Fifteen years ago, with the advent of the “new economy”, brick and mortar businesses embodied the ancient world. But the energy transition has just turned the tables: the construction sector is going through a phase of unprecedented innovation. And the industry of brick and tile is at the heart of this revolution – a revolution which focuses on the energy performance of buildings but also on the life cycle of materials.
In the field of rail transport, climate change raises very concrete challenges. The infrastructure is already under heavy stress and suffers from waves of heat that distort the rails and from floods that can disrupt traffic. Passenger comfort raises additional problems. How can we adapt to these changes? How can we anticipate them? Major rail companies have been thinking about these problems for several years and are beginning to design new strategies of action on the short, medium and long term.
China's leaders called in November for average personal incomes in the nation to double by 2020, giving domestic consumption a stronger role the normally export-reliant economy and challenging often-avoided local brands to catch up with foreign rivals.
Our great-grandparents barely used a dozen different metals. Today, household objects contain virtually the entire periodic table. Mineral raw materials are vital to the functioning of a modern economy, in particular where deploying new technologies is concerned. The prices for some metals have experienced meteoric rises in recent years, and competition is fierce for access to resources. As a matter of fact, what do we know about these resources exactly?
Among critical mineral resources, rare earth metals occupy a special place because they are part of the core of many future technologies: electric cars, smartphones, wind turbines. Resources are now concentrated in the hands of a few players. Can this situation be reversed? What are the risks entailed for industrial sectors downstream of production?
In the United States and in Europe, hydraulic fracturing is one of the most controverted aspects of the shale gas debate. The dialogue of the deaf around the impacts on the environment generates many overstatements from both camps. The arguments put forward by the two sides deserve attention, but one would be wrong to stay stuck there: research is already in motion and new techniques are emerging.
How does one manage fire hazards in a hospital, an airport or on a plane? If detection technologies are evolving, the key today lies in consolidating and processing information, with Danger Management Systems which also monitor security breach risks and transit management. By specializing in the design of system architectures, major industrial players have evolved into becoming service providers. Fire protection, thus, increasingly appears as one of the most technical elements of a wider business line: security.
There are now more standards in China than in any other country: almost 150000, seven times more than in the European Union. Why such a strong interest for standardization? The great number of issues involved allows observers to identify several trends, all of them driving tactical moves towards standardization. But does China have a Grand Strategy?
When examining the car industry in the US, Japan as well as Europe, one tends to focus on the crisis that has been shaking some of its biggest players for several years. But this century old industry is also a field for experimentation and technological innovation – a field where the very culture of innovation is undergoing a dramatic, exciting change.
Facing rising kerosene costs and an ever increasing pressure on CO2 emissions, the aviation industry is betting on electrification. But what will truly be electric in tomorrow's aircrafts? Though the changes may mainly affect the secondary energy sources on board, this is a technological revolution, driving a major overhaul in the management of aircraft manufacturers.
Tomorrow, urban wastewater treatment plants will be more than just decontamination factories. They will also produce a wide scope of resources, from water reused for human needs to green energy, bioplastics or even mineral components. Wastewater treatment will be a key issue in the development of a green economy: researchers will be able to combine biotechnologies, biochemistry and microbiology with chemical engineering and applied mathematics.
One year after Fukushima, several European countries have decided to gradually abandon nuclear energy. What are the prospects for this sector? Two executives from world's number 1 group share their views on the new directions taken by a market unlike any other. Increasing safety requirements, predictable upmarket rise of Asian constructors, the dynamism of the small reactor segment and the slow ripening of the third gen reactors: all of these factors draw a new map of this industry.
Crowdsourcing your strategy may sound crazy. But a few pioneering companies are starting to do just that, boosting organizational alignment in the process. Should you join them?
The global market for commodities has profoundly evolved over the last ten years. The dynamics between large producers and consumers have shifted and new factors have been added to an already complex equation. Within this context, both governments and large industrial firms are being forced to rapidly redefine their current strategies with some moving more swiftly than others.
The German photovoltaic industry is in chaos. Overwhelmed by the boom of solar home systems, the government has had to brutally halt subsidies whose costs were threatening to… go through the roof. Caught between Chinese competition and the falling price of solar panels, several of the flagships of this young industry are now on the brink of bankruptcy. After having enjoyed a heyday of several years, the sector suddenly has to adjust to new conditions. And, if it hopes to recover, must adapt.
The European energy equation is defined by three constraints: security of supply, fighting against climate change, competitiveness. It is complicated with the German choice on nuclear power, the arrival of shale gas, the rise of renewable energy, the impact of large emerging countries on the energy markets. What does it change for Europe and its industrial heavyweights?
In 2009, Poland set out to produce shale gas and oil. This choice has taken in consideration the economic outlook, but also sensitive issues like energetic independence and exiting an all-coal powered policy. The Polish experience has thus embarked in a particular situation. Can it serve as a role model for other countries?
The automobile industry is over 100 years old and yet, it still isn't fully mature. While undergoing deep transformations from a technological and commercial point of view, it isn't clear who the winners and losers will be.
Big consulting firms play a crucial role in the strategic management of companies. But how did they themselves design strategies of their own? During a seminar in the Ecole de Paris, Christopher McKenna (Oxford University) looked back on the history of an industry characterized by a somewhat ambiguous relationship to innovation.
The growth in unconventional hydrocarbons has passed from adolescence and is approaching an age of maturity. Yet, optimism must be offset the concerns for those living closest to the revolution. Glancing back over the North American and Australian experiences some preliminary conclusions can be drawn. While best practices are making a contribution to sustainable production the equation will remain incomplete without fearless public debate of the subject.