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On November 20, 2016, Beta commented on Epic and the Health Records Business :

The Electronic Health Records (EHR) segment has garnered much attention from private equity lately. In fact, a simple google search of the topic brings up many deals that have transacted over the past five years. While your article addresses the many interested points around EHR and why this technology is poised for growth in the future, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts around the privacy of patients’ healthcare records and how this information is protected and disseminated. What can healthcare providers do to ensure a safe computing environment with such sensitive data that is growing in volume on a daily basis? Do the Health Insurance Privacy and Accountability Act (HIPPA) guidelines go far enough to protect the data? Are they too stringent for healthcare providers to make use of the information in a useful way? Looking forward to having a discussion on how we can mitigate the challenges around information overload, cyber-security and increased regulations. Certainly the next administration will be in a position to set precedent in this burgeoning niche.

On November 20, 2016, Beta commented on Where is my package? :

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts about Fedex’s digital strategy versus USPS’ digital strategy. It seems as if both organizations are focusing their digital efforts around data and analytics and monetizing these assets through applications or selling aggregated information to commercial customers. Your article references the importance of increased engagement with customers (while offering superior services such as tracking), but is Fedex better positioned to deliver on their digital innovation strategies, given their more attractive financial profile and more efficient logistics network or is USPS in a better position given its reach in every neighborhood in the United States? It seems where the U.S. Postal Service is focusing on are other ways to reach paying commercial customers through omni-channel marketing programs, where the USPS offers access and impressions to customers who wish to use the USPS digital platform to target specific customers. On the other hand, Fedex seems to focusing on supply chain optimization and maximizing the level of service they offer customers. I wonder if both strategies are truly that differentiated, and who is best positioned to win over the next decade. I included a think that discusses USPS’ strategy a little more.

On November 20, 2016, Beta commented on Time: Has Their Time Run Out? :

Traditional print media is undergoing some serious growing pains as it shifts to digital. Whereas in the past, distribution was a source of competitive advantage, now one can make the argument that content generation is really the area where you need to focus to win. I had the opportunity to speak with management from Wicked Local, the organization that owns a majority of local daily (and non-daily) newspapers in Massachusetts, and an interesting piece of their strategy revolves around moving to a digital platform where they not only distribute news articles through online/mobile, but also try to engage and connect with subscribers through various forms of customer engagement and communications. One challenge of moving to digital is “quality” – as more and more media outlets begin to publish news and articles online, it seems as though the quality of journalism has declined. I think for Time that has a solid readership and reputable content, finding ways to engage users through digital is a growth area where they can protect their place in the media industry.

On November 20, 2016, Beta commented on FitBit: Say You Want a (New Year’s) Resolution :

I think the trend towards wearable devices will continue to gain traction because of how marketers have been able to track and communicate effectiveness. As we’ve seen with StickK, accountability and social are elements that wearable devices may capture to ensure more productive or healthy habits for individuals. For many healthy activities – including dieting and working out – tracking performance and improvements over time has been proven to be an effective method for improving overall health. Wearable devices make all of this easy, in a way we can make the activity more public, and at times, fashionable.

The data and analytics component of Fitbit is interesting because in one small device you can capture statistics and insights that are relevant for all different types of people (gender, age, weight, health condition, etc). As science continues to advance our knowledge of the body and healthier habits, I think there are several adjacencies (most prominently in healthcare) where the data from trackable devices can be used by healthcare providers to advance medical cures, best practices, or communication to patients.

Great article that addresses the problems facing the insurance industry, one of the most antiquated industries in business today. I really think insurance will undergo radical transformation over the next decade, and digitalization will inevitably play a huge role as the industry shifts. One other example of how digitalization has impacted insurance can been seen through how Liberty Mutual recently partnered with Nest Labs to grow their digital presence. Using the technology that Nest providers user through their smoke alarm and theft protection systems, Liberty Mutual has begun to lower homeowner premiums believing that this technology will be able to reduce loss ratios meaningfully. This represents a fundamental transformation of the insurance industry business model from “reactionary” (address claims after the fact) to “preventative” (addressing the risks before they happen). This is important because all stakeholders are now better informed about potential hazards, all while creating a more cost friendly ecosystem. Specifically, this is good for consumers because they will benefit from lower premiums. This is good for insurance companies because it will lower costs through claims. Lastly, society will benefit from increased accountability and responsibility in using technology to prevent events from happening in the first place.

On November 7, 2016, rmonaco commented on Hope you take your coffee hot :

I agree that Starbucks’ market position puts them in the unique position to lead the way for sustainability in the coffee business throughout its supply chain. I did not realize that their emissions each year have been climbing and I wonder if expanding into other product categories actually hurts them from a sustainability perspective. Earlier in 2016, there were rumors that Starbucks was evaluating strategic alternatives regarding the introduction of certain alcoholic beverages to its menu. At some point the market for coffee will be saturated and they will be without smaller coffee players to acquire — this begs the question of what adjacent markets they will pursue. Certainly they have the infrastructure and resources to pull it off, but if the expansion into new products is the strategy – what does that mean for climate change initiatives? Just as you mentioned here with new foods to their menu that ultimately increased emissions, this seems to be just another path to increased emissions.

Right now, Starbucks is aggressively focused on opening new stores in China and expanding its footprint in the emerging markets. This article addresses the relationship with farmers and sourcing the raw material to produce the coffee, but is there anything else the company can do as it looks to grow and expand outside the U.S.? I agree with some of the comments above, the consumer needs to be made more aware of this growing problem and an area of focus could be the actual cups and supplies they use to distribute their coffee.

On November 7, 2016, rmonaco commented on Let’s Shed Some Light on LEDs :

The proliferation of LED lighting over the last decade has attracted many investors, particularly private equity. Over the past few years, many LED players have transacted in the M&A markets or recieved institutional capital from outside investors. In addition to the company you mentioned (UrbanVolt received $11 million from CIC Partners on a EURO30 million valuation), leading the way was Philips spinning out its LED business in a deal valued close to $3 billion. Also worth noting, SLV was acquired by Aridan Group in 2016; BMAC was acquired by Grakon in 2016; SloanLED was backed by Baird Capital in 2015; Halco Lighting Technologies was acquired by Lineage Capital in 2013. While there were more LED deals being marketed over the last four years, clearly adoption of LED technology is accelerating (and many stakeholders have a vested interest in its success!). LED lighting is so compelling because it’s an area where companies can start their sustainability initiatives and also materially cut operating costs.

In addition to what was mentioned in the article, LED lighting players are now taking advantage of “Smart LED” technology, a technology that enables large energy consumers to reduce energy consumption during off peak usage or off peak times. For example, many large commercial buildings in metropolitan areas are beginning to implement smart LED technologies, dimming and turning off lights at night that save significant amounts of energy. Lastly, an area where LED players are innovating is in their design strategy. In particular, MaxLite (based in New Jersey) has implemented more modular designs for their LED lighting fixtures, effectively reducing the amount of fixture SKUs they manufacture and sell. As long as these fewer fixtures are compatible with the various forms of LED technology, this can be further expanded upon as a sustainability initiative. Assuming high quality and compatibility, modular lighting product families have the ability to streamline production, reduce cost, optimize inventory and drive efficiency that encourage sustainability for the end consumer because it would force them to use only the most environmentally friendly products at a competitive price.

On November 7, 2016, rmonaco commented on Cancun, a paradise with an expiration date? :

As someone who has been to Cancun a few times, this post definitely resonates with me. I think you would be interested to know that Cancun hosted the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference that brought 12,000 governmental officials and UN representatives to discuss the very real issues you highlighted in the article. The solutions posed from this conference were precedents to the Paris Agreement, which today is a global action plan to put the world on track to limit climate change.

I think the challenge for Grupos Posadas is that they need real cooperation from the other hotel operators in Cancun who may not have the scale or resources to implement many of the climate change initiatives you suggest. Cancun is well-known for its “all-inclusive” offering, and I wonder whether more protocols for reducing waste and/or using more environmentally-friendly products and supplies could also enhance these operators’ ability to preserve Cancun. Given that virtually 100% of Cancun’s economy relies on tourism, what do you think the impact would be if hotel operators charged a nominal fee (proceeds going toward sustainability initiatives) to visitors who pay for an “all-inclusive” package upfront? Perhaps, tourists would be willing and ready to help preserve such a beautiful destination that attracts so many repeat visitors.

Also, there may need to be a more global partnership with hotel operators, particularly outside these high-risk regions, that together can drive sustainability initiatives and raise the awareness for climate change that may eliminate a whole segment of the hospitality industry. Grupos Posadas is bearing the burden themselves, but we may be at a point where they need some outside help to combat this problem.

I enjoyed reading this article – thank you for the post! Homeowners, particularly in Southern Florida, have been beginning to address the very real issue with rising sea levels and extreme weather impacting real estate holdings. Now, as this article highlights, the pressure is passed on to the homeowner insurers who will be unable to bear the long term burden of climate change impact for an entire industry (real estate) or more specifically, an entire region (South Florida). Even if these insurers are able to quantify the risks associated with climate change (no easy task), how do you realistically mitigate this risk of a whole community being wiped out by extreme weather or put underwater entirely? Tough decisions need to be made…

Insurance companies can focus on diversification across product lines and geographies. For example, homeowner insurers can move into auto or commercial markets (end market diversification) or into new states (geographic expansion) to rebalance their portfolio. By underwriting business in other non-coastal areas or by better risk pricing (increasing premiums to match exposure with rates), you can minimize risk of default and offset some of the challenges discussed in the article. It is, however, a tough pill to swallow if you are a homeowner and faced with a significant rise in premiums to cover your home.

On November 7, 2016, rmonaco commented on Is the Hospital Industry “Feeling Under the Weather”? :

I thought this article did a great job of highlighting the challenges of climate change within the healthcare industry. As someone who is from New Jersey, I was able to see how local area hospitals were dealing with the impacts of extreme weather events in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy (it was refreshing to read an article that brought this issue to light). Given how much hospitals rely on energy and its consumption in our country relative to other industries, I agree there must be more focus on sustainability. The challenge I see is the current ecosystem around rising healthcare costs and increased regulatory scrutiny as The Affordable Care Act continues to expand its reach nationwide. In controlling costs, it may be difficult to influence providers to adopt and invest in technologies that address some of these environmental issues. One of the local proposals I have heard about that is being considered is the use of solar panels on the roof to increase energy efficiency and decrease the reliance on other sources of energy (in addition to what you have mentioned in the article).

Another point I would like to highlight is that at healthcare providers such as Spaulding Rehabilitation Center, the use of treadmill and other exercise equipment (which are quite plentiful in these types of institutions) have the ability to generate and supply energy to the hospital that not only reduces operating costs but also represents a more environmentally-friendly solution to reducing energy consumption. In addition, because hospitals are high foot-trafficked areas, there is new technology that is capturing the impact of people’s footsteps in generating energy. From a disaster recovery perspective, these solutions represent sources of energy that are self-supplied and outside of the normal grid, and therefore, they are not susceptible to extreme weather conditions and other outside disruptions.