Category Archives: How to

EU credibility as a people’s union rests on the social pillar

Buffeted by the pandemic and by populism, the EU needs the European Pillar of Social Rights to become a solid anchor of security for all.
By Liina Carr – Next week, the European Commission is set to unveil its Action Plan for putting the European Pillar of Social Rights into practice. The European Trade Union Confederation is pressing hard for an ambitious plan, which provides the means to achieve and monitor tangible social progress.

The EPSR was adopted by member states in 2017 but—partly due to the social and economic damage inflicted by the pandemic—European citizens might be forgiven for wondering what difference it has made to their lives. It was the former commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, who announced the initiative in his 2015 State of the Union address. The text was finally proclaimed by European Union leaders at the Social Summit in Gothenburg.

The ETUC played a major role in developing its 20 principles, which we see as crucial to strengthening the EU’s social dimension—ensuring that the welfare of workers and their families is not subordinated to the economic interests of the single market.

Despite its legalistic language, the pillar however lacks legal force: the principles do not give direct rights to any individual. It has been described as an agenda, ‘a compass for a renewed process of upward convergence towards better working and living conditions in Europe’.

The ETUC sees it as a guiding strategic framework, enabling the commission to bring forward legislation and other initiatives to strengthen social wellbeing. But at a time when the EU is under intense scrutiny for its handling of the Covid-19 crisis, implementing the pillar in a way that touches people’s lives is a question of credibility for European institutions and member-state governments in the eyes of their citizens. There is no time to waste. more>

Updates from McKinsey

Purpose for asset owners: Climbing a taller mountain
In the wake of the pandemic, the world’s long-term investors are reexamining their purpose.
By By Duncan Kauffman, Bryce Klempner, and Bruce Simpson – The world’s pension funds, sovereign-wealth funds, and endowments are no strangers to purpose—they intentionally strive to create positive societal impact. After all, they have long been using purpose as a not-so-secret weapon to attract talent while competing with higher-paying private-sector investment managers. As one chief talent officer of a major asset owner put it, “We can’t compete with Wall Street head-to-head on compensation, but we can emphasize the mission of the work we do: helping millions of our fellow citizens save for their retirements. That’s pretty meaningful.” Nevertheless, amid the pandemic, many institutions are redefining, or simply sharpening, their emphasis on purpose, with promising implications for their constituents and the societies in which they operate.

Experienced climbers

For asset owners, purpose begins with their mandate, one that many owners have taken great care to define. The mandate informs all strategic choices an asset owner makes, so many CEOs and chief investment officers (CIOs) are careful to align their top teams and board. For example, the website for the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan states, “Our name captures our purpose: to secure the future for Ontario’s teachers.” The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority describes its purpose as “. . . to secure and maintain the future welfare of the Emirate.” And the Yale Investments Office “seeks to provide high inflation-adjusted returns to support the current and future needs of the university.

These purpose statements typically share a common concept: asset owners commit to investing the capital they have been entrusted to preserve, by enhancing the long-term purchasing power of their beneficiaries. This purpose is noble; it is focused on helping others—and, in many cases, doing so on a large scale, for millions of beneficiaries or even an entire nation. It aims to help others by enhancing their autonomy. And it is typically cast as helping to orient institutions toward the long term—a horizon in which all stakeholders’ interests tend to converge. The power of these three dimensions of purpose has afforded asset owners comfort (and perhaps competitive advantage) in their distinctive purpose vis-à-vis other investment firms and financial institutions.

Many asset-owner executives may thus feel justifiably proud of their progress on organizational purpose. Yet increasingly, partly impelled by the global health crisis and partly by other societal forces, several asset owners are mulling an even taller mountain: using their capital, capabilities, and influence to contribute to the economic and social recovery of the communities in which they operate, so that they can deliver positive social impact beyond what they currently achieve.

Why do more?

Like many industries with a noble purpose, asset owners have a long history of harnessing some of the advantages that come from a strong shared sense of purpose—in talent (recruitment, retention, motivation, productivity), external engagement (policy and regulatory freedom), and risk management (in their own organizations and portfolios). Yet there are three reasons why asset owners are increasingly seeking to do more. more>

Updates from Ciena

How quickly can you activate new MPLS services?
MPLS tunnels are the go-to technology to deliver network services. But provisioning and activation can take days or even weeks. Blue Planet’s Mitch Auster details how intelligent automation can solve the many complexities of MPLS service activation.
By Mitch Auster – When it comes to delivering high quality services between geographically distributed locations, providers across the world have a go-to technology they rely on – MPLS tunnels. Each service request from a customer comes with unique requirements – a bank may require gold priority paths with redundancy, a television network may demand temporary network connectivity to stream an event, a federal agency might want to send traffic excluding certain countries, or a customer could ask for a high-bandwidth, low-latency path for data traversing between headquarters and their data center.

MPLS service activation in weeks

The current approach for provisioning and activating an MPLS service with such unique customer requirements can take days or even weeks. Under the present mode of operation, a provider must have access to the current network topology of an ever-changing network, evaluate the performance metrics of each device, link and path between multiple source and destinations pairs, use manual, legacy offline planning tools to compute the new path, and manually configure all the routers along the new path.

Add multi-vendor devices or multiple autonomous systems to this mix, and the overall cost in terms of both OPEX and efforts can be quite high. But with the competition waiting with improved offers, customers may not be willing to wait for weeks, or longer, while the provider searches for the most efficient path that meets customer constraints. more>

How to speak in public

Public speaking can feel like an ordeal, but take a lesson from the ancients: it’s a skill you can develop like any other
By John Bowe – Whether you’re facing a large crowd, a handful of colleagues at a conference table, a job recruiter over Zoom, or trying to hold your own during a family fight, the all-too-common experience of speech anxiety can feel like a frustrating act of self-betrayal. You wish to share your knowledge, beliefs and feelings. Yet the moment you decide it’s time to communicate them, the words … don’t … seem. To Want. To Come. Out. Of. Your Mouth.

Think about our usual ways of describing the problem: ‘I’m shy.’ ‘I suffer from speech anxiety.’ ‘I just don’t know how to be myself in front of a group.’ We often act as though the problem stems from a psychological or emotional shortcoming within us. After years of watching our looser-tongued peers express their ideas and passions, it’s easy to become resentful and alienated. These negative feelings can reinforce our original reaction: There’s too much stuff inside of me that I can’t express! There’s something wrong with me.

This diagnosis would have seemed utterly baffling to the ancient Greek educators and philosophers who invented language theory in the 4th century BCE, and then taught it to virtually every student in the West for 2,000 years until a couple of centuries ago. From the ancient perspective, public speaking, like writing or, for that matter, military prowess, was considered an art form – teachable, learnable, and utterly unrelated to issues of innate character or emotional makeup. To them, the idea of expecting the average, speech-ignorant person to be reliably eloquent would be like expecting an untrained adolescent to perform like a seasoned warrior on the battlefield. Their take holds true today – it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to be competent, much less masterful, in an art form you’ve never been taught to practice.

Under the larger discipline of rhetoric (the study of persuasion in all its forms), students in antiquity spent years acquiring a strategic understanding of how to temper logic, emotions and words with poise. Speaking well depended upon learning how to analyze all sides of an argument and assaying all possible avenues of commonality with one’s audience be­fore expressing an opinion. Similar to our approach to reading and writing today, speech training was a comprehensive, critical approach to knowledge, with an additional emphasis on psy­chology and social interaction. more>

From an industrial renaissance to an economy of value

By Francisco Jaime Quesado – While having to endure the ongoing era of a global pandemic, we are facing the prospect of an effective industrial renaissance that can change the way our economy works

In the new global economy, in which industry is becoming more important, companies have a new challenge – to redefine its value chain and to integrate the existing global networks with new ideas, new solutions and new proposals of competence. This industrial renaissance will be a contract of trust in this new agenda of change and a new effective vision for the future as it should mobilize those that have a set of effective value creations in the economy.

A post-pandemic industrial renaissance is the point of contact between those that believe in the power of people to create new solutions to more complex problems that are arising in society and those that want innovation and creativity to be the platform for the creation of value in a globally competitive economy. This ‘renaissance’ is, in essence, the confirmation of a process of integration of people into society – an individual’s contribution must be a commitment to the organization of society and its main elements.

The next stage in the process of rebirth must apply to the most critical factors of competence and trust, which includes a focus on innovation and the sharing of positive dynamics. We need society to have a new challenge. Society must be able to be the real platform of a more entrepreneurial society that is centered on new areas of knowledge and sectors of value.

In a modern and active society, the keyword is ‘co-creation’, which is used to promote a dynamic and active creation process that involves each citizen in the next big challenge for society. more>

Updates from ITU

GPS and garbage trucks: Mapping digital divides in U.S. cities
By Sarah Wray – Addressing the digital divide has become a top priority for cities around the world as COVID-19 has forced study, work and socializing online.

City leaders are increasingly recognizing the opportunity that remote work and technology can offer their citizens and local economy – as long as the right infrastructure is in place.

During a digital roundtable in a series organized by consulting company Ignite Cities and advocacy group the National League of Cities (NLC), Adrian Perkins, Mayor of Shreveport, and Alejandra Sotelo-Solis, Mayor of National City, detailed how closing the digital divide means not only getting residents connected but also helping them upskill for a changing job market. Perkins said:

“If our low-income communities don’t have access to reliable internet, you are cutting them off in so many ways,” including opportunities for remote work, high-paying jobs and educational tools.

He noted that mayors must work alongside the private sector and foster partnerships to close the divide but that leveraging public assets is also key.

“[Telecom companies] are private corporations and they have pushed for their bottom lines and people that could most afford [connectivity],” Perkins added.

“If you are a mayor that hasn’t started to yet work on the public side, on the public fibre that’s available and pushing your public agenda when it comes to bridging the digital divide, you are behind the power curve.” more>

Related>

The Texas Power Grid Failure Is a Climate Change Cautionary Tale

By Justin Worland – For scientists, the havoc wreaked by the extreme winter weather that hit Texas in mid-February dropping several inches of snow and leaving millions without power did not come as a surprise. Ten years ago, in 2011, energy regulators warned the state’s electric-grid operators that they were ill-prepared for an unprecedented winter storm. And for decades before that, climate scientists had cautioned that a warming planet would cause climate chaos, raising the average global temperature while driving unusual weather events like this one. For Texas, it was always just a matter of time.

Despite these warnings, the state was unprepared—which Texans realized as soon as the storm swept in. Equipment froze at power plants, leaving about half of the state’s electricity-generating capacity offline. Natural gas wells iced over, slowing the fuel supply that heats homes. Millions were left without electricity, at least one city turned off its water supply, and Harris County, where Houston is located, reported hundreds of cases of carbon monoxide poisoning as Texans turned on their own generators to warm up. “This shows a disastrous level of underpreparation,” says Daniel Cohan, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rice University in Houston, speaking to TIME shortly after he had lost water pressure. “We knew this weather event was coming … What went wrong?”

The catastrophe can be linked to a string of planning failures that didn’t take that threat seriously. Much of the electricity infrastructure in Texas wasn’t hardened-think of insulation and other protections that allow it to function in extreme winter weather. Several power plants remained offline for scheduled maintenance, ignoring weather forecasters’ warnings of the fast-approaching storm. And the storm disrupted the supply of fuel needed to run other such plants.

The cascade of failures in Texas signals what is perhaps the greatest challenge ahead in this climate-changed world: accepting that business as usual isn’t working. Across the planet, humans have built civilization to withstand the vagaries of a 20th century climate. The extreme weather events of the 21st century will look nothing like those that came before—and hundreds of years of past preparation will not suffice. “The future is not going to be like the past,” says Melissa Finucane, a co-director of the Rand Climate Resilience Center. “If we could just plan a little better, we could anticipate some of these problems.” more>

Gig workers: guinea pigs of the new world of work

Most discussion of gig workers has focused on their material insecurity. More attention also needs to be paid to what goes on in their heads.
By Pierre Bérastégui – The ‘gig’ economy has grown to become an intrinsic part of our society and yet the benefits and risks of this new way of working are still much debated. Understandably, the employment status of gig workers captures most public attention.

Most European Union member states lack clear regulations on this, so a platform’s terms and conditions determine the status of its ‘users’, based on the existing regulatory framework. Although there are instances of platforms offering employment contracts, most consider gig workers as self-employed.

This is often referred to as ‘bogus’ self-employment: workers are treated as such for tax, commercial and company-law purposes, yet remain subject to subordination by and dependence on the contractor and/or platform. As new forms of work outpace regulation, the key legal challenge is to ensure no workers are left outside of the regulatory framework.

That should, however, not hide the fact that gig workers deal with unique challenges when it comes to working conditions. In addition to the specific hazards entailed by the different types of activities mediated through online labor platforms, there are also risks related to the way gig work is organized, designed and managed. Addressing these is essential, to safeguard working conditions and ensure a socially responsive transition to the new world of work. more>

Updates from McKinsey

America 2021: Renewing the nation’s commitment to climate action
To America’s leaders, innovators, and changemakers; here’s how you can help build a low-carbon economy that is resilient, competitive, prosperous, and fair.
By Dickon Pinner and Matt Rogers – The new federal administration has arrived in Washington with ambitious plans to address the climate crisis—and in so doing, revitalize the US economy and reclaim a leadership position on the international stage. During their campaign, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris highlighted “the opportunity to build a more resilient, sustainable economy—one that will put the United States on an irreversible path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide by no later than 2050 […] and, in the process, create millions of good-paying jobs.”

Their vision recognizes that the global transition to a low-carbon economy is well under way. The cost of many clean-energy technologies fell significantly during the past decade—as much as 90 percent for some renewable-energy projects. The capital markets are funding the use of these technologies at historically low costs of capital, thereby accelerating scale-up investments. A climate-friendly policy tilt is taking hold in many places. With China, Japan, and the European Union having announced targets to achieve net-zero emissions, more than 110 countries, accounting for more than 70 percent of global GDP, have made net-zero pledges. Of the US states, 23 have established emissions-reduction goals and 12 have instituted carbon-pricing policies. Groups representing prominent American companies have endorsed the use of market-based mechanisms to promote emissions reductions. Some large businesses, along with four former Federal Reserve chairs (including the new treasury secretary), have voiced support for a nationwide carbon tax. These trends are creating possibilities for American leadership, innovation, entrepreneurship, competitive advantage, and economic growth.

With the wind at their backs, government agencies and private-sector organizations can continue advancing the new national climate agenda that’s been set in motion already. The stimulus and government appropriations bill of December 2020, which received bipartisan support, set out tax incentives and funding for energy innovation and climate-related programs. And within days of his inauguration, President Biden signed executive orders initiating the process to reenter the Paris Agreement, positioning climate as a foreign-policy and national-security issue and calling on federal agencies to coordinate an all-government push to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, purchase clean-energy technologies, support innovation, conserve nature, and create economic opportunities across America. 1 Making good on these intentions will require new information, products, operations, and market innovations from public officials and business leaders. To inform their work, this memo highlights four sets of practices with notable potential to deliver the prosperity, security, and social-justice outcomes that the administration has prioritized. more>

Updates from Ciena

For years we’ve been hearing that 2020 would be the year that 5G networks would begin to be deployed. Well, it’s finally here, and MNOs are indeed starting to roll out 5G services. But beyond new phones and RAN technology, it’s going to be those that embrace automation who will ultimately drive faster transitions to 5G. To that end, Blue Planet has unveiled new capabilities for 5G automation.
By Kailem Anderson – As we watched the standard come together, 5G set some lofty expectations in terms of performance gains that 5G networks will deliver to users over 4G. These included things like 10 to 100 times faster speeds, 1000 times the bandwidth, support for 10 to 100 times more devices, 99.999% availability, and latency as low as 1 millisecond.

This vastly improved speed, capacity and latency opens up all kinds of new use cases for mobile network operators (MNOs). The increase in users and use cases also means the number of network services connections required of 5G networks is unprecedented and, more importantly, the speed at which these services need to be created and managed, typically in a multi-vendor environment, is significantly faster than what today’s OSS, NMS, and manual processes can handle. This velocity and volume will affect the entire network lifecycle, including planning, designing and deploying services, and day-to-day operations. Automation will play a critical role in helping operators meet these challenges to speed the delivery of 5G networks and derive new revenues.

Finally, with 5G still being an emerging technology, the standards associated with it too are evolving. In order to adhere to the emerging 5G standards, MNOs need a cloud-native 5G solution that is designed and developed based on openness and works in a multi-vendor network with no vendor lock in.

As 5G scales, automation will, in turn, increasingly rely on AI and ML (machine learning) to fully automate some operational processes, including predicting situations like a network fault before it occurs and taking corrective actions before it impacts customers, or understanding when specific network resources are near capacity and scaling them up to meet the growing requirements of the services that rely on them. Of course, this type of AI-assisted operations is a topic I’ve been discussing for quite some time.

The promises of 5G, automation and AI are great, but the path to get there is filled with many technical hurdles. Here on the Blue Planet team, we’ve been working hard to deliver an intelligent 5G automation solution that helps MNOs lessen the bumps. more>