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On December 1, 2017, cmclaughlin commented on Udacity and the evolving supply chain for highly technical labor :

Very interesting to see how Udacity is serving as the intermediary of supply and demand. To be successful in this position, it will be essential that they are indeed sourcing the appropriate talent and training them effectively. I am curious to learn about what qualifications (if any) Udacity has for its talent. In addition, I wonder whether this is even the most efficient solution to this challenge, as it relies on talent self-selecting into Udacity. I have seen a number of states (such as Indiana) implementing more technical skill-centric programs at the high school level. What’s particularly interesting about some of these programs is that they are funded by major advanced manufacturing, logistics, and technology firms who are desperate for the talent and willing to put their money where there mouth is to create the pipeline they need. There is certainly space for models, though, and I’m excited to see where Udacity goes with this!

On December 1, 2017, cmclaughlin commented on Good Tariffs Make Good Neighbors? :

Fascinating article, DC — definitely a good reminder to be thinking beyond this HBS bubble! In that vein, I’m intrigued by what the implications for the Chinese steel supply will be. Given that they have an overcapacity of steel production and already produce double the level of the entire EU’s steel consumption, one might anticipate that this would have a significant impact on demand for Chinese steel [1]. However, U.S. Commerce Department stats reveal that China supplied 73,594 tonnes of steel in May 2017, which is just 2.4% of the 3.12 million tonnes imported by the United States in that month [2]. I’m inclined to say that this may be just another instance of the federal government acting symbolically.


On December 1, 2017, cmclaughlin commented on The End of Consulting as We Know It? :

Very interesting perspective! I agree with you that one of the core values that consulting firms provide to clients is “creativity engendered by teams of smart individuals working together to solve problems”. However, I would challenge you as to whether consulting firms are requisite in bringing these individuals together. A number of organizations, such as the XPRIZE Foundation, are using digital platforms to connect individuals from all over the world to solve intractable problems. Indeed, Deloitte Consulting has developed its own proprietary crowd platform — Pixel — to give clients the ability to access the crowd (while of course paying Deloitte a fee to access it). I agree with Dennis below that, for some clients, consulting projects are merely a stamp of approval — very similar to a Harvard MBA degree, one might argue. Even if Harvard is not at risk of losing its value proposition in the near-term, many other universities are. Similarly, while the value proposition remains for consulting firms in certain contexts, they would be remiss to not focus on creating new value streams, as digitalization is most certainly destroying some of their old ones.

Very thought provoking article about how cities are using digital platforms to access/monitor data, as well as provide transparency to constituents! It seems that there is ample opportunity to tap into the “power of the crowd” here and have L.A. citizens able to report real-time challenges/concerns to the government (a la Waze). I like this because it gives citizens the opportunity to opt-in and also lets us scale finite resources (e.g., the police force) to deal with the most pressing issues. I do agree with Nathan, however, that the City of L.A. will need to think carefully about how its engaging with those that are being monitored (e.g., the homeless population). I fear that as “big data” continues to be proselytized, we will be short-sighted by just focusing on the “what” that data provides rather than asking the question of “why?”. For example, we might see where homeless populations are moving, but it seems to me that’s not enough. We need to understand why it is they are moving there and whether this trend will continue, which begs face-to-face engagement. Understanding our “users” becomes more important than ever, and I hope that government a all levels will continue to keep this in mind.

On December 1, 2017, cmclaughlin commented on The Digitization of Ice Cream :

I am struck by the relevance of these “smart shelves” to a wide variety of companies both within and outside the ice cream industry. While working on a strategy project for a foundation’s Vaccine Delivery team, we spent considerable time researching the capabilities being developed within cold chain, and it came to our attention that there are a number of smart shelves under development, but no product has captured significant market share. It seems anyone who can develop this capability and sell it at a reasonable price will likely have significant market advantage. While it would likely be a considerable R&D expense, if Nestle was able to produce this capability in-house, it could license it to other organizations across industries. I would love to learn whether Nestle is considering producing this, or whether it plans to harness technology developed by another firm.

On December 1, 2017, cmclaughlin commented on Walmart: It’s my party and I can cry if I want to :

Fascinating read! As Niko mentioned, the acquisition of and Bonobos was indeed an opportunity to develop Walmart’s ecommerce capabilities. I would also contend that the Bonobos acquisition (in addition to that of ModCloth, Moosejaw, Hayneedle, and ShoeBuy) indicate that Walmart recognizes the importance that brand ownership will play in differentiating ecommerce companies in the future [1]. Walmart’s brick-and-mortar presence today separates it from Amazon in that it provides an opportunity for clientele to shop in-store, where the majority of Americans still prefer to make clothing purchases. Given that Bonobos and Walmart historically attract different clientele, I’m interested to see if Walmart will be able to capitalize on its access to this set of potential new customers.