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Plastics are an inseparable aspect of modern society. From packaging of household items to industry appliances, plastics are always depended on. Because of its versatility and cheap production cost, we have over-relied on it. Plastic production has grown over 20-fold in the past 50 years. It is expected to grow even more in the years to come. The problem isn't the production, but how plastics are handled after usage. Landfills are rapidly being filled up and oceans are becoming polluted as well. On average, only 9% of all plastic wastes are recycled. However, countries and companies around the world are trying to come up with new solutions.

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Apple and smartphones will always seem to be connected, almost as Apple is a monopoly for the market. While Apple only holds 17.9% of the smartphone market industry, it is no question that they are the top tier in smartphone manufacturing and production. However, Apple is currently being trialed in a case that claims Apple violated anti-trust laws in affiliation with their app store. Apple controls their app store, the only way to get apps on an iPhone is through Apple’s Appstore. The case, Apple v. Pepper, turns on what happens when iPhone users buy something at the Apple App Store. In allowing the suit, a federal appeals court said the transaction is a simple one in which consumers buy directly from Apple.  According to anti-trust laws, there are statutes developed by the U.S. Government to protect consumers from predatory business practices by ensuring that fair competition exists in an open-market economy. When looking at the definition, we must keep in mind that for Apple to be found liable, there must be clear evidence showing that consumers were harmed in some way. This is where it gets tricky because Apple is such a dominant price chooser for the application industry, that there is no clear idea if they are suppressing consumers or not. Also, it is important to note that Apple has incentives to raising the price of applications, as producers must agree to give 30% of profits in exchange for having permission to sell apps on Apple’s Appstore. While this court case is being decided, it is important to note the impact that this ruling could have on any other competitive monopolistic tech giants such as Facebook, Google, or Amazon.

If Apple is found liable, it is only a matter of time before these tech giants get trailed for antitrust law violations as well. When Verizon was asked about what this meant for other tech companies, they replied, “That is really the beginning — not the end — of the analysis,” Verizon wrote. Some examples of companies under fire for potentially violating anti-trust laws include Google and Mastercard. Some of the experts have argued that Google caused the death of local search engines that connected users to local businesses, and Yelp claims that Google's lowering the rank of Yelp results (in favor of competing Google info) has harmed that company as well. Last year, the court took one of its first major stabs at the issue in the digital age.  It issued a significant decision involving American Express that gave the company the benefit of the doubt, despite claims that American Express was anti-competitively barring retailers from steering customers toward Visa or Mastercard, which are cheaper to use. 

If Apple v. Pepper is decided against Apple, monopolistic companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Amazon are next in line to be investigated. This case has the potential to open the floodgates and give us a closer and better understanding of anti-trust laws in the business world. 

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Amidst legislative restructurings revolving around Brexit, the U.K. is planning to introduce an innovative tax on large technology firms that hasn’t been done anywhere in the world. Some are considering this tax to be a raid on America tech giants. The tax applies to companies operating certain business models such as search engines, social media platforms, or online marketplaces. Specifically, U.S. tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon appear to be targeted.

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The world is always looking for the next technological advancement that will bring in money and make everyday life easier. Right now, the fastest startup in the world to reach one billion dollars is Bird rentable scooters. Bird, along with its competitors, Lyme, and Skip, have taken advantage of people's newfound love for easy and fast modes of transportation in crowded cities and around college campuses. This is especially popular with younger people as most of the users are college students or young adults that live and work in cities and have little use for cars. Bird has combined the incredible ability of smartphones with the need for more public transportation and has created apps that allow people to locate scooters everywhere and give them a cheap and easy way to get places quick. This works because of its ubiquitous accessibility. Whenever someone needs one, it is a click away, and when they did, they simply put the kickstand up and continue with their day.

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Autonomous transportation is the next big leap for the auto industry. It is universal knowledge that autonomous driving will change transportation drastically, and when enforced, will not only lead to an improvement in transportation, but it will also improve the economy and the environment. The only problem that remains is, who will be the company to perfect autonomous driving.

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Wireless network technology is not often on the mind of the average person. Over the past ten years, society has grown accustomed to uninterrupted access to the internet everywhere we go, whether there is a Wi-Fi connectivity or not. The proliferation of mobile applications has made many people dependent on continuous network connectivity to conduct business, commute to work, stay up to date on the news, and interact with family and friends. The wireless network is the technology that underpins omnipresent access to the internet and that technology is scheduled for a major upgrade in the coming years.

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Today, the next big advancement for the world just might be the arrival of fifth-generation (5G) wireless network technology. The new 5G technology plans to use higher-frequency spectrum known as millimeter waves, which can carry more data than other types of the spectrum but can’t travel as far or penetrate many hard materials, which means at first, the coverage will only be available in select cities.

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The sport of baseball boasts ties across the world, carrying tradition and holding economic value in countries like the Dominican Republic, Japan, China, and the U.S. For countries around the globe, baseball has been, or is, necessary to their way of life. Recently, however, baseball has seen a substantial decrease in its popularity at all levels. From Major League Baseball to Little League, fewer people are participating in, purchasing goods from, and supporting baseball games. This has a direct influence on many global economies, specifically regarding the equipment with which baseball is played. The question for many retailers and consumers is, what does the future hold for the sport of baseball and its business operations?

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The technology industry is made up of skilled workers from all over the world, and the success of this industry largely relies on the ability to share and develop different ideas. When countries enforce strict immigration laws, or prevent travel in and out of the country, it hinders the technology industry. This is pertinent considering the possible changes in immigration laws in the United States under the Trump administration which may include reducing visas, increasing deportation, and focusing efforts on what used to be considered sanctuary cities. Multiple technology companies have expressed complaints with these policies, including Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Apple.

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Tech firms have been innovating and growing freely with no strings attached for the past few decades. However, governments and politicians in the America and Europe have been growing a negative sentiment towards the freedom of the giant tech firms. Companies that fall under the social media, search engine, and e-commerce buckets have been specifically put under the microscope. The whole world is currently watching Mark Zuckerberg’s, the Founder and CEO of Facebook, testimony where he has been drilled with 100s of questions revolving around Facebook’s business model, monopolistic power, and the company’s lack of responsibility and respect towards its users data. The real question here is: should governments intervene and regulate these industries?

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If you were born in 1900, you were expected to live a mere 50 years. Today, the average global life expectancy is 72.8 years. The good news is that people are living longer. The bad news is that many of the resources necessary to care for the aging population are dwindling. Of all the demographic trends in the world today, preparing for and managing the implications of the aging population might be the most important. 

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Artificial limbs, manufacturing machines, and transportation drones all share one common trait: the implementation of robotics.  One of the fastest growing sectors in the world, robotics and its applications are revolutionizing the way society conducts our lives.  The recent data boom has produced a newfound excitement around all technology, using the benefits of mass statistics to carefully craft new innovative products.  Robotics has been one of the largest, if not the largest, benefactors from this trend, using systems like cloud storage, artificial intelligence, and responsive programming to evolve into a highly intelligent and efficient tool.  Currently, technology stocks are growing tremendously compared to past years and robotics seem to be on the cutting edge of a new era.

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With evolving technology comes a growing number of sophisticated data breaches aimed at obtaining emails, credit card numbers and addresses for shoppers worldwide. In the last five years, there has been multiple high-profile breaches including Under Armor and the MyFitnessPal app, Target, Whole Foods Market, Chipotle Mexican Grills, and most recently Hudson’s Bay Co. which is home to Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor.

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This is the fifth post in a five-part blog series focused on future trends in business.

Advertising has evolved from traditional print, television, and radio ads to today's multi-channel mobile and online media campaigns. With more data being collected and analyzed than ever before, many aspects of advertising have become integrated and therefore more apt at addressing consumer needs. The future of advertising lies in the connectivity of our devices and in the data derived from our activity. This post will explore the effect these advancements have on consumers and highlight opportunities for businesses.

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This is the third post in a five-part blog series focused on future trends in business.

Technology is an ever-increasing field, especially in today’s world.  The advancements we are currently experiencing are greater than the entirety of society’s past.  By 2020, the amount of information available via digital gateways will grow from the current five zettabytes to 50 zettabytes (in perspective, one zettabyte is equal to 10^12th gigabytes, or over 15 billion flash drives).  Subsequently, for almost all global actions, there are digital footprints left behind—every Google search in China, use of a Nest home system in the United States, or activation of a trending smartphone app in South Africa leaves behind data and information.  Enter, big data.

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This is the first post in a five-part blog series focused on future trends in business. 

In this weeks blog series, we plan on outlining the future of international business by taking a look at the trends of automation, sustainability, marketing, big data, and blockchain. As the fourth industrial revolution transpires, we are to expect variation with how we interact with technological devices and with how these devices communicate with one another.

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Popularized by recent ride- and accommodation-sharing platforms, the sharing economy has experienced significant growth and demonstrated its potential for international scalability. The implications of this new economy are predicted to disrupt a variety of business models and industries, ultimately challenging the way we define consumption. Topics to consider include factors driving growth, potential industry risks, and future trends set to affect the way consumers capture value.

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Around the globe, playing your favorite music, making phone calls, and listening to lectures or podcasts has been made more convenient with the help of one of the world’s most popular products—headphones/earbuds.  Strolling through college campuses, it’s a common sight for students bustling to and from classes to don a pair of earbuds or headphones.  In global workplaces, many employees play music through headphones to increase their focus and achieve better results.  Taking private calls has been greatly aided with the use of earbuds that work much like Bluetooth earpieces but offer much better quality—the noise canceling functionality that many of these products feature to make it simple to tune out background information and allows calls to be made without having to step out of a room.  This coveted usefulness has people around the world buying into the headphone and earbud market.

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Entrepreneurship is permeating business conversations as more people discover the lasting benefits that come with investing in start-ups. Entrepreneurs are responsible for driving the majority of social and economic innovation across the globe and continue to foster opportunities for growth in mature, emerging and frontier markets alike .

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Microwavable TV dinner trays, notebooks, tissues, packages, and newspapers are all derived from one of the world’s most used products—paper.  According to Green America, “40 percent of the world’s industrial logging goes into making paper, and is expected to reach 50 percent in the near future.”  Furthermore, the global consumption of paper has skyrocketed 400 percent in the last four decades, and in the last 20 years alone, the use of paper products has gone up from 92 million tons to 407 million tons in 2014.  The worldwide paper industry is the fifth largest consumer of energy and is credited for four percent of the entire population’s energy use.

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This winter, Australia gave life to business extraordinaire Elon Musk’s mega-battery, changing the scope of energy production as we know it.  The battery is the size of an American football field and powers 30,000 homes in Southern Australia and was built in the Tesla founder’s guaranteed 100-day time frame. On the heels of his accomplishment, Musk has announced another mega-battery to be built, putting on full display the growing market of batteries as the future of society’s power source.

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Flipping on the television, powering up a gaming device, and relaxing on the couch has become a routine for millions of people around the globe—in fact, it’s estimated that more than 1.8 billion people are playing video games worldwide on a range of devices from smartphones, to game consoles and computers.  In the US alone, there are 2,858 video game companies and 65,678 workers within those companies based on Forbes estimates.  According to Newzoo, these people along with the billions of players will help the market value grow 7.8 percent to $108.9 billion in 2017.  The major leader in the market is the mobile games sector, which accounts for 42 percent of revenue—$46.1 billion—and the profound interest from the Asia-Pacific market.  With the current growth expected to continue, the video game market is expected to reach $128.5 billion by the year 2020.

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It is very likely that you will soon witness a self-driving truck next to you on the highway. The world keeps taking a step further into the tech field, sparking innovative solutions for automotive companies. The automotive industry is highly competitive and many automotive companies are working very hard to stay ahead and take part in one of the greatest advancements in trucks.

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Each day, millions of people fill up reusable water bottles during school, sports, and work, continuing to grow the trend of ditching clear plastic bottles for their refillable—and more environment-friendly—counterparts.  Fueled by an increase in online shopping, reduction in overall price, and easy accessibility, the consumption of reusable water bottles across the globe is estimated to reach 3,902,642 thousand units in 2017 alone.  The implementation of these types of bottles into sports and travel shows the most opportunity for the market to grow, finding more efficient and practical ways for users to store and drink water without negative health and environmental impacts.

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The maritime industry is being revolutionized this year, with the introduction of “smart ships.” The maritime transport carries more than 90% of world trade annually and is the most cost-effective mode of transportation for mass goods and raw materials worldwide. Advancements in technology have built a strong platform for the creation of autonomous ships. The sensory technology and algorithms needed for a virtual captain already exist and it’s only a matter of time until we see unmanned ships.

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Artificial intelligence is starting to have a great impact on the transportation sector worldwide. Self-balancing electric flying vehicles are pushing the future means of transportation to a whole new level. The first certified multicopter was tested in Bruchsal, Germany last year. Since then, different countries and companies around the world have shown interest in this new technology.

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Virtual reality has been making great strides in the gaming industry, but also has many possible benefits within business.  Virtual reality is not yet widely accepted by the public, with devices such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive still not having as much success as was expected.  However, there has been an increasing interest in virtual reality technology by the public and by major companies as new uses for the technology are being discovered.  According to Reuters, there has been a 375% increase in companies that included virtual reality as part of their business plans from just last year; companies included are the New York Times, GoPro, and Wayfair.

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This blog analyzes A.T. Kearney’s Global Trends 2016-2021 report, which focuses on Political, Technological, and Demographic Revolutions. Today, I will specifically go into the 2nd trend in the report, which talks about Latin America’s position to be a major economic player in the future.

There is a bright spot in a region historically filled with political and economic trauma. Neoliberal political parties with pro-business strategy have been winning elections across the region, creating hope for a future filled with economic prosperity. The region has deepened its ties with the rest of the world and is in the midst of reshaping its future identity.

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In 2015, Netflix streamed 42.5 billion hours of programming an incredible rise from the "mere" 29 billion hours in 2014 with the numbers predicted to continue growing. This averages out to about 568 hours a person in 2015 or watching the 288 episode series of Criminal Minds two and a half times through. Currently, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon are the three companies who hold the most stock in streaming however by 2019 Apple and Disney are predicted to get into the running as well. Since streaming has become a daily occurrence for many people, multiple companies are investing more money into the service. Recently, many of the streaming platforms have begun to produce their own shows in hopes of raising their income. Netflix predicts they will spend about $8 billion on filming and producing original content in 2018 and Apple estimating about $1 billion to be spent on their own shows. Additionally, there are fewer restrictions on the content they can display which is a large draw for many since the censorship guidelines, for live television, have been ridiculed as being “too strict” in the past.

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Recently, technology has been hitting many new sectors of everyday life from reading, media and now clothing. The bra industry plays a major factor in the economic impact of clothing and now is attempting to flourish even more with the new technology being implemented into innovative products.

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Technology is evolving rapidly in many realms of the world. Currently, the light is focused on the use of robots in warehouses. The autonomous mobile robotics (AMR) are emerging worldwide from numerous start-up firms. 

Currently, Amazon is the main company producing and using automatic robots. In 2012, Amazon bought Kiva Systems turning their AMRs into their own product and rebranding them as “Amazon Robots”. These robots are said to be the future of factory work. Also, Amazon has recently discontinued the sale of their robots to other competitors such as Walgreens, Staples and The Gap, leading to a scramble of other companies worldwide attempting to enter the field.

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In the world today, everyone is looking into shortcuts for everything from cooking to driving and now for payment methods. The world as a whole is becoming a paperless society. According to a Business Insider report, more than one trillion dollars are exchanged through peer-to-peer (P2P) payments applications such as Venmo and PayPal. This number is expected to grow exponentially in the next couple of years.

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With the population in India increasing and the need for a sustainable food supply being so important, a multi million dollar investment that is backed by the World Bank has gone into place. The main goal of this initiative is to boost the agricultural industry in India. This goal will be achieved by educating the new generation and equipping them with the skills needed to be successful in agricultural business.

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At one point in the 20th century, over twenty million Americans held jobs in the manufacturing industry. This trend has experienced a steep decline since 1960—in this century alone, five million of those jobs have been terminated. This loss can be attributed to the omnipresence of technology in modern manufacturing as well as the outsourcing of basic manufacturing jobs. For the positions that have remained in the United States, robots and machines have been incorporated to increase efficiency and lower costs. As technological processes develop, automation is expected to increase. As the labor market moves away from manufacturing and toward careers based on skill and training, one question arises: will technology be the answer to our manufacturing losses? 

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As industry processes around the world become more digitized, businesses find themselves increasingly prone to vicious cyberattacks. In May, a ransomware attack named WannaCry infected software in over 150 countries, upsetting procedures in the technology, finance, healthcare, transportation, manufacturing, and communications industries. Although a security patch for WannaCry was issued and installed in several systems, it wasn't enough to prevent a separate ransomware attack called Petya, which spread in June and affected thousands of machines in over 65 countries. Virtual epidemics such as these, which have become quite frequent over the past year, can prove devastating to international business, causing technological destruction, operation disruption, and widespread theft of money and intellectual property.

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On June 27, antitrust officials from the European Union levied a fine of 2.42 billion euros ($2.7 billion) on Google, citing market interference and obstruction of competition. The ruling targets Google Shopping, the e-commerce service that displays related products for sale on top of results pages for search terms. Margrethe Vestager, Competition Commissioner for the EU, alleged that Google's promotion of its Shopping results provides an unfair advantage to the service, impeding fair competition from rival e-retailers and violating EU antitrust rules. The decision, coming at the end of a seven-year investigation by the European Commission, makes for the largest fine ever imposed by the EU upon an individual company for antitrust infractions.

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In the last blog of the leisure industry series, we take a look at the changing music industry.

In previous blog posts, we have analyzed the state of the global music industry, noting the dominance of streaming services as the default method for popular music consumption. As rates from digital and physical music sales remain in decline, revenues from streaming services have risen sharply: worldwide streaming revenues hit a new high of $5.4 billion in 2016. Major services based in various countries—Spotify from Sweden, TIDAL from the Norwegian company Aspiro, Apple Music from the United States, Deezer from France—have seen massive increases in their paid subscriptions, with further growth projected for the next few years. Countries with large music markets, like China, India, and Mexico, have provided large markets of subscribers and listeners. The effects of streaming have played a substantial role in the development of the global music industry—by the end of last year, the industry had accrued revenues of $16.1 billion, reaching its highest rate of growth (5.9%) in 15 years. 

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According to Kai-Fu Lee, the founder of venture capital firm Sinovation Ventures, robots are likely to replace 50% of all jobs in the next decades. Lee expects this to be the next revolution in the technology industry, even bigger than electricity, the industrial revolution, or internet. Lee has previously held high executive positions with companies including Google, Apple, and Microsoft. When asked if humans will still have a role in the world with machines growing more intelligent, Lee responded that nothing can replace person-to-person social interactions, meaning there is hope for the service industry. Still, artificial intelligence (AI) has been impacting and will continue to impact all aspects of life as we know it.

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In the past decade, technology has changed the way people operate dramatically. Uber has enabled a user to order a car to their house and see, in real time, their ETA (estimated arrival time). Grubhub has helped one order food from places which usually do not deliver so the individual can stay on the couch and continue binging on the newest Netflix hit. Founded in 2008, Airbnb has now taken the world by storm, connecting travelers to places to stay in over 65,000 countries and 191 cities. Travelers all over enjoy the vast availability of options they have at their fingertips, from a single bed apartment to spending a night in a castle. However, this has begun to cause strife with the American Hotel and Lodging Association and hotels all over the world.

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A memorable part of most people’s childhoods is learning how to ride a two wheeled bicycle. Now that skill is becoming a vital mode of transportation for many in Beijing, China. There are multiple start up apps running the main front of this business such as Mobike and Ofo. All one must do is download the app and it will locate the nearest bike. This service costs only 7 cents for a half hour and has taken off in Beijing. However not everyone is happy about the healthy, cheap new mode of transportation.

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The rapid growth in the fintech industry is revolutionizing the financial industry, forcing traditional banks and new startups to become more technologically advanced. Customer behavior is an area that has a lot of potential for financial institutions to gain insights through data analytics. Data analytics would allow banks and other institutions to have agile systems that learn through experience, where they would automatically refine the algorithms to improve results.

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Agriculture has been, and always will be, a crucial part of our existence. This industry is continually evolving; in the past, improvements consisted of machinery becoming more effective, or incorporating animals into the seeding and harvesting process. Today, technology is playing the biggest part in how we grow our food. In 1900, around 41% of America's labor force was employed through the agriculture industry alone. Today, due to countless technological advances, the proportion is now below 2%.

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It is no secret that the new President of the United States, Donald Trump, favors protectionist economic policies. We are most used to hearing how his policies might affect relationships with China, Mexico, and Russia, but almost all countries will be impacted by the new president's policies. One of the countries who might see significant economic change from Trump's economy is India. India’s largest export, IT Services, face a particularly concentrated threat, and other industries such as pharmaceuticals also find themselves impacted by Trump’s America first policies.

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As global business practices become increasingly digitized, industry sectors are forced to constantly adjust to their transforming infrastructures. This is especially felt within the hospitality industry, where technological mainstays are driving business on both a domestic and an international scale. Technology has allowed for further integration and optimization of industry practices, accelerating overall efficiency. Outreach efforts have also expanded, attracting more consumers to the industry and continually changing their personal engagements with procedures for lodging and travel. Here is a closer look at the various ways technology is shaping the future of hospitality.

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Do you ever wonder how, or to what extent, your online activity is being tracked? While browsing the internet, ads often pop up on the sides of webpages that are suspiciously similar to recent searches or website visits; this happens because internet activity is tracked and gathered through cookies placed by first or third-party trackers. Third-party trackers first appeared in 1998, and their presence has been steadily increasing ever since. Are cookies placed by trackers something we should be worrying about?

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Russia has been pushing to incorporate nuclear technology in medicine. This process, known as nuclear medicine, involves the use of radioactive substances producing dangerous radiations to gamma rays, beta particles, and alpha particles. Although it may be risky and unsafe, Russia’s increasing participation in the “international market for the production of medical isotopes” has brought tremendous success to the country in the means for fighting cancer.

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The Korea Fair Trade Commission, a corporate regulator based in South Korea, declared that it would fine mobile chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. a hefty $853 million over the company’s purported abuse of antitrust laws. The announcement comes at the end of the Commission's three-year investigation of Qualcomm and constitutes the highest such fine charged to an individual United States-based company. The Commission concluded that Qualcomm broke antitrust laws by refusing patent access to competing chipmakers and by withholding necessary phone chips in order to pressure mobile manufacturers into strict licensing agreements. In addition, the Commission claimed that Qualcomm used patents from other chipmakers without fair compensation. Qualcomm has stated they will appeal this decision to the Seoul High Court, professing that their licensing practices follow decades-old industry standards. 

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In today’s blog, we will take a look at the logistics industry and how it deals with the incredible challenges of delivering packages to customers around the world. With the holiday season in full swing and as frantic shoppers look to purchase last minute gifts before Christmas, the shipping industry is forced to work 24/7 to meet demand. The holidays can make or break the year for many retailers and ecommerce websites, and these businesses depend on shipping companies to ensure their customers are satisfied.

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Present-day society has become extremely technologically advanced, and economic sectors with on-demand technologies are continuing to evolve at a rapid pace. Specifically, on-demand refers to services with digital platforms that give you instant access to the services they provide. While these technological advances are often seen as beneficial and representative of how far we may advance in the 21st century, many businesses have been negatively affected by unforeseen issues.

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Traditional grocery shopping will be changing in a big way starting in 2017. Amazon has ventured away from their online domain to shake up the in-person shopping industry. On Monday, Amazon released a video showing off their newest project: Amazon Go. This store has eliminated checkouts, cash registers, and most importantly, lines. What better way to propel an industry into the future than fresh competition.

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Hacking is defined as using a computer to gain unauthorized access to data or information in a system. Often times the information is used for the financial gain of the hacker. Hackers have come to be a major drain on the global economy. It is estimated that for all of 2016 they will cost the global economy $445 billion. Data hackers have stolen information from many Fortune 500 companies, with one member of a major cyber security firm stating the all 500 Fortune 500 companies have been hacked. Small business are not safe from hackers either. Home Depot and Target are both international corporations that have had their information compromised after small third party company contractors were hacked, allowing the hackers access to the bigger companies' databases.

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Medical breakthroughs have sparked the rise of the robotics industry in the arena of medicine. Through technological advancements, robots have been gaining popularity. There are various types of robots, some are made for personal assistance or social use, but they have seen the most significant growth and evolution in industrial automation. Companies in China have been on the rise to implement the use of robotics in the medical industry to develop new products and to meet consumer demands in order to keep up with medical advancements.

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In a blog post for Cisco, EMEA & Russia marketing director Dr. Christine Bailey explained the omnipresence of digital marketing in the current business landscape: "we’re no longer doing ‘Digital’ Marketing, we’re simply marketing in a digital world." In other words, the appellation 'digital marketing' has become unnecessary; the world is so thoroughly digitized that all corporate marketing actions must align with digital spaces, not just run parallel to them. To be a successful global business in the 21st century, competent utilization of digital platforms is essential. This means not only a complete understanding of analysis and content strategy principles, but awareness of these concepts as they pertain to countries the world over.

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Two of the world's most valuable technology companies, Facebook and Alphabet (by means of its subsidiary Google), are working with TE Subsea Communications (TE SubCom) and Pacific Light Data Communication (PLDC, a subsidiary of China Soft Power Technology) to construct the world's fastest trans-Pacific submarine cable. The 12,800 kilometer (8,000 miles) submarine cable will enable a speed of 120 Terabits per second and connect the United States and China by way of two major cities: Los Angeles and Hong Kong (where PLDC is based). The cable, known as the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN), will utilize fiber-optic technology to create the fastest possible telecommunication channel, covering twice the speed of the current-fastest undersea cable. The goal of the PLCN is to increase bandwidth and reduce connection delays in the Asia-Pacific region. According to Google, the cable should be built and functioning by 2018.

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In the age of information, the mind-boggling amount of data available at our fingertips can seem daunting. Yet, handled in an efficient manner, it can also be immensely useful. Big Data—referring to the use of nontraditional analytics to examine vast amounts of data—has become an increasingly important part of the business landscape. Over the past few years, several prominent corporations have invested in Big Data analytics and are incorporating them into their business strategies—UPS ostensibly spends $1 billion a year on Big Data analysis strategies. Specifically, many are looking at Big Data as a way to further optimize logistics and increase efficiency of commerce. Those who currently utilize Big Data analysis find it essential, warning that other companies who do not adapt to the technology may find themselves left behind.

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E-commerce has become more and more popular, but some warehouses cannot keep up with the consumer expectation of instant gratification. Online shopping gives consumers the idea that if something is purchased over the internet, it should be delivered quickly and efficiently. Many facilities are still using the man-to-goods model, where the employee goes throughout the warehouse looking for the item(s) purchased by the consumer. Companies like inVia Robotics are changing that.

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Disruptions in supply chains are unwanted, but can sometimes be unavoidable. New technology introduced to logistics functions has helped to lessen these disruptions, increase efficiency and responsiveness, and also meet the ever-growing expectations of customers. Since the affordability of these technologies has also increased, they are becoming more and more available to companies wishing to improve their logistics functions. Experts anticipate that over the next few years, the Transportation Management System (TMS) will become more heavily used, autonomous vehicles and drones will increase, and the use of robots will also increase.

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For years Americans have seen manufacturing jobs relocated overseas in an effort to lower production costs. The loss of these jobs has put millions out of work, and has done nothing to help the economy. There is a push to relocate these lost jobs back to American soil, to help recreate the jobs that have been lost. However, the question is, will the returning of these factories actually create more jobs?

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On Sunday, NASA issued a press release announcing they had just signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates. The agreement signifies cooperation between NASA and the UAE Space Agency in aeronautics research, space exploration, and the peaceful use and habitation of outer space. Other objectives covered by the agreement include collaboration in Earth and space science research, the establishment of educational programs, and outreach to relate the global benefits of space travel. Possible future cooperative projects include the joint use of certain airspace technologies, ground-based research facilities, and antennas. Above all, the agreement seeks to strengthen the diplomatic and economic relationships between the United States and the United Arab Emirates.

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As the capabilities of artificial intelligence and technology continue to grow and become more versatile and sophisticated, there are more opportunities for continued growth, but these advances can have a wide range of impacts across many industries in the global economy. Artificial intelligence encompasses a wide spectrum of technological advances, such as robots, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, and algorithms.

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One of the newest technological curiosities to hit the globe is virtual reality, where, with a headset, users can be transferred to a “real” place anywhere on Earth, in an environment that is also completely interactive. The vast amount of applications for this technology make it extremely promising, and its impact on the business world could be huge, possibly in a way not seen since the creation of the internet. At this time, the headsets have mostly been focused on the entertainment industry, in applications like video games, but as virtual reality becomes mainstream, its use could spread to many facets of our lives.

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Auto maker giant, General Motors, recently announced its fourth quarter earnings. After a record year, GM reported net income of $6.3 billion in the last quarter of 2015. This was caused by consumers buying less gas efficient models, as gas in United States has continued to stay very low at around $2 a gallon. Sales in North America rose 8.6% in the final quarter and 14% in China. This could have a great impact heading into 2016, where consumers were initially predicted to go more into electric vehicles and more gas efficient models. If the current trend stays true, then the first quarter of 2016 could spike as well. In Europe, the company continues to struggle as they are still in the negative in the difficult continent. However, GM's CFO has stated “Breaking even in Europe in 2016 is a companywide focus and we’re confident that we’re going to achieve that,” leading many to view GM's prospects in the region optimistically.

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Since the first automobile was developed, we have been making tremendous steps towards improvement. The insertion of a braking system, turn signals, air bags, radios, automatic windows, cruise control, and parking assistance are a few of the major developments over the years. We have made advancements so that the driver is assisted at their highest level of convenience. We have not, however, thought about taking the driver out of the equation altogether. Nearly 1.3 million people are killed on the world’s roads every year. People are texting, talking on the phone, reprimanding their kids, spilling coffee, and reaching for fallen items, just to name a few. Distracted people are operating 1.3 ton vehicles. People are the problem and driverless vehicles may be the solution. 

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2015 has been a huge year for mergers and acquisitions, with current projections predicting the total value for the year will be the highest since pre-recession levels. Well-known industry leaders such AbbVie and Pharmacyclics, Royal Dutch Shell and BG Group, and Kraft and Heinz have all announced mergers this year, creating huge international corporations to compete in the global market. Several sectors have seen a large share of the activity, one being the technology industry, especially in the electronics and semiconductor area. The semiconductor industry is the backbone of the technological industry, producing the chips used in computers, cell phones, and appliances.

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Over the duration of its rather short history, Bitcoin has gained popularity and economic clout but also its fair share of skeptics. The peer-to-peer lending system utilizes data mining, based on the idea that there is a finite number of bitcoins, and flaunts its decentralized network. Basically, there is a certain point in time when all existing bitcoins will be extracted and there is no single entity, like a central bank, that has the ability to generate more. This important distinction has led to its designation as a commodity by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in the United States. Regardless of its status, the digital currency has been rallying for about two months now, thanks in part to acceptance by financial institutions like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. With a current buy price of about  $400, the money system has a record $1 billion invested in it.

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Back in the 18th century, Europe was considered one of the most powerful technology innovation centers in the word. However, over the past decade, its technology industry growth has been lagging far behind that of the U.S., Israel, or even emerging markets such as China and India. This blog will discuss some reasons that contribute to the poor growth in the technology industry in Europe, as well as present some strategies being put in place by governments and European local businesses to re-boot the European technology industry.

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The European Court of Justice declared the 2000 “Safe Harbor” agreement between the United States and the European Union invalid on October 6. This is important because the agreement allowed U.S. tech firms to transfer large amounts of data from European users to American servers. The lawsuit first came to light when Max Schrems, an Austrian law student, noticed that “Facebook transfers his personal data to the U.S., where it can be accessed by authorities with little respect for his privacy.” Many companies such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Twitter are left in a sort of “legal limbo”, as described by The New York Times. This essentially means that large tech companies, like those aforementioned, can no longer transfer such data to the United States.

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The Internet’s impact on international business has been incredible. Nowadays, companies invest large sums of money to grow their business through the internet, and it is normal for a business to be based solely on the web. The Internet has allowed companies to market their products to consumers halfway across the world and has helped connect employees situated around the globe. One of the major features of the internet has been its openness and free content, a business model mainly made possible by advertising revenue. The recent rise in popularity of ad blocking software is threatening to change this model, potentially impacting businesses operating around the world.

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Following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election in 2014, many had hoped that the leader would speed up market reforms in order to attract foreign capital and grow the economy. However, rampant political and social problems throughout the country have caused these reforms to materialize much more slowly than initially anticipated. Many are additionally uncertain on the state of India’s economy due to modest GDP growth and little manufacturing output. In order to combat these issues, Modi is now beginning to prioritize the modernization of India’s digital infrastructure. A digital revolution in the country could potentially boost education and consumption, and consequently contribute to economic growth.

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The world electric car market could get a shake up soon as Porsche unveiled a concept for a four door electric sports car known as the Mission E. This so called “Tesla Killer” won’t hit the streets until at least 2019, but it puts a statement out there that other companies have put a target on Tesla’s back. This is all part of Porsche’s parent company, Volkswagen (VLKAY), push to have a greater presence in the electric car market. The impact this could have the global economy could be huge as the United States is the world’s largest purchaser of hybrid/electric vehicles in 2015, with the Tesla Model S near the top of the list. Tesla is an American company so the impact that a prominent foreign electric car manufacturer could be huge as Porsche claims their car will charge faster and last longer than the current Model S. All hope isn’t lost for Tesla as they still have at least four to five years to improve their current battery technology to compete the Mission E.

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Many financial institutions are turning to social media as a way to attract and engage their customers. The Managing Director for TD Ameritrade, Nicole Sherrod, even works on the weekends to send tweets and interact with the firm's clients. She believes that as a result of her presence on social media, she now has "an even closer relationship with clients" and has been able to get to know them better. By posting on the weekends, she is able to show her activities after work hours and build a more personal relationship with the consumers. Twitter in particular is a useful tool to help financial service workers to navigate company guidance and industry regulations to share industry news, respond to questions from clients, and address other problems or concerns.

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Throughout the past ten years, the music industry has increasingly embraced digital media formats for music distribution. The adaptability of business models to the digital format, however, has been volatile at best. When methods of distribution for music were primarily physical—vinyls, tapes, and CDs—record labels had more control over their product and how it would be consumed by the masses. As the music industry becomes more decentralized and more streaming services are popping up, a power struggle is occurring between record and indie labels, recording artists, and consumers over the value of music in this day and age.

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Be’er Sheva, a city of 200,000 in the middle of Israel’s Nagev Desert is quickly becoming a global technology hub, drawing in several of the world’s largest technology companies. What is causing these global companies to set up shop in the scorching heat of the Arab desert seemingly in the middle of nowhere? The answer to this question comes from Maya Hofman Levy, who is EMC Corporation’s site manager in Be’er Sheva, who stated that “The main reason EMC wants to be in Be’er Sheva is for access to talent.” 

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The “Internet of Things”, or IoT, is defined as the concept of connecting a variety of household devices to the internet. This global IoT market, according to research firm International Data Corp (IDC), is expected to grow from $655.8 billion in 2014 to $1.7 trillion by 2020, an annually compounded growth rate of 16.9%. Growth is likely to be a result of more devices coming online, the growth of platforms and services based around these devices, and declining costs of sensors, connectivity, and data processing power.

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Information Communications Technology (ICT) spending in Australia is forecasted to grow to $49,452.6 million by 2016, according to new research from International Data Corporation. While the market is growing exponentially, Australia is currently facing a shortage of skilled workers in its ICT sector. As I dug deeper into the labor force issue, I found that the future outlook for the Australian ICT industry does not seem as positive as the growth forecast indicates.

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As the global crude oil price has fallen by more than 50% in recent months, Nigeria, a country that relies heavily on exporting oil and gas, has seen its currency fall accordingly and is now exploring opportunities in the technology industry. Recently, a tech boom has swept across Africa and more than 75% of venture investments in Africa have gone into the technology sector. Economists believe that technology will be the future of the African economy.

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In 2014, 75 ships were lost at sea around the world, which is the lowest number in the last ten years. According to insurer Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty, sinking and submerging was the most common cause of ship loss, with 49 of the 75 losses resulting from this. Despite a downward trend in ships lost per year over the last decade, it is feared that the increasing size of container ships will make losses much more costly.

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As foreign investors realize China is becoming more expensive for manufacturing, they are turning their eyes to countries in Southeast Asia. Vietnam, for example, saw its foreign direct investment (FDI) grow 60% year over year in the fourth quarter of 2014. A large proportion of the FDI has gone to the high-tech industry. While people are expecting the technology boom to continue into the future, Vietnam is preparing a series of regulations for the technology industry, which may slow down the growth of IT business in the country.

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Recent investments by U.S. companies into Indian-based startups are proof that there are innovative tech companies in places some companies may have never thought to look. Startups in emerging markets are increasingly catching the eyes of foreign investors. As of 2013, only 15% of India’s population had internet access. However, this is a number that has more than doubled since 2010. As India and other emerging economies become better connected from a digital perspective, more and more tech companies will emerge.

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In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Michael Porter reported on how the ‘Internet of Things’ is changing everything. The aforementioned phrase has arisen to reflect the growing number of smart, connected products and highlight the new opportunities they can represent. With an estimated impact of $140 trillion, this industrial transformation is the third wave of IT-driven competition in the global economy.

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Last year on the eve of Cyber Monday, Amazon’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos revealed the company’s plan to develop drones that would deliver packages to a customer’s doorstep. News of these drones spread quickly, and as a result Amazon broke its Cyber Monday record with a figure of about 426 items ordered per second. By utilizing the advertisement practice of embargoing, or holding the news about these drones until the ideal moment, Amazon was able to maximize its profit and increase sales just in time for the holiday shopping season.

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Many people have heard about or remember the great “Space Race” between the United States and the Soviet Union from 1955 to 1972. Both countries fought for supremacy in spaceflight capability for national security measures and as a sign of ideological superiority. New technology resulted from this space exploration age including satellites, micro-technology, and other products that were later sold and commercialized to be used in everyday life. Education in mathematics, engineering, and science rapidly expanded during this period. Times are rather different now as many governments, such as the United States, are cutting space exploration budgets in light of economic hardships. The Economist has even claimed that the current state of the world marks “the end of the Space Age.”

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Now that a year has passed since former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign Ukraine's EU Association Agreement, which began the protests in Maidan Square in Ukraine, the dust from the conflict is beginning to settle allowing speculation regarding the outlook of the nation's rebuilding economy. Now that current President Petro Poroshenko has signed the agreement, many economists are pointing towards rapid growth in the country's tech sector as a sign that clear skies are ahead for the European-aligned new Ukraine. In spite of this, crippling corruption and a brain drain are also casting doubts over Ukraine's foreseeable future.

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In the fast paced business world of today, adoption of the latest technological advances is essential for sustainability and growth. One area of technology that more and more businesses are taking advantage of is the cloud, which allows data to be stored remotely on servers across the world. This remote storage has many advantages for businesses, such as allowing companies to rent hardware instead of purchasing the infrastructure themselves - which can be very costly. Cloud storage also gives companies greater flexibility with their data and information, as it can be accessed anywhere and anytime, which can be especially helpful for businesses that operate in many countries.

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Ireland has in the works plans to change some of its tax laws. These changes could have radical effects on global companies, who as of right now, are taking advantage of Ireland's “Double Irish” tax loophole. Global companies have been looking for ways to decrease their tax liabilities and have done so by registering their companies in Ireland and moving profits to offshore tax havens like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. The exact amount of money being sent through this process is not known but is estimated to be around tens of billions of dollars.

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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones, are being used more and more in U.S. and U.K. military operations, where manned flight is considered too risky or difficult. Drones are making their way into everyday use as technology gets more sophisticated and regulators loosen restrictions on the usage of these unmanned aircraft vehicles. In the last month, over ten incidents have occurred where drones have interfered with a commercial flight in airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration has attempted to outlaw or limit commercial use of drones, but experts believe there are better ways to regulate usage in a safe manner.

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As the world continues to embrace technology and its many advantages, business also has begun to rely more and more on technology, storing large amounts of sensitive data electronically. The ease at which computers can store and access information is a major reason for the shift toward electronic storage. With the efficiencies computers bring to the market, a new area of risk has been inadvertently created. The storage of sensitive information on computers opens business up to cyber attacks, with hackers looking to acquire company or customer information such as passwords or credit card numbers. The hackers can then use or sell this information, harming businesses, consumers, and company reputations.

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Technology companies all over the world have engaged in lawsuits against each other over various controversies since the beginning of the industry. Major corporations that produce smartphones, such as Nokia, Microsoft, Samsung, and Apple, have often engaged in 'smartphone patent wars', which are lawsuits over patent and design disputes. Often, these companies have sued each other in several countries at a time in order to protect their creative patents and keep up their presence in the global market. A typical case of this happened only two years ago when, on January 2012, Motorola sued Apple in a German court over allegations of Apple infringing on Motorola's technology patents. The results of this particular case and some others, however, spell a different story for the future of smartphone patent wars.

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In an increasingly competitive business world, continuous technological advancements are providing businesses with more opportunities to get ahead of the curve. Specifically, geo-location is starting to become a big asset in helping businesses grow by giving them greater market reach. Successful businesses can only grow if they strategize to meet consumer demands that require services to be fast, reliable and relevant. Geo-location is able to fulfill this criterion because of the wide use of phones, tablets, and computers, but the collection of this sensitive data also pressures businesses to be cautious in their approach.

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Technology has shaped our world in almost every way possible. Interaction with it is not only common on a day to day basis, but it is also required to get things accomplished. This simple fact has led to amazing feats and incredible efficiency, but there are also externalities. Technology can be good or bad depending on how it is used and how it is viewed. This is what lies at the core of high frequency trading.

High frequency trading is a relatively new development. Essentially, it is a collection of massive computing power that takes in stock market trading information in order to buy stocks before large orders can be fully processed. This is possible because of thirteen stock exchanging platforms. If a company, mutual fund, hedge fund, etc. places an order for a large block of shares, those shares must be found on the stock exchanges. When this information hits the first stock exchange, it is picked up by high frequency trading computers that quickly go out and purchase that very stock and then sell it to the purchasing institution at a higher price. All of this takes place in milliseconds.

The FBI has launched an investigation into this type of activity to test its legality. Basically what these high frequency trading computers are doing is front running stocks. Seeing orders in the pipeline and having computers that are faster by only milliseconds allows them to make slight profits on trades of others. Repeated millions of times a day, this quickly adds up. The investigation is a question of whether this constitutes insider trading and thus securities fraud. In order to be considered insider trading, the FBI must find evidence that this information is sufficiently out of the public's reach. When dealing with such quick time intervals, this portion may prove extremely difficult. The other finding that could lead to securities fraud is if the FBI can prove that some of these exchanges, especially the slower ones, simply serve as a way for traders to make money without actually serving a true purpose for trading fairly. Again, a difficult task.

The grayness of this issue is the same as many technological problems confronted today; the world’s technology is advancing so fast that laws and legal structures cannot keep up. Because there is no definitive authoritative texts on this matter, it will be tough to legally challenge this practice. The impact this has on the markets of the world is immense and the answers, as of right now, seem to be few.

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“Ten to 20 years from now, we may look back on the present as the dawn of the Smart Era: a time when rapid and continuous innovation changed almost everything about the way we live.”  This quote, spoken by Ernst & Young’s Global Technology Sector Leader Patrick Hyek, exhibits how quickly smart devices have inundated the business world.  The expansion of smart technology in the business world has created new opportunities for industries and companies around the globe that at one time had little interaction with technology.

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A big topic in business today is the evolution of the new digital world. It is vital to businesses that want to continue being successful to recognize and adapt to the new trends. Companies will either take flight in the new age or dwindle and faze out. This holds true for nearly every industry as global business has become technologically advanced.

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When naming the most innovative place in the world, Silicon Valley of the United States is usually everyone’s first response. However, that might not hold true in Europe. The tech-savvy country of Estonia is proving to be an important focal point for entrepreneurship and innovation. Right on the edge of Europe, Estonia has a total population of just 1.3 million. Estonia may be considered an extremely small country, but in terms of technology and innovation, it’s a giant.

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On January 15, the DC District Court of Appeals struck down the FCC's Open Internet Rules, also known as the net neutrality rules, on the basis that they had no legal grounding.  The net neutrality rules forced broadband providers to have all sources of Internet traffic, from social media to online gaming, to be treated equally in terms of regulation. With these rules gone, the way internet services will be used in the coming future will be very different. Not only will public consumption be affected, but businesses dependent on the internet and the tech industry in general have reason to worry.

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Latin America is filled with a myriad of natural resources, and for generations many Latin American countries relied on exporting these endowments for their wealth. However, the tides are beginning to change in Latin America. For the first time in history, a large number of Latin Americans are choosing to be entrepreneurs. In 2010, just 2.6% of the world’s applications for patent registration were filed in Latin America. With the new surge of entrepreneurship in the region, expect that number to change.

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With the recent December announcement of music streaming service Spotify launching a free and ad-supported version for mobile device users, it is inevitable that the music industry will begin to see some changes in the near future. In recent years, the revenue accumulated from the purchase of physical music albums has decreased rapidly, but its competitor of digital downloads is also being impacted negatively with the rising popularity of music streaming. As a consequence of this, US digital track sales decreased for the first time ever last year.

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Throughout the past year China has announced its plans to open industries to foreign companies. Since the Shanghai free trade zone was introduced in September 2013 China has made many attempts at opening up parts of the economy in hopes of stimulating economic progress in the country. Within the Shanghai zone the government is testing free trade in Chinese currency as well as allowing interest rates to be set by market forces. This provides a great opportunity for foreign companies who wish to harness the mass market China provides.

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In recent findings, scientists have discovered how to turn a stream of algae into bio-crude oil, a  possible game changer for the role oil plays in global business and global dependencies. The high-tech pressure cooker that reaches temperatures around 660 degrees Fahrenheit and pressures of 3,000 pounds per square inch, is licensed by a Utah-based biofuel company Genifuel, who are now working with industrial partners to build a pilot plant.

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In recent years, the financial markets have seen the introduction of a digital currency called bitcoin. Bitcoin is a digital currency that is called cryptocurrency, making it very difficult to replicate. Currently there are about 21 million bitcoins in circulation, each one being valued at about $500 today. In recent months, a bitcoin was valued at $1,200, but new regulations in China made it difficult to exchange the yuan for bitcoins. Some global trends in digital currencies include regulations, buying goods with digital currencies, and using it as an alternative to national currencies. One question many economist ponder is if digital currencies could one day replace national currencies.

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The development of cloud computing has certainly helped businesses to reach new heights but can it also do this for countries? The connectivity that is available from cloud computing can be far more valuable to those who lack resources than those who have an abundance of them. In many ways cloud computing acts as an equalizer and has the potential to accelerate economic growth in Africa as a whole.

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In a recent series of blog posts in the Economist, the Schumpeter columnist compared start-ups in two European cities: London and Berlin. Both are major cities in Europe that are popular to tourists, but are less well known for being leading cities for start-ups. Comparing the two, Berlin has only recently seen an increase in digital start-ups. In contrast, London has seen a large increase in tech start-ups during the internet boom in the late 1990’s. Increases in technology and international business could result in more cities beginning to experience tech start-ups.

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Globalization has been a hot topic for years now and shows no signs of going away anytime soon. When and where globalization started is a matter that is hotly contested to this day. Technically speaking globalization may have begun as early as the trading routes between China and Europe. When looking up the history of globalization many timelines will include this time period and talk about the expansion of global trade from that point forward. Of course, that is not where the starting point is usually considered to be. The more modern definition is usually agreed to be around the 1980’s when globalization really took off.

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Economic bubbles have been a reoccurring economic cycle in the world throughout the history of capitalism. Recent economic bubbles that the world has experienced include dot-com/telecom, real estate, stocks, and biotech bubbles. They date back to the 1880’s when the first railroad tracks were laid down in the United States. The goal was to connect the United States through economic integration and development, which created a boom in the development of canals, turnpikes, railroads, and telephone lines. Many of these projects were funded by the government, and now green technology projects are funded by them as well. Globally, governments are beginning to promote green technologies through loans and subsidies. The rapid growth the world has seen in green technology could be the start of the next big economic bubble.

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A new wave of start-ups are forever changing the way people view the borrowing and saving of money. These financial-technology firms, or fin-tech firms, are gearing away from large corporations, such as Western Union, and are now relying on safe technology to enhance the financial world from the comfort of their warehouses. The many rising firms are reaping in the profits, while simultaneously sparking interest in investors and challenging the institutions that have reigned over the financial world for years.

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Silicon Valley has always been considered the Mecca of tech start-ups. Why Silicon Valley? Countries have been asking themselves this for years as the insistence on replicating the success of Silicon Valley becomes ever more alluring. Many have tried to replicate Silicon Valley but that has proven to be a herculean task. France, Norway and Malaysia have attempted to create an entrepreneurial rival but to no avail. There is no doubt that one of the keys to success is the relative ease with which a company is able to be started in the United States compared to the rest of the world and also the sheer amount of capital surrounding Silicon Valley makes access to funds easy but these strategies alone cannot explain why northern California has excelled, for many countries have duplicated these methods.

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It is almost undeniable that cloud computing is the future. And when it comes to technology the future is now. Cloud computing is the ability to store, manage and process data in a remote server that is hosted on the internet. Essentially, it is your hard drive but out on the internet so you are able to access it anywhere from any device that is outfitted with internet. The possibilities of this technology are seemingly endless and multinational businesses want in.

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By 2030, demand for food, water, and energy is estimated to increase by approximately 50%.  Because of this, businesses that are currently implementing energy saving strategies will be far better off in the future than those who are not.  Fossil fuels are finite resources and as reserves of coal, gas, and oil run out, prices will climb rapidly.  The uncertainty of future supplies of fossil fuels and the growing popularity of “green energy” should incentivize businesses to adopt sustainable strategies. 

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In 2010, Emirates ordered 32 new A380 macrojets from Airbus, which opened the door for the airline market in India. Shortly after this, Airbus announced Monday that it had a received an order for $24 billion worth of new single-aisle jets from the Indonesian budget airline Lion Air. While the world is expecting growth of the airline industry in developing countries, the global air traffic industry is actually shrinking. Let’s examine the global air traffic industry and analyze the various factors affecting the business environment of the industry.

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Here at Michigan State University, basketball is not simply a sport; it has its own culture. Spartan basketball is a way of life. If you disagree, you need only watch the Izzone student section for a few minutes to understand the passion for MSU basketball. This season, though, has been somewhat different for the stars of the basketball team.

The team got a facelift in technology when they were given new software for free that enables head coach Izzo to almost instantly send recaps of plays with a detailed analysis to the players on any one of their devices. This sort of coaching technology has skyrocketed recently and is starting to make its debut in foreign countries.

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One third of the world’s population is now connected to the internet, a surprising statistic considering where we started not too long ago.  As more people become connected, consumer consumption patterns around the globe are changing. The mediums people use to consume content are changing as well, caused by cultural differences as well as different regulations across countries. Many regions, such as Scandinavia and India, are a much different market than the United States. We will explore these differences by analyzing how they affect consumption patterns and their impact on business in a global context.

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The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is meeting December 3-14 in Dubai for the World Conference on International Telecommunications 2012 (WCIT) in what is being dubbed by some as the “conference to claim control of the internet” due a new internet privacy standard that has been approved. While this claim may be a little extreme, the ITU has adopted controversial changes in the restrictions that would allow internet service providers to examine internet users’ traffic.

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Big Data is increasing the amount of information that is collected about a person or demographic and companies have begun to notice. In an ever more competitive global market, companies are looking for any advantage and Big Data is showing big signs of potential. By collecting and connecting big data, companies can identify traits about potential customers that they themselves may not even know. Behavior is much more predictable than you may suspect and this bodes well for companies who lead in collecting such data. Consolidating facts about a person in seemingly unrelated areas paints a remarkably accurate picture of their habits and how they behave. The question for companies is not if they will use this data but how they will use it.

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Data is everywhere you look; from the UPC code on your Starbucks coffee cup, down to the GPS in your phone. It has been dubbed by the Harvard Business Review as “The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century.”  Experts now point to a 4300% increase in annual data generation by 2020. All of that data is creating quite the hassle for businesses though. This industry, and its implications on international business are so new that many companies do not know how to attack the problem. They know being able to analyze and come to conclusions from their massive amounts of data is important but many companies have not developed a strategy yet.

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The Dreamforce Expo kicked off this week with a rumored 90,000 attendees from 150 countries there. Sponsored by Salesforce.com, the purpose of this expo is to help businesses around the world realize the power of cloud computing. Cloud computing uses the internet to host data and provide information and services effortlessly to consumers.  While cloud computing is not a new idea, the big revelation from Dreamforce is how important social media is going forward.

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The problem of copying and product imitation has pervaded businesses from practically the beginning of time. The age-old debate about the nature of innovation has significant importance in the world of business. Patents were originally designed to help companies protect their intellectual property from competitors to ensure that innovation was rewarded not stolen. However, many have argued that products are never completely original and all creativity comes from some other idea. Albert Einstein said it best himself with the famous quote, “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” So what does this patent and creativity debate mean for businesses, and perhaps more importantly for global competitiveness?

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Have you ever heard of mapping underground pollution? I hadn’t until recently, after Doug Barry sat down with John H. Sohl III, the founder of Columbia Technologies. This mapping involves using sensor technology that tracks leakage of pollutants, and following an analysis, customers can make decisions on risk assessment, disposition of the property and proper cleanup actions. The more interesting aspect of this story is how the company grew internationally.

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Ten years have passed since the end of Angola’s civil war and the country has made enormous strides in rebuilding its once struggling economy. This year Angola’s economy is expected grow by eight percent as it becomes the second biggest producer of oil in Africa. One of the main effects of this rapid economic growth is the boom in infrastructure development. In the capital city of Luanda, the skyline is now filled with newly-built skyscrapers and each month more businesses are beginning to populate the area. Economic growth is beginning to transform Angola into a country filled with business opportunities, but how does Angola expect to sustain this economic growth in the years to come?

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Politicians in Estonia, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, began to realize how computers could positively impact a country with a very small workforce and a general lack of physical infrastructure.  For the next twenty years, Estonia concentrated on using the internet to transform its government, economy, and society in general.  Today, Estonians can do just about anything electronically.  Citizens can pay for bus tickets and parking via text, vote in elections from a laptop, or even sign legal documents from a smart phone.

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In today’s technology driven society, web browsers are very important as people spend many hours using the internet for business needs or gathering information from sources around the world. A few weeks ago, Google Chrome became the most popular web browser worldwide for a single day, edging out the long-standing dominance of Internet Explorer. Claiming the top spot for only one day may not seem like a noteworthy event, but how Google Chrome was able to take the lead is very important in terms of international business.

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All around the world technology remains a key component of business success and innovation. Places like India, China, and the United States are well known for their innovation and technological development. However, Latin America happens to be one of the fastest-growing technology markets in the world. With Brazil being one of the largest economies in Latin America, many people may assume Brazil is leading the way in technology. Yet, this is not the case. This past year Panama replaced Uruguay as Latin America’s technology leader.

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When was the last time your employer told you to play a video game on the job? For many, the answer may be never, up until now. Recently, some top French companies, including Paribas, Orange, and Alcatel-Lucent, have been using role playing games to teach crucial management teamwork, and sales skills to their sales staff and managers; a very important skill to have in the competitive world marketplace.

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The European Union has been one of the most devoted players in the attempts to combat global climate change and reduce carbon emissions. The long-term energy plans proposed by the European Union depend largely on high technology projects designed to capture carbon dioxide emissions and store them underground. This would help abate global warming while also allowing industries to continue to burn large amounts of fossil fuels. However, weak support for the experimental carbon capturing technology has held the European Union back from reaching its energy goals.

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While many countries look to drive their economies by increasing trade and consumer spending, South Korea is looking in another direction. Renewable energy sources and projects are being used to boost business and promote economic growth in South Korea. The term “Green Growth” has been coined by the country and has become a major national strategy. This strategy has given rise to a vast range of policies regarding waste-management and air-quality control. However, South Korea’s main focus lies within renewable energy technologies with the mission not only to lower greenhouse gas emissions but to also boost the economy.

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With 4,000 active technology start-ups, Israel has more such firms than any country outside of the United States.  With a population of nearly eight million people, Israel has higher levels of start-ups, engineers, and venture capital investment per capita than any other nation.  High tech products make up almost half of Israel’s annual exports.  While this may appear surprising at first, a variety of factors can be attributed to Israel’s maturation from an agricultural state to a technology hub in recent years. 

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When world economies develop, massive urbanization soon follows.  As of 2008, there are now more people living in cities than rural areas around the world.  Countries currently experiencing significant urban growth have an opportunity to learn from developed nations that have experienced similar trends in the past.  With access to modern technology, cities can develop in smarter ways than ever before.  Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is using thoughtful planning and foresight to establish a new standard for urban development that other regions are likely to follow.  

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Africa is the second largest mobile phone market in the world. Does this fact surprise you? Probably, but Africa is expected to reach over 700 million mobile subscribers in the next year. Not only is the African mobile market large in size, it is also the fastest-growing on the planet as well.  This provides an abundance of opportunity for investors, technology and mobile companies, and service providers.

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Excessive flooding in Thailand has not only made life a challenge for locals, but global businesses are experiencing hardships due to the harsh monsoon season as well. Many technology suppliers are located in Thailand and have suffered because of the massive flooding and have caused a significant supply chain back up. Several have lost large amounts of inventory and suffered excessive property damage. Some say it could take up to a year for these plants to begin operating at normal capacity again.

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While Asia and North America have been making large strides in the mobile industry, Europe has been falling behind, even though it previously had a large competitive advantage over other regions. This is mainly due to lack of focus on emerging products, less advanced software, and lack of government support.

In the early 90’s Europe was a strong player in the mobile industry mainly due to its cooperative take on the market. The European countries worked together to coordinate an infrastructure that worked through out the continent. In North America, multiple different standards and products that made it more complex and expensive for customers. This structure forced the North American cell phone producers to step up their game and look into a more structured format.

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Last month’s blog series introduced readers to cloud computing, as well as digging deeper into numerous characteristics of the cloud. A particularly interesting aspect of cloud computing is the risks and benefits to the global environment. With the explosive growth of cloud computing in recent years, this is quickly becoming a very heated debate.

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With the projection of a $150.1 billion cloud computing world market by 2013, what are emerging markets doing to get a piece of this pie? Cloud computing is finally growing in developed nations. Many companies are gradually moving more applications to cloud data centers where they can take advantage of pooling of computing resources, more efficient use of data processing power and increased flexibility. Cloud computing could have a huge impact on societies and economies in developing countries as well.

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While cloud computing provides benefits to many technical areas of business, cloud storage technology is also being used for forecasting methods in the agriculture industry. In a time when water sources are being depleted faster than they can be renewed, farmers need to find processes designed to conserve valuable water supplies. Cloud computing technology has allowed them to do just this.

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One of the great things about capitalism is that it encourages entrepreneurship and fuels the creation of disruptive technologies. The tech industry has been a breeding ground for these new technologies and one of their latest creations is cloud computing. Like any new technology, early leaders benefit greatly - usually at the expense of slower, older competitors. Cloud computing touches many industries within the technology sector and each one will be affected in different ways.

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Now that you know more about the basics of cloud computing, we can begin to take a look at some of the risks and benefits businesses encounter when using the cloud. As cloud based applications grow, businesses have numerous opportunities to take advantage of this new technology. With smartphones, tablets, and personal computers, businesses can easily access their cloud storage data from virtually anywhere. The benefits might seem undeniable at first—decreased data storage costs and integration across all areas of a business. However, some may wonder whether the benefits of cloud computing outweigh the risks.

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This week’s globalEDGE blog series will delve into a topic that is becoming a major buzzword in the global business world.  Cloud computing may be the future of information technology, with countless ramifications on the future of industries, businesses, and individuals.  While the cloud also has implications for the general public, we will focus instead on the “private” cloud- how it is utilized by world governments, multinational corporations and other major players in the world economy.  Throughout the week we will look more closely at risks and benefits, impacts on specific global industries, and financial implications of the cloud. 

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A Wall Street Journal article published last week declared that the curtain had officially come “down with a bang” on the global market for personal computers.  With the recent announcement by industry leader Hewlett-Packard that it may be abandoning its PC business, many analysts have come to this same conclusion.  Ever since IBM abandoned its PC business in 2005, many have been predicting that tablets and other technological devices will render computers obsolete.  Is the PC industry really dead, or does the modern world economy offer new opportunities for companies to profit? 

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With the goal of becoming a developed nation by 2020, Malaysia has some work ahead but recent predictions by Malaysia’s central bank show that this developing country is definitely on the right track. A predicted economic growth rate between five and six percent puts Malaysia in a much better position than other South East Asia economies in today’s global climate. Over the last decade Malaysia has faced tough competition in exports and production from low wage countries such as China. Now, Malaysia is looking forward to a knowledge-based economy lush with opportunities and potential.

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Technological innovation has helped countries grow and has aided businesses in generating profits for many years. However, in India recently, technology has even found a way to help feed India’s poorest. In the country of India, those living below the poverty line are allowed to buy basic food such as rice, sugar, and wheat at highly subsidized rates at government-run Fair Price shops. The shoppers at these stores have a plastic card with their photograph on the face of the card. After purchasing food, shoppers scan their smart cards and then the shop owner asks for something else—their fingerprints.

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28 percent of all US organizations are using cloud computing according to a software supplier based out of Illinois that conducted a poll last month. Many other forecasters, such Gartner, are estimating that the cloud computing market could be a $150 billion market by 2013; A pretty sizable amount indeed for a still-growing sector.

Cloud computing did not have such an optimistic outlook just by being the new technological bubble. The implications cloud computing bring to international business vary and are far reaching. The changes have already started occurring with many organizations switching to cloud file storage, email, and web and video conferencing.

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A new report by KPMG is claiming that the clean technology sector is a strong force in the economy of several Canadian provinces, including British Columbia. The report says that clean tech firms will directly generate over $2.5 billion for the economy in 2011, not including other economic benefits created by these companies. This is a 57% increase from 2008. The growth is not expected to slow either; KPMG has stated that the sector will grow 16.5% to 8,400 employees in 2011.

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The largest earthquake ever to hit Japan had detrimental effects on its economy. It also crippled Japan's top automakers, causing millions in lost revenue and almost a complete shutdown of the automakers' plants. What caused this supply chain disaster was the Just-In-Time production model that many automotive manufacturers have turned to in the recent years to decrease carrying costs and inventory. For the most part, this model is very safe but during times of supply shortages, having little on hand causes a big problem. As such, one vehicle contains roughly 50 to 100 microchips that control everything from brakes to navigation systems. To continue the car on the assembly line, not one part can be missing. During the earthquake, the main vendor of microchips had damage at its production facility creating a large shortage of a very hard to manufacture product. This shortage of microchips caused the automotive companies to cut production down to 20 to 50 percent of full operating capacity. Consequently, Japanese automakers are losing market share to American car manufacturers because of this shortage.

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Many international business leaders treat it as a foregone conclusion that the world is flat.  Past posts on this blog have stated that globalization is an unavoidable feature of the current world economy which cannot be ignored by businesses.  Do the statistics support these conclusions?  A recent blog post for The Economist provides numbers that appear to question how prevalent the global economy really is. 

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As we are wrapping up this globalEDGE blog series of “top trends,” we thought there’d be no better way to finish then with a custom-made list talking about top global business trends as seen by us here at globalEDGE. The list is in no particular order (i.e. trend number 1 is no more prevalent then trend number 5), but we feel that all of these trends are making themselves known in the international marketplace now. Here’s the list!

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It is no secret that the entertainment industry is undergoing massive changes (just like any other industry) with the rise of the internet and new technology. In part 2 of our blog series, we talked about how the industry has had a huge increase in pirating. I think there’s no doubt that increase is largely due to the internet making pirating much easier. While that’s one way that increased technology has negatively harmed the industry, there are many positive ways that technology is helping the entertainment industry.

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Bad weather can have devastating effects on a business. In the last year we saw massive floods, earthquakes, and snowstorms. Such events caused disruptions in transportation and infrastructure, which in turn created obstructions for workers and the end result was that global businesses incurred large costs.

It is easy to see why many companies - especially in the logistics business, invest heavily in weather forecasting. Different types of weather technology help businesses manage risk imposed by natural disasters. The following BBC video provides examples of how technology is used to aid businesses:

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London has always been well-known internationally for its historical and cultural importance. In recent years the city has also developed into a significant force in the technological sector. Innovative businesses were completely absent from London’s economy back in the year 2000, but the roughly 100 new high-tech businesses in east London have received international attention for their significant contributions to global business. While far from reaching the level of California’s Silicon Valley, the so-called “Silicon Roundabout” is joining cities such as Boston and Tel Aviv in the second-tier of global innovative centers.

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When most people think about rare earth mining, they think miners extract a chunk of lanthanum or cerium, send it to Apple, and they put it in their newest iGadget. However, few know that there are two different types of rare earths with wide ranging uses and prices. In addition, raw minerals must be processed using a complicated (and often dangerous) process to extract the individual elements.

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Doing business abroad is a challenging skill for professionals to master. Each culture has a unique code of ethics that is often contrary to those across the globe. In order to successfully conduct business internationally, it would be ideal for businesspeople to take time consulting with coworkers about past experiences, brushing up on basic language skills, and even participating in detailed training courses.

In reality, there is often not enough time in the day to make all of the ideal preparations prior to a business trip. For business travelers lacking the optimal planning time, there are several applications available for mobile devices that can help them to avoid the most damaging cultural blunders without losing too much of their valuable work week.

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Let’s begin by contrasting two different medical experiences intended to diagnose heartburn: 1) A catheter is inserted into your body through the nasal cavity and left there for several hours while a measure of acidity is taken or 2) You swallow a pill and wait two hours while a measure of acidity is taken. Although the results of these different procedures are the same, the comfort of the patient and skills required to administer the tests vary significantly. Welcome to the age of wireless health!

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India, being known as a country inclined to new technology, has added yet another innovation to its inventory—a talking newspaper advertisement. When readers opened to the last page of a popular Indian newspaper, a voice began to talk resembling a radio commercial. The source for this surprising advertisement was a light-sensitive, voice activated chip that encouraged readers and listeners alike to buy a new Volkswagen sedan. Weighing only one ounce, this paper-thin chip is a groundbreaking design. This “talking newspaper” can change the way print media is viewed and provides businesses a new way to communicate their messages with customers.

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The view is a strange one for most foreign visitors to Chinese residential areas. An array of colorful fabric is draped from building to building in all directions. A local resident can often be seen reaching out of a high window to hook a cloth on the end of a long wooden stick. What is this strange ritual that appears unlike anything experienced in many Western cultures?

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Today we will look at a piece of technology which could have a substantial effect on the global business world. In this specific case, it’s how we power things. Now, windmill power has been talked about many times before, but this is the first time we’ve seen anything which combines the harnessing of the ocean with a windmill design. The AK-1000, recently released by Atlantis Resources Corporation in Scotland, could have a “revolutionary” effect on making renewable energy a viable replacement to fossil fuels.

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Technology is always changing, causing us to play catch-up on a daily basis. A new trend on the horizon? Mind reading. Today, a variety of consumer products such as games and phone-apps use mind reading technology to captivate users. Last Christmas two new games used mind-reading technology to find the way into many homes. Mattel’s Midflex and Milton Industries Force Trainer both use brain-wave technology similar to the electroencephalograph, which is used to diagnose brain disorders. Many video games are also trying out this new technology. Next year a new Apple app is planned to be released using mind power. This app, Tug of Mind, will be the Apple’s first game controlled by the mind and can be partnered with a NeuroSky headset.

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Over the past decade we have come a long way as far as technological innovations are concerned. Businesses that did not even exist before 2000 have become household names, and have created products and services that are part of our daily lives. In the past 10 years there have been so many creations that have shaped our world today.

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Widespread use of the Internet has led to a decline in the prevalence of traditional brick-and-mortar businesses, and this disparity will continue to shift as more people worldwide are provided with Internet access. Buying online is simply more convenient, and most of the time more affordable than traveling to a physical location and purchasing a good or service. Even more convenient, however, is the ability to conduct business and make purchases while on-the-go. With an increasing number of smartphones sprouting up all over the world, making purchases has never been easier. Mobile commerce is a trend we can expect to see entire business strategies built around. 

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It's a problem many of us deal with, especially those running small businesses. In today's world, email stands out as one of the domninant forms of communication. When on vacation, or away on business with no access to your email, the load tends to pile up rather quickly. In the following video, Gina Trapani of Fast Company offers some tips on how one can work smarter and develop a system for dealing with such mountains of email:

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Are you ever worried about the costs associated with expanding your business abroad? It can be very important across many industries to meet with potential business partners and buyers in person. Traveling expenses can be quite costly, and will take up much needed time, especially for small businesses. Check out this great video by the U.S. Commercial Service and learn about the advantages that video conferences and other trade resources can give your business. In the video you can watch and learn from a real live video conference. Technology is what makes virtual wine tasting possible!

 

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Think of California's Silicon Valley back in the early 2000's. Think of the many companies that had to cut back or fail in the middle of the dot-com meltdown. Telewave Inc. became an expert at making two-way radio equipment. How did a small company such as Telewave Inc. stay alive? They followed a conservative investment strategy that didn't rely on the stock market and borrowed money. The company also focused on lower- to mid-level technology products instead of the breakthrough gadgets. Finally, they grew and spread business-cycle and industry risk across new markets. Now Telewave makes over 1,000 products, which include a ceramic autotune combiner, or "black box." It decreases the number of dropped cell calls, reduces electricity usage by 20 percent, and monitors equipment which in turn lowers personnel costs. But diversifying products can't be the only reason Telewave is still around in this global economy.

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With the earthquake disaster in Haiti a few weeks ago, a tremendous outpouring of various forms of aide from around the world has been deployed to the country. Organizations and individuals alike have devoted financial and human resources to help get the country back on its feet. In light of the disaster, technology has come to the forefront and demonstrated the power of world networks. In this case, the use of technology has been paramount in raising financial support for the disaster.

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Facebook? Myspace? Twitter? Which one of these websites have you heard of?  Thanks to a study provided through marketingtechie.com, findings show that most of the developing world has not only heard of these social networking sites, but they are spending an extraordinary amount of time on them.  Without a doubt, social media has evolved from a way to simply connect with friends and share ideas, to a commercial opportunity for corporations to connect with people in new and different ways.  However, there is another important aspect to consider in this exploding industry: How have social media websites impacted the work culture around the world?

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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:

 

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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.

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“Sustainable Development” has quickly become a term used by companies across the world to explain efforts addressing the use of natural resources.  Generally speaking, the concept describes how a company can increase its efficiency, thereby reducing its overall impact on mother earth.  The demand in the marketplace to solve energy-related issues is growing, based on recent changes in global governmental policy.

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How are filmmakers from developing countries helping students learn about strife and poverty across the globe?  How can a student in India earn a Masters degree in America without ever setting foot on campus?  The answer to these questions is the same: Technology.  Technological capabilities are improving at a break-neck pace.  At the same time, the demand for personal cultural awareness, advanced degrees and lower costs are more prevalent than ever.  International education now means much more than studying abroad.  In today’s society, new technological capabilities are allowing more people to develop skills at a lower cost.

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We have all learned to ignore the pile of cables connecting the pieces of our home entertainment. But how great would it be if we could just get rid of them? This is something consumers and engineers have been dreaming of for years. Now, it is a reality.

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There is no need to carry around all those books any longer! You can thank Amazon’s Kindle, an electronic device sold in the U.S. made for reading e-books and other digital media. Books and other content are downloaded through Amazon’s Whispernet, by using free internet access. Kindles have a 6 inch (diagonal) screen, it holds over 200 titles, and it only weighs 10.3 ounces. Let me know if you find a book like that!

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In light of the ballooning global cost of providing healthcare to patients, there has been much discussion as to how operations in the healthcare industry can be implemented in a smoother and more cost-efficient manner. One major solution could lie in the efforts of various supply-chain management firms and programs to help hospitals and health care systems reduce their supply chain costs. In addition to supply chain revamps, technological revisions of documentation in the health care industry should have a significant impact in cost-cutting and time-saving.

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As mobile technology improves, many of the cell phones people are using are becoming outdated at an increasingly-faster rate. This is especially the case in Japan, where the latest cell phone can be usurped by another within a few weeks. In fact, the Japanese are so far advanced in cell phone technology that they've had a difficult time taking their cell phones global. So, what does one do with a bunch of outdated phones that nobody wants? Recycle them for their precious metals!

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Imagine a 3D videogame like environment, except instead of a game, you are attending a virtual trade expo, with other real people, over the internet.  Could this ever catch on?  Personally, I think there is no replacement for meeting in person, however, this has a lot of potential applications for international businesspeople that can't afford to travel overseas often. 

Here's an interview with the CEO of InXpo, talking about his product:


 

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There’s been a lot of talk lately about a new global reserve currency, or how the Yuan might overtake the dollar. One little-examined currency issue, however, is the role of virtual currency. Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing-Games such as World of Warcraft, which has nearly 11 million players worldwide, use an in-game currency system, where players can buy items, creatures, or even services from other players with virtual “gold”. In China, where a huge online gaming community exists, government officials are worried that, to some degree, virtual currency could replace the actual currency, and might even have a significant impact on the country’s economic system.

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One of the more interesting subplots of the environmental movement that has popped up lately is the potential of lithium-ion batteries to replace gasoline in automobiles. Lithium-ion batteries are lighter, more energy dense, and lower-maintenance than some of their more conventional counterparts.

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Even after Google's little shutdown at the beginning of May, CEO Eric Schmidt is still predicting that cloud computing technology would elminate the need for software. Businesses and individuals would be able to access their information or programs, stored on a central server, from anywhere in the world. This would completely revolutionize the way that businesses communicate with eachother around the world. Check out this neat little interview from CNN Money on the future of server based applications. 

 

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Check out this great lecture by Thomas Friedman, the author of "The World is Flat" and "Hot, Flat, and Crowded."  It's a great example of tying together the phenomenon of globalization with what I think is the ultimate reason for the changing media landscape.  Every good business idea starts with inspiration, and Thomas Friedman is a deep thinker that also an excellent communicator.  It's long, but definitely worth watching.

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The media and communications industry has traditionally consisted of the people who were at the cutting edge of information technology - those who could broadcast to the biggest audience. In turn, these people hired talented individuals who could develop the content that was broadcast. The entire industry was structured around the assumption that, in order to physically reach any significant sized audience, you had to have access to technology that was too expensive for the vast majority of individuals to own.

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"The era of a perfect Internet computer for $99 is coming this year,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, chief executive of Nvidia. The technology industry is facing a new revolution. The need for efficient, small, cheap computers has been growing and is finally reaching a peak. The way producers have responded to the latest consumer needs concerning laptops is the new netbook. The netbook is a light and cheap compact PC. Even though it has trouble running more demanding software such as games and photo-editing programs, it is something that you carry around all day since the battery lasts hours with only one charging and it is great for people who mainly need a PC to go online. The first of the new netbooks will be on the shelves in June probably provided by Acer and Asustek.

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You may be missing out on a new breed of technology that some experts are heralding as the computing method of the future. Already, many companies use a system where software is offered as a service rather than a good. You don't buy a box with a computer program, you use an online application, hosted elsewhere. The same concept that made these technologies so explosive is also hitting the hardware world.

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At the Mobile World Congress gathering in Barcelona, Spain, communication giant executives discussed the future of the telecommunications industry in light of a global economic recession. Their conclusion? On the whole, things aren’t slowing down. In fact, handset-making juggernaut Nokia, based in Finland, plans to increase its investment in what has traditionally been a poor U.S. market. Is Nokia the exception?

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Microfinance institutions such as Grameen Bank have been tremendously successful in granting impoverished entrepreneurs access to small amounts of capital. The ability of these loans to improve the lives of their recipients made them a humanitarian success, while the incredible payback rates have made them a financial success.

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Check out this video about the new, global future of the internet. It's interesting to speculate on what this could mean for international business. I think it's a step towards a more inclusive model of global exhange, a trend I see continuing.  Check out our section on the technology industry to find more information.

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In the near future, Mountain View, CA. based Google is planning to introduce the GDrive. What this device will do is allow the user to access their personal files and operating system from any internet connection. So, in essence, no more data loss from crashes, no need for flash drives, no need for storage space on emails, etc. Sounds pretty convenient, right? It's affordable as well. With the release of the GDrive, consumers will no longer need to purchase bulky desktop computers, or purchase additional storage space. All the storage will be done on Google’s servers. Seattle based Amazon.com also offers a similar service called the Simple Storage Service - in both the United States and Eurpoe. And we can probably expect more of these services to appear in the future.

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We all know the internet is a crucial place to do business globally, especially for a small company. It takes lots of time and money to develop in-house tools, and also makes it harder to connect with international partners. Here is a great post from the Mashable blog, detailing the best web-apps that can help your business venture succeed. Let us know which ones you like best!

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The world is shifting at an incredible pace. This video provides some shock value by showing just how dramatic some of these shifts are. Enjoy!

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Most teenagers dream about owning their own car. For some, it is a realistic expectation that in the near future, they’ll own a car. For others, it’s a long-term goal. Regardless, few can deny the convenience, comfort, and freedom of owning their own car. Japanese youth, however, seem to have other dreams. Japanese automakers say the youth in Japan are more interested in technological goods such as cell phones, computers, and many other Japanese technological marvels. For more on Japanese business, visit its page on globalEDGE!

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Although computer technology first caught on developed nations, there has been a steady trend of emerging markets quickly catching up to the west.

One example is high-tech research and development. A recent report by the OECD indicates that Asia is on average outpacing the west in R&D spending. If you look inside most consumer electronics, even if they are from an American company, you will find that the majority of the internal components were designed or manufactured in Asia. This looks like it is going to become even more likely in the future, with countries like China increasing spending 23% between 2001 and 2006, with the US and Europe only increasing 1-2% over the same period.

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Even in rural areas, people from around the world are beginning to embrace the practicality and convenience of the internet and cell phones. In Charkhai, Bangladesh, the mother of three who needed surgery was able to use mobile internet to schedule an appointment in the capital city, Dhaka, about 140 miles away.

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As gas prices remain unpredictable and other environmental issues become a greater concern, there has been much more talk about electric cars. Yes, the electric car is real! Innovations in lithium ion batteries and the materials used to make them have increased the range of electric cars and decreased the amount of time needed to recharge them.

Various municipal and university fleets now have electric cars in use, however, the problem of recharging them still remains a valid concern. What is needed is an infrastructure for recharging them on the go. The problem with this is that many investors are hesitant in investing a huge amount of money in building a widespread system of recharging units for electric cars without being sure that it would pay off. On the other hand, consumers are reluctant about buying electric cars when there is a lack of places to “fill them up." At least there is a lot more talk about electric cars now than there was a decade ago. Analysts warn though that profits are years off. They give hybrid cars as an example - hybrids have been around for years but are still not profitable.