New research by the Deloitte Center for the Edge, part of tax and consulting firm Deloitte, paints an ominous picture: The return on assets for U.S. firms has fallen to almost a quarter of 1965 levels despite continued improvements in labor productivity.
And according to John Hagel III, co-chair of the center and one of the study's authors, the declines are taking place in all sectors of business - not just in maturing corporations. "The bottom line," he says, "is that in every industry there has been erosion of return on assets."
Hagel and his fellow researchers are in the process of writing a follow-up study that will offer some detailed prescriptions for reversing the trend, but he shared some early insights with us. Two of his observations in particular stood out: 1) He says corporations need to move away from the idea of breakthrough innovation and 2) companies need to find a way to harness new kinds of information flows.
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