globalEDGE Blog Archive December 2009
The global impact of our individual actions in society today is more than most of us know. The reach a single person can have has grown exponentially with the advent of the Internet and accompanying decrease in technology costs. The question becomes, how have people used this historical improvement in our ability to communicate across the world? One professor from the University of Oxford began inventing solutions for the less privileged people of the world. His idea began with the concept of user-adjustable spectacles. Check out a demo of his invention:
Until recently China was the world’s largest exporter of coal. While it is still the largest producer, a new exporter has come on to the map. Indonesia recently surpassed China in the market for exporting coal. Many Chinese power stations are even importing coal from Indonesia rather than obtaining it from within its own borders.
How would you like to get out of traffic jams, have cheaper parking, and still get to work on time? Well, if you live in China, now you can! China is the world’s new automobile capital, estimated to sell more than 12 million cars this year. However, China also produces an electric bicycle called the e-bike.
Christmas in Germany is coming early this year, in the form of jobs. Department stores require much more seasonal help around Christmas, and the result is a huge boost to the economy; In Germany, it means 2,500 Christmas markets generating 188,000 jobs, and revenue figures of around €3- €5 billion a year.
China's State Council announced new plans and guidelines that are aimed at promoting the development of the tourism industry over the next five years. This is an attempt to improve the employment rate in the country since the tourism sector consumes fewer resources while generating job openings. The government is hoping that tourism will become a leader industry in the national economy.
Over the last year or so, we’ve been working on a few different projects that we hope will make globalEDGE more useful to more people. A couple adjustments were implemented only recently, and I’m sure you’ve already noticed a few changes in your day-to-day browsing experience (the new formatting and sorting options in Resource Desk are my personal favorites thus far).
Professor and author C. K. Prahalad explores how General Electric took a local innovation in the healthcare industry, one designed to help those in the poorest and most remote villages in India and China, and turned it into a global, game-changing product. In his book, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, he argues that this is no anomaly, but rather the future of innovation.
The aim of reaching a broader market with the EKG turned into a more efficient, cost-friendly product. Should companies be taking more of a look at developing innovative products to help the rural poor? Could these innovations spread to the global market as well?
It’s often difficult for those in the Food and Beverage Industry to determine what consumers want. The industry is such that the consumers have very fickle tastes, and this makes for quick trend shifts. While organic foods were popular in 2008, the recession led to a return to inexpensive comfort foods in 2009. With the economy in recovery, what trend shifts can we expect in 2010?
This week, multiple oil companies are battling for control over Iraq’s 15 fields, located in Baghdad. These fields contain at least 41.121 billion barrels of oil. This is the biggest cut of Iraq's existing oil assets of 115 billion barrels in decades! A total of 44 companies, which include Exxon Mobile Corp, Chevron, and Britain’s BP Group PLC, will be placing their auction bids this week. After all, how could they pass this up?
I recently attended a Global Business Club luncheon in Lansing, Michigan. The main speaker was Andrew Mangan, the Executive Director of the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development. He talked about a plethora of topics surrounding sustainable development on a local stage and global stage. What is this sustainable development? It is a term most everyone has heard, but it holds many implications for the future. Simply put, for a business it means that it can thrive in the long term.
Companies all over the world are feeling the pressure to make more efficient products and packaging. With the media picking up any story about ‘greener’ products, it also gives incentive for some free, very positive, publicity. Unfortunately this sounds much simpler than it actually is. Many companies have been working at this for years. Luckily, there has been some amazing progress.
The Food and Beverage Industry is undergoing significant trend shifts, one of which is a move towards more environmentally-friendly packaging. Many customers are demanding less material waste in the supply chain area of the industry. Complicating matters in the international spectrum is the fact that every country has different regulations regarding what's acceptable and what isn't. The key, then, is to find forms of packaging which comply with more of these regulations and can ultimately make the supply chain aspect of the Food and Beverage Industry more streamlined. That’s where polyactic acid (PLA) comes into play.
Going green has become a global event. Billions of dollars are spent every year to improve our environment, better businesses, and to improve customer service. In 2010, the amount of global investments in alternative energy projects will increase from $130 billion to nearly $200 billion! Too bad it isn’t cheaper to be eco-friendly! Even so, multiple projects are being funded and new technologies are being introduced on a day to day basis. These technologies include clean coal, wind turbines, solar, and hydroelectric, just to name a few.
On December 3, 1984, the lives of 15,000 people in Bhopal, India, ended unexpectedly with a catastrophic chemical plant accident. On March 24, 1989, an oil barge, the Exxon Valdez, ran aground and created one of the worlds largest ecological disasters. Events like these are cemented into history because they have marked important turning points for enhanced levels of corporate social responsibility and their impact on the environment. On this topic we’ll approach the subject from two different vantage points:
In the past decade "going green" has been a popular word among businesses. Many have changed a plethora of their methods to be more environmentally friendly. The business green movement has evolved from the global green movement in other areas.
Going green and being conscious of the environment is something that dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. In the middle of severe fuel shortages, they began building cities and houses with windows facing the sun in the wintertime to make use of solar energy. A more recent example is the idea of sustainable development, meeting human needs while preserving the environment. This idea emerged in a series of meetings during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1972, the UN Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment was the first great international meeting to address how human activities are harming the environment. However, action plans were not drawn until the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
In a recent interview with Mitch Jackson, the senior director of environmental affairs and sustainability at FedEx, Doug Barry from the U.S. Commercial Service was told a few ways that companies can not only reduce their environmental footprint, but also increase the standards of living for all. I personally took quite a few things away from this interview. I learned the following:
Unfortunately, the global economic crisis was not biased when it struck industries across the world. Driven by high-rolling, high-ego aficionados, the art industry was impacted more than one would have expected. With artworks ranging from just $500,000 to well into the millions of dollars, buyers who take interest in these unique items also felt the burn from the instability of the world markets and significant decrease in personal wealth. As a matter of fact, in 2007 the art market was valued at $65 billion, down from $113 billion just five years before. Today it is estimated to be as low as $50 billion.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup is coming to South Africa. Along with it are several business opportunities! As the most popular sport in the world, football brings countless opportunities for many industries to take advantage of. The World Cup in particular attracts business people from all over the world because of its expansive publicity and popularity.
Some people say Wal-Mart, others say Carrefour, but Iran is saying Hyperstar. Hyperstar, found in western Tehran, is Iran’s first large U.S.-style supermarket, financed by a businessman from the United Arab Emirates. It is becoming incredibly successful with an average of 15,000 customers a day! Shoppers consist of mainly middle-class residents who show an increasing interest in shopping and traveling.