A very interesting question! If trade restriction policies intend to move more jobs back on-shore, especially when at higher costs, will companies be forced to invest in technology that improves the efficiency of operations and potentially puts human jobs at risk? I recently attended a discussion at Harvard Kennedy School focused on how the transition to more artificial intelligence would impact jobs. According to the survey below , “Advances in technology may displace certain types of work, but historically have been a net creator of jobs.” If job creation is actually going to occur outside of the manufacturing companies themselves, and for example, create jobs for technology companies where perhaps trade restrictions are not as stringent, should government be concerned with additional policies that require manufacturers to source technology supply from within the US?
 Smith, Aaron, and Janna Anderson. “AI, Robotics, and the Future of Jobs.” Pew Research Center 6 (2014).
A very thought-provoking article! Rarely do you see major headlines aiming to address how technology could resolve challenges in the very manual construction industry. I would be interested to better understand the entire value chain for construction projects and which components of that chain are experiencing breakdowns that drive cost and time overruns. Are these projects able to consolidate suppliers and invest in shared systems that could streamline order fulfillment based on project timelines and raw material demands ? Are the necessary raw material quality control systems in place to ensure delivery of the right materials?
I agree that if H&M wants to improve their environmental consciousness that they need to consider how their business model needs to be changed. I see serious tension between ‘fast fashion’ and ‘environmentally friendly’, and question whether a company can realistically be both. H&M’s fast fashion business model profitability relies on selling high volume in exchange for low prices. With shrinking margins, H&M must consider ways to reduce costs, and I wonder if the quality of their goods will reduce as they seek ways to strip out as much cost from each item as possible. If the quality of goods decreases, the lower the lifetime of each unit will be for the purchasing consumer, and the less likely it will become that the good can be reused by others. Without longer-lasting goods, the more the consumer will need to return to the store to by more.
I love the idea that digital technologies can aide city governments in better utilizing resources and prioritizing initiatives that have impact. I anticipate that a key challenge for city governments is obtaining the necessary funding for applications that can reduce traffic or improve livelihoods without also thinking about how technology can also be employed to save dollars elsewhere. Can technology like GeoHub be scaled for utilization by multiple cities at a lower cost per city, or does it require city-specific development to realize the true benefits? Will improved access to information enable the government to better address issues with less resources and cost?
I agree that Hershey should partner across both the public and private sector to influence innovation that could help farmers to increase yield. I expect that a key partner should be agricultural experts who can employ R&D initiatives to understand the cocoa varietals, and how changes to the seeds and traits could improve resistance to the effects of climate change in the region. By elevating the issue to an industry-wide initiative, multiple companies could pool investment dollars to fund the initiatives. I also like that the company is focused on providing education and certification programs for farmers, but wonder how the chocolate companies are weighing the decision to purchase raw materials at lower cost versus allocating their sourcing budget to procure from farmers who have achieved the certifications.