Very interesting post. I distinctly remember taking my GMAT at a Pearson testing center. I thought their role in this market was a good move. Digitized testing allowed for multiple testers to be proctored by 1-2 proctors. I also suspect that this segment is relatively secure – people taking the GMAT (or any other test offered by this group) is likely to not decrease given the relatively reliable state of college and grad schools applications in the US. According to USNews, (http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2014/09/22/is-the-college-admissions-bubble-about-to-burst), there are more students considering college than in the past and there are a growing number of college-aged students (13% between 2000 to 2010). This allows for market continuance for Pearson. I agree with this recommendation.
In terms of leveraging Pearson content with free content, I also agree. I think it is impossible to avoid free content (open-source content) that may be of higher quality than paid content. Thus, it’s to Pearson’s advantage to work with these providers. The issue I see here is how do you target which free-content providers to work with in this segmented market? For instance, Googling “Free SAT prep” (https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=free%20sat%20prep) offers pages of free content providers as well as a multitude of YouTube videos. How does Pearson target the parties to work with?
Great article on the value of digitized education. I agree that digital education offers a strong value proposition for students. However, I believe there are several issues with digital education and the Khan Academy in general which will hinder its replacement of the traditional education system. The first is that access to high-quality internet is not a given. According to Pew Research Center (http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/06/26/americans-internet-access-2000-2015/), usage of, and access to, internet varies depending on geographic and demographic categories. For example, 78% of rural Americans use the internet. Factors such as these inhibit the adoption of digital education.
Secondly, a report (below) shows that a majority of people utilizing online MOOCs already have degrees and are using the platform to fine tune skills rather than seek a degree.
It seems as though MOOCs, while unlikely to replace traditional education, do offer a strong compliment to it. They offer a student the opportunity to brush up on skills learned before or satisfy their interest in a subject such as philosophy.
Consequently, I agree with your recommendation to avoid the physical classroom and instead build out the digital platform to allow more students to use it. Further, partnering with universities who are engaging with MOOCs may offer a powerful combination to bring high-quality education delivered via a strong digital platform. Since there has been criticism (https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/khan-academy-the-hype-and-the-reality/2012/07/23/gJQAuw4J3W_blog.html) of the lack of instructor preparation in Khan courses, partnering with universities may help to alleviate this issue.
Lastly, I’m concerned over the viability of this platform. Understanding that even though they are a non-profit, the organization stills requires funding – will this be through ad-revenue? If so, does this detract from the quality of education offered? These are important questions to answer should the viability of the platform continue into the future.
This is a very interesting article. I didn’t know that iRobot had its foundations with DOD-related applications. I’m surprised to see that they divested this category. What made them do this?
In the world of consumer electronics, I agree that IoT integration is a nice achievement for products. I thought partnering with Google to integrate with Nest might provide some value to consumers. However, what would an IoT-connected Roomba be able to do that programs such as Nest are unable to do? Furthermore, I worry that given the new Roomba 980 model (Wi-Fi enabled) with a low-resolution camera, issues surrounding security arise. Given the Wi-Fi, a theoretical hacker could be able to access to the camera remotely without the owner knowing.
Overall, it appears that pursuing the IoT is a main objective of the company. According to the CEO, Colin Angle in the article below, the company intends to drive into the category by working with smart lighting and room mapping.
Great article on the Girl Scouts. I didn’t realize that they were facing challenges in recruiting both girls and leaders to the organization. While I agree that there’s great opportunity to use digital platforms to engage girls in collaboration & train volunteers, I struggle with seeing how data can help them grow through attracting funding. When I think about what data they would capture through an online platform, it seems as though it would be data surrounding sale type/concentration/frequency – do you think this would be of value?
I do agree the digitization of their platform is beneficial for a stronger organization. I think this would be beneficial for a more unified Girl Scouts, higher revenue and an opportunity for the Scouts to learn valuable leadership and financial skills through this process. If you see the link below, the Boy Scouts have a centralized platform available where someone interested can select the Troop to support and then donate/etc. The results have been great including one Troop raising over $300,000 through this.
Interesting article on e-healthcare. Has this mPharma platform seen many adoptions by the players in the value chain? It seems as though this is an infrastructure & connectivity product whose success would be based primarily on user adoption. I worry that a lack of centralization across the healthcare field would leave a disconnected system. I also am concerned about the lack of infrastructure to support this platform – factors such as power outages or lack of connectivity would hinder the adoption of this system. In the article by the US National Institute of Health, the study they conducted looking at the use & adoption of electronic health records (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4167769/) showed similar challenges for the system success.
Since network and energy stability are requirements for this platform to be adopted, how do you think this prerequisite could be addressed? I suspect that solar power may help alleviate and help the adoption of this system.
I agree that this market is ripe for mPharma and the potential proliferation of mobile solutions though I do think there are many infrastructure challenges needed to be solved for this to be effective.
Very interesting article on digitizing government procurement. Has the US looked at implementing a similar system? What are the barriers to adoption? I suspect that certain industries are more resistant to this change than others.
I really enjoyed the figures you cited as impact of the program. I agree that the procurement system You can see the same, inefficient system exists in the US as well. In the link provided, (https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/no-bid-us-government-contracts-jump-9-percent-despite-push-for-competition/2013/03/17/9f6708fc-8da0-11e2-b63f-f53fb9f2fcb4_story.html), you can see how the US government pushed for more competitive contracts yet the non-competitive contracts rose by 9% or $9B.
To me, it’d seem that this way of doing procurement would result in a much higher level of efficiency given that the contracts become competitive and market based. Without such competition, I would suspect that companies are able to adjust pricing year to year and possibly to the detriment of the taxpayers.
Overall, I enjoyed this article. It certainly doesn’t come to mind when thinking of digitization though is certainly a very real and useful application of technology. Hopefully, we can see something develop more broadly in the US.
Interesting article on AI and Big Data. I don’t quite agree that they’ve insulated themselves from Google or Facebook competition through their developing API. If you look at the link to the article provided (https://www.wired.com/2016/11/giant-corporations-hoarding-worlds-ai-talent/), it seems that it’s a race to stockpile as much AI talent as possible with limited substitutions for that available. Thus, I wonder if Clarifai will find difficulty in advancing their business model should they need to expand their talent pool of AI-oriented people.
Also, what do you suggest that Clarifai pursue in order to become more successful? Do you anticipate that they will be acquired soon?
Overall, I think that your article hits the main point of this trend: AI is becoming increasingly relevant for future tech. Tech Crunch is very bullish on the trends as well (https://techcrunch.com/2016/07/06/key-trends-in-machine-learning-and-ai/) and claims that AI will be much more highly integrated into companies. However, this strong interest in AI reminds me of the Dot Com bubble – Do you think that this is just the “flavor of the day” syndrome or is AI here to stay?
I really like this article on “gasifying” waste. I think the logic behind the process is very strong. As mentioned, incinerating produces negative by-products that Alter NRG can avoid. It’s interesting to me that they face such strong opposition which seems to be based on a false premise. It’s also interesting to see that they have agreed to be acquired by a Chinese firm (http://www.rewmag.com/article/harvest-international-alter-nrg-acquisition/) indicating demand for the product.
I believe this product is ahead of its time given its innate strengths. Also, I think your recommendation to concentrate on areas such as South East Asia is strong. However, I think that they may find a strong foothold with utilization if they try to partner with government or the landfills themselves. This may help to circumvent the public opposition.
This is interesting and exemplifies the impact on a ubiquitous industry. I liked several of your suggestions for optimizing delivery routes to stores. I think this also contributes to a potentially higher bottom line given the higher utilization of trucks. I like the sense of practicality you’ve put into your suggestions in relation to the operating unit.
In regards to your suggestion to hedge agricultural futures, I don’t agree that this helps to mitigate climate change as you state. I believe that this mitigates McD’s future risk given volatility of meat prices but does not help to actually stop the impacts of climate change. I also worry that your suggestion of developing predictive models for weather change is significantly outside of McD’s core competencies. McDonald’s is a net user of supplies and I believe that this drives them to look at mitigating that use and the impact of that use. Thus, it makes more sense to me to try to optimize shipping routes and use more recycled goods (post-fiber as you mentioned). Your idea to buy from sustainable sources is a strong one and one in which McD can exert great influence on its suppliers. If you look at the link provided, McDonald’s has already begun to do this: http://news.mcdonalds.com/Corporate/news-stories/2015/Working-together-to-address-climate-change. Some of their “Raw materials” are already sourced from 100% sustainable places such as their fish.
Lastly, recycling more of their used products would seem to help mitigate their footprint – for example, recycling used cooking oil for other sources may offer a good benefit, environmentally.
I thought this was an interesting article. It made me wonder if such solutions could be considered (if not already) for places such as New Orleans or other flood-sensitive areas. Do you think that it would work?
I think it might also make sense to impose a “high risk zone” tax on these real-estate developers as they should be well aware of the impending risks of their construction. For insurance purposes, they will be paying more. Thus, it makes sense that they should pay a larger amount of taxes given that they are utilizing more of the city’s resources to plan for these climate change events and in the event of a disaster.
According to the Times Article (http://time.com/4257194/sea-level-rise-climate-change-miami/) that discusses rising sea level & vulnerable zones, governments will have to spend billions on either relocating or on infrastructure spend. What this causes is a catch-22: local politicians want the tax revenue from the construction in vulnerable areas, but they will likely have to spend large sums of money in the future, should climate change continue to raise sea levels. Consequently, I like that the city is beginning to take steps to mitigate the future impacts although there is much work to be done.
This was a topic I hadn’t thought about before. Insurance is one of those goods that you don’t think about until you need it. One of the ideas that this brought to mind that I’d be interested in seeing is what is the cycle of cash flow? If I buy insurance, I pay Allstate who then pays me if something happens. However, what happens in the scenario of cash flows when Allstate invests in reinsurance or state-driven insurance funds? Where does the money come from? With this, I believe you would be able to see the weakness of these programs: that if climate change continues to intensifies, then Allstate begins to be unable to pay out on claims or that insurance premiums become so high that it is not affordable. Overall, I think it’s an interesting chain of events to look at given the increasing intensity of climate change. If you look at the link provided (http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/insurance-climate-change-adaptability-1.3323132), you can see the impacts of continued extreme weather events – the government begins to play a larger role in securing the insurance.
I agree with you that Allstate needs to adapt to this change. However, I disagree with your suggested methods of offering more insurance products that are based on climate change impacts. If Allstate offers new products to insure against climate change-related damages, including business interruption due to flood-related brown outs (this exists already – loss of revenue), catastrophe-related unemployment, and post-event costs, this continues the negative cycle of Allstate getting premiums from the customer and then paying out large amounts if such an event occurs. This assumes that they will collect more then pay out (or that there will be fewer climate change events causing claims to be paid out). However, your article assumes that climate change events will continue and worsen. Given this, it would be defeatist for Allstate to engage in this.
I think in the short term, Allstate needs to look at premiums and begin to shift the model from probability based (as this is interrupted by low probability, high damage events) model towards insurance for extreme events where they create a cash-reserve and it begins a mandatory products depending on the state one lives in.
This was very interesting. I didn’t realize the impact of having factories farther from the distribution centers was so great in creating emissions. I thought it was a good idea to locate the factories closer to the distribution centers. However, I’d challenge you to consider the feasibility of this option. Ben & Jerry’s is sold in thousands of locations (http://www.benjerry.com/ice-cream-near-me) which makes it difficult to hone in on a factory location that would significantly reduce this. According to their website, a large portion of their product is sold at mom and pop businesses which are not concentrated.
It seems to me that your comparison of emissions of ice cream vs. a car implies that cars are more efficient than ice cream production. Further, looking at the emissions breakdown would indicate a large portion of emissions come from the cows. Given this, your idea of migrating to non-dairy sources makes great sense. However, to what degree does this change impact consumer demand? When Coke changed their recipe decades ago (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/30-years-ago-today-coca-cola-new-coke-failure/), it led to a significant consumer backlash. How can Ben & Jerry’s avoid this similar outcome? One alternative this made me think of was to capture methane from cows instead of avoid them altogether. There are developing technologies that act to capture excess methane from cows (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2606956/Now-THATS-wind-power-Cows-wear-BACKPACKS-capture-emissions-miniature-power-stations.html). I thought this was an interesting alternative to your proposed suggestion in terms of feasibility. Ben & Jerry’s could require that supplies utilize this type of technology rather than having a significant change in a baseline ingredient.
I thought this was a very interesting article on the impacts of climate change. After reading, I’m left with a few questions regarding the topic:
-Is “Juan”/the Colombian Coffee Sector a significant portion of the overall coffee supply, globally?
-In the third challenging scenario Juan has to deal with, what does it mean to move the plantations 167 meters?
I find your potential solutions very interesting. The second and third option remind me of genetically modified organism (GMO) options that are typically used in harsher climates to enable crop growth. Both heat and insect resistance are being built into the genetic makeup of plants to allow for them to thrive. However, this raises the question of whether artificially changing the genetic makeup of plants or animals has significant, potentially unknown, side effects. Have you considered the legality in Colombia of the usage of GMOs? For more information on GMOs, I’ve provided a link: https://factsaboutgmos.org/.
The idea of an “insurance policy” for Juan is also an interesting concept. In the US, farmers are able to buy weather derivatives to insure against the risk of an extremely dry or wet season. A derivative is defined as: a derivative is a contract between two parties where the value of the contract is linked to the price of another financial instrument or by a specified event or condition. In this case, it is linked to the weather. The farmer can invest some amount, call it $8. If the farmer can’t plant due to rain (for example), then the contract will pay out an amount based on the initial risk. If there was a low risk the farmer couldn’t plant due to rain, the contract will pay out more, much like gambling. Should the farmer be able to plant, then the contract does not pay the farmer and the opposite party collects the initial investment ($8). This helps to insulate the farmer against losses. For more info, I’ve also provided a link: http://farmweeknow.com/story-weather-derivatives-can-help-farmers-reduce-risk-0-36845
Overall, is there a way for Juan to begin to protect himself from weather impacts today rather than waiting for a crisis to happen? I agree that changes will need to happen but I believe that steps can be taken today to begin that process rather than your argument for a simultaneous strategy. GMO crops and weather derivatives can be implemented today.