Category: Competitive intelligence

Electric vehicles will face stiff competition from eco-friendly gasoline-powered cars

Popular notions that electric cars will suddenly replace conventional gasoline-powered cars don’t acknowledge the possibility that there could be eco-friendly advances in conventional car technology. A study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) finds that “internal combustion engines are improving their ability to cut CO2 emissions at a lower cost than expected, and, as a result, carmakers should be able to meet 2020 emissions targets mainly through improvements to conventional technologies.”

A key word there is should. It would take a concerted effort by automakers in several technical areas. Continue reading “Electric vehicles will face stiff competition from eco-friendly gasoline-powered cars”

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Four emerging risks for corporations

The Corporate Executive Board’s “Risk Integration Strategy Council (RISC)” has released the January 2011 “Emerging Risks Update,” (pdf) noting the following risks on the horizon for enterprise risk managers:

Leaks of sensitive corporate information like strategic planning documents or embarrassing memos (think Wikileaks, which is on its way to becoming a verb, like Google). Strategy: Bolster information security, especially as “new technologies and platforms like cloud computing, SaaS, and social networking gain prominence.”

Shortage of rare earth minerals, an essential component of clean energy technology, computers and electronics (e.g., mobile phones). China controls 97%. Strategy: Other countries (including the U.S.) with deposits of rare earth minerals can open or re-open their mines, “but it can take up to [10] years for a new mine to begin operations.” Meanwhile, “world leaders” must discourage China from unfairly exploiting its position. Continue reading “Four emerging risks for corporations”

Complacency bad. Foresight good.

Why do firms fail when faced with new technology or innovation? Clayton M. Christensen’s theory of disruptive technology asserts that the dominant/incumbent firm dismisses the early version of the technology as inferior and fails to respond to its development. But a study titled “Demystifying Disruption,” by Ashish Sood and Gerard Tellis, finds that incumbents produced disruptive (replacement) technologies just as often as those pesky up-starts.

The results of their analysis suggest that many aspects of the disruptive technologies theory are exaggerated.

In fact, the incumbents produced more than half of the new technologies that superseded the previous dominant technology.

In other words, Tellis says, the start-up slaying Goliath makes a good story, but represents only a small fraction of all cases. Continue reading “Complacency bad. Foresight good.”

Rubbermaid sees its future as innovation + premium prices

Newell Rubbermaid Inc. plans to trim its product line — eliminating low-end plastic storage containers, trash cans and office chair mats — in favor of high-end, innovative products. The company “plans to invest more heavily in research and advertising for more-innovative products,” according to a Wall Street Journal article, aptly headlined: “Rubbermaid Wants to Be Less of a Commodity” (16 July 2008). The innovative products include containers for fruits and vegetables with vented lids to keep those foods fresher.

The primary reason for trimming the low-end of the product line is the rising cost of the petrochemical-based resin used for making plastic products.

Continue reading “Rubbermaid sees its future as innovation + premium prices”

New rules reveal CEO perks

U.S. disclosure rules that took effect last year are prompting companies to reveal (in proxy statements) a wide variety of perks provided to CEOs in fiscal 2007. Examples:

  • Kathleen Danenberg, Response Genetics Inc.: $86,622 for clothing expenses (since repaid).
  • Micky Arison, Carnival Corp.: $115,884 for courtside Miami Heat basketball tickets (he owns the team).
  • Bahram Akradi, LifeTime Fitness Inc.: $31,777, for high-speed wireless Internet access (to tap company systems from home).
  • Martha Stewart, $5,000 for her yoga instructor.

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Source: The Wall Street Journal 9 June 2008