Last month today – September 2021 in review

Microsoft Overtakes Apple to Become World’s Most Intangible Company

Every year, the Brand Finance Global Intangible Finance Tracker (GIFT™) report ranks the world’s largest companies by intangible asset value. Intangible assets are identifiable, non-monetary assets without physical substance. Intangible assets can be grouped into three broad categories – rights (including leases, agreements, contracts), relationships (including a trained workforce), and intellectual property (including brands, patents, copyrights).

This year’s number one company in terms of total estimated intangible value is Microsoft (US$1.90 trillion). The company has jumped from 4th position in 2020 to overtake Apple (US$1.87 trillion), Saudi Aramco (US$1.64 trillion), and Amazon (US$1.47 trillion).

Microsoft Teams has become embedded into business life for global organizations, once again proving the value of Microsoft’s ability to innovate and roll-out at scale. Microsoft is investing heavily in its business suite solutions. Although Apple is the more valuable company by approximately $200 billion, Microsoft is estimated to have more intangible value with its portfolio of brands and business operations.

Over the past year in particular, global intangible asset value has grown faster than usual, and at $74 trillion it exceeds pre-pandemic levels by nearly a quarter, having increased 23% compared to $61 trillion in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated even further the importance of people, innovation, reputation, and brand for businesses all around the world. Intangible assets are now unequivocally a boardroom priority.

Denmark and Finland excel in the World in Digital Quality of Life

The third annual edition of the Digital Quality of Life Index (DQL) ranks Denmark 1st for the second year in a row, closely followed by South Korea. Among the 110 participating countries, Finland took 3rd place.

Covering 90% of the global population, the DQL study is conducted by the cybersecurity company Surfshark and evaluates countries based on a set of five fundamental digital wellbeing pillars. Finland excels in four, specifically internet affordability (4th), e-infrastructure (7th), e-government (4th), and e-security (7th), but displays a comparatively lower result in internet quality (27th).

The study shows that Finland has the 2nd most affordable broadband internet worldwide. Finns must work 31 minutes to afford the cheapest broadband internet package – it is 1 hour 21 min less than in 2020.

Globally the cheapest broadband internet costs 6 hours of work per month. For comparison, Danes and Swedes must work 3 times more to pay for broadband internet while Norwegians work a striking 4 times more. The country also boasts better e-security and e-government scores than Denmark, which came in 1st place globally this year.

However, the research also shows that Finland’s internet quality has decreased by 18% since last year. Its lowest ranking criteria is broadband speed growth, broadband internet stability and broadband speed. Despite this, Northern European countries, including Finland, still have a higher DQL than almost two-thirds (63%) of the world.

Combating entrepreneurial stereotypes through education

The popular stereotype of entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs or Elon Musk is of heroic individuals battling alone against the odds. These stereotypes are strongly embedded, but they are limiting, incorrectly framing entrepreneurship as attainable only through unique talent and exceptional skill. Recently published research from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, highlight how introducing questions of identity into entrepreneurial education can help break down these limitations and yield greater diversity in the field.

“Our research sheds light on the ongoing challenges associated with the prevailing stereotypes in entrepreneurship and its education. Addressing this issue is important for students and educators alike – to raise awareness of how easy it is to overemphasize the common examples of ‘Steve Jobs’ or ‘Elon Musk’, and how restricting these examples can be” explains Chalmers researcher Karen Williams-Middleton, who recently published the scientific article ‘The relatable entrepreneur: Combating stereotypes in entrepreneurship education’ in the scientific journal Industry and Higher Education, together with Stephanie E Raible at the University of Delaware.

“Stereotypes are prominent in entrepreneurship – and therefore entrepreneurial education – and brought into the classroom by both students and educators. They can be a significant limiting factor towards imagining oneself ‘becoming entrepreneurial’. Entrepreneurship educators should therefore aim to provide more and varied examples of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial individuals. Key to this is training students how to practice ‘identity management’ – understanding and managing other identities they might aspire to, to learn how to ‘filter’ various social media and environmental influences for themselves,” says Karen Williams-Middleton.

Entrepreneurship is often stereotyped as attainable only through exceptional skill and talent, and often characterized exclusively by ostensibly ‘masculine’ qualities. The article raises discussion of stereotyping in entrepreneurship education, by using the stories of two current female entrepreneurs who themselves struggle with the issue. The two candidates were selected for the mixture of similarities and differences they shared, and because, importantly, both had only recently entered entrepreneurship. Some of the factors investigated included whether they had co-founders, if they had children, if they received financial support from their spouse, and whether they actually identified themselves as entrepreneurs, or ‘small business owners’.

The Bumpy Ride of Emerging Markets Towards Digitalization

Emerging markets have been following the digitalization race. However, a lack of a user-oriented approach when designing e-services has been slowing down their progress, resulting in poor user engagement and unfulfilled expectations of citizens. According to Mindaugas Glodas, CEO at NRD Companies, a global IT and consulting group of companies specializing in e-governance, Design Thinking (DT) methodology could help address the problem at its core. Employed by world’s leading governments, DT principles can aid in developing user-oriented e-solutions and, as a result, drive expedient digitization of the public sector.

“There is no point in creating new technology just for the sake of it — citizens should find the solutions necessary and use them on a daily basis. Creating such solutions is done by involving citizens: conducting surveys and inviting them into the planning processes. Only then, based on their behavior, should a government aim to create services that reflect their needs, not vice versa.”

When it comes to modernizing services, the initial ideas tend to revolve around the need to digitize and automate services, not the people who will be using these services. For this reason, a great deal of government efforts to present modern e-solutions fall short of public expectations. This approach has been hurdling the development of e-governance initiatives, especially in emerging markets.



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