space per second – a goldfish has a longer attention span than a human. We need to have constant, relentless innovation in terms of marketing, branding and consumer outreach, not to mention what we need to do to engage our workforce!

10. New interaction dominates. Mobile is everything; we live on our devices. It influences everything we do, all that we decide, and much of how we interact with each other. The next phase will involve smart, connected packaging talking to our devices, and a new era of hyper-connectivity that will make todays’ early attempts at mobile marketing seem like child’s play.

11. Business models realign. The Internet of Things (#IoT) doesn’t just result in cool new products – it redefines entire revenue models. The era of predictive diagnostics allows for a future in which appliance or automotive manufacturers can now design products that will tell you when they are about to break down. This changes the essence of the product from a physical device that is sold to the sale of a service with uptime guarantee revenue models.

12. Distributed technologies redefine. When everything connects, power disperses. Micro-grids will change the utility industry as backyard wind, solar and other renewables result in little, local neighbourhood micro-grids. Cars that talk to each other and to sensors in the highway result in a new concept of transportation. Everywhere you look, distributed connected technologies are redefining concepts and turning industries upside down.

13. Money disappears. Sometimes distributed technology have a bigger impact than you think – as is the case with blockchain, which essentially redefines money. Central banks are out, and distributed ledgers are in. Ethereum goes one step further than Bitcoin, by embedding the historical contract concept of an offer and acceptance into the very essence of money. It’s intelligent money, and we still don’t know how quickly this will change everything.

14. Flexibility emerges. Given all this change, companies are focused on agility in order to get ahead. At a manufacturing plant in Graz, Austria, Magna has built the ultimate in flexible assembly lines, with the ability to build different cars from different companies on one assembly line. Elsewhere, companies are busy moving the software concept of agile development into the boardroom, adopting it as a key leadership trait. The ability to change fast is now the oxygen that fuels success.

15. Gamers Game. 25,000 people showed up to watch 4 gamers play a video game tournament in the Los Angeles Staples Centre – and 43 million tuned in worldwide via Twitch, the hottest new social platform on the planet. They’re coming into the workplace, and live in a world that involves a constant need to ‘level-up.’ Nothing will ever be the same as new forms of motivation and reward come to drive everything – and in this world, Xbox-type rooms are the new office!

16. Virtualization arrives. AR and VR are here, and the era of virtual welding is not too far off – and any other skill can be undertaken anywhere, at any time. An example is the forthcoming disruption of trucking, which will happen when a driver in India can navigate a truck through the streets of New York through a virtual headset! Outsourcing of skills is one thing – outsourcing of physical work is a whole new level altogether!

17. Infrastructure risk exponentiates. One word – Equifax. We are busy building a big, elaborate machine in the form of massive connectivity and accelerated information, but don’t quite know how to secure it. The TV show South Park had a character do a shoutout to in-home Amazon Echo and Google Home devices — and exposed a new security risk that no one ever thought about. Expect things to get better much worse before it gets better!

18. Insight influences. Big data and analytics might be overused buzzwords, but not to everyone. We live in a new world of Amazonian insight, where those who have the tools and knowledge to understand what is is really going on are the ones to get ahead. Depth of insight drives disruption – actuaries are moving from a world of looking back to one fo looking forward based on real time medical device connectivity. Car insurance is no longer based on past driving performance, but real time behaviour based on GPS. Even the world of health care is moving from a a world in which we fix you after you are sick – to knowing what you will be sick with based upon your genetic profile, and acting accordingly.

19. Expectations accelerate. If your Web site sucks, so do you. In our new world, people want the simplicity of a Google query via a touch screen device. Gone are the days of complex online forms — in are applications that are instantly aware of who you are and what you want. The bar of expectations is increasing at a furious pace, and if you can’t keep up, you can’t compete!

20. Industries virtualize. No one company can do everything that needs to be done in an era of fast change. In retail, all kinds of new partners are emerging to support last mile shipping, drop shipping capability, drone delivery and more. In finance, there are more types fo Fintech startups than there are world currencies, helping banks to navigate the complex new world of cryptocurrencies and more.

21. Knowledge accelerates. Skills access is the new gold. Did you notice Ford paid $1 billion to get access to some experts in self-driving car technology? Enough said. Those who can access the skills in trend #1 above win. We’re in a global war for niche talent, and that pretty much defines a critical strategy for the future. If it is all about skills, then success involves a strategy in which grabbing them fast is the only path forward.

22. Experience is the new capital. Innovation is the new oxygen. There’s no time to learn, to study, to plan. It’s time to figure out what you don’t know, and do the things that are necessary to begin to know about it. Experiential capital is the new capital for the 21st century.

23. Generations transform. 1 out of 2 people on the planet are under the age of 25. They’re globally wired, entrepreneurial, collaborative, change oriented — and they are now now driving rapid business model change, and industry transformation, as they move into executive positions

24. Big, bold thinking predominates. There are people who grab all of these trends and do “big things.” We are seeing the emergence of an entire world of big dreamers and doers, individuals who dare to challenge the orthodox, and abandon routines. The concept of the ‘moonshot’ is no longer restricted to those with deep pockets — but is oxygen for those with big ideas.

25. Action is the best reaction. Put it all together, and what odes it mean? If you don’t disrupt, you will be disrupted. It’s your ability to quickly act, react and do that will allow for future success. There’s not a lot of time for debate, studying; inertia is abhorred. Simply DO. That should be you.

Remember that song by the Who? “I hope I die before I get old!”

You better change before you can’t.

You might be obsolete before you know it.

Quit talking about disruption.

Do something about it.

Here’s a clip from a recent keynote. It’s part of a talk where I cover 20 Disruptive Trends, and put into perspective why the future belongs to those who are fast! In this short clip, I cover trends involving batteries, self-driving, 3d printing, the space industry, genomics, health care knowledge, and more! Including why I can drink more coffee than other people!

I’ve got a keynote topic description coming around this, with a draft below.

Aligning Acceleration and Agility: The Business Case for Fast!

To say that we live in a fast world would be an understatement. Small, quick upstarts like Square are challenging the global credit card industry, at the same that GPS based driver monitoring devices are rewriting the rules of the auto insurance industry. The NEST Learning Thermostat morphs from a quiet startup to a worthy challenger to industrial energy device powerhouses. Autonomous vehicle technology leads us to road trains and a more rapid emergence of intelligent highway infrastructure. We’re in the era of the end of incumbency, in which small dominates big, fast trumps ponderous, and indecision spawns failure. Everywhere we look, we can see acceleration, speed, and velocity: and in times like these, time isn’t a luxury.

For any executive, these trends matter — because fast trends drive disruptive change. And disruptive change envelopes us in terms of fast trends: self-driving cars, 3d printing, crowdfunding, the sharing economy, blockchains, personal drones, swarm-bots, smart dust, vertical farms, the Internet of Things, cognitive computing, smart factories, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, quantum computing, intelligent farms, smart clothing! What seemed to be science fiction just a few short years ago has become a reality today, as time compresses and the future accelerates.

Take a voyage with Futurist Jim Carroll into the world of tomorrow, today, as he outlines the key trends, technologies, ideas and initiatives that are transforming our world around us at hypersonic speed. A world in which the speed of change impacting every company and every industry is increasingly driven by the speed of technology and Silicon Valley hyper-innovation. One that demands faster innovation, agile response, flexible strategies, and most important, the ability to ‘think big, start small, scale fast.’
For the last 25 years, Jim Carroll has been speaking to and advising some of the worlds largest organizations on the trends that will impact them. With a client list that ranges from NASA to Disney, the Swiss Innovation Forum to the National Australia Bank, Johnson and Johnson to Godiva Chocolates, Jim has had a front row seat to the massive change being encountered in industries worldwide, and deep insight into the leadership mindset of organizations as they adapt to the era of acceleration.
 In just a few short years, it will the year 2025, and the world of tomorrow will be your reality of today. Are you ready for what comes next?

 

The folks at New Equipment Digest interviewed me a few weeks back for an article on manufacturing,  ahead of a major keynote I had earlier this month.

You’ll have a 50-year old guy or lady in the factory, and you bring these tools to help streamline processes and they say, “Oh my God! This is terrible that can take my job away. I’m done; I’m toast.” And somebody in their 20’s is going to say, “cool.” It’s a much more agile workforce, much more willing to try new things.

It’s but one talk I do in this sector; on Monday, I’ll headline the International Asset Management Council on future manufacturing trends. They’re the folks from Fortune 1000 organizations who make the decisions on where to locate future factories, logistics locations and supply chain investments.

INDUSTRY TRENDS
Futurist Says “Fast & Furious” Changes Coming to Manufacturing

Forget your Magic 8-Ball or fancy-schmancy predictive analytics. Futurist Jim Carroll knows what lies ahead for manufacturing and technology, and we have the scoop for you here. Bet you didn’t see that coming.
John Hitch | Sep 21, 2017

Jim Carroll, a former accountant and current author/corporate speaker, is confident he knows what’s going to happen in the world of manufacturing. And the world renowned Canadian futurist doesn’t need a flux capacitor or any other sci-fi MacGuffin to make bold claims in front of millions about what technologies they need to adopt now, and what the world will look like for our children after we’re rocketed to our Martian retirement homes — where our corpses will no doubt be used as fertilizer for space yams. (You’re welcome, Elon.)

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This October, I’ll keynote the MacKay CEO Forum 2017 Edge Summit in Vancouver, with about 500 CEO’s in the room. I’ll take a look at what happens when accelerating technology trends result in every company become a technology company.

I just wrote up a new keynote topic description, modified from a few of my other topic outlines.

Aligning to Velocity: Key Trends and Strategies for the Era of Acceleration

We have a new vocabulary! Self-driving cars, 3d printing, crowdfunding, the sharing economy, blockchains, personal drones, swarm-bots, smart dust, vertical farms, the Internet of Things, cognitive computing, smart factories, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, quantum computing, intelligent farms, smart clothing! What seemed to be science fiction just a few short years ago has become a reality today, as time compresses and the future accelerates.

Take a voyage with Futurist Jim Carroll into the world of tomorrow, today, as he outlines the key trends, technologies, ideas and initiatives that are transforming our world around us at hypersonic speed. A world in which the speed of change impacting every company and every industry is increasingly driven by the speed of technology and Silicon Valley hyper-innovation. One that demands faster innovation, agile response, flexible strategies, and most important, the ability to ‘think big, start small, scale fast.’

 For the last 25 years, Jim Carroll has been speaking to and advising some of the worlds largest organizations on the trends that will impact them. With a client list that ranges from NASA to Disney, the Swiss Innovation Forum to the National Australia Bank, Johnson and Johnson to Godiva Chocolates, Jim has had a front row seat to the massive change being encountered in industries worldwide, and deep insight into the leadership mindset of organizations as they adapt to the era of acceleration.

In just a few short years, it will the year 2025, and the world of tomorrow will be your reality of today. Are you ready for what comes next?

Want to understand the future? It’s all about the batteries!

My attention was reminded of this fact last week with an article that appeared on Bloomberg, “Tech Guru Bill Joy Unveils a Battery to Rival Lithium-Ion,” which brought me back to a series of Twitter posts I did a few months back about trends involving batteries.

The thread is worth revisiting, since what is happening with battery technology today will impact dozens of industries into the future! Often, entire industries will be changed and disrupted by the most innocuous of trends.

Obviously, the energy, hi-tech and automotive sectors will be transformed by the acceleration of battery innovation.  But so will other industries, such as healthcare, aerospace, and agriculture. Everywhere I look, I see big changes and opportunities that come from the acceleration of battery science.

With that, I’m pretty convinced that in the future, people will come to realize that one of the most transformative trends of our time had to do with the acceleration of the science of battery technology. To understand why the acceleration of battery science, and innovation around battery concepts is so important, let’s replay the Twitter thread here, with some added commentary.

First off, battery technology is being subjected to the acceleration of basic science, with I have been speaking on stage about for many years. Specifically, the key point being that “we’re going from 19 million known chemical substances today, to 80 million by 2025, and 5 billion by 2100. Any new substance can lead to the emergence of a billion dollar market.”

That’s the acceleration of battery science in a nutshell.

The key concepts accelerating concepts with batteries involve how to improve longevity, weight, and innovate with battery concepts to ride this pace of scientific discovery.  Simply put, there are big opportunities that come from making batteries lighter, that last longer, and which are based on new concepts and scientific ideas, not to mention innovate methods of utilizing them.

Where is the basic science innovation occurring? With drones!

What sparked my original Twitter thread was an article I came across which focused on the unique research occurring with drone batteries. Drones have quickly become a part of many industries, yet have been limited in terms of how long and how far they can fly. The article took a look look at the many new types of batteries – beyond the common lithium-ion batteries – which are under development. If you want to understand what’s really happening with the science of batteries, read the article.

As a futurist, I track dozens of topics in order to keep up with trends, and last month, this article below caught my attention. It’s another example that there is a lot of innovation occurring with different concepts in battery science, another barometer for fast innovation.

And the disruption from batteries? It’s huge in every industry. In the energy sector, for example, it will allow people to store energy from their own backyard energy sources, to be reused later. Then they’ll connect to their neighbours, leading to the emergence of little local energy micro-grids. People will disrupt the utility industry just as they they disrupted the music industry!

Since industries understand that batteries really define their future, the pace of innovation is moving from fast to furious.

And then, while writing may Twitter thread, another article about battery science innovation caught my attention!

And another…. the key thing is, take a look around, and there is just an amazing level of science innovation with battery tech – just as there was with ‘plastics’ in the 1960’s!

Often, to think about the future, you need to stretch your mind well into the future, and think big and bold. Folks are doing that in the battery space:

Add it all up, and something transformative is happening!

I’ve been speaking about the impact of battery science on industries for many ears, including in the energy sector; in 2012, I keynoted a global energy event for Accenture, and spoke about how battery technology was leading to fascinating  concepts — such as a 24 hour solar power plant!

I’ve also written about the topic for many organizations, such as this article I wrote for GE, distributed to their clients worldwide.

Of course, the thing about innovation is this: there are often people who discount the speed of trends which are occurring, or simply can’t conceive of how massive change comes into play.

Back to the fact that it is all about accelerating science. (I repeat myself!)

And so, it’s all about the batteries!

What should you think about next? Maybe penguins!

Your car is about to become your concierge. A personal robot. And so much more.

You probably don’t have a lot of time to think about all the things that are going on with the rush to self-driving cars and electric vehicles. I do – that’s my job as a futurist. The things is, you don’t know what you don’t know, until you know it.

So I’m going to let you know!

We are currently seeing a massive acceleration of change hitting the auto industry. I’m doing lots of keynotes around the theme — read Accelerating the Auto Industry in the Era of Self-Driving Vehicles.

What’s next? Here are some things you might not be thinking about:

  • the simplicity of design means more companies enter the car and truck industry. Carbon and gas is tough; electric and tech is much easier. Electric involves a motor, some wheels, and some stuff to connect the two, with a few computers thrown in. That’s a bit of a stretch, but talk to anyone in the industry, and its ‘way easier’. Simply put, the next generation of vehicles is easier to design, engineer and build, with the result that we will see more organizations entering the space.
  • the shift in legal liability is huge.  As in, what happens in a crash between an autonomous car and a human driven vehicle? Who do police take a statement from? Do we impound the data record? If so, from the cloud? Lots of fun is going to unfold in this area!
  • partnership is everywhere. The industry is blurring at a furious pace. Coming together are companies in the battery and alternative energy space; telematics and GPS and intelligent highway technology; cybersecurity companies and dozens more. Simply take a look at a few infographics on the number of companies getting involved.
  • the future will be full of surprises. For example, who would have predicted Nvidia, long known for making the graphics cards that were at the heart of the gaming industry, is now at the forefront of the self-driving car industry — because of the ability of their technology to process the vast volumes of data that are involved. There are lots more NVidia’s out there, repositioning themselves for this fast-future.
  • there might be an increase in automated muggings. A self-driving car will be programmed to stop when it senses a human in front of it. Hence, I could merely walk into a road, stand there, and the car will stop. It will then take me a moment to do something evil to relieve the occupants of their valuable. Who will program and mitigate against this scenario?
  • route and car hacking will be the next ransomware.  Have you seen the experiment where someone placed some concentric circles on a road that totally confused a self-driving car? What happens when the computer virus industry sets its sights on the new computer-car industry? Oh, the places we’ll go and the things we will see (or not see, as it were…)
  • there will be data wars. Self-driving cars generate lots of data, and many questions are as yet unanswered. As in, who owns the data, and what can they do with it? People buying, sharing or leasing cars will be presented with massive “I agree to all terms and conditions” word dumps like they get with their iPhones and software, and they will click away their right to any of that data. Expect massive new intellectual property issues to emerge, and lawyers who will make a lot of money going forward as these data issues get sorted out.
  • the data will be worth a lot of money. Google built a business on search. Car data companies will build a business based on location and navigation.
  • you car will become a credit card. At the same time that companies equip cars with cell capability to turn the vehicle into a Wi-Fi hotspot, they’ll also put a SIM card and technology in place that will let the car do an automatic credit card transaction. Apple put Apple Pay into a mobile device, and as the car becomes a phone, it will become an Apple Pay device too! You’ll pay at the drive-through simply by putting your thumbprint on the dash.
  • driver education will change. It will move from “how do I drive a car” to “how do I use a car?” Why? Consider a University of Iowa study : 65% of drivers didn’t know how to use adaptive cruise control, and many didn’t event know what it was! Expect befuddlement and bewilderment as cars become computers on wheels.
  • watch the drones to understand the future of electric cars. One major form of car innovation today is occurring with battery technology, which is at the heart of electric vehicle technology. Those in the drone space are working hard to figure out how to extend the range of flying drones, and are doing lots of research with new battery technologies that offer extended range through lower weight. This will bleed into the electric vehicle market, and will lead to rapid advances in electric car range and a decrease in cost.
  • your car will be personalized based on biometrics and technology. – Your car will know who you are when you get in, when you approach it, or when you phone it, and will adjust its settings based on that knowledge. Your car will have a trusted relationship with your mobile device, your fingerprint and your eyeball. You will start it simply by having it examine your retina, rather than pressing a button.
  • the purpose of a car will fragment. Cars today are designed to get you from point-A to point-B. In the future, specific cars will be designed for a specific purpose, with the result that the very concept of a car is going to fragment. There will be cars for long distance vs those built for a short commute; those built for peloton travel (i.e. interlinking with other cars in a pack) vs. those which are engineered to excel at navigation for narrow city streets. There will be cars which will be decked out as a home office for a self-driving commute, and others which will be tricked up to be rolling bedrooms on wheels for tourists. We’ll see lots of new types of cars, with different cost implications the result!
  • self-driving cars might obliterate pizza delivery jobs and other activities. Your car will simply go out and get pizza when you tell it too. In this way, your car will evolve to become a personal-concierge-robot, undertaking various activities at your command. Car-as-a-service concepts will unfold.
  • big bets are being made, big bets will be lost; Business books will be written in the future as to who won, who lost, and which big bets they made along the way It’s an epic battle between car companies and tech companies, and we are in the midst of a 100 year revolution. One estimate suggests that there are currently 50 major competitors in the space today; that might be reduced to 5 or 6 within a decade.
  • video gaming will come to cars. With that in mind, we’ll see video game consoles and controllers built into cars. After all, while its busy taking you to work, you’ll have some time to kick back and destroy a few daemons!
  • we’ll see ‘network of cars‘, and network-subscriptions will be available. You’ll be able to link to your friends and go off on a self-driving voyage somewhere, because your car will link to other cars and you’ll be able to share an automated voyage together. You might find a network of folks in your neighbourhood who self-drive to work together, and you’ll sign up to their morning commute, sharing a peloton experience on the HOV lanes in order to reduce your cost.
  • car mechanics become computer techies. Geek-squads for cars will be the new normal. We’ll reboot our cars more often than we will change the oil.
  • disruption will be fun! Self-driving car tourism will combine Uber and AirBNB into something new. Use your imagination,
  • trailers will take on more importance. It will be a growth market — since you’ll have so much more to do with your car, you’ll have to take a lot more stuff with you!
  • a steering wheel of today is already is a thing from the olden days. One day, a kid will be born who will be the first to never use a steering wheel, and will never know how to ‘drive’ in the context of driving today. The concept of telling a car what to do will simply seem silly. Maybe that kid is already alive. They’ll only ever know a world in which a car drives itself.
  • gesture control and eyeball scanning might be the future of navigation. Didn’t think to tell your where you were going, or are simply going through a new, unknown neighbourhood? You’ll simply point or look and your car will figure out where you want to go. Video game developers that excelled at writing human-machine interface code for the gaming industry will find hot new carers in the automotive sector.
  • design is shifting from the exterior to the interior. More money will be made on the function, apps, and purpose of things you can do inside the car than outside.
  • legacy companies will try to fight the future, thinking it is a marketing war, not an innovation war. They’ll realize it won’t work. Consider Lexus, for example, which doesn’t want to talk about ‘self-driving cars‘ – they want people to talk about “automated safety technology.” Sure. It won’t work.
  • race car drivers will complain when a self-driving car wins the Indy 500. Such is progress, but it will take on the form of many other grand challenges, such as 3D printing Michelangelo’s David in concrete, having a robot play in the World Cup of soccer, or a world in which a computer beats a human in chess. (That one has been done.)
  • there’s a massive rush for skills : Delphi is hiring 5,000 software engineers and wants to double it in the years to come. Most car companies don’t have the skills they need, and the war for talent will go super-nova.
  • self-driving cars will have personalities. You’ll be able to press a few buttons and have it drive like your grandmother, or another button to have it become a race car driver (GPS restricted, of course)
  • some car company executives are saying some pretty dumb things right now. Just like CEO’s in the past: Bill Gates at Microsoft (‘640k should be enough for everyone‘); Ken Olsen at DEC (‘no one will ever need a computer in their home‘); IBM’s Thomas Watson (‘computers in the future may weigh no more than 5 tons‘). Smugness and complacency is not a business strategy.
  • the stories for the business books of the future surround you right now. Years from today, we’ll have a flood of innovation books and detailed case studies which will compare Deliberate-Detroit vs. Speedy-Silicon Valley. The story is still being written. Right now, there are a few Research-in-Motions about, convinced that heir business model has longevity. Maybe not, and I know who my money is with!
  • people will get ticked with highway lanes dedicated to self-driving cars. There are always those who hate the future and progress. But lanes dedicated to self-driving cars will make sense, because they will be able to support big volumes of smart cars, reducing overall traffic growth. San Jose in California is already considering doing this.
  • it’s all about the airwaves. If self-driving cars are throwing off 7GB of data per hour, the data has to float through the ether. There will be a huge rush to support new data transmission channels – and smart governments will realize there will be money to be made by auctioning off new spectrum.
  • Siri, Alexa and other botnet technology will be everywhere. That’s a simple conclusion, but it will be kind of interesting to be driving next to someone who is engaged in a long conversation with their car.
  • networked battery technology will emerge. The big pursuit with mobile phone technology today involves dockless-or-plugless charging : you simply charge your phone through the air. That will eventually come to electric car batteries — and maybe I’ll sell you a little bit of my excess battery energy while we cruise down the highway next to each other
  • the evolution of self-driving cars is really a story about Moore’s law. Processing power will collapse on a regular basis, and capabilities will exponentiate. Study the past of the computer industry to understand the future of the auto industry.
  • it’s really a big data story with big implications : Tesla already has compiled millions of miles of data about the folks driving its car. The future might be less about the vehicle and more about the data they generate.
  • the economic development implications are huge. Industry will relocated to regions that have smart highway infrastructure, excellent re-charging services, and progressive policies when it comes to supporting this revolution. Does your Mayor get it?
  • self-driving cars don’t involve just cars. It involves trucks, and tractors, and ships, and planes, farm combines and boats. It’s not just an era of self-driving cars — it’s an era of autonomous, self-operating things.
  • a bunch of other innovations are happening all at once. In fact, there  are a whole bunch of parallel innovations occurring with self-driving vehicles, involving such things as advanced energy storage technologies and methodologies, energy microgrids, robotics and AI, deep data and analytics, smart highway technologies, advanced materials, and so much more. And just as with the space program, all of these developments are leading to other new opportunities, industries and new billion dollar industries.
  • outsourced driving will be a thing. Your car might have the smarts to drive for you. Or, if it is a complex route and it doesn’t have the smarts, you’ll simply be able to outsource the driving to someone on the other side of the world. “Leave the driving to us” will take on new meaning.
  • your car will know when its going to break down, and will tell you. It will also tell the auto company or local computer geek. Maintenance models will turned upside down through prognostic diagnostics.
  • there’s a massive skill set shift underway. As in, this ain’t your fathers carburetor! The new skill sets in automotive will involve electronics, programming, electrical circuit mastery, advanced route optimization insight, and so much more!
  • the future of the industry might be determined by a geek in a garage. Just like the computer industry and HP, the future of the car industry might unfold by some hacker hacking away with big dreams and big visions. Such as, say, comma.ai 
  • modularity will be a thing.  In fact, the very concept of ‘fixing a car’ might go by the wayside. We’ll see more modular technology — parts that you simply drop in to replace another one that has gone bad.
  • no one is talking about open source vs. closed source cars. Linux vs. Microsoft anyone? As cars become computers, some people believe that they should be built on an open source foundation, because this will be the best way to provide for reliability and safety. 20 years ago, the running joke was that if Microsoft built the operating system for the car of the future, the car would shut down in the middle of the highway randomly, and the dashboard would simply say, “General Car Fault.” Open source concepts will quickly come to the car industry, and could be pretty disruptive. Watch the video below – I was talking about this in 2004!
  • faster obsolescence will be a reality. Cars will take on the innovation curve of the smartphone: you’ll replace them every 24 months or less. In the same way, your car will become a fashion statement: disposable, instant, with the result that cars will a new form of fashion. With that, resale values will collapse — who wants to be seen driving around with an old outdated car, using an outdated iPhone 4?
  • we’ll see a lot of stranded assets throughout the auto sector. For example, what happens to all those lube/tire replacement/auto repair facilities? Smart entrepreneurs will figure out smart things to do with all that infrastructure.
  • it’s all about the penguins. Simply put. Read the post.
  • Amazon might own a big chunk of the future of highways. Not the physical part, but the data part. Right now, they have a few significant patents, including one which involves the allocation of highway lanes. Expect HOV-as-a-service business models!
  • not many people realize that light poles are a big part of the self-driving car future. You average local light pole is changing: it’s become a Wi-Fi hotspot, a car charging station, and a ‘FitBit for a City’ with environmental monitoring capabilities built in. People who understand the evolving role of light poles also understand they can be a big thing in terms of the future of smart, interconnected highways and streets
  • no one is talking about smart highway technology, but there is a lot happening there. The future is not just about how the fact that the cars that drive on highways are gaining intelligence, but the roads they drive on are becoming intelligent too. Highways will be built with embedded sensors, network technology and other gear that will interact with smart cars to provide the best
  • the really smart people in the industry are carefully reading an older book. It’s called Traffic, and it’s all about the science of traffic jams. Figure out how to program your way through the inefficiency of traffic jams, and you’ve got a product or service that people are willing to buy!
  • spatial data bubbles are a thing, and you’ll learn about them. You’ll be immersed in a lot of spatial data bubbles and if you understand that, you’ll understand the future. You don’t know what they are? Learn about them!
  • get ready for zombie cars. I bet you haven’t even thought of that one! 
  • robotic highway cones will be a thing. I’ve been talking about them since 1995, and no one has built them yet. I still believe it will happen, just like perfect microwave popcorn did. Watch both videos.

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We seem to live in two parallel worlds at this moment: the fanciful, political, “let’s make a wish” or “yell and scream” political world, and the real world. I don’t know about you, but I’m with the real world, and it’s obvious that others are too. To that end, I’m doing an increasing number of economic development talks that take a look at the real trends driving our world forward.

Case in point: I’m headlining the Nevada Economic Development Council conference this September in Las Vegas. We’ll have economic development folks, elected officials, industry representatives — all looking for insight on what comes next in terms of opportunity.


In my mind, economic opportunity comes from linking to the fast paced trends that envelop our world today. As the session description notes on my keynote: “He is an authority recognized for his deep insight into the cutting edge trends of our time, including autonomous vehicle technology, sensors and the Internet of Things, 3D printing, virtual reality, alternative energy generation and storage technologies, genomic medicine and healthcare virtualization, advanced robotics and artificial intelligence, blockchain and virtual cash, machine learning and robotics, crowdthinking and next generation R&D.”

Around the world, we are building a giant new machine, and new opportunities abound. They’ll involve new skills, big bold innovators, fast new technologies, and obviously big investments. Nevada woke up to the future when Tesla established the Gigafactory outside Reno, and knows that its’ future will come from aligning itself to other, similar trends.

If only other regions and people could think like Nevada instead of hitching themselves to a failed politician from the land of make believe.

Similar to this event, I’m also headlining (for the 3rd time in 16 years!) the International Asset Management Council annual event in Richmond, Virginia this fall. This is a group that consists of corporate relocation folks for Fortune 500 companies — people who analyze where they might place their next factory or manufacturing facility. They’ve asked me to come in and do a talk around the future of manufacturing, with an eye to better understanding the trends involving the reinvention of this critical sector of this economy.  (Hint: the old jobs aren’t coming back. New jobs are appearing all the time).

As the keynote description outlines: “Collapsing product lifecycles. Mass customization. Digitization, robotics and the cloud. Rapid prototyping, sketch to scale, and agility-based business models … are you ready for the new world of manufacturing? While popular media and opportunistic politicians portray a picture of a sector in crisis, smart manufacturing executives are furiously busy with innovation, reinventing their capabilities, processes and business models using advanced ideas, materials, methodologies and technologies.”

Regions that can align themselves to the reality of future trends, and set the right tone and welcome mat for innovation will discover the future of economic success. I’m pleased to be doing what I can to help people understand the real future — not a fake future dreamed up in someone’s mind.

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