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As an avid runner, I support the idea of 3D printing being available for a broader assortment of consumer products, such as Nike running footwear. It would be cool to get custom shoes specifically fit to my foot and in my preferred colors / patterns. On the positive side, consequences of this might be footwear that is better able to adjust to the human body (such as improved fit, tensile properties of the sole, etc.), improved athletic performance (such as the human body being able to break a 4.00 minute mile) and increased sales for Nike. However, on the negative side, unforeseen consequences might be increased economic inequality (as customized products might come at a higher price point) and greater waste if used shoes are not able to be donated.

You raise an interesting question about how additive manufacturing will impact the traditional supplier-consumer supply chain. In my view, the impact will be most profound on the B2B distribution, such as simplifying the operations of BMW’s Munich factory, increasing just-in-time inventory, and reducing how many components are logically outsourced, while the B2C interaction (dealerships, test drives, etc.) will be less impacted by additive manufacturing itself versus other innovation like AR/VR.

Raízen Ventures appears to be a very impactful, thoughtful program. The double mission of building the Pulse Hub intuitively makes sense. To successfully execute the program, it seems like developing a clear set of KPIs is critical. Given the challenges of scale and profitability, creating benchmarks will help to ensure all stakeholders are aligned on the goals and timeline for growth and financial viability.

On November 14, 2018, Caitlin commented on Innovation through acquisition at General Mills :

General Mills’ approach to open innovation seems like an important differentiator as consumer food trends involve, with its 301 Inc VC fund serving an important role in this strategy. However, my view is that internal R&D is still important to help General Mills advance products in its existing categories. 301 appears to be making logical investments in niche categories where GM does not currently play – as such, it seems important that GM continue to innovate in products where it is the market leader to protect its share and also create an R&D capability to help new acquisitions accelerate growth.

On November 14, 2018, Caitlin commented on Machine Learning: Innovate Your Way to an Unproductive Majority :

It was fascinating to learn more about BOH and the implications of machine learning being applied to innovate against the struggles that traditional mall-based retail faces today. For corporate social responsibility in the age of machine learning (and the future of work, more broadly), it seems like the proposed strategy to leverage a global stylist base, influencer analysis and trend forecasting will positively free up personnel bandwidth to engage customers, continue advancing product design, etc. This will enable management and employees to perform uniquely-skilled, brand-differentiating tasks which cannot be replaced.

Your commentary on predicting customer churn in the financial services industry is very thoughtful and intriguing. In addition to predicting customer atrophy from financial services providers such as American Express, it seems that similar technology might also be applicable to employee retention. This could serve your question about differentiating Amex through improving its internal human capital (both in disruptive technologies, such as the data scientists referenced above, and other functions like customer service, product development, etc.)

Regarding data and privacy, it seems like the effect of regulations like the EU’s GDPR might be ameliorated by the fact that Amex would be assessing its existing customers, versus prospecting for new customers.