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The coronavirus is revealing our technology blunders

You’ve lost your job and now you face an obsolete, sluggish unemployment system that feels like it was written in the 1950s. Actually, it’s more than a feeling. If you’re in New Jersey, New York or Connecticut, your unemployment system was written in 60-year-old Cobol. Meanwhile, if you want to apply for unemployment benefits online in Washington, D.C., the system insists you use Internet Explorer. As I recall, IE was put out to pasture five years ago.

With the United States leading the world both in total number of COVID-19 diagnoses and total number of deaths related to the virus, a lot of people have been asking how the richest country in the world could do so poorly in dealing with a pandemic. We might also be asking how the most technologically advanced country in the world can be so technologically backwards in some ways.

Part of the answer might be that the United States began implementing technology so early in the digital revolution. A lot of what was written then, including that old Cobol code, was just never updated.

But even as we’re discovering just how much we’re relying on obsolete, semi-broken software, we’re also finding that newer programs are also troubled. The Zoom videoconferencing service has gone from enjoying wild popularity to being endlessly criticized for security and privacy problems. It even has a new kind of security problem — zoom-bombing — named after it.

These problems have all come to light in the unrelenting glare of the coronavirus pandemic.

The first problem is that old technology, like those government websites backed by decades old code, simply isn’t up to the job.

The problem with the clogged unemployment sites isn’t that the code itself is bad. It’s not. It’s that it was never meant to deal with loads hundreds of times over its design specifications. What is?

On the other hand, the D.C. unemployment system was badly designed in the first place — tying any application to a specific browser is never a smart move. And that bad design choice was never corrected; the code was never updated, so that it’s still dependent on a browser that’s no longer supported and virtually no one uses anymore. Unemployed workers in Washington who discover that they can’t file from home unless they use IE will be forced out to the streets and into government offices, because there’s no way they can download IE these days.

In Florida, we have a totally different situation. There, the previous Republican administration deliberately designed its unemployment system to lower the state’s reported number of jobless claims rather than efficiently process them. When faced with COVID-19 levels of unemployment, it, unsurprisingly, failed to a degree so bad even Republicans tried to distance themselves from it. (“Failed” as in, “failed to give people the unemployment benefits they need.” But keeping benefits out of the hands of people who need them is actually what the system was designed to do.)

Then there are newer programs showing problems of a different nature. You can’t say that Zoom was overwhelmed as the numbers of people using it grew astronomically when businesses closed offices and stay-at-home orders were issued. It’s bearing the load of hundreds of thousands of new videoconferences. But all its defects are being discovered and examined under the harsh glare of its new star status.

Eric Yuan, Zoom’s CEO, recently said he had underestimated the threat of online harassment. “I never thought about this seriously.” Zoom was designed for businesses with IT departments, he explained, which could take care of setting up the appropriate security and password settings. The company never dreamed of dealing with a horde of new users so clueless they didn’t know that setting up meeting passwords would be a smart move.

Zoom’s main design goal was making it frictionless for users. Security and privacy were secondary concerns. In a case of mixed blessings, that ease of use led to its rise in popularity when people began looking for new ways to stay connected, but that popularity itself became a problem when so many of the new users didn’t know the first thing about security. Combine this with Zoom’s poor security and privacy design and you had a mess, which has led to investor lawsuits and governments telling their staffers not to use Zoom.

The common thread here is that the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting unemployment are stressing not just all of us locked down in our homes. It’s also stressing our technologies — old and new — as they too face circumstances no one saw coming.

Brace yourselves. There will be more trouble ahead as the consequences of our failure to update systems and to think about these things seriously continue to work themselves out.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



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How to boost technology adoption – and productivity

Upgrading to new applications and tools can do so much for a business. Up-to-date software can improve efficiencies and boost productivity, leading to both top-line and bottom-line gains. But getting that payoff means getting people on board with the change and comfortable with the new systems.

Unfortunately, a lot of companies struggle with this critical step.

Consider a PwC study in which 90% of executives believe their company pays attention to people’s needs when introducing new technology, but only 53% of staff members agree. Additionally, only 50% of staff members say they’re satisfied with the resources available at their company to learn how to use new technology.

Moving to a new platform or productivity suite can be highly disruptive to individuals and administrators. Often the new software is installed overnight or over the weekend, and when employees come into work the next day, they have a new system that they’re expected to start using right away.

Too often, there’s no process for helping users to understand the new functions they need for their job and how the new platform can help them. When people aren’t aware of the range of collaboration tools they have access to, they default to the programs and processes they’re already comfortable with.

Behavioral change and a baseline of training

The reality is that successful adoption of any new technology—including Microsoft 365, which brings new functionality and new ways of working—requires behavioral change and a baseline of training to ensure it’s used most effectively.

If traditional training methods – or no training at all – have hampered technology adoption at your organization, consider a new approach. For Microsoft 365, Robert Crane, principal at technology consultancy CIAOPS, recommends a “learning path” that features staged, short-burst training on each application in the suite, including showing users new and better ways to accomplish their day-to-day tasks.

Employees are likely familiar with Microsoft Office and Windows, but Microsoft 365 includes a much broader set of functionality and tools that can overwhelm users—or be ignored entirely if individuals don’t discover them on their own or know how to use them.

A typical learning path might include the following:

  • Begin with basic lessons around core functionality, such as adding an attachment or uploading a file to a shared workspace. This training, delivered in short tutorials or 2-minute videos, allows users to learn about new features or functions while still getting their work done.
  • Consider grouping these lessons by app – for example, five lessons on OneDrive, followed by five lessons on Teams, etc.
  • Next, you can provide lessons on how the apps integrate with one another. “Show them the whole environment and how all the tools work together,” says Crane. “Because they don’t know what they don’t know.”
  • More advanced training involves helping users to rethink traditional processes. For example, “you don’t want to just transfer an F drive into Microsoft collaboration solutions,” says Crane. “You need to think about what’s the best tool for the job—some of those files may go to OneDrive, others will go to SharePoint, some will go to Teams. You want to rethink and reorganize to get the most from the tools.”

While some people will be very quick to understand the value of new technology, others won’t immediately grasp it. They need to see how specific features or tools will save time and make them more productive. This type of training pays for itself by getting people working sooner and better on the new system.

Proper training “makes a big difference in getting over the initial hump,” Crane says. “I generally don’t see businesses giving their employees the time and the training to get comfortable in their new space. When they do, they start to see the benefits—and that’s when the magic happens.”

Download the Modernizing with Microsoft 365 Playbook.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



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Biggest technology acquisitions 2020 | Computerworld

Last year marked a slight decrease in global technology M&A activity from the blockbuster year that was 2018 – when SAP bought Qualtrics for $8 billion, IBM acquired Red Hat for a staggering $33 billion and Broadcom picked up CA Technologies for $18.9 billion in cash.

As of the end of Q3 2019, technology M&A deals worth $245 billion had been announced globally, marking a decrease of 25% year-on-year according to GlobalData.

Which mergers and acquisitions does 2020 have in store? If January alone is anything to go by then there will be no slowing of major deals across the industry, with security already proving to be a hot area.

Here are the biggest technology acqusitions of 2020 so far, in reverse chronological order:

March 26: Microsoft to acquire Affirmed Networks

Microsoft announced that it is acquiring the Boston-based Affirmed Networks for an undisclosed amount in March. The 2010-founded company specialises in virtualisation and cloud-based mobile network technology, which makes it an attractive acquisition target for any company investing in next-generation 5G connectivity.

“This acquisition will allow us to evolve our work with the telecommunications industry, building on our secure and trusted cloud platform for operators. With Affirmed Networks, we will be able to offer new and innovative solutions tailored to the unique needs of operators, including managing their network workloads in the cloud,” Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice president of Azure Networking wrote in a blog post.

The terms of this deal were not announced but Affirmed was most recently valued at north of $1.3 billion following a $38 million funding round in 2019.

March 2: BMC Software to acquire Compuware

Enterprise software stalwart BMC agreed to buy Compuware in March for an undisclosed amount, marking its third purchase of a mainframe specialist in just over a year.

The deal signals further consolidation of the mainframe support and services vendor landscape, as BMC has bought up RSM Partners and CorreLog in the past year or so, following an injection of cash when it was acquired itself by private equity firm KKR in 2018.

“The combined company will help customers better manage their mainframe operations, cybersecurity, application development, data, and storage as part of their enterprise devops strategies,” BMC said in a statement.

March 1: DocusSign acquires Seal Software for $188 million

E-signature specialist DocuSign has announced it is acquiring Seal Software for $188 million in cash. Seal, which is based in northern California, has built machine learning-enabled analytics software specifically for contracts, allowing organisations to search through large volumes of agreements by legal concepts, instead of keywords.

DocuSign made a $15 million strategic investment in the firm last year and has signalled its intention to tightly integrate its machine learning-powered application into its Agreement Cloud software.

“DocuSign is about digitally transforming the very foundation of doing business: agreements and agreement processes,” said Scott Olrich, DocuSign’s chief operating officer in a statement. “We believe that AI will play a vital role in this transformation. And by integrating Seal into DocuSign, we can benefit from its deep technology expertise and its broad experience applying AI to agreements.”

Feb. 28: Intuit to acquire Credit Karma

US software maker Intuit – best known for its QuickBooks, Mint and TurboTax products – announced its intention to acquire fellow Silicon Valley-native company and rival Credit Karma in a $7.1 billion deal in February.

Through the acquisition, Intuit is looking to build an all-in-one financial assistant for customers, combining income, spending and credit histories, complete with financial product offers and personalised advice.

“By joining forces with Credit Karma, we can create a personalised financial assistant that will help consumers find the right financial products, put more money in their pockets and provide insights and advice, enabling them to buy the home they’ve always dreamed about, pay for education and take the vacation they’ve always wanted,” said Sasan Goodarzi, CEO of Intuit, in a press release.

The deal could get the attention of regulators however, with Credit Karma offering one of the few alternative free, digital tax-filing solutions on the market.

Feb. 25: Salesforce acquires Vlocity for $1.33 billion

CRM giant Salesforce made its first acquisition of 2020 in February, picking up the San Francisco-based company for $1.33 billion. It’s a straightforward fit for the SaaS company, as Vlocity is a key partner and specialises in building industry-specific CRMs on top of Salesforce for companies in the media, financial services, health, energy and utilities sectors, as well as public sector and nonprofits. Salesforce had already invested in the company through its ventures arm in 2019.

Salesforce has long been interested in vertical specificity as it looks to embed its software deeper with large enterprise clients and has launched several of its own targeted solutions for industries with Financial Services Cloud and Manufacturing Cloud.

“Upon the close of the transaction, Vlocity – this wonderful company that we, as a team, have created, built, and grown into a transformational solution for six of the most important industries in the enterprise – will become part of Salesforce,” Vlocity CEO David Schmaier wrote in a blog post.

Feb. 21: Morgan Stanley to acquire ETrade for $13 billion

American investment bank Morgan Stanley made a splashy acquisition in February, picking up online brokerage ETrade for $13 billion.

Morgan Stanley is hoping that the acquisition can help boost its wealth management division by attracting younger, less affluent customers thanks to the lower margins associated with digital wealth management solutions, including robo advice and commission-free trading like that popularised by startups Robinhood in the US and Nutmeg in the UK.

Founded in 1982 and based in Silicon Valley, ETrade specialises in electronic trading of financial instruments, from common stocks to exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

“E-Trade represents an extraordinary growth opportunity for our wealth management business and a leap forward in our wealth management strategy,” said Morgan Stanley chairman and CEO James Gorman in a statement.

Feb. 20: Dialog Semiconductor acquires Adesto Technologies

UK-based Dialog Semiconductor acquired Adesto Technologies for $500 million in February. The California-based chip maker specialises in System-on-Chips (SoCs), edge router, network interfaces and resistive RAM technologies, with a specific focus on industrial IoT.

Just four months earlier Dialog also acquired German fabless chip firm Creative Chips GmbH for $80 million.

“This acquisition substantially enhances our position in the Industrial IoT market,” said Jalal Bagherli, CEO of Dialog in a statement. “Adesto’s established strength in connectivity solutions and highly optimized products for building and industrial automation perfectly complements and adds scale to our Industrial IoT portfolio from the recently acquired Creative Chips. Adesto’s deep customer relationships, comprehensive system expertise, and proprietary technology will deliver enhanced value for Dialog customers.”

Feb. 19: Facebook takes majority control of Scape Technologies

Facebook surpassed a 75 percent majority share in London-based computer vision startup Scape Technologies in February. TechCrunch pegs the value of the deal at around $40 million. Scape’s existing backers included Entrepreneur First (EF), where the company was formed, along with VC firms LocalGlobe, Mosaic Ventures, and Fly Ventures.

Scape has built a developer kit that can combine imagery, latitude and longitude data to determine the location of a device to a higher degree of accuracy than GPS.

Feb. 4: Koch Industries acquires remaining stake in Infor

It was announced in February that the massive multinational Koch Industries had acquired the remaining equity stake in the software vendor Infor. The deal values Infor at $11 billion, or nearly $13 billion including preferred shares, according to Bloomberg. Koch has been an investor in the vendor since 2017 and reportedly held as much as a 70 percent stake before this deal. This will halt any rumours of an IPO for Infor.

Infor specialises in enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, particularly focused on industry verticals and increasingly, shifting to the cloud with its CloudSuites product. It competes with the likes of Oracle, Microsoft and SAP and has a solid, loyal customer base, many of which, however, are still on-premise.

“Koch’s decision to acquire Infor is a strong endorsement of our product strategy and focus on creating innovative solutions for our customers,” said Kevin Samuelson, CEO of Infor in a statement. “As a subsidiary of a $110 billion+ revenue company that re-invests 90 percent of earnings back into its businesses, we will be in the unique position to drive digital transformation in the markets we serve. We are rapidly expanding our industry-specific CloudSuites and offering customer experiences and outcomes that are well beyond what is standard in enterprise software.”

Feb. 3: Accenture acquires UK data consultancy Mudano

Accenture announced in February that it is acquiring UK-based data consultancy Mudano for an undisclosed amount. The firm will join Accenture’s Applied Intelligence unit, which has been on an acquisition binge as of late, acquiring the likes of Clarity Insights, Pragsis Bidoop in Spain and Analytics8 in Australia in the past

Founded in 2014, Mudano has offices across the UK and its clients tend to be in the financial services sector.

“Our research shows that UK businesses are struggling with how to scale technologies like artificial intelligence to deliver business value – and financial services is no exception,” said George Marcotte, head of Accenture’s Applied Intelligence group for UK & Ireland, in a statement.

“Mudano’s focus on helping clients build a ‘data culture’ aligns perfectly to Accenture’s Applied Intelligence strategy. By creating a strong data foundation — supported by the right skills, stakeholders and technologies — our clients can transform at speed and scale and fuel real change for their business.”

Jan. 22: ServiceNow acquires Loom Systems

ServiceNow is looking to accelerate its ability to deliver AIOps with the acquisition of Israeli startup Loom Systems for an undisclosed amount.

The SaaS giant is looking to deliver on the promise of AIOps, a model of IT where artificial intelligence techniques are leveraged to help predict and prevent issues from occurring, instead of reacting to service desk requests.

“Today, IT departments struggle to meet performance expectations and keep pace with the growth in demand for new, great digital services,” said Jeff Hausman, vice president and general manager of IT operations management at ServiceNow. “By bringing together Loom Systems’ ability to analyse log and metrics data with ServiceNow’s AIOps and workflow automation capabilities, IT departments will be able to proactively pin-point and resolve operational issues, enabling seamless experiences for their customers and employees.”

Later that month ServiceNow also acquired Passage AI, a Mountain View-based conversational AI specialist.

Jan. 15: Apple acquires Xnor.ai for $200 million

Apple acquired Seattle-based Xnor.ai for a reported $200 million in January, according to TechCrunch.

The startup was spun out of the nonprofit Allen Institute for AI (AI2) in 2017 and specialises in machine learning and image recognition algorithms and techniques which work locally on the device.

As our Apple columnist Jonny Evans wrote at the time: “There is an obvious symmetry between the two company’s visions: Xnor.ai’s AI models that can be installed on edge devices and Apple’s strategy to invest its devices with on-board intelligence that don’t need cloud servers.”

Jan. 14: Google Cloud acquires AppSheet

Google Cloud announced the acquisition of AppSheet in January for an undisclosed amount. The Seattle-based startup specialises in no code software development, allowing customers to build simple business applications without having to know how to write code.

AppSheet was founded by Praveen Seshadri and his old Cornell student Brian Sabino in 2014 and had secured a modest $18.5 million in funding to date, so it is safe to assume this wasn’t a blockbuster acquisition by the cloud vendor but it does fit with the company’s broader desire to democratise application development.



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Is technology killing globalization? | InsiderPro

Globalization is out and deglobalization in … maybe

When you look at factors such as the rise of populism in politics (which actively opposes globalization), changes in regulation, trade and manufacturing, as well as growing restrictions on the movement of people around the world, it looks like the new trend is deglobalization — or a retreat into localism or nationalism.

Deglobalization seems to be largely a tech issue: Technology companies appear to be either driving the deglobalization trend, or they’re the instrument by which national governments are effecting change.

[ Don’t miss: Mike Elgan every week on Insider Pro ]

What’s going on? To coin an oxymoronic phrase: Is the world getting less global?

Panic about the coronavirus goes viral

The yet-unnamed coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, has laid bare an unpleasant fact about globalization: A viral infection that emerges anywhere can spread everywhere. To stop such an outbreak, the best remedy is radical, sudden and temporary deglobalization. This containment deglobalization is really clobbering the tech industry. It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

The most immediate impact is technology trade shows. The most important mobile trade show, Mobile World Congress, will either be cancelled or have greatly reduced attendance (the show is scheduled to begin February 24 in Barcelona, Spain). Mobile giants LG and Ericsson have already canceled. Dozens of Chinese trade shows have been cancelled outright.

The next effect will be sales and manufacturing. Foxconn, where iPhones are made, is closed indefinitely. At least for making electronics. For now, they’ve switched to making face masks.

Sellers on Amazon are bracing for product shortages resulting from factories closed because of the coronavirus.

Tesla shut down its Chinese factory, halting manufacturing of Model 3s.

Hardware Kickstarters are starting to notify users of big delays for the same reason.

Companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft have shut down offices in China or curtailed travel to China. (Yesm Google and Facebook have offices in China.)

Starbucks closed 2,000 stores in China. (That’s right, I consider Starbucks a technology company.)

And the third effect will be earnings. Most Chinese tech companies are expected to report earnings far below expectations.

And the outbreak is also one of the biggest sources of fake news and misinformation on the social networks, leading to what the World Health Organization calls an “infodemic.”

Globalization is out and deglobalization in … maybe

When you look at factors such as the rise of populism in politics (which actively opposes globalization), changes in regulation, trade and manufacturing, as well as growing restrictions on the movement of people around the world, it looks like the new trend is deglobalization — or a retreat into localism or nationalism.

Deglobalization seems to be largely a tech issue: Technology companies appear to be either driving the deglobalization trend, or they’re the instrument by which national governments are effecting change.

[ Don’t miss: Mike Elgan every week on Insider Pro ]

What’s going on? To coin an oxymoronic phrase: Is the world getting less global?

Panic about the coronavirus goes viral

The yet-unnamed coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, has laid bare an unpleasant fact about globalization: A viral infection that emerges anywhere can spread everywhere. To stop such an outbreak, the best remedy is radical, sudden and temporary deglobalization. This containment deglobalization is really clobbering the tech industry. It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

The most immediate impact is technology trade shows. The most important mobile trade show, Mobile World Congress, will either be cancelled or have greatly reduced attendance (the show is scheduled to begin February 24 in Barcelona, Spain). Mobile giants LG and Ericsson have already canceled. Dozens of Chinese trade shows have been cancelled outright.

The next effect will be sales and manufacturing. Foxconn, where iPhones are made, is closed indefinitely. At least for making electronics. For now, they’ve switched to making face masks.

Sellers on Amazon are bracing for product shortages resulting from factories closed because of the coronavirus.

Tesla shut down its Chinese factory, halting manufacturing of Model 3s.

Hardware Kickstarters are starting to notify users of big delays for the same reason.

Companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft have shut down offices in China or curtailed travel to China. (Yesm Google and Facebook have offices in China.)

Starbucks closed 2,000 stores in China. (That’s right, I consider Starbucks a technology company.)

And the third effect will be earnings. Most Chinese tech companies are expected to report earnings far below expectations.

And the outbreak is also one of the biggest sources of fake news and misinformation on the social networks, leading to what the World Health Organization calls an “infodemic.”

Politics gets in the way of Huawei 5G

International politics is also driving the apparent deglobalization trend. But they’re mostly using technology and technology companies to effect these changes.

For example, the United States is determined to block Huawei’s dominance of future 5G networks, citing a security risk, and the pressure is even straining the U.S.’s alliance with Britain.

The U.S. ban on Huawei was also extended to Android, prompting that company to pursue its own operating system, called HarmonyOS.

European regulation of technology is causing further deglobalization. The so-called right-to-be-forgotten laws are creating different search indexes for Google Search users inside and outside the Eurozone. The GDPR rules make hundreds of U.S, news outlets unavailable to European users. And European laws and proposed laws around requiring search engines to pay news sites for linking to them in search results could essentially cut off European news sources from global searches. Because of European regulations, online news in Europe is completely different from the news outside of Europe.

China is the gold standard for deglobalizing the internet. The Great Firewall of China, plus bans on foreign social networks and other rules in China makes the Chinese Internet close to its own isolated network. Russia and other countries are trying to emulate Chinese control over what locals see online. 

Russia’s experimentation around closing its Internet to the outside world, as well as its requirement for foreign companies to add government spyware to phones, is temping Silicon Valley companies, including Apple, to stop serving the Russian market.

In other news, the “splinternet” has replaced the “internet.”

Uber: It’s been a wild ride

San Francisco-based sharing- or gig-economy startups like Uber seemed to enhance globalization. You could travel anywhere and use your normal Uber app to get a ride or order food. But Uber is being pushed out of national markets it once dominated or where they were expected to dominate in the future.

Uber cashed out and sold its Chinese presence to the “Chinese Uber,” called Didi, in 2016.

Uber also exited Indonesia and other markets in the same way as China. In Russia, Uber ended up in a joint venture with Russia’s Yandex.taxi, with Yandex owning a controlling share.

In India last month, Uber’s food-delivery subsidiary, Uber Eats, sold out to its Indian rival, called Zomato. Now the growing food-delivery app market is controlled by two Indian companies.

Uber will never be a global service. Ubers retreats from some of the world’s largest markets are seen as evidence of deglobalization.

The social networks are becoming globally anti-social

For a while, it appeared that social networking would usher in a global “town square” where everyone in the world would converse with everyone else. But that trend is being aggressively reversed.

The social networks themselves are algorithmically deglobalizing social networks. The trending topics and content, “news feed” and, in general, the default selection of content is different for every country. And governments increasingly enforce bans on specific types of content for their own countries.

Sites like Facebook are banned outright in China, Iran, Syria and North Korea. The U.S. is looking to ban TikTok, which is already banned by the U.S. military. Country-specific versioning, censorship and banning of social networks will continue to trend.

But … is deglobalization really a thing?

All these trends and changes look like a broad reversal of the globalization trend, but I think that’s illusory. Economically, nations are becoming more dependent on each other. For example, the poster child for technology isolation, China, depends on exports and contract manufacturing entirely for its continued growth. As its economy matures and population ages, its dependence on the outside world will only grow.

Technology, in fact, increasingly enables not only international travel on an unprecedented scale, it enables lifestyles like mine, where people can live just about anywhere in the world while working for a company that is either anywhere, or itself distributed and nationless.

Many of the factors that appear to be evidence of deglobalization will drive further globalization. For example, the lesson of the coronavirus and its effect on technology companies worldwide is that reliance on a single country for manufacturing, components and labor is risky. The response will be a growing drive to diversify manufacturing internationally.

The political drivers of deglobalization — namely nationalism, populism and regulation — tend to be temporary and cyclical, as well. The pendulum will swing in the other direction, if history is any guide.

Europe’s aggressive regulation of technology companies is divisive, but only temporarily. In some cases, like GDPR, Europe is ahead of the curve and their regulations will be emulated. In others, like actual or proposed requirements for search engines to pay for linking to news sites, the regulations will likely backfire and fail.

And the forces deglobalizing social networking won’t even matter in the long run. Another trend, driven by users rather than governments or companies, is the replacement of giant, all-purpose social networks by small, personal ones. These so-called “anti-social social networks” are the future.

What you should do about these trends

Maybe the world isn’t really deglobalizing. But something is happening. The world is getting more complicated. As large organizations make plans, it’s important to keep in mind this growing complexity. In a nutshell, we’re facing a future of both increasing globalization, but also increasing local requirements and contexts.

That means planners and buyers need to step up their game about local knowledge in dozens of countries around the world. It’s important to become obsessed with flexibility, adaptation, local customization and diversification.

And the coronavirus? Well, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that science is getting faster at developing vaccines. The bad news is that this kind of outbreak will happen again and again.

Viruses happen. Politics happens. But business also needs to happen. So learn from these trends that create the illusion of deglobalization and adapt. Your organization and your career depend on it.



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Most significant technology acquisitions 2019

Uber is acquiring Middle Eastern ride-hailing competitor Careem for $3.1 billion ahead of the US company’s impending initial public offering.

Careem will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Uber, which will acquire all of Careem’s mobility, delivery, and payments businesses across the greater Middle East region. The deal, which remains subject to regulatory approval in the 15 countries where Careem operates, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020.

Dr Shweta Singha, assistant professor at Warwick Business School, said the deal was further evidence of Uber’s growing global ambition.

“It had already acquired Jump Bikes, now it has acquired its biggest Middle Eastern rival Careem,” he said. “It’s clear that Uber is moving away from being a ‘vanilla’ car sharing company to becoming a one-stop shop, which connects end to end transportation.

“The timing of this deal for Careem is significant, just days after Uber decided to launch its initial price offering (IPO). As well as the regular benefits of an acquisition, such as enhanced economies of scale and improved market reach, it will increase Uber’s stock market valuation and that initial share price.

“In strategy timing is everything. Acquiring Careem at the right moment shows that Uber has mastered the art of perfect timing.”



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