Briefs: Economics + Finance

The Business of Doing Good: The New Responsibility

The Good Business of Doing Good

Eco-products. 100% organic. Ecologically friendly. All-natural. Fair trade. Locally grown. Green. These labels — which indicate a company’s, brand’s, or product’s commitment to social responsibility — are rampant. Although the meaning of these labels is not always formally defined, or even entirely clear, a broad and growing base of consumers now look for, and buy, products that proclaim their virtue.

In June 2014, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) published “An Imperative for Consumer Companies to Go Green,” an article that addressed growing consumer concerns about responsible consumption.

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Millennials and Parenting: New Approaches in the Digital Age

Flickr_Michael Coghlan

The Millennial generation has delayed such traditional milestones as getting married and having children. Yet over the last decade, more than 20 million Millennials have become parents. And in the coming 10 to 15 years, tens of millions more will join them, leading to perhaps the biggest parenting generation in US history.

Soon to become the largest cohort of adults in the United States, the 80 million Millennials have been shaped by an array of forces — including the digital age, the lingering recession, and the unemployment of their teens or early adulthood — that earlier generations did not experience.

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Will We All Be Using Bitcoin in the Future?


The virtual currency Bitcoin is a mere speculative bubble or a force set to transform the financial world, depending on whom one asks.

Created in 2009, Bitcoin is clearly in its early stages — and its future remains unclear. This brief explores three potential scenarios for Bitcoin, which range from outright suppression by governments to success as a mainstream currency, with the current marginal existence as a third outcome.

Because outcomes are uncertain, it is too early to say whether Bitcoin is important in the future of business. The drivers and indicators that accompany each of the three scenarios will help to suggest whether this is changing.Read more…

Personalized Pricing: Dynamic Pricing at the Point of Sale

Money_by Tax Credits

Personalization has slowly become the norm in a variety of industries. Advances in manufacturing, real-time customer service, recommendation engines, and other developments across the supply chain have set high expectations of personalized products and services for customers. Now, advances in analytics Paths to personalized pricing 2 and pricing algorithms are making it possible for companies to deliver personalized pricing to their customers as well.

In coming years, personalized pricing could become more common. It holds the potential to build customer loyalty, increase revenues, and give companies both more control over the price that different customers pay and the ability to base prices on a Related forecasts 10 variety of contextual data points.

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Digital Payment Futures

Moneyby _J_D_R_

There is a push underway to digitize consumer payments, led by those seeking to make the mobile phone and other personal devices into digital wallets.

To help monitor this trend and the evolving opinions about its future, we analyzed the results of a recent survey about the future of device-based payment systems conducted by the Pew Research Center. This brief presents some of the key themes that emerged from the Pew survey and synthesizes them with material from other sources to explore the future of digital money and explore implications for businesses and other organizations.

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E-Sports: The Rise of Professional Gaming

Gamergy_by artubr

In little more than a dozen years, a new spectator sport has climbed from relative obscurity to worldwide popularity, attracting the interest of millions of fans, who on average devote more than an hour a day to watching their favorite players engage in their favorite sport: competitive gaming.

Also known as e-sports, competitive gaming now features professional players vying for million-dollar prize purses, a college circuit that offers scholarships to “student athletes,” tournaments before sold-out stadium crowds, and a global viewing audience projected to surpass 140 million by 2017.

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The Future of Cities: Smarter, Greener

flickr_Trey Ratcliff

Propelled by drivers in all five STEEP categories (social, technological, environmental, economic, and political), many of the world’s cities are striving to become greener and smarter.

A rising number of cities are pursuing environmental sustainability and embracing intelligent systems not only for their own sake (to cut costs, to run more efficiently, and to better serve their residents), but also for the sake of the greater world (to reduce carbon emissions and to inspire other cities to do the same).

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American Parents’ Changing Attitudes: New Roles, New Needs


The values and attitudes of American parents about their parental roles, their children, and their careers are changing — driven by economic realities, shifting gender roles, and generational transitions.

Major trends underway include:

  • US parents are extraordinarily focused on their children’s cognitive development.
  • The roles of mothers and fathers are converging more than ever.
  • Mothers’ attitudes toward work-life balance are splitting along economic lines.
  • Both genders feel more stressed by juggling work and family.

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Rising Giants: Companies Welcome

Gabriel White flickr

The landscape of global business is changing. While World 1 economies still dominate the global business landscape, more and more companies based in World 2 and even World 3 are making their presence known on a worldwide scale.

These rising giants are not only serving — and in some cases dominating — their home markets, but they also are increasingly seeking to expand into other markets, both from other emerging economies and from developed economies. The growth and expansion of companies from emerging economies will dramatically transform the global business landscape in the next two decades.

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Global Shale Gas: Redrawing the Energy Supply Map


ver the last decade, exploration and development of shale gas has transformed the US energy profile. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has called it “a ‘gamechanger’ for the US natural gas market”—due to the vast new resources of domestic gas that shale deposits represent.

But the US is not the only country betting on fracked shale gas to be a more important part of its energy future. Across the globe— from Argentina to China—countries are scrambling to explore and develop shale gas deposits. Although it will take years to fully catalog the exact size of these resources, the emerging evidence suggests that shale gas could have as much impact on the global energy supply as it has already had on the US energy supply.

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DIY Biotech: Citizen Foresight in Science


The do-it-yourself (DIY) biotech movement includes individuals and groups who are engaged in biotechnology outside of traditional academic, government, and industrial laboratories. The Introduction 1 movement has also been described as “garage biology.”

Some participants in DIY biotech are also known as “biohackers.” In the last several years, community biotech laboratories have begun to Introduction to DIY biotech 2 emerge to support and encourage such citizen science. The first of these laboratories was Genspace, located in Brooklyn, New York.

Smarter Roads: Innovations in Roadway Infrastructure

Highways Agency

The wealth of time and interest devoted to the development of smart cars in recent years often overshadows equally significant advancements in a related sector: the roadways that such cars will navigate. Smarter roads may not have received as much attention as the advent of smart cars; however, governments, entrepreneurs, and innovative companies have been allocating substantial research and development resources toward their creation.

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China’s Middle Class: The Rise that Transformed the Country


The rise of the Chinese middle class has transformed the country in the last several decades — reducing poverty and sparking new consumer behaviors. It has also led organizations from food companies to automakers to invest in the growing — and future — consumption by Chinese consumers.

For example, Volkswagen plans to open 10 new automotive plants in the near future, seven of which will be located in China. Research by McKinsey suggests several important trajectories as the middle class continues to grow and evolve over the next decade.

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Millennial Women at Work: Progress and Struggles in the American Workplace

flickr_ITU Pictures

The roles, opportunities, and treatment of women in the American workplace have been gradually shifting for many decades. Issues such as equal opportunity and equal pay for equal work have been addressed across several generations, yet remain unresolved. The Millennials are the latest generation to encounter these workplace hurdles. In October 2013, Pew Research Center surveyed 2,002 adults, including 810 Millennials (ages 18 to 32), asking questions pertaining to gender and work. Pew combined the results with analysis of Census data to create a picture of the roles and attitudes of men and women in the US workplace.Read more…

The Future of Organizational Practices: Four Forecasts for 2025

flickr_Tony Frantz

There are a wide variety of visions for how work and the workplace will change in coming decades. Some focus on technology — e.g., on how new devices or big data will change workers’ lives — while others analyze the way in which Millennials and other generations will mix to create the workforce of the future. One area often left out of the conversation is how changes underway in organizational culture will help transform work.Read more…

A Win-Win for Women and Business: Partnering for Growth in Worlds 2 and 3


Over the past two decades, aid organizations such as the World Bank, microcredit institutions, and NGOs have recognized women’s distinctive role in international development. When aid and credit are funneled directly to women, rather than through traditional channels, improvements are seen in economic and social indicators ranging from economic growth to agricultural productivity to more sustainable population growth rates. “The empowerment of women is smart economics,” Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, has often stated.Read more…

Women in World 1: The Big Flip


The Great Recession has accelerated a dramatic shift in gender roles: Women in World 1 are surpassing their male peers in income, education, and professional attainment, while many men are losing ground economically. In countries ranging from Japan to Singapore, France, Norway, Canada, and the United States, these shifts are shaking up longstanding social and economic patterns.Read more…

Women in World 1: Outcomes for Women, Men, and Society

Flickr_Donnie Nunley

An extraordinary shift in gender roles is underway throughout World 1 according to Washington Post reporter Liza Mundy, who has dubbed this discontinuity “the Big Flip.” In her book “The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners Is Transforming Sex, Love, and Family,” she notes that almost 40 percent of working wives in the United States are now “breadwomen” — their household’s primary breadwinner. And the trend is escalating through other World 1 societies, including Western Europe and Scandinavia, Japan, and South Korea.Read more…