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Very insightful read, thank you for sharing. The colossal impact on taxpayer trust and the government’s credibility is difficult to quantify from the failed initiative. I appreciate some of the suggestions you have made to revamp the eHealth program. The recommendation to outsource to private agencies is a better alternative to hiring consultants. That said, I wonder if the government should consider entering into public private partnerships with healthcare and technology companies who are already ahead of the curve when it comes to digitizing healthcare. This way, the government can transition from an opex model to a revenue sharing model where the private sector has skin in the game post implementation. There is no reason to start from ground zero especially given some entrepreneurial initiatives such as OSCAR that have proven to be successful.

On November 20, 2016, DHC commented on Burberry: Digitizing the Trench :

Very interesting article about how a luxury brand has adopted a promotion strategy to engage with millennials, an increasingly important target segment to stay relevant in the long-term. I found the “see now, buy now” campaign disruptive and a clear indication of the power of social media to affect change within industries.
I am intrigued to learn more about the changes Burberry made to its operating model to complement this media campaign in a sustainable manner with minimal impact to its bottom line. Burberry would have likely needed to adapt its sourcing and production decisions and supply chain capabilities in keeping with this new strategy of selling “on-demand.” I assume, the timeline and lead times for planning, designing and producing samples for fashion shows were changed accordingly. While the campaign can prove to be an effective marketing strategy, it has significant implications on Burberry’s operations and back-end infrastructure to be able to service customer orders made with a simple click.

On November 20, 2016, DHC commented on Digitalization in Microfinance in U.S. :

Thank you for sharing the post Alison especially since it is about your firsthand experience during your time at Grameen America. Microfinance has been instrumental in changing lives across the world. It was helpful to learn about Grameen America’s pain points and relate them to my knowledge of some of the challenges faced by microfinance in emerging markets. The shift to prepaid card disbursement is clearly a win-win for both the microfinance institution and the borrower. The borrower can feel a greater degree of financial inclusion with the use of prepaid cards as opposed to cash since the U.S. economy is predominantly card-based, a stark contrast to emerging markets like India.
I wonder if Grameen America has considered the use of mobile payments and use of mobile technology to enable users to track their prepaid card usage and to repay loans. For example, Grameen Foundation tied up with Oxigen in India, a mobile wallet, to enable women borrowers to become more digitally literate and to offer a convenient channel to transfer money and repay loans. Oxigen has a deep network of service agents within the interiors who are typically local grocery store vendors. This has significantly reduced travel time for borrowers when repaying loans and more importantly, increased trust since these vendors are well-known in the local community.

Alternative Channels, Grameen Foundation: http://www.grameenfoundation.org/what-we-do/financial-services/alternative-channels

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Instacart, clearly a disruptive business model in the low-margin grocery space. Improvements in matching supply and demand along with diversified revenue streams has helped per unit economics in some cities (http://fortune.com/2016/03/24/instacart-profits/). The role of technology in enabling Instacart capture value is tremendous and will only get amplified with scale (especially given its asset light strategy where it does not need to invest in warehousing). That said, as Instacart grows its presence and refines its operating model, it is susceptible to hiccups along the way. In-store shoppers are an important part of Instacart’s value proposition. The recent changes to tipping with the introduction of a shared fee pool has led to widespread dissatisfaction that could derail operations during the Thanksgiving period and also leave an adverse impact on the brand image. The example you cited about the change from contractors to part-time employees likely took a toll on Instacart’s cost structure and flexibility to manage utilization during periods of low order volumes.
I appreciate your emphasis on building trust with the customer, CPG firms and retailers. I would suggest we add in-store shoppers to the mix given their integral role. We often emphasize the role of the customer as part of the digital transformation story, but need to recognize that Uber’s drivers, Airbnb’s property owners, and Instacart’s shoppers are a vital part of each company’s respective playbook.

Very interesting article, thank you for sharing! Marketplace lending has definitely disrupted the traditional lending model by offering an online platform that is convenient and transparent with no hidden costs. I wonder what impact Goldman’s entry into this space could have on the regulatory landscape. Marketplace lending likely benefits from lighter regulations currently as compared to traditional banking, but the entry of traditional banking incumbents could change this scenario considerably.

Goldman’s DNA is very different from fintech startups and I wonder how Goldman will change its operating model to compete with these nimble startups. Will it be able to recruit and retain the right talent given Marcus will unlikely be a meaningful part of Goldman’s overall business?

Moreover, with the sheer number of marketplace lending companies that have emerged, with some managing to scale while others having run out of business, the threat of cyber-attacks on an online-only platform with sensitive financial information flows is real. Is enough being done on the security front?

On November 19, 2016, DHC commented on Can Aaptiv Digitalize the Boutique Fitness Experience? :

Thank you for sharing the post! With increased focus on health across different ages, fitness apps and wearable technology are becoming highly relevant. While I recognize the pain point that Aaptiv is able to solve, I worry about the safety issue here. Aaptiv’s reasonable, subscription-based price point opens up a sizeable market, comprising a mix of regular exercisers and inexperienced first-time users. One wrong move while listening to the audio instructions could lead to a serious injury and can have long term impact. While Apativ may not be directly liable, given the proliferation of the use of social media platforms to demonstrate discontent, a few bad reviews could hurt its business. I wonder if there are certain measures Aaptiv could take, such as the use of a short demonstration video the first time the user begins a new type of exercise regime, as part of its digital play.

On November 6, 2016, Carina commented on Hershey’s and the Extra Bitter Future of Chocolate :

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Hershey’s, a brand we have grown up savoring! Your analysis of the threat to cocoa supply will likely have significant implications to not only chocolate producers, but several food brands that rely on chocolate as an ingredient. It is dreadful to imaging a world without chocolate!
Given Hershey’s marque product is its individually wrapped miniature chocolates, I am curious to see if the company has introduced any packaging innovation, use of recycled packaging material or waste reduction targets for paper and aluminium use. For example, well-reputed brands such as Mars have systematically increased the use of recycled material in their packaging. Along with targeted measures to make packaging more ecofriendly, Hershey’s could also benefit from waste management and water reduction at its production units.

On November 6, 2016, Carina commented on JetBlue: Clearing the Air :

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on JetBlue’s initiatives! As an avid traveler and guilty of contributing to the carbon footprint created by HBS students, it was heartening and commendable to learn about Jetblue’s long-term and short-term initiatives to address the climate change impact.
I am curious to see how the shift to renewable fuel through its 10-year deal with SG Preston will impact the company’s pricing model given JetBlue’s customer value proposition of affordable travel. Will this hamper its low cost operating model or result in higher ticket prices to value conscious travelers? Moreover, how would this impact the competitive intensity with Southwest Airlines, another low cost carrier that has actively embarked on environmental initiatives. Will JetBlue have to change its positioning and appeal to a new eco-friendly target audience?
I am also curious to understand if JetBlue has the domain expertise and appetite to expand beyond air travel to ground travel. Amtrak has been struggling to settle derailment claims and implement necessary safety measures recently which will likely put additional responsibility on JetBlue. Would a focus on fleet modernization and continued weight reduction measures such as JetBlue’s replacement of cow hide leather with e-leather made from leather scrap in 2013 be more effective?

Very interesting read on the accountability standards healthcare delivery firms are beginning to adhere to in light of the climate change threat. I am glad that you shed color on some of the proactive steps that Partners Healthcare is taking to promote energy efficiency and sustainability.
1) I am curious to know if you believe hospitals are taking sufficient measures to better equip their emergency response systems, facilities and resources during extreme weather conditions. The need to set up backup water and electricity infrastructure and to ensure existing hospital facilities are retrofitted to withstand adverse weather conditions has become increasingly critical especially after witnessing the aftermath from hurricane Rita and Katrina.
2) It would also be interesting to see if Partners’ effort in spearheading the Healthier Hospitals Initiative can translate into other initiatives such as entering into meaningful partnerships with insurance companies who have significant skin in the game when it comes to climate change. Some insurance companies such as Allianz have developed risk models to improve the predictability of floods and hurricanes which can prove valuable to the healthcare delivery sector.
Thanks again for sharing!

On November 6, 2016, Carina commented on Ben & Jerry’s: If it’s melted, it’s ruined! :

Very insightful post on a key form of indulgence for many! It is evident that Ben & Jerry’s strives to abide by its ethos of “doing well by doing good.”
1) Your suggestion to introduce vegan ingredients resonated with me. This strategy will not only help in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but will enable lactose intolerant and vegan consumers to savor the blissful ice cream consumption experience.
2) Currently, I believe the company sources majority of its almond needs for non-dairy frozen desserts from Israel. It would be interesting to see how their sourcing patterns evolve as they scale their non-dairy flavors and the subsequent impact on cost structure and pricing.
3) Offering innovative flavors has been the mainstay for the brand. Once the vegan line picks up momentum, its dairy suppliers will face a significant loss in revenue. The company should work towards maintaining its longstanding relations with its dairy suppliers who have grown with the company. Therefore, the Unilever brand should continue its work on reducing methane use by collaborating with farmers. This will provide flexibility in offering a mix of dairy and non-dairy flavors down the road.

On November 5, 2016, Carina commented on Coral Bleaching Threatens Luxury Travel Company :

Great analysis! Thank you for sharing Paige. It appears you are personally vested in this issue given your passion for diving.
It is unfortunate that coral reef bleaching poses a credible threat to coastal communities that rely on tourism as a source of economic growth. The impact on Kuoni’s revenue base is clearly going to be severe. I thought I would share some ideas with you:
1) Given the financial impact from increasing awareness and launching monitoring workshops, do you think it would be worthwhile for Kuoni to pursue a targeted strategy by focusing on 4-5 key markets – depth over breadth?
2) Do you think Kuoni can leverage the long-standing partnerships it has developed with the resorts / hotels to encourage ecotourism and effective coral reef monitoring? Kuoni can also gain insight from the research done by marine biologists hired by some of these resorts
3) It is encouraging to see increasing consciousness among divers / holiday-goers to select environmentally friendly destinations. Given this level of awareness among customers, do you think it would be feasible for Kuoni to charge a green tax on tourists or increase the pricing on its holiday packages in order to fund some of its climate change initiatives?
4) How strong are the tourism lobbies in some of these markets? Would Kuoni and the tourist resorts be able to lobby for government funding to protect coral reefs?

On November 5, 2016, Carina commented on Amazon Web Services: Greenhouse Gases in the Cloud :

Great analysis of AWS’ business model and its strategy to control its carbon footprint. AWS has single-handedly transformed the way companies manage their technology infrastructure. In response to concerns over cyber security, several governments have mandated that company data be stored locally. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how AWS is able to balance its growth trajectory as it looks to build its global client roster by adding new data centers across geographic locations with its goal of 100% renewable energy.