Anti-equilibrium Archive

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Ericsson ConsumerLab Report – 10 Hot Consumer Trends 2018

Imagine you have just arrived home from work. You wave your hand, and the lamp turns on, flashing the light in greeting. The home speaker begins to play music, but when you give it an exasperated look, it turns off. You make a coffee, but grimace because it’s too bitter. The coffee machine immediately offers to add sugar or milk.

Two things are conspicuously absent from this vision of a not-too-distant future. One is an appliance with switches and knobs, and the other is a smartphone full of remote control apps. Our research indicates that consumers are increasingly moving towards a paradigmatic shift in how they expect to interact with technology. Ever more things are becoming connected, but the complexities of how to control them all are a different matter.

On the one hand, alternative yet equally good user interface solutions for simple functions have existed for much longer than we’ve had electronic gadgets. A Westerner who experiences an Asian meal for the first time soon finds out that the user interface to that meal is a pair of chopsticks rather than a knife and fork. On the other hand, mass-market acceptance of digital technology has made the proliferation of user interfaces practically infinite. Every new device with a screen adds new user interface variations, which are then multiplied by the number of apps within each gadget.

Today you have to know all the devices. But tomorrow all the devices will have to know you. If consumers continue to be faced with the prospect of learning and relearning how to use devices in the face of an ever-increasing pace of technological change, they will become increasingly reluctant to buy in to the future. We might already be close to that breaking point. The current generation of “flat” user interfaces do not use 3D effects or embellishments to make clickable interface elements, such as buttons, stand out. It is difficult for users to know where to click. As a result, they navigate web pages 22 percent slower.1 For this reason, our trends for 2018 and beyond focus on various aspects of more direct interaction between consumers and technology.

With 5G, connectivity is set to become ubiquitous. This might sound simple, but it involves a huge technology upgrade; devices must be able to relay complex human interaction data to cloud-based processing, and respond intuitively within milliseconds. The Internet of Things (IoT) must provide interoperability between all devices, and allow for mobility. Network availability also needs to be maintained, so that devices do not suddenly go offline and lose their human-like capabilities.

More: www.ericsson.com

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EY Tax alert

Report on recent US international tax developments. The United States (US) Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on 4 June issued a news release (IR-2018-131) announcing that certain late-payment penalties relating to the Internal Revenue Code Section 965 repatriation transition tax will be waived, and providing additional information for individuals subject to the transition tax regarding the due date for relevant elections. The relief is explained in three new FAQs posted on the IRS’ tax reform page, supplementing 14 existing questions and answers that provide details on reporting and paying the tax.

The IRS announced that, in some cases, the IRS will waive estimated tax penalties for taxpayers subject to the transition tax who improperly attempted to apply a 2017 calculated overpayment to their 2018 estimated tax, if all required estimated tax payments are made by 15 June 2018. In addition, the IRS will waive the late payment penalty for individual taxpayers who missed the 18 April 2018 deadline, if the installment is paid in full by 15 April 2019. This relief is only available if the total transition tax liability is less than US$1 million.

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EY’s new Tax News Update: Global  Edition is a free, personalized email subscription service that allows you to receive EY Global Tax Alerts, newsletters, events, and thought leadership published across all areas of tax. For additional information with respect to this Alert, please contact the following:

Ernst & Young LLP, International Tax Services, Washington, DC

Arlene Fitzpatrick arlene.fitzpatrick@ey.com;

Joshua Ruland joshua.ruland@ey.com

More: Global Tax alert library in https://www.ey.com

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ATK – Smart cities: Digital solutions for a more livable future

 

As cities get smarter, they are becoming more livable and more responsive—and today we are seeing only a preview of what technology could eventually do in the urban environment.

Until recently, city leaders thought of smart technologies primarily as tools for becoming more efficient behind the scenes. Now technology is being injected more directly into the lives of residents. Smartphones have become the keys to the city, putting instant information about transit, traffic, health services, safety alerts, and community news into millions of hands.

After a decade of trial and error, municipal leaders are realizing that smart-city strategies start with people, not technology. “Smartness” is not just about installing digital interfaces in traditional infrastructure or streamlining city operations. It is also about using technology and data purposefully to make better decisions and deliver a better quality of life.

Quality of life has many dimensions, from the air residents breathe to how safe they feel walking the streets. The latest report from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), Smart cities: Digital solutions for a more livable future (PDF–6MB), analyzes how dozens of digital applications address these kinds of practical and very human concerns. It finds that cities can use smart technologies to improve some key quality-of-life indicators by 10 to 30 percent—numbers that translate into lives saved, fewer crime incidents, shorter commutes, a reduced health burden, and carbon emissions averted.

  1. What makes a city smart?
  2. Smart-city technologies have substantial unrealized potential to improve the urban quality of life
  3. A look at current deployment in 50 cities around the world shows that even the most advanced still have a long way to go
  4. Smart cities change the economics of infrastructure and create room for partnerships and private-sector participation

What makes a city smart? Smart cities put data and digital technology to work to make better decisions and improve the quality of life. More comprehensive, real-time data gives agencies the ability to watch events as they unfold, understand how demand patterns are changing, and respond with faster and lower-cost solutions. Three layers work together to make a smart city hum. First is the technology base, which includes a critical mass of smartphones and sensors connected by high-speed communication networks. The second layer consists of specific applications. Translating raw data into alerts, insight, and action requires the right tools, and this is where technology providers and app developers come in. The third layer is usage by cities, companies, and the public. Many applications succeed only if they are widely adopted and manage to change behavior. They encourage people to use transit during off-hours, to change routes, to use less energy and water and to do so at different times of day, and to reduce strains on the healthcare system through preventive self-care.

By Jonathan Woetzel, Jaana Remes, Brodie Boland, Katrina Lv, Suveer Sinha, Gernot Strube, John Means, Jonathan Law, Andres Cadena, and Valerie von der Tann

More: https://www.mckinsey.com

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BCG – How Complicated Is Your Company?

  

Around the world, economic growth is slowing down. In developed and emerging economies alike, growth rates have declined considerably from their peaks, and there is little evidence that they will rise substantially any time soon. Anemic expansion of labor productivity is largely to blame. As Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman wrote in The Age of Diminished Expectations, “Productivity isn’t everything, but in the long run it is almost everything. A country’s ability to improve its standard of living over time depends almost entirely on its ability to raise its output per worker.”

True, many factors can affect the rise and fall of labor productivity in the short term, including political instability, changing regulations, business cycles, technology investment, and the difficulty of improving the service sector’s productivity. But we believe that the underlying cause of the recent slowdown has been the ongoing, long-term rise of complicatedness, a phenomenon we first measured in one of our previous publications on Smart Simplicity, “Smart Rules: Six Ways to Get People to Solve Problems Without You.”1 We define complicatedness as the increase in organizational structures, processes, procedures, decision rights, metrics, scorecards, and committees that companies impose to manage the escalating complexity of their external business environment.

We recently surveyed executives and employees at more than 1,000 companies about their perceptions of the nature and degree of complicatedness at their organizations. The results highlight the strong connection between complicatedness and performance and indicate where companies should concentrate their efforts to simplify.

By Reinhard Messenböck , Yves Morieux , Jaap Backx , and Donat Wunderlich

More: www.bcg.com

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Global Illicit Trade Environment Index 2018

 

Economies around the world are facing the blight of illicit trade, which poses a threat to public health, the environment and innovation, and provides funds for transnational crime networks and terrorist organisations. How equipped are countries to prevent illicit trade?

To measure how nations are addressing the issue of illicit trade, the Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT) has commissioned The Economist Intelligence Unit to produce the Global Illicit Trade Environment Index, which evaluates 84 economies around the world on their structural capability to protect against illicit trade. The global index expands upon an Asia-specific version originally created by The Economist Intelligence Unit in 2016 to score 17 economies in Asia.

Finland ranks first in the Index with a score of 85.6 (out of 100), just barely ahead of the U.K. The rest of the top 10 includes a handful of European countries (Sweden, Austria, Netherlands, Denmark and Germany), along with the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. At the bottom of the Index ranking is a group of developing economies from all regions of the globe. Libya ranks last with a score of 8.4, and is joined by Iraq in 83rd place, scoring less than six points better. Filling out the bottom ten of the Index are: Myanmar, Laos, Venezuela, Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan, Belize and Ukraine. Regionally, Europe (34 economies in the index), earns the highest the average score (68.0). The Asia-Pacific (21 economies) comes second at 56.0 and the Americas (19 economies), including the U.S. and Canada, is third at 54.0. The Middle East and Africa (10 economies) comes in last, with an average score of 50.0. The Index is constructed on consideration of government policy, supply and demand, transparency and trade, and customs environment.

The Global Illicit Trade Environment Index is based on a similar index that was devised  and constructed in 2016 by Chris Clague. The 2018 update and expansion was conducted by Trisha Suresh, Michael Frank, with assistance from Chris Clague. Chris Clague wrote this report, focusing on the overall results, and Scott Aloysius provided research support. It was edited by Amanda Simms.

View the Interactive Index >>

 More: https://www.tracit.org/