Modern challenges in business management: sustainability and digitalisation

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Inevitable changes in corporate activities are coped with the European and global challenges: modern business management has become dramatically different during last two decades. Thus, in the post-pandemic period, “business as usual” approach becomes obsolete and inadequate; new intakes reflecting modern challenges are directed towards sustainability and new trends in “business technology” and corporate culture.

The European approach to modern challenges has been concentrated during last decade on issues of “digital society and economy”. Digitalization of almost all woks of life is changing the ways the corporate activities are functioning and the workforce is used; numerous robotics, artificial intelligence and various applications add to the process of modernizing business management and education.
Each European state is adapting its own approaches to practical implementation in modernising “business technology”: starting from digital applications in public health solutions and medical equipment, to personal “sickness database” management, to workforce sharing platforms and distant-working, to B2B connections for temporary workforce, and so on and so forth…
The post-covid period has increased the necessity to resolve the unknown and provide answers to present challenges; therefore, changes in corporate education and business management shall be implemented as soon as possible.
Some examples from the Baltic States in:

Changing business patterns
Volatile business sector is being presently affected from numerous sides: for example, in the EU-27 (i.e. externally), there are changes concerning the European twin transition, guidance for national political economy’s priorities, supported by the financial injections for recovery and resilience, etc. “Internally”, i.e. in the EU member states’ growth patterns, there are such new “orientations” in national governance as sustainability, circular economy, digital society and –most recently – energy issues.
Besides, some business factors and challenges are closely connected to rapidly changing consumption behavior and cultural transformations’ present human existence is being challenges significantly too: from working p[pattern to the lifestyles…
Thus, several present changes in global, regional and national socio-economic development are pressing “business as usual” concepts to new pattern, as those traditional are not any more perspective and/or efficient! However, sill a combination of age-old business patterns (e.g. administration, taxation, accountancy, logistics, team-work, etc.) and new modern trends are needed for corporate entities to survive in perspective.
Bottom line: among three main modern trends that have had lately most serious effect for corporate activity are the following: – sustainability patterns with 17 SDGs to be achieved by 2030 (the SDGs are becoming compulsory for implementation in most states around the world); – circular economy priorities (together with renewable resources, waste management and transition from linear to circular economic development; – digital society and economy (including G-5, numerous apps, e-health, e-governance, e-trade, etc.). Besides, recently an energy issues connected to the “green transition” in the EU and zero-pollution have been seriously challenging existing business environment.

Hackathon example
Business’ transferring examples are numerous: e.g. a hackathon idea; hackathon typically starts with one or more presentations about the event or a specific subject. Then participants suggest ideas and form teams, based on individual interests and skills to start the main work of the hackathon which can last from several hours to several days, both online and/or a combination of ICT-means.
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For example, a bio-hackathon, an annual event originated over a decade ago is targeted at advancing inter-operable bioinformatics tools and web-services. Neuroscientists have also used hackathons to bring together business developers, entrepreneurs and scientists to address issues that range from focusing on a specific information system (e.g. Neurosynth Hackathon and Allen Brain Atlas Hackathon) and providing reserved time for broad scientific inquiry (e.g. Brainhack) to using specific challenges that focus on “hacking activity” (e.g. HBM Hackathon).
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There have also been a number of hackathons devoted to improving education (e.g. Education Hack Days) and addressing specific challenges in “geography education” (e.g. FSCHackday). is Another popular hackathons are: – Random Hacks of Kindness, devoted to disaster management and crisis response, – a hackathon devoted to solving humanitarian, social and public interest challenges hosted by CERN with partners from other non-governmental organizations such as ICRC and UNDP.
Additional references to: -All aboard the transit hackathon express Archived 2012-01-08 at the Wayback Machine, Roberto Rocha, The Gazette, December 16, 2011; – “Hackney Hackathon succeeds in new services”. 2014, 20 November; – “Education Hack Day”, etc.

Complexities in education and corporate practice
In education, as the SDG-4 suggests, there is a need for a cooperative inclusion of natural/applied science achievements and that of the social sciences and humanities; that is the only way to effective implementation sustainability’s concept in both political and economic agendas.
Important aspect in sustainability is that all contemporary innovations can succeed if people’s behavior, attitude and consumption change fundamentally. Involvement of two main science-fields (natural/physical and social/behavioral sciences) in national political economy can help understand the most optimal ways to influence changing patterns in peoples’ age-old habits and corporate behavior. Shifts from using fossil fuels for example (in order to decarbonise national and planetary growth) would not be easy for many people who traditional fuels’ products for a comfortable existence; it means that science and research alone cannot help in achieving SDGs: it shall be an integral part of a complex “sustainable social transition”. Hence, humanities, social and natural sciences in concert are becoming important part in addressing cross-sectoral and inter-disciplinary aspects in political economy.
In order to move fast towards sustainable future, national/global education and corporate communities have to use advanced knowledge to provide for valuable approaches in tailoring solutions for adapting SDGs concepts to changing local communities.
More in K. Schwab “The 4th Industrial Revolution”, 2016.

Creating sustainable societies: effect on education
Dream jobs, youth’s career aspirations and the “future of work”: these are some of the main issues confronting modern students in business courses.
Almost every day, teenagers make important decisions that are relevant to their future.
The time and energy they dedicate to learning and the fields of study where they place their greatest efforts profoundly shape the opportunities they will have throughout their lives.
A key source of motivation for students to study hard is to realize their dreams for work and life.

Sustainability’s effect on business in really great: the three main aspects of sustainability can, in fact, change the corporate management: e.g. the social aspects provide for corporate social responsibility (CSR); the environmental one, provides for rational use of resources and for quality of human environment (e.g. in water management, air and noise protection, waste management, etc.); and the economic aspects, which include completely new parameters in corporate management, e.g. providing for smart and inclusive development, circular economy’s patterns, etc. The 17 “global SDGs” are stretching from eliminating poverty end hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture, to ensuring healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, to ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation, to ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all; to promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth (with full and productive employment and decent work for all); to building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and so on and so forth.
Of course, it’s up to the business entities to decide which of the SDGs are more pertinent to their practical activities; but one thing is clear: all corporate activities will include some of them!
There are already such directions in business education as sustainable fashion, sustainable food and sustainable tourism, to name a few…

More on circular economy and business
The main message in this direction is moving from linear to circular growth patterns as a main trend in modern economic development at a national level. For corporate management, the following main components in circular economy are vital: energy efficiency and renewables, waste management, protecting ecosystems, water purification, infrastructure, etc.
Presently, about half of total greenhouse gas emissions, more than 90% of biodiversity loss and water stress come from natural resource extraction and processing. The circular economy will have net positive benefits in terms of GDP growth and jobs’ creation, since applying ambitious circular economy measures in the EU states will increase the European GDP by an additional 0.5% by 2030 creating around 700,000 new jobs.
More in the EU priorities in:
In March 2019, the European Commission adopted a comprehensive report on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan; the plan sketches out future challenges to shaping the member states economies and paving the way towards a climate-neutral, circular economy where pressure on various natural (like freshwater) and other ecosystems is minimized.

Digital economy and society
There are 5 main indicators in digital economy and society issues (the so-called DESI Index), which are also important for re-directing changing corporate activities:
– Connectivity indicator measures the deployment of broadband infrastructure, its quality (e.g. access to fast and ultrafast broadband networks in private and public sectors);
– Human Capital indicator measures the skills needed to take advantage of the possibilities offered by digital;
– Use of Internet Services pays attention to online activities that Internet users engage in, such as the consumption of online content (videos, music, games, etc.), video calls, as well as online shopping and banking.
– Integration of Digital Technology dimension measures into the digitalization of businesses and e-commerce. This indication is important, as digital technologies provide businesses with possibilities to enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and improve customer engagement.
– Digital Public Services dimension measures in the digitization of public services, focusing on e-Government and e-Health. It is expected that the modernization of public services could lead to efficiency gains for the public administration, citizens, and businesses.
Note: an advice corporate entity can use the so-called “game-changing” technologies for the coming decades in the 4th IR booklet and see the effect on business opportunities in such shifts as nrs. 4, 7, 9, 12, 15, 18 and 22.

Eco-business: complicated aspects in aviation
By limiting air traffic at one of Europe’s major airports the Dutch government is taking a major step to tackle one of the most polluting sectors. The change will bring down both noise and nitrogen oxide pollution (NOx). Between 1990-2016 air travel emissions from the EU and UK doubled; thus, greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced by 45-55 per cent by 2030 to limit global heating to 1.5C. Schiphol, which is the third largest airport in Europe after London Heathrow and Charles de Gaulle in Paris, will be limited to 440,000 flights a year from 2023. This represents an 11 per cent reduction from the pre-pandemic numbers in 2019 for the central European travel hub, and is a first in terms of putting climate before economic growth. The announcement received backlash from industry leaders who spoke out against flight number reductions, despite being broadly committed to sustainability goals.
The European aviation association “ACI Europe” criticized the move for damaging an economic hub in the region. The ACI Europe says it is committed to netzero by 2050 and actively encourages airports to assess the emissions of their commercial partners, including aircrafts, as part of their Airport Carbon Accreditation scheme. The decision of the government to significantly reduce the capacity of the airport “will make the Netherlands smaller,” according to the ACI Europe director general, in reference to the airport’s role in the regional economy.
Law-makers decision to achieve sustainable air travel was criticized by the ACI Europe leaders, saying that it aims to reduce regional flights and warned against governments caving in to ‘climate populism’.
Other criticisms came from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which is also against the Dutch government’s move: Schiphol has been already struggling to cope with demand, which shows how important the airport is. According to IATA, this decision will not only bring the airport at its knees, but will not reach stated ecological aims “will cause irreparable harm to jobs and prosperity”. The IATA is committed to using carbon offsetting and developing sustainable aviation fuel to clean up the air travel sector, though not in favour of reducing flight numbers to further achieve this goal. The move was hailed however by environmental charity Greenpeace which has been campaigning to reduce flights at Schiphol for years. Source and reference to Euronews, 27.06.2022 in:

Modern internet realities
Present product management in altered virtual and hybrid workplaces becomes difficult, particularly through communications with colleagues before a new product/service is brought to market. Some solid brands, however, see that as a misconception and the practical results appear to be different. In innovative technologies, like the Metaverse, virtual and augmented reality platforms, there are actually more opportunities for collaboration from a more pragmatic and in-depth perspective. Companies could essentially create “virtual storefronts” and product demonstration areas to products and make purchase decisions in a realistic, immersive environment.
More in: Purdy M. How the Metaverse could change work. – Harvard Business Review, 5 April 2022; in AI and machine learning.

Note: the term “metaverse” was originally coined by N. Stephenson in 1992 to describe a future world of virtual reality: while defying precise definition, the metaverse is generally regarded as a network of 3-D virtual worlds where people can interact, do business, and forge social connections through their virtual “avatars”, such as numerous modern internets’ virtual reality versions.


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