Austen fan

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Thank you for this insightful reflection on an everyday application of open innovation! Airbnb is certainly a pioneer in this space and is an interesting study in open innovation considering the almost complete dependence of its business model on this. Your concern with the sustainability of this model is not misplaced. Exposing a company to open innovation and sharing such innovation with the world invites competition and poses a threat to sustainability. Despite this, it also creates competitive advantage, especially since Airbnb has first mover advantage.

I would argue that the most important thing for Airbnb to do now is to cement its position in customers’ minds. As mentioned by NYC Writer, many people only use Airbnb occasionally due to the infrequent nature of travel for majority of the population. Therefore, Airbnb should increase its presence in advertising, at events and on social media platforms. It should consider extensive marketing campaigns, for example by partnering with local celebrities and filming their Airbnb experiences. Finally, Airbnb could further branch out in terms of offerings for small businesses, conferences and events.

On November 15, 2018, Austen fan commented on Future of Footwear? Additive Manufacturing at Adidas :

This article is really interesting – footwear is a space where 3D printing can have huge impact and completely overhaul the current manufacturing process. I tend to agree that Adidas should hold off releasing the shoe until they are sure that there are no errors. I agree with Eric that widely advertising the shoe makes sense, but acknowledge that the risk of errors is too great to release the product until due diligence is performed. Since Nike is also moving in this space, reputational loss would be extremely damaging to market share and association of Adidas with quality going forward.

Adidas needs to maintain a competitive edge through an engaging and far-reaching marketing campaign. The most important thing is that customers see Adidas as being at the forefront of 3D innovation in footwear; Adidas should move quickly to cement its position in this market. As part of the marketing campaign, Adidas could use scientists with expertise in 3D printing and footwear specialists to endorse the shoes, in addition to the traditional approach of having athletes do so. This would ensure that customers associate the design with reliability and excellence, and would help to remove mistrust.

The most important advantage established retailers have over new entrants to this market is strong reputation and brands associated with excellence. Adidas should make use of marketing as discussed above, and endorsement by famous athletes. It should also ensure that the design and functionality of the shoes are perfect before release, to cement a strong brand association in 3D printed shoes. This will ensure Adidas remains relevant as the market becomes more competitive.

On November 15, 2018, Austen fan commented on Open Innovation in CPG: The Future of HENRi@Nestlé :

Thank you for this post – I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! I also enjoyed reading the comments that have been posted. There is a lot of value in the suggestions to tailor the reward to attract technical or science-based start ups.

The concern expressed in the article regarding Nestle’s exclusion of projects that might not have demonstrable positive global impacts resonated with me. This limitation of scope means that Nestle is not gaining the full advantage of open innovation. This could also be one reason that members of the scientific community are not as engaged, seeing HENRI as more of a marketing campaign than a true challenge. Should Nestle develop another platform for more broad open innovation questions without obvious global impact? Is there a way to position this without attracting negative publicity?

One proposal for gaining traction among the technical, science-based start-up community, building on the recommendations from my colleagues, is to offer to partner with the start-ups going forward, rather than simply sharing prize money. This kind of approach has been done successfully in other businesses, such as at Valve, where hackers who created impressive “mods” were subsequently employed by the company. Since start-ups typically are attached to the product that they develop, offering to employ the developers or partner with them to use their inventions most likely has a higher chance of success than simply offering them prize money.

On November 15, 2018, Austen fan commented on DHL: Cracking Logistics with the help of Machine Learning :

This is a great solution for a company facing very complex and multi-faceted challenges. DHL’s exposure to many different industries and players makes machine learning highly relevant, given its ability to process high volumes of data.

It is interesting that one of the key benefits of Supply Watch is in proactively managing communications to customers and facilitating delivery tracking, rather than in preventing issues from arising. This is an important acknowledgement of the significant negative impact caused by poor expectation management in delivery services. I liked that the article addressed the use of machine learning in customer service, through potential chatbot introduction, and shared DHL’s future ambitious aspirations for machine learning.

I agree that better predictions for suppliers and customs clearance would be helpful. It would be interesting to understand how this capability could be developed, for example whether DHL could work with suppliers to develop capabilities that would benefit both parties for better coordination. For customs coordination, would it be possible to access data to the extent needed for this to work?

In response to the questions in the article, DHL could seek to apply machine learning to support functions to improve their effectiveness. Support functions are often overlooked in process improvement leading to high inefficiencies. DHL should be fully transparent with customers and suppliers about the sources and use of data in its machine learning applications. Since there is a tendency to mistrust machine learning and AI, full transparency helps to build trust and gain cooperation from key stakeholders.

On November 15, 2018, Austen fan commented on Pinterest Needs to Improve Revenue Per User Ahead of IPO :

A useful and well-written study of the current use of machine learning at Pinterest, and further opportunities for its application. As someone who is not very familiar with Pinterest, I enjoyed learning more about how Pinterest works and found this article informative yet easy to understand. It appears that machine learning opportunities in this space are similar to those that Amazon and other online retailers have, most importantly the ability to profile customers minutely through their purchasing behavior and anticipate their upcoming needs. Another interesting way in which Pinterest is exploring machine learning is through the introduction of an early version AI Pinterest bot in 2017, to address process improvement (available at:

The customer segmentation and marketing strategy framework presented in the article is highly useful. The classification of two distinct customer groups, price-conscious and trend-conscious, will prevent Pinterest from pushing products to price-sensitive customers simply because they are profiled for a specific product. This lens, when combined with the current product profiling method, will better enable sales to both customer groups. In response to the question posed at the end of the article, I think that customer segmentation should be on a matrix, to capture both buying behavior/price sensitivity (as proposed in the article) and preferences (current approach). Segmentation could also be at least one level deeper. As an example, for price-conscious customers, segmentation could also capture triggers of buying behavior, such as likelihood to purchase from a discount versus buy-one-get-one free product bundling. Whether this level of detail can be achieved in customer segmentation will be highly dependent on the level of machine learning capability at Pinterest.

In response to the other question posed, I think that there is a threat to retailers. If customers are able to see other brand options, this means that they are able to shop for better prices more conveniently. Despite this, the benefits of higher traffic and more exposure to brands outweighs this risk, especially as price sensitive customers are likely to shop around either way.

An interesting and thought-provoking read! The space industry seems to be well-positioned to benefit from 3D printing technology due to the ability to reduce weight, a key consideration in space travel. I was surprised and impressed by the level of cost (80%) and material (90%) efficiency that can be achieved by this application of 3D printing. The ability for 3D printing technology to operate in space (under zero gravity conditions) appears to have been a crucial success factor at NASA; operation in space presents many opportunities for in-mission production and repair work. Large organizations can often become closed-minded and bureaucratic, and should constantly push to improve innovative idea-generation processes. Therefore, I completely agree with the recommendation that NASA use 3D printing to expand creativity in product development. Another important recommendation that I would add is a program of training and change management for employees, to ensure that they understand the benefits of 3D printing and its applications in their respective fields. This can help to combat the fear of change that can come with introducing a new technology.

I think that partnerships in this space are critical to success and maintaining competitive advantage, by enabling NASA to achieve rapid scale and leverage existing 3D printing knowledge and insight. NASA’s partnership with Tethers Unlimited enabled them to leverage advanced 3D printing recycling technology that otherwise could have taken many months to develop. NASA’s support of university and commercial prototyping is another way that it effectively outsources learning and technology development.

In response to your question about how NASA can pursue 3D printing applications safely in the context of its organization, the best approach would be to significantly modify product development, testing and approval processes. 3D printing technology is fundamentally different from traditional technology and the associated risks are different. Processes should be aligned to these new risks and the more iterative approach required by this new technology. Processes should ensure that appropriate risk management is conducted before approving 3D printed technology for use. As mentioned above, it is also critical that NASA conducts the appropriate level of change management with employees and key stakeholders to ensure buy-in and alignment to using this new technology and new product development processes.