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IP rights issue to become non-issue, BlackBerry CEO says

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Still, those changes will likely take time, because there is still “a big gap” when it comes to intellectual property laws between the United States and China, he added.

President Donald Trump briefly addressed the issue in an optimistic tweet on Sunday, writing that a deal on intellectual property would be struck between the U.S. and China. He did not elaborate further.

Earlier this month, Trump unveiled a list of Chinese imports, including high-tech products used in robotics and in other industries, that could be slapped with additional tariffs.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in a statement that the proposal was made in response to China’s policies that “coerce American companies into transferring their technology and intellectual property to domestic Chinese enterprises.”

Fears have simmered in recent weeks that the world’s two largest economies could engage in a trade war.

— CNBC’s Huileng Tan contributed to this report.

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Experts see innovation and pop-up stores

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A shopper browsing through secondhand clothes at a pop-up swap event in Singapore.

CATHERINE LAI | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON — The future of physical stores has been called into question by the coronavirus pandemic, but experts believe the key to survival will be reinvention.

For some time now, retailers have tried to attract customers by creating experiences in store, but they now need to get creative as shopping habits change and customers become more demanding.

Online shopping has boomed since the start of the pandemic. In the U.K. alone, internet sales jumped from under 20% to more than 32% in just three months at the start of the first Covid-induced lockdown. And experts expect the convenience of buying online to mean consumers will continue this habit even after the pandemic.

Meanwhile, almost 50 stores closed every day in the U.K. in 2020, according to accountancy firm PwC.

Both trends show how important it is for retailers to get their physical presence right.

Kristina Rogers, consumer global leader at Ernest Young, told CNBC in March that there is a “real redefinition” in how retailers use their physical spaces.

“It’s not just an exchange of goods anymore,” she said, adding that retailers have to understand who their customers are and what these want.

Customers browse clothing in the pop-up shop Pangaia inside Selfridges department store in London on April 12, 2021 as coronavirus restrictions are eased.

GLYN KIRK | AFP | Getty Images

She highlighted how Target, one of the largest retailers in the U.S., has opted to have a bigger space in its stores for Apple products. This effectively allows customers who are interested in Apple devices to check them out while shopping for other things in Target. It is also convenient for current Apple users who can merge two trips into one.

“They’re recreating a ‘mini mall’ within their store,” she said.

But not every retailer has such a large area to work with. In fact, some experts believe that successful stores of the future might be ones that, irrespective of size, keep offering new things.

“Undoubtedly there will be less physical stores as we move forward,” Matt Clark, managing director at consulting firm AlixPartners told CNBC’s Street Signs Europe in March. “But the stores that remain will need to offer an even greater experience and an additional set of services, as well as just the ability to buy products.”

One way for retailers to stand out is by focusing more on pop-up stores. These are spaces that are open temporarily to show off a particular line or product, and have been gaining in popularity in recent years.

Stella McCartney store in Bond Street in November 2020.

SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

“One of the prime opportunities for pop-up shops are to create new opportunities for exploration. It’s not about a consumer going to a Ralph Lauren store that is the same today as it was 10 years ago or 20 years ago,” Alex Cohen, a commercial property expert at Compass told CNBC.

Some big-name brands have already looked to pop-ups as a way to attract more customers. Stella McCartney, the British fashion designer, is featuring different local businesses in her flagship store on Old Bond Street, London, to celebrate the lifting of restrictions for retailers in the U.K. Guess, meanwhile, is about to open its first pop up store in Germany for Activewear.

Pop-up spaces allow retailers to create something “really fresh” while saving on costs, Cohen said.

“The brands, they have the opportunity to spend much less, to not having to commit themselves to a long-term contract, to spend less with modular installations and to do it very quickly,” he added.

Exclusivity

In addition, this sort of store boosts the idea of exclusivity — a feeling increasingly popular for many customers.

“The whole idea of exclusivity is really important. The fact that a pop-up will expire … creates in the consumers kind of an excitement. ‘Wow, if I don’t check out this pop-up retail offering … in the next 3 months, it is going to go away, I will never be able to see it,'” he said. This adds the sort of excitement missing from many traditional stores.

So it is not just about the feeling of having an exclusive product, but also an exclusive experience. And this means there are other ways for retailers to capitalize on this exclusivity trend.

“In terms of exclusivity, a lot of the high street retailers are now requiring, either by appointment or actually when you arrive at a store, that you must be linked up to a sales person. You can’t browse and that — for better or worse — creates a feeling of exclusivity,” Cohen added.

Sustainability

Brands are also recognizing the increasing importance of sustainability, both from a business perspective and because of growing customer awareness.

And it’s not just coming through in more “ethical” product lines, but also in what services are available at physical stores.

At its flagship space in Stockholm, for instance, H&M is offering services to fix old clothes and is hiring out some of its outfits for special occasions.

“The sustainability movement really highlights one of the core dichotomies that the fashion industry particularly is facing but broader retail is also facing,” Clark from AlixPartners said.

“The value versus values debate: the need to be really, really clear on your sustainability credentials, ethical sourcing, etc but at the same time offering great value for money that doesn’t just mean cheapness but value for money to the consumers.”

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How to ace a job interview with a robot recruiter

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The use of artificial intelligence in job interviews is on the rise, which may sound like a daunting prospect, but experts say there are some ways to ace your first encounter with a robot recruiter. 

Some 70% of the more than 1,500 human resource and recruitment professionals surveyed by LinkedIn in July believed virtual recruiting would become the new standard in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

And while for many firms this could simply mean employers continue conducting interviews via Zoom, the emergence of more AI tools offering to make the process more efficient suggests the demand for robot recruiters may be here to stay.  

So, if you are faced by a robot recruiter in your next interview, experts recommend keeping these tips in mind. 

Body language

For AI hiring tools that analyze body language, Andres Lares, managing partner at Shapiro Negotiations Institute, said that it can initially seem “scary” to interviewees as it’s hard to predict exactly what an algorithm picks up on. However, he added that there are common positive body language tips that candidates can use to make a good impression.

He recommended “simple things” like smiling, leaning forward slightly and “lots of eye contact,” as well as generally showing more “open mannerisms.” 

How interviewees phrase their answers is also key, Lares said, when language is being analyzed. “The ‘how you say it’ is particularly important, perhaps actually more important than when you’re with a real person,” he said.

For instance, Lares said AI could interpret the use of phrases like “I think” as more tentative.

“Generally what we have found is a lot of the algorithms are looking for confidence,” he explained.

Lares suggested candidates script out what they might want to say for certain answers and roleplay reading it out, so they feel more confident when saying it again in the actual interview, which can help get rid of that tentative phrasing. He recommended weaving in key phrases used in the job description, just as applicants would on their resume.

Taking notes

Kevin Parker, CEO of video interviewing software platform HireVue, told CNBC that job applicants would be well advised to consider taking notes in between answers if, like HireVue, the software allows interviewees to take pauses.

And just like in a face-to-face interview, Parker suggested interviewees use the “STAR” (situation, task, action and result) technique to structure answers for situational questions.

HireVue provides on-demand video interviewing, where an employer can pre-record questions and then send them to job applicants, who record their responses. It also has an algorithm that transcribes and analyzes the answers of candidates to help filter applicants prior to being seen by a recruiter, though Parker stressed that this is only used in one-fifth of its interviews, for those with high volumes of applications.

‘Honesty, values and personality’

Lares acknowledged that speaking to a screen in an interview, rather than a real person, could feel “awkward” as candidates can’t see how their interviewer is reacting to their answers and there’s no opportunity for small talk to get the conversation flowing.

To get rid of some of that initial discomfort, he suggested thinking of story from a past job and to practice re-telling it in front of a camera to get comfortable.

“Getting some of those kinks out early in an unrelated environment can be really helpful,” Lares said.

Aida Fazylova is CEO of HR tech startup XOR, which uses AI to automate the earliest stages of hiring like applying, screening and getting scheduled for in-person meetings. 

“If you want to ace your screening interview with AI, I’d recommend a heavy dose of … honesty, values and personality,” she said. 

If recording a video, she suggested adding a background that “gives a glimpse into who you are.”

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Singapore’s Temasek and BlackRock commit $600 million to reduce carbon

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BlackRock Chair and CEO Laurence D. Fink attends a session at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, on January 23, 2020.

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Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings and asset manager BlackRock will team up to invest in private companies that use technology to reduce carbon emissions, the companies said Tuesday.

The partnership, referred to as Decarbonization Partners, will launch a series of late-stage venture capital and early growth private equity investment funds, the two companies said in a statement.

Temasek and BlackRock plan to commit a combined $600 million in initial capital to invest across the funds, which would also raise money from third-party investors. The first fund has a target of $1 billion, and will include capital from both companies.

“The world cannot meet its net zero ambitions without transformational innovation,” Larry Fink, chairman and CEO of BlackRock, said in a joint statement.

“For decarbonization solutions and technologies to transform our economy, they need to be scaled,” Fink said. “To do that, they need patient, well-managed capital to support their vital goals.”

He said the partnership will help define climate solutions as a standalone asset class that is essential to the two companies’ collective mission, as well as “a historic investment opportunity created by the net zero transition.”

BlackRock, the world’s largest money manager, is pushing companies to disclose how they will survive in a world of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

In his annual letter to CEOs this year, Fink said better disclosures about sustainability are in the best interest of companies as well as investors.

Temasek, a top global investor, has committed to halve emissions from its portfolio by 2030. It plans to eventually move to net zero emissions by 2050.

“Bold, aggressive actions are needed to make the global net zero ambition a reality,” said Dilhan Pillay, CEO of Temasek International. “Through collective efforts with like-minded partners, we will be able to create
sustainable value for all of our stakeholders over the long term, and investors will have the opportunity to help deliver innovative solutions at scale to address climate challenges.”

The Decarbonization Partners funds will invest in early stage growth companies in areas such as electric and autonomous vehicle technologies, battery storage, grid solutions and emerging fuel sources.

The funds will be staffed by employees from Temasek and BlackRock as well as a professional team recruited to source and undertake investments and manage the portfolio.

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