Digital Adoption Has Taken a ‘Quantum Leap’ Across Organizations and Industries, According to McKinsey

By Staff
Wednesday, November 25, 2020 1:58 PM NEW YORK—During the second and third quarters of 2020, the COVID-19 crisis has brought about “years of change in the way companies in all sectors and regions do business,” according to a recent McKinsey report and analysis. Citing its new McKinsey Global Survey of executives, the consulting firm noted that the companies surveyed have accelerated the digitization of their customer and supply-chain interactions and of their internal operations by three to four years.

In addition, the share of digital or digitally enabled products in their portfolios has accelerated by “a shocking seven years,” McKinsey said in a post on its website.

“Nearly all respondents say that their companies have stood up at least temporary solutions to meet many of the new demands on them, and much more quickly than they had thought possible before the crisis,” according to the consulting firm. “What’s more, respondents expect most of these changes to be long lasting and are already making the kinds of investments that all but ensure they will stick.”

McKinsey noted that when it asked executives about the impact of the crisis on a range of measures, the executives noted that funding for digital initiatives has increased more than anything else—more than increases in costs, the number of people in technology roles, and the number of customers.

“To stay competitive in this new business and economic environment requires new strategies and practices,” McKinsey said. “Our findings suggest that executives are taking note: most respondents recognize technology’s strategic importance as a critical component of the business, not just a source of cost efficiencies.”

Online Physical Goods Global Transaction Values to Grow To $4.4 Trillion By 2025, Accelerated By COVID 19

By Staff
Monday, November 23, 2020 1:34 PM A new study from Juniper Research has found that transaction values for physical goods sales online will grow from $3.3 trillion in 2020 to $4.4 trillion by 2025, with this 33 percent growth hastened by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has fundamentally altered customer behaviors toward e-commerce, with these behaviors likely to be sustained in the longer term, according to Juniper Research.

Americans Once Again Identify Band-Aid as the Most ‘Positive’ Brand

By Staff
Friday, November 20, 2020 4:07 PM NEW YORK—The annual YouGov brand rankings find that Band-Aid is the most positively perceived brand in the US overall. The bandage brand ranks slightly ahead of Dawn, the dish soap brand, and e-commerce giant, Amazon.

Band-Aid, Johnson & Johnson’s brand of bandage and first aid-supplies, has taken the top spot in YouGov’s BrandIndex rankings for the United States for the fourth year in a row with a score of 47.8.

“This year’s pandemic caused Americans to stock their homes with cleansers and disinfectants, escalating demand for dish soap and detergent brands such as Dawn and Clorox with [these] brands placing second and fifth, respectively, with scores of 47.6 and 46.1,” according to a YouGov announcement.

With more time at home leading to higher consumption of digital media, streaming companies such as Netflix (44.5) and Amazon.com (46.6) undoubtedly benefited from a more captive audience this year.

The rankings were based on the Index score from YouGov BrandIndex, which is a measure of overall brand health calculated by taking the average of impression, quality, value, satisfaction, recommend and reputation.

The home improvement retailer, Home Depot, made its debut to America’s top rankings list, earning 10th place with a score of 42.2. The company saw an influx of Americans buying supplies to improve their homes and tackle various do-it-yourself projects following mandated stay-at-home orders.

More Americans Are Now Willing to Get COVID-19 Vaccine, Gallup Poll Says

By Staff
Thursday, November 19, 2020 2:35 PM Americans' willingness to be vaccinated against COVID-19 rebounded a bit in October, as seen in Gallup polling conducted before Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna made promising announcements about the likely effectiveness of their coronavirus vaccines. Fifty-eight percent of Americans in the latest poll say they would get a COVID-19 vaccine, up from a low of 50 percent in September, according to a recent feature in Gallup.

These latest data come from a Gallup Panel survey conducted Oct. 19 to Nov. 1, as COVID-19 infections continued to increase across the U.S. A vaccine for the disease is seen as key to returning Americans' lives to normal and allowing the lifting of restrictions that would permit a full economic recovery for the country.

The 42 percent of U.S. adults saying they would not get a vaccine is down from 50 percent in September, but still indicative of significant challenges ahead for public health and government officials in achieving mass public compliance with vaccine recommendations.

Another significant increase in willingness to get a vaccine is seen in Americans aged 45 to 64, with 49 percent of this group now willing to do so, up from 36 percent in September. However, this age group remains the least likely to say they would get a vaccine.

Even before the announcements made by Pfizer and BioNTech on Nov. 9 and by Moderna on Nov. 16 about the development of highly effective vaccines for COVID-19, Americans were already more willing to get a vaccine than they were in September. 

However, Americans overall are still less likely than they were earlier this year to say they'd get a COVID-19 vaccine. Four in 10 remain unwilling to get a vaccine, indicating public health officials face an uphill climb in convincing a good share of the public to do so.

Click here to read the full story from Gallup. 

How Effective Are The Covid-19 Vaccine Candidates?

By Staff
Wednesday, November 18, 2020 1:07 PM Early results are arriving from the third phase of clinical trials involving Covid-19 vaccine candidates and they are highly promising so far, according to a feature from Statista.com. Pfizer and BioNTech were the first to release early findings on November 9 when they reported that their BNT162b2 vaccine is 90 percent effective against Covid-19. There was more good news on Nov. 16 when Moderna stated that their candidate is 94.5 percent effective. 

Both vaccines are based on introducing genetic material, mRNA, into the human body in order to produce spike proteins which prevent the coronavirus from entering human cells. 

In both cases, the shot is administered twice over the space of several weeks. Despite the positive results, there is no data regarding whether the candidates prevent the coronavirus from being transmitted as well as for how long protection lasts. 

The Moderna vaccine does have an advantage over the Pfizer/BioNTech one in that it can be stored at temperatures of between 2C and 8C for 30 days, making distribution easier. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, on the other hand, must be stored at -80C, exacerbating logistical challenges. 

Moderna is set to apply for Emergency Use Authorization with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over the next few weeks and the company said that it will have 20 million doses of its vaccine ready to ship in the U.S. by the end of the year. 

Click here
 to read the full story from Statista.com.

The Crisis-Inspired Surge in E-Commerce

By Staff
Tuesday, November 17, 2020 12:46 PM Fears over transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to government-mandated travel restrictions and non-essential business closures. As a result of these pandemic-driven changes, consumer spending underwent unprecedented levels of channel shifts, with the digital channel becoming the default for many consumers, giving way to what will likely be a permanent e-commerce boost, according to a newly published whitepaper by market research firm Euromonitor International.

Upwork Report Reveals Accelerated Adoption of Independent and Remote Work Amid COVID-19

By Staff
Monday, November 16, 2020 3:05 PM Talent scarcity and access to in-demand skills are among the top challenges for hiring managers, according to Upwork’s fourth annual Future Workforce Report, which explores the hiring habits of over 1,500 U.S. hiring managers. The study, released in June, 2020, surveyed hiring managers both prior to and in the midst of COVID-19, to reveal how the pandemic has impacted the hiring landscape. The key findings show just how quickly COVID-19 has accelerated the already rising trend toward a more flexible and remote workforce.

How Will Giving Tuesday Look in 2020?

By Staff
Friday, November 13, 2020 4:56 PM NEW YORK—Giving Tuesday may take on a different form this year, given the enormous personal and financial brunt people have taken amid the ongoing pandemic. A new report by Piplsay brings insights into the trends that will define this celebrated day of giving, especially following a record-breaking season last year.

Giving Tuesday will not be all about the money, at least this year. The drastic lifestyle changes brought on by the pandemic may not only affect monetary donations but may also see many personally reaching out to help those in need, either in kind or through volunteering work. Even the concept of virtual volunteering seems to have picked up the pace, with people sharing useful skills or assisting others with their online activities.

So how many Americans will give back differently this Giving Tuesday? To find out, Piplsay polled 28,730 people nationwide to get some insights. Here is a summary of what we found.

• 63 percent of men plan to donate money this Giving Tuesday as compared to just 37 percent of women
• 32 percent of Gen Zers and GenXers and 36 percent of Millennials plan to donate more this Giving Tuesday
• About 45 percent of men and women plan to donate to individuals, organizations, or small businesses
• 54 percent of Millennials believe in the concept of Giving Tuesday as compared to 46 percent of Gen Zers

Imports Set New 'Peak Season' Record as Retailers Prepare for Holidays

By Staff
Thursday, November 12, 2020 4:30 PM Imports likely saw their busiest “peak season” on record this summer and fall as retailers replenished inventories and stocked up for the holiday season, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

“Peak season is the Super Bowl of the supply chain world each year as retailers make sure they have enough merchandise on hand to satisfy demand during the holidays, and this is the busiest we’ve ever seen,” NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold said.

“Part of this surge was fueled by restocking after retail sales rebounded this summer and part could be making sure there aren’t shortages if we see panic buying again. The economic challenges of the pandemic aren’t over yet, but this clearly shows how an industry that has been under stress is fighting back in a positive way. Retailers don’t import merchandise they don’t think they can sell, so this is a good sign for the holiday season,” Gold said.

U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled an estimated 8.1 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units from July through October, the peak shipping season when retailers rush to bring in merchandise for the winter holidays each year. While subject to revision once October numbers become final, that would be an increase of 6.1 percent over last year and would beat the previous record of 7.7 million TEU set in 2018.

Click here to read the full story from the National Retail Federation.

The Pace of Boomer Retirements Has Accelerated in the Past Year, Pew Research Indicates

By Staff
Wednesday, November 11, 2020 1:24 PM Millions of Baby Boomers retire each year from the U.S. labor force. But in the past year the number of retired Boomers increased more than in prior years, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of monthly labor force data. The recent increase in the share of Boomers who are retired is more pronounced among Hispanic and Asian American Boomers and those residing in the Northeast.

In the third quarter of 2020, about 28.6 million Baby Boomers—those born between 1946 and 1964—reported that they were out of the labor force due to retirement.

This is 3.2 million more Boomers than the 25.4 million who were retired in the same quarter of 2019. Until this year, the overall number of retired Boomers had been growing annually by about 2 million on average since 2011 (the year the oldest Boomer reached age 65), and the largest increase was 2.5 million between the third quarter of 2014 and 2015.

Click here to read the full story from the Pew Research Center.

New Benchmark USPTO Study Finds AI in U.S. Patents Rose By More Than 100 Percent Since 2002

By Staff
Tuesday, November 10, 2020 12:00 AM The number of artificial intelligence (AI) patent applications received annually by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) more than doubled from 2002 to 2018, according to a new report published recently by the USPTO, “Inventing AI: Tracing the diffusion of artificial intelligence with U.S. patents.” During those 16 years, annual AI patent applications grew from 30,000 in 2002 to more than 60,000 in 2018. Accompanying the 100 percent increase of AI-related patent applications was unprecedented growth and broad diffusion of AI across technologies.

More Health Care Execs Are Implementing AI Strategies

By Staff
Monday, November 9, 2020 4:54 PM As artificial intelligence (AI) evolves into a must-have technology in almost every industry, health care organizations continue to develop—and even accelerate—their AI strategies in 2020: 83 percent have an AI strategy in place, and another 15 percent are planning on creating one, according to the third annual Optum Survey on AI in Health Care. In fact, 56 percent say they are accelerating or expanding their AI deployment timelines in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Few U.S. Elections Kept Voters Waiting for Results

By Staff
Thursday, November 5, 2020 1:05 PM According to information gathered from media report, the current wait for the U.S. presidential election result has already been the second longest since the 1960s. Only on one other occasion did the day after the election pass without a concession speech from the unsuccessful candidate, as this graphic from Statista.com shows. (Editor’s Note: As of VMAIL’s presstime, a winner in this year’s election had not been declared.)

The day after the infamous presidential election of 2000 actually featured a concession, to be precise, but one that was later taken back by Democratic candidate Al Gore. It wasn’t until 36 days and a recount in Florida later that Gore conceded for a final time, on December 13. 

Many presidential races of the last 60 years actually were a lot less close than this year’s election, allowing for them to be called before midnight East Coast time on Election Day.

Click here to read the full story from Statista.com.

How Companies Are Winning on Culture During COVID-19

By Staff
Wednesday, November 4, 2020 1:05 PM At first glance, you might expect COVID-19 to be a disaster for corporate culture. The widespread shift to remote work—half of employees in the U.S. were working from home in April—decreased the face-to-face interactions that reinforce organizational culture. The economic downturn in many industries and a spike in layoffs threaten to unravel the social fabric that holds companies together.

According to an ongoing analysis from MIT Sloan Management Review, the 1.4 million employee-written reviews on Glassdoor tell a very different story. To examine how the pandemic has influenced employees’ perceptions of corporate culture, MIT Sloan looked month by month at how workers at Culture 500 companies rated their employer for the five years through August 2020. When current or former employees review a company, they are asked to rate its culture and values on a five-point scale, from “very dissatisfied” to “very satisfied.”

The organization found that the average culture rating across the Culture 500 companies experienced a sharp jump between March and April 2020. The months of April through August 2020, which saw widespread lockdowns, shifts to remote work, and layoffs, occupy the top five spots in terms of average culture ratings during the five-year period.

One important theme that stood out in the months of the pandemic is the quality of communication by leaders. Employees of Culture 500 companies gave their corporate leaders much higher marks in terms of honest communication and transparency during the first six months of the coronavirus pandemic compared with the preceding year.

Click here to read the full story from MIT Loan Management review.

At Your Service

By Andrew Karp / Group Editor, Lenses & Technology and Jeff Hopkins / Contributing Editor
Monday, November 2, 2020 12:30 AM In the first days of the coronavirus pandemic, as states and municipalities began issuing shutdown orders, optical retailers and optometric practices across the country went into shock. With many offices closed and eyeglass shipments disrupted, the situation was chaotic. “When everyone literally had the rug pulled out from under them, no previous systems you had in place were going to be helpful when you’re winging it,” recalled optician Ruth Domber, who co-owns 10/10 Optics, a popular optical boutique and optometric practice in New York City.