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AI, digital marketing key skills to boost growth, IT News, ET CIO

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New Delhi, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), digital marketing and design thinking are the top skills that organisations will need to focus on to drive future growth, according to a new study.

Despite the increased awareness around upskilling, the survey by ed-tech company Great Learning found that 47 per cent of the companies surveyed have still not assigned budgets for upskilling their workforce.

“The technology skill gap among employees is one of the biggest challenges that organisations in India are beset with,” Hari Krishnan Nair, Co-founder, Great Learning, said in a statement.

“Skilled employees will continue to be the biggest asset for any organization going ahead and while options like lateral hiring and outsourcing may help in the short term, from a cost and effectiveness point of view, upskilling is the best way to stay competitive in the long run,” Nair said.

As per the survey, that involved more than 300 companies ranging from small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) to large organisations, 25 per cent of all companies believe AI and ML are the most crucial skills needed to ensure an organisation’s future growth.

Digital marketing emerged second with 19 per cent finding it most crucial. It was followed by design thinking, which 10 per cent of companies indicated as most important.

Apart from these, skills related to Internet of Things (IoT), robotic process automation (RPA), and natural language processing/generation (NLP/NLG) emerged as important skills in responses from the surveyed organisations.





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WeWork’s first staff meeting after layoffs outlines path to profits

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  • WeWork Chairman Marcelo Claure addressed employees at an all-staff meeting on Friday morning after major layoffs on Thursday.
  • He said focusing on six key areas, including selling new products and pitching WeWork in a different way, would help the business grow profitably.
  • WeWork also named four men to executive roles: chief transformation officer, interim chief marketing officer, chief product and experience officer, and chief people officer.
  • Claure said that, in the future, WeWork would add more women to the executive team and its all-male board. 
  • For more WeWork stories, click here.

“It’s been three long weeks” since WeWork Chairman Marcelo Claure’s last staff-wide address, he told employees at WeWork’s all-hands meeting Friday, where he outlined a path forward for the embattled office company. 

In those three weeks, WeWork started layoffs, announced plans to outsource 1,000 facilities employees, and fired staff for abusing vendor policies, among other changes, as executives work to stabilize the company after a tumultuous fall. 

Now it’s time to move forward, Claure told employees. He outlined how the company would do that through focusing on six pillars, and he named four men, including two from SoftBank, to executive roles. 

And, marking a departure from founder Adam Neumann’s vision for WeWork as a technology company, Claure repeatedly emphasized the company’s real-estate characteristics.

“We are starting to disrupt the legacy real-estate office space,” one of his slides said. “We are in the midst of giving birth to a new category … We are the world’s No. 1 coworking and space-as-a-service platform.” 

WeWork has big growth plans, according to sources familiar with the matter: It’s going to double its locations in the next 10 months, thanks to an ambitious growth plan started by Neumann before he was ousted in September. The company will be in 1,200 buildings next year and predicts to have a total of more than 1 million members.

In slides presented by Claure to employees during the meeting, WeWork’s financial goals are to be adjusted EBITDA positive in 2021, cash-flow positive in 2023, and to be a profitable company. 

6 pillars of focus

Claure addressed the company wearing a black WeWork T-shirt, sport coat, and pants, the only color coming from a pair of powder-blue sneakers, according to an image from the meeting viewed by Business Insider.

He laid out six “pillars” for WeWork as it moves forward:

  1. Member and employee experience: Claure emphasized the experience “as the core differentiator” and explained how the company would support community teams — in-building staff who serve tenants, called “members” in WeWork parlance.
  2. Be the partner of choice: to members, brokers, businesses, and landlords. For brokers, WeWork will now highlight costs per employee, instead of costs per square foot. 
  3. Focus on core business, building by building: Claure wants each building to be profitable. Later on, the company will introduce dynamic pricing to adjust to changes in supply and demand. 
  4. Expand geographically “in a smart & profitable way”: WeWork plans to focus on its top 12 markets, which include New York and London. In the next 16 largest markets, the company will explore management and revenue-sharing agreements, which will see WeWork share responsibility with third parties. In Asia-Pacific, the company will continue expanding its joint ventures, and for emerging markets, franchising will be a focus in the future.
  5. Monetize spaces and sell products: New products could include city and global memberships. WeWork will also think through options for making more money out of buildings, including by renting conference rooms and spaces for events. Services include design components like soundproofing and storage; technology includes “premium internet,” virtual private networks, and cybersecurity; and business services include human resources, insurance, legal, and tax help. 
  6. “Operate with a cash-conscious-owner mentality”: WeWork will “be a more accountable organization,” with discipline and clear roles. 

Leadership changes

WeWork’s co-CEOs — Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham — are staying in their roles. At Friday’s meeting, Claure named four men to new senior roles. 

He also said that the company would focus on diversity in the future. At multiple staff meetings, employees have criticized the company for a lack of diversity at the top. Claure said WeWork planned to name women to its all-male board. 

These are the new roles:

  • Chief transformation officer: Mike Bucy, who’s tasked with making sure WeWork executes its six pillars. He comes from SoftBank, which he joined in 2018 after he was a partner at McKinsey. 
  • Interim chief marketing and communications officer: Maurice Levy, who’s the chairman of ad and communications agency Publicis Group. Levy briefly addressed staff on Friday, wearing, like Claure, all black, according to an image viewed by Business Insider. 
  • Chief product and experience officer: Ralf Wenzel, who is a managing partner at SoftBank and has “proven CEO-caliber leadership,” per Claure. Wenzel spoke with employees wearing a black WeWork “do what you love” shirt, according to an image viewed by Business Insider.
  • Chief people officer: Matt Jahansouz, who was promoted internally. He joined WeWork in February after nearly nine years in HR roles at Goldman Sachs.

The company has one vacancy on its organization chart: chief financial officer and head of real estate. 

Compensation changes

In other HR plans, Claure outlined a new compensation structure, with a base salary, merit increases, and a cash-bonus program. Multiple sources told Business Insider that WeWork lacked a formal compensation plan, with bonuses seemingly more dependent on relationships than on performance. 

The new cash-bonus plan will take into account the customer net promoter score, the company’s financials, and an employee promoter score. 

At the last all-hands meeting, Claure said WeWork would “put dashboards together so we can all see how we’re performing in a daily, weekly, monthly basis and we’re going to share that we’re going to have a culture of total transparency.” 

Get in touch! Contact this reporter via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 (646) 768-1627 using a nonwork phone, email at mmorris@businessinsider.com, or Twitter DM at @MeghanEMorris. (PR pitches by email only, please.) You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.





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China is out of economic ammo

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The Chinese government has issued vague but stern-sounding warnings that it will retaliate for a bill passed by Congress that would require the White House to protect human rights and ensure the territory’s autonomy. But China’s options for economic retaliation are limited. And most of these options have already been exercised amid President Donald Trump’s trade war.


China’s most obvious method of retaliation would be to stop buying American goods. But China has already imposed tariffs on $135 billion worth of products. Sales to China from all over the US have plunged.



The agricultural industry has been hit especially hard. Farm bankruptcies are up 24 per cent this year. Farm bankruptcies are up 24 per cent this year, and a report by the American Farm Bureau Federation finds that almost 40 per cent of farmers’ income this year will come either from insurance payouts or government bailouts. This is an economic catastrophe for farmers and a headache for exporters. Few expect exports to China to recover even if the trade war ends tomorrow because China has found other suppliers. Even those US exporters who are still selling their goods in China must realise their situation is shaky; if they’re wise, they’re already looking for alternative markets. So China has little left to threaten on the trade front.


The other big weapon in the Chinese arsenal is investment. The Chinese government is traditionally a major buyer of US government debt, and it holds the second-biggest stash of Treasuries (after Japan). Over the years, many have fretted that a spat between the US and China would lead the latter to sell off that mountain of debt, creating a world of hurt for the US financial system and economy. But this danger is vastly exaggerated. As recent experience demonstrates, the US simply doesn’t need Chinese government cash. In 2015 and 2016 China experienced one of the biggest capital flights in history, with about $1 trillion pouring out of the country. This resulted in a huge drawdown of China’s foreign-exchange reserves, most of which are US bonds. If the US were heavily dependent on Chinese government financing, interest rates on US debt — and by extension, throughout the US economy —should have risen. Instead, they fell.


If China can dump a quarter of its US bond holdings and not cause a noticeable movement in American borrowing costs, then the threat represented by the remaining three-quarters probably is small. The US, like the rest of the developed world, is simply awash in financial capital. Unloading its reserve stockpile in retaliation for US actions toward Hong Kong would put China in greater danger than the US Without the cushion of reserves, a repeat of 2015-16 could lead to a classic emerging-market crisis in China, with capital outflows forcing a sudden currency depreciation, devastating the financial system and bringing the economy to a sudden stop. One final thing China could do is restrict its exports of rare earths, a crucial input for many technology products. China now dominates production of these commodities. But as my colleague David Fickling has noted, this threat also is minimal; when China cut off rare-earth exports to Japan in 2010 as part of a geopolitical dispute, Japan simply teamed up with an Australian company to find new supplies, quickly breaking China’s monopoly. The US could easily replicate this feat. So China has few economic weapons left with which to threaten the US over Hong Kong. It will likewise be powerless to retaliate over other geopolitical and humanitarian disputes, such as US condemnation of the mass internment of Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province or territorial spats in the South China Sea. For that matter, China’s continued ability to escalate the trade war seems limited. But China does have other weapons at its disposal. The kind that explode.


In pushing China over everything from trade to human rights to Hong Kong’s autonomy, the US should remember its own history. It was relentless US economic and diplomatic pressure over Japan’s invasion of China that pushed that country into launching a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. With its economic arsenal depleted, China could at some point decide that a harder form of retaliation is in order.





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Sanitation and Employment. November 21, 2019 for World Toilet Day

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Moderator – Alejandro Jiménez, Stockholm International Water Institute Q and A – Sarah Hayman, WaterAid Technical support – Arno Rosemarin, Stockholm …

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