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2020 Global Challenges for Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency

2020 Global Challenges for Cryptocurrency

Blockchain, Bitcoin, and Cryptocurrency are some of the terms that you must have heard at some point in your life. Especially in the past decade or so, cryptocurrency became the talk of the global economic forums. As many authorities began to question the future of monetary assets, money, and similar resources, cryptocurrency was among the more controversial topics.

In 2019, right before Blockchain could have seen a public acceptance phase, the revolution came to an abrupt halt. According to the Gartner Group, it was called ‘Blockchain fatigue.’ Other experts also jumped on the bandwagon that the fire of Blockchain technology and virtual currency, in general, has fizzled out. People thought maybe it was a phase after all that overstayed its welcome.

Pragmatically, the perspective is incorrect. According to recent statistics, the crypto market has an estimated total market capitalization of over $155 billion as of 15th March 2020. Considering these numbers and based on many financial institutions, powers might tend to disapprove of cryptocurrency, but they are in favor of Blockchain technology. The disruptive nature of decentralized currencies such as Bitcoin and others has led to a corresponding halt to its progress.

Let’s find out what more challenges do cryptocurrency has to face as the year 2020 goes by.

Challenges Hindering Cryptocurrency Growth and Acceptance Worldwide

The following are the challenges hindering cryptocurrency growth and acceptance on a global scale.

1.  Boom Phase for Blockchain

There is no doubt about the fact that where cryptocurrency is facing the challenge of surviving and being accepted by the masses, Blockchain technology has already surpassed it. The masses have widely accepted it, and big names of global trade specialists are now moving towards Blockchain.

The likes of Trade Lens by IBM and Maersk’s joint Blockchain investment in the shipping industry have welcomed the first-ever initiative taken. Many such mind-blowing initiatives are underway that involve Blockchain apart from the cryptocurrency domain. The challenge for crypto-enthusiasts here is that once the Blockchain technology takes off without crypto, it will be the end to it.

2.  Bad Imagery

Cryptocurrency, even after having gone through a boom phase, still has a PR problem. The terms associated are enough to conjure up images of cringe advertisements, low-quality campaigns, bad actors, get rich quick schemes, and criminals alike. For many people, cryptocurrency spells out new technology for age-old scams and frauds, which they don’t want any.

It may seem like a petty issue, given the magnitude that is a cryptocurrency and the Blockchain industry. However, this issue has hindered crypto for years since its inception and will continue to do so if no knowledgeable individuals came forward in favor of it.

3.  Blockchain vs. Authorities and Officials

US constitution is known worldwide for its protection right given to the democratic entity that the country is. Freedom of speech, access to information, and the right to form an opinion is protected by the officials to be open. However, on the flip side, when it comes to assets and financial resources, our system laws, governments, and authorities are designed to keep it limited amongst the powerful.

It is evident why crypto and Blockchain has taken over a decade to adjust in an economy where it had to tackle issue arising from the core of how our economy and society operates.

a. Lack Of Legislation

Digital currencies are decentralized virtual entities. They are purely digital products, and our authorities are not geared to handle this advanced technology. That is why the lack of legislation regulating these digital currencies and providing any sort of user protection has become a huge challenge.

The essential step that needs to be taken to reduce the risk involves educating and informing people about keeping their personal data safe. There is still a gaping void where insurance and dedicated legislation needs to be placed. But until that happens, awareness to safely exercise crypto is crucial.

b. Legal Obstacles

In addition to lack of legislation, the other big obstacle that stands in the way of cryptocurrency holders like Bitcoin traders and users is the challenge to spend their holdings. The untraceable nature of Bitcoin and its bad imagery as a mode of finance for mega criminal activities like terrorist attacks and the drug trade has made it quite scandalous in some countries.

Cryptocurrency is going through a period of abrupt halt where nothing much seems to be happening around the technology. Therefore, one can’t say for sure that what the future holds unless wide acceptability affects these legal obstacles standing in the way of crypto-trading.

4.  The Technology Is Still Immature

Cryptocurrency faces implementation obstacles beyond the lack of regulation and inactive obligations. The technology is an emerging one and is still immature in a system where other options are widely scalable and accepted over it.

One might think how a technology that has been out there for over a decade now can be new and emerging. The reason is that not much has been done to expand it.

a. Interoperability

Interoperability or the ability of computer system software to exchange and utilize information is a challenge faced by Blockchain. The technology has been divided to make multiple uses of it in different industrial domains, separate form cryptocurrency.

The technology needs to be made interoperable for the internet dedicated to Blockchain and crypto exchange. Until then, as long as people continue to go by illegal and wrong means of mining it, the technology is a threat to the economic system that opens its gates to accept virtual currencies.

b. Usability

This point cannot be emphasized enough how difficult it is to buy and sell crypto. We are way in the year 2020, and it is still as difficult as it was back in the day when Bitcoin was first launched. The mere participation in the crypto world requires a nerve-wracking validation that general people find unappealing.

The security procedures are so complex that they have become hurdles in crypto adoption as a mode of exchange. Most students look for personal statement help UK who have a high interest in cryptocurrency markets but unable to compose a compelling profile.

It is still a significant challenge for the industry to create user-friendly processes for buying, selling, storing, and using cryptocurrency securely without being called out for it.

c. Scalability

The generally acceptable country-wise currency exchange and even the banking transactions in different currencies have been made scalable and adaptable to the different rates. Cryptocurrency has years of effort to go until it finally reaches a scalability level that Dollar, Yen, Pounds, or Rupee have gotten to.

While interoperability may be a huge step forward to achieve that, that itself is a challenge to mitigate first, the system is so slow, and many dominant platforms for smart contractual applications are still under development. The processes face numerous delays and would require many scalable solutions to counter this issue of exchange.

d. Data Rights

Data has reached a level of becoming a digital asset at this point. Digital mafia considers data the real deal and a key to all things penetrable for the immense value it can hold for individuals and organizations. That is why one of the biggest lose loop in cryptocurrency is and will always be data rights and privacy.

The solution here is not just government protection of privacy and data for cryptocurrency traders. A dedicated system is required where such identities can capture and control their own data. And where there is a long way to go for an efficient framework, many initiatives have been taken and underway.

e. Security

Blockchain might be immature, but it is so far advanced that it is more secure than a traditional computer system.

However, many financial breaches, data leaks, and huge losses due to the system vulnerabilities have made it challenging for people to be satisfied with their transactions. At one point in time, $250 million were lost in a single transaction through QuadrigaCX exchange due to its deadly centralized business model.

In addition to it being not secure enough, these pieces of news make rounds globally. People have lost faith in cryptocurrency over time.

2.  Difficulties Of Bitcoin Transactions

In 2013, a crypto-enthusiast made a luxury car dealership in Costa Mesa, CA, for a Tesla Model S and paid for it in Bitcoin. Just under 92 bitcoins that were worth over $100,000 at that time, the deal was sealed and legally conceived. Considering this transaction and comparing it with the real-time value of crypto right now, the setback and skepticism surrounding Bitcoin have not done much harm to the growing estimation of it.

However, one cannot move past the real-time losses that have occurred given the Bitcoin transactions over the years. Spending Bitcoin is still a huge deal than hoarding it.

a. Countries Banning Bitcoin

Countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh, Bolivia, and Ecuador have prohibited crypto transactions. The state bank has outlawed it and declared cryptocurrency an illegal form of payment with a heavy fine due to violators. And even where it is legal, there are countless logistical issues.

Even in the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission is having an ongoing debate if it prefers new regulations for the cryptocurrency market. If major countries with relevant economic forums stand against Bitcoin, it will become increasingly difficult for the crypto-type to gain acceptance from the masses as people continue to engage in it illegally.

b. Conversion Issues

Conversion remains a huge hurdle for Bitcoin vendors. As Bitcoin is not a fiat currency and is only limited to monetary value when converted to a cash equivalent, not many vendors go for its conversions for other cryptocurrency types. They are more willing to look for a payment method that delivers in Dollars or any other local currency. So that any exchange made for goods and products is made on consumer rates.

Such an implementation system is difficult even if bigger brands are willing to make it possible. No matter if a business sells cars or academic writing services, there is a lack of appropriate regulations to facilitate this type of exchange.

c. People Losing Money

Though Bitcoin regulatory protocol was not affected and not a single Bitcoin disappeared or got lost, people lost loads of money. The downfall and cases of transactional breakdowns are the major reason why cryptocurrency came to an unannounced halt in the first place.

There is a serious need to regulate and change the trading and mining protocols in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Only then can I expect the general public to safely indulge in Bitcoin mining and trading without feeling it to be illegal or a complete daredevil gambling moves on their part.

d. Volatility Of Prices

The volatility of prices also hangs in the balance of the potential of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general. Even though Bitcoin has gained significant community following over the years, there have been disputes among the community member for deciding the path it should take.

The compact user base has made the currency increasingly volatile. The stability expected concerning a centralized authority system to regulate it will increase once people start to accept it. The doubts about Bitcoin’s usage and the resistance by major countries to integrate the system and legalize it will continue to deteriorate the prices further.

Conclusion – The Stakes Are High

All in all, the results of no action being taken by major industrial giants, businesses, and government authorities have never been so altering ever since all these years of crypto trading and mining as it is now. The year 2020 is going to shape the cryptocurrency industry either for better or for worse.

Crypto networks like Bitcoin, corporations like Facebook, and nations like China implementing digital currency by the end of this year will be taking a step towards stumping Dollar as the record currency. It will, in turn, lead to the US Federal Reserve pushing ahead of the digital counterpart.

There is no denying that the stakes are high, and just like everything else, the future is unpredictable for cryptocurrency too.

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Claudia Jeffrey is currently working as a Junior Finance advisor at Crowd Writer, an excellent platform to get assignment help UK. She is a self-proclaimed crypto-influencer. She has gained significant expertise and knowledge in this regard over the years and likes to share it with an interested audience.

businesses

Five Ways Businesses Changed Their Daily Operations for Good

The future is arriving quickly. There’s already been talk about how COVID-19 has accelerated automation, and some jobs will be changed if they come back at all. There’s no doubt the recent pandemic is shaping how we do business, from restaurants and retail spaces to even how we manufacture goods. And with many states reopening in phases, or just outright reopening, what does “getting back to business” look like as we forge ahead?

The supply chain gets a wakeup call

During the pandemic, shortages of masks and hand sanitizer rocked many supermarkets like Walmart and Costco. With such a quick spike, and having such a large gap to fill in the supply chain, distilleries stepped in with safe, alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Clothing companies engineered their manufacturing process to make masks out of spare materials. Auto manufacturers teamed up to help produce ventilators. The list goes on.

One of the biggest attributes many companies needed to stay successful and stay in business? Flexibility. When stay-at-home orders went into effect, businesses had to figure things out overnight. That included a new way to make goods that people desperately needed.

The upside? Now you can see hand sanitizer in repurposed liquor bottles at many grocery stores across the U.S.

But all of this was a symptom of a larger issue.

“Early on, much of the economic impact that companies in the U.S. experienced were related to supply-side disruption due to shutdowns in other countries,” said Thomas Hartland-Mackie, President & CEO of City Electric Supply. “This pandemic has highlighted the danger of over-relying on a single manufacturing hub as well as a need to diversify sources to include local or domestic suppliers.”

With global trade, a smooth-functioning supply chain doesn’t exactly impact manufacturing. That is, until it gets rocky.

As a few supplies, like masks and hand sanitizers, reached mass critical demand all around the world, they plunged in availability. Hospitals, frontline workers, and more were left without protective gear required to safely do their jobs.

At the time, when these supplies were almost impossible to locate, domestic-made products were a necessity. They were easier to source and easier to ship when time was more important than ever. This could be the wakeup call manufacturing needs to move a little closer to home instead of relying on centralized factories on the other side of the world to fill gaps in the supply chain.

With this catastrophe still fresh in the minds of many businesses and governments, various shock scenarios will have to be considered more heavily to help rebuild the supply chain for a more resilient future.

Staying connected

The businesses that figured out how to stay connected with their customers, whether they were operating in a limited capacity or having to put business on hold completely, were the ones that added to their digital currency. But for most small businesses, digital currency could only take them so far. That meant developing alternative revenue streams to help them stay afloat, even if they were designated as essential businesses.

Restaurants and bars regularly teamed up with delivery services to help them maintain some cash flow during the lean months, including online ordering and curbside pickup. Personal trainers and fitness studios went digital with their classes to help keep their clients working out and to help keep their brand top of mind.

Other companies went a step further and identified gaps in the supply chain to fulfill in meaningful ways. As we mentioned before, distilleries helped make safe, alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and clothing companies reengineered their manufacturing process to make masks out of spare materials.

All of this helped these businesses either keep cash flowing into the business, or at the very least, kept them in the minds of their customers long enough until they could reopen. From creative online solutions that let them continue operating to doubling down on marketing efforts to keep in touch virtually, the ones that stayed flexible and stayed connected weathered the pandemic better than others.

But also, what about the flood of statements from companies preaching togetherness in the first few weeks of the pandemic? Did that help customers feel more connected to their favorite businesses? Hartland-Mackie certainly thinks so.

“We’ve all heard those jokes about how people are receiving too many long emails from businesses explaining what they’re doing in response to COVID-19, but the reality is that customers appreciate it,” said Hartland-Mackie. “Customers want to hear from the companies they are loyal to and be reassured – as long as it is authentic – that businesses have their customers in mind as they make decisions.”

Remote work is not remote

Working in offices could be a thing of the past. Already high-profile companies like Twitter have announced indefinite work-from-home plans for their employees, and more will probably follow their lead. In an age of digital nomads, this could be a huge selling point for attracting talented workers.

When the pandemic first started, many companies had to figure out how to work 100% digitally practically overnight. This involved utilizing web-based communication programs like Skype, Zoom, and Slack to ensure teams were in constant communication with each other when it mattered most. Now, with some offices opening back up, some employees could be receiving more lenient work from home policies, or, at the very least, there may be less face-to-face meetings in the workplace.

Another huge benefit to remote working becoming more commonplace? (Aside from less meetings, of course.) Embracing the all-digital transformation can boost productivity. Now with a lot of the same information freely available for employees to do their job, there should be less presentations sharing known information across the company. Now, only vital information can be created and shared, freeing up more resources to resolve the most critical issues at hand along with more focused daily agendas.

It’s not delivery, it’s curbside pickup

Well, it’s a little bit of both. For essential businesses that couldn’t take advantage of “contactless” delivery, the next best bet was curbside pickup.

“As a federally designated essential business, City Electric Supply branches have stayed open, but we needed to provide ways to keep customers and employees as safe as possible. We began offering curbside pickup and it’s been so successful that we’ve received feedback from customers asking us to continue it as an ongoing service,” Hartland-Mackie said.

What was once seen as an added-value service was the main way for many businesses to maintain cash flow when customers were no longer allowed inside. And with the latest reopening efforts, some customers are still opting for curbside pickup in lieu of shopping themselves.

With how convenient curbside pickup is for keeping in-store capacity low — and for saving the time of customers who no longer have to spend time shopping or even getting out of their vehicles — this could soon be the new normal for many businesses.

Temperature checks

Whether or not customers should receive temperature checks has been up for some debate, but temperature checks of employees are being implemented in almost all states in various industries, including food service and healthcare. Even though workers could be asymptomatic, it still helps cut down on cases progressing to severe stages and worsening infection rates.

This has also had a snowball effect on various other issues related to work policies, from sick leave to hazard pay. Most employers are erring on the side of caution, allowing employees to stay home if they or someone they come into regular contact with have health issues that put them at risk of infection.

With daily operations coming under such a heavy microscope, this means that even employers are examining how existing sick policies have hurt more than helped. If more lenient and flexible policies have not already been put in place, expect it to happen as phased reopening progresses.

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Brad McElory is a Copywriter at City Electric Supply

disruptions

How to Manage and Overcome Disruptions in the Supply Chain

Regardless of the type of disruption, supply chain resilience is highly dependant on several factors, one of which being reliable end-to-end visibility created at the first sign of trouble. Whether it’s a health crisis, a series of policy changes, or other forms of disruption, proactive rather than reactive measures are critical in staying afloat when facing a variety of disruptions or bottlenecks.

Disruptions in the modern supply chain are simply inevitable and require a different approach in data management and predictability to successfully overcome the challenge at hand.  By effectively utilizing technology tools available and developing a solid crisis plan can make a significant difference in recovery times.

Below is a helpful infographic from DiCentral breaks down various predictable and unpredictable supply chain disruptions and what it takes in the planning, reaction, and response stages of managing and navigating challenges.

latin america

The Latin American Melon Market To Pursue Temperate Growth

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘Latin America and the Caribbean – Melons – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The Latin American melon market reached $1.4B in 2019, with an increase of 6.4% against the previous year. This figure reflects the total revenues of producers and importers (excluding logistics costs, retail marketing costs, and retailers’ margins, which will be included in the final consumer price). The market value increased at an average annual rate of +1.8% over the period from 2007 to 2019; the trend pattern remained relatively stable, with somewhat noticeable fluctuations being recorded in certain years. The level of consumption peaked in 2019 and is likely to see gradual growth in the immediate term.

Consumption by Country

The countries with the highest volumes of melon consumption in 2019 were Mexico (516K tonnes), Brazil (338K tonnes) and Guatemala (327K tonnes), with a combined 63% share of total consumption. These countries were followed by Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Costa Rica, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Paraguay, which together accounted for a further 33%.

From 2007 to 2019, the biggest increases were in Colombia, while melon consumption for the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, Mexico ($404M), Brazil ($217M) and Colombia ($159M) appeared to be the countries with the highest levels of market value in 2019, with a combined 54% share of the total market.

In 2019, the highest levels of melon per capita consumption was registered in Guatemala (19 kg per person), followed by Costa Rica (8.20 kg per person), Venezuela (6.23 kg per person) and Paraguay (4.59 kg per person), while the world average per capita consumption of melon was estimated at 2.82 kg per person.

Market Forecast 2019-2030

Driven by increasing demand for melon in Latin America and the Caribbean, the market is expected to continue an upward consumption trend over the next decade. Market performance is forecast to retain its current trend pattern, expanding with an anticipated CAGR of +0.9% for the period from 2019 to 2030, which is projected to bring the market volume to 2.1M tonnes by the end of 2030.

Production in Latin America and the Caribbean

In 2019, approx. 2.9M tonnes of melons were produced in Latin America and the Caribbean; stabilizing at 2018. In general, production continues to indicate a relatively flat trend pattern. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2018 when the production volume increased by 5.5% y-o-y. Over the period under review, production hit record highs in 2019 and is likely to see gradual growth in the immediate term. The general positive trend in terms output was largely conditioned by a relatively flat trend pattern of the harvested area and a relatively flat trend pattern in yield figures.

Production by Country

The countries with the highest volumes of melon production in 2019 were Guatemala (633K tonnes), Mexico (600K tonnes) and Brazil (590K tonnes), together accounting for 63% of total production. Honduras, Venezuela, Costa Rica and Argentina lagged somewhat behind, together comprising a further 26%.

From 2007 to 2019, the biggest increases were in Honduras, while melon production for the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Harvested Area in Latin America and the Caribbean

The melon harvested area reached 130K ha in 2019, approximately mirroring 2018 figures. Over the period under review, the harvested area, however, continues to indicate a relatively flat trend pattern. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2010 when the harvested area increased by 5.7% y-o-y. Over the period under review, the harvested area dedicated to melon production reached the peak figure at 136K ha in 2007; however, from 2008 to 2019, the harvested area failed to regain the momentum.

Yield in Latin America and the Caribbean

In 2019, the average melon yield in Latin America and the Caribbean amounted to 22 tonne per ha, approximately reflecting 2018 figures. Overall, the yield recorded a relatively flat trend pattern. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2009 when the yield increased by 7.8% year-to-year. The level of yield peaked at 23 tonne per ha in 2016; however, from 2017 to 2019, the yield remained at a lower figure.

Exports in Latin America and the Caribbean

In 2019, the amount of melons exported in Latin America and the Caribbean dropped to 1.1M tonnes, which is down by -5.2% compared with the year before. In general, exports continue to indicate a mild downturn. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2018 when exports increased by 17% year-to-year. The volume of export peaked at 1.3M tonnes in 2007; however, from 2008 to 2019, exports failed to regain the momentum.

In value terms, melon exports declined to $692M (IndexBox estimates) in 2019. Overall, exports continue to indicate a relatively flat trend pattern. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2011 with an increase of 17% against the previous year. The level of export peaked at $811M in 2017; however, from 2018 to 2019, exports remained at a lower figure.

Exports by Country

Guatemala (306K tonnes), Honduras (264K tonnes) and Brazil (252K tonnes) represented roughly 77% of total exports of melons in 2019. Costa Rica (126K tonnes) ranks next in terms of the total exports with a 12% share, followed by Mexico (10%).

From 2007 to 2019, the biggest increases were in Honduras, while shipments for the other leaders experienced mixed trends in the exports figures.

In value terms, the largest melon supplying countries in Latin America and the Caribbean were Honduras ($206M), Brazil ($160M) and Guatemala ($131M), with a combined 72% share of total exports.

Honduras saw the highest growth rate of the value of exports, among the main exporting countries over the period under review, while shipments for the other leaders experienced mixed trends in the exports figures.

Export Prices by Country

In 2019, the melon export price in Latin America and the Caribbean amounted to $652 per tonne, declining by -2.9% against the previous year. Over the period from 2007 to 2019, it increased at an average annual rate of +1.1%. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2017 when the export price increased by 26% year-to-year. As a result, export price attained the peak level of $848 per tonne. From 2018 to 2019, the growth in terms of the export prices remained at a somewhat lower figure.

Prices varied noticeably by the country of origin; the country with the highest price was Mexico ($810 per tonne), while Guatemala ($428 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2007 to 2019, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Honduras, while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform

post-pandemic

Four Post-Pandemic Technology Solutions for the New Normal

Currently, organizations around the world are strategizing ways to return their workforces to being back in-office and other places of work, as the world begins to re-open post-pandemic. Guidelines and protocols issued by federal, state, and local agencies will be key drivers of what the new normal looks like in a corporate setting. From staggered groups of employees allowed in the office each day, to thermal screenings and the end of communal or high-touch areas, businesses will need to have flexible return to work plans in place that allow for social distancing and reduce the risk spreading COVID-19.

The new reality is that workplace environments will be anything but “normal.” Organizations will operate with reduced in-office staff, manage both remote and in-office team members and combat economic slowdown by reducing spending and optimizing resources. The democratization of technology is essential to accommodating this new post-COVID business environment. While overall budgets will decrease, technology spending will increase.

Here are four technology solutions that will help enterprises navigate and operate in a new reality:

1. Automation Solutions

Business process automation has become a strategic enabler of business agility for present-day organizations, from helping to speed up business processes and reduce errors, to eliminating repetitive work. Specifically, robotic process automation (RPA) has quickly become an essential tool that an increasing number of CIOs are utilizing across their organizations. Through RPA, mid- to large-sized enterprises can configure a “robot” to deal with various interrelated processes, to unify and streamline day-to-day work internally. The right RPA tools can not only save reduce staffing costs and human error, but also streamline communication, improve management and retain customers.

2. Chatbots

As social distancing and a global remote workforce are the new normal during these unprecedented times, it’s helpful to boost collaboration and productive engagement across an organization’s remote teams through chatbots. Chatbots help reduce the load on the technical support team and cut operational costs. Furthermore, they offer a progressive avenue for marketing and sales departments to streamline customer and client communications, ultimately improving sales and customer services. In a time of a pandemic, combined with the increasing number of remote workers, the adoption and implementation of chatbots will only continue to grow.

3. Communication and Collaboration Platforms

Communication and collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams, Basecamp, and others help bridge the gap between physical presence and remote collaboration. With the new social distancing guidelines and protocols, a combination of virtual and in-person work environments will be essential to ensuring business continuity across an enterprise. Whether an employee is in-office or remote, a robust communication and collaboration platform ensures they can take and access their work anywhere. It enables employees to give optimal output, while also minimizing the physical disruptions caused by COVID-19.

4. Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure

Hybrid cloud infrastructures have changed the way enterprises store, access and exchange data. In the wake of the global pandemic, it will tremendously alter the landscape of corporate environments. Hybrid cloud is a computing environment that uses a combination of private cloud and public cloud services. Organizations can achieve the perfect equilibrium between private and public clouds by leveraging both platforms to run critical workloads. This architecture provides businesses greater flexibility and more data deployment options when working with a reduced workforce.

As a result of the business impacts that COVID-19 has had on the business world, a new wave of technological innovation is sweeping across the industry to help transform various aspects of business. As organizations look to combat an economic depression, they will need to implement technology solutions to “get the job done” with the limited staff they have on hand. Therefore, tools and platforms that allow employees to perform tasks without any high-level coding or professional development skills will be high in demand. Automation solutions, chatbots, communication platforms, and hybrid cloud infrastructures will provide the businesses of tomorrow the ability and flexibility to operate successfully and competitively in a post-pandemic “new normal.”

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Ajay Kaul is a visionary leader and a trendsetter. As managing partner of AgreeYa Solutions, he has been instrumental in leading the company through solid growth and international expansion for the past 20 years. Kaul has three decades of experience in building powerful and innovative solutions for businesses across various industries and verticals. His expertise and knowledge expand across enterprise sales management, marketing and strategy, global delivery, and mergers and acquisitions.

vessels

Vessels for Life: Here are the Ships that Make Our Lives more Livable

It’s amazing how interconnected we are as a world—from delivering goods along the supply chain to your local grocery store to the social distancing that has helped to control what we’ll unlovingly refer to as “The Outbreak.” As much as it can be sometimes difficult to be connected, it is this interconnectedness that also allows us to subsist in our day-to-day lives. Toilet paper, cars, and even oil are goods that we can access thanks to the Svengali-esque magic—or organization, rather—of the global supply chain. One could say that it, in fact, makes the world go ‘round.

So today, we’d like to introduce some of the power players in this arena, the unsung voices that help us to have access to different goods each and every day. And these unsung voices are ships, the carriers that are key to our worldwide supply chains.

What follows are five major carriers and eight individual vessels that play an important role in shipping vehicles, cargo containers for manufacturers and other goods and equipment of all sizes that make our lives more livable each day.

MSC Gülsün (MSC)

The MSC Gülsün is a ship in the fleet of the Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC), a world leader in container shipping. The MSC Gülsün is the largest container ship in the world, with a max capacity of more than 23,000 TEUs. (Try that on for size!) It has more than 2,000 refrigerated containers; a hybrid exhaust gas cleaning system; a dual-tower firefighting system; 35 cabins; and double-hull protection.

The MSC Gülsün also has an eye for sustainability, increasing the efficiency of the CO2 emitted by 48 percent. With a hybrid exhaust gas cleaning system (EGCS), this ship is also self-cleaning. The vessel can carry 8 million solar panels, more than 47,500 cars, 223 million bananas, nearly 3 million washing machines and 386 million pairs of shoes, MSC boasts.

The ship was built in South Korea at Samsung Heavy Industries. The MSC Gülsün is 400 meters long and 60 meters wide. Despite its size, its engineering reduces resistance from the wind, which leads to lower fuel consumption.

Venus Leader (NYK Line)

The Venus Leader is a vehicle carrier with the Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) Line, a global shipping and logistics company. The roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) division of NYK is the largest worldwide. Built in 2010, the Venus Leader sails under the Japanese flag. It carries up to 15,301 t DWT (tanker deadweight tonnage). Her draught is 7.1 meters. The Venus Leader has a length of 186.03 meters and is 28.2 meters wide.

The NYK line has a fleet of 118, which carries more than 3.4 million cars each year. In addition to cars, the NYK ro-ro division also carries agricultural machinery, plant equipment and specialty cargos such as boilers, transformers and yachts. The company has sustainability goals. For instance, by 2050, it aims to have a zero-emissions ship, the NYK Super Eco Ship.

M/V Liberty (ARC)

The M/V Topeka was re-flagged to American registry and re-named the M/V Liberty on Jan. 31, 2017, to be consistent with the practice of owner American Roll-on Roll-Off Carrier (ARC) to name its ships after American values. M/V Liberty is now among the most capable and militarily-useful vessels in the U.S.-flag commercial fleet, able to carry tracked vehicles, helicopters, trucks, and other military and high and heavy project cargoes. The vessel is 199.99 meters long with a beam of 32.26 meters, a stern opening of 15.2 meters wide and 5.4 meters high, and a stern ramp rated for cargo up to 237 metric tons.

Vessels in the ARC fleet are known for their ramp access and system optimization, which helps with quick reconfiguration that allows for maximum lift capacity. That explains why, besides military cargo, ARC ships carry commercial breakbulk as well as agricultural and construction equipment for developing countries. Considering itself one of one part of its partners’ supply chains, ARC also works with the warehousing capabilities of other countries.

Actuaria, ACX Crystal, ACX Diamond (ONE)

The top three vessels with Ocean Network Express (ONE), based on TEUs, are the Actuaria, ACX Crystal and ACX Diamond. Built in 2009, the Actuaria holds up to 6,589 TEUs and flies under the Portugal flag. Built in 2008, the ACX Crystal carries up to 2,858 TEUs and flies the Panama flag. And built in 2008, the ACX Diamond can handle 2,858 TEUs and flies the flag of Singapore. They are but three of 225 vessels in ONE fleet that travels to more than 120 countries and can handle a total of more than 1.5 million TEUs.

The sixth-largest carrier worldwide as of January 2020, ONE operates under four core values: “Lean & Agile” to be a new definition of what a new reality can be; “Teamwork” that builds new value; “Best Practice” through the collaboration of its partners; and “Challenge” that takes strengths to face challenges without being afraid to fail.

Magleby Maersk and Munich Maersk (Maersk)

Two of the biggest ships of Maersk—the Denmark-based logistics giant—are the Munich Maersk and the Magleby Maersk. The Munich Maersk, which has a TEUs capacity of 19,630, was built in 2017 and sails under Denmark’s flag. It has a draught of 7.1 meters with an overall length of 399 meters and a 58.6-meter width.

The Magleby Maersk, which can handle up to18,270 TEUs, is 398 meters long, 33 meters deep and 73 meters high. Built in the Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering shipyard, the ship is engineered with two low-revolution and two long-stroke engines. Each packs 9,785 horsepower. According to Vessel Tracking, Maersk operates 538 container ships, which can ship more than 3 million TEUs.

In short, these are a handful of ships that are making waves in transportation and logistics, playing a major role in moving the goods that keep us going each day. Onward!

honey

HONEY BEES POLLINATE TRADE OPPORTUNITIES

Harvesting season in the Central Valley

Stretched across some 500 miles throughout California’s Central Valley, almond hulls are splitting open, signaling the beginning of harvesting season.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting that California’s almond growers are set to produce a bumper crop this year of about 2.5 billion pounds, about 70 percent of which will be exported around the world.

It’s an industry that drives about one-quarter of California’s farm exports and generates about $21.5 billion in economic output for the region including growing, processing and manufacturing activities.

A productive crop must be nourished

California is blessed with the perfect climate for almond production, but it must import one of its most important ingredients: pollinators for the almond blooms.

Every February, two out of every three commercial bee hives in the United States are transported to California, their bee residents pressed into service of the almond bloom.

In fact, it’s just the start of an annual food pollinating bee tour. Anywhere from 60 to 75 percent of the bee population kept as livestock crisscross the United States foraging on the blooms of crops that will eventually make their way into our grocery stores and into overseas markets.

Pollinated crop acreage

First stop, almond orchards

For most commercial bees, the pollinating season begins with almonds, California’s largest crop. To provide a sense of scale, Scientific American estimates it takes some two million hives – more than 31 billion honeybees – to pollinate the Central Valley’s 90 million almond trees during their two-week bloom. It’s a symbiotic relationship: the bees gather nectar and pollen to feed their colonies, enabling them to triple their population.

Once almonds bloom in January, hives are moved to other spring-blooming orchards such as cherries and plums in California or apples in the Pacific Northwest. Some head to Texas to pollinate squashes, others to citrus fruit orchards in Florida, and others are dispatched to pollinate cranberries in Wisconsin and cherries in Michigan.

In all, these busy bee travelers pollinate over 90 different crops and then sweeten the deal by shifting into delicious honey production by the end of summer, which they will nourish themselves on over winter while we get to consume the rest. Americans consume a staggering 1.6 pounds of honey per person every year. Even though U.S. beekeepers produced 148 million pounds of honey in 2017 and exported 9.9 million pounds, we imported 447.5 million pounds to keep up with demand from consumers and food producers.

Mobile beehive on trucks
Millions of bees are “exported” state to state to pollinate 90 different American crops.

One in every three bites of food

From cucumbers and citrus fruits to watermelon, kiwis, berries, cherries, apples, melons, peaches, figs, tomatoes, pumpkins and almonds, one-third of the U.S. food supply relies on pollination by the hard-working honey bee.

And, of course, since the United States is a major exporter of agricultural crops, we could say that honey bees help pollinate our trade opportunities. That’s true globally for hundreds of billions worth of crop production and internationally traded food that depends on pollinators.

$15 billion in value for 90 crops

Healthy bees, healthy trade in food

When bees get sick, the health of the U.S. agriculture economy and agricultural exports is imperiled.

Although honey bees are not the only pollinators supporting U.S. agriculture, they are the most important, adding more than $15 billion in value to U.S. agricultural crops each year according to the U.S. Pollinator Health Task Force.

Colony collapse disorder over the last few years drew widespread attention, but the decline in North American honey bees is a long-term trend. In 1947, there were about six million colonies but today we are down to about 2.5 million.

Sharp declines were seen following the introduction in 1987 of an external parasitic mite, aptly named Varroa destructor, that feeds on the blood of honey bees. Loss rates over the winter have been averaging around 31 percent since 2006, far exceeding the 15-17 percent that commercial bee keepers say is economically sustainable.

The rise of monoculture agriculture with increased reliance on pesticides and reduced use of cover crops is thought to add stress on bee health. The bees are struggling to maintain a varied and high-quality diet – they need protein from pollen and carbohydrates from the nectar of flowering plants. Without adequate nutrition, they are also more vulnerable to viruses.

1 in 3 bites

Experts have organized into research consortia, working groups and task forces to try to determine what can be done. The factors negatively impacting bee health are multiple, complex, and interacting, requiring a similarly comprehensive approach to combat them, including restoration of habitats, dissemination of best practices in hive management, and investments in research to better understand how to prevent colony loss.

We are all invested in their success, and when you see honey bees buzzing around your garden this summer, think about the humble but essential role their busywork plays in U.S. food production and agricultural exports.

This article is adapted from “Honey Bee Health is Serious Business” by Andrea Durkin for Progressive Economy.

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Andrea Durkin is the Editor-in-Chief of TradeVistas and Founder of Sparkplug, LLC. Ms. Durkin previously served as a U.S. Government trade negotiator and has proudly taught international trade policy and negotiations for the last fifteen years as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service program.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

comcast

Supreme Court Declines Comcast’s Challenge to the ITC’s Jurisdiction, Thus Confirming the Broad Reach of Section 337

Entering October Term 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court had never reviewed a Section 337 investigation. However, some court-watchers thought that Comcast Corporation v. International Trade Commission might have the right ingredients to break that 90-year streak: a former U.S. Solicitor General representing the petitioners; allegations that Chevron deference had led to regulatory overreach; and a handful of sophisticated amici curiae supporting cert. But the Court denied the petition without even a relist, leaving intact the U.S. International Trade Commission’s assertion of broad authority over patent infringement that occurs wholly within the United States after importation.

Comcast’s cert petition arose out of ITC Investigation No. 337-TA-1001. The complainant, Rovi, argued that certain set-top boxes (“STBs”) used in Comcast’s cable-television system infringed two patents involving “an interactive television program guide system for remote access to television programs.” The Commission found that when Comcast customers use the STBs in a particular way, in conjunction with Comcast’s system, those customers infringe the asserted patents. The Commission further found that Comcast induced that infringement by instructing customers how to use the system. Thus, the Commission found that the STBs constitute infringing articles under Section 337 and issued a limited exclusion order and cease and desist order.

Before the Federal Circuit and in its cert petition, Comcast argued that the Commission had overstepped its jurisdiction. Comcast explained that all of the infringing conduct—both the customers’ direct infringement using the STBs, and also Comcast’s inducement by providing instructions to its customers—occurred within the United States. In Comcast’s view, then, the STBs were not “articles that . . . infringe” a patent at the time of importation and thus fall outside the scope of Section 337.

Siding with the Commission, the unanimous Federal Circuit panel rejected this argument. The court noted that Section 337 expressly defines unfair trade practices to include “sale within the United States after importation” of infringing articles. The court concluded that so long as the articles are imported and they infringe a patent, they fall within the scope of Section 337, regardless of whether the articles were infringing at the time they entered the United States.

The denial of cert in Comcast solidifies the Commission’s broad assertion of authority over all infringement by imported products, regardless of the nature of that infringement and regardless of when it occurs. Even before this development, the Commission had become a preferred forum for many patent holders given its powerful remedies, fast pace, and patent-savvy personnel. This trend is likely to accelerate now that the courts have passed on the opportunity to curtail the Commission’s broad view of its jurisdiction.

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Beau Jackson is a Kansas City-based partner with the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP. He leads the firm’s Section 337 practice.

Michael Martinich-Sauter is an attorney in Husch Blackwell LLP’s St. Louis office.

airlines

United Airlines Moves Cargo Around the World in Cargo and Passenger Planes

If you’ve been wondering who is filling commercial jetliners these days, we have the answer: some brave travelers and a whole lot of cargo.

United Airlines has played a vital role in helping keep the global supply chains stable during the COVID-19 pandemic by flying needed goods not only in its cargo planes but what are normally passenger planes as well.

In addition to current service from the U.S. to Asia, Australia, Europe, India, Latin America and the Middle East, United has added cargo-only flights to Dublin, Paris, Rome, Santiago and Zurich.

“Air cargo continues to be more important than ever,” explains United Cargo President Jan Krems. “This network expansion helps our customers continue to facilitate trade and contribute to global economic development and recovery. I’m proud of our team for mobilizing our cargo-only flights program that enables the shipment of critical goods that will support global economies.”

Since United Airlines began the program on March 19, more than 2,400 cargo-only flights have transported more than 77 million pounds of cargo.

Meanwhile, despite a three-year-old blockade on air, land and sea travel imposed on Qatar by its neighbors Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, Qatar Airways claims its share of the passenger and air cargo market has grown significantly over the past three months.

“Qatar can be proud that it is home to not only the Best Airline in the World but also the current largest passenger airline, the largest cargo airline and the Third Best Airport in the World,” states a company release.

The Middle East countries cut diplomatic and trade ties with Doha and imposed the blockade on June, 5, 2017, because Qatar allegedly supported “terrorism” and was too close to Iran. Calling the blockade “illegal,” Qatar rejects the claims and says there was “no legitimate justification” for the severance of relations.

counterfeit

Tip-Off Leads to Successful Tracking of Counterfeit Oil and Gas Pipes

Cooperative efforts between the Dubai Customs’ IPR and Intelligence departments led to the successful identification and seizing of 58 counterfeit Vallourec oil and gas pipes before they enter the UAE market.

According to information released by Dubai Customs, a tip-off received by the IPR Department pointed to four specific vessel containers from an Asian country carried the counterfeit items. These suspicions were confirmed upon completion of a technical inspection revealing non-conformity with specification and quality requirements,  counterfeit trademarks branded on the steel pipes, and forged quality certificates.

“Counterfeiting has a damaging effect on business, the economy and the general population, and when it comes to oil and gas pipes, it can wreak havoc on the environment as well,” said Yousef Ozair Mubarak, Director of IPR Department.

“As soon as we received information about this shipment of fake pipes, we moved swiftly to seize and recycle the contraband to prevent any potential damage to the environment. This is our commitment towards manufacturers and rights-holders in order to provide them the best possible investment conditions in support of sustainable economic development.”

Vallourec is a French manufacturing company offering a wide range of steel  VAM® premium connections for Oil & Gas well equipment such as casing, tubing and accessories. These items are designed to withstand high temperatures and pressures to better support the petroleum industry. Compromising the quality of steel for these items, risks in worker safety and the petroleum industry are increased.

“Our control room spots and tracks any high-risk consignments of smuggled goods before their arrival to Dubai using the Smart Vessel Tracking System, which Dubai Customs developed for the purpose,” commented, Shuaib Al Suwaidi, Director of Customs Intelligence Department. “We were alerted by the IPR Department and acted accordingly to track down the suspected shipment and eventually intercepted a significant haul of illicit counterfeit steel pipes.”