Being the CEO of a large company facing digital disruption can seem like being a gambler at a roulette table. You know you need to place bets to win, but you have no idea where to put your chips. Of course, digital transformations aren’t games of chance. But they do require big and bold commitments in the midst of uncertainty to reinvent the business rather than just improve it. A successful digital transformation requires making trade-off decisions. Here’s how successful CEOs guide their business’s reinvention.
The term university covers a wide range of institutions. In time, this diversity could narrow down to two main types of universities: a local model, with institutes and Bachelor degrees related to regional development; a global model, including prototypes such as Harvard or Oxford, and emerging players in Europe or China. These world-class universities can be seen as a new type of universal power. Beyond its graduating activities, the world-class university also exerts a power of knowledge, one that determines global development, ethics and norms. Furthermore, it enjoys an increasingly independent autonomous political power, a new, global magisterium.
Ongoing digitization has placed data at the center of economic and social life. We are producing a growing amount of data that are exchanged, secured and analyzed by increasingly sophisticated technologies. Data economics defines the value of these operations. Data policies are implemented both by governments and large corporations. An emerging business revolves around big data. But the precise nature of a datum remains unclear. A philosophical approach, as led by Luciano Floridi, can help us refine the definition.
Stephen Hawking, the famous British physicist, recently warned that the development of a full-fledge artificial intelligence could result in the end of the human race. Others, such as the engineer Raymond Kurzweil, offer a more optimistic outlook and believe that we will soon be able to download our consciousness onto machines. In his book titled “Le Mythe de la Singularité” (The Myth of Singularity, Seuil, 2017), researcher Jean-Gabriel Ganascia refutes the so-called “Technological Singularity,” a brutal rupture that will supposedly transform humanity. According to him, if there is cause for concern about artificial intelligence, it doesn’t stem from the dangers it allegedly poses to humanity but rather from its current applications in our societies.
To remain a leader, a company must out-perform the world’s smartest executives at billion-user platforms. But a new disruption could produce a flip of today’s pyramid to people-first. That would help everyone advance, and add a people-first ecosystem that makes everyone a winner, with many people-first companies at the top.
The C-K theory encompasses methods widely implemented in the industrial world and that have achieved several notable successes. Ultimately, this theoretical breakthrough has revolutionized our approach to design.
Facebook heralds the advent of a society that mirrors what the social network claims to promote. Not a society of democratic exchange, where people interact within a virtual agora by opposing arguments, but a society divided by antagonism and defiance, one that is partitioned in isolated bubbles; not a society of free sharing of information but of commercial exploitation of the data we deliver each time we visit Facebook. Why should we turn away from this social network and all those who promote its paradigm? Because the proliferation of images encourages negative feelings, jealousy and intellectual harassment; because it distracts us from thinking in depth and it fragments our lives; because it spreads and strengthens the logic of ratings that leads to a superficial redefinition of the value of intellectual products and individuals; because it reinforces our preconceptions instead of confronting us to opposing arguments. The network invented by Mark Zuckerberg, who could very well run for president at the next US elections, poses a significant democratic threat.
The digital transformation has begun to reshape traditional literary culture, as well as traditional intellectual culture. Three Americans were central to that process: Norbert Wiener, the celebrated founder of cybernetics, Stewart Brand, a leading hippie figure from the 70s, and more recently Tim O’Reilly, who brought us the terms “web 2.0” and “open source,” as well as a few other ways of looking at the world. How do they work as intellectuals? There are three steps for an intellectual entrepreneur to gain influence. First, a platform. Second, a network forum: a place where different networks can actually be brought together to talk to each other. Once they reunite, they begin to speak in a common language. That shared language gives rise to new terms like open source, or cybernetics. The leader can finally export those new languages from the network through books, articles, interviews.
President Xi Jinping announced the “New Silk Road” initiative in September 2013, first in Kazakhstan, then in Indonesia. One year later, the Asian Infrastructure Investigation Bank (AIIB) was created. In spite of this apparent enthusiasm, the Chinese initiative continues to raise many questions and no less controversial issues four years after its creation. What is its exact nature? What economic and political goals does it hide?
For the SODA organizing committee, the primary goal was to promote open data; innovations and solutions came only second. Whereas for many other cities, their focus was on using SODA’s crowdsourcing model to solve problems. Open data was secondary. But does it have to be either/or? Is it possible to strike a better balance between the two?
Shanghai Open Data Apps, or SODA, is a contest launched in 2015. The acronym is a perfect analogy for what this challenge is about: Data is like soda in the bottle. Usually they sit quietly in the bottle. But once you open it, bubbles of innovation will be sizzling and bursting, carrying tremendous amount of energy. And this is exactly what SODA has managed to do. The themes of the challenge for the last two years were “Smart Transport” and “City Safety”. Working with 30 government agencies and companies, SODA unlocked 64 datasets totaling 4TB of data and designed 852 data innovation apps covering a wide range of areas including transport, finance, and public security.
The past 2016 saw the happening of the most eye-catching technology breakthrough: The AI robot Alpha Go beat the world champion Lee SeDol with the score of 4:1. This remarkable victory was reckoned as another milestone event of the artificial intelligence industry along its over 60 years of history. Together with the passion also came doubts and concerns: will robots replace human being? Will artificial intelligence ultimately abort the human race?
Emissions of air pollutants have plummeted in France since 1990. But progress is yet to be made, especially in urban areas, in industrial zones and paradoxically in the countryside: these pollutants, which have become less visible and more subtle, are carried by winds and across borders. In this area, rigorous scientific analysis is required to allow to devote our collective and individual resources to share the actually most effective actions for our well-being.
Tencent’s WeChat is your Whatsapp, Facebook, Skype and Uber, it’s your Amazon, Instagram, Venmo and Tinder, and it’s other things we don’t even have apps for, says the NYT. Gathering all these functions within a single app is already very impressive. But Tencent has even larger goals: WeChat will soon distribute its very own apps. With this move, it takes competition from an app-to-app level to an app-to-OS one.
We already knew the greenback, here come the green bonds. This emerging security, whose yearly issuance still represents only 1% of the global bonds market, has the wind in its sails. Used primarily by institutions, large companies and local authorities, it has just entered the reference segment: sovereign bonds.
The partnership between PSL and ParisTech Review, which gave rise to the Paris Innovation Review, reflects a shared vision: for developed economies, as well as for institutions with a global vocation, innovation is the very key to power. Yet one does not simply decree innovation. Innovation dynamics, on the other hand, can be enabled, by enhancing exchanges between disciplines, between institutions, between cultures, between public and private stakeholders, between researchers and entrepreneurs. An institution like PSL is an exchange enabler. Such is also the vocation of Paris Innovation Review.