TradeBriefs Editorial

From the Editor's Desk

Many Strategies Fail Because They're Not Actually Strategies

Many strategy execution processes fail because "new strategies" are often not strategies at all. A real strategy involves a clear set of choices that define what the firm is going to do and what it’s not going to do. Many strategies fail to get implemented because they do not represent such a set of clear choices. And many so-called strategies are in fact goals. "We want to be the number one or number two in all the markets in which we operate" is one of those. It does not tell you what you are going to do; all it does is tell you what you hope the outcome will be. But you'll still need a strategy to achieve it. Another reason why many implementation efforts fail is that executives see it as a pure top-down, two-step process: "The strategy is made; now we implement it." That's unlikely to work. A successful strategy execution process is seldom a one-way trickle-down cascade of decisions.

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TradeBriefs Editorial

From the Editor's Desk

These countries spend the most on research and development

Investment in research and development (R&D) is the lifeblood of many private sector organizations, helping bring new products and services to market. It's also important to national economies and plays a crucial role in GDP growth.

As we recover from the pandemic, R&D will play a key role in underpinning private sector growth and job creation, Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank, said at the opening of the World Economic Forum's Pioneers of Change summit.

The World Bank analyzed the most recent available data on which countries spend the largest proportion of GDP on R&D activities. While the data predates the pandemic, it helps shine a light on how funding research can bolster economic competitiveness. The top five are: Israel, South Korea, Switzerland, Sweden and Japan.

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TradeBriefs Editorial

From the Editor's Desk

What Went Wrong With IBM's Watson

The A.I. project was supposed to change the state of cancer treatment. Here's what happened instead.

What if artificial intelligence can't cure cancer after all? That's the message of a big Wall Street Journal post-mortem on Watson, the IBM project that was supposed to turn IBM's computing prowess into a scalable program that could deliver state-of-the-art personalized cancer treatment protocols to millions of patients around the world.

Watson in general, and its oncology application in particular, has been receiving a lot of skeptical coverage of late; STAT published a major investigation last year, reporting that Watson was nowhere near being able to live up to IBM's promises. After that article came out, the IBM hype machine started toning things down a bit. But while a lot of the problems with Watson are medical or technical, they're deeply financial, too.

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