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CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS, TRENDS & IDEAS

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The Business of Death

in Asia/Business/Economics/Politics by

The Chinese life insurance market has grown exponentially since the start of the millennium. Now the fifth largest life insurance market globally, sales have risen from 98 billion yuan in 2000 to 994 billion yuan in the first half of 2014. What perhaps makes this feat more impressive is not only the speed at which the market has expanded, but also the success of being able to market such a product in a culture where discussing death used to be completely taboo. To understand what exactly happened here, we need to rewind the clock a bit, and add a little contextual color. Just as the phrase “to have a good life” can mean multiple things, “a good death” is equally as ambiguous. In the west, Christian cultures in particular view death as a promise (or threat) of an afterlife, depending on how you act during your earth-bound existence. In China, where Confucian values are heavily embedded into culture, the subject of death is rarely discussed mainly due to its ambiguity, and it is almost always negatively portrayed. As if mystifying it wasn’t enough, Taoist beliefs measure how good a death is based on its timing and nature—anything other than dying…

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Bringing Football to Asia

in Asia/Business/Europe by
manchester united china fans

Chinese president Xi Jinping has set his country’s national football team three targets to aim for: qualify for the FIFA World Cup, host it, and win it. Football has even been made compulsory in national schools, and projects for the construction of sports grounds have been passed swiftly to ensure the country can achieve its hat trick. As amusing as it may sound, Xi is by no means in the minority when he expresses his obsession and hopes for the sport. The hype over football has reached new heights, especially since the commercial success of January’s Asian Cup, a strong indicator of the game’s popularity across the continent of 4 billion. When the national teams aren’t playing however, the majority of attention is given to overseas European football rather than local teams. Worldwide interest has skyrocketed over the past decade and a half due to weekly coverage in mass media and on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, connecting fans on both national and international levels to these teams. But why is European football especially popular in Asia? For the English Premier League alone there are an estimated 820 million supporters in Asia, according to sports research company Repucom.…

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Something’s Rotten in Silicon Valley

in Business/Politics/US by
google campus sign

Silicon Valley has long been trumpeted as both the ideal and center of America’s entrepreneurial energies and business acumen. It has been an envious example for foreign governments, particularly in Asia, seeking to spur creativity and international success stories in their economy. Most recently, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to help small Japanese firms enter Silicon Valley in an attempt to help jumpstart the Japanese economy and promote its firms long term competitiveness. Beyond the economic capital Silicon Valley has generated among Americans, increasingly these firms are starting to command considerable domestic social and political capital. In the debate over net neutrality it was these tech firms that came out on the side of the “common man” that led to considerable positive coverage from bloggers on these companies. While Silicon Valley may be the shining exemplar of America’s best on the surface, lurking just below the warm shimmer is a growing rot that is going largely unnoticed. As Mark Ames of Pando Daily first uncovered, from 2005, Apple’s Steve Jobs and Google’s Eric Schmidt illegally agreed not to recruit each other’s employees, share compensation details, and to publish workers who violated these terms. As discovered by Ames, the agreement grew in scope to cover…

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What is the Future of the Assembly Line?

in Business/Technology by

Production changed drastically during the last century and is continuing doing so without loosing any momentum. The most recognized technological shift occurred with Henry Ford’s use of the assembly line and progress has continued in a variety of fashions. One of these that is often overlooked is the use of robotization, an example being KUKA robots, which have reinvigorated factories over the past decades. Through this robotization and computerization more efficient solutions have been brought to the industry and now we are heading to another techno-climax. In this decade we will look for answers to the following questions: What will we consume and how how we will produce them? How will production tools change? Which raw and recycled materials will be used? Will production locations change? All those questions are bringing robots to the fore of the discussion. I have mentioned about the changes in means of the production promoting in-house production in my previous article “Decentralization of Production and Customization culture”. Also my cowritten academic paper with Eric Watson “Impact of Technological Trends: Scenario Planning the Next Technological Paradigm” aimed to project the possible scenarios. Though in this article I am going manipulate recent technological developments to create a better example in an effort to highlight…

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Chasing Innovation

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Urbanization has been the engine of modernization in Europe. For most citizens today, every event from birth to the grave including education, marriage, work and leisure, occur in cities. Cities are mirrors of cultures and regimes. McKinsey’s report entitled “Urban World: The Shifting Global Business Landscape” predicts the changes of the major cities in the next decade. According to the report, there are 8,000 companies that account for 90% of the total world GDP and third of those companies are located in 20 major cities that generate 40% of their revenue. McKinsey’s forecast shows that by 2025, there will be 15,000 companies to have headquarters in 330 cities, and 40% of these companies will be located in emerging economies. Additionally, according to UN’s estimations, between 2010 and 2050, over 40% of the world’s population will be living in cities. Other studies, such as the UN Habitat: State of the World’s Cities 2012/2013, present a prosperity framework which tries to achieve equitable distribution; where poverty is reduced, minorities have rights, genders have equal participation, energy is used efficiently and the quality of environment is increased. The UN also presents some facts regarding the rise in productivity with urbanization and they find two general categories…

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A Tantalizing Glimpse of the Social Web in the Future; When Everything is Connected

in Business/Technology by

Imagine yourself chatting with your home before you leave the office. Your home control panel will immediately communicate with an oven and a cooktop to prepare dinner and activate the washing machine before you arrive home. Your vacuum will check the condition of your carpet and clean it. When you are stood up on a date, your home will respond and recommend you food. Your home appliances will gear up for a warm welcome to cheer you up. Once you walk into the house, your favorite music and TV program will already be on along with a welcoming message. This is what Ericsson believes is the upcoming society. In years to come, wireless communications will progressively become part of the fabric of everyday life. Tiny communication chips and sensors will be embedded everywhere, weaving themselves into dense digital meshes. Internet-enabled objects will chat with one another by transmitting massive volumes of data; which once collected, will be processed and analyzed in real time for a variety of applications, creating seemingly endless opportunities for business. This may sound like a futuristic movie story line, but evidence demonstrates that this blue-sky dream is becoming real. A group of university students in Korea,…

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Decentralization of Production and Customization Culture

in Business/Technology by

“Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” Henry Ford Fordism, named after Henry Ford, refers to a modern economic system built on a standardized form of mass production using assembly lines. It was preceded by Frederick Winslow Taylor’s scientific management techniques whose objectives were to improve efficiency and achieve economies of scale. Thereafter, benefiting from standardized production methods, outsourcing models were developed and became a trend to reduce labor costs. As a result mass production became a major factor of international trade. Three years ago I wanted to produce mouthwash dispensers. They had a simple plastic design but the investment amount for 10 units was nearly the same as 500,000 units. This restrained me from testing the market because there was too much risk to produce without knowing market demand and whether the product would be easily replicable. At the time 3D printing was not popular, but now things have changed. 3D printing is an additive manufacturing method that melts plastic wire to create an object layer by layer. It can produce a variety of products by changing print heads using different types of material including plastic, metal, ceramic,…

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