The algorithmic CEO

11. October 2015

Date: 11-10-2015
Source: Fortune january 2015, Ram CharanCharan

Get ready for the most sweeping business change since the Industrial Revolution.

Algorithmic CEOThe single greatest instrument of change in today’s business world, and the one that is creating major uncertainties for an ever-growing universe of companies, is the advancement of mathematical algorithms and their related sophisticated software. Never before has so much artificial mental power been available to so many—power to deconstruct and predict patterns and changes in everything from consumer behavior to the maintenance requirements and operating lifetimes of industrial machinery. In combination with other technological factors—including broadband mobility, sensors, and vastly increased data-crunching capacity—algorithms are dramatically changing both the structure of the global economy and the nature of business.

Though still in its infancy, the use of algorithms has already become an engine of creative destruction in the business world, fracturing time-tested business models and implementing dazzling new ones. The effects are most visible so far in retailing, creating new and highly interactive relationships between businesses and their customers, and making it possible for giant corporations to deal with customers as individuals. At Macy’s, for instance, algorithmic technology is helping fuse the online and the in-store experience, enabling a shopper to compare clothes online, try something on at the store, order it online, and return it in person. Algorithms help determine whether to pull inventory from a fulfillment center or a nearby store, while location-based technologies let companies target offers to specific consumers while they are shopping in stores. Read the rest of this entry »


What Amazon’s workplace controversy says about the future of work

23. August 2015

Date: 22-08-2015
Source: Fortune

The harsh workplace that a New York Times story recently described plaguing Amazon represents an old-fashioned business model that will almost certainly disappear soon.

This week, a New York Times profile of Amazon’s treatment of employees has provoked a debate about the future of the workplace.

The article claims that Amazon’s professional employees are well paid and work on world-changing projects, but are pushed to the breaking point in a survival-of-the-fittest climate where they tend to burn out and leave quickly.

Readers, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, say they are appalled by the anecdotes of insensitivity in the Times report. But the controversy has raised the possibility that the underlying business model portrayed in the article is legitimate or perhaps inevitable. The Times article quotes an ex-Amazon employee who says CEO Jeff Bezos has envisioned a “new workplace: fluid but tough, with employees staying only a short time and employers demanding the maximum.” Read the rest of this entry »


Microsoft CEO: ‘Until we really change culturally, no renewal happens’

15. July 2014

Date: 15-07-2014
Source: Fortune

NadellaMicrosoft chief executive Satya Nadella

The technology giant needs to fight for mobile market share. It needs to extend Windows to all sorts of devices. But none of it will happen without culture change.

Microsoft must change.

Microsoft should focus on its core—and Xbox isn’t it.

Microsoft has to differentiate itself in the marketplace, and productivity is the way to do it.

Microsoft could really do a better job marketing itself.

Microsoft ought to find a way to make Windows as identifiable with wearable technology as it is with the personal computer.

Microsoft needs to be mobile.

Satya Nadella, the chief executive of the Redmond, Wash.-based company, took to the stage here at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference to reiterate the strategy that he outlined in a memo sent to his 127,104 employees last week and otherwise show that he had control of a company that has been criticized as clumsy and directionless. Read the rest of this entry »


How a little open source project came to dominate big data

1. July 2014

Date: 01-07-2014
Source: Fortune

It began as a nagging technical problem that needed solving. Now, it’s driving a market that’s expected to be worth $50.2 billion by 2020.

There are countless open source projects with crazy names in the software world today, but the vast majority of them never make it onto enterprises’ collective radar. Hadoop is an exception of pachydermic proportions.

Named after a child’s toy elephant, Hadoop is now powering big data applications at companies such as Yahoo and Facebook; more than half of the Fortune 50 use it, providers say.

The software’s “refreshingly unique approach to data management is transforming how companies store, process, analyze and share big data,” according to Forrester analyst Mike Gualtieri. “Forrester believes that Hadoop will become must-have infrastructure for large enterprises.”

Globally, the Hadoop market was valued at $1.5 billion in 2012; by 2020, it is expected to reach $50.2 billion.

It’s not often a grassroots open source project becomes a de facto standard in industry. So how did it happen?

‘A market that was in desperate need’

“Hadoop was a happy coincidence of a fundamentally differentiated technology, a permissively licensed open source codebase and a market that was in desperate need of a solution for exploding volumes of data,” said RedMonk cofounder and principal analyst Stephen O’Grady. “Its success in that respect is no surprise.” Read the rest of this entry »


Gates to Stanford grads: Let your heart break

23. June 2014

Date: 23-06-2014
Source: Fortune

Bill & Melinda GatesBill and Melinda Gates deliver a stirring address on optimism to Stanford University’s 2014 graduating class.

How do you inspire a group of unusually smart, hard working, optimistic, and largely privileged youngsters who are already destined for success? Encourage them to learn from those most in need; urge them confront inequity; exhort them channel their optimism with empathy; oh, and remind them that for all their accomplishments, they wouldn’t be where they are without a heavy dose of luck.

That was the message that philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates delivered to Stanford’s 2014 graduating class in a poignant commencement address.

At a time when inequality is becoming one of the central issues of our time, the Gateses, whose foundation has become one of the most formidable philanthropic enterprises in history, exhorted graduates to pursue a mission-driven life. While both speakers were inspiring, it was Melinda Gates who delivered the most stirring lines. Here’s she is on channeling optimism:

Optimism for me isn’t a passive expectation that things will get better; it’s a conviction that we can make things better—that whatever suffering we see, no matter how bad it is, we can help people if we don’t lose hope and we don’t look away. Read the rest of this entry »


Wanted: 1.4 million new supply chain workers by 2018

1. May 2014

Date: 01-05-2014
Source: FORTUNE

The logistics industry has a recruiting problem. It’s huge, making up 8.5% of GDP, and growing fast. But to most job seekers, it’s misunderstood — or invisible.

FORTUNE — How can a $1.3 trillion industry, getting bigger every year, be hidden in plain sight?

Easy. The vast U.S. logistics business, which delivers 48 million tons of freight (worth about $48 billion) daily and already employs roughly 6 million people, operates mostly behind the scenes.

“When you order something from, say, Amazon, you know it arrives on your doorstep in two days, but most people don’t think about how,” observes George Prest, president of logistics trade group Materials Handling Industry (MHI). He adds that the field gets overlooked by new grads in particular, who think of supply chain work — if they think of it at all — as “a guy driving a forklift in a dusty old factory.”

That outdated image is a huge hurdle for an industry that badly needs new talent in high tech, analytics, robotics, and engineering. Career changers, take note: Seasoned managers, marketers, data analysts, and human resources executives are also in demand. “There are currently six to eight management jobs available for each applicant we get, and the median salary is about $80,000,” notes Prest — and that’s even before the wave of Boomer retirements the MHI projects over the next few years. In total, says a new MHI report, the logistics business will be looking to fill about 1.4 million jobs, or roughly 270,000 per year, by 2018. Read the rest of this entry »


The shared genius of Elon Musk and Steve Jobs

30. December 2013
Businessperson of the Year 2013

By Chris Anderson  @FortuneMagazine November 27, 2013: 9:28 AM ET

Yes, these two iconoclasts have disrupted multiple industries, but TED curator Chris Anderson goes much deeper and argues that what Musk and Jobs really have in common is a rare form of design thinking powered by unfettered conviction.

Elon Musk CCWhen future historians report human progress during the 21st century, they may conclude that one of the key moments took place a year ago in Elon Musk’s bedroom. His eureka! moments happen every few months. Sometimes during his morning shower, sometimes late at night before sleep, sometimes, as on this occasion, waking at 2 a.m.

This is how he described that moment to me: “I realized that a methane-oxygen rocket engine could achieve a specific impulse greater than 380.”

Okay, it doesn’t sound particularly historic. Until you realize that a rocket of that spec has adequate range to escape Earth’s upper atmosphere and travel to Mars. And that it so happens that Mars has plenty of carbon dioxide (CO2) and permafrost (H2O), which could be neatly converted into the aforementioned methane (CH4) and liquid oxygen (O2). Which means you could create the fuel for the journey home right there on Mars itself. And that transforms the long-term economics of space travel between Earth and Mars because it means that you could send manned spacecraft to Mars without having to carry rocket fuel with you.

That’s right. Elon Musk genuinely believes that within the next couple of decades, humans will be colonizing Mars. And thanks to his early morning aha! moment, we will even be able to make the return trip. That would certainly be a useful line in the recruiting ads, unless, like him, you’re comfortable with the prospect of dying on Mars after helping build humanity’s second home.

This is not your typical CEO. Read the rest of this entry »