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Fears of two-year shelf life has businesses struggling to innovate

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Fears of two-year shelf life has businesses struggling to innovate

Half of digital companies* (49%) are worried that their biggest revenue-creating products and services will no longer be attractive to the market within two years, according to research by Currencycloud, the leading international payment platform.

In order to stay relevant, two thirds (60%) believe they must innovate constantly, reveals Fostering innovation: from ideas to action, which surveyed 500 senior executives across UK and US digital businesses.

The findings show that, in spite of efforts to innovate, half (51%) of companies find it difficult to keep up with the pace of change in their industry. What’s more, nearly half of respondents (47%) believe they are frequently too slow in bringing new ideas to market.

Despite the lag in enthusiasm during development, a third (29%) of businesses are able to turn innovations into growth, indicating that the ability to action new ideas has a significant part to play in driving success in the digital economy.

Todd Latham, CMO and VP of Product at Currencycloud, commented: “The pace of change today is so high that organisations simply can’t rest on their laurels. Our research finds that obsolescence is now a very real threat for organisations, so innovation needs to move from something that happens in R&D, to a core business competency.”

The research found that coming up with innovative new ideas is less of a challenge for organisations than execution, with over half (54%) saying they struggle to turn ideas into reality. Yet, once an idea is off the ground it becomes harder again to keep up momentum, according to half (50%) of the companies interviewed.

Partnerships with external organisations can offer businesses a solution to bridging the gap between idea and action by removing the need to do everything in-house. Almost two-thirds (59%) said that collaboration with external parties can lead to the best innovation.

Todd continued: “Digital companies have kickstarted innovation in businesses, but thankfully we’re now past the David versus Goliath ‘disruption’ story. Technology-led innovation is epitomised by the platform economy, and in this world, innovation is all about rethinking how things work, combining the best components to create brand new and exciting products and services. Collaborating with others gives businesses the tools to address some of the challenges our research has highlighted, but also stay relevant in a busy business landscape.”

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Bitcoin overtakes “long tech” as most crowded trade – BofA fund manager survey

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Bitcoin overtakes "long tech" as most crowded trade - BofA fund manager survey 1

LONDON (Reuters) – A long position on bitcoin overtook “long tech” as the trade fund managers said was the most crowded in January, Bank of America’s monthly fund manager survey showed on Tuesday.

For the first time since October, a long position on technology companies was knocked off the top spot, as investors said that long bitcoin was the most crowded trade. A short position on the U.S. dollar was seen as the third most crowded.

A steeper yield curve was expected by a record 83% of investors – that’s more than after the 2008 Lehman Brothers collapse, the 2013 U.S. Federal Reserve’s “Taper Tantrum” or after the 2016 U.S. election. The expectation of higher bond yields was at or close to all-time highs.

The top tail risks to the economy were thought to be problems with the vaccine rollout (30%), the Fed easing its asset purchases (29%), and a Wall Street bubble (18%).

(Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft; editing by Thyagaraju Adinarayan)

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British hospitals use blockchain to track COVID-19 vaccines

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British hospitals use blockchain to track COVID-19 vaccines 2

By Tom Wilson

LONDON (Reuters) – Two British hospitals are using blockchain technology to keep tabs on the storage and supply of temperature-sensitive COVID-19 vaccines, the companies behind the initiative said on Tuesday, in one of the first such initiatives in the world.

Two hospitals, in central England’s Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick, are expanding their use of a distributed ledger, an offshoot of blockchain, from tracking vaccines and chemotherapy drugs to monitoring fridges storing COVID-19 vaccines.

The tech will bolster record-keeping and data-sharing across supply chains, said Everyware, which monitors vaccines and other treatments for Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), and Texas-based ledger Hedera, owned by firms including Alphabet’s Google and IBM, in a statement.

Logistical hurdles are a significant risk to the speedy distribution of COVID-19 vaccines but have resulted in booming business for companies selling technology for monitoring shipments from factory freezer to shots in the arm.

Pfizer Inc and BioNTech’s shot, for example, must be shipped and stored at ultra-cold temperatures or on dry ice, and can only last at standard fridge temperatures for up to five days.

Other vaccines, such as Moderna Inc’s, do not need such cold storage and are therefore easier to deliver.

“We can absolutely verify the data that we’ve collected from every single device,” Everyware’s Tom Screen said in an interview. “We make sure that data is accurate at source, and after that point we can verify that it’s never been changed, it’s never been tampered with.”

Firms from finance to commodities have invested millions of dollars to develop blockchain, a digital ledger that allows the secure and real-time recording of data, in the hope of radical cost cuts and efficiency gains.

Results have been mixed, though, with few projects achieving the revolutionary impact heralded by proponents.

Everyware’s Screen said it while it would be possible to monitor the vaccines without blockchain, manual systems would raise the risk of mistakes.

The system will “allow us to demonstrate our commitment to providing safe patient care,” said Steve Clarke, electro-bio medical engineering manager at South Warwickshire NHS in a statement.

(Reporting by Tom Wilson; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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Shares climb ahead of Yellen speech, earnings in focus

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Shares climb ahead of Yellen speech, earnings in focus 3

Via Reuters

By Danilo Masoni and Wayne Cole

MILAN/SYDNEY (Reuters) – Global shares climbed and the dollar eased on Tuesday ahead of Janet Yellen’s Treasury Secretary confirmation speech, in which she is expected to bolster the case for heavy fiscal stimulus in the world’s largest economy.

Concerns that pandemic lockdowns could slow the road to economic recovery faded into the background as markets prepared for possible positive surprises from the earnings season.

Asian shares posted strong gains and in Europe upbeat earnings reports from miner Rio Tinto and computer peripherals maker Logitech helped the STOXX 600 benchmark index edge up by 0.1% in morning trade.

Wall Street looked set for a strong start, with S&P 500 futures rising 0.6% and Nasdaq futures up 0.9% after the long holiday weekend.

The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 49 countries, was up 0.3% by 0907 GMT.

“Yellen … will attempt to sell U.S. President-elect Biden’s $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus plan (arguing that low interest rates allow a big fiscal stimulus),” Paul Donovan, Chief Economist of UBS Global Wealth Management, said in a note.

“If the growth rate generated by government investment in infrastructure or people exceeds the cost of borrowing, it is a worthwhile exercise.”

Yellen will tell the Senate Finance Committee that the government must “act big” with its next coronavirus relief package, according to her prepared statement seen by Reuters.

Asian shares had climbed on investor expectation that China’s economic strength would help TO underpin growth in the region. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.5% to a record high.

Data on Monday confirmed that the world’s second-largest economy was one of the few to grow over 2020 and actually gathered pace as the year drew to a close.

Analysts at JPMorgan felt the coming earnings season could brighten the mood, given the consensus in Europe was for a 25% fall year on year, setting a very low bar.

“The projected EPS (earnings per share) growth in Europe now stands at the lows of the crisis, which seems too conservative and could likely lead to positive surprises over the reporting season,” they wrote.

The same could be true for the United States, where results from BofA, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Netflix are due this week.

Despite the risk-on mood on Tuesday, dealers were wary ahead of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, given the risk of more mob violence.

Wall Street is also bracing for tougher regulations now that the Democrats control the Senate, with Biden set to nominate two consumer champions to top financial agencies.

In foreign exchange markets, the U.S. dollar slipped from close to its highest in nearly a month as caution set in before Yellen’s speech.

The dollar index was last at 90.63, down 0.15% on the day but comfortably above its recent trough of 89.206.

The euro rose 0.2% to $1.2106 after touching a six-week low of $1.2052 overnight, while the dollar weakened by 0.3% against the safe-haven yen at 104.04.

In fixed income markets, Italian 10-year bond yields fell slightly to 0.592% ahead of a confidence vote in the Senate that could force Prime minister Giuseppe Conte to resign.

But expectations that snap elections are unlikely, coupled with ECB stimulus to fight the adverse impact of the coronavirus crisis, limited any sell-off.

Gold rose 0.3% to $1,843 an ounce after briefly reaching a six-week low of $1,809.90 overnight. [GOL/]

Crude oil prices firmed on optimism that government stimulus will buoy global economic growth and oil demand. Brent crude futures rose 0.7% to $55.40 a barrel and U.S. crude was up 0.5% at $52.60. [O/R]

(Reporting by Danilo Masoni and Wayne Cole; Additional reporting by Julie Zhu; Editing by David Goodman)

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