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Long-term investment: public banks at the center of the game

Business June 30th, 2015, Franck Silvent / Director of Finance, Strategy and Holdings, Caisse des Dépôts Group

In developed countries, particularly in Europe, investment has been sluggish since the 2008 crisis. And yet, money is abundant and there are many needs, especially in regard to long-term, growth-enhancing investments. But private investors are paralyzed. Is there any way out of this down-beat economic environment? Institutional investors are at the center of the game. Among them, public banks and deposits funds can play a significant role. How have these secular institutions returned in the spotlight?

The proven limits of individual efforts and the difficulty of managing collective dynamics make energy transition an extremely challenging task when approached through consumption. Fortunately, technologies can change the game: smart consumption is on the rise. But whose smartness is it: machines', electricity suppliers', or ours?

As noted in a previous article, the very notion of a responsible consumer faces certain limits. The truth is, significant changes in the energy mix cannot be achieved through the goodwill (or conversely, the guilty conscience) of individuals. Does that leave us with no other choice than following decisions from above or waiting for technological solutions from daring entrepreneurs like Elon Musk? If we wish a new, more sober way of life to emerge, we should also trust social imagination, based on the dynamics of sharing and pooling.

Connected goods will lead to 5 transformations in retail: digital shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, perfect trade promotions, optimal consumer engagement, drastic reductions in counterfeiting and food waste. All this by 2025? The biggest obstacle is the cost of change: technology is already mostly out there.

Who exactly will be the actors of a coming energy transition? Industry and the major power operators will naturally, of course, be prime contributors but the end-consumers themselves will also have a role to play. The question is: can the latter really tip the balance?

Six digital marketing traps that CMOs should avoid

Business June 18th, 2015, Gopi Kallayil & Suzie Reider / Chief Evangelist for Brand Marketing & Managing Director of Brand Solutions, Google

Digital media is evolving rapidly and requires more than traditional marketing. Suzie Reider, Google's managing director for brand solutions, and Gopi Kallayil, Google's chief evangelist for brand solutions, highlight six common traps that new-age marketers must avoid.

In the same way it revolutionized creative industries, digital technology is revolutionizing higher education, an industry that can be traced back almost a millennium, with the creation of the University of Bologna in 1088. Digital technology has drastically altered the economic balance between the different players, making some models obsolete, allowing others to emerge, enabling economies of scale on one side and leading to additional costs on the other. Destruction, creation: is higher education to enter a Schumpeterian cycle?

Sharing economy: how the wind of trust has changed direction

Society May 28th, 2015, Monique Dagnaud / Research Director, French National Center for Scientific Research

The sharing economy has wind in its sails. Its proponents are growing in numbers and the utopian narrative disseminated by its promoters is currently in vogue. But there is another side to the coin.

The spread of civil drones in China: an industry was born… and the killer app is expected soon

Industries May 27th, 2015, PENG Zhongren / Professor, Center for ITS and UAV Application Research, School of Naval Architecture, Ocean and Civil Engineering, Shanghai Jiaotong University

China has joined the race. The rapid development of civil uses, such as monitoring pollution and transportation flow, has allowed new players to emerge, aside from large military programs. Applications will drive the growth of this industry, along with technology advances and falling prices. It is still too early to say whether UAVs can be applied on a large scale and overhaul the traditional industries. But some companies are already valued at US$10 billion. Shall we expect consolidation? What is going to be the killer application?

As omnichannel retailing transforms this nation of 50 million people, retailers around the world should be watching - and learning.

It is a paradox: despite huge oil reserves supporting their wealth, Norwegians have become, in a few years, the first users of electric vehicles. These represent 18% of new registrations since the beginning of 2015! The key to this unprecedented growth, nowhere else to be found, is their convincing policy of incentives... so convincing, in fact, that its designers have been overwhelmed by its success: the model is bound to evolve.

Of all children entering school this year, 75% will exercise a profession that doesn't exist today. This trend is already noticeable. The good news is that neuroscience discoveries support the idea of learning during our entire lives. But capacities are only one part of the whole picture. How can we establish a genuine culture of lifelong learning? Technologies will help, but companies should also encourage employees to share their experience, knowledge and expertise as part of a comprehensive learning environment incorporating experiential elements, feedback and more formal courses.

A modern myth debunked: no, consumers are not in control

Business May 7th, 2015, Howard Gross / Founder and Principal, HG Communications, LLC; former Senior Director of Global Communications, The Nielsen Company

Granted marketers no longer exercise the leverage they once did, it is a delusion to assume it has been transferred to consumers; especially in an increasingly complex world where the very notion of control is, itself, becoming a myth.

As crowdfunding becomes more accepted, it's moving into new areas. One with a lot of promise: commercial real estate, where deals under $10 million are not worth the efforts of big investors, says Dan Miller, co-founder of Fundrise. These large investors do not want to have a lot of $1 million investments, they won't be able to manage it. That has left an opening for crowdfunding firms like his.

In February Elon Musk boldly predicted Tesla motors would go where no car company has ever gone before, to a $700 billion market valuation by 2025. To put that in perspective, Apple became the most valuable company in history when it reached a $700 billion market valuation in November 2014. Compared to the automobile industry, $700 billion dwarfs the market value of the five biggest public automobile companies. Together, Toyota, Volkswagen, BMW, Ford and Honda have a market cap of just $522 billion. Is Elon Musk crazy? Or is he planning something only he can see?

Innovative, more participatory and personalized forms of learning are emerging. Among these new forms of learning, two have acquired significant importance over the course of recent years: serious games and MOOCs. Their main advantage is to allow a high degree of personalization in the learning process, a principle that has been long advocated by education specialists but that happens to be impractical in our mass educational models.

Energy transition Series – Will renewable energy sources soon be profitable?

Industries April 24th, 2015, Michel Cruciani / Program Manager, Centre of Geopolitics of Energy and Raw Materials (CGEMP, University Paris-Dauphine)

Wind turbine and solar power sources now represent a significant fraction in the electricity generation mix of industrialized countries. How did they achieve such a breakthrough successfully? European countries use differing models, which all show their limits, for transition from a subsidy-intensive economy to a market-driven logic is complex. The question remains: will renewable energy sources soon be proven profitable?

Any child is capable of learning how to code. In a world where digital technologies are increasingly pervasive, it is healthy for future citizens to acquire a basic understanding of how their environment works. But is school the most suitable place to do so?

The more pervasive the threat, the higher the economic implications: no wonder cybersecurity has come under the spotlight in recent months. What, exactly, is at stake? And should the C-suite take hold?

Maps 2.0: from GoogleMaps to Citymaps

Society April 13th, 2015, Elliot Cohen / Founder and CEO, Citymaps

Ever heard of maps 2.0? Yes, just like web 2.0, they are not only digital but also social and personal. You can make them yours, as well as use your friends' knowledge and experience of a city. What do they show, how do they work? Citymaps is probably one of the most innovative startups in the game. CEO and cofounder Elliot Cohen tells us about the dreams that lie beneath the map – with a glimpse of the technical challenges and the business model.

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