Monday, 26 February 2018

On-line prices based on customers’ habits, Big Data and algorithms


When you buy an airplane ticket or a DVD online, you may pay a higher -- or lower -- price than another customer buying the very same item from the very same site.Why? Because the information the site has compiled on you suggests that you may be willing to pay more -- or less -- than others for that item. Is this kind of "price customization" legal? The Internet allows shoppers to easily compare prices across thousands of stores. But it also enables businesses to collect detailed information about a customer's purchasing history, preferences, and financial resources -- and to set prices accordingly. More here.

Weapons of Math Destruction: A fascinating, timely, book by Cathy O’Neil



Weapons of math destruction, are mathematical models or algorithms that claim to quantify important traits: teacher quality, recidivism risk, creditworthiness but have harmful outcomes and often reinforce inequality, keeping the poor poor and the rich rich. They have three things in common: opacity, scale, and damage. They are often proprietary or otherwise shielded from prying eyes, so they have the effect of being a black box. They affect large numbers of people, increasing the chances that they get it wrong for some of them. And they have a negative effect on people, perhaps by encoding racism or other biases into an algorithm or enabling predatory companies to advertise selectively to vulnerable people, or even by causing a global financial crisis. But as the book suggest the mathematics of big data increases inequality and threatens democracy.  More here and at  http://amzn.to/2clQHXG

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Media: the least trusted institution globally, according to a new study


For the first time media is the least trusted institution globally. In 22 of the 28 markets surveyed it is now distrusted. The demise of confidence in the Fourth Estate is driven primarily by a significant drop in trust in platforms, notably search engines and social media. Sixty-three percent of respondents say they do not know how to tell good journalism from rumor or falsehoods or if a piece of news was produced by a respected media organization. The lack of faith in media has also led to an inability to identify the truth (59 percent), trust government leaders (56 percent) and trust business (42 percent). For more see Edelman TrustBarometer .

Sunday, 17 April 2016

There Is No Such Thing as a Green Product ?

Authors Trevor Zink and Roland Geyer  suggest that here is no such thing as a “green” product. The corporate sustainability gospel—that green companies sell green products, and green products have some absolute and well-defined environmental attributes—evaporates on closer inspection. According to the authors the environmental benefits of green products are not that they somehow fix the environment or have zero impact, but rather that their environmental impacts are less than those of similar products. Products can have an impact on the environment during one or more stages of their life cycles, which are production, use, and end of life. A natural step is therefore to tally up the environmental impacts of similar products throughout their life cycles and compare the results. Read more at SSIR here .

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Economics, in the last decades, has been harmful for most people?


As Chang  had put it in Guardian: “Economics, as it has been practised in the last three decades, has been positively harmful for most people.” !! “Economists are not some innocent technicians who did a decent job within the narrow confines of their expertise until they were collectively wrong-footed by a once-in-a-century disaster that no one could have predicted.” Far from being an inward-looking, hermetic discipline, economics has been a hugely powerful – and profitable – enterprise, shaping the policies of governments and companies throughout much of the world. The results have been little short of disastrous” . A great book, a must read, for all thought leaders. Ha-Joon Chang, Prof at the University of Cambridge,  is one of the leading heterodox economists and institutional economists specialising in development economics . 

A Professor at Cambridge that  is analytically debunking the myths of capitalism in his book “23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism”. A must read.
See more here

Friday, 1 April 2016

Monsanto: Strong Ties, Strong Media and the challenge of editorial integrity and independence

According to Huffpost , the media and partnerships division of the venerable magazine Scientific American hosted a panel Thursday at the National Press Club featuring journalists and scientists. The event, cosponsored by a group called GMO Answers, focuses on whether science is “explained fairly in the media.” What might be less apparent is that GMO Answers requires some explanation itself: The group is a project of agricultural biotech firms meant to buttress the industry’s reputation.
GMO Answers, which was launched in the summer of 2013 to help improve the impression of genetically modified foods in the U.S., is a project of PR giant Ketchum. Funding for the effort comes from agricultural biotech companies, including Monsanto and Syngenta.
Monsanto, which sells seeds that have been genetically altered so crops can survive the company’s glyphosate weedkiller, was facing pressure in many states to label foods containing GMOs, or genetically modified organisms. GMO Answers was created as a website where people could have questions answered by supposedly “independent” scientists.
The New York Times reported in 2013 that GMO Answers would embrace a more “transparent” approach in addressing critics, who accuse big agricultural companies of “purposely hiding information.” Around the same time, Politico reported that Monsanto shook up its internal PR shop and began a “charm offensive,” visiting newsrooms across Washington.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Nestle in Society: Creating Shared Value (CSV)


 The  2015 report  focuses on the 39 commitments that range across the Creating Shared Value (CSV) focus areas of nutrition, health and wellness; water and environmental sustainability; rural development, human rights, and  people, to provide the reader an overview of Nestlé’s material issues and activities in these areas.  Nestlé’s societal commitments, first published in 2012, were developed in consultation with external stakeholders and provide the reader with a clear sense of the strategic direction and standards of the company.  A more detailed version of the reportis also available on the company’s CSV page.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Why organizations must look beyond corporate-social-responsibility initiatives to truly engage


Antibusiness sentiment is nothing new. Yet mending the rift between big business and society isn’t merely a worthy goal—it may represent a new frontier of competitive advantage, profitability, and longevity for today’s organizations. In Connect: How companies succeed by engaging radically with society (PublicAffairs, March 2016), L1 Energy chairman and former BP chief executive officer John Browne, McKinsey’s Robin Nuttall, and entrepreneur Tommy Stadlen offer a practical blueprint for reconciling companies and communities. Read more about this topic from McKinsey here  .

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Applying circular-economy principles

 Plastics are the workhorse material of the modern economy. Their popularity has kept the industry growing for 50 years, with global production surging from 15 million metric tons in 1964 to 311 million metric tons in 2014. If business proceeds as usual, this number is projected to double to more than 600 million metric tons in the next 20 years. Read the full story from this McKinsey article  here .

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Can Energy Competitiveness Drive Europe’s Future Growth?


This was the main theme of a Policy Dialogue event organized in January 2014 at the European Parliament (Brussels) that I was invited to give a presentation, focusing on two of the main pillars of Europe’s industrial competitiveness. European companies’ competitiveness is under pressure due to higher energy costs and costs related to the adaptation to increasingly demanding environmental challenges and regulations. The proper mix of an industrial policy to tackle these challenges is of great importance for every country and also for Europe as a whole. This MEP Policy Dialogue is providing a platform where policy issues related to energy and environment affecting industrial competitiveness in the EU, can be openly discussed and debated with decision makers and all stakeholders. For the presentation, click here .

Monday, 9 December 2013

Strategy for Good: Inspiration and advice for young social entrepreneurs

The goal of the initiative, called “Strategy for Good”, is to make it easier to young social entrepreneurs to develop  a strategy and produce  an effective business plan, through a mentoring program, at no cost to all selected applicants.

The initiative that was  launched by the Costas Kataras Organisation ,  supports young social entrepreneurs - involved in the marriage of good business principles with the desire to solve social problems, improve the environment, and empower communities- that need advice and / or  mentoring in order to develop proper Strategy and/or Business Plans. Applicants could send email to: info@costaskataras.org

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Shareholder value as an excuse to dodge taxes?

At first glance, you would think that the CEOs of taxophobic U.S. corporations and our less-than-stellar leaders in Washington have nothing in common. But you'd be wrong. What they share is a lack of shame and an excess of narrow thinking, says FORTUNE. Read more here.

Crafting powerful strategies, the McKinsey way

The essence of strategy is making wise choices about where and how to compete. In this series, McKinsey examines the dynamics of crafting powerful strategies and mobilizing resources to make them happen. The leading strategy consulting firm explains how strategic thought has evolved and where it is headed. Read the series at McKinsey.