BCG: The most innovative companies of 2014

29. October 2014

https://www.bcgperspectives.com/most_innovative_companies/?utm_source=201410GEN&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=bdlBCG Most Innovative Companies 2014BCG Most Inn Cover

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Germany Bets on ‘Smart Factories’ to Keep Its Manufacturing Edge

27. October 2014

Date: 26-10-2014
Source: The Wall Street Journal

AMBERG, Germany—The next front in Germany’s effort to keep up with the digital revolution lies in a factory in this sleepy industrial town.

At stake isn’t what the Siemens AG plant produces—in this case, automated machines to be used in other industrial factories—but how its 1,000 manufacturing units communicate through the Web.

As a result, most units in this 100,000-plus square-foot factory are able to fetch and assemble components without further human input.

The Amberg plant is an early-stage example of a concerted effort by the German government, companies, universities and research institutions to develop fully automated, Internet-based “smart” factories.

Such factories would make products fully customizable while on the shop floor: An incomplete product on the assembly line would tell “the machine itself what services it needs” and the final product would immediately be put together, said Wolfgang Wahlster, a co-chairman of Industrie 4.0, as the collective project is known.

The initiative seeks to help German industrial manufacturing—the backbone of Europe’s largest economy—keep its competitive edge against the labor-cost advantages of developing countries and a resurgence in U.S. manufacturing. Read the rest of this entry »


The Genetics Epidemic

13. October 2014

Date: 13-10-2014

Source: Foreign Affairs

The Revolution in DNA Science — And What To Do About It

GeneticsThe revolution in genetic engineering that will make it possible for humans to actively manage our evolutionary process for the first time in our species’ history is already under way. In laboratories and clinics around the world, gene therapies are being successfully deployed to treat a range of diseases, including certain types of immune deficiency, retinal amaurosis, leukemia, myeloma, hemophilia, and Parkinson’s. This miraculous progress is only the beginning. The same already existing technologies that will soon eliminate many diseases that have victimized humans for thousands of years will almost certainly be used eventually to make our species smarter, stronger, and more robust.

The prospect of genetic engineering will be exciting to some, frightening to others, and challenging for all. If not adequately addressed, it will also likely lead to major conflict both within societies and globally. But although the science of human genetic engineering is charging forward at an exponential rate, the global policy framework for ensuring this scientific progress does not lead to destabilizing conflict barely exists at all. The time has come for a meaningful dialogue on the national security implications of the human genetic revolution that can lay the conceptual foundation for a future global policy structure seeking to prevent dangerous future conflict and abuse.

The rate of recent progress in human genetics has been astounding. It was only 61 short years ago that the DNA helix was uncovered and a mere 50 years later, in 2003, when the human genome was fully sequenced. The cost of sequencing a full human genome was roughly $100 million in 2001 and is under $10,000 today. If even a fraction of this rate of decrease is maintained, as is highly likely, the cost will approach negligibility in under a decade, ushering in a new era of personalized medicine where many treatments will be customized based on each person’s genetic predisposition. Processes like these will only widen and deepen in the future, just at an exponentially accelerated pace. Read the rest of this entry »


Beware the angry birds

13. October 2014

Date: 10-10-2014
Source: The Economist: Schumpeter

In the social-media age, bosses’ careers are more vulnerable than ever

THE New Yorker magazine ran a cartoon last year of three monkeys in a row: one with a microphone (labelled “hear all evil”), one with a television camera (“see all evil”) and one with a laptop (“post all evil”). Today’s bosses still need to worry about the unwise monkeys of the press. But as big a threat to their careers these days is the risk of being pecked by Twitter’s swarm of angry birds. Thanks to the digital revolution, chief executives now live in glass houses. An ill-judged remark can be broadcast to the world in an instant. An unwise “reply all” can provide sensitive information to a competitor. An exasperated complaint in the midst of a crisis can seal your doom. Tony Hayward, who was boss of BP during the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, never recovered from his plea that “I want my life back”.

The digital revolution has dramatically shifted the balance of power from companies to their critics. Although big firms deploy armies of PR flacks, anyone with a smartphone and a socialmedia account now has the same power to reach a global audience. Whistleblowers once had to photocopy documents and smuggle them out in their underpants. Now they can be shared with the world in a trice, by e-mail or instant messaging. Read the rest of this entry »


The world’s best business programmes

11. October 2014

Date: 10-10-2014
Source: The Economist

Which MBA?, 2014

The Chicago boys, and girls, come top again in our business-school ranking

Economist Best Business Schools 2014
For the fourth time in five years, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business tops The Economist’s ranking of full-time MBA programmes. Even as banking jobs have become scarcer, Chicago, famed for its prowess in finance, has maintained a strong record of placing students in work. Last year 94% of graduates were employed within three months of leaving.

Fifteen of the top 20 schools are American. However, HEC Paris, the top European school, has climbed four places to fourth, mostly because of the impressive salaries its graduates get. The University of Queensland is the top-ranked school outside America and Europe.

This is the 12th time we have published the ranking. Each year we ask students why they decided to take an MBA. Our ranking weights data according to what they say is important. The four categories covered are: opening new career opportunities (35%); personal development/educational experience (35%); increasing salary (20%); and the potential to network (10%). The figures we collate are a mixture of hard data and subjective marks given by the students.


Mine Your Digital Business

11. October 2014

Date: 10-10-2014
Source: Project Syndicate

NATHAN EAGLE

Nathan Eagle is the CEO of Jana, a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer.

BOSTON – Nearly everyone has a digital footprint – the trail of so-called “passive data” that is produced when you engage in any online interaction, such as with branded content on social media, or perform any digital transaction, like purchasing something with a credit card. A few seconds ago, you may have generated passive data by clicking on a link to read this article.

Passive data, as the name suggests, are not generated consciously; they are by-products of our everyday technological existence. As a result, this information – and its intrinsic monetary value – often goes unnoticed by Internet users.

But the potential of passive data is not lost on companies. They recognize that such information, like a raw material, can be mined and used in many different ways. For example, by analyzing users’ browser history, firms can predict what kinds of advertisements they might respond to or what kinds of products they are likely to purchase. Even health-care organizations are getting in on the action, using a community’s purchasing patterns to predict, say, an influenza outbreak.

Indeed, an entire industry of businesses – which operate rather euphemistically as “data-management platforms” – now captures individual users’ passive data and extracts hundreds of billions of dollars from it. According to the Data-Driven Marketing Institute, the data-mining industry generated $156 billion in revenue in 2012 – roughly $60 for each of the world’s 2.5 billion Internet users. Read the rest of this entry »


How 3-D Printing is Revolutionizing the Display of Big Data

9. October 2014

Date: 09-10-2014
Source: Technology Review

3D Big DataIf you’ve ever struggled to make sense of an information firehose, perhaps a 3-D printed model could help.

One of the characteristics of our increasingly information-driven lives is the huge amounts of data being generated about everything from sporting activities and Twitter comments to genetic patterns and disease predictions. These information firehoses are generally known as “big data,” and with them come the grand challenge of making sense of the material they produce.

That’s no small task. The Twitter stream alone produces some 500 million tweets a day. This has to be filtered, analyzed for interesting trends, and then displayed in a way that humans can make sense of quickly.

It is this last task of data display that Zachary Weber and Vijay Gadepally have taken on at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts. They say that combining big data with 3-D printing can dramatically improve the way people consume and understand data on a massive scale.

They make their argument using the example of a 3-D printed model of the MIT campus, which they created using a laser ranging device to measure the buildings. They used this data to build a 3-D model of the campus which they printed out in translucent plastic using standard 3-D printing techniques.

One advantage of the translucent plastic is that it can be illuminated from beneath with different colors. Indeed, the team used a projector connected to a laptop computer to beam an image on the model from below. The image above shows the campus colored according to the height of the buildings.

But that’s only the beginning of what they say is possible. To demonstrate, Weber and Gadepally filtered a portion of the Twitter stream to pick out tweets that were geolocated at the MIT campus. They can then use their model to show what kind of content is being generated in different locations on the campus and allow users to cut and dice the data using an interactive screen. “Other demonstrations may include animating twitter traffic volume as a function of time and space to provide insight into campus patterns or life,” they say.
Read the rest of this entry »