Interesting series of articles that strategists should keep in mind. While some of the information addresses trends that might seem disconnected from the immediate "pain of the day", there are interesting narratives in these stories that perhaps have some metaphorical correlation with similar activities that transpire (albeit at a micro scale) within a particular enterprise:
Survival Over The Long Term
Global companies that have delivered strong share price growth over the past three years are more proactive on corporate sustainability issues than those that have seen their share price stagnate or decline, according to a major new research report from the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Overall, the majority of global businesses do not seem to be performing particularly well when it comes to implementing sustainability policies or programmes. Out of a list of 16 sustainable policies, which encompassed issues ranging from energy consumption and carbon emissions to diversity and governance, companies polled for this report had implemented an average of just five. Many executives also rated the quality of their company's sustainability efforts as poor—with only a smaller number saying that they are doing well.
Other key findings from the research include:
- Business leaders are open to more regulation on social and environmental issues.
- Communication, then the environment, are top corporate priorities on sustainability.
- The supply chain is the weakest link.
- Sustainability reporting needs more work.
- Sustainability does pay.
The Pro/Con Of Technology To Leapfrog Progress
The World Bank's researchers looked at 28 examples of new technologies that achieved a market penetration of at least 5% in the developed world, and found that 23 of them went on to manage a penetration of over 50%. Once early adopters latch onto something new and useful, in other words, the rest of the population can quickly follow. The researchers then considered 67 new technologies that had achieved a 5% penetration in the developing world, and found that only six of them went on to reach 50%. That suggests that although new technologies are often adopted by a small minority of people in poor countries, they then fail to achieve widespread diffusion, so their benefits do not become more generally available.
Lavatories before laptops
The World Bank concludes that a country's capacity to absorb and benefit from new technology depends on the availability of more basic forms of infrastructure. This has clear implications for development policy. Building a fibre-optic backbone or putting plasma screens into schools may be much more glamorous than building electrical grids, sewerage systems, water pipelines, roads, railways and schools. It would be great if you could always jump straight to the high-tech solution, as you can with mobile phones. But with technology, as with education, health care and economic development, such short-cuts are rare. Most of the time, to go high-tech, you need to have gone medium-tech first.
Early Adoption Does Not Guarantee Mainstream Success
Emerging economies are better at adopting new technologies than at putting them into widespread use
Broadly, two sets of obstacles stand in the way of technological progress in emerging economies. The first is their technological inheritance. Most advances are based on the labours of previous generations: you need electricity to run computers and reliable communications for modern health care, for instance. So countries that failed to adopt old technologies are at a disadvantage when it comes to new ones. Mobile phones, which require no wires, are a prominent exception.
The other set of problems has to do with the intangible things that affect a country's capacity to absorb technology: education; R&D; financial systems; the quality of government. In general, developing countries' educational levels have soared in the past decade or so. Middle-income countries have achieved universal primary-school enrolment and poor countries have increased the number of children completing primary school dramatically. Even so, illiteracy still bedevils some middle-income countries and many poor ones.
Yet it would be wrong to be gloomy about the technological outlook of emerging economies. The channels of technology transfer have widened enormously over the past ten years. Technological literacy has risen, especially among the young. But all this has helped emerging economies mainly in the first stage: absorption. The second stage—diffusion—has so far proved much more testing.