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Sustainable development, emerging technologies: can international standards make a difference?

Business May 29th, 2014, Alan Bryden / General Mining Engineer, former Secretary General of ISO, the International Organization for Standardization (2003-2009)

Sustainable development mantras are all over the world, but change is slow to come. While the international negotiations in the context of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change have not shown much progress, international standards suggest a less visible, more influential and pragmatic way to impulse change. In recent years a set of tools has been developed to address the interrelated challenges of climate change, energy, water and nutrition. In an increasingly global economy, could they make a difference?

What kinds of lessons can providers of microfinance services in developed countries learn from microfinance practices overseas? Three experts from the microfinance industry addressed that question during a panel discussion at the eighth annual Penn Microfinance Conference, whose theme was "Microfinance: Beyond Its Roots." In addition, keynote speaker Elizabeth Rhyne, managing director of the Center for Financial Inclusion, discussed how the microfinance industry is moving beyond its reliance on lending into multiple new directions, including innovations in the health care sector.

The cybersecurity challenge

Business April 25th, 2014, Hervé Guillou / Chairman, Trust and Security Industries Council (France)

Cyber-threats are now becoming systemic in the world economy. Concern of all actors involved is rising, to the extent that it may lead to a global counter move against digitisation that would consequently have a huge negative economic impact. Notwithstanding progress in cloud computing and big data with, according to McKinsey, a generated annual income of between 9,600 and 21,600 billion dollars in the global economy. If the sophistication of cyber-attacks were to submerge the defensive capacity of States and organizations, we could fear more stringent regulations and policies that would in fact slow down innovation and growth.

Goodbye services, goodbye goods: welcome to the solutions economy

Business April 24th, 2014, Michèle Debonneuil / Senior economist, Caisse des dépôts et consignations

Enterprises are now able to collect all kind of real-time information about the needs of each consumer. They can provide innovative products that are neither goods nor services but something else, in between, that could be called solutions. Around these solutions we are witnessing the emergence of original business models, and more generally, of a new economy.

In countries that have based their wealth on production, every discovery and innovation that potentially lower production costs attract very strong attention. Since 2007, the discovery and exploitation of shale gas and oil have put the USA energy industry back on the track to competitive procurement faced with competing nations who have been low costs champions for decades. The new question on the table is to ascertain whether 3D printing can have a comparable impact.

For the world's economy to get full value from technological innovation, it must have a robust, coordinated approach to cybersecurity. A new report from the World Economic Forum and McKinsey looks at how that could happen.

Which innovation strategy for consumer goods?

Business February 27th, 2014, Matthieu Perrier / Innovation Manager, ITW

Shrouded in the secrecy of marketing services, at the heart of the manufacturing industry, innovation has today established itself as the ultimate solution, illustrated by insolent successes despite a challenging environment. Sometimes defined as the encounter between an invention and a market segment, innovation seems to generate alternatives, growth drivers, and even crisis products that allow companies to bounce or to renew themselves. So how are the necessary opportunities to be found? Is there a recipe for large FMCG companies? A recipe? Certainly not. But some methods, yes. And also plenty of flawed strategies.

Businesses are increasingly the victims of cyber attacks. These crimes are not only costly for the companies, but can also put their very existence at risk and may provoke significant externalities for third parties. The pace of innovation is escalating rapidly among threat sources, helped by an acceleration in the global proliferation of cyber expertise. Sharing information is a solution. What about insurance?

The Danone case, or how social innovation can help a multinational company reinvent itself

Business January 24th, 2014, Bénédicte Faivre-Tavignot / Executive Director of the Social Business/Enterprise & Poverty Chair, HEC School of Management

Social business and new models of access to goods and services: can they help multinational companies from developed countries reinvent themselves? Or even, can they become levers of strategic renewal for these firms? Danone's experience suggests they can indeed. However, precise analysis of the underlying processes is required if we are to discern the factors that lead to success.

African nations are seldom mentioned in the world ranking of innovative countries, but things could change with the rise of a new generation of technologies that perform many financial transactions from mobile phones. Today, mobile banking opens a new avenue for development. But can this model be exported?

What if management were an art?

Business November 26th, 2013, Michel Berry / Founder and CEO, Ecole de Paris du Management

The myth of scientific management has all but disappeared, yet the industrial world continues to overvalue methods that have been standardized from outside the business environment, at the expense of creative solutions developed within companies themselves. Isn't it time to change the approach? Michel Berry, founder of the Paris School of Management, has long cultivated an attention to the singularity of situations. But how does one share the intelligence hidden in things singular? How should one train, transmit knowledge and exchange views? Envisioning management as an art overcomes these contradictions.

In the US, a disruptive new way for small companies to raise capital is putting a spotlight on the readiness of a tightly regulated securities market to adopt the openness of the Internet. It has sparked debate about whether the change will spur economic growth or become another vehicle for fraud.

Planned obsolescence has an infamous reputation: some denounce a crime against the environment, others, a swindle. A careful examination, however, shows that this business model is not all bad - and it even came to perform, during the Great Depression, as a miracle cure against the crisis!

Myths, Rituals and Tribes: Another Face of Leadership

Business September 26th, 2013, Claude Riveline / Professor at Mines ParisTech

What makes a great leader? The answer to this question has changed over time, as it refers to the way we form our representations of a company – a well conceived machine, a living body, a spirited team... Trends come and go, representations evolve, formulas change. Yet, the actual core of talent, or even the stroke of genius that makes a difference, seems to escape these formulas. So are management sciences condemned to mere prattle?

Social relations, buzz, leadership, popularity, reputation... at first sight, marketing and social media seem to speak the same language. But the actual value of marketing 2.0 is difficult to assess. Can social marketing become a real growth driver?

Design Management: guiding the way toward a truly collaborative innovation ecosystem

Business June 27th, 2013, Tru Dô-Khac / IT consultant, management designer and business author

Turning digital, the innovative company becomes collaborative, at both strategic and operational levels. The innovation policy moves from exclusion to collaboration, marketing from transactional to collaborative, IT governance from monolithic to differentiated… To drive change in strategy, organization and information systems, managers often use best practices ground on observation, measurement and analysis. But to address the behavior of the company, its postures and image, specific skills are needed to design meaning and emotion.

How social innovation is shaking business foundations

Business June 13th, 2013, Pierre Massotte / Chairman, Institut de l'Innovation et du Développement (I2D)

Long relegated to the fringes of the industrial world, social innovation is now finding its way into business practices and strategies. The related notions of emergence and self-organization are creating new, bottom-up models. Before trying to manage them, better to understand them.

Sustainable development: can functional economy fit square pegs in round holes?

Business May 28th, 2013, Yoann Sidoli / Ph. D. candidate in sociology, SENSE laboratory of Orange Labs / University of Nice Sophia Antipolis

Economists, as well as companies, increasingly care about the ecologic crisis. Various approaches are emerging that all strive to reduce the environmental impacts of the production and consumption of manufactured goods. Among them, functional economy belongs to the powerful trend of servitization of products. It triggers three dramatic mutations, regarding value estimation, ownership and the relation to time.

Intention Economy: from the fringes to mainstream?

Business May 22nd, 2013, Doc Searls / Alumnus fellow with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University

Vendor relationship management is on the rise. Though for the last ten years a powerful trend has driven marketers to trap consumers and collect their personal data in order to anticipate their wishes to the point the very idea of choice was questioned, disruptive ways of managing this relationship are emerging. Will consumers recover their freedom?

As the recent successful campaign to fund a movie based on the television show Veronica Mars proves, crowdfunding is now recognized as a reliable funding avenue for both start-ups and established firms. But the growth of the sector also creates more regulatory challenges and raises questions about the risks that funders take when they put their money behind a project.

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