The Insight Story

How is Web3 Transforming the Future of Music

Web3: How is it Transforming the Future of Music

Many are aware of the disruptive powers of blockchain technology. Today, it seems like every industry, ranging from tech and finance to e-commerce and supply chain, is exploring new avenues to successfully incorporate blockchain into their business framework and bring Web3 to the mainstream. While the future looks fairer, more creative, and bewildering than the one we are currently used to, it is, however, time for a change. However, for new technologies to fully integrate into everyday operations, it is equally important to turn their attention toward the components that populate our everyday reality, including— music, pop culture, art, film, literature, and more.  Over the last few years, there can be seen many conversations being initiated about how artists and musicians can take control of their careers by leveraging Web3 technology. Platforms such as royal.io, sound.xyz, and Catalog have enabled a handful of artists to break through. 3LAU had raised almost $12 million from his fans in 2019. Top stars, including the Chainsmokers, NAS, & Diplo, have followed the same. The most significant rule about technology and adoption is that new technologies become dominant when they seep into our everyday lives. For example, let's recall the advent of Web2 streaming platforms, including Spotify and Pandora. When they were initially launched in the late 2000s, the platforms were met with popular suspicions. Many music fans even questioned the lack of ownership arising due to the streaming service model. They also complained about sound quality or how streaming platforms could compete with their own personalized music libraries.  Read more: The Science of Music: How Big Data Is Transforming the Music Industry?  Ever since the emergence of Spotify, music listeners have grown accustomed to storing a plethora of songs on their iPods and systems, building custom playlists, and adjusting album artwork. Gradually, Spotify emerged as a household name and replaced iTunes, which was once considered the leader in music listening technology.  What is Web3?   Web3 is disrupting the gatekeepers’ targeted-advertising businesses as it is shifting the ownership of required consumer data away from them and into the hands of the consumers. Web3 is an online project that employs open source and semantic web technology to create a comprehensive resource for music fans.  Web3 promotes peer-to-peer interactions with no reliance on centralized platforms as well as intermediaries. Users enjoy total control over their own data, content, and algorithms. They can govern the blockchain protocols employed by them to own the governance tokens. The user can participate as a shareholder and own the protocols’ tokens or cryptocurrencies.  Web3 innovations are moving the world of the internet into new realms by giving rise to applications that were previously not possible. Today, users are able to control their own data as well as efficiently utilize trustless computing, which helps eliminate the need to trust and pay intermediaries.  Many startups are helping mainstream users mitigate the risks inherent to Web3 cryptocurrency trading and DeFi. Startups in analytics, security, market surveillance, and compliance are helping traditional financial services companies to remain secure and compliant while employing Web3 crypto and DeFi applications. Over the next couple of years, such innovation will empower users to address the wide range of Web3 risks.   Read more: With Subscriber Rate Declining, What Does the Future Hold for Netflix?  The New Realm of Music  While the music industry has not always been welcoming new technology, it is slowly booming to the unlimited possibilities offered by the NFT marketplace. The overall sales generated were $25 billion last year - which justifies the acceptance as well as the promise of Web3 and why everyone wants a piece of it. Blockchain is potentially reshaping the music industry.   Streaming service platforms have made it easier than ever for artists to find an audience and get their songs heard. However, they have also made it significantly harder for them to earn a living. Streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music normally pay the artists less than one cent per stream.   But Web3 holds the potential to change that!   The immersive, distributed platforms are being perceived as the next level of the internet that has the potential to offer new ways for artists and fans to connect in the metaverse. This new breed of applications and platforms will enable songwriters and performers to tap into new funding models. It holds the potential to allow thousands of people with a passion and talent for music to turn it into a plausible source of income.  The Impact of Web3 on the Future of Music  There has been a lot of hype concerning the unlimited possibilities that might be unlocked due to incorporating blockchain, web3, and metaverse technologies into the music industry. Music has been about social activities and bringing together people. The new platforms emerging based on immersive and experiential technologies offer an opportunity to share and enjoy music together in many ways. When combined with blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and web3, the industry will likely transform and create fairer deals for artists and offer them multiple ways to connect with their fans.  Another web3 application is a mixtape. It explores the concept of the creator economy as well as leverages the functionality of a blockchain called Mixtape Token. It allows fans to repay the artists they follow. Blockchain tokens can be used to unlock exclusive content.     Read more: Blockchain Gamification and the Emergence of Innovative Business Models  The promise of web3 is that it holds the potential to give rise to a totally different landscape where artists will have power over their content and will be compensated fairly. The idea is to offer an open, persistent, and collaborative environment in the metaverse that will be ideal for creating a social sharing and listening platform required to establish the element of connection between listeners and artists.  What does the future of music hold?   An immersive platform where new and existing music can be released in unison  Fans will be able to show their sincerity towards their fandom in a deeper way  It will unlock the ability for artists to do deeper as well as alter the music they love  The artist will be able to gain ownership of their content  It will help enhance the interoperability of content  Key Highlights  Web3, blockchain, and NFTs are enjoying the hype of having huge potential. These technologies and tokens will likely break through and mature.  Digital communities are set to become a major driving factor with the rise of this technology of the future.  Blockchain holds the potential to transform the music industry and businesses. The technology will radically change the ways music companies attract artists.  The thriving NFT marketplace is demonstrating the promise of Web3.  With Web3 expected to expand in 2022, companies are looking to collaborate with artists and the music business or build a new music business entirely.  Read more: How Are Foundation Models Fuelling the Future of AI?  Challenges that are Likely to Follow  With new technologies, there ought to be new challenges. And web3 is no exception, particularly with the blockchain and cryptographic elements. The tremendous amount of computing power to run specific blockchain algorithms is known to be horrendously power-hungry, thus leading to massive energy use and emissions. This is certainly one of the many problems that will have to be addressed by platforms that are likely to hop on web3-based music solutions to compete with existing streaming services.   However, one potential solution lies in the development of 'proof-of-stake' blockchain algorithms. They are recognized for being more efficient and less power-hungry. But many of the popular blockchain networks, including Ethereum, do not support it yet.  The other critical challenge is related to the regulatory framework around web3 technologies. The web3 ecosystem is today considered a wild west state, one that lacks laws and oversight. This inevitably indicates that scams and nefarious activities are rampant. While regulations are important for mass adoption, they are there to protect the end-user.  In this evolving era of low attention spans, with platforms like Tiktok and Snapchat attracting all the eyeballs, one industry that is still commanding the attention is - gaming.  The music industry can take many lessons from this to make listening immersive as well as interactive.  With a presence in New York, San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, Toronto, London, Zurich, Pune, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad, SG Analytics, a pioneer in Research and Analytics, offers tailor-made services to enterprises worldwide.                A leader in the Technology domain, SG Analytics partners with global technology enterprises across market research and scalable analytics. Contact us today if you are in search of combining market research, analytics, and technology capabilities to design compelling business outcomes driven by technology.     

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Evolution of Data-First Strategy

The Evolution of 'Data-First’ Strategy: What does that mean for Businesses?

Today, data is more pervasive than ever. However, taking advantage of its full potential mandates creativity and conviction. Data leaders are now navigating through an ever-growing pool of internal and external data sources to curate strategy and direction in this increasingly data-rich marketplace.   Many enterprises, even today, are skeptical of bringing in the data-first culture. Plus, it is not a matter of just bringing in the data if the organization's culture is not ready to function in a data-driven way. A recent survey discovered that almost 57% of financial institutions are not as far along as they want to be when it comes to digital transformation, for they are not handling the data in the most sensible way.  While previously, businesses were focused mostly on business intelligence, today, data leaders are striving for real-time decisions and predictive models to keep the organization ahead. However, to reach this position, the data strategy must-  specify the right approach to make sense of extensive amounts of data  align the data with the business strategy   build solutions that traverse the entire organizational operations  Businesses need to empower their people and define use cases that fulfill the business needs, ranging from traditional and operational analytics to data science, IoT sensor data, and new product development.  Read more: It's Time to Put Marketing at the Data Table. Why?  Creativity and innovative decision-making hold high stakes for success. However, to fully realize the data potential, it is important to recognize the vision, persuasion, and support. The following seven-step framework — ingrained with insights from industry data leaders — will assist businesses in designing and implementing the data strategy along with making the most of the teams, talents, and strengths.  Develop the right data strategy that understands as well as highlights the business objectives and identifies the most compelling use cases.  Assess the current state to surface as well as dissect pain points to identify blockers and gaps.  Map out the data strategy framework to define the data’s target state.  Establish controls to outline to navigate the real-world scenarios.  Revisit the extent and approach for effective data governance.  Design integrated solutions to set the sprint cycles  Scale the team and processes to communicate results for maximum visibility  Building and Sustaining a Data-first Culture  What does it take to construct and sustain a data-first culture? Today the challenge goes beyond data management and more into adopting a data-driven culture that requires both executive and employee acceptance of data analytics. This is a challenge that emerges in countless industries.  The most compelling voice in the data analytics revolution, Thomas Davenport, has clarified the essence of a data-first culture. An author affiliated with MIT, along with Babson College, Davenport, has witnessed the uptake of data-driven approaches in surveys he has conducted over the years. Studies have shown that over the years, chief financial officers (CFOs) have not successfully adopted data analytics to understand the drivers required for their financial and operational performance. According to him, a data-first approach can be interpreted as 'having a heat-seeking missile approach to data analytics as well as AI.'  Read more: Data & Analytics Strategy: Must-Have Crucial Elements for Decision Making  Which Components Constitute a Well-functioning Data-First Culture?  Understanding the power of data & analytics and how they can be effectively employed in the business  There is much evidence that data and analytics decisions are getting a whole better than decisions made based on intuition, as they are less subject to bias. The bias in AI decisions is far easier to address compared to the bias in humans. By closely monitoring performance drivers along with analytics, organizations can create a data-first culture framework that emphasizes the need to measure what’s happening in the organization.  Understanding and accepting the limits of data & analytics  Today CEOs who are promoting a highly analytical framework are accepting the idea that their organizations are data-oriented. However, leading tech organizations are still comprehending that there is a place for non-data-based decision-making. However, it is vital to understand that if organizations do not have data, they still have to plan. At the same time, the most data-driven enterprises are likely to shift into reverse, depending on who is leading the effort.   Continually familiarizing executives and employees with the advantages of data-first strategies  It is vital for businesses to push hard on the idea about the decisions they are going to incorporate based on data. A good leader is someone who relies on data rather than just their own experience and intuition. They are someone who encourages the rest of the organization as well. It is important for leaders to work on the day-to-day behaviors of the organization, as well as try to persuade executives within the organization that a data-first work culture would help them grow.   Read more: What Is Data Democratization? How is it Accelerating Digital Businesses?  Putting individuals in charge and making it everyone’s responsibility  Today, more and more organizations are employing chief data officers or CDOs - where many are technological in scope while others work in a data security-oriented manner. Organizations today are in need of strong partners on the business side, preferably a CEO who understands the significance of integrating data-first strategies. By getting everybody involved in it, organizations can promote a pervasive data culture.   Implementing humility practices  One of the significant elements of data orientation is that organizations can communicate that they are not aware of the answer until they gain insights from the data. Every organization relies on data to make an effective decision. If they believe in data, then they are likely to also believe in circumstances where their prediction can go wrong and where executives will have to admit when they were wrong.  Moving Beyond - The Rise of Data-First Strategy  Integrating emerging technologies and systems empowers organizations to become more automated, data-driven, risk-tolerant, as well as secure. It is how businesses today are becoming more profitable. It is vital to consider how much of an employee's time is squandered in the face of outdated data ecosystems and management practices. Research suggests that up to 68% of data is not analyzed in most organizations.  Owing to head-spinning advances in computing capacity, smarter algorithms along with affordable storage are being employed to weave together data into the fabric of future-facing businesses.   Today the success of digital businesses hinges on modern and effective data and analytics. Organizations that fail to utilize the accumulated data assets are likely to be left behind. A precise data-first strategy is vital for the success of data and analytics investment. Industry leaders must consider ways to ensure the quality of the data, data governance, and data literacy in their organizations. The organization's renewed interest in reflecting on what can and should be done is empowering them to accomplish their data-first goals as well as equipping them with data strategy alignment to achieve business objectives.  Read more: A Brave New World – Fascinating Real-Life Applications of Data Analytics  To Sum Up  The evolution of technology, along with cloud and analytics—and what it signifies for data use — is changing quickly, making it easy to fall behind if an organization's data strategy and related processes are not frequently revisited.  From multi-cloud to multi-data and multi-technology, the world today is evolving on a multi-dimensional landscape. Today's data management approaches are not limited by traditional constraints such as location or data patterns. With the right data strategy and architecture, businesses can access diverse data types in different places in a self-service manner. Along with innovative tech, including machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), or IoT, the derived insights are sophisticated and valuable, particularly when woven into the organization’s workflows.   Regardless, the core principles of a data-first strategy remain the same. The 'how’ in data operation is now dramatically changed in this new data and analytics landscape as successful organizations are readily adapting to the change when revisiting their data strategies.   In today's data-first strategy, architectural patterns, including data fabric and data mesh, are playing a relevant role by enabling technological platforms like hybrid multi-cloud. For businesses to gain a competitive hand, they need to incorporate components to review their data strategy based on the opportunities proposed in this new multi-dimensional landscape. They must be prepared for the change.   With a presence in New York, San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, Toronto, London, Zurich, Pune, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad, SG Analytics, a pioneer in Research and Analytics, offers tailor-made services to enterprises worldwide.                  A leader in Data Analytics, SG Analytics focuses on leveraging data management & analytics and data science to help businesses discover new insights and build strategies for business growth. Contact us today if you are looking to make critical data-driven decisions to prompt accelerated growth and breakthrough performance.   

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FIFA+ Can Revolutionize Sports Streaming

How FIFA+ Can Revolutionize Sports Streaming?

According to viewership statistics, football is the most popular sport in the world. It is watched 9-10 months a year, only taking a pause during the summer so the players can have a break. However, it is widely agreed upon that the biggest stage in world football, and therefore sport, is the FIFA World cup. Happening every four years, the FIFA World Cup is the biggest sporting event amassing billions of dollars every year.   While hundreds of thousands of fans will travel to Qatar later this year to attend the world cup matches in person, many more will tune in at home, wherever that may be. Therefore, streaming rights are extremely expensive and coveted by sports channels in every country. It is always a tussle for the viewing rights between the two or three main sports channels in each country. However, the channel that is awarded the rights, in the end, is sure to profit in exorbitant amounts considering the viewership of the event.   These massive viewership statistics also mean that non-football fans get in on the spectacle that is the world cup. All in all, it just makes for a very exciting and lucrative exhibition of high-level sport. FIFA - the international governing body of football - is aiming to take advantage of it with its release of FIFA+. Intended to be a global streaming platform that can be used with a subscription, it is supposed to come with many other features such as exclusive access to FIFA archives and historical footage.   This change is also precedented by many other sports leagues. The NBA ‘League Pass’ is a good example of this - an online streaming service available in almost all countries (even the ones that do not have matches streaming on domestic channels). Users can also opt for cheaper subscriptions that only allow access to the matches of individual teams. This has been very lucrative for the league and has also had many other benefits. However, what FIFA+ is trying to do is at a much larger scale and is being introduced at a later stage of the sport. It remains to be seen how this will fare with the football community and whether this project will be a success.    Read More: Economic Whiplash: What is it and Four Ways to Avoid it  Promoting Football Everywhere  Many countries are unable to exhibit widespread interest in the sport. With expensive viewership rights for most of Europe’s big five leagues, it is not a realistic investment for many domestic channels. As a result, some countries do not have access to high-quality football, while others have football exclusively available on channels that might be too expensive a luxury for lower-income families. Aside from interest alone, a lot of countries are unable to garner massive support for football because the biggest leagues are simply not in a realistic time zone. Taking most of Oceania into account, most European matches take place in the early morning, which makes it difficult for fans to watch. FIFA+ aims to remedy all of this.     FIFA+ will be offered all around the world. This is a big step for football because it means that world-class football is accessible to a massive number of new fans if they want it. While the changes might not be seen immediately, a new interest in the sport also means more interest in playing it. This also means that local leagues are likely to have more exposure. Many smaller countries already have existing leagues in which players can reach a high level. However, the growth of the sport is hampered country-wide because it is not a profitable investment to sponsor small leagues. However, if viewership were to go up with the matches being broadcasted to more people, it is likely that football would see more funding from the upper class as well.   Not only is this good for football in these countries, but it is also beneficial for their general development. Sport has always been a well-renowned tool for development, with many leagues acting as economic support for countries. A good example of sport and its significance on the global level is the case of the civil war in the Ivory Coast. A war that had lasted between the government and a rebel militia for years finally came to a ceasefire following Ivorian striker Didier Drogba’s plea to both sides following their maiden world cup qualification. The plea was streamed repeatedly on television and all around the country until both sides came to the table to arrive at an agreement. Like any other socio-political issue, there is a multitude of factors at play; it is still remembered that Drogba was the one that brought the country to a cease-fire. Aside from this, many studies have asserted strong correlations between sports and a country’s development, and it seems like a beneficial relationship for all.  Read More: Four Ways Traditional Finance is being Disrupted by Open Finance  Inclusivity for All  In sports all around the world, the men’s game has been more popular. While there are those who debate that the success of men’s sport is owing to the fact that it has simply been around for a long time, it seems clear in the case of football, at the very least, that the quality of the game is much higher. However, this is partly because most of the investment coming into football goes into the men’s side of things. While this is due to it being more lucrative for the investors, it also means that there are worse coaches, dated training facilities, and just a generally low motivation for younger girls to get into football in the first place. This is a cycle that is hard to break. FIFA+, among FIFA’s many other initiatives, aims to break that cycle.  With FIFA+, 10,000 of the 40,000 matches that are being broadcasted will be women’s football, empowering the women that want to compete in the sport. As mentioned earlier, greater viewership levels will be massively beneficial for the investment in the women’s game will see. Furthermore, greater access to the sport will also mean millions of girls will be able to watch football growing up. This will lead to more girls looking at football as a realistic career choice.   Read More: Data & Analytics Strategy: Must-Have Crucial Elements for Decision Making  A Hegemony in Football Streaming  FIFA has been known for years as a controversial actor in the world of football. With many scandals involving bribery and the current operation of the upcoming world cup, FIFA has had an increasingly negative reputation, especially of late. Therefore, it is natural that many people were skeptical when FIFA announced plans for its own streaming service. This is because a lot of sports channels rely on large events that take place periodically, like the Olympic Games, UEFA European Championships, and the FIFA World Cup. This implies that FIFA implementing broadcasting services and circumventing the local streaming companies will only mean that they will be able to add more revenue into their own kitty.  With FIFA’s already well-known profit-driven tendencies, this might not be a great look. Furthermore, people are worried that if the governing body were to be at the helm of control for all football streaming worldwide, it might mean that they can pick and choose which matches are streamed or not. This kind of domination of worldwide streaming is risky in anyone’s hands, and it is understandable that fans find it difficult to get behind this idea.  In Economic terms, it will mean that FIFA will hold a monopoly over football streaming rights all over the world. This will foster an environment of stagnation and will make it difficult for any innovative solutions to make way.   The Situation as a Whole  FIFA+ could be revolutionary for the sport. Many optimistic fans still hope that this has been proposed with the best interest of the game at heart. However, the reality might be quite different. In the end, this is simply speculation as the service has not been released to the public yet. The only thing that is evident is that football fans will be watching closely from all around the world to ensure the sport they know and love is not sullied by another capitalistic scheme.   With a presence in New York, San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, Toronto, London, Zurich, Pune, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad, SG Analytics, a pioneer in Research and Analytics, offers tailor-made services to enterprises worldwide.    A leader in Market Research services, SG Analytics enables organizations to achieve actionable insights into products, technology, customers, competition, and the marketplace to make insight-driven decisions. Contact us today if you are an enterprise looking to make critical data-driven decisions to prompt accelerated growth and breakthrough performance.     

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Types of Hybrid Work Models

Types of Hybrid Work Models: How are they Reinventing the Future of Work?

Even since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, most important work-related debates have stuck on repeat. Many senior executives continue to consider that working from home is tantamount to pretending to work, while some remote-work enthusiasts continue to think that they have an absolute right to work where they want to. The result, however, is - a never-ending cycle of get-back-to-work memos and accumulating problems.  With businesses still striving to address these big-picture challenges, managers who oversee day-to-day operations are struggling through a chaotic middle ground. Every day, they are tasked with guiding different types of employees in a new work environment that affects individuals differently.   Today the conversation between business leaders and employees about the long-term hybrid work model is perceived as a complex one. Organizations are trying to find answers to some critical questions:   How is in-person time best used?   What tools can be employed for people to succeed, wherever they are?   How can they build a sustainable hybrid system?  However, hybrid work is not just a one-size-fits-all proposition. With this new world here to stay, businesses need to revolutionize their work distribution channels to drive their fundamental operations with the ubiquity of the internet.  Read more: Reenergizing the Workplace: Ways to Manage and Overcome COVID fatigue  After adjusting in the last two years with the remote working setups, businesses are slowly transitioning to a hybrid work model. Following considerable compromises between the flexibility of remote work and in-office work, the hybrid model is currently being rolled out in almost 43% of offices across major cities. It has also been received positively by both - employers as well as employees thus far. That said, the hybrid model still is a relatively alien concept in the workplace. While most assume that a hybrid work model is quite straightforward, there are actually multiple ways to practice the hybrid work plan.  The questions many organizations are looking to find an answer to are:    How can they make sure that their most satisfied employees stay that way, and how can they tap into their enthusiasm to support their colleagues see the benefits of a hybrid structure?    Here are a few visions businesses can incorporate:     Empowering employees to keep working in a way that supports their natural products - like using centralized tools such as Google Drive for easy collaboration and shared calendars for the coworkers to see their schedules and availability.   Inviting the employees to share their best practices company-wide by designing and moderating Google Spaces dedicated to hybrid work tips, work-from-home hacks, and much more.   Keeping the employees engaged through short Google Meet check-ins on a quarterly basis. The agendas of the meeting can focus on how hybrid work practices are functioning and what more improvements can be made.   Offering support by ensuring the employees have the right technology if they work fully off-site.  Discovering the Different Types of Hybrid Workers   The most prominent problem with flexible working is the multitude of demands it imposes on managers as well as the employees. The flexible work model supersized many tasks of the management team. However, with the hybrid work mode, there is this question of motivation: How do they encourage the employees whom they see episodically rather than routinely?  In a recent survey, Economist Impact categorized employees into four different segments based on their relationship with the hybrid work model:   Evangelists  Pragmatists  Fair-minded  Undecided  Read more: Navigating the Great Resignation: Types of Talent that are Driving it  Interestingly, the employees did not fall into these categories based on neatly predictable criteria such as role, seniority, or industry. Instead, the primary driver was - how hybrid work is affecting the everyday lives of the employees.  Types of Hybrid Workers  The common types of hybrid model workers that can help enterprises better understand the concept as well as determine which approach is the best to achieve the company as well as workforce goals are as follows. Let's have a look at the distinct demography.  The Evangelist of the Happy with Hybrid Model Employees  As the name suggests, the evangelists are the most optimistic type about hybrid work. They are typically satisfied with the policies, technology, and social dynamics that are already in place. Many are open to working fully off-site. These employees operate as the central and can be recognized through their enthusiasm, productivity, and loyalty to the hybrid work model.  The Pragmatists or the Optimistic - Ones who are facing challenges with the current model  The largest segment of employees identified by Economist Impact were pragmatists. They can be defined as a group who are optimistic about the hybrid type of work but are experiencing significant challenges with it. While they want the hybrid to work, they also want to be a part of making it work but are of the opinion that it is not working well. Pragmatists feel that the new organizational policies do not incorporate enough employee input and are of the opinion that these policies are unfair.  Pragmatic employees are also concerned about blurring work-life boundaries. This demographic comprises workers who have less location and time flexibility and are not experiencing significant benefits of a flexible work environment.  Read more: Tech Forecast for 2022: Trends That Will Shape the Technology Landscape  The Fair-minded or Feeling good/ Hoping for Continued Cultural Change  Showing considerable concerns about employees' wellbeing, fairness, and inclusion, the fair-minded demography was in favor of the overall positive impact of hybrid work on their lives. The fair-minded showed willingness towards the current hybrid scenario and where the situation was going. Over the long term, they were hopeful that the hybrid work model would offer flexibility in their location as well as work schedule. They believe that better communication coupled with collaboration will help strengthen a work culture of trust in the workplace.  The Undecided or Craving connection and direction.  The undecided represented the smallest number of respondents in the survey. They were recognized as a group that required significant support. Why were they referred to as undecided? Because they were yet to experience the significant benefits of a flexible or hybrid work environment. They were the ones who were more likely to be at organizations that have not issued formal hybrid policies, and hence they were working in uncertain environments. This group reported higher rates of technological challenges, suggesting that they were not well equipped with the right tools to connect, collaborate, as well as communicate remotely with their team.    Key Highlights   The hybrid work model cannot be perceived as a one-size-fits-all proposition.   Today, the focus of the discussion is shifting from the ideological to the practical — from the desirability for a change to the question of how organizations can manage distributed operations.   Harvard study highlighted that output and creativity thrive in split work.   Instead of organizations trying to block an unstoppable transformation in the distribution of work, they should focus on managing it better.   Businesses need to go further and build new social practices designed to deal with the digital overload.   The most obviously perceived problem with the flexible working/ hybrid working model is the multitude of demands it imposes on the managers.   A quid pro quo for flexibility can be to have them take a more active role in managing the organization.  Read more: Data-Centricity: The New Roadmap to Driving Enterprises in a Changing World  Making the Hybrid Team Management Work!   Today, it is paramount for leaders to understand and acknowledge their team members’ different understandings of hybrid work. As a leader, are you aware of which of the four types of your employees fall into?    Business leaders, as well as managers, need to take the time to engage with them and learn their preferences. This will enable them to shape policies while also making decisions that help the organization get the job done. Hybrid work arrangements will allow workers to capture the benefits of a productive and enjoyable workplace, exactly like those workers who are working in the office. Studies have consistently suggested that intermediate levels of WFH have resulted in both enhanced novelties of work products as well as greater work-related communication.   A thoughtfully planned and managed hybrid work structure that adapts to individual requirements, connects distributed workforces, and strengthens the organization is the need of the hour. The key to hybrid work arrangements - is organizing things so that hybrid teams can work in unison with the office team, thus preventing the problem of workers commuting to spend only half their day on Zoom calls with remote colleagues.   While the global shift to hybrid work was born out of necessity, businesses now can use it to provide possibilities for every type of worker.   With a presence in New York, San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, Toronto, London, Zurich, Pune, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad, SG Analytics, a pioneer in Research and Analytics, offers tailor-made services to enterprises worldwide.                   A leader in the Technology domain, SG Analytics partners with global technology enterprises across market research and scalable analytics. Contact us today if you are in search of combining market research, analytics, and technology capabilities to design compelling business outcomes driven by technology.       

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Sustainability in Tech

Sustainability in Tech: 3 Ways for Companies to Become More Sustainable

As the state of the climate remains ever-worsening, it continues to become increasingly evident that climate change is a problem we cannot hide from, many turn their heads toward large corporations and their hand in this. While many have encouraged citizens to reduce their own carbon footprint by turning off electrical appliances like fans, lights, and air conditioners when they are not required, many studies have shown that a change in household usage of energy is unlikely to have a lasting effect on the situation, even if done at a large scale. Researchers have discerned that the majority of the impact on climate change comes from the massive amounts of emissions from governments and large companies with their irresponsible and careless practices.   Furthermore, the issue has become of some urgency as researchers also claim that it is only a matter of time before we cross the proverbial Rubicon with respect to climate change. Therefore, it is important that the world holds these organizations accountable for their iniquity before it is too late for a change to be made.   Although some may argue there need to be gross systemic overhauls in the way energy is created and used, there are a few primary ways that the carbon that is emitted by these companies can be reduced in the short and long term. Despite a lot of these solutions being quite expensive and likely eating into large parts of firms’ profit margins, it is long overdue that companies become more conscientious about all stakeholders other than just shareholders.   The following are three ways companies can integrate sustainability into their daily practice:  Sustainability Audits (Internal and External)  Encouraging Longer Product Life Cycles and Limiting Waste  More Efficient Energy Practices  Read More: The Sustainability Investments Revolution & its Impact on Climate Targets  Sustainability Audits  Capitalism has enjoyed its fair share of critics over the decades, but one common piece of commentary tends to be that it incentivizes the depletion of natural resources. Many businesses run on natural resources, while others hurt them through irresponsible practices; it is patently regular that firms with growing revenue will also reflect higher carbon emissions. While they are not directly related, there is a strong causal relationship between the two that has had many questioning whether the system is the issue rather than anything else. However, this is something that is challenging to change as it would take global reforms at an unprecedented scale to even make a dent at this.   Experts have suggested that governments mandate certain changes to improve the level of environmental consciousness observed within companies. However, others have rebutted, claiming that companies should look inward for these mandates (from the board or corporate executives) rather than outwards from state and federal governments. As a result, many companies have created sustainability divisions that ensure that the company reaches certain goals every year in reducing their emissions and managing energy usage.   A strong example of the above would be Volkswagen. Although they have been involved in their own emissions-related controversies and scandals, with the help of a strong sustainability division, they have claimed that they will be ‘net carbon-neutral’ by the year 2050. Initially, this seemed ambitious, but the company has taken large strides in reducing its carbon footprint since the inception of this plan. At the same time, however, many firms have used sustainability divisions to show interest in improvement despite the true motive being more superficial.    This lack of commitment is a strong disadvantage of this strategy as it often means that companies can wash their hands of any requirement to work towards improvement by simply saying they have done enough. This phenomenon of ‘greenwashing’ has presented itself globally in many different forms. Whether it is companies blatantly altering their numbers or others making goals for the future that they simply do not genuinely hope to achieve.   Nevertheless, having real sustainability audits has been an integral first step towards more conscious practices and, when done right, can have crucial impacts on the company and its footprint going forward.  Read More: Emphasizing the 'S' in ESG: How can HR Leaders Put ESG values in Context  Encouraging Longer Product Life Cycles and Limiting Waste  Apple has landed in hot water several times with claims that they intentionally reduce older devices’ battery lives and make them slower and generally more difficult to use to incentivize users to consider purchasing new ones. This strategy, although emphatically denied by Apple spokespeople, has been very controversial.   From a company perspective, however, it is extremely efficient and profit-boosting when old customers are forced to cast away old devices as they have been strong-armed into buying a new one. Although it is also quite likely that older Apple devices slow down over time because the hardware wears down and cannot keep up with newer, more demanding software, it speaks to a larger issue of intentionally low product life cycles to ensure long-term success.  As was briefly touched on earlier, anti-capitalists have asserted that the system encourages practices that are harmful to the environment. Another important example is how companies manufacture and update devices to ensure their life cycles are reduced to the lowest acceptable point to force consumers to purchase replacements. This has created a massive issue of waste, especially electronic waste, which is difficult and expensive to be recycled. In recent years, the average life cycle for a phone has reduced, further contributing to the global issues that come from the large amounts of electronic waste. While increasing product cycles might be counterproductive to business, companies have resorted to increasing the life of supplemental products such as chargers and adapters (as they too contribute a lot to e-waste landfills).   For example, the European Union has mandated that all electronic devices sold after the autumn of 2024 within the borders of the EU27 must come equipped with a USB-C charging port. This means that users buying devices from then onwards can rest assured that all their devices will use the same cable, meaning that companies will no longer have to ship cables with each purchase. Not only will this reduce costs for the company but also reduce electronic waste coming out of ruined cables and adapters that one must carry when using many different devices (in addition to the obvious convenience of only having to carry one charging wire for all one’s devices).    Read More: ESG and Impact Investing: The Future of Responsible Finance  More Efficient Energy Practices  As companies grow bigger, they hire more employees, increase the number of offices they own, and expand their manufacturing plants. All of this contributes to increasing carbon emissions. This is because these companies run on non-renewable sources of energy that emit worrying amounts of carbon into the atmosphere when utilized. However, if these companies were to convert to renewable sources of energy such as wind, solar and hydro, these emissions would be greatly reduced.  This strategy, albeit very effective in curbing carbon emissions, is hard to incentivize for a company given its generally high investment requirement. However, over time, we have seen companies care more and more about their reputations when it comes to certain things. With the culture of supporting businesses that are more conscious of the environment, among other things such as social issues, firms are trying much harder to work towards renewable sources of energy. In the last few years, the US has seen a massive increase in solar energy usage by large companies, especially retailers. For example, Target, Walmart, Kohl’s, Ikea, and Costco all rank among the top ten solar energy used by large companies in the US (with Target coming in first). However, Apple and Amazon were the only two tech companies to rank on that list. This shows that the tech companies are lagging and must improve their practices as soon as possible.  To Sum Up   All the strategies mentioned above can be expensive, difficult to effectively execute, and often may not make sense from a financial standpoint. The system that has been cultivated for generations is one that is severely flawed and is close to impossible to alter so late in the development of civilization and society. However, it is still possible for those in power to catalyze these changes to save the planet. If governments were to incentivize these changes by offering different advantages such as tax rebates as a reward for more conscious and environment-friendly practices, there would be changes taking place.  In general, while it is important for all different types of companies to make their changes, it is integral that governments work in tandem with that to help improve the situation too.  With a presence in New York, San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, Toronto, London, Zurich, Pune, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad, SG Analytics, a pioneer in Research and Analytics, offers tailor-made services to enterprises worldwide.    A leader in ESG Consulting services, SG Analytics offers bespoke sustainability consulting services and research support for informed decision-making. Contact us today if you are in search of an efficient ESG integration and management solution provider to boost your sustainable performance.  

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Big Data Analytics in Finance

Big Data Analytics in Finance - How Is it Enabling Financial Institutions to Drive Profitability?

Digitization in the finance industry is enabling technology, including big data, advanced analytics, machine learning, AI, and the cloud, to transform the way financial institutions compete in the market. Big corporations are embracing these technologies to incorporate digital transformation, meet consumer demand, and bolster profit and loss. However, while many are storing new and valuable data, they are not necessarily aware of how to maximize the potential as the data is unstructured.  Even before the advent of the COVID-19 crisis, market signs were pointing towards an increasing demand to extend efforts regarding digital enablement. However, the arrival of COVID-19 led to establishing a new bar that revealed servicing and automation inadequacies in real-time.  Read more: What Is Data Democratization? How is it Accelerating Digital Businesses?  Financial institutions that emerged as the early adopters of big data, analytics, and AI to automate their operations are already reaping the rewards. Smart banks that are exploring avenues to invest in the data-driven business will be better able to determine;  new products and services/ solutions  channels that are most likely being used by customers  correct pricing   the right marketing methods  a thorough analysis of which customers are willing to switch providers or have multiple providers  Today, massive volumes of data are collected by businesses daily. However, only a few have focused investment on data-driven business to leverage customer insight. This is specifically true of the banking sector, as it often lags when it comes to data-driven transformation.  Applications of Data-driven Analytics in Finance  Boosts revenue and customer satisfaction  Speeds up manual operational processes  Improves path to purchase  Streamlines workflow along with reliable system processing  Analyze financial performance as well as control growth  Considered to be legacy-bound institutions, it is unsurprising that financial institutions have always stayed behind the curve when it comes to digital transformation. Over the span of the last two years, banks and credit unions have worked to somehow manage the complex and unpredictable economic landscape, as many digital modifications were refocused on digital consumer-facing products.   Financial institutions are scrutinizing to remain profitable and respond strategically to the changing market factors, investing in digital transformation as well as leveraging data to deliver a competitive advantage.   Read more: It's Time to Put Marketing at the Data Table. Why?  Achieving the Set Business Priorities  While change is considered the only constant, it is equally true that we are in it for the long haul. From setting standards to frameworks and rankings, financial institutions are employing practical solutions to transform their most critical priorities into measurable business results. Companies are investing in productivity and efficiency to fight inflation as well as to outperform their competitors. With CFOs exploring ways to fight the evident inflation’s impact on margins, data-driven analytics is proving to be a significant tool that will assist in driving employee productivity.  With the advanced data and analytics coupled with AI technologies, financial institutions are driving and delivering high value where investment is anticipated to increase. This includes self-service data-driven analytics, automated machine learning, big data analytics, cloud analytics, and predictive analytics.  Big data analytics and predictive analytics are perceived as the top technology categories to drive higher revenue through improving products or services. By leveraging the right data-driven technologies, businesses can accelerate their financial ecosystems. But for institutions as well as decision-makers to navigate through this landscape, their best bets are to:  Paint a Comprehensive Picture of the Financial Performance  As per the findings of Cornerstone Advisor’s What’s Going on in Banking 2022 study - while most financial institutions have launched their digital transformation strategies, only 20% are more than halfway through their planned framework. While incorporating as well as implementing a plan for data-driven profitability is vital, following through with the plan to the very end is the only way to witness results. By gaining visibility into the assembled data, financial leaders can confidently make the right choices for their organizations.  However, to gain this visibility, financial leaders must employ tools that turn data into actionable insights. The traditional processes to interpret reports on old systems exhibit the same over and over, making it hard to specify what is and is not working or what efforts are leading to improvements.  Today's cutting-edge technology integrates data from different systems and provides a single source of reality for all key performance metrics, along with interactive dashboards that make it easy for leaders to monitor performance.   The system also automatically updates reports with up-to-date insights. They offer role-based permissions for the data to be only visible to appropriate parties.  Read more: Data & Analytics Strategy: Must-Have Crucial Elements for Decision Making  Establish a Focused Approach to Agility  Agility and flexibility are vital skills for financial sectors. With focused data insights, bank and credit union leaders are navigating this dynamic and ever-changing marketplace. Financial institution leaders who anticipate and organize numerous possibilities are using more than instincts to better equip themselves and overcome unexpected challenges to lead their teams through the crisis. With robust financial and sophisticated analysis tools, leaders can significantly reduce the time spent modeling imaginary what-if scenarios ad take quick actions to help leaders make precise data-driven decisions that align well with the business goals and strategy.  Today, data is crucial for financial institutions to navigate swiftly through unpredictable times, along with staying agile and ahead of the onward digital transformation curve to minimize business disruption. Without these data-driven insights, decision-makers will be left in the dark when it comes to formulating and acting on the next steps.  Automate Data Reporting to Help Improve Decision-making  As per the CFO report, 62% of financial institution leaders are incorporating operations to pull data from diverse sources into a single report. But it is being considered their biggest reporting challenge. With the right software solution, enterprises can eliminate this challenge in order to maximize efficiency, reduce errors as well as ensure the availability of timely information. This automation decision will enable businesses to streamline their operations and empower the most valuable resources to spend more time serving consumers and generating revenue.  Reporting and analysis tools can assist in validating data accuracy as well as make it easy to scrutinize trends, disclose business plans, forecast, manage, and measure profitability. Businesses should explore a solution to regularly refresh data and avoid making decisions based on outdated insights. Financial leaders need to stay up to date with the latest security protocols as well to avoid costly data breaches.  Now is the right time for financial institutions to embrace and incorporate advanced technology and leave behind manual processes of operations. With data-driven insights, financial leaders can prepare to evolve the way they function. As per Syntellis’ "2022 CFO Outlook for Financial Institutions" report, nearly 42% of financial leaders are anticipating boosting their use of predictive analytics in the coming years or so. 30% of the participants anticipated using artificial intelligence, and almost 26% intended to invest in machine learning.   While many institutions are still facing the challenges of navigating this ever-evolving financial landscape, they are taking measures to set themselves up for triumph in the long run.   Read more: Data-Centricity: The New Roadmap to Driving Enterprises in a Changing World  In Conclusion  Today, the financial sector is deemed as one of the most data-intensive in the entire economy. While many financial institutions have invested heavily in collection and processing technological innovations for the volumes of data they generate, only a few are employing big data techniques to unlock meaningful insights to deliver pro-active experiences to consumers that help in driving loyalty and generate higher revenues.  Banking customers' expectations are rising as they are more inclined to build trust and be frictionless. Financial institutions are incorporating 24/7 multi-channels for smooth customer-centric experiences. For banks to deliver on this, in-depth customer insights are vital. These insights can only be uncovered by incorporating data mining and adaptive and predictive analytics with AI to gain more actionable insights.  However, for financial institutions to drive profitability in 2022 and beyond, financial leaders must take a critical look at the accumulated data to gain an objective understanding of the financial position, what components work for them, and how to streamline the processes to improve margins. With the right investment in the right data-driven tools, financial executives must leverage this immensely valuable data and drive decisions with confidence to discover what the future holds.   With a presence in New York, San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, Toronto, London, Zurich, Pune, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad, SG Analytics, a pioneer in Research and Analytics, offers tailor-made services to enterprises worldwide.                  A leader in Data & Analytics, SG Analytics focuses on leveraging data management & analytics and data science to help businesses discover new insights and build strategies for business growth. Contact us today if you are an enterprise looking to make critical data-driven decisions to prompt accelerated growth and breakthrough performance.  

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Europe in Russia’s Gas Crosshairs

Europe in Russia’s Gas Crosshairs

Nord Stream 1: A lifeline for European gas till now  On 27 July 2022, the gas flow from the 1,224km underwater Nord Stream 1 (NS-1) pipeline, starting from Russia to Europe, was reduced to just under 20% compared to its full capacity, citing issues with a turbine. Earlier, the NS-1 was shut down for 10 days, from 11 July to 21 July 2022, for regular maintenance work. With the mounting number of sanctions against Russia on account of the Russia-Ukraine war, uncertainty about the future gas supply lingers. Russian supplies contribute about 35–40% of Europe’s natural gas requirement, which is mostly transported through the NS-1 pipeline.  Germany is heavily dependent on Russia for gas supply. In addition, Italy, Austria, and Central and Eastern Europe also consume a huge volume of gas supply from Russia. Due to the constantly rising energy and commodity prices, gas prices have already surged by 70% in Europe since Gazprom, a Russian state-run oil and gas company, slashed supply by 60%. In June 2022, Reuters stated that a complete stop of Russian gas would cost Germany 12.7% of its economic performance in the second half of 2022. This would translate to EUR193bn in total economic losses to Germany. The situation with other European countries is similar. Hence, further supply cuts could trigger a recession across Europe going into the next year.   Figure 1: Nord Stream 1 Recent Supply Movement  Source: Nord Stream AG  Turbine story: A Blame Game to Keeping Europe Gas Starve  In June 2022, citing the delayed return of a turbine, Gazprom reduced gas supply by 60% compared to its full capacity. The gas flow was not only stopped for Germany, but huge volumes were also curtailed for other routes linking Russia to Slovakia, the Czech Republic to Austria via Ukraine, and Belarus to Poland. The NS-1 pipeline transports 55 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas annually from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. The turbine required for the functioning of NS-1 was being serviced in Canada by Siemens. After the regulatory and sanctions-related tussle between Europe, Russia, and Canada, on 10 July 2022, the Canadian government allowed the transport of turbines through a time-limited and revocable permit for Siemens. Under this, one turbine was transported from Canada, and the other five turbines will be repaired at Siemens, Canada, over the next two years. After overcoming the regulatory hurdles, the turbine was finally delivered to Gazprom. However, as per Gazprom, the turbine repair work was not in line, which ultimately forced the gas supply to just 20% in late July 2022 as compared to the May 2022 levels. With the worsening current geopolitical tensions and the mounting number of sanctions, there is a lot of a grey area around the resumption of gas flow at full capacity to Europe, which was further exacerbated by the recent supply cuts.  Gas Inventory Levels: Europe’s Winter Goals too Ambitious at One-fifth of Gas Flow Capacity  Europe is planning to stock up to 80% of gas storage by 01 November 2022 to create a sufficient buffer against the winter. Germany is aiming for a higher goal of stocking 95% gas supply by the same date. Even if the 80% target is reached, it still would not be enough to get countries through winter without continuous supplies of more gas. The storage capacity and storage levels differ vastly among European countries. Whilst countries are lining up to fill their storage capacities, even at full capacity, Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria, and Croatia would run out of gas by December this year.  If Russia continues to supply gas at 20% capacity, the stated goals would not be achieved, thereby adversely impacting the European economy. The Dutch wholesale gas price for August, the European benchmark, was up by 7% at EUR210 per megawatt hour in July 2022, which is up by around 400% from the same time last year. The soaring energy prices are already putting pressure on inflation, thereby squeezing the spending power of people and further pushing the regional population towards poverty, which has been a concern since the COVID-19 pandemic.  Germany: Putting its Neck on the Line as Winter Looms  Nearly half of the German households rely on gas heating during the winter season, which is from October to March. If the gas flow is not restored at its full capacity, it will create a catastrophic problem for Germany to fill its gas storage by 80% through October and 95% by November. As per the data from Gas Infrastructure Europe for July 2022, the German current gas storage levels are only two-thirds full. Although the storage capacity of Europe is massive, the demand is equally huge. At the current capacity, the German tanks can hold only 108 days of consumption.  Gas storage activities have ramped up, especially in the second half. However, with just one-fifth of the Russian gas flow through NS-1, Germany remains behind in its goals of storing 95% gas for winter. Hence, the government has embarked on an emergency gas plan. Household and essential services remain the top priority under the plan. E.g. the city of Hanover, Germany, decided to turn off warm water in the showers of its pools and gyms along with municipalities from the last week of July 2022.  Figure 2: Gas sales by customer group for 2021 (data in billions of kilowatt hours)  Source: Reuters, Zukunft Gas  On the industry front, chemicals, metals, and foods remain highly exposed to gas shortages. As per Moody’s, BASF alone consumes about 4% of Germany’s gas. The aluminium industry, where energy costs form about 40% of production costs, relies heavily on gas for smelting. Currently, Germany employs over 60,000 employees and generates EUR22bn from the aluminium industry. Reducing gas supply by only 30% could lead to 50% of the idling capacity for this industry. The paper industry, which generates about EUR15–16bn of revenue with 40,000 employees, again relies on gas. Likewise, steel, glass, and other commodity-led industries are on the verge of decline, which will produce a ripple effect on the economy, leading to a recession. Overall, the gas halt may impact more than 5 million employees directly or indirectly.  Figure 3: Gas consumption by industry (2021)  Source: Zukunft Gas, The Economist  European Alternative Measures to Circumvent the Gas Crisis: Ongoing Efforts do not Seem Enough  Whilst some EU states, such as Poland and Lithuania, have stopped gas imports from Russia, Germany has increased it. As per Reuters’ report dated July 2022, Germany received 32% of its total natural gas supplies from Russia in 2011, which increased to 52% in 2021, despite formal sanctions on Russia. Germany being the largest Russian gas consumer in Europe could import gas from Norway (the second biggest exporter to Europe after Russia), the UK, Denmark, and the Netherlands through the pipeline in the absence of Russian gas flows. Germany is already negotiating with the world’s top LNG suppliers, including TotalEnergies and Shell Plc, for alternatives. Europe is already tapping the US and Canadian markets for gas supplies via ships, but this route is way more expensive compared to the Russian supply route. Interestingly, a high single-digit percentage decrease in gas demand was seen in May due to the ramp-up of renewables, increased coal power generation, and lower demand owing to lower GDP growth. Germany is also considering extending the life of the Bavarian Nuclear Plant and reversing a decision to shut the Isar 2 facility in Munich.  Other Options: There are, but not as Cheap as NS-1  Norwegian and US gas: Whilst supplying gas to Europe, Norway stands second after Russia. Norway is already pushing gas production since the war to help Europe for ending its reliance on Russian imports. The US also started to supply 15bcm of gas to Europe this year, but the number is lower compared to the 2021 consolidated consumption level of 155bcm. Additionally, the gas transport from the US via ships will add to extra cost.  Moving to coal: Utilities and a few other industries that can switch to coal or oil are already in talks to secure supplies. But by this route, Germany’s ambitions of energy transition towards emission-free fuel by 2030 will be delayed. However, the same option is not available to everyone. One of the leading steel companies, ThyssenKrupp stated that an alternative option barring gas is not possible, and the plants may have to be shut down.  Emergency plans: If Germany is forced to implement an emergency plan, household consumption will be prioritized along with hospital and essential services. However, this will result in halting the operations of the biggest companies in the country, leading to a series of downgrades. The government is already planning for more drastic measures, including gas rationing for energy-intensive industries, such as steel and agriculture. These measures are listed under ‘Save Gas for a Safe Winter’ and are part of a European-wide gas demand reduction plan, which is aimed to reduce gas use by 15% until next spring.  Impact on European companies: Downgrade risks on the horizon  Uncertain and costlier gas supplies are deteriorating the credit quality of European utilities. Recently, Uniper SE was downgraded by S&P to BBB- from BBB with a negative outlook, owing to the Russian gas import cut. Gazprom accounts for 50% of gas imports for Uniper SE, which was already reduced to 40% earlier this year. In July 2022, Uniper SE already reached out to the government and received EUR15bn in a bailout package. Below are the few rating actions that were taken by S&P and Moody’s on European utilities.  Table 1: Credit rating actions by the Rating agencies  Source: Moody’s and S&P Global ratings  With the soaring gas prices, S&P took several rating actions on European chemical companies on 1st August 2022.  Table 2: Credit rating actions by S&P Global Ratings  Source: S&P Global Ratings  If the current conditions persist, European utilities could take a material hit as earnings and liquidity would deteriorate amidst higher energy prices. This, in turn, could lead to additional rating downgrades, and most importantly, fallen angel risk could increase. Although government support is likely to provide comfort, credit negative actions are imminent. Even the best-intentioned emergency plans to deal with a potential stoppage of Russian gas supplies—primarily rationing but also passing on ascending costs to the end consumers—may fail to avoid having social consequences. Hence, the German government needs to manage these risks quickly and proactively.  Impact on the Russian economy: Economic losses quietly compensated through China  Gazprom contributed about 3.2–4.6% to the Russian GDP from 2017 to 2020. NS-1 contributes about one-fourth of the total gas supplies to Europe. Although the repercussions are material to Russian GDP as well, Kremlin seems to absorb or ignore this blow on the back of the ongoing geopolitical tensions and seemingly aims to bring Europe to the table for discussion ahead of the winter season.  Russian Central Bank’s Governor Elvira Nabiullina said that Russia would supply crude to countries that are willing to cooperate rather than to those that impose a price cap on Russian oil. Interestingly, Russian gas supplies to China were up by 61% via its Power of Siberia pipeline. It seems that Russia is compensating for the loss resulting from the reduction of gas supplies to Europe by diverting its oil to Asian economies. The European Union also allowed Russian state-owned companies, Gazprom and Rosneft, to ship oil to third countries. While the arrangement is not likely to reverse the economic losses the government is incurring by not supplying gas to Europe, it certainly gives more power to Russia when it comes to negotiation with Europe.      With a presence in New York, San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, Toronto, London, Zurich, Pune, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad, SG Analytics, a pioneer in Research and Analytics, offers tailor-made services to enterprises worldwide.    A leader in Market Research services, SG Analytics enables organizations to achieve actionable insights into products, technology, customers, competition, and the marketplace to make insight-driven decisions. Contact us today if you are an enterprise looking to make critical data-driven decisions to prompt accelerated growth and breakthrough performance.    

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FIFA World Cup 2022

FIFA World Cup 2022 in Review: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

For years, the FIFA World Cup has been the most viewed sports tournament. Amassing millions of dollars every time it is hosted, it has become something of a hot commodity, with everyone bidding to be a part of it. The bid and decision process to choose the host nation of the tournament is long, and in December of 2010, Qatar was awarded the privilege of hosting the 2022 iteration of the tournament. At the time, this decision was quite controversial, with many suggesting the possibility of bribery between FIFA officials to consider the bid successful, although that was simply conjectured. This was for a variety of different reasons, such as extreme weather conditions to play the sport in and a lack of football-related infrastructure, among others. Yet, FIFA chose to circumvent these fundamental issues by making the unprecedented date change to make it a winter tournament rather than simply finding a more realistic host nation. Furthermore, Qatar committed to building several new stadiums as well as hotels and other training facilities, which meant they were essentially developing entire new cities to facilitate this tournament.   Despite more than a few eyebrows being raised around the world and a few even going as far as boycotting the tournament, there were no changes made to who would host the tournament, and it was decided that it would go through. Aside from the location of the tournament, football fans have hailed this as an extremely important one as it is likely the last one that the greats like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will compete in. It will also revolutionize the game in that fans will see the introduction of a few new rules to the sport.   Read More: Five Personal Finance Startups that are Revolutionizing Fintech  Opportunities Galore  With a tournament of this magnitude and importance, it is obvious to be expensive regardless of where it is conducted. However, with Qatar boasting one of the highest GDP per capita, it was far from surprising when the government and wealthy citizens started funding development for this tournament. With Qatar not having a particularly large football fanbase, it meant that multiple new stadiums had to be built. Not only do the renders of these new stadiums look spectacular and unlike anything fans will have seen before, but they are also cutting edge in terms of the cooling systems that will be used to avoid overheating fans and players during the warm weather.   With so many new stadiums, Qatar also had to suggest what they could do with these facilities when the tournament had finished. The official report is that six of the stadiums will see their seats removed and many of the materials repurposed and sent to lesser economically developed countries. More ambitiously, one of the stadiums is also intended to be entirely disassembled following the completion of the tournament. This means the tournament is also actively benefiting the nations around Qatar. However, many cynics have also claimed this is simply a way to make their stadium projects look a little eco-friendlier and a form of greenwashing to avoid further backlash from the public.   Aside from just stadiums, Qatari authorities have estimated that they will require about 130,000 hotel rooms or rental spaces (at peak capacity) to be able to host all the fans that will be looking for accommodation. However, in a country of a meager three million people, this was not something they had on hand, which meant there was a huge boom in the real estate business. Furthermore, hospitality at hotels as well as around stadiums is being developed to offer a more luxurious experience to those who can afford it. As a result, there has been an estimated 1.5 million new jobs created in key sectors to help boost the already burgeoning economy.   Read More: Four Ways Traditional Finance is being Disrupted by Open Finance  Qatar’s Possible Incompatibility with Football Culture  Football fans are known around the world for their passionate support for their club and country. A big part of that passion and celebration is alcohol. While many spectators will attend the world cup alcohol-free, a large part of the fan base is likely to seek out alcohol as a part of the extravaganza. However, contrary to what has been the case in all other world cups, Qatar will not allow the consumption of alcohol anywhere but the designated fan zones.   Furthermore, if one wants to find or consume alcohol within the stadium, it is only available as a part of the hospitality package, which costs thousands of dollars per head. As the nation of Qatar runs on a legal system based on Sharia law, the alcohol regulations were not something they were willing to compromise on.    Another part of football and sports, in general, is that anyone is allowed to support it, regardless of whether they identify as heterosexual or are in the LGBTQ+ community. However, Sharia law is strictly against such things, and Qatar has reaffirmed that this will not change over the course of the tournament. This reaction was expected from Qatar, and many have criticized FIFA for not foreseeing this. Not only has this been seen as an affront to football fans, but to the inclusivity that FIFA wholeheartedly claims it is striving towards.  Read More: Top Media & Entertainment Trends to Watch Out for in 2022  Worker Conditions and Deaths  The Guardian claimed that there had been approximately 6500 deaths of migrant workers since the announcement of Qatar taking on the World Cup in 2010, with this number being somewhat of a lowball estimate. While most of these deaths have been put down to natural causes or other health complications, many reports have shown that they happened because of worker exhaustion, severe dehydration, and poor working conditions.   When the deaths came to light a few years ago, many were confused as to why the workers did not simply return to their home countries or seek employment elsewhere. However, it was later revealed that workers signed contracts that were under Qatar’s ‘Kafala’ system, which meant they were unable to leave their job or expatriate without the employer’s permission. Moreover, workers reported delayed wage payments and, in some cases, not receiving their wages at all.   The government, too, has been unhelpful in creating a conducive environment for the workers. The procedure for reporting any violations of rights or wrongdoing on the employers’ part is near impossible for the workers and their limited facilities. To add, Qatar prohibits the workers from forming unions to ensure better working conditions and pay for all. With passport confiscation being a common practice, employers were legally able to trap employees without repercussion.   A Final Review  As the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup 2022 comes closer and fans become more excited, it is important to remain heedful of the violations that have taken place to facilitate this. As FIFA scrambled to navigate the difficulties of their decision to host the world cup in Qatar, the local authorities vowed to find any way possible to ensure their project succeeds, regardless of the consequences. Over time, it has become increasingly clear that a World Cup should never have taken place in a country like Qatar.  Despite all the failures on the organizers’ part leading up to the tournament, the final success of the tournament itself remains to be seen.   With a presence in New York, San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, Toronto, London, Zurich, Pune, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad, SG Analytics, a pioneer in Research and Analytics, offers tailor-made services to enterprises worldwide.    A leader in Market Research services, SG Analytics enables organizations to achieve actionable insights into products, technology, customers, competition, and the marketplace to make insight-driven decisions. Contact us today if you are an enterprise looking to make critical data-driven decisions to prompt accelerated growth and breakthrough performance.    

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Economic Whiplash

Economic Whiplash: What is it and Four Ways to Avoid it

The economic world has been far from stable in the past few years, and it has been volatile galore ever since COVID set in. With the massive demand and supply shocks that occurred as a result of the pandemic and the more recent inflation issues that have plagued the world economy, it has been a quick change for many. Many businesses have faced arduous circumstances because of the mercurial nature of the business cycle of late. This has come to be known as Economic Whiplash. The effects that a company will experience amidst rapid economic changes have become increasingly severe. Therefore, steps to counteract and alleviate the effects thereof are integral.    Many believe that smaller businesses are more prone to feel the impacts of economic whiplash more severely. However, the only firms that will be devoid of any impact are those that are entirely automated. In general, regardless of whether one’s firm is large and completely unconnected to the economic difficulties, higher inflation will mean that employees will require higher salaries meaning that layoffs might become important. Therefore, it is important to avoid corporate arrogance as a large company and still safeguard against it.    The following are four transformational ways to counteract economic whiplash:  Automation of Mundane Tasks  Looking for Long-Term Growth Opportunities  Educating Customers on Value for an Expanded Base  Looking at Subscription-based Solutions for Longer Income  Read More: Anticipating the Unanticipated: Balancing Business Resilience in the new age of Innovation  Automation of Mundane Tasks  As mentioned earlier, automation is normally more immune to economic whiplash than anything else. This happens for a variety of reasons, but the main one is that employees are likely to have a much more variable output level than that of a machine. For example, during the pandemic, many employees were made to work from home due to the lockdowns that were put in effect worldwide. This meant that many employees (depending on the job and industry) saw substantial declines in their productivity and output.   It is significant to note that this is often much easier said than done. For most of the work that is done by employees at bigger firms, it requires a higher skill set that cannot be replicated by artificial intelligence. For people like financial day traders, although algorithms and data guide a lot of their work, our technology is simply not at the level that it can act as a viable substitute. Bearing that in mind, it is also true that most companies carry a lot of employees that are unspecialized and work mainly in unskilled labor jobs. This is the case in more rudimentary factories that employ people in many parts of the assembly line rather than machines. Automation, albeit sometimes very expensive, is an investment for the future. Especially in the case of economic fluctuations, automation can greatly aid in offsetting the impacts.  Furthermore, outside of such exigent circumstances, companies are likely to increase profit margins over time. This is because automation in terms of monthly costs is conventionally lower than employee wages. This means production costs are also lowered, only further benefiting the firms.  Looking for Long-Term Growth Opportunities  In times of economic uncertainty, business owners and CEOs are often quick to limit expenditure and lower wages. In the same vein, employees are laid off, and production is often slowed to meet the limited revenue. However, rather than simply saving this money to get the company through the proverbial rainy day, it might be similarly appropriate to look at expanding. This might sound absurd to many, but it is likely that one is able to develop new verticals in their business due to the lower effort required with other aspects of the firm.   It is obviously still not wise to allocate high amounts of capital to a new venture (especially because demand is adequately reduced in the market too). However, if there are certain parts of newer expansions that can be done with relatively limited capital expenditure, it would be a smart investment. This is because having a new product or service prepared and ready to release when the demand boom when the economy reaches its point of inflection means it will have the best chance of succeeding.  Moreover, times of economic stress and downturn are also often the start of new problems that can be solved in new and innovative ways. Because of their recency, there are few solutions to many of these problems. A good example of this is sanitizer and mask manufacturers during the pandemic. If one was able to anticipate their demand beforehand, pre-empting production would be quite clever. When the shortage of those goods did inevitably occur, it was those that had large stocks piled that had the de facto monopoly for a short time. This gave them price rights meaning that they could determine profits easily.   Naturally, foreseeing demand for products is a very difficult skill to cultivate and is far more challenging than it might seem. However, it is these skills that make or break wealth creation in times of difficulty.  Read More: What Is Data Democratization? How is it Accelerating Digital Businesses?  Educating Customers on Value for an Expanded Base  As the demand in all markets drops dramatically in these times of turmoil, it might be futile to remain focused on sales. At the end of the day, revenue and profits are what fuel a business. However, when it becomes near impossible to maintain that, it is smart to start looking elsewhere to boost the business. One of the most important things that one could work on is their customer base. Although the pandemic was a difficult time for everyone, it was a very opportune time for marketing and educating the customer about one’s business and the products/services that one offered.   With such a large part of the global population working from home, internet advertisements have become extremely valuable. Expenditure on the same would probably reflect a larger return on the investment simply because these advertisements would reach more people. As explained earlier, when the effects of economic turmoil begin to alleviate and the markets start to recover, having a loyal consumer base that has been cultivated over the course of this time of difficulty is sure to help offset the losses incurred.    Generally, expanding a customer base is something that should be worked against perpetually. High demand for a product or service that one offers is rarely a negative thing. However, if this has been done effectively beforehand, a loyal customer base means that the demand shocks will be slightly offset during the crisis.   Looking at Subscription-Based Solutions for Longer Income  With most households trying to wean off large purchases, it is often true that consumers feel more comfortable with a few smaller payments. Although this is more of a psychological flaw, it is also true that such payments can be discontinued at any time to cut the losses, which is not an option with larger purchases. Therefore, a transition to subscription-based solutions might be the way to progress.   For most private consumers, subscription has become normal. Whether it is an online subscription like Netflix or Amazon prime for streaming, Apple Music or Spotify for Music, or it is real-life subscriptions for things such as newspapers, they can all provide massive revenue streams for established businesses. When a service has been in the market for an extended period, consumers feel comfortable opting for a subscription. This also means that the value proposition is worth the amount people are paying for the service. As a result, subscribers will often retain services for longer than they planned as it eventually becomes more habitual, and it becomes more difficult to let go of them.   Read More: Four Ways Traditional Finance is being Disrupted by Open Finance  A Word of Caution  The tips mentioned above are all quite effective. However, it is very important to remember that none of these can act as a proverbial silver bullet for these times of difficulty. When it comes to being that, and the global economies finally go under official recessions, these tips will only be of help to aid in recovering and reallocating funds that might not be getting used. At the same time, this is not to say that these times will become any less challenging. Regardless of what a business can do, there will be some problems that cannot be bypassed because they are governed by parties that are out of any individual’s control. For example, during the pandemic, the world faced large supply chain bottlenecks. As mentioned in the first point, even if one were to automate manufacturing processes and significantly improve the efficiency of production, it would mean nothing if logistics companies were unable to bring these products from the factory to the consumers.   Although there are many things that might help a business, this is a time where grit and perseverance are of the highest value, and those that can maintain that throughout are the ones that prevail.   With a presence in New York, San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, Toronto, London, Zurich, Pune, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad, SG Analytics, a pioneer in Research and Analytics, offers tailor-made services to enterprises worldwide.       A leader in Market Research services, SG Analytics enables organizations to achieve actionable insights into products, technology, customers, competition, and the marketplace to make insight-driven decisions. Contact us today if you are an enterprise looking to make critical data-driven decisions to prompt accelerated growth and breakthrough performance.    

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