Fun with trends, time-series and stats!

If you love trends and making sense out of statistics, check out Gapminder whose vision is “making sense of the world by having fun with statistics!” [via Google Blogoscoped]. Check out the Human Development Trends 2005 report that they have on their homepage.

They have collaborated with Google Co-op so you can add them to your subscribed links and your future Google results which have relevant keywords will also have a direct link to their charts.

Also worth checking out are Trendalyzer – free software that turns boring time series into attractive moving graphics – and interesting providers in the Google Co-op Directory whom you can subscribe to.

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The CEO’s role in talent management

The EIU published a report "The CEO’s role in talent management: How top executives from ten countriesare nurturing the leaders of tomorrow" in collaboration with Development Dimensions International (DDI). Key takeaways: 

  • Good talent management is not undertaken in a piecemeal fashion but consists of comprehensive development programmes. These include the identification of leadership potential, performance evaluations, targeted development activities and job experience.
  • Many CEOs mentor executives in their organisations—an additional and important part of the programme. They regard the development of the next generation of leaders as one of the best ways of leaving a strong legacy.
  • Formal processes for identifying top talent, including performance evaluations, and strategic reviews of key talent should occur at least annually and incorporate written feedback to buttress scored categories.
  • A varied business background is the best grounding for the CEO and COO roles. As today’s corporate leaders face such diverse challenges and opportunities, firms are looking for people with wide experience in terms of function, role, and, increasingly, geography. 
  • Talent development programmes should combine both theory and practice in the form of structured learning experiences and off-site meetings, as well as the proper business experience. They should be supported on a daily basis by coaching and mentoring activity.

ATKearney FDI Confidence Index

Key takeaways from the ATKearney FDI Confidence Index 2005:

  • India joins China at the center of the FDI radar screen. It also replaces the US as the 2nd most attractive FDI location.
  • China dwarfs India in FDI, partly because China attracts more capital-intensive functions.
  • Investor enthusiasm for China and India is at an all-time high.
  • FDI prospects dim for Western Europe.
  • Investment confidence soars for Eastern Europe.
  • IT and contact centers remain the highest areas for corporate offshoring.
  • Investors see diminished Macro risks, but growing Micro risks.

Finance outsourcing in the high-tech and electronics industries

Key Findings of an Accenture-sponsored survey conducted by the EIU looking into trends, risks and opportunities associated with finance outsourcing in the high-tech and electronics industries:

  • Finance is among the most outsourced functions.
  • Finance being outsourced by small and large firms at differing rates.
  • Executives are satisfied with outsourcing arrangements.
  • Barriers to increased finance outsourcing exist.

What are the primary benefits / objectives of outsourcing the Finance function?

  • sharper focus on core competencies
  • lower costs.

If you do not outsource finance and accounting functions but you do outsource in other areas of your business, please indicate why the finance function has not yet shifted to this model.
The finance functions are considered too critical tobe outsourced (54%)

What will be the primary drivers behind the increasing use of finance outsourcing in your industry?

  • Improved quality of service from outsourcing providers (46%)
  • Pressure on costs (49%)

In your own organisation, what are the barriers that stand in the way of a decision to outsource finance functions?

  • Desire for greater direct control of finance functions (68%)
  • Cultural resistance to change (42%)

In your view, what are the 3 primary risks associated with finance outsourcing?

  • Risk that quality of service is inadequate (63%)
  • Risk that in-house knowledge and expertise erodes beyond repair (42%)
  • Risk of breaches of data security (41%)

Shaping digital convergence through mergers & acquisitions

Useful EIU / PwC survey findings and report on the opportunities and the pitfalls involved in digital convergence and mergers and acquisitions (M&A). This is an exhaustive survey of 149 executives supplemented with over 30 in-depth interviews of industry veterans. Key takeaways:

  • According to Dow Jones CEO Richard Zannino, “I’ve done 20 or 30 M&A deals, and one thing I’ve learned is never to rely on revenue synergies, because they never seem to materialise. No matter how great the brands, no matter how great the match, you’re going to lose some revenue in the process.” For this reason, says Zannino, “I put more weight on cost synergies, and that’s what makes up for the lost revenue.”
  • Many executives prefer partnerships and alliances as a less risky way to explore unfamiliar terrain. But there are shortcomings, including an inability to control relationships, either with customers or even with other parties in the alliance or partnership. And risk aside, alliances and partnerships may also move too slowly to capitalise on fast-moving opportunities. By failing to place a significant bet, executives realise, their companies may fail to maximise the convergence payoff.
  • But for those organisations choosing the M&A path, the warnings from the research are clear. Be certain you’re pursuing a realistic strategy-and then compare the value of that strategy versus the acquisition price. Markets today are heating up and few if any strategies in the history of business have been pursued successfully at any price.
  • Which sectors do technology, media and telecom executives believe will become the overall winners in digital convergence?
    1. Entertainment content developers (42% respondents)
    2. Consumer electronics manufacturers (36%)
    3. Wireless operators and related service providers (30%)
  • As for the role of mergers and acquisitions amid the many likely success stories, the last word goes to a CFO from a large, US-based high-technology company: “We know a lot of companies are going to stumble badly, but a lot more are going to do really well. I’d have to say strategy is important, but in the end, it’s all in the execution. A great strategy, poorly executed, is a waste of everyone’s time and cash. But a decent acquisition, well executed, with loads of cost synergies, can generate enormous returns. So in M&A, all you need is a good idea-not even a great idea but a good one-coupled with great execution and you can achieve amazing results.”

Also, a useful side-bar on “How to make a strategic alliance work” on pg.21.

Interesting new additions to Google Labs

Google Notebook [via Free Hogg] attaches to your browser toolbar allowing you to:

  • Clip and collect information as you surf the web.
  • Organize your notes from the web page you’re on.
  • Access your notes from anywhere.
  • Make your notes public.

Google Trends [via orgtheory.net] analyzes a portion of Google web searches to compute how many searches have been done for the term you enter relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time. Also, when it detects a spike in the volume of news stories for that term, it labels the graph and displays the headline of an automatically selected Google News story written near the time of that spike. It also displays the top cities, regions, and languages for the term. Interesting tool for researchers!

Power of thought over water

While browsing through the book Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society, I came across a fascinating study of how human thought can affect the shape of water crystals. Japanese researcher Masaru Emoto claims that human vibrational energy, thoughts, words and music affect the molecular structure of water. He proves this through beautiful experiments where water, thus affected by thought, is frozen and the resultant crystals photographed under a microscope. The results are spell-binding.

However the Wikipedia entry for Mr. Emoto urges caution on the grounds that his research has neither been published through peer review in academic journals and nor does it follow double-blind procedures.

Something fascinating, albeit to be taken with a pinch of salt.