RENÉE:
So Jim, tell us why you’re enthusiastic to be the opening keynote for BENEFIQ 2018?

JIM:
I spend my time helping people to understand the implications of a world in which the future belongs to those who are fast – and in the food sector, everything is FAST! Changing consumption patterns, the disruption of the retail business model with the disappearance of stores and shopping malls, Amazon same-day delivery everywhere, the acceleration of food science, collapsing consumer attention spans due to prolific, always-on mobile devices. Everywhere you look, change is coming on and is furious. I like to suggest that we might see more change in the world of food in the next 5 years than we have seen in the last 50, and that is probably not a stretch.  I get excited about sharing my insight on trends and innovation with people who feel blindsided by the speed of change.

RENÉE:
You have given strategic insight on future trends & innovation in so many different fields of activities, from Education to Senior Care, from Agriculture to Aerospace and Manufacturing. How does one get prepared to be so keen in so many heterogeneous sectors of activities?  

JIM:
I do a LOT of customized research, and spend a lot of time thinking about what comes next. But I also get to hear directly as to what CEO’s and leaders around the world are thinking about. I’m brought into a lot of corporate events where there is a big issue on the table, and the senior management team is trying to figure out what it means, and what they should do. Just take a look at my client list – NASA, Mercedes Benz, Johnson & Johnson, Nestle, Volvo, and dozens more. I think I’m in this really cool situation where I’m continuously hearing from top executives worldwide as to what is keeping them up at night. Combine that with the unique research that I do, and it’s a winning recipe for cutting edge insight.

RENÉE:
What would be the unique things you’ll bring to the table that BENEFIQ attendees can’t get themselves?

JIM:
A pretty wide global view that then spins down into the food industry, natural health products and health foods. Did you know that we live in an era that has ‘fitbits for cows’, and that this has implications for how we might have food delivered to our drone delivery pad in our driveway in our future? That’s a storyline that people would take down. Or the fact that because I share the DNA that is common to most high speed sprinters – hello, Usain Bolt! – we will see highly customized food consumption plans in the future becoming more common. Or, consider this fact – because the video game Fortnite is sweeping the world, we might see a lot of unique developments in the use of intelligent, connected packaging. The future is all about connecting the dots – and I get to see and learn from a lot of the dots that are out there from all the unique keynotes I do in virtually every industry.

I delight in taking the common trends that I see sweeping every single industry, and then boiling that down into specific issues and guidance for the industry in the room. And that’s what I’ll do at BENEFIQ 2018

RENÉE:
So what are your core beliefs about innovation and creativity?

JIM:
Challenge yourself on speed. Look, the big issue today is that a trend might emerge faster than ever before, suddenly gain critical mass – and then disappear before you are ready for it. Does that make it a fad? Not at all – it simply means that we now live and act in a world of such a staggering speed that you need to have the agility and flexibility to deal with the reality of what is occurring. Back in 2008, I spoke at a major food industry conference sponsored by Readers Digest Food & Entertainment Magazine. We had food companies, retailers, packaging companies, advertising agencies and so many more in the room. Even then, my message focused on fast change — and in the Q&A portion, one audience member commented that the industry wasn’t really good with speed, observing that ‘when the low-carb trend came around, by the time we were ready, we really missed the opportunity.’ If the industry wasn’t good with speed then, is it any better now given that things have accelerated even more?

Futurist Jim Carroll’s opening plenary conference is presented by: