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On November 20, 2016, AS commented on Need a mortgage? There’s an app for that too :

As some of the other commentors above expressed, I too am a bit wary of the ease of the Rocket Mortgage approval. While I do believe that there is likely too much subjectivity in the more traditional approval process, I have to wonder why the process took 30 days previously, and can now only be done in minutes – a change that happened seemingly overnight. Sure, 30 days includes a significant amount of exchanging information back and forth between humans that are balancing their daily activities, and take longer to make a decision at each step. And yet, even when Quicken Loans initially removed these lags in the system, they were only able to reduce the total throughput time to approximately 15 days. What allowed them to decrease from 15 days to minutes while maintaining the integrity of their checks?

Their website claims that the difference is simply that Rocket Mortgage uses more definitive information to make approval decisions than the previous process had done. Rocket Mortgage uses bank account balance and live income information to make decisions, and verify one’s income, assets, and credit, almost instantly. Previously, a mortgage provider would ask for W-2’s, pay stubs, or PDF’s, then would interpret these documents, then start the approval process. [1]

However, because these investigations are held private by the company, there is no clear method to understand if there is a difference in integrity of the mortgage approvals, between both systems. My assumption is that HCL’s inclination is correct, that Quicken Loans is only willing to take this risk, because they are immediately turning this around to sell and gain a profit from the US government.

[1] Decker, Rhiannon, August 2, 2016,, Accessed November 2016.

On November 20, 2016, AS commented on “Google Preferred”: from Cat Videos to Premium Content :

While I had not heard of Google Preferred prior to this article, the concept absolutely makes sense. Allowing companies to target particular consumer segments is extremely valuable, and can be tapped to in an even more direct way than television ads. However, I do think that there is even more money being left on the table than just limited supply of YouTube videos. At this point, gmail is one of the most preferred forms of email, and is often used as a form of login information for other websites. With this being said, Google likely has significant user trend data to identify what particular customers’ preferences and tendencies are, on sites outside of YouTube as well. While it may seem to be an infringement on consumer privacy, if they are already willing to sell this preferred access on YouTube, selling adds on any type of site, based on data from Gmail and their other subsidiaries is not far removed.

Additionally, this article does not touch on Google’s largest competitor in this space: Facebook. Facebook also has millions of users, but also, the company’s main asset is an array of personalized data for each individual user of their system. In turn, Facebook utilizes this information to push advertisements to specific user segments, as paid for by other companies. The largest difference here is that Google is selling video space, while Facebook largely focuses on still images. [1] While Google currently has the overall advantage both in current sales, and in mediums by which they could provide preferred ads, it is unclear if there will be public backlash, as consumers understand that they are being individually targeted. Facebook, may have the advantage in that context, as their sight very clearly targets consumers, where an expansion to other Google owned entities, may not have that same protection by design.

[1] Sharma, Rekesh, July 13, 2015,, Accessed November 2016.

On November 20, 2016, AS commented on Building Dreamliner with 3D printing machine :

Maniglass, in your research, were you able to identify how the costs of this extensive PLM network were distributed between Boeing, its designers, suppliers, and manufacturers? In your text you mentioned that over 6000 engineers were utilizing the same PLM database in order to develop and design the 787. I quick look into PLM licenses suggest that per seat licenses can be up to $6k, database licenses can be $200k, and other maintenance applications such as Product Portfolio Management can cost up to $1.5M. [1] Considering these costs alone, the system would have cost $37.7M, let alone any IT accommodations that would have to be considered. I would assume that PLM is not always an exclusive content set, such that if a supplier had the infrastructure necessary to run a PLM application, they could easily develop simulations with other customers as well. With this being said, was Boeing willing to cover the costs of this implementation across all of its partners? Or, did they provide some incentives for suppliers to join the project and purchase their own licenses, in order to spread the costs across the supply chain?

Typically a license of this type would be shared among users within a given company, so it is very possible that the estimates that I provided above are inflated. However, the wonder of who bore the costs for these upgrades still applies. I imagine that Boeing probably fronted the costs for this effort, which makes me doubt whether their short term ROI on this effort is positive.

[1] Product Life Cycle Management,, Accessed November 2016.

In the past few years, there have been several companies that are making a push similar to what you’ve described Ralph Lauren moving towards. While I was not aware of all of the dressing room renovations that are being made, there are several wearable technologies that assist with workout and general health monitoring. However, at the start of your post, you mentioned that fragrances are one of the big four focuses of Ralph Lauren. My question would be, what is the company doing to digitize this product line?

Looking at other companies such as Dior, most digital efforts in the fragrance realm include simply social media advertising. Dior has partnered with celebrities to create .gifs and short videos, and paste them on Instagram and Facebook to garner followings. [1] However, what could be the further digital application of a fragrance? One way might be using 4D technology to pair scents with the clothing recommendations that the fitting rooms are making, to customize a fragrance for a store’s customers. This could cause much larger logistical issues, so it may be better to take the intermediary step of just pushing the store’s own fragrances in the near future.

[1] F. Constance, February 6, 2015., Accessed November 2016.

The sentiment expressed in many of the above comments read so true to me; what did tax payers do prior to services like TurboTax? As I looked up research on the origins of TurboTax and other computer tax services, I started to wonder how standard accountants were still employed. I came to the conclusion that possibly TurboTax was not actually saving tax payers the maximum return possible. An investigation by CBS News sought to investigate the same hypothesis.

The investigation found that for one particular individual (not clear how scale-able the results are) Turbo Tax identified a tax refund of $3,941 for a cost of $111.90, for a total savings of $3,379.10. An accountant for the same set of tax information found a tax refund of $3,831 for a cost of $400.00, for a total savings of $3,431.00. [1] In total, while the accountant won the competition, the financial differential is almost negligible. The investigator did, however, identify that the accountant had recommended several additional actions that the customer could take in the next year to produce significantly more savings. This seems to be the only competitive advantage that humans seem to have at this point of the field, and it will be very interesting to see at what point computer services begin to be as valuable for future recommendations as well.

[1] Ashford, Kate.March 15, 2010.,Accessed November 2016.

On November 7, 2016, AS commented on Putting Lipstick on a Planet :

This post does a great job of highlighting some of the methods L’oreal is taking to significantly decrease their carbon footprint over the next 4-5 years, both in its packaging and sourcing, and in its overall operations. While reviewing, I found myself wanting to quantify and compare some of the targets that they’ve set out. In particular, one of the most interesting components of their plan to me, was their goal to have 0% deforestation caused by L’oreal by 2020. Absolutely this is an important and impactful goal, but is this time frame too long? Do they really make that significant of an impact to deforestation at this point that this effort is actually impressive?

I did some investigation and found that deforestation is happening at a rate of 620k hectares per year. [1] This is an exceedingly higher rate than what I expected, however, it is still unclear what L’oreal’s actual contribution to this rate is. This is largely because when they set their targets in 2014, they were unclear as to the full supply chain of where their palm oil comes from in each of their markets. [1] Without knowing this metric, not even L’oreal can determine how much of an impact to deforestation they’re making. Without this information, it is impossible to know if these are low hanging fruit targets, or actually admirable. Regardless, having a goal is better than not, and they should be commended for that.

[1] Talocchi, Joao.”5 reasons to applaud L’Oreal’s No Deforestation Policy (and how it could be even better)”., accessed November 2016.

On November 7, 2016, AS commented on Going Green? Eat a Snickers. :

This post excellently identifies the methods by which Mars, Inc. is reducing their greenhouse gas emissions through several portions of their supply chain, including the raw material sourcing and manufacturing. However, these aspects miss out on a very key aspect of the supply chain, which may be a significant factor in the overall company’s greenhouse gas emissions contribution. This aspect of the supply chain is distribution. The transportation industry is one of the largest contributors to global emissions, and it is clear that in order for Mars to sell their products, they will use transportation services to complete their distributions to retailers. I would be interested to hear more about how they are making efforts in this realm. Competitors for example are looking to cut costs in distribution by, “improving the efficiency of our distribution networks – making better use of space in our vehicles, avoiding unnecessary miles and using more efficient modes of transport,” as was identified by Nestle, Inc. [1]

Is Mars taking a similar approach, or have they left their holistic approach to emissions reductions open in this respect?

[1] Nestle,Transport and Distribution., accessed November 2016.

On November 7, 2016, AS commented on Always Coca Cola? :

This article poses an interesting question regarding responsibility, as it evaluates the difference in water usage associated with the actual raw materials of a bottle of Coke, versus the water expended in the cultivation and agriculture of key ingredients used in Coke. Coke has clearly demonstrated that they have made significant improvements in their ability to conserve and replenish water, as it easily surpassed its goal to replenish each liter of water used in its raw materials, earlier than their projected time horizon. There is an argument that can be made suggesting that if Coke could get to a point where it is replenishing water this quickly, then they probably can continue to make conservation steps related to their raw materials moving forward.

However, this does not mean that Coke should then in turn also be responsible for the water savings in the production of the agricultural products that are used to make the raw materials. With this thought process, wouldn’t companies like Hanes also be responsible for the water used in the agriculture associated with Cotton? Or wouldn’t every company be responsible for the electricity used to develop the raw materials in their supply chain? At what point does this responsibility fall on the eventual manufacturer, and at what point is this the responsibility of the agriculture industry? Now, with that being said, Coke can absolutely make efforts to reduce water use in agriculture, such as investing in drip irrigation systems that reduce evaporation and waste of water as it compares to spray systems, and can save up to 80% of the water used in traditional irrigation systems. [1] Yet, would Coke be doing this because they are responsible, or simply because they’re a company that happens to care about making a grander impact?

[1] “10 Ways Farmers Are Saving Water”., accessed November 2016.

I believe that there is a significant opportunity for Nike to leverage their connection with consumers in order to not only reduce their emissions at the company level, but also reduce emissions at the consumer level. Because Nike is a clothing brand, their clothes likely lead to thousands of loads of laundry annually, if not more, in which water and electricity cause for significant amounts of waste. There are, however, new personal sized foot-powered washing machines that require 80 percent less water and detergent than a typical washing machine, and do not run on electricity. [1] If Nike leveraged its connection with it’s athletes to use this type of machine to clean their own clothes after a match or practice, they may be able to have an even quicker, and grander environmental impact, at no cost other than advertising their program, or markdowns given as an incentive to those that use the more efficient washing machines.

Treacy, Megan. “Foot-powered washing machine lets you clean your clothes off grid.”, accessed November 2016.

On November 7, 2016, AS commented on Winter is not coming… :

The impact of global warming on the winter sports industry is near and dear to my heart, as there are two ski resorts near my house that generate significant economic upturn during the winter months. Therefore, I appreciate the sentiment and concerns expressed in this article.

However, while you mention several efforts that the Aspen Skiing Company is taking in order to reduce their impact on the release of green house gasses, I am concerned that some of their efforts or the recommendations that you’ve made may be counter-intuitive. For example, you mention that the company is, “becoming more energy efficient through the use of renewable energy systems (i.e. snowmaking equipment).” Generally, snow making equipment is run off of either electric, or gas powered generators, which in turn exasperate the problem by releasing more greenhouse gasses. Unless these are solar powered, as is mentioned as an opportunity in one of the earlier comments, I’m not sure that this is really improving their sustainability efforts.

Additionally, you mentioned that potentially companies could open back up their resorts during summer months in order to subsidize some of the costs for efficiency enhancements to their buildings and infrastructure. While this does eventually lead to opportunity for reductions in winter months, doesn’t this also cause the buildings to run for 3/4 of the year that they previously hadn’t, in order to support their new Spring, Summer, and Fall activities? At what point do these efforts allow for cost reductions in the future, but still prevent adding additional emissions in the now.

I agree with the sentiment of the activities, the challenge is finding those that contribute to the effort both in on and off seasons.