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Finding the Middle Ground in a Politically Polarized World

  • Read Time: 7 min 

Consumers and employees increasingly expect companies to engage with social, environmental, and economic issues. But business leaders can find themselves between a rock and a hard place, especially when corporate political activism is framed as “take a stand or be silent.” The reality is that companies need a more nuanced set of options.

Five Ways to Improve Communication in Virtual Teams

If you think sophisticated communication technologies are the ticket to your virtual team’s success, think again. It’s not the tech that matters — it’s how people use it. New research reveals five strategies for conquering distance and improving communication and performance in dispersed teams. The same strategies can help colocated teams, which depend increasingly on virtual collaboration tools to get work done.

Three Signals Your Industry Is About to Be Disrupted

Emerging technology and new business models have created new ways of serving customers and allowed digital leaders to disrupt traditional companies. Disruption rarely comes out of nowhere, however: There are common patterns to learn from and three major signals to recognize in evaluating the risk for your industry.

Why Tech Companies Don’t See Their Biggest Problems Coming

  • Read Time: 4 min 

Technology companies, such as Facebook, often fail to make crisis management a central feature of their operations, thanks to five blind spots to which they are especially susceptible. Recognizing these shortcomings is the first imperative; the next is developing a well-designed crisis-management program that includes several key features. All tech companies should take heed, because failing to reflect — and then act — can worsen the consequences of crises that come down the pike.

Bringing Lessons From #MeToo to the Boardroom

  • Read Time: 7 min 

In the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp social movements — not to mention the continuing wave of resignations amid misconduct allegations — sexual harassment policies must be on your board’s agenda. This is true regardless of whether the organization is public, private, or nonprofit. For the sake of all its stakeholders, employees, and customers, directors need to do the right thing — and do it now.

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Master the Challenges of Multichannel Pricing

  • Read Time: 6 min 

Retail customers may accept different prices on different channels — but retailers need to manage new complexities to make it work. These include understanding what customers value in each channel and how that affects what they will pay, giving store employees the right language for talking about price differences, and working out operational challenges. Getting it right has a real payoff: Retailers that effectively price differently across all channels see bottom-line growth of 2 to 5%.

The Ability to Navigate the In-Between Spaces

Efforts to effectively connect decision-makers in large organizations across functions, divisions, and business units — not to mention with other companies, governments, and other external stakeholders — usually require organizational innovations. Several key leadership attributes are necessary for this to work. They include the ability to navigate the gaps not covered by specialists, a record of following through and getting things done, and knowledge of other cultures, including the ability to speak multiple languages.

Your Customers May Be the Weakest Link in Your Data Privacy Defenses

  • Read Time: 5 min 

Many ethical, lawfully managed businesses have consumer data they aren’t legally authorized to possess, obtained from a surprising source: their customers, who inadvertently share the personal data of family, friends, and colleagues. And in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the enactment of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, peer-dependent privacy is emerging as a critical consideration for businesses.

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Want the Best Results From AI? Ask a Human

Companies are adopting artificial intelligence at an accelerated pace — and learning that developing and deploying AI is not like implementing a standard software program. Before diving into AI systems, companies should consider three principles that can greatly improve the chances for a successful outcome. First, they need to recognize that humans and machines are in this together. Second, they need to teach the AI systems with a lot of data. And third, they need to continually test what the systems have learned.

Blockchain and the Clean, Smart Grid

Some techies think that blockchain and “tamperproof databases” will revolutionize more than money: A blockchain platform for the energy sector could accelerate the transition to renewables. Blockchain can help by making tracking energy more granular, automated, and trusted, which can allow companies to better verify claims of carbon neutrality. It could also streamline financing and insuring new energy projects and even help create a new kind of energy market.

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