D, thanks for the post. Before I was not aware that farmers do not own the John Deere equipment.
It is interesting to see how John Deere is innovating, and the use of crowd sourcing reminds me of the Threadless discussion we had in TOM class.
I think there is a lot of value in making farming more intelligent and I wonder whether you have any data on how much yields have improved after implementing the John Deere innovations.
Finally, farming is an industry where productivity varies significantly in different regions and using data should help to bridge the gap and share best practices from the most effective farmers.
Francisco, thanks for the post.
The Electronic Toll Collection mechanism you described has been around for years and it would be interesting to see how companies such as Costarena Norte are innovating in this space, particularly around new ways of using the data gathered from these devices.
I think the traffic efficiencies realized with the ETCs occur mostly in highways and I am curious if there are similar solutions for dealing with the congestion problems in the city centers.
More broadly speaking, transportation is one of the biggest challenges in large cities and I think we should stop encouraging cars for transportation and instead transition to other more sustainable alternatives.
Angelica, I really enjoyed reading your post.
Before HBS I did HBX CORe and had a very positive experience. In the past I have also studied other online courses such as MIT’s OpenCourseWare and what stuck the most was how engaging the HBX platform is. Before HBX, all my experiences with online education pretty much reduced to watching recorded lectures and me going through the course materials. In HBX, the level of participation and interaction between students is particularly unique, and the fact that content is available at set dates and you have interactive exercises and cold calls and reflections which everyone can read truly set HBX apart.
I agree with you that going forward HBX should try to increase the number of courses offered in the platform, increase the number of live sessions, and combine the MBA program with the HBX platform so that HBX is another channel through which MBA students experience education (not only before school starts). Also, I don’t think HBX and online platforms should replace MBA or universities in general but rather should complement them.
Finally, thinking of education more broadly and more long term, I would like to know your opinion on virtual reality and how it can be leveraged for education purposes. I have heard of some startups starting to explore this idea and I believe it has a huge potential for regions in the world where kids have no access to schools.
Ting, thanks for the post and great idea to include the video!
Blockchain technology is clearly transforming businesses. The most common example that comes to mind is bitcoin and financial services, so it was interesting to learn from how Everledger is applying the same technology in the context of diamonds. As you mentioned, as Everledger continues to grow it makes total sense to expand into fine arts and other luxury goods.
In line with the other comments above, I am also struggling to understand how the actual physical diamond is uniquely associated with its electronic ID and how would that be different from the methodology currently in place.
Finally, speaking of blockchain more broadly, would be interesting to see how much progress the technology is making in other applications such as intellectual property and votes.
Eric, great piece! I expected most of Marriott’s sustainability initiatives, but I was positively surprised by the use of virtual reality to improve sustainability education. Is Marriott already using it or still an idea? If successful, I truly believe there is big potential to roll out to other customer facing industries.
Another comment, the PE fund I used to work for was invested in an industrial laundry company. Customers included hotels, hospitals, etc. and we made big efforts to have best in class water management practices. I think there is opportunity for large hotel chains like Marriott to push for environmentally friendly practices in all their other vendors.
Raphael, good piece! Jess wrote something similar, but for AIG. I would like to know your opinion in the comment I made suggesting the use of CAT bonds as another potential solution. To avoid repeating myself here is the link:
Bad Hombre, great post. I too recognize the utmost importance of telecom assets to continue functioning during natural disasters simply because all other rescue and reconstruction activities heavily depend on them. However, most of your comments are around how Verizon prepares to react to a natural disaster. However, are you aware of any preventive measures Verizon in particular and carriers in general are taking to stop climate change?
Angelica, interesting article, but I completely agree with Alan. I don’t think closing the high seas for fishing is doable to begin with. Moreover, not sure who would be responsible for surveilling compliance since by definition no party has jurisdiction. Also, all of the solutions involve some form of capping supply & demand, which in a market economy I do not think is sustainable in the long term. The other alternative you mention is to migrate to farm fishing, which carries its own set of problems, including (1) significantly lower quality of protein and instead higher fat content because fish cannot swim freely; (2) potential health issues given fish are highly concentrated in a tank and therefore more prone to develop diseases (personally I heard already occurred in multiple shrimp and salmon firms); and (3) limited to a number of species since not all fish types are capable of reproducing under captivity.
My question is whether we have another alternative, a long term solution perhaps involves some form of technology. I have no idea what such technology would look like but I think it come in either of two ways: (i) cleaning or making oceans more suitable again for fish to live and reproduce; and/or (ii) making farm fishing better quality and more accessible. Are you aware of any technological advances in that front?
Lena, I completely agree with you. Internal operations initiatives are the low hanging fruit and most of the impact should come from core business activities which effectively incorporate sustainability in the products and services that the bank offers to its customers.
You mentioned banks need to change their investing and lending decisions to incentivize customers shift towards sustainable practices. I believe the strategy is correct but limited to projects whose returns are above the bank’s cost of capital (since banks are for profit institutions).
The interesting question is how to support those other projects. Some other banks, such as UBS, are approaching the issue through their private wealth management business. Projects may return lower return than banks cost of capital, but still there may be some investors in the private wealth management who may have lower hurdle rates, or simply are willing to accept a lower yield because they think from an altruistic point of view, and therefore willing to underwrite such projects. In this case the job of the bank becomes to efficiently match both parties.
Jess, good post, however I believe there are better ways for insurers to deal with climate change risk than the ones outlined above.
Insurance companies basically make money from two sources: (1) premiums from assuming customers’ risks (the core business), and (2) financial gains from investing company’s reserves.
Currently, most of AIG’s sustainable strategy addresses the latter, namely investing in clean energy projects with the hopes of earning an attractive return.
I believe it is necessary to further incorporate the sustainability strategy in the premiums side of the equation (which as I mentioned earlier is the core of their business). The post mentions the idea of giving premium discounts to customers who meet certain “sustainability” conditions, but that does not seem financially viable, unless of course insurers have priced correctly the corresponding risks. However, pricing risks correctly implies being able to make reliable forecasts on the effects of climate change and the weather, which we all know is extremely hard to do and I think is not necessarily the best way to spend time and resources.
In my opinion, from an insurer standpoint, the solution will have to come from a smarter pooling, or more appropriately, offloading of risk. Insurers typically retain the risk on their balance sheets and share some risk with reinsurers. However, risk remains concentrated in a handful of players.
More appropriate would be for insurers to create tradable securities whose cash flows are matched with customers’ premium payments and in case a disaster occurs then investors in the securities forgo some or all of the principal. Such instruments already exist, which are called CAT bonds (CAT for catastrophic), but is still a young industry.
The three major advantages of CAT bonds are: (1) frees capital on insurers balance sheets and therefore increases ability to underwrite more risks; (2) diversifies risk in a much larger number of players, so that no single entity is heavily exposed to a particular event; and (3) highly attractive to investors since correlation of CAT bonds with stock and bond markets is low.