Leading your team of hunter-gatherers

There was much consternation among business leaders about the changing demands placed on them before the global coronavirus pandemic. Some of the concern was generationally driven. Some was rooted in the gig economy and the growing demand for alternative work arrangements. And some of it was about the need and expectation for constant upskilling. Then came COVID-19, like an earthquake on top of already significant tectonic shifts, turning even staid nine-to-five office dwellers into a hyper-nimble, dispersed workforce of the future.

Leaders who expect things to get back to “normal” are ignoring the lessons of evolutionary history. Our current circumstances demand that businesses, and their leadership, adapt or die — but how? The answer to this question also lies in humanity’s deep past.

Generational differences within the workforce get a lot of attention. Yet the most significant changes leaders must deal with actually arise from the transition to project-oriented work

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Enterprise agility and experience management efforts work best when they work together

The leaders of the financial firm’s business transformation had reason to be proud. They’d been getting good results in their efforts to embed agile methods in the company’s operations. In the credit card contact center, for instance, they’d slashed the trouble ticket backlog by 97 percent in the first year of their initiative and reduced training time for new hires from five days to less than two.

Yet the leaders had found it difficult to scale agile across the entire organization. They struggled to identify, prioritize, and activate the program’s highest-value applications after their initial success. And they were no better at consistently and comprehensively measuring the impact of the opportunities they did pursue.

Enterprise agility was not the only initiative to run aground at the firm. The chief customer officer had been building an experience management (XM) discipline — tracking customer journeys, collecting data from customers and employees worldwide,

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Amping up innovation

The global utilities sector, which has a market capitalization of US$2.1 trillion, is at the front end of a dramatic energy transition that will radically alter future market strategies, business models, and customer interactions. As we noted in our 2019 Global power strategies report on the world’s 40 largest utilities (which we call the Global Top 40, or GT40), long-held hypotheses about market direction, pace, impacts, and requirements have been overturned. Companies are acutely focused on devising market responses to the challenges of that transition by decarbonizing the generation mix, embedding grid intelligence, redefining customer value propositions, and elevating technology’s role in enabling energy supply, delivery, and consumption.

As our colleagues Blair Sheppard, Daria Zarubina, and Alexis Jenkins have written, industries — including utilities — were already facing a need to reconfigure their businesses to deal with the impact of forces such as digitization. But the COVID-19 pandemic has

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How data centers can give back to society

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the already powerful trend of digitization. Since the beginning of 2020, an increasing array of activities have been driven online: work (virtual meetings), shopping (online groceries), and entertainment (streaming). These trends add up to more demand for the workhorses of the digital economy — especially data centers, the buildings that house computer, telecommunications, and storage systems. The global data center industry is expected to grow by US$284.44 billion between 2019 and 2023, representing a 17 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR), according to a report by Technavio. PwC’s Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2020–2024 projects data consumed will grow by 2,342 trillion megabytes, representing a 20.9 percent CAGR.

As the sector grows, so will the scrutiny from stakeholders demanding responsible and sustainable growth, because data centers are significant users of electricity and power. In 2018, data centers accounted for about 205 terawatt-hours of electricity

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Why corporate well-being initiatives need to get personal

It’s now been several months since companies first implemented their COVID-19 crisis response initiatives. Although in many parts of the world the virus continues to present serious health and economic challenges, company leaders must balance such urgencies with the need to take a longer-term view of their company’s prospects. To better understand this dynamic, PwC recently conducted a CEO Panel SurveyPDF, asking nearly 700 CEOs how their company’s business model will change after the pandemic. Their responses spoke volumes about how the future of work is likely to evolve.

As the leaders of small private firms and US$1 billion-plus public companies, representing a diverse cross section of industries, countries, and regions, these CEOs make the decisions that will redefine how and where work gets done — with implications for untold numbers of employees. The survey revealed that CEOs’ plans focus on three key areas: to become more digital

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Connecting the dots in an uncertain world

In 1945, a U.S. defense contractor employee was working on the magnetron, a microwave-emitting tube used in radar systems to detect Nazi warplanes, when he noticed something unexpected: The bar of chocolate in his coat was melting. Percy Lebaron Spencer hadn’t been the first to observe this effect of the magnetron, but he was the first to be curious enough to experiment with it. With a prototyped metal box and a high-density electromagnetic field, he investigated its effect on different foods, such as popcorn and eggs. The first microwave was born, with a helping hand from serendipity.

In his new book, The Serendipity Mindset, Christian Busch, director of the global economy program at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, makes the case that serendipity is the result of a sensibility that allows people to spot and act on unexpected, fortuitous connections when others would dismiss them. And he

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