Conflicts in Africa and their relevance in context of the Supply Chain Act

The recently passed Act on Corporate Due Diligence in Supply Chains (in short: Supply Chain Act) in Germany is considered to be a milestone in human rights and sustainability policy by politicians. From 2023, companies with more than 3,000 employees will be required to issue a policy statement on respect for human rights, to provide risk analysis and prevention management for these, and set up a complaints mechanism for any human rights violations.[1] This applies to the company’s own business operations and direct suppliers. For indirect suppliers, the due diligence obligation is event-driven and includes the preparation of a risk analysis, the implementation of an avoidance and minimization concept as well as preventive measures. From 2024, this Supply Chain Law will also apply to companies that employ more than 1,000 people.

This new regulation presents companies with new tasks in an often little-known terrain. Human rights violations and environmental degradation, which are not present in the wider European public, are a global phenomenon and companies can be confronted with them unexpectedly. The potential conflicts are multifaceted and can manifest themselves in a wide variety of ways. The following article presents examples of conflicts from three African countries where companies are involved and which are related to human rights violations or environmental degradation: Togo, Tanzania and Mozambique. These examples will provide a first insight into the range of relevant cases.

Togo

The first analysis focuses on the West African state of Togo. Various German and international companies attracted attention for their activities in Togo when demonstrations by the Diaspora Togolaise Allemagne, an interest group representing Togolese living in Germany, took place in front of their headquarters in the winter of 2020. On the one hand, they protested against environmentally harmful business and production practices of the companies in the country. On the other hand, the support and legitimization of the authoritarian government through economic activities in Togo was criticized.[2]

In context of the new Supply Chain Act, German companies are required to monitor and analyze human rights violations and environmental problems.  For the aspect of environmental protection, Togo can be used as an example for other countries: Environmentalists and critics of the Togolese government complain that phosphate mining in Togo causes severe environmental damage along the coast. This includes, among other things, coastal pollution and a resulting death of the fish population. In addition, factory workers have been found to have health problems that are believed to stem from phosphate mining.[3] These sustainability deficiencies, which are by no means limited to phosphate mining, may present new challenges for companies in light of the Supply Chain Act.

In addition to environmental and health aspects, the human rights violations of the Togolese government are relevant in regard to the new Supply Chain Act. The ruling Gnassingbé family follows an authoritarian style of government and is directly involved in phosphate mining through the state-owned Société Nouvelle des Phosphates du Togo and its monopoly.[4] In recent years, the Gnassingbé government has also drawn attention to itself by suppressing the opposition and violently repressing protests.[5] A further deterioration of the human rights situation in Togo is quite possible. For businesses, this creates the risk to actually enable or even actively support human rights violations and environmental destruction through cooperation with corresponding companies or through agreements with the government.

Tanzania

Another example of political conflicts with relevance to the new Supply Chain Act can be found in Tanzania. Although the East African state is characterized by political stability and high growth rates compared to other states in the region, its treatment of the LGBTQ+ community appears problematic to the rest of the world.

The Supply Chain Act stipulates that discrimination against individuals on the basis of a wide variety of characteristics has to be prevented. Therefore, the situation in Tanzania is problematic due to both social and political discrimination against the LGBTQ+ movement. In the past, the drastic approach against the LGBTQ+ community caused negative headlines internationally when high-ranking politicians initiated a public wave of arrests against homosexuals in 2018.[6] The call for the public to provide names of alleged homosexuals caused widespread criticism among Western nations and, among other things, resulted in the suspension of development funding.[7] In addition to the potential discrimination by political actors, this discrimination is also perpetuated in Tanzanian society.[8]

What initially had no immediate consequences for international companies has to be reassessed as a result of the Supply Chain Act. Such or similar discriminatory measures could affect companies’ own employees and suppliers. This example illustrates how the new Supply Chain Law forces German companies in apparently stable and inconspicuous states to conduct a deeper analysis of political and social conflicts.

Mozambique

The last example deals with the Cabo Delgado region in Mozambique, which exemplifies the escalation of social conflicts. Former low-intensity conflicts resulted in a violent uprising by Islamist militias that necessitated international military support.

The basis of today’s conflict can be found in the population’s rejection of the state of Mozambique, which is based on the neglect of the region by state institutions and corruption. These conditions created the first favorable premises for political violence and religious extremism in the region, even before it became interesting for economic resource extraction. The region in northern Mozambique gained economic interest through ruby deposits and the discovery of large quantities of offshore natural gas. The raw material deposits have attracted foreign investors over the past decade. Since 2017, however, they have faced an increasingly serious security situation that has prevented economic activity in the region for the time being.[9]

Due to widespread corruption, the ruby deposits have been exploited economically, but there was no significant economic progress or participation in the wealth of resources for the population of Cabo Delgado. A similar situation took place with the natural gas extraction project, which had to be interrupted during the construction phase because the Islamist attacks now also claimed victims among the companies operating there.[10] The implementation of the projects also created potential for conflict with the culture of the local population, since on the one hand graves and on the other families had to be relocated for the extraction of raw materials.[11] The lack of transparency in the decision-making processes and the authoritarian approach of the police in enforcing them are important factors in this multidimensional conflict, which escalated violently for the first time in 2017.

Years of attacks and territorial gains by the militias have plunged the region into deep instability, which an international military mission is now seeking to remedy. Neglect of Cabo Delgado’s civilian population, corruption and other factors are likely to prevent fully safe economic activity for the next few years.

The examples of Mozambique, Tanzania and Togo show in many different ways the relevance of the new Supply Chain Act and why a professional political risk analysis is becoming increasingly important for companies. Conflicts like the one in Mozambique, which are initially characterized by low intensity and then escalate violently, are important for international business and production processes, which could be disrupted as a result. The new Supply Chain Law also affects lower intensity conflicts, such as in Togo. Finally, environmental destruction and discrimination against individual population groups that are part of these conflicts should not be neglected either.

With MBI CONIAS Risk Intelligence, you are fully prepared for the challenges of the new Supply Chain Act. Our decades of experience in monitoring political conflicts below the threshold of war make the MBI CONIAS data unique. The large number of these conflicts and their complex modes of action require a great deal of knowledge in order to identify their impact early. Constant enhancements and additions continuously increase the benefits for our customers. 

From late fall 2021, our MBI CONIAS Academy in Heidelberg will also offer seminars to prepare your employees accordingly. For further information, please contact our Sales Team.

About the authors:
Etienne Limberger & Dr. Nicolas Schwank
CONIAS Risk Intelligence
Michael Bauer International GmbH

[1] https://www.bmz.de/de/entwicklungspolitik/lieferkettengesetz
[2] https://www.stadtpolitik-heidelberg.de/?q=node/3388
[3] https://taz.de/Phosphatgewinnung-in-Togo/!5582284/
[4] https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/afrika-das-grosse-schachern-1.3705970
[5] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-41332072
[6] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-tanzania-lgbt-idUSKCN1N90FZ
[7] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46219356
[8] https://www.hrw.org/report/2020/02/03/if-we-dont-get-services-we-will-die/tanzanias-anti-lgbt-crackdown-and-right
[9] https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/afrika/mosambik-cabo-delgado-105.html
[10] https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2021/4/26/total-suspends-20bn-lng-project-in-mozambique-indefinitely
[11] https://www.macaubusiness.com/mozambique-government-failed-to-seek-local-consent-for-gas-projects-activist/

The collapse of Afghanistan – The restart of international terrorism?

Image Source: internationalaffairs.org.au.

In horror, the West is looking at the images coming from Kabul. Instead of within weeks, as experts were still predicting on Friday, the Taliban took over rule in Kabul within days, actually even hours. Photos from the presidential palace illustrate this powerfully. This shows one thing above all: Western governments and NATO have never really understood Afghanistan and the Taliban – and new misconceptions are already looming. Since Afghanistan has relied heavily on Western aid in recent years, the Taliban will very quickly use the ongoing talks in Doha with the West to further economic cooperation and ask for aid payments, according to the current expert assessment.

This may be a possibility, but if the past has taught us anything, it is that the Taliban do not behave in line with Western expectations. China, which is already targeting Afghanistan’s rare earths, and a renewed expansion of drug plantations are likely to be more attractive alternatives for the Taliban.

The reason for the war against the Taliban 20 years ago were the 9/11 attacks in the United States in 2001. Although the Taliban themselves were not held responsible for the attacks, for the U.S. and its allies they were complicit and enablers. Given a similar constellation, why should the Taliban say “no” to international terrorism today? The main concern in this context is the low level of resistance to the Taliban by the armed forces and civilian population, which have been dominated by the West for decades. It seems that the era of violence and harsh ideology is back. Western countries and the business world should prepare for this.

MBI CONIAS Risk Intelligence supports you in the analysis of conflict situations. For more information, please contact us.

About the author:
Dr. Nicolas Schwank
Chief Data Scientist Political Risk
Michael Bauer International GmbH

Webinar – From Beverage Delivery to Waste Collection: What’s Your Routing Challenge?

Join us on September 2nd, 3:30 PM CEST for a partner webinar by Michael Bauer International GmbH and HERE Technologies:

With HERE Technologies Location Services, you can easily solve routing challenges for moving fleets, passengers and businesses. From getting accurate ETAs with routing algorithms over solving complex real-world use cases to routing instructions for different modes of travel, HERE Routing covers various use cases.

Join our webinar to get a glimpse of how our partners SATLOG, casaGeo and Sensoneo leverage HERE Routing in their everyday business – from tour planning for breweries to waste collection optimization. Moreover, you will get insights into the advantages of Truck Routing, Traffic Routing and Matrix Routing.

Register now to understand how to solve the challenges in your business.

Effectively implement requirements of the new German law on corporate due diligence in supply chains

Integration of MBI CONIAS data into the VertiGIS solution

Supply chain visibility with MBI CONIAS Risk Intelligence Data

On June 11, 2021, the German parliament passed the “Act on Corporate Due Diligence in Supply Chains”. The new Supply Chain Act obliges companies above a certain size to better meet their responsibilities in the supply chain with regard to respecting internationally recognized human rights. It will be binding for companies with more than 3,000 employees from January 1, 2023, and for companies with more than 1,000 employees from 2024.

New law demands transparency and risk management along the entire supply chain

Many companies perceive the new Supply Chain Act as a major challenge: It requires transparency and risk management along the entire supply chain and, at the same time, special knowledge about the status of human rights violations and environmental offenses on site. Failure to comply with the new requirements on minimum social and environmental standards within the supply chain could result in loss of image, loss of sales, fines and exclusion from federal procurement procedures.

The upcoming law confronts companies with new tasks and obligations for which there is often too little in-house expertise. Risks have to be identified, analyzed and appropriate measures taken. The lack of transparency within fragmented supply chains in particular makes risk management difficult for companies. Obtaining data involves a great deal of effort and assessing the situation is associated with great uncertainty.

Solution for the analysis and visualization of risks supports risk minimization

This is where the joint approach of MBI and the VertiGIS companies comes in. MBI CONIAS data is integrated into the risk management and business continuity solution of VertiGIS. This provides an effective and globally applicable solution that enables the analysis and visualization of risks along the entire supply chain. Risks can be identified, evaluated and suitable countermeasures can be taken. In this context, indicators and further information on the human rights situation as well as the environmental situation can be shown for locations worldwide, risks can be anticipated and mitigated through appropriate measures.

CONIAS has its origins in the early detection of conflicts: This means that it not only shows where there currently are violations of the Supply Chain Act, but also where human rights violations and climate damage measures are improving or worsening. This creates transparency in the supply chain and sustainability is already achieved in the procurement process. The CONIAS data is continuously updated. In the event of changes in the characteristic values, users are informed in detail and measures are recommended. Risks can be reduced or avoided altogether through foresighted risk assessment and adequately coordinated catalogs of measures.

The detailed article, published in the VertiGIS [email protected] magazine 2021, is available in German here. For further information, please contact our Sales Team.

Have you heard about ghost kitchens?

Ghost Kitchen

Making deliveries profitable is a tough business. Ghost kitchens, made possible by geodata and location technology, are one answer for restaurants adapting to the world of home deliveries.

The challenge for anyone running a ghost kitchen is to choose the right location. Kitch uses data provided by MBI showing where people are, how many households are in the area, what their purchasing power is and how they spend their money, including how much they treat themselves to take-out. To figure out how quickly they can deliver in that catchment area – and keep the meals warm – Kitch uses HERE Location Services.

Read more in the article featured on the HERE360 Blog

To learn more about our comprehensive data portfolio as well as our HERE Distribution, please contact us.

Well-founded sales planning with up-to-date market data

Update 2021 – Market data for Germany 2021

Karlsruhe, July 6th 2021: Various purchasing power data with data vintage 2021 are now available for Germany. Updates for numerous other European and international countries will follow shortly.

Whether for nationally or internationally operating companies – comparable homogeneous data are the basis for solid analyses and planning. An up-to-date database is essential for a well-founded decision-making process. For this reason, the globally consistent and comparable geographic and market data from Michael Bauer International GmbH are subjected to continuous quality controls and regularly updated to the latest data vintage.

Purchasing power as an important planning tool across all industries

In regional sales planning, purchasing power is the most frequently used indicator for the consumption potential of a region. The general purchasing power can be an important planning tool not only for the retail sector, but also for many other industries. In addition to the professional planning of new locations based on their prospects of success, purchasing power data can also be used to plan sales areas based on their sales potential. As part of the 2021 update, the MBI purchasing power data was updated to the 2021 data vintage in order to enable companies across all industries to plan in the best possible way based on the latest data.

Specific purchasing power indicators provide deeper insights into consumer behavior

In addition to general purchasing power, MBI offers other specific purchasing power indicators for the retail sector to provide even more detailed insights into consumer behavior. Retail spending is obtained at the place of residence and shows the proportion of purchasing power available for spending in retail. The retail turnover, on the other hand, is measured at the point of sale and describes the turnover of local retail trade. The retail centrality index puts those two indicators in relation and thus provides a measure of the attractiveness of a shopping location. The retail centrality index can be used to estimate the extent to which the local retail trade is able to attract supra-regional customers. With the help of these indicators, which were also recently updated to the 2021 data vintage, areas can be evaluated according to their strengths and weaknesses and unexploited potential can be localized. In addition, these specific purchasing power indicators allow marketing activities to be focused locally.

Online retail spending available for Germany for the first time

In recent years, there has been an increasing movement away from traditional brick-and-mortar towards online retail. The Corona pandemic further increased the importance of online retailing. Many consumers who previously preferred brick-and-mortar retail made their first purchases online. Even after the end of the pandemic, a large number of consumers will continue to shop online and there will be a general and permanent change in shopping behavior. In order to reflect this development, the new 2021 update also provides specific insights into online retail spending for Germany for the first time.

Consumer spending provides information about what the disposable income is being spent on

Consumer spending supplies potential data specifically tailored to the assortment. This provides companies with targeted insights into purchasing power for various product categories. It describes the amount of disposable income available to consumers in a region for spending in retail or proportionately online for the respective product range. Unlike general purchasing power, it not only includes total disposable income, but also what it is ultimately spent on. To optimize location analyses, improve advertising planning, and provide advantages in direct marketing, consumer spending for Germany has also been updated to the 2021 data vintage. For Europe, consumer spending by product groups provides information on 20 internationally consistent and comparable product groups. The data for this indicator is also updated regularly.

Purchasing power data can be visualized geographically – together with our postcode, administrative or microgeographic boundaries, they enable even more effective and efficient decision-making. Therefore, all studies are available at the level of municipalities or municipalities with 10,000 or more inhabitants and 5-digit postcodes as well as at the higher levels.

Read our press release on well-founded sales planning with up-to-date market data…

For more information about our data portfolio, please contact us.

Cost reduction potentials in the fleet – Transparency and digitalization as an opportunity

Due to the lack of a breakdown of the absolute transport costs into individual tours and unloading processes or customer stops, companies are often unaware of cost reduction potential in the fleet. In order to improve the efficiency of the entire fleet, an electronic workflow enables documentation, makes processes measurable and thus opens up the possibility for deriving suitable optimization measures. Overall, digitalization is increasingly becoming the focus for fleet optimization. Our partner SATLOG GmbH has developed a new telematics solution to identify starting points for cost reductions and to implement digitalization in the fleet. With the help of this, costs for workflows with regard to order processing, routes, tour planning and idle times at customers can be made measurable, comparable and optimizable.

As a provider of innovative telematics solutions, SATLOG enables cost optimization in the fleet without having to sacrifice safety and reliability. SATLOG is characterized by a holistic approach – with hardware, software as a service and analysis of key figures from a single source. Location-based data is also an essential part of the solution. In this context, SATLOG has been using data and services from HERE Technologies – formerly NAVTEQ – for over 20 years. Since July last year, SATLOG has been supported by Michael Bauer International GmbH as an authorized HERE Distributor.

Figure 1: SATLOG truck tablet with special vehicle mount and company application.

Route planning and optimization eliminate uncertainties and create transparency

For many entrepreneurs, the transparency needed to cut costs is lacking. The fleet leaves on time and returns on time, but what has happened in the meantime is hardly comprehensible. Delivery windows were often defined once and then neither revised nor adapted to customer specifics. SATLOG’s established solution offers a measurement of, for example, kilometers driven, stops and locations via integrated truck telematics. With the collected performance data in combination with HERE Tour Planning, route planning and optimization is carried out, for example to increase capacity utilization or to avoid detours. As a result, uncertainties about remaining driving time, estimated time of arrival and idle times at the customer are eliminated. In addition, the integrated truck tablet offers complete order management and truck navigation as well as safety functions such as a turning assistant, a rear-view camera and tire pressure monitoring, which can significantly reduce or even prevent accidents. SATLOG offers the advantage that no installation, lengthy integration or complex training are required for use.

Figure 2: Optimized tours – Orders are automatically assigned to trucks based on cost, capacity and delivery time windows with HERE Technologies Tour Planning.

Holistic approach accompanies businesses from individual solution development to final implementation

With its telematics solutions, SATLOG primarily targets small and medium-sized companies operating in the wholesale and industrial sectors with a fleet of between 5 and 30 vehicles. In addition to the cost and performance analyses as well as the customer result calculation, company-specific special applications are usually added: In the area of fresh food services, for example, temperature control or loading instructions and for beverage wholesalers the collection of empties. SATLOG accompanies its customers with a holistic approach from the initial consultation to the final implementation and use in the fleet. The company identifies customer-specific needs and develops individual solutions together with its customers. In this process, various stakeholders and interest groups are involved, from the decision maker, dispatcher, controller, to the driver. Overall, the SATLOG solution supports strategic as well as operational improvements for its users.

Reliability and integration options distinguish HERE Tour Planning

To offer this telematics ecosystem, SATLOG relies on HERE Technologies Location Services. For the extended approach of tour planning, HERE Tour Planning has been successfully implemented as an ORACLE cloud service since this year. Dr. Jürgen Stausberg, Managing Director at SATLOG GmbH, describes the partnership as follows: “SATLOG is one of the first HERE Technologies telematics customers and has been using the service for more than 20 years. Reliability and high integration possibilities characterize the service. With the new tour planning, a new market is now emerging.” For SATLOG, one of the reasons for using HERE Tour Planning is that local solutions have many disadvantages, first need to be installed, a server is required, and employees need to be specially trained, which is not the case with the cloud solution. Optimization with HERE Tour Planning not only incorporates vehicle profiles for even more precise planning, but also information such as real-time traffic data (HERE Traffic) in order to reschedule routes if necessary, taking into account current traffic conditions. Dr. Stausberg explains why HERE Location Services and Tour Planning are sourced through MBI as a distributor as follows: “MBI regularly shows us new features that we can integrate and has its own product support. We also plan to include MBI value-added services for our clients, such as data on potential new customers along the truck route.”

For a sustainable digitalization of the fleet, the SATLOG plug & play starter kit offers a scalable and ready-to-use solution, which is moreover supported by public funding. To learn more about the innovative solution, feel free to contact the SATLOG Sales Team. If you are interested in the HERE Location Services portfolio, please reach out to our HERE Distribution Team.

About the author:
Jessica Hablowetz
Marketing Manager
Michael Bauer International GmbH

In cooperation with:
Dr. Jürgen Stausberg
Managing Director
SATLOG GmbH

The assessment of political risks – Orientation and security through MBI CONIAS Risk Intelligence

It’s a paradox: Political risks, including wars and political violence, are consistently ranked among the biggest risk factors for business managers[1]. Supply chains can be disrupted, inventories can be destroyed, sales markets can disappear. Nevertheless, the area of early detection and warning of political risks receives little attention from internationally operating companies. It is often assumed that crises and wars are too complex to be effectively predicted – but the scientifically based CONIAS approach was developed for precisely that purpose. One of the basic methods used to understand and more quickly classify the multi-layered risk situations is pattern recognition[2].

Pattern recognition is derived from general human approaches

For the complex field of political risks, pattern recognition is so well suited because it closely resembles general human behavior. An example of this is the following scenario: Two people, 20 and 50 years old, start their new job in a small company with ten employees on the same day. While the younger of the two tends to be quiet and reticent about the new situation, acting rather defensively and preferring to listen rather than speaking himself, the older one benefits from many years of professional experience and several job changes. Having experienced this situation many times before, the older person can therefore better and more quickly assess people he encounters in the new situation. He compares their behavior, their body language, the sound of their voice, but also their position with people he met on earlier “first days at work”. In doing so, the older person recognizes patterns that give him orientation in the new situation and derives conclusions for his behavior.

The MBI CONIAS database records non-violent early phases and other conflicts

People make use of pattern recognition – no matter whether through their own experience or through experience acquired through telling or reading – and thus orient themselves in new situations.  The CONIAS approach and the CONIAS database are also committed to this idea. Unlike conventional conflict databases, which only record wars or violent phases of conflict, the CONIAS database also records the non-violent early phases of these later wars[3]. In addition – and this is what makes the CONIAS approach so special – other conflicts that begin similarly to later wars but ultimately take a peaceful course are also recorded. Only in this way is it possible to make statements about the vulnerability of certain conflict constellations. This can be explained as follows: It is true that a large proportion of the few interstate wars since 1945 have been fought over territory. Examples include Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait (1991) or the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorny Karabakh region (2020). Nevertheless, conversely, it would be wrong to say that territorial or border disputes lead to war particularly frequently. Currently, there are about 120 recorded border disputes between states, almost all of which are settled without violence only at the diplomatic level. Other sources speak of an even higher number of unresolved border disputes[4].

Only a comprehensive collection of data allows to properly assess the risk potential of border disputes

In total, the CONIAS conflict database contains information on the course of more than 1,900 intra- and interstate, violent and non-violent conflicts since 1945. A large number of indicators are recorded for each conflict and actor involved, reflecting all dynamic changes in conflict resolution, but also in the socio-economic environment[5]. Thus, the CONIAS database provides millions of data points supplying statistical information on global conflict behavior. One of the most important findings of empirical conflict research can also be confirmed by CONIAS: Democracies do not wage wars against other democracies[6]. We have already integrated this “law” of democratic peace into our thinking to such an extent that, for example, even the most severe low blows in bilateral relations between Germany and the U.S. did not cause any fear of war even among the greatest pessimists.

Especially in areas not illuminated by other conflict databases, the CONIAS database reveals more points of reference

The database has shown, for example, that culturally driven conflicts have become significantly more important since the end of the Cold War in 1990 and especially after 9/11/2001[7]. At the same time, however, the CONIAS database shows that over time, it is not the number of different religions in a country that makes it vulnerable to intrastate violence, but the number of different languages spoken in the country[8].

The CONIAS conflict database is continuously maintained, and current conflict events continue to be recorded. Every quarter, knowledge about the evolution of conflicts around the world grows by tens of thousands of data points. Currently, the CONIAS team is working to better understand the links between political conflicts, human rights violations, and damage or destruction to natural livelihoods. The new supply chain law, as well as an ever-growing sense of responsibility for human rights and the environment, requires companies and ultimately every individual to act carefully in this regard. We would be pleased not only to provide you with points of reference, but also to support you with our comprehensive know-how and long-standing expertise. If you are interested, please contact our Sales Team.

About the author:
Dr. Nicolas Schwank
Chief Data Scientist Political Risk
Michael Bauer International GmbH

References:
[1] Allianz (Ed.): Allianz Risk Barometer, Various Years. Last 2021
[2] Trappl, Robert (Ed.) (2006): Programming for peace. Computer-aided methods for international conflict resolution and prevention. Dordrecht: Springer; Schrodt, Philip A. (2000): Pattern Recognition of International Crises Using Hidden Markov Models. In: Diana Richards (Ed.): Political complexity. Nonlinear models of politics. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, pp. 296.
[3] Schwank, Nicolas (2012): Konflikte, Krisen, Kriege. Die Entwicklungsdynamiken politischer Konflikte seit 1945. Baden-Baden: Nomos (Weltregionen im Wandel, 9); Schwank, Nicolas, et al. “Der Heidelberger Ansatz Der Konfliktdatenerfassung.” Zeitschrift Für Friedens- Und Konfliktforschung, vol. 2, no. 1, 2013, pp. 32–63.
[4] https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook
[5] Schwank, Nicolas (2012): Konflikte, Krisen, Kriege. (vide supra)
[6] Small, Melvin; Singer, J. David (1976): The war-proneness of democratic regimes, 1816-1965. In: The Jerusalem journal of international relations.  1 (4), pp. 50–69.
[7] Croissant, Aurel (2009) et al.: Kulturelle Konflikte seit 1945. Die kulturellen Dimensionen des globalen Konfliktgeschehens. 1st edition. Baden-Baden: Nomos (Weltregionen im Wandel, 6). Stiftung, Bertelsmann (2010): Culture and Conflict in Global Perspective. The Cultural Dimensions of Global Conflicts 1945 to 2007. Guetersloh: Verlag Bertelsmann Stiftung.
[8] Ibid.

Location Intelligence in Retail

When making strategic business decisions, retailers can rely on location intelligence to gain valuable insights on the market, competitors and most importantly consumers’ interests and preferences. By putting that data to work, retailers can better understand consumer behavior and purchasing patterns and therefore improve business results and customer experience. For critical business decisions like expansion or supply chain planning, location intelligence supports well-founded decision making.

Before taking market entry decisions, location data can support the analysis of market opportunities and competition. When entering a new market, various aspects have to be taken into consideration. For the analysis of the location, data on visitors, their movement patterns, whereabouts before and after the visit and duration of stay provide valuable insights into the customer journey. When analyzing the competitive strength, visits and frequency as well as customer loyalty to competitors’ stores are important factors besides competitors’ market share. To get a better understanding of consumers, socio-economic data as well as consumer styles play an important role. With this knowledge, retailers can offer attractive products and services and even poach their competitors’ less loyal customers.

When communicating with consumers, personalization and individualization are key and can significantly enhance customer experience. By utilizing MBI’s data on movement and buying patterns, retailers can better understand interests and preferences of consumers and therefore deliver relevant communication in a targeted manner. Moreover, these insights into consumer behavior can be used to improve the performance of marketing campaigns with for example relevant deals and offers for the target audience. Especially in light of the current pandemic, there’s an increase in demand for click & collect services, where consumers buy online to then pick their order up in-store. Here as well, location intelligence can enhance the shopping experience, for example through the suggestion of the closest store for pick-up. Overall, location intelligence makes it possible for retailers to understand the customer journey in more depth for a target group relevant implementation of marketing strategies to improve customer service and experience.

Another aspect that can be optimized with location data is personnel planning and staffing decisions. When analyzing the store visitors by weekdays and hours in relation to the sales and service staff, discrepancies can be revealed and staffing schedules optimized to match customer traffic. Because of COVID, shopping in-store has noticeably changed with consumers wanting to get in and out of shops as quickly as possible, concerned about their health and safety. In general, these changes in shopping behavior are expected to last even after the COVID pandemic is over. This development is increasing the relevance of store design concepts. With the movement patterns available through location intelligence, retailers can improve the layouts of their stores for a shopping experience that is fitted to the changing consumer behavior.

In conclusion, location intelligence can support strategic decision making with insights based on a data-driven approach in times of crisis, but also thereafter. Contact our Sales Team today to learn how you can leverage this data to improve business results as well as customer experience.

Russia’s troop build-up on the Ukrainian border: Why now?

Ukraine-Russia-Donbass

The signals are worrisome: The Russian Federation’s troop concentrations on the Ukrainian border are unusual and at the same time frightening. After all, there are clear parallels with the last outbreak of war. Moreover, since this Russian-directed war in the Ukrainian Donbass region and the occupation of Crimea by Russian soldiers, relations between the two states are worse than any between other European states.

Is there a threat of war between Russia and the Ukraine?

Overall, the situation has to be described as very serious and the criticism from the Ukraine and other eastern NATO states that Germany and other Western states do not understand the situation in all its depth and threat is probably correct. Evaluations from our MBI CONIAS Conflict Database, in which the course of more than 1,000 political conflicts since 1945 is stored, also clearly show that in well over 50% of all recorded cases such troop concentrations were followed by wars or other highly violent military conflicts. Most recently, a report spread in Russia by the state-controlled media stating that the Ukraine was planning reconquests was highly concerning. Actions like this prepare the important domestic legitimacy needed by the Russian government for another war against the Ukraine. Companies are advised to be extremely mindful of this tense situation, to refrain from avoidable travel to the Ukraine, and to prepare for disruptions in the Ukrainian supply chain in contingency plans.

Why is this development taking place now?

An analysis of the situation always includes the question: What is the significance of the timing of the action? In other words: Why is the deployment taking place now, why not two months ago, what has changed? At least two answers are possible here, one confirming the dangerousness of the action, the other potentially providing a rational argument raising hope for a peaceful outcome to the situation. What has to be observed critically is that Russia has extensively issued passports to the population in the disputed regions of eastern Ukraine in recent years. Estimates put the number of new Russian citizens at at least 400,000. This could give Russia an argument for now wanting to protect this segment of the population on official Russian territory as well.

Is Russia testing the new U.S. President?

The second view dates back to the days of the Cold War, but given the current state of the international system, it may be accurate for precisely that reason: Russia could be testing the new U.S. President. Joe Biden has been in office for less than 100 days. His plans for a huge domestic economic stimulus program, the announcement of the withdrawal of American soldiers from Afghanistan, and the additionally tense budget situation after COVID make it clear that he shouldn’t have any interest in further international military engagements. Joe Biden, however, now has to demonstrate how he will respond to the provocations from Russia: It could be the overture for U.S.-Russian relations for years to come. It seems clear that U.S. President Biden is not going to engage in a military confrontation for the Ukraine any more than U.S. President Obama did during the previous crisis in 2014. In this context, he has to make it clear that the U.S. will not accept a similar approach as in 2014. Only if Biden acts quickly and decisively now and credibly conveys that the U.S. has a renewed interest in playing the role of the world’s policeman, the build-up can be halted and the Russian troops on the border to Ukraine under more or less credible justifications can be reduced. Otherwise, Russia might try to take advantage of the power vacuum created by the U.S. – as other regional powers have done. The result would be a further weakening of the international system with many more international crises to come.

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About the author:

Dr. Nicolas Schwank
Chief Data Scientist Political Risk
Michael Bauer International GmbH

Image source: ВО «Свобода», CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons