March 24, 2024

GSMA's Annual Report on the State of the Global Mobile Industry Looks at How Operators Are Exploring the Potential of genAI

According to the GSMA's most recent annual report on the state of the global mobile economy, "Mobile connectivity remains pivotal in driving digital innovation. It empowers individuals and enterprises with a wide array of transformative technologies while also aiding governments in delivering positive societal impacts."

Produced by GSMA's in-house research team, GSMA Intelligence, these reports contain a range of technology, socio-economic and financial datasets, including forecasts out to 2030. This year's report points out that "The impact of mobile connectivity is evidenced by its contribution to the economy. In 2023, mobile technologies and services generated 5.4% of global GDP, a contribution that amounted to $5.7 trillion of economic value added, and supported around 35 million jobs."

The report's key findings include:
  • 5G will account for over half (51%) of total mobile connections by 2029 and reach 56% adoption by the end of the decade.
  • 58% of the world's population were using mobile internet at the end of 2023, representing 4.7 billion users and an increase of 2.1 billion since 2015.
  • Three billion people are still not using mobile internet despite living in an area covered by mobile broadband networks (the 'Usage Gap'), underscoring the urgency of addressing barriers to adoption highlighted in the GSMA's 'Breaking Barriers' campaign, such as handset affordability and literacy/digital skills.
  • 5G is expected to benefit the global economy by more than $930 billion in 2030, of which the primary beneficiaries are expected to be manufacturing (36%), public administration (15%) and the services (10%) industries.

Infographic: GSMA Intelligence

The are two items that I found of particular interest. One is how eSIM adoption continues to gather pace. "The number of eSIM consumer devices launched has grown significantly over the last five years and the number of commercial eSIM services is also on the rise. This has set the foundation for eSIM adoption to gather pace over the course of the decade," the reports notes. What is more, "GSMA Intelligence's baseline scenario predicts around 1 billion eSIM smartphone connections globally by the end of 2025, growing to 6.9 billion by 2030. This would account for around three quarters of the total number of smartphone connections by 2030." The GSMA claims that "North America will be the region with the fastest rate of eSIM adoption due to Apple's launch of eSIM-only smartphones in the US in September 2022."

On the topic of mobile operators exploring the potential of generative AI (genAI), "the range of genAI applications is broad," the GSMA notes. "Much of the early work has focused on using the technology to improve customer services and support sales and marketing activities. However, as genAI matures, there is potential for operators to not only support internal use cases but generate new revenues from AI investments." Examples of operators generating new revenues from investments in genAI include "SK Telecom's bold AI pyramid strategy ... as do recent product announcements from the likes of KT, NTT and SoftBank."

As for maximizing the AI opportunity, the report says "The speed of AI adoption in the mobile industry may depend on several factors. First, mobile operators often face difficulties in accessing the internal data needed for training AI models, hindered by the diversity and volume of data sources. Additionally, operators must ensure the accuracy of AI-generated insights, as reliance on inaccurate data may lead to flawed decision-making."

With respect to ethical concerns around AI that still need to be addressed, the report boldly asserts that "The mobile industry is committed to the ethical use of AI in its operations and customer interactions to protect customers and employees, remove any entrenched inequality and ensure that AI operates reliably and fairly for all stakeholders. The GSMA's AI Ethics Playbook serves as a practical tool to help organizations consider how to ethically design, develop and deploy AI systems."

What trends are you seeing that are shaping the global mobile ecosystem?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

March 21, 2024

Singapore, Denmark and the US Are Predicted to Have the Best Business Environment From 2024–28

The Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) business environment index measures the attractiveness of the business environment in 82 countries and territories, examining 91 indicators spread across 11 different categories. According to the latest business environment index, "Singapore, Denmark and the US will be the three geographies with the best business environment over the next five years." What is more, as reflected in the chart below, "Several west European economies, alongside Canada, Hong Kong and New Zealand, make up the remaining top ten best places in the world to do business. These are all advanced economies and long-standing strong performers in our index, so tend to be safe bets for investments. However, both headline and per capita GDP growth rates are likely to be fairly stable and slow."

The EIU also explains, through the image below, "geographies that see the biggest improvements in score in our index in the next five years (2024-28) compared with the past five years (2019-23). These are not the same economies that will see the fastest real GDP growth in 2024-28—although Qatar and India will grow very strongly—rather, they are places where we expect the most significant policy improvements, infrastructure investment or growth in market opportunities." The UK-based organization adds that its "model suggests that their improvement in our business environment index may subsequently result in an uptick in per-head growth in real GDP, investment spending and FDI."

Regarding those countries already in the EIU's index that scored strongly, the report points out that "Qatar has implemented a US$220bn investment program over the past decade, mainly focused on infrastructure. Its business environment has benefited from the expansion of Hamad International Airport, the road network and tourism infrastructure." Furthermore, Lithuania has long been open to trade and investment, but a major tax reform will soon make it more attractive by extending corporate tax relief and shifting the tax burden away from labor. Greece sees the biggest improvement in the business environment in our index over this period. This reflects the impact of a pro-business government, led by the New Democracy party, now in its second term, that has undertaken reforms, cut taxes and boosted business confidence."

With respect to the world's most populous nation, the EIU says "India is the only single-country market that offers a potential scale comparable to that of China." The South Asia country's "youthful demographic profile promises both strong demand and good labor availability. Alongside solid economic fundamentals, digital infrastructure and favorable demographics, more policy support is being introduced to attract manufacturing investment."

Other geographies further down the EIU's ranking where they expect a strong improvement include Serbia, which "has seen a virtuous circle from its openness to FDI in the past, which has driven growth and attracted further investment, including in higher-value-added sectors. A recent strengthening of macroeconomic policy and institutions supports market stability."

Moreover, "Argentina's sharp improvement in score largely reflects the free-market reforms that we believe the administration of the president, Javier Milei, will introduce—in particular, policies to boost private enterprise and competition and attract foreign investment. In the Dominican Republic, the current Abinader administration, which we expect to be re-elected in May, will continue its business friendly policies. It is encouraging investment into the tourism sector (for example with port upgrades for cruise ships), and improving logistics infrastructure to become a regional transport and distribution hub.

Places with weak business environments but potential for improvement include Kenya, Angola, and Venezuela. As the EIU explains:
Kenya passed a Privatization Act in 2023, which will help to trim the state’s excessively large economic footprint while boosting the private sector. Angola, while close to the bottom of our rankings, is arguably a better place to do business than five years ago, with the Lourenço administration using its improved ties with the US to revamp key legislation, bringing the country's financial sector into line with international standards and reducing the tax burden on the non-oil sector. In contrast, Venezuela is the worst ranked in our index, and will remain so despite a slight improvement after its painful economic collapse.
As I have stated previously on this forum, Southeast Asia has one of the world's most attractive business environment. Among the ten members of the Association of South‑East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the EIU highlights Thailand as a market that "saw a notable improvement in our business environment index in 2021-22, followed by an acceleration in growth in real GDP per head in 2022-23." The report says Thailand was among the first movers in ASEAN "to give special incentives to invest in electric vehicles and green industries. At the same time, many infrastructure projects were being finished—notably the mass transit expansion in the capital, Bangkok—or under way, including as part of the country's Eastern Economic Corridor megadevelopment project." The report adds that "Thailand has benefited from—and encouraged, with preferential policies—the China+1 trend as investors seek to diversify away from China, often towards India and ASEAN."

Do you find this report helpful in determining which countries to invest in or avoid?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

March 8, 2024

Report Provides Recommendations on How to Achieve Enduring Board Effectiveness

While drafting a post on this forum about a report published by EY that provides recommendations on how boards of American companies can confront crisis and embrace opportunity, I found another report produced by the consultancy that provides "a comprehensive approach and framework for understanding and enhancing board effectiveness."

Authored by Kris Pederson, EY Americas Center for Board Matters Leader, this report presents a framework comprised of "a series of elements that must be intact for board performance to flourish. Two of these are foundational 'effectiveness' pillars that guide the work to be done by the board. These flow through five 'systemic' layering elements that embody the board's operating environment." She adds that "With a strong mission and engagement model supported by effective information practices, boards have a solid foundation for effective performance. The systemic board governance elements encompass the operating model and principles of an effective board."

According to Ms. Pederson, the first pillar of board effectiveness, board mission and engagement model, "The board's fundamental mandate is to provide insight, foresight and oversight on mission-critical issues that drive the company's governance as it advances its strategy, operations, financial performance, and stakeholder engagement to drive long-term corporate value. Guiding this mission are the board's own values.

Evidence of an effective board mission and engagement model includes:
  • The board's corporate governance guidelines articulate the board's purpose, values and core engagement strategy and practices.
  • Every board member can consistently state the board's mission and the company’s purpose, strategy and long‑term value proposition.
  • Board members and management are in clear agreement about the mission‑critical company issues that demand board oversight. Each board member individually embodies core traditional leadership values and skills, including ethics and integrity, diligence and conscientiousness, executive‑level communication skills, and a commitment to progress.
  • There is clarity as to the company's core policies, strategies and risk management approaches, and when and how the board engages to oversee them.

Regarding the second pillar of board effectiveness, information infrastructure, Ms. Pederson explains that "Effective boards are rooted in the diligent design and maintenance of reliable and efficient information practices that provide timely access to the highest-quality information and people (e.g., advisors, stakeholders, customers) needed to identify, illuminate and address evolving mission-critical issues." Moreover, "Boards should be specific with management about their information needs so that management is not overburdened with immaterial questions and potentially driven to expand board materials to include tangential information or excessive detail."

Evidence of effective board information infrastructures include:
  • Board meeting materials include a cover memorandum that succinctly describes in a clear narrative form all items on the board agenda.
  • Technical documents, such as financial reporting, equity compensation plans, merger agreements or other material contracts, are fronted with a one- or two-page (max) executive summary of material terms.
  • All board materials are presented with draft resolutions clearly specifying the matters the board or its committees are being asked to act on.
  • Boards and management are diligent about how they engage with each other to share information, respecting established communications channels and security issues.
  • Neither the board nor management feels unduly overburdened with information overload or requests for information, respectively.
  • The board regularly hears perspectives from third parties on critical issues and complex matters.

With respect to "Board composition, structure and leadership," the report notes that "Making effective determinations about the competencies, backgrounds and experiences needed on the board is key to building a strong board, keeping in mind that diversity across multiple dimensions is essential to board effectiveness."

Moreover, "Based on an understanding of the companies' strategies and emerging mission-critical issues, key stakeholder demands, and increasing regulatory scrutiny of board effectiveness, boards
should develop and maintain, in collaboration with senior management, a competency map (or board skills matrix) that identifies and scopes the skills and type of experience needed on the board. This analysis, which should have a forward-looking orientation, enables a more accurate and objective determination of effective board composition, size and committee structure."

Evidence of effective board composition, structure and leadership include:
  • The board maintains, in collaboration with management, a detailed board skills matrix in assessing board size and composition.
  • The board's corporate governance guidelines and committee charters clearly allocate roles and responsibilities between the board and its committees, including mission-critical issues such as strategy, risk, culture, compliance, technology, cybersecurity, and climate change.
  • Board members periodically move across different committees, and committee structure and composition are reasonably fluid based on the company's needs.
  • Committee chairs regularly collaborate on the most effective ways to govern overarching board responsibilities relating to strategy, risk and long-term value.
  • Board and committee oversight responsibilities are periodically revisited as business environments and priorities shift.
  • Committee chairs report to the board when they need additional resources, refreshed competencies or workload reallocation.

Regarding board dynamics, Ms. Pederson explains that "A positive board dynamic is one of the most critical elements in achieving board effectiveness. Many also believe that consistently maintaining a positive board dynamic can be challenging. For this reason, all board members, especially board leadership, need to work to nurture and consistently demonstrate respect and trust for each other." She adds that "Without a culture of respect and trust, boards cannot engage in constructive debate and instead devolve quickly into dysfunction. In their discussions and deliberations with each other, at meetings and informally, all board members should show evidence of their commitment to the board's mission, values and engagement model through active, informed and productive engagement."

Evidence of effective board dynamics include:
  • Director participation at meetings is balanced: No single director or group of directors dominates agenda formulation, discussions or deliberations, and no single director or group of directors is passive or disengaged.
  • If interviewed, each director would state that he or she felt included, heard and respected, and that all members demonstrate respect and trust.
  • There are no "camps" or "factions" among board members or among board members and management.
  • Directors say something when they see something, and the board takes appropriate action.
  • The board engages in informal ways between meetings to enhance trust and build personal connections.
On the topic of board decision-making, the report says "Boards should be highly conscientious and intentional about when and how they make decisions. Leading boards develop a process to support effective decision-making, based on applicable state and relevant laws and the board's mission and engagement model.

Ms. Pederson adds that "For every matter before them, boards should question and assess how well the decisions they may make align with the company's purpose, culture, strategy, risk tolerance profile, and sustainability goals. Boards need to spend the time, access appropriate resources and consider alternative scenarios and outcomes before making final decisions."

Evidence of effective board decision-making include:
  • The board and management maintain a delegated authority matrix, specifying corporate business matters that require board decisions.
  • The board maintains a checklist of approval requirements in its organizational documents and under relevant law.
  • The board chair establishes appropriate transparency around director voting by discouraging informal decision-making discussions and overseeing that the board's books and records are in order.
  • The board does not make decisions without sufficient considerations about the quality of the information, timing, and risks and rewards.

As for the final element on systemic board governance, "Board outcomes and evaluation," Ms. Pederson points out "The ultimate outcome of a high-performing board is reflected in the success and prosperity of the business itself. A board should see the evidence of its efforts manifest in company financial performance, including growth through the innovation it fosters and cost reduction from the risks it helps the company avoid."

She importantly adds that "Indeed, investors, regulators and other stakeholders are seeking greater board effectiveness and are increasingly interested in board evaluation processes and results. The final component in the pyramid," according to Ms. Pederson, "includes a board evaluation process that not only results in a more effective board, but also leads to investor trust."

Evidence of effective board outcomes and evaluation include:
  • The board, its committees and each director conducts a self-evaluation annually, enhanced by third-party facilitation when needed.
  • The evaluation process results in the identification of concrete actions the board agrees to take within a specified period to enhance effectiveness through the achievement of specific milestones.
  • The board's collective competencies map to the company's strategic and technical needs.
  • The company's disclosures around the board evaluation process enhance trust in the board.

Ms. Pederson's report concludes with the following:
A highly effective board of directors is a great asset to a management team and a critical component of company success. Our experience finds that boards must deliberately manage the board effectiveness pillars to be certain they are working on mission-critical elements of the business and procuring the right information to drive decisions. Also, high-performing boards carefully address each element of the systemic governance framework to establish the use of an optimized approach that directly drives board value.

Questions for the board to consider:
  • How does the board evaluate whether management is "living" the company's purpose and values as described in the company's code of business conduct and ethics?
  • How does the board engage with management in rigorous ongoing analyses of material and mission-critical growth drivers, risks and opportunities?
  • How can board materials evolve to include narrative stories that explain matters being presented to the board as well as practical dashboards, graphics, data, and key performance indicators?
  • On mission-critical issues, how does the board diversify its information sources beyond management by engaging with independent advisors to broaden its perspective?
  • Do the board's corporate governance guidelines provide clear standards for director qualifications, continued service, tenure, and removal?
  • Has the board discussed using additional committees to address expanding board or committee roles and oversight responsibilities, particularly around risk, technology, cybersecurity, climate change, human capital management, and material ESG matters?
  • Does the board calendar make sufficient time for board engagement with management, key investors and other stakeholders, and independent advisors?
  • Is every director consistently prepared for board and committee meetings, as demonstrated by his or her engagement and contribution? And if not, how is that feedback provided?
  • Is the board effectively managing and leveraging diversity in backgrounds and perspectives? Is there sufficient diversity in views to promote progress in the board's mission?

What are your recommendations for how to achieve enduring board effectiveness?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

March 1, 2024

How Technology Can Drive the Transition to a Superior Future

According to a report produced by Force for Good, a project of the F4G Foundation, a non-profit limited liability company incorporated under the laws of England and Wales, "technology can provide the means to create a sustainable, secure, and superior world. It can help us finish the job of liberating the remaining populations across the world, providing inclusion for all in finance, education, healthcare, housing, dignified work, and a technology enabled world."

The report, entitled Technology Driving the Transition to a Superior Future, includes a letter authored by Ketan Patel, chair of Force for Good's advisory council. Mr. Patel points out that the 2023 "report identified 19 technologies that the largest 100 tech companies were pursuing in a bid to lead the world into a new era. We found that these companies had universally embraced ESG, were actively making their operations across the globe sustainable, and the leaders among them were making a positive impact on society at large." Mr. Patel also notes the "19 technologies identified continue to underpin the efforts of the largest and most resourceful companies. Importantly, what is clear is that a small sub-set of these technologies are the most powerful arbiters of the future, and these are AI, quantum computing, nanotech, genetics, and fusion." 

The 19 technologies include artificial intelligence, big data analytics, quantum computing, internet of things (IoT), robotics, drones, autonomous vehicles, smart grid, renewables, energy storage, next generation nuclear (fusion), eMobility, virtualization (VR, ER, AR, XR, MR), blockchain, material science, 3D printing, nanotechnology, and space technology.

Below are the report's key messages:
  • Existing technologies enabled by AI can close nearly 50% of the SDG gap, if scaled and deployed globally, and can help position the world for the transition to the Information Age; this can bridge the otherwise unsurmountable capital of US$175 trillion needed for the SDGs, and a shortfall of US$137 trillion.
  • The tech industry is the critical player required to take the lead given its expertise, products, influence and ability to access capital, rolling out technology at scale across the world and driving the world into the next era; three of the ten initiatives identified - universal connectivity, leveraging generative AI across the SDGs, and mass financial inclusion - together contribute to nearly 30% of the SDGs and lay the foundations for levelling up the world.
  • 19 core technologies have been identified as the focus of the top 100 tech companies in competing for the future and are also the focus of geopolitical competition between countries and power blocs, and their control is increasingly seen as a key strategic asset for nation states.
  • While the US has the clear lead from a macro and technology perspective, China has drawn level with the EU on key macro fronts and built a strong position in many of the core technologies, the EU has the biggest market which positions it as a rule setter for others, and India is now rising to take a position among these power blocs; US internal political divisions and politicization of the transition among other issues represent noteworthy risks to its leadership position and ability to lead the world into the next era.
  • The risks of a dangerous transition including global climate, migration and socio-political-economic disasters are heightened unless the two-thirds of the world that were not material beneficiaries of the Industrial Age, predominantly in the Global South and also left behind in advanced nations are included; a post transition world, built on a more inclusive platform, can be powered by the identified core technologies, and a suite of others currently under development including fusion, gene-editing and nano-tech, creating a more secure, sustainable and superior future.

The report also presents AI's impact on each SDG:

SDG #1: No Poverty
  • Predictive analytics to identify regions at risk of poverty.
  • AI-driven agricultural technologies to increase crop yields for small farmers.
  • Automating and improving the efficiency of aid distribution.
SDG #2: Zero Hunger
  • Precision agriculture for optimizing food production and reducing waste.
  • AI in supply chain management to reduce food spoilage.
  • Development of AI-based nutritional planning tools.
SDG #3: Good Health and Well-Being
  • AI in diagnostics to improve disease detection and treatment.
  • Personalized medicine for tailored healthcare solutions.
  • AI-driven research in drug discovery and epidemic tracking.
SDG #4: Quality Education
  • Adaptive learning platforms for personalized education.
  • AI tools for language translation to overcome education barriers.
  • Analyzing educational data to improve teaching methods.
SDG #5: Gender Equality
  • AI algorithms to identify and reduce gender biases in hiring.
  • AI-driven platforms to support women entrepreneurs.
  • Analyzing data to better understand and address gender disparities.
SDG #6: Clean Water and Sanitation
  • AI for monitoring and predicting water quality issues.
  • Optimization of water distribution systems in urban areas.
  • AI in wastewater treatment processes for better efficiency.
SDG #7: Affordable and Clean Energy
  • AI in optimizing renewable energy sources.
  • Predictive maintenance for energy infrastructure.
  • Enhancing energy efficiency in buildings and industries.
SDG #8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • AI-driven job market analytics for skill development.
  • Automation to increase productivity and create new job opportunities.
  • AI tools for small businesses to access markets and finance.
SDG #9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • AI in predictive maintenance for industrial machinery.
  • Facilitating research and development through AI-driven insights.
  • Enhancing logistics and supply chain efficiencies.
SDG #10: Reduced Inequalities
  • AI in financial services to provide credit access to the underserved.
  • AI-driven educational tools for marginalized communities.
  • Enhancing accessibility technologies for people with disabilities.
SDG #11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • AI in urban planning for sustainable and efficient cities.
  • AI-driven traffic management and public transport optimization.
  • Enhancing public safety through smart surveillance systems.
SDG #12: Responsible Consumption and Production
  • AI in supply chains to promote ethical sourcing and reduce waste.
  • AI tools for lifecycle assessment of products.
  • Automation in recycling processes.
SDG #13: Climate Action
  • AI in climate modeling and forecasting.
  • AI-driven solutions for carbon footprint reduction.
  • Enhancing the efficiency of climate change mitigation strategies.
SDG #14: Life Below Water
  • AI for monitoring and protecting ocean biodiversity.
  • Predictive analytics for sustainable fishing practices.
  • AI in studying and mitigating the effects of ocean acidification.
SDG #15: Life On Land
  • AI in wildlife tracking and habitat protection.
  • Predictive tools for forest fire prevention.
  • AI-driven land-use planning for sustainable development.
SDG #16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • AI in crime prediction and prevention.
  • Enhancing legal research and access to justice through AI tools.
  • AI-driven systems for monitoring and preventing corruption.
SDG #17: Partnerships For the Goals
  • AI to analyze and optimize international aid.
  • Facilitating cross-border collaboration through AI-driven platforms.
  • Enhancing global data sharing and analysis for informed decision-making.

In its conclusion, the report asserts that "Technology is the catalyst for a civilizational shift in the world. As such, competition for technology leadership has become a matter of national security. However, in the absence of raising the Global South, the continued progress of the rich nations of the Global North is at risk." Moreover, "The SDGs can be solved with existing solutions and deliver a more equitable platform from which technology can build a far superior future. In the transition to a new civilization built on information and a new generation of technologies, the world is about to enter a whole new era that has the potential to deliver peace, prosperity, and freedom to all. The tech industry has a critical role to play in building this superior future."

What are you recommendations on how technology can drive to a superior future?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

February 19, 2024

Empowering Least Developed Countries Through the Strategic Use of Intellectual Property Rights

In a post on this forum, I discuss how companies should explore the opportunity of generating revenue through licensing their hardware or software. While not implicitly mentioned, such opportunities are available when intellectual property rights (IPRs) are secured and the company is domiciled in a country where IPRs are enforced by strong institutions. But what happens when a company is based in a country where IPRs mechanisms are weak? How do weak institutions that fail to protect IPRs impact a country's economic transformation?

Writing the Forward for a report entitled Harnessing Intellectual Property Rights for Innovation, Development and Economic Transformation in Least Developed Countries, The Rt Hon. Patricia Scotland KC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, and Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) explain that "In an era when knowledge and innovation are at the forefront of economic transformation, the role of intellectual property rights (IPRs) in shaping the future of least developed countries (LDCs) cannot be overstated." They also point out that the "report is not just a testament to the potential of IPRs in fostering innovation and growth; it is a roadmap for LDCs to navigate the complex terrain of intellectual property (IP) and use it as a tool for sustainable development. In these pages, we delve into how IPRs can be harnessed to stimulate creativity, attract investment and promote technological advancement in LDCs, thereby contributing to their economic transformation and development."

The report's authors explain that the publication "explores how LDCs can develop IP regimes to accelerate innovation, inclusive growth and structural transformation. It examines the economic rationale for strategic IP protection in LDCs and explores practical ways in which LDCs can unlock IP-related benefits and sequence the development of IP regimes, tailored to their local needs, structural characteristics and stages of development, to support innovation and development in both the formal and the informal economies."

What is more, the report "explores various forms of IP protection, particularly copyrights; GIs (geographical indication); industrial designs; patents; trademarks; utility models; and the protection of genetic resources, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions and folklore. Using these more strategically could help businesses in LDCs develop competitive advantages, while also encouraging innovation, fostering the development of productive capacities and boosting trade and investment."

I appreciate how this report contributes valuable insights, policy perspectives and practical recommendations on how LDCs can strategically use IPRs to drive innovation and development.

What are your recommendations for how to empower LDCs through the strategic use of IPRs?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

February 12, 2024

Infrastructure Opportunities in Latin America Are Deep and Wide

report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (the EIU) asserts that "Latin America lags most of its regional peers in terms of infrastructure investment. According to the Global Infrastructure Hub (GI Hub, a G20 initiative), Latin America spent 2.2% of its GDP in 2023 on infrastructure, but actual investment needs are estimated at 3.5% of GDP. The difference of 1.3% of GDP represents nearly US$90bn in unmet infrastructure needs, and that gap will only widen if infrastructure investment does not pick up."

The EIU also notes that the shortfall in infrastructure investment is reflected in its "Operational Risk scores, which place Latin America far behind OECD economies in the infrastructure category." For example, "Poor infrastructure weighs on the business environment and growth: the lack of proper transport links raises supply‑chain costs; unreliable electricity distribution disrupts economic activity; and patchy ICT coverage leaves entire regions and their inhabitants isolated."

The report's other key findings include:
  • Latin America's infrastructure remains below par by international standards, limiting competitiveness and economic growth. Many of the region's governments are operating under significant fiscal constraints, which means that they will look to the private sector to take a more prominent role in developing much-needed infrastructure in 2024.
  • There are myriad opportunities for private investors in all sectors across the region. Most Latin American countries have adopted the public-private partnership (PPP) model, but policies, regulatory frameworks and risks vary widely from country to country. Uncertainty surrounding the policy direction of some governments—particularly in Argentina and Colombia—is another obstacle to attracting investment.
  • Even countries with well-established frameworks and experience with PPPs—such as Colombia, Mexico and Panama—will face setbacks. In particular, a lack of consensus between governments, businesses and local communities will stoke social unrest and delay development.
  • National governments do not have a monopoly on PPPs: in Brazil, for example, states and municipalities have used PPPs to accelerate their own projects—a trend that will continue in 2024 and beyond.

The EIU explains how the infrastructure gap is holding Latin America back in keeping up with new technologies. "Because of its sizeable infrastructure gap, the well of investment opportunities in Latin America is deep and wide," the report says. "The region's logistics and utilities infrastructure is in dire need of expansion and modernization, but sectors at the forefront of innovation and technology also deserve attention. The rollout of 5G technology, for example, has been slow in some countries, but progress this year—Argentina finally carried out its long-awaited 5G auction in October and Colombia in December—will generate some opportunities in 2024."

The report importantly adds:
Investment in renewable and sustainable energy sources, like solar and wind, is also growing but remains far below Latin America's potential. The region could become a crucial player in the supply chain to power the global green energy shift, owing to its large reserves of critical minerals, wide use of renewable energy sources and water availability. However, it lacks the necessary infrastructure and funding to produce the batteries and green hydrogen that will fuel the world in the decades to come. Investments in these areas are on the radar of governments in Latin America's major economies, but the biggest infrastructure opportunities—in the near term at least—will be in logistics, including road, rail, energy distribution, and ports in the likes of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.

What are your thoughts about the private sector taking a more prominent role in developing Latin America's much-needed infrastructure in 2024?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

February 7, 2024

Policy Recommendations for Promoting International Investment by Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

A report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the trade and development body of the United Nations, correctly notes that "Small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) are important contributors to economic development, representing a substantial portion of businesses globally. Global markets offer SMEs opportunities for growth, diversification and resilience. Access to international markets enables them to tap into new customer bases, gain exposure to diverse business practices and foster innovation through cross-cultural collaboration."

Having supported initiatives aimed to promote international investment by SME's, I support the report's assertion that "SMEs encounter significant challenges that hinder their investment overseas. SME investors, relative to large Multinational Enterprises (MNEs), face distinctive bottlenecks including financial and information constraints, difficulties in dealing with regulatory complexities and, importantly, an international investment environment in which facilitation and investment promotion institutions are often geared towards attracting large-scale investment projects." The report points out "Foreign direct investment (FDI) by SMEs has been in decline in recent years: the number of outward greenfield investment projects in 2022 was only about a quarter of that in 2015."

With financial support of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, UNCTAD's report says that "Based on original empirical studies in different developing regions and selected developed economies, this report discusses how to reduce the common investment policy bias in home and host countries towards large MNEs, the role of SMEs in South–South and intraregional FDI, and ways and means to maximize the development impact of SME FDI." What is more, "It introduces a new framework to assess the relevance and effectiveness of existing investment policies for the promotion of SME investment and presents policy options to facilitate overseas investment by SMEs and reduce the existing policy bias." These policy options include:
  • Adjusting investment promotion and facilitation services towards addressing the needs and challenges that SMEs face, so that size does not hinder their access to financial incentives and facilitation mechanisms.
  • Establishing comprehensive support networks and designing accessible matchmaking program and events to help small businesses connect and to foster sustained and successful partnerships.
  • Improving SMEs' competitiveness by supporting their innovation capacity, including through digitalization, technology adoption and capacity-building.
  • Facilitating SMEs' access to capital, including by improving digital services and infrastructure development.
  • Simplifying the regulatory and administrative framework and improving access to information by using digital platforms.
  • Promoting SMEs' participation in trade to increase their international exposure and knowledge of foreign markets.

I agree with the UNCTAD that "By implementing a combination of these policies, governments can create an environment that supports SMEs in their efforts to invest and thrive in international markets and to harness the related development benefits."

What are your recommendation for promoting international investment by small and medium-sized enterprises?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

January 31, 2024

Global Trends in Commodities and Threats to Watch in 2024

"After three years of extreme volatility, commodities prices are set to broadly stabilize in 2024," according a report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (the EIU). Moreover, "This apparent stasis may come as a surprise given the many geopolitical headwinds buffeting the global economy at the moment. These range from adverse weather conditions to escalating conflict in the Middle East and rocketing freight rates owing to disrupted shipping routes through the Suez and Panama canals. However, this holding pattern for commodities prices in 2024 belies what will be an eventful year as markets remain volatile in the short term before secular trends, especially those linked to the green transition, come to the fore."

The EIU says El Niño and the Russia-Ukraine war still loom large for soft commodities. With respect to the former, "Prices for food, feedstuffs and beverages (FFB) will rise over the course of 2024, driven primarily by beverages, as El Niño will hit production and therefore prices for coffee and cocoa will increase." The report encouragingly says "Some relief is in sight, with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) giving a 72% chance that El Niño will come to an end by mid-year. But the damage to this season's harvests will already be done by then, with coffee and cocoa production forecast to fall by 9% and 13% respectively in the 2023/24 crop season."

As for Russia's unjustified invasion of Ukraine, the report points out that "Russia's permanent withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative poses another upside risk to global food prices, particularly wheat, maize and oilseeds. However, the impact on prices so far has been muted, as Ukraine has managed to export grains and oilseeds via alternative road and rail routes across the country's western borders." The EIU explains how "Ukraine's grain exports initially plummeted following the collapse of the grain deal last summer, but they have recently picked up after Ukraine successfully established a temporary shipping corridor through the western Black Sea with the help of Romania and Bulgaria."

The report importantly says "exports will still not match pre-war levels, which will keep a floor under wheat and maize prices in the short run. At the same time, rice prices will rise in 2024, underpinned by white rice export restrictions in India — by far the largest supplier to the global market."

The EIU is also forecasting oilseeds prices stabilizing in 2024 and as with international soybean stockpiles remaining relatively tight, "prices will remain susceptible to perceived threats to world supplies, either from climate events or further supply-chain disruption." However, the EIU expects "a strong rise in soybean production (owing to a bumper crop in Argentina, which actually benefits from El Niño), which will drive soybean prices downwards over the course of the year. Despite a probable market deficit in the 2023/24 season (October-September), palm oil prices will remain low due to falling prices for rapeseed and sunflowerseed oils, which are also benefiting from Ukraine's temporary export route."

The green transition will be a driver of base metals prices by end-2024, according to the report. The EIU's forecast for their "base metals price index will increase by an average of 3% in 2024, after falling by more than 11% in 2023, as the green transition supports rising demand for critical minerals. Even for metals such as nickel that will register significant year-on-year declines in 2024, prices are poised to rise from their end-2023 levels. Despite a strong supply response from producers, which will lead to a market in oversupply in 2024, low reserves will make nickel susceptible to supply-chain disruption." Furthermore, "London Metal Exchange (LME) warehouse stockpiles remain low by historical standards and the availability of class 1 nickel will be limited by end-users deciding to avoid using Russian supply."

The EIU is predicting energy prices, excluding crude oil, will trend downwards in 2024. In the comping year, "prices of hydrocarbons will largely trend in the opposite direction than those of most industrial raw materials and soft commodities. We expect average European natural gas prices to fall by one-fifth in 2024, after plummeting by more than two-thirds in 2023, largely due to demand destruction, particularly in industry. However, there will be periodic spikes owing to market anxiety about the security of global supply chains, amid rising geopolitical tensions stoked by the Israel-Hamas war. Nevertheless, prices will remain historically high, limiting any significant recovery in industrial demand."

In addition, "Strong European demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) will push up US prices from their current low base and limit the fall in LNG prices. Coal prices will continue to trend downwards as long as gas storage levels in Europe remain seasonally high and LNG continues flowing to the continent, limiting the squeeze on gas supplies in Europe."

As for crude oil prices, "The US has ramped up production and exports, and the global market has moved back into surplus (production exceeding demand). However, as Saudi Arabia is unlikely to increase output markedly this year, and with other OPEC members also implementing voluntary cuts, the market will periodically return to deficit, which will limit the downside to oil price forecasts. Global oil demand will also put a floor under prices and is set to reach record highs in 2024 and in subsequent years as consumption in the developing world continues to increase." What is more, "Heightened geopolitical risks tied to the Israel-Hamas war still threaten to cause prices to soar again. Although we expect crude oil prices to remain volatile, they should mostly trade at about US$80/barrel, essentially where they began the year."

What trends in commodities and threats are you watching in the next 12 months?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

January 26, 2024

How Corporate Boards Can Confront Crisis and Embrace Opportunity

As we enter into 2024, the world is experiencing conflicts in a multitude of countries and these conflicts are having an adverse effect on global trade, which in turn, impacts global financial markets. As EY, a consultancy, says in its report on how boards of American companies can confront crisis and embrace opportunity, "Dynamic global crises continue to challenge companies, with the escalation of conflict in the Middle East, the war in Ukraine, geopolitical complexities related to China, and an uneven global economy creating a sense of permanent crisis on a multitude of fronts." 

The multinational consultancy adds: "At the same time, exceptional growth opportunities seem at hand. Generative AI (GenAI) represents a groundbreaking leap in technology with the potential to increase productivity and transform work, business models and society. Further, the continuing energy transition demands a reframing of business strategy to mitigate risks and thrive in a low-carbon economic future."

Moreover, "In this context of crisis and opportunity, directors are deepening their engagement. They are guiding companies to build resilience by considering multiple alternative scenarios and carefully balancing discipline and transformation."

Below are the key findings of each chapter of the report with recommended actions for boards and questions a board should be asking (the recommended board actions and questions are copied verbatim):


The report's first chapter focuses on how to stay agile amid continued economic uncertainty. The chapter's key point is boards should enhance oversight and flexibility as uncertain economic conditions persist. "Global economic activity remains subdued heading into 2024, with rising geopolitical tensions and tightening financial conditions as key risks. As the year begins, companies can expect slower business and consumer spending, along with softer labor market conditions and still-elevated costs." Furthermore, "Companies must navigate an ever‑shifting landscape of geopolitical and economic uncertainty. To do so, they will need to build resilience and agility in their operations."

What boards should do in 2024:
  • Embrace agility and oversee flexible strategic planning that incorporates dynamic multi-scenario planning. Boards have an opportunity to guide management, pressure-test plans, and assess multiple options for achieving strategic goals in the current operating environment. Directors should ask what economic, financial and customer demand scenarios have been considered and what the potential impacts are on financial performance, growth and strategy.
  • Confirm how the board will receive timely updates about macroeconomic developments that could impact the company. The board is a strategic resource to the management team in preparing for different economic scenarios and thus needs timely and relevant information from experts beyond the management team to do this effectively. This information should directly inform scenario planning.
  • Help management focus on the long term. This will be important as the company considers how to adapt to potential economic deceleration and various challenging geopolitical developments. For example, the board can oversee how productivity, training and efficiency gains can offset higher labor costs. The board can also encourage capital strategies that position the company to thrive as broader technology and sustainability trends continue to reshape the business environment.
Questions for the board to consider in order to enhance oversight and flexibility as uncertain economic conditions persist:
  • How is the company planning for a range of economic scenarios, including those in which geopolitical developments keep inflation elevated, and potentially rising, for longer?
  • How often does the board ask leadership: "What if we’re wrong?" How is the company considering what it would do differently if a low-probability, high-impact scenario was to emerge?
  • What is the company doing to stress-test its balance sheet and develop and test a crisis playbook that gives company leaders comfort in their ability to manage through even the worst‑case scenario?
  • How is the company developing a resilient strategy around pricing, capacity management and location, and distribution that is nimble enough to navigate a world where demand will ebb and flow more significantly than in the past few decades? How is scenario planning supporting that strategy?
  • How is the company evaluating costs, investments and decisions in the context of its long-term strategy, especially regarding technology, talent and the energy transition?


Focusing on how to balance discipline and transformation in capital strategy, chapter two of the report discusses how to adapt strategic priorities to a slower-growth environment. According to EY, "A mantra for many leadership teams this year will be financial discipline. Growth at any cost has given way to investments that must show a clear path to profitability or value creation. Still, companies cannot afford to retrench." In addition, "Companies cannot afford to let financial caution prohibit necessary investments for long-term growth, such as those related to technology and sustainability."

What boards should do in 2024:
  • Encourage accelerated investment for long-term growth and competitiveness. Boards must keep the long term in view for management so that companies do not miss out on innovations or avoid tough decisions that will be necessary to stay competitive in a future that will look very different from the past.
  • Enable management to maximize profitability and position for business model transformation. Challenge how management is identifying opportunities for cost management, tracking the progress on investment decisions and considering how markets could evolve and impact the use of capital in existing and potential businesses. Probe how internal rationalization, cost cutting and divestitures can fund future transformation.
  • Promote enhanced communication with investors about the company's capital strategy. Capital allocation can be a key area of focus for activist investors, and a bear market leaves companies more exposed at a time when investors are less forgiving. In an environment of heightened shareholder activism, boards can help challenge whether companies are doing enough to communicate the company's strategy narrative proactively with shareholders.
Questions for the board to consider to facilitate the balancing of discipline and transformation in capital strategy:
  • How is the company optimizing its capital management and reducing direct and indirect costs through an era of continual change? How is it considering internal cost cutting as potential funding for ambitious transformation?
  • How is the company investing to mitigate risk and create long‑term growth opportunity despite multiple headwinds? Is it maintaining the right balance of innovation and capital strength?
  • How is the board defining its role as stewards of investor capital? Does that role include positioning the business to thrive as the world evolves?
  • How is the company's capital investment strategy changing in areas such as digital and technology, people and skills, innovation and research and development (R&D), and sustainability? How are board committees coordinating their oversight of these matters?
  • What types of transactions (e.g., M&A, divestment, new joint ventures or strategic alliances) is the company considering to achieve its strategic goals? Are those options explored at the board level or is the board presented only with management's decision?
  • How is the company's investor engagement program keeping key shareholders informed of the company’s long-term value creation strategies and the board’s related expertise? Do disclosures describing the board’s composition demonstrate that, individually and collectively, the board is fit for purpose?


The next chapter of the report addresses the importance of embracing cybersecurity and data privacy as strategic advantages. Emphasizing how companies should broaden cybersecurity and data privacy beyond compliance, the report points out that "While cybersecurity and data privacy are perennial concerns for boards, they include a complex set of always-evolving drivers, and background knowledge that can quickly stale. 2023 saw a variety of different changes in the cybersecurity landscape, such as the quick adoption of new technologies, new geopolitical influences, new regulatory requirements and increasing nation‑state bad actors." What is more, "A more complicated environment will likely cause many organizations to mature their cybersecurity oversight through 2024."

What boards should do in 2024:
  • Reconsider whether cybersecurity oversight is structured the right way. The new SEC disclosure rules may be a good opportunity for the board to reconsider whether it is structured appropriately to oversee cybersecurity in the years ahead. To do so, it may consider adding (or removing) a focused committee, concentrating or distributing cyber expertise throughout the board, changing the cadence of cyber discussions, or otherwise altering the board agenda.
  • Participate in complex cyber threat tabletop exercises. These can be done either separately or with management, and complex cyber exercises can be incorporated into the board calendar. These scenarios should be varied and dynamic. Although it may be unlikely that a specific scenario will be replayed in real life, the simulation can develop the board’s muscles for dealing with a challenging crisis; pressure-test existing playbooks, discussing policy such as whether the company will pay ransoms; and uncover opportunities to improve processes and procedures.
  • Maintain a wide variety of voices in the boardroom. In addition to members of the cybersecurity team, directors may seek a variety of voices, ranging from operators and internal audit to HR and strategy, to understand the company's preparation that extends beyond threat and response to data privacy and ethical data usage. This can give insight into how the company’s cyber risk appetite is being applied and whether the cyber risk culture meets expectations. Further, complexity can be a barrier to effectively combating cyber threats. The board may ask management teams to consider how IT security systems can be simplified.
Questions for the board to consider to embrace cybersecurity and data privacy as strategic advantages:
  • How has management adapted the cyber response playbook to the threat environment that continues to evolve?
  • Have appropriate and meaningful cybersecurity and data privacy metrics been identified and provided to the board on a regular basis, and have dollar amounts been assigned to these risks?
  • What is the state of the organization's cyber risk culture? How can the organization minimize employees' susceptibility to online manipulation and deceit?
  • What information has management provided to help the board assess which critical business assets and partners, including third parties and suppliers, are most vulnerable to cyber attacks?
  • How does management evaluate and categorize identified cyber and data privacy incidents and determine which ones to escalate to the board?
  • How does the organization use data to build and maintain trust with stakeholders, such as employees, customers, suppliers and investors?
  • What controls are in place for ethical usage of technology to promote stakeholder trust and data privacy?
  • Has the board participated with management in one of its cyber breach simulations in the last year? How rigorous was the testing?
  • Has the company leveraged a third-party assessment to validate that the company's cyber risk management program is meeting its objectives? If so, is the board having direct dialogue with the third-party related to the scope of work and findings?


The fourth chapter of EY's report addresses the importance of guiding responsible and transformative innovation and technology by enabling the company to innovate in a way that is both revolutionary and ethical. "GenAI is only one of many emerging technologies that is already impacting business in expected and unexpected ways. Other technologies and innovations include the metaverse, Internet of Things, Web3, and quantum computing. These advancements will transform the work organizations do and the environment in which they operate." The report further asserts that "GenAI's appeal puts pressure on management to take advantage of its potential for strategic advantage before their competitors do, or risk falling behind."

What boards should do in 2024:
  • Strengthen management accountability for responsible AI. Boards are in a strong position to make sure that management teams are creating responsible AI policies that effectively manage the risks and capitalize on the opportunities available for the enterprise while keeping the company's values and purpose as a north star. It is not enough to require that policies are in place. Boards should go further to push management to ensure that employees adhere to such policies, that there is a mechanism to determine if they are not and that managers are quickly fixing problems.
  • Embrace a range of perspectives and experiences in the boardroom. Directors with a wide variety of professional and lived experience are increasingly important to help drive innovation and govern emerging technology. This diversity enables the board to better identify nontraditional threats and encourage management teams to responsibly leverage new technologies and innovations. Further, a variety of perspectives from within the boardroom fosters an environment that facilities robust discussion, allowing key assumptions and conclusions in strategy, operations and other areas to undergo thorough pressure testing.
  • Gain visibility into external trends and internal capabilities. An intentional approach to understanding the trends likely to impact the company over the long term is critical for a "future‑back" approach to strategy. This strategy approach envisions possible future scenarios and then works backward to identify the strategic objectives in order to ensure the company is viable in that future. Further, working to understand the company's internal capabilities by going beyond C-suite presentations through hands-on experience and R&D visits can help the board better evaluate how management is placing bets across the enterprise.
  • Build agility into the decision-making process. The pace of innovation is fast and may only get faster. A traditional board meeting cadence — four to six full board and committee meetings a year — may be insufficient to support the needs of the company. Boards should work with their management teams to consider a more flexible trigger-based approach to strategic planning that entails a more consistent evaluation of the future. At the same time, boards may gain value by looking inward to consider the current structure for overseeing innovation and emerging technology. Confirming that the board’s structure remains fit for purpose is critical to making sure the board does its best to support innovation and emerging technology.
  • Investigate innovation in the boardroom. The board may start to consider the ways in which innovations such as GenAI can improve its own work. GenAI may be able to support boards by summarizing large and complex board materials, more efficiently schedule time for board and committee meetings, and provide background and learning curriculum for new and emerging boardroom topics.
Questions for the board to consider to enable the company to innovate in a way that is both revolutionary and ethical:
  • What is the company's path to value with GenAI and other technologies? How are the risks identified and managed?
  • What policies has the company implemented to confirm that GenAI is used responsibly? How does management know they are working?
  • How is the company's innovation budget and program contributing to the creation of an informed strategic plan leveraging emerging technology?
  • How is the board thinking about and redefining competitors or industry boundaries? Who might now be a competitor but wasn't previously?
  • How are responses to changing stakeholder demands, expectations and operational disruptions leading management teams to innovate?
  • How are investments in innovation tracked and reported to the board? Is the board engaged in innovation discussions as part of the strategy-setting process?
  • How is the board building a foundational understanding of evolving technologies, including learning through hand-on demonstration and experience? How will companies create an ecosystem in which AI and data protection coexist and create synergies to generate a better value proposition for users and customers?


Chapter five of centers on enabling a people-centric workforce strategy by guiding talent engagement and cultivation amid a rebalancing of power and a reimagining of work. "The talent landscape is constantly being disrupted by a combination of cyclical and structural forces. This has led to a divergence in perspectives between employers and employees." I agree that "Employers may be underestimating the fluidity of the labor market." As the report explains: "While 57% of employers believe that a more challenging economic climate would reduce employees' likelihood of seeking new jobs, the survey found that a significant 34% of employees expressed their willingness to leave their current jobs within the next 12 months. This highlights the importance of talent availability, acquisition and retention. For directors who view talent as a top priority in 2024, 77% said these topics were most important."

What boards should do in 2024:
  • Seek a deeper view into employee sentiment and perspectives by hearing from employees more directly. Boards should actively engage with the chief human resources officer (CHRO) and seek direct input through tools such as pulse surveys and interactions with front-line employees. This approach enables boards to hear employees' voices directly and fosters a culture of inclusivity and engagement.
  • Guide management to put people first in workforce strategy and cultivate a culture of trust. This involves boards evaluating the leadership team and their incentives to energize and inspire employees, ultimately gaining their trust. Additionally, boards should oversee how management implements workforce re‑skilling and training initiatives to prepare the workforce for future challenges, while actively involving employees as partners in that transformative journey.
  • Enhance stakeholder communications around compensation committees' oversight of human capital matters. With potential new SEC rules and heightened attention on high-profile strikes, stakeholders will scrutinize the board’s role in governing the talent agenda. Investors will seek to understand whether the compensation committee or full board has a meaningful impact on shaping a resilient talent strategy.
Questions for the board to consider to guide talent engagement and cultivation amid a rebalancing of power and a reimagining of work:
  • How does the company's talent strategy advance its overall strategy? What changes have been made to other elements of the business to advance the talent strategy?
  • How is the company identifying and addressing employees' chief areas of concern?
  • How is the company's leadership team earning trust with employees? Do the company's employees feel connected, inspired and well-informed at work? Do they feel that leadership cares about them as people?
  • How often is the board engaging directly with the CHRO or equivalent and what is the substance of those discussions? How is the board getting a direct line of sight into employee perspectives below the executive level?
  • What human capital management metrics are the board or compensation committee reviewing? How do those metrics align with the long-term talent strategy, and what narrative is the company communicating to stakeholders about its talent agenda?
  • How is the company providing support for career path and progression, including mentoring, learning and development programs, and updating organizational design to open opportunities for advancement? Are upskilling and retention central to the company’s talent strategy, including key areas such as technology and sustainability?
  • How is the company making the use of AI compatible with talent development so that the company’s strategy can adapt quickly to the constantly changing business ecosystem?
  • How is the company approaching in-office, fully remote or hybrid working models and maximizing the human experience of work in its talent strategy? How is the board getting insight into employee sentiment related to hybrid and remote working across different job functions, geography, age and gender?


With the thesis of balancing top priorities with additional imperatives, being careful to not overwhelm the board agenda, the report's sixth chapter addresses the importance of keeping other focus areas on the board agenda. "The board's priorities for 2024 are not the only areas of risk and opportunity that boards will need to address this year. There are other business imperatives to consider in the year ahead" such as keeping pace with regulatory developments, guiding political considerations, overseeing supply chains as strategic assets, and addressing climate change and environmental stewardship.

Questions for the board to consider 2024:
  • What systems and processes are in place to monitor international and domestic legislative and regulatory developments and keep the board informed as appropriate? How is management taking prudent action now to prepare for future regulation as appropriate?
  • How is the company ensuring visibility across global supply chains and considering alternative suppliers to improve resilience to shortages or price volatility? Is it evaluating supplier relationships for potential geopolitical complications and exploring alternative networks tuned to the new geostrategic environment?
  • Does the company view climate- and nature-related initiatives as a means of protecting and creating more value for the business?
  • How is it exploring opportunities to transform its business portfolios while reducing emissions?
  • How is the company engaging and supporting suppliers to influence emissions reduction through their supply chains? Has the company considered a strategic partnership or joint venture to help achieve its climate agenda?
  • How well do management and the board understand how geopolitical developments affect current and future strategy? Is scenario planning used to explore multiple plausible futures and their potential business implications systematically?


EY concludes its report noting that "In 2024, boards will need to enhance their strategic value by enabling resilience through discipline and transformation. They must guide management to balance short-term demands and long-term growth and support the organization as it confronts crisis and embraces opportunity."

Moreover, "While cyclical changes such as inflation and consumer spending require attention and may present tactical opportunities, it is structural changes such as the GenAI revolution, geopolitical fragmentation and the energy transition that are significantly impacting strategy and raising the stakes for businesses and society. Effective boards will provide valuable insights, effective challenge and leadership to enable companies to make agile decisions aligned with their values in this turbulent environment."

In the report's introduction, EY notes that its "2024 board priorities relate to near-term issues (e.g., economic uncertainty and the cost of capital) as well as longer-term priorities (e.g., innovation and workforce development)." I agree that "A crucial role of the board this year will be guiding management in balancing what is urgent to address now with what is vital to invest in for the future." How is your business balancing the urgent matters that need address now with investing in vital initiatives for a sustainable future?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

January 18, 2024

AI Led the Global Conversation at CES 2024

Me, my mom, Lindy Rose, and my
colleague, Patricia Berdejo, attending
CES on Jan. 12, 2024
"AI, AI, AI," was the prominent theme at CES® 2024, which saw over 4,300 exhibitors including a record 1,400+ startups from around the globe in Eureka Park®. As in previous years, this year's CES, which took place from Jan. 9-12, 2024, showcased the innovative trends shaping tomorrow and solving the world's most pressing challenges. This post focuses on a few of observations of attending this year's event in Las Vegas, Nev.

As noted in a press release issued by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the organization that produces CES, artificial intelligence "led the global conversation at CES 2024. Companies highlighted the enormous potential of AI to improve our world with cutting-edge applications that will transform how we communicate, do business and take care of one another." Several AI-focused panel sessions took place during the four day event including on that explored the relationship between ethics and AI in academia, AI's impact on the creative process and content businesses, and how generative AI is leading the transformation of hardware and chips.

CTA's announcement also notes that "CES established access to technology as the eighth pillar of the Human Security for All (HS4A) global campaign, which focuses on the critical role technology plays to improve every aspect of the human experience." Tech is a catalyst for tomorrow, powering solutions to pressing global challenges." Attendees saw the release of a new report released Force for Good on tech's influence on human securities. "Aligned with CTA's CES 2024 Tech Trends to Watch, the report proved that universal connectivity and leveraging AI across human securities will improve our world," the Arlington, Va.-based organization said.

More companies are showing their commitment to sustainable solutions "through technologies, products, and services to reduce emissions and waste by streamlining electrification, developing renewable energy sources, and experimenting with new technologies such as battery recycling." As for Accessibility & Innovation for All, the CTA points out that "CES 2024 fostered a platform centered on universal design for the diverse tech industry to come together and converse on the next wave of innovation. CES featured sessions on diversity in the tech industry, a wave of new technologies that will improve lives and advances in accessible gaming. CTA also announced a new investment partnership in TFX Capital, which supports veteran entrepreneurs in tech."

As for digital health, the CTA explains that "Tools and technologies aimed at lowering costs, improving health equity and saving lives were highlighted. Innovations included digital therapeutics, mental wellness, sleep tech, women's health tech and telemedicine. At the CES Digital Health Summit, Mark Cuban and his Cost Plus Drug Company broke news about a new partnership, while capacity crowds joined the Digital Health mixer and programming with officials from the FDA and across the health policy space."

In what continues to be one of my favorite components of CES, Eureka Park grew this year with over 1,400 exhibiting startups including country and territory pavilions representing France, Hong Kong, Italy, Israel, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Taiwan, and Ukraine. As highlighted in the previous post on this forum, I attended an event that preceded CES that featured several European startups. During CES, I had the opportunity to getting better acquainted with the founders at the exhibit booths in Eureka Park.

Among the other exhibitors from around the globe, I was impressed with Brickify, a Nigerian startup that is turning recycled plastic waste into water-, fire-, and heat-resistant paving bricks used to construct roads and low cost homes. Ghostpass is a company based in Korea that created a decentralized remote biometric authentication solution that monitors and controls large amounts of biometric information by storing it individually on users' smart devices rather than storing it in bulk in the cloud.

Midbar, which is another firm based in Korea, created an inflatable farm that enables food production anytime, anywhere. Without heavy and costly steel frames, the AirFarm is designed to be lightweight but sturdy. The AirFarm converts moisture from the air into water in real-time. It recirculates the moisture produced by crops back to the roots, making it the world's first farm that operates without water infrastructure.

Lastly, as mentioned by the CTA, while we are experiencing "a moment of global uncertainty and rapid technology advancement, government leaders shared an optimistic view of regulation to empower tech innovation, including in AI." At the Innovation Policy Summit, over "160 international, federal, state and local government officials and staff participated in the Leaders in Technology Program, which convened top innovators and policymakers to discuss the future of pressing tech policy issues, including privacy, health innovation, trade policy, competition, artificial intelligence and self-driving vehicles."

If you attended CES 2024, what were your key moments and takeaways?​

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.