Extractive summaries of the articles curated from TOP TEN BUSINESS MAGAZINES to promote informed business decision making | Week 215 |October 22-28, 2021
A real-time revolution will up-end the practice of macroeconomics
The Economist | October 23, 2021
The world is on the brink of a real-time revolution in economics, as the quality and timeliness of information are transformed. The desire for better economic data is hardly new. But the public sector has been slow to reform how it works.
The pandemic has, however, become a catalyst for change. Without the time to wait for official surveys to reveal the effects of the virus or lockdowns, governments and central banks have experimented, tracking mobile phones, contactless payments and the real-time use of aircraft engines. Instead of locking themselves in their studies for years writing the next “General Theory”, today’s star economists, such as Raj Chetty at Harvard University, run well-staffed labs that crunch numbers. Firms such as JPMorgan Chase have opened up treasure chests of data on bank balances and credit-card bills, helping reveal whether people are spending cash or hoarding it.
These trends will intensify as technology permeates the economy. A larger share of spending is shifting online and transactions are being processed faster. Real-time payments grew by 41% in 2020, according to McKinsey, a consultancy (India registered 25.6bn such transactions). More machines and objects are being fitted with sensors, including individual shipping containers that could make sense of supply-chain blockages. Govcoins, or central-bank digital currencies (cbdcs), which China is already piloting and over 50 other countries are considering, might soon provide a goldmine of real-time detail about how the economy works.
Timely data would cut the risk of policy cock-ups—it would be easier to judge, say, if a dip in activity was becoming a slump. And the levers governments can pull will improve, too. The real-time revolution promises to make economic decisions more accurate, transparent, and rules-based. But it also brings dangers. The biggest danger is hubris. With a panopticon of the economy, it will be tempting for politicians and officials to imagine they can see far into the future, or to mould society according to their preferences and favour particular groups.
3 key takeaways from the article
- The world is on the brink of a real-time revolution in economics, as the quality and timeliness of information are transformed.
- The pandemic has led governments and central banks to experiment, from monitoring restaurant bookings to tracking card payments. The results are still rudimentary, but as digital devices, sensors and fast payments become ubiquitous, the ability to observe the economy accurately and speedily will improve.
- That holds open the promise of better public-sector decision-making—as well as the temptation for governments to meddle.
Topics: Economy, Data, Decision-making
The Chinese Tech Industry Adjusts to Beijing’s New Reality
Bloomberg Businessweek | October 20, 2021
For the past year, Chinese President Xi Jinping has compelled the country’s internet giants to work for “common prosperity” instead of just chasing profits. Rolling crackdowns in several areas of tech have already humbled some of China’s most successful companies, erasing as much as $1.5 trillion of the sector’s market value in the process. While few expect the Communist Party’s campaign to end up with companies such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. or Tencent Holdings Ltd. becoming government-owned enterprises, it’s clear that a fundamental transformation is underway in the relationship among the government, company executives, and investors.
Chinese regulators aren’t interested in controlling the daily operations of private corporations, according to Fergus Ryan, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre, but they are looking to ensure that companies operate in line with Beijing’s industrial policies. Tech companies are under new pressure to share valuable data and shift away from internet commerce in favor of core technologies that could help insulate China from being cut off from U.S. suppliers. “The direction we’re moving toward is a new type of Chinese company that is neither state-owned nor private,” Ryan says. “They’re becoming hybrid entities that are effectively state-controlled.”
One way the government could make tech companies less autonomous is by compelling them to cede more “golden shares” to Chinese authorities, where the government makes an investment that comes with significant control over corporate decision-making. The most prominent example came in April, when three state entities took a stake in Beijing ByteDance Ltd., a subsidiary of ByteDance Ltd., which also owns TikTok. While the stake was worth just 1%, it came with a board seat and veto power over the company’s operations and product offerings. Investors are feeling out how to deal with the changing circumstances.
Some observers worry that the crackdown could deter innovation and weaken China’s economy. Digital businesses accounted for more than one-third of gross domestic product in 2020. Optimists foresee more of a shift in the industry than a decline. Venture capitalists pumped $85.3 billion into Chinese startups in 2020, up from just $5.9 billion a decade earlier. While much of that went into internet companies such as group-buying pioneer Pinduoduo Inc. and ByteDance, there’s evidence of a recent increase in investment in companies that appear less likely to attract governmental attention.
3 key takeaways from the article
- For the past year, Chinese President Xi Jinping has compelled the country’s internet giants to work for “common prosperity” instead of just chasing profits.
- Limiting financial opportunities in the internet sphere will help China to channel the country’s brightest minds toward more fundamental technological research. That shift will help reduce dependence on U.S. suppliers—a key priority for Xi and his government.
- Some observers worry that the crackdown could deter innovation and weaken China’s economy. Optimists foresee more of a shift in the industry than a decline.
Topics: Technology, China, Semiconductor
How AI is reinventing what computers are
By Will Douglas Heaven | MIT Technology Review | October 22, 2021
Latest releases from the technology giants in consumer tech no longer inspire the surprise and wonder of those heady early days. But behind all the marketing glitz, there’s something remarkable going on. Almost without our noticing, AI has become part of our day-to-day lives. And it’s changing how we think about computing in at least three ways:
- More haste, less speed. The first change concerns how computers—and the chips that control them—are made. Traditional computing gains came as machines got faster at carrying out one calculation after another. But the deep-learning models that make current AI applications work require a different approach: they need vast numbers of less precise calculations to be carried out all at the same time. That means a new type of chip is required: one that can move data around as quickly as possible, making sure it’s available when and where it’s needed. When deep learning exploded onto the scene a decade or so ago, there were already specialty computer chips available that were pretty good at this: graphics processing units, or GPUs, which were designed to display an entire screenful of pixels dozens of times a second.
- Show, don’t tell. The second change concerns how computers are told what to do. Traditionally, to get a computer to do something like recognize speech or identify objects in an image, programmers first had to come up with rules for the computer. With machine learning, programmers no longer write rules. Instead, they create a neural network that learns those rules for itself. It’s a fundamentally different way of thinking.
- Computer knows best. For decades, getting a computer to do something meant typing in a command, or at least clicking a button. Machines no longer need a keyboard or screen for humans to interact with. Anything can become a computer. Indeed, most household objects, from toothbrushes to light switches to doorbells, already come in a smart version. But as they proliferate, we are going to want to spend less time telling them what to do. They should be able to work out what we need without being told.
3 key takeaways from the article
- The latest releases from the technology giants in the consumer tech no longer inspire the surprise and wonder of those heady early days. But behind all the marketing glitz, there’s something remarkable going on.
- Almost without our noticing, AI has become part of our day-to-day lives. And it’s changing how we think about computing in at least three ways: how computers are made, how they’re programmed, and how they’re used. Ultimately, it will change what they are for.
- Now that machines are interacting with people and integrating into the chaos of the wider world, everything becomes more uncertain. The computers are out of their boxes.
Topics: Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Human & Technology
Setting a new bar for online higher education
By Felipe Child | McKinsey & Company | October 18, 2021
The education sector was among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools across the globe were forced to shutter their campuses in the spring of 2020 and rapidly shift to online instruction. For many higher education institutions, this meant delivering standard courses and the “traditional” classroom experience through videoconferencing and various connectivity tools. The approach worked to support students through a period of acute crisis but stands in contrast to the offerings of online education pioneers. These institutions use AI and advanced analytics to provide personalized learning and on-demand student support, and to accommodate student preferences for varying digital formats.
Colleges and universities can take a cue from the early adopters of online education, those companies and institutions that have been refining their online teaching models for more than a decade, as well as the edtechs that have entered the sector more recently. To engage most effectively with students, the leading online higher education institutions focus on eight dimensions of the learning experience organized into three following overarching principles.
Create a seamless journey for students. The performance of the early adopters of online education points to the importance of a seamless journey for students, easily navigable learning platforms accessible from any device, and content that is engaging, and whenever possible, personalized. Some early adopters have even integrated their learning platforms with their institution’s other services and resources, such as libraries and financial-aid offices.
Adopt an engaging approach to teaching. The pioneers in online higher education pair the “right” course content with the “right” formats to capture students’ attention. They incorporate real-world applications into their lesson plans, use adaptive learning tools to personalize their courses, and offer easily accessible platforms for group learning.
Create a caring network. Establishing interpersonal connections may be more difficult in online settings. Leading online education programs provide dedicated channels to help students with academic, personal, technological, administrative, and financial challenges and to provide a means for students to connect with each other for peer-to-peer support. Such programs are also using technologies to recognize signs of student distress and to extend just-in-time support.
3 key takeaways from the article
- In response to the lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic schools across the globe were forced to shutter their campuses in the spring of 2020 and rapidly shift to online instruction. The approach worked to support students through a period of acute crisis but stands in contrast to the offerings of online education pioneers.
- Colleges and universities can take a cue from the early adopters of online education.
- To engage most effectively with students, the leading online higher education institutions focus on eight dimensions of the learning experience organized into three overarching principles: create a seamless journey for students, adopt an engaging approach to teaching, and build a caring network.
Topics: Technology, Education, Students Online Learning
How to Succeed Quickly in a New Role
By Rob Cross et al., | Harvard Business Review Magazine | November–December 2021 Issue
A role transition can be a huge boost to your career and a chance for you to blossom and thrive. But in today’s hyper-collaborative and dynamic workplaces, successful moves aren’t as easy as they once were, even for the most qualified and hardworking people. Too often, transitioning managers and employees don’t live up to their organizations’ expectations. The fast-movers’ five strategies who smoothly transition this phase are:
- Surge rapidly into a broad network. Fast movers act as quickly as possible to discover the informal org chart of key boundary-spanning, energizing opinion leaders who are able and willing to help them get things done.
- Generate pull. People who attract like-minded colleagues and “shape serendipity” benefit themselves and their organizations. Once you’ve put yourself out there, you want people to come to you, to offer advice, suggest new ideas, and bring you into new projects and your next role. They engage with collaborators to cocreate a joint narrative of success.
- Identify how you add value, where you fall short, and who can fill the gaps. Whether your main contribution is your knowledge of a key technology, your ability to inspire people, or other skills and intangibles, you can use traditional connections, such as bosses, direct reports, and internal clients, to help you pinpoint exactly what others are expecting you to bring to the table.
- Create scale. Fast movers can not only quickly integrate into their new roles but also get big things done by harnessing the power of those they know. They tap their networks for both ideation and implementation—that is, they seek help from innovators across the organization who can offer novel solutions to pressing problems and from influencers who can help execute on, spread, and sell those ideas.
- Shape the network to maximize personal and professional well-being. Fast movers also manage to prioritize their physical and mental health. They don’t allow the breadth of their networks to undermine the quality of their relationships or overwhelm them with too many demands for collaboration. They find people who understand, energize, adapt to, and create mutual wins for them just as they did for others. They rely on people who can fill their skills gaps and free them up for more valuable, meaningful, and scalable work.
3 key takeaways from the article
- A role transition can be a huge boost to your career and a chance for you to blossom and thrive.
- But in today’s hyper-collaborative and dynamic workplaces, successful moves aren’t as easy as they once were, even for the most qualified and hardworking people.
- The people who are the most productive, innovative, and engaged in new roles—the “fast movers”—are those who establish extremely broad, mutually beneficial, uplifting connections from the start. Specifically, they surge rapidly into a broad network; generate pull; identify how they add value, where they fall short, and who can fill the gaps; create scale; and shape their networks for maximum thriving.
Topics: Leadership, Career Planning, Network, Performance
Embrace Delegation as a Skill to Strengthen Remote Teams
By Lebene Soga et al., | MIT Sloan Management Review | October 19, 2021
In our ever-growing remote work culture, teams are increasingly vulnerable to virtual distance. Managers of remote teams who improve their delegation skills can address virtual distance by leveraging delegation as a tool to close the gaps in physical, operational, and affinity distance. Five habits which, when practiced consistently, can help build the crucial skill of delegation.
- Make it visible. No one who succeeds beyond a certain level does it all by themselves. Many leaders struggle with feeling like they need to do everything themselves, when often the opposite is true. Identifying your core capabilities and, even better, your skills gaps will allow you to be a better leader. List everything that needs to get done, add a star to the top three tasks you specifically need to handle, and circle what you can delegate to others. Seeing it in a simple visual format can help; apps like Google Tasks and Microsoft To Do easily integrate with most existing workspaces.
- Embrace different approaches. When you delegate, things are often done in a different way than you would do them yourself. This is fine — even constructive. Trusting other people is the only way to expand the scope of your influence as well as build a pool of dependable hands available for such tasks. Trusting employees to deliver on set tasks implicitly signals to them that you have confidence in their ability to take on the additional responsibility. This is a powerful motivating factor for employees — and for you as a leader, it is a source of influence power, also known as leverage.
- Communicate frequently and clearly. Encourage your team members to complete any task you assign them to the best of their ability, even if they aren’t confident about the end result. They will learn from the process, and you can help them improve with each attempt. But you must set your team up for success; provide sufficient information when you delegate a task or assignment.
- Design your own work schedule — and stick to it. Delegation is not only about others’ productivity but yours as well. Being deliberate about what you do during working hours requires discipline. If you’re not careful, others can fill your day with meetings, leaving you no time for deep work.
- Use new tech wisely and remember that practice will make you perfect.
3 key takeaways from the article
- In our ever-growing remote work culture, teams are increasingly vulnerable to virtual distance.
- Managers of remote teams who improve their delegation skills can address virtual distance — the biggest impediment to their success — by leveraging delegation as a tool to close the gaps in physical, operational, and affinity distance.
- Five habits which, when practiced consistently, can help build the crucial skill of delegation are: make it visible, embrace different approaches, communicate frequently and clearly, design your own work schedule, use new tech wisely and remember that practice will make you perfect.
Topics: Delegation, Teams, Technology, Remote Work
How To Build A Clock: An Occupational Hazard
By Jerry Weissman | Forbes | October 23, 2021
Tell-all tendency occurs regularly in presentations, and it does so because of an occupational hazard: presenters must be highly knowledgeable about their subject matter, which includes expertise in their company’s core offering as well as a wide array of related subjects to support their expertise. This occupational hazard can afflict any businessperson—from a C-level officer to the most junior executive. As a result, when business people are called upon to communicate their company story, they have so much information churning around in their brains, they often try to tell all of it to their audiences—producing sagas of encyclopedic length. Most of the calls the author receives for his services as a presentation coach are to help presenters make their stories more concise. No one has ever called him to help make their stories longer.
Why would any presenter be prolix and wear out their welcome with any audience? The reason is that they labor under the well-intended but misguided concept that, in order for their audiences to understand anything, they have to be told everything.
As the second of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People advises, “Begin with the End in Mind.” When you start your presentation development with the goal, the objective of your story, you immediately avoid the common troubled audience reaction, “What’s the point?”
The next step is to brainstorm. Businesspeople willingly engage in free-form out-of-the-box thinking for strategic planning, product development, or problem-solving, but they rarely use the same process when it comes to creating a presentation narrative or, for that matter, writing a report, speech, or memo. The result is a data dump that inflates content into an epic tale rivaling War and Peace. Instead, the brainstorm provides an opportunity to see all the potential ideas in advance and to select only what the target audience needs to know and, most important, what they don’t need to know, also known as TMI.
2 key takeaways from the article
- When business people are called upon to communicate their company story, they have so much information churning around in their brains, they often try to tell all of it to their audiences—producing sagas of encyclopedic length – creating a communication hazard.
- Make your story concise by being crystal clear about your point, what’s in it for your audience—and do the data dump in your preparation, not your presentation.
Topics: Presentation, Communication
Want to Become a Millionaire? Follow Warren Buffett’s 4 Rules.
By Cheryl Snapp Conner | Entrepreneur | October 21, 2021
In this era of increased uncertainty is it possible to become financially secure enough to retire? According to the author, it absolutely is, but quite possibly through different methods than the ones you’d expected. The author believes we can build a map for what we need to do now in four words: Think like Warren Buffett. Listen closely to the rules Buffet has defined. These rules have been consistent for decades but are even more important during our current political- and pandemic-related economic travails.
- Pay your savings first. As Buffett has noted and demonstrated on multiple occasions, you should “pay yourself first” by putting a portion of your funds away first. Statistically, the people who are most financially secure are the ones you wouldn’t expect. They are ordinary people who practiced financial discipline. They didn’t wait to save and invest until “we can afford it” (that would be never) or “when we exit our company.” They simply practiced and taught financial discipline consistently and early.
- Be careful about splurging on brands. If you purchase a luxury home, choose a house and location that could allow it to resell easily or serve as a permanent or part-time rental for extra revenue and tax benefits. Or consider owning and living in a conservative home and occasionally renting a luxury home yourself from time to time for a family holiday or a vacation with friends. Or if you have to splurge in any case, consider the purchase as a form of investment. Are the quality and style timeless and classic? Is it something you could adapt and continue to wear two or more decades from now?
- Be careful about taking out loans. “If you buy things you don’t need, you will soon sell things you need,” Buffett has said on many occasions. Credit cards can be the highest potential waste of earnings and savings. If you follow the example of Buffett, you operate nearly entirely in cash. If you use cards, learn the systems that allow you to optimize your usage to keep your credit score high and stay eligible for maximum credit when needed while paying the minimum amount of interest (or none).
- Be even more careful about investing with borrowed money. For the record, Buffett has cautioned against borrowing money to invest in securities many times.
2 key takeaways from the article
- In this era of increased uncertainty is it possible to become financially secure enough to retire? It absolutely is, but quite possibly through different methods than the ones you’d expected.
- We can build a map for what we need to do now in four words: Think like Warren Buffett. Listen closely to the 4 rules Buffet has defined. These are: pay your savings first, be careful about splurging on brands, be careful about taking out loans and be even more careful about investing with borrowed money.
Topics: Personal Finance, Investment
How Today’s Tech Has Changed Online Marketing
By John Hall | Inc Magazine | October 25, 2021
All successful businesses today need to remain top-of-mind for consumers. The branding and marketing behind a business can be just as important as an actual sale. Online marketing runs the gamut, and different businesses have different marketing goals. That means today’s marketers must keep up on the latest developments. There are numerous technological advances that have altered the marketing landscape. Three of these are:
- A.I. Is Enhancing Personalization Efforts. The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated consumers’ adoption of e-commerce, and their expectations for personalization grew alongside this digital shift. Personalization efforts require a deeply rooted business-consumer relationship. This is now possible because of A.I., which can help collect user data and identify what individual consumers are most likely to purchase. By hyper-segmenting users into different buckets, A.I. is able to create more relevant shopping experiences.
- Cross-Platform Tracking Is Optimizing Advertising Campaigns. Imagine if we all had only one device. How simple the world would be–and how inconvenient. In truth, we switch devices more than 21 times every hour, and we search and buy differently based on the device we’re using. Lucky for marketers, cross-platform tracking allows businesses to vary their messaging strategies based on device. With cross-platform tracking, businesses can track the same user across all of their devices. With this collected data, businesses can learn what marketing campaign tactics are performing well and which ones need to be altered or reconsidered. By narrowing down when and how a customer makes a purchase, cross-platform tracking helps businesses refine their marketing efforts and spend fewer marketing financial resources on wasted impressions.
- Privacy Updates Are Changing Social Media Advertising Efforts. Cross-platform tracking is an undeniable boon for marketers, but there are clouds on the horizon. In the past few years, we’ve seen a call for businesses and websites to refine their privacy policies. Hence the Apple iOS 14.5 update, which allows users to turn off ad tracking within apps. While a win for users who want their online life to remain private, this development is causing adjustments for marketers who rely on tracking for their advertising campaigns.
2 key takeaways from the article
- The branding and marketing behind a business can be just as important as an actual sale. Online marketing runs the gamut, and different businesses have different marketing goals. That means today’s marketers must keep up on the latest developments.
- Three important technological advances that have altered the marketing landscape are: A.I. Is Enhancing Personalization Efforts, Cross-Platform Tracking Is Optimizing Advertising Campaigns and Privacy Updates Are Changing Social Media Advertising Efforts.
Topics: Marketing, Promotion, Social Media