Technology

The Internet of ThingsShort Report

The promise of the Internet of Things (IoT) is abundant, according to proponents: This growing array of internet-linked devices, ranging from baby monitors to thermostats to cars, will improve lives, increase productivity and create new business markets. Skeptics point to equally substantial downsides, including vulnerability to cyberattack and concerns about…

Fashion Industry

The global fashion business is going through a period of intense change and competition, with disruption coming in many colors: global online marketplaces, slower growth, more startups and consumers who now seem bored by what once excited them. Many U.S. shoppers have grown tired of buying Prada and Chanel…

Customer Service

When most people think of customer service, they picture an impersonal call center near Mumbai, or a computerized system that struggles to understand the caller’s question and leaves the consumer screaming to speak with a human. Such unhappy images still exist. But—driven by the internet, mobile devices, social…

Fintech

The surge of financial technology startups—or “fintechs”—is improving the speed and quality of customer service of lending, money transfers, wealth management and much more in the banking industry. As these firms become more prominent in the financial services sector, banks and regulators will have to adapt…

Shopping Malls

For one analyst, the opening of a new enclosed mall is akin to watching a dinosaur traversing the landscape: It’s something not seen anymore. Dozens of malls have closed since 2011, and one study predicts at least 15 percent of the country’s largest 1,052 malls could cease…

Electric Power Industry

The U.S. electric utility industry is experiencing dramatic changes in technology, marketing and energy policy that are altering the business in ways unseen since the time of Thomas Edison. Technological advances and tax credits are spurring investment in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. Politics and policy—…

Health Care Payments

Health care spending continues to rise in the United States, consuming nearly 18 percent of gross domestic product in 2014—a trajectory that many experts warn is unsustainable. Some say the traditional “fee-for-service” system of reimbursing doctors and hospitals for each service rendered wastes money and even harms patients…

Technology and Business Ethics

Rapidly advancing technologies such as big data analytics offer potentially great benefits to companies and consumers, but experts warn that modern technology also has a downside: It can give companies seeking a competitive edge the tools to engage in illegal or unethical practices. Because digital devices—from the sensors and…

Cybersecurity

As fast as Internet use has grown over the past two decades, so too has the cybersecurity challenge for businesses and governments that are fighting to keep their data and networks safe from intruders. Today, they face an unprecedented assault from a powerful global army of sophisticated, well-organized and well-financed…

Commercial Drones

Drone aircraft, until recently the domain of the military and a handful of hobbyists, play an increasing role in businesses, including agriculture, engineering and real estate. Still more untested uses are under consideration, such as using drones to deliver packages to customers. Millions of consumers also are buying the machines…

Social Entrepreneurship

Global interest in social entrepreneurship is growing, as investors, corporations, academic institutions and foundations support individuals trying to solve intractable global problems, from abject poverty in the developing world to the ravages of climate change. Whether working in for-profit, nonprofit or hybrid organizations, these entrepreneurs are applying sound business principles…

"Free" as a Business

For a growing array of companies, giving their product away is now a business plan. Games, music, software—just about anything that can be digitally replicated and distributed via the Internet—all are available at no cost to consumers. Some businesses follow a cross-subsidy model, where one product or class…

Global Manufacturing

Corporations rushed to expand their global operations over the last three decades, motivated in part by China's aggressive policies seeking foreign investment. Industries including automobiles, clothing manufacturing and technology opened factories there and in other parts of the developing world, with the United States losing jobs from the shift: In…

Omnichannel Retail

Consumers in an Internet age have the world at their fingertips. They can buy on the Web, on mobile devices and via social media. They can shop seven days a week at any time of day and buy from anyone anywhere. Some browse the Internet, then buy in a store…

The Sharing Economy

What's called the sharing economy—peer-to-peer transactions conducted via the Internet and smartphones—has changed how people arrange car rides, find vacation lodging and more. Revenue is projected to soar in the coming years, although profitability remains untested. But as businesses such as Uber, Lyft and Airbnb flourish, regulation and…

Global Oil and Gas Industry

The world is experiencing a new age of energy abundance, largely because the United States, the largest energy consumer, is also increasingly a producer. In addition, Brazil and Canada, among others, are emerging as oil powers. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which high-pressure streams of water and chemicals are injected…

Digital Marketing

Have you logged onto the Internet today? Used a mobile phone or tablet? Then you have seen digital marketing: ads that pop up on whatever website you are viewing. Not to mention placements on Google—and podcasts, electronic billboards and text messages, all vying for your attention (and business). You…

Robots and Automation

Fueled by advances in computer and sensor technology, robots are growing in sophistication and versatility to become an important—and controversial—sector of the world economy. Once largely limited to manufacturing plants, robots now are found in households, offices and hospitals, and on farms and highways. Some believe robots are…

Crowdfunding

The explosive growth of social media and the Internet have paved the way for crowdfunding, a means of raising small amounts of money online from a large number of people without any financial intermediaries. Crowdfunding, say proponents, democratizes the fundraising process by helping start-ups, nonprofits, artists and others overcome barriers…

Big Data

Big data—information that can be measured in millions of billions of bytes—increasingly allows businesses to understand their customers and gain advantage over their competitors. These data sets are huge and sometimes messy but, with ever-improving statistical tools, they can yield information that allows managers to act quickly and…