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Great article, Kamau – I had no idea that Target was navigating a difficult situation of this nature. I’d like to build on Simon’s point about Target’s competitors: although the dilemma Target faces is less than ideal, I would imagine that all of their competitors are grappling with the same issue.

I wonder if this particular situation lends itself to cooperation with competitors. While Target is a large corporation on its own, I imagine that it could more successfully lobby the government with the support and resources of other corporations. This represents a rare situation where the incentives of direct competitors are aligned, and I can imagine corporations taking steps to “lay down their arms” to convince the government of the adverse effects of this policy, from corporate health to the workforce development issue that Angel raised. I’ll stay tuned to this issue in the news to learn how the situation progresses.

Great article, Damir – thank you for sharing. This is an industry that I was not previously familiar with, and you convinced me that isolationism is a major issue for FLIR.

I do wonder if there are ways that FLIR can incentivize their supply chain partners to cooperate with their sensitivity efforts. In addition to the “stick” of audits, regulations and requiring contracts that you mention, can FLIR develop “carrots” that will mutually benefit both their own enterprise and those of their suppliers? I suspect that aligning incentives may result in better outcomes and scale that will help the whole supply chain generate more revenue by distributing their products more broadly.

On December 1, 2017, aportland commented on Do You Know Where Your Papers Have Been? 3M Does. :

Thank you for the wonderful article, Nicki – I found this informative and interesting. Your introduction caught my attention due to its mention of 3M’s scale, which I wasn’t aware of. As a leader in supply chain management, I’m not surprised to hear that 3M is leading the movement for digitization of supply chains, but I wonder if their scale serves as a barrier to innovation, as well as a benefit to creating change.

You wrote about the economies of scale that 3M is able to employ when digitizing their supply chain, for example, the data that they collect can be leveraged to identify areas of opportunity. However, I wonder if scale also disincentives them from pursuing the disruptive change that you point out might be necessary to remain relevant. Presumably, changing aspects of their supply chain is capital intensive, and the risks of systems failing are severe. I wonder how 3M can continue to digitize their operations without sacrificing performance: one idea would be to use data to simulate the impact of future changes, much like the simulator we saw in the team New Zealand case. I’m very interested to see how 3M continues to champion digitization of their supply chain going forward, and hope to hear about their innovation in the news soon.

This is a wonderful piece, Chloe – I feel more informed about a topic that I previously was not aware of. While reading, I was struck by both Intel’s market leadership and their reaction to innovative threats.

The fact that Intel has 80% global market share in any area is impressive, and I believe it speaks to their history of leadership in innovation. 80% was surprising to me because it represents near monopoly, and I would have expected other players to enter the market given the demand for CPUs and the ability of technology companies to reverse engineer. This leads me to believe that patents on intellectual property play a major role in this industry, which might be a barrier to Intel entering the GPU market. For this reason, I think that acquiring smaller competitors for their intellectual property is an effective supply chain solution.

Despite the tactical nature of Intel’s supply chain solutions thus far, you stated that they are “hoping to direct the AI supply chain away from GPU’s,” I wonder if they are doing enough to anticipate future digitization. This concerns me because it sounds like Intel continues to excel at incremental innovation, but I wonder if they are investing enough resources in more transformational innovation. Surely there is a balance between R&D spend and future market prominence, but I think Intel would be remiss to ignore nascent forces in the market. Hopefully, they continue to innovate and leverage their scale to deliver disruptive digitization technologies in the future.

On November 30, 2017, aportland commented on A Federal Agency is Winning the Race on Supply Chain Sustainability :

Thank you for illustrating an interesting topic – USPS is certainly relevant to the day-to-day lives of most Americans, so it’s heartening to know that they are pursuing more sustainable operations. When I first read this piece, my mind immediately went to packaging, and the emissions that go into producing packaging as well as the negative environmental consequences of inadequately disposing of boxes, envelopes, and their contents.

Even though you pointed out that USPS is aware of this opportunity alongside their initiatives to reduce GHG emissions and using recycled materials, I wonder if they could do more to innovate around sustainable packaging and push consumers to support their efforts. Many companies have implemented creative solutions to wasteful packaging production: for example, Dell uses wheat straw (which is a byproduct of wheat harvesting) to produce packaging (http://www.inboundlogistics.com/cms/article/getting-packaging-costs-down-to-size/). Other companies have gone a step further by eliminating redundant packaging, which USPS could hypothetically implement with certain types of products. They could also start to consider customers as a part of their supply chain, and leverage them to cut down on packaging production. Perhaps they could incentivize customers to support their sustainability efforts by providing a rebate for re-using a box. No matter the solution, USPS is taking steps in the right direction, and I look forward to hearing more about their sustainability initiatives in the future.

On November 30, 2017, aportland commented on Primark: Hitting the Mark on Addressing Climate Change :

Thank you for the insightful article, Shelby. It prompted me to think of issues in fashion that I rarely consider as a consumer, and you illustrated the challenges Primark is facing in implementing more sustainable operations. You referenced the fact that Primark has understated their sustainability efforts in the media, which prompted me to wonder why they choose not to publicize the changes they are making.

In theory, a company like Primark could take their sustainability efforts one step further by educating their consumers on their philosophy and urging customers to make purchasing decisions that are best for the environment. This would hopefully create a virtuous cycle in which companies develop and market sustainable operations, customers demand sustainably made clothes and purchase accordingly, and sustainable companies have more capital to invest in sustainability initiatives. The key to setting this pattern in motion is articulating the operational changes to current and potential customers: however, experts note that potentially boring and/or inaccessible messaging alienate an audience (https://sustainability.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/Promoting_Sustain_Behavior_Primer.pdf). Primark could start to educate consumers about their efforts by leveraging their fascinating engagement with CottonConnect, and over time introduce information about more complicated operational changes to their marketing. Hopefully, Primark will continue to pursue sustainable practices in their supply chain, which will transform their supply chain partners and set the tone for industry-wide changes.