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Thanks for the post Shiv. After seeing the warehouse video in class, I really enjoyed picturing C&S’s version… till the point where you mentioned it doesn’t need light and all I saw was darkness 🙂 The increased efficiencies and cost savings you’ve described are really compelling and while I wonder how the questions you’ve posed will play out, I also wonder what the political response will be to technology that cuts 70% of jobs! We’ve recently seen tariffs on steel imports get hiked to protect jobs locally and the President has repeatedly boasted about low unemployment rates. Could C&S be setting themselves up for political backlash and is there a way for them to proactively address this? I wonder for example, to what extent they are assisting retrenched employees with finding new jobs so that there is a win-win for C&S and their workers.

On May 1, 2018, Crystal commented on Nike X Amazon: To Partner, Or Not To Partner :

Thank you for the post Ross. After our Tower Paddleboards class I’ve really been wondering when it makes sense to pursue and how to structure partnerships with Amazon. Firstly, I think for strong brands that have high customer awareness, there is a benefit to using Amazon as they gain access to the large customer base while also being well-placed to stand out from the pack. Secondly, unlike Tower Paddleboards, they own their production so there is no risk of disintermediation. While Amazon might very well try to backward-engineer Nike products, Nike is far ahead in terms of its IP re: developing high quality athletic gear. With that said, from a ‘how to structure’ perspective, in the ECommerce class, we actually talked about a similar approach to the one Nike seems to have taken, i.e. offer accessories an non-premium items on Amazon but keep control of premium items. This also allows Nike to manage the risk of being copied. In addition to what you’ve described above, (and I’m not sure if this is possible), if Nike could also include links back to its own website in the Amazon shop-in-shop that would also be another way to direct traffic to purchase higher priced items. So I agree that Nike could use this partnership to their advantage and I’m definitely interested in seeing how this partnership progresses.

On May 1, 2018, Crystal commented on ClassPass: doomed to be the next Blockbuster? :

Thanks for this post Rachel. While I agree that the video marketplace would allow ClassPass to continue to offer the same value proposition, just online, I wonder whether the boutique studios would buy into it. In particular, do Peleton and SoulCycle attract the same customer? The motivation offered by instructors, who tend to walk around the room rather than just lead from the front, as well as the energy of fellow riders is what makes that experience so unique. I am not sure that they would want to proactively encourage their customers to trade that in for an at-home experience. For SoulCycle then, video streaming could just serve as an add-on feature, e.g. for customers to stay engaged while they are travelling to areas where there aren’t any SoulCycle studios. In that case, I think they would want to record sessions in their own studios to give customers a sense of being physically present. I would therefore approach the video marketplace with caution and focus more on emphasising the sense of community in physical studios as well as the data services.

Thanks for the post Taka. This is a really interesting approach to crowdsourcing data. Beyond affecting policy decisions such as the establishment of the police post, I think such endeavours could go a long way towards driving collective action from the community. By providing community members a common platform to engage on the issues facing the community, I would imagine that it is also easier for residents of Kibera to begin driving other activities. I’d be interested to know to what extent this crowdsourcing has not just been a once of mapping event or something associated with publishing news, but a way of life for the residents to collaborate around interesting initiatives.

On April 16, 2018, Crystal commented on Lenddo: using data analytics to boost financial inclusion :

Thanks for the post SAG. I am really fascinated by these models particularly in the context of emerging markets where many people are unbanked and have no formal credit histories. I am however, curious to understand the consumer’s perspective. While Lenddo definitely provides access to much-needed financial services, it also seems incredibly intrusive. In this age of data breaches and privacy concerns, how comfortable are consumers knowing that you are dynamically scouring through their ecommerce transactions, browsing history and social media? Further, how is that information being used? Given the dynamism of the decisions, I would worry how posts I am making on Facebook for example, are affecting my credit score so I wonder how Lenddo is educating consumers about this to manage their potential skepticism (if they are anything like me of course).

On April 16, 2018, Crystal commented on Glow: Where Data Meets Baby-Making :

Thank you for the post CNH. I am definitely a fan of apps that empower individuals to better understand their bodies so this sounds great. Beyond the risk you have outlined regarding data, I wonder to what extent Glow is subject to lawsuits. I previously worked for a hospital group and Obstetrics & Gynaecology was one of the highest risk specialities when it came to medico-legal claims. Particularly in the case of getting pregnant, patients understandably end up incredibly emotionally involved. I wonder if there are instances where any of the Eve / Glow users have had unintended consequences based on the app data, e.g. falling pregnant at a time when the app had indicated you are not in the fertility window, or on the flip side, failing to get pregnant even when following the ovulation schedule to the tee. While I’m Glow’s terms and conditions would protect them from significant financial downside, could the brand be tarnished by the negative experiences of a few vocal users? I wonder what mechanisms they have in place to manage the balance between communicating to their users that they are not 100% fail safe but doing so in a way that does not undermine their credibility.

On April 16, 2018, Crystal commented on Alexa, what should I wear today? :

Thank you for the post ADW. I have anecdotally heard that there are two things that Amazon does not do well: apparel and selling bulky items so it’s interesting to see them make progress on at least one of these. I’m curious to see how successful Echo Look’s predictive capabilities are. I can see how it would be helpful for more ‘bread and butter’ clothing items but I have two concerns. Given how fashion changes from season to season, would it really be effective in adapting to those changes? With fashion designers incentivised to drive these changes so that people feel pressure to keep with the trends, is this something that data analytics can really predict? Secondly, even individuals change their looks from day to day depending on the occasion or just their mood so I wonder how well it would be able to learn the various component’s of a person’s style. I’ll be following this one to see how well the Echo Look disrupt’s the traditional stylist’s profession.

On March 28, 2018, Crystal commented on Splitwise: Go Social and Use Data Fairly :

Thanks for this interesting post Laura. It’s so interesting that you suggest Splitwise follow Venmo’s lead on being social. I actually find the Venmo feed unnecessary and unrelated to their service offering. I recognize I may be an anomaly but I guess it would be worth testing how that feature lands with their users. On using data – that resonates more with me but in these times of data breaches, they’d need to move carefully.

On March 28, 2018, Crystal commented on NET. TV: Empowering citizen journalism through NETCJ :

Thanks for posting this Nandx. This sounds like a really interesting model. I am often amazed by the quality of the posts that people in my social media networks make – not for any compensation, except perhaps the number of likes, but just as an avenue to express themselves. It’s really impressive how Net.TV has chosen to harness this expression to differentiate itself as a newcomer in the Indonesian journalism industry. While this is great, I hope they figure out a way to keep the submissions diverse so they don’t end up reliant on the small group of constant submitters.

Thanks for posting this. I recently switched over from RunKeeper to Strava due to serious peer pressure from a group of friends. While I understand how the social networking could be an avenue to drive user engagement, I would argue that it can actually negatively affect the user experience as well. I ended up making my profile private because each of my runs had started to feel like a ‘performance’ where I had to beat my PR to get kudos from my friends. I’ve also noticed that when people run less-than-stellar times they feel compelled to write notes like ‘easy run’ or ‘recovering from an injury’ and I wonder whether this social pressure actually does more harm than good. Finally, a ‘Strava Best’ recently started following me (unsolicited) and invited me to join a group called ‘ONLY SEX.’ When I reached out to customer service about blocking this they admitted that they had a number of such users and were working to identify them and remove them from the platform. All this to say, being more social comes with a new set of problems that may actually be counter productive when trying to scale into the mass market.

Thanks for this interesting post Juan. One other challenge that dating apps have historically faced is that while these platforms clearly have a strong network effect, driving virality can be challenging as users are embarrassed to disclose that they are using these apps. From your post, it seems that this is another element that Grindr has managed to get around with growth coming from WOM with limited paid customer acquisition. I wonder if the target market and positioning as a ‘networking’ app makes talking about the app less ‘taboo’ as it were and drive the growth of the user base, which reinforces its position as the app-of-choice and reduces the likelihood of multi-homing.

On March 7, 2018, Crystal commented on Grab Billion Dollar Opportunity in Southeast Asia :

Thanks for the post. It’s been interesting to watch the competition between Uber and Grab in SE Asia. From my perspective, Grab had an upper hand in being able to tailor it’s business model to the market across a range of dimensions: from accepting cash, partnering with taxi companies rather than fighting them, programs aimed at improving the livelihoods of drivers and their families, as well as GrabPay. While this in and of itself may not be sufficient to drive complete loyalty of the SE Asian rider, GrabPay really stands to increase user engagement.To the extent that Grab can incentivise activity across its riding platform and use of GrabPay in multiple contexts, this move could really position Grab as a preferred partner.

On February 1, 2018, Crystal commented on The New Mad Men :

Thank you for sharing this M. As a consumer, I definitely prefer more personalised ads and no, that does not mean having items I just looked at while shopping online pop up on every subsequent website I visit. IBMs integrated approach therefore really resonates as a strategy to stand out from the pack in marketing to consumers. Out of curiosity, I just took the Flavor Profiler test and definitely found myself more inclined to trust the subsequent recipe recommendations. As I think back to our conversation on GE today, IBM’s strategy almost seems to be the reverse. In GE’s case, to remain competitive as the hardware market was becoming increasingly commoditised, they faced the mammoth task of developing and integrating software as a new source of competitive advantage. In contrast, IBM already owns the part of the digital advertising value chain that delivers competitive advantage and so its relatively easier to complete an LBM-type acquisition to get the creative resources required to provide an integrated offering. Nonetheless, kudos to them for identifying a relevant market to apply their expertise. #winning

On February 1, 2018, Crystal commented on – Digital technology for government bureaucracy :

Thanks for this post TPA! I had to apply for a new ID while I was home over the winter break so this resonates very deeply. Those were 3 hours of my life I will never get back and what is particularly frustrating is that the 3 hours could actually have been 15 minutes if we embraced the potential of technology to improve the efficiency of these processes. As I was thinking about this, I realised that one key barrier to the adoption of technology is corruption. There are parties within these systems that have a vested interest in maintaining the chaos because it presents an opportunity for them to run ‘parallel expedited processes for an additional (and unofficial) fee’ if you know what I mean. I wonder if this is at all a problem in Peru and how the government intends to deal with that. I think forging ahead to capture the value you described above would really require strong leadership that is more concerned with improving the lives of the broader populace rather than lining the pockets of a few.

On February 1, 2018, Crystal commented on LEGOs: Still “The Apple of Toys”? :

It’s very interesting to contrast Lego’s more progressive digital transformation to Mattel’s as described in another post. Yet, as was the case at the end of our discussion on GE in class today, I am left rather perplexed regarding what it truly takes to effect a successful digital transformation of a large organisation. Since the theme of the day was BSSE Disruption Theory, I wonder whether the challenge these large companies face is that they tend to position digital innovations in a manner that is sustaining rather than disruptive to their existing businesses. Certainly, Lego was very creative in its approach to integrate a digital experience into its toys but one can’t help feeling that their brand, while definitely one of their most valuable assets, also fundamentally constrains them to plastic bricks! I would love to see them push the envelope a bit more in this space and really like Cyou’s idea around content creation. In a world where there is so much competition for children’s attention, this type of content could also get Lego on parents and children’s radars much earlier in the children’s lives. This could enable a ‘grow with Lego’ type of strategy as children are subsequently exposed to the increasingly complex offerings described above as they grow older.