Indian e-commerce firm Snapdeal recently got a major boost: a $627 million investment from SoftBank, the Japanese telecom and media giant. This is the largest investment so far in the Indian e-commerce space. Snapdeal began as an online group discounting site in 2010. In 2012, it transformed itself into a marketplace almost overnight, and today has more than 50,000 merchants, five million products and 30 million users. The company is also entering new categories like real estate and automobiles. But co-founder Kunal Bahl doesn't consider Snapdeal to be an e-commerce player. In a conversation with Knowledge@Wharton, he says the firm is really a technology company, enabling others to do e-commerce.
In China just like everywhere else, the tertiary sector has long been deemed as an affiliation or an attachment to primary and secondary industries with a certain amount of contribution to employment, but never as a driver of the economy. The game is changing. Industries such as finance and retail are facing a technological reinvention, and great changes are also reshaping HR services.
Uber and Airbnb have undergone regulatory setbacks lately. But as regulators continue to crack the whip, there is little sign they will be able to stem the tide of popularity for these sharing services. Should the very idea of regulation evolve? It should not, at least, exist to protect entrenched industries and shut out competition. But companies like Uber, who have very strong Libertarian streaks, may have to make a move too. Will both sides learn to play together?
Communication is at the forefront of a world of weak ties that form and break up uninterruptedly. By showing their ability to respond to instability and paradoxes, specialists may convert a threatening progress into an opportunity to give a full meaning to their activity: integrate the company into a narrative of common good. But communication of the future will have to reinvent itself.
ParisTech Review has a passion for alternative and disruptive economic models, those that may shape tomorrow's economy. Here are seven articles, published between 2011 and today, presenting seven major innovative models.
With the proliferation of technologies and the growing complexity of products and services, it no longer seems possible for any company, as large as it may be, to innovate alone. How to identify the right partners and develop a partnership over time? How to ensure successful exchanges? Technology scouting strives to bring answers to these issues. If developed correctly, it paves the way to technological intelligence. However, effective scouting implies many changes in the organization of the company regarding innovation.
Up to recent decades, the enterprise was characterized by a unity of place. Enterprises tomorrow will be characterized by a unity of time, that needed for a project, for a small and large scale contracts, but with no unity of place, inasmuch as the workers can be thousands of kilometres away, in third party office premises or at home, in a remote tele-work mode. Working no longer consists of collaborating with colleagues in a given place built for this purpose, but rather networking with others and organizing a shared sociability. The question is: will the very concept of enterprise survive?
Should we imagine, come the 2030 horizon, new forms of entrepreneurial leadership? Even with the support of Big Data technologies, future managers and business leaders will have to cope with increasing complexity and uncertainty. The credo of there being a single one-best-way already belongs the past. Authority will no longer depend on who owns the knowledge. So, what will the skills and qualities of tomorrow's managerial class look like?
In the past, Hilton Worldwide, which has 4,200 hotels in 90 countries, used to look at individual consumers and decide who was a Hilton customer. It used that determination in its marketing: Hampton Inn people were targeted one way, while those who fit the profile of the Waldorf Astoria were approached in another. Then the company had an a-ha moment.
Over the decades, corporate venturing has evolved through several phases. Recent initiatives reflect growing interest among large companies to include incubators as a capstone of their corporate venturing. Incubators or not, the challenges remain the same: how to grow intelligence, the life-blood of entrepreneurial environments? How can a corporate parent accelerate innovators' learning? The experiences of prolific inventors and craftsmen suggest an answer: by providing product teams with an artisanal environment that favors play, repetition and patience.
Is the global crisis behind us? The divergent development of major emerging countries, Europe and the United States reminds us that despite a strong tendency for unification during the past two decades, despite our growing interdependence, the world economy is still highly fragmented. Under the circumstance, it doesn't make sense to draw a general picture without taking a closer look at these differences: between emerging and advanced countries, between the United States and Europe, and even within Europe itself.
In industrial spheres, the trend towards circular economy is drawing increasing closer attention. Some companies have identified in the recycling business an opportunity to develop new activities, while others see eco-design as a means to raise profit margins, while yet others see a way to re-think their corporate organization. Corporate image is part of the changing scene, but the circular economy concept is now a real industrial concern. Nonetheless, a lot remains to be done to make it fully operational. The challenge is now to see the concept reach maturity.
Undercover ops, one of the darker sides of life, occasionally suffers from sudden exposure in the media, witness how the Concorde’s specification blueprints ended up in Russia or when US secret services used massive listening Big Ears (Echelon) to monitor official, supposedly privy phone exchanges. Yet, far from limiting its activities to the covert manoeuvers to access and analyse State secrets, the spy business today has refocused for some time now on industrial targets. The challenges and techniques used evolve constantly. In an open world, where information systems play an increasingly structuring role, the issue of how to protect sensitive data and technologies has now become a priority question.
You may not know Hon Hai, but it is to produce 70% of all iPhones 6. It also operates the largest factories on Earth. Terry Gou, founder and chairman, based his success on cheap labor costs as well as audacious merging strategies. Will the rise of automated factories mean the end of this success story, and more broadly the end of China as the world factory? As a matter of fact, Mr. Gou is fond of robots, and he won't be the last to launch an automated factory. But he may need Chinese arms for a while. Here is why.
What would it take for algorithms to take over the C-suite? And what will be senior leaders' most important contributions if they do? The advances of brilliant machines will astound us, but they will transform the lives of senior executives only if managerial advances enable them to. There's still a great deal of work to be done to create data sets worthy of the most intelligent machines and their burgeoning decision-making potential. On top of that, there's a need for senior leaders to let go in ways that run counter to a century of organizational development.
With the rapid advances in information technology, a new approach to knowledge is emerging which changes the very idea of skillfulness: what employees know matters less than what they are able to find, and, more relevantly, what they are able to share. Working alone creates less value than teamwork. Hierarchies tend to fade out, while collaboration becomes paramount. In these circumstances, the employees cease to be seen only as a productivity lever. Their personal performance continues to count, but now companies are also interested, and perhaps even more, in their ability to enter a dynamic and to nurture it. The employees can be valued for their creativity, capacity to innovate, their empathy and their intellectual curiosity.
There is a merciless war ongoing now in companies round the world to reduce production costs. Some have a major advantage when they can display improved energy efficiency of their commercial vans and trucks. The energy efficiency factor is now increasingly integrated in the augmented performance assessment that the brands emphasize for their shareholders, their customers, their suppliers, analysts and notation agencies. Some companies have moved faster than others to fight energy waste. The USA, with its huge, continental dimensions, lends itself well to energy scales of economy. Major transport companies, such as UPS or FedEx, are making remarkable progress, but the prime interest goes to the distributor Wal-Mart Stores Inc. On several occasions, President Obama singled out Wal-Mart as a model in terms of energy savings.
The world market for service robots will represent 25 billion euros in 2015 and could well be 100 billion euros by 2018 and 200 billion in 2023, according to the International Federation of Robotics. If we can assert that this entire high growth sector is emerging, there are, nonetheless, variations to be considered: some robots are close to industrial maturity, while others are still in experimental assessment phases. But the growth trend is now well established. It may not necessarily be spectacular but will affect considerably both developed societies and their economies.
Faced with consumers who can search for information, form groups and publicly express their opinion through electronic media and social networking, goods producers and services providers will inevitably have to step down from their comfortable heights and start thinking in terms of coproduction with a customer who will become a prosumer.
Come year 2030, what will business enterprises look like? Almost every qualified answer points in the same direction, or at least provides a foreseeable trend: if as predicted instability becomes the rule and not the exception, and in a context of an entirely new ecosystem stemming from pervasive digital technologies, business enterprises will have to evolve quite considerably if they wish to remain efficient, sustainable and resilient. What factors come to bear here?