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Great post SAG! It is fascinating that the construction industry has had challenges with labor productivity given the immense need that has arisen out of the growth in the “megaprojects” segment . How much of this challenge do you view as a cultural one? In some ways the organization challenges of a manufacturing environment resemble those of a construction site with multiple skilled parties working on various parts of an end-product, but the productivity of manufacturing has far outpaced that of construction (170% in the past 10ish years, http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/capital-projects-and-infrastructure/our-insights/the-construction-productivity-imperative). Perhaps the difference is in the investment and education that has gone into the manufacturing ecosystem with tools such as Six Sigma/Lean and professions such as Industrial/Manufacturing engineering. Here is an interesting article that talks about the need to build and retain a skilled workforce in the construction industry: http://nccercornerstone.org/features/item/172-it-s-time-for-a-culture-change-in-the-construction-industry. It may be the case that having a skilled workforce might help with the organization and execution on worksites. Either way, I think this challenge is a significant one and definitely one that technology can help with.

On November 20, 2016, DT commented on How digital technology is breathing new life into Manulife :

Great post Hugh! Life insurance is an extremely interesting example of how digitization is changing how an industry works. Reading your post reminded me of our class discussion on the ethics of car insurance and its ability to alter the behavior of its clients through statistical modeling, which can be dangerous from a customer privacy and “over-generalization” angle. While I understand that life insurance is inherently different than car insurance because it is not compulsory, do you think the broader use of big data analytics in life insurance policies could lead to a world where individuals feel less free to engage in activities that they may want to do, but could be viewed as risky (ex: travelling to foreign countries)? Moreover, with models that quantify the risk of these such activities, is there potential for these models to spill over to other services like health insurance (ex: https://www.statnews.com/2015/12/15/insurance-big-data/)?

Great post Varun! I agree that there is a ton of optimization to be had in the warehouse fulfillment space, especially with the rise of e-commerce and the challenges associated with making small orders (more akin to e-commerce purchases) profitable. As a former warehouse supervisor, I always found the balance between productivity and quality (i.e. mis-picks) a challenging balance to strike. In our warehouse, we focused on reducing steps in the scanning/picking process, but also on maximizing labor utilization (i.e. staffing and distributing work appropriately) and reducing total walking time, which is a variable that can be affected by picking path optimization, as you mentioned above, but also by putting inventory in smart places. The awesome thing about the scanning system you mentioned above is that warehouses will be able to collect the data required to do these analyses, assuming they have the capabilities to do so (lots of warehouses don’t).

I personally like the idea of cutting out the picker job totally by implementing systems that move the inventory to the packer (i.e. Kiva systems) or automating the warehouse entirely (cool video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONwAnlqhL3A). That being said, the thing that makes e-commerce so hard is that it is extremely difficult to automatically pick items that vary in size/fragility/shape, so the systems you talk about will likely be in place for a bit longer. Either way, awesome post!

On November 20, 2016, DT commented on BMW and the Impact of Digital Transformation :

Great post Chris! I totally agree with your point on autonomous vehicle development; if auto companies want to play in the mass market in the future, they will need to find a product offering that includes autonomous driving. However, I do wonder whether companies like BMW, the “ultimate driving machine” will be able to profitably make the jump to “autonomous transit machine,” given all the investment and pedigree they’ve put into the experience of driving. To me, our current transition is vaguely reminiscent of the transition to motor-driven cars from horse-driven cars, where the majority of individuals not wedded to the act of horseback riding switched to cars, and a niche market for horse riding enthusiasts spawned out separately. Do you think companies like BMW should position themselves to play in the niche driving market of the future? As a manual-owning, driving-loving citizen, I sure hope so.

On November 20, 2016, DT commented on Bringing Robo-advising to the World, One Bank at a Time :

Great post Andrew! This is an especially interesting topic for me as my fiancee has been working in Wealth Management for the past 2 years. Your point SigFig’s transition to B2B is a good one, and a move that many other companies have been making (ex: Jemstep, Future Advisor, LearnVest, source: https://www.kitces.com/blog/robo-advisor-growth-rates-and-valuations-crashing-from-high-client-acquisition-costs/) and I personally think this is in part because of the “trust” aspect that is difficult to convey through a robo-advisor. I know that a lot of effort has been put into creating algorithms that generate superior returns, but I’d also be interested to see how robo-advisor companies work to cultivate this trust aspect in the future (partnering with existing institutions in one way) as I think this might be a powerful source of product differentiation going forward.

Interesting post Rob! I agree that insurance companies, particularly those in the P&C space, face significant risk due to the higher frequency of catastrophic events. I really like your last point on building insurance products that incentivize people to take steps to identify and reduce the risks of climate change, in addition to investing in climate change research and sustainability as a whole (i.e. CERES). On a broader level, it seems that there are many areas that have very individualize problems (ex: property near shrinking wetlands: http://blog.nature.org/science/2016/10/24/how-much-do-wetlands-reduce-property-damage-during-storms-and-hurricanes/) that could benefit from a different set of insurance products that push them to invest or take actions to reduce the risk of the entire communities (ex: planting trees in frequent flood areas, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/11/planting-more-trees-can-reduce-uk-flooding-research-shows).

Great post Ronnie! I think you post is very timely and pertinent. While I am not personally a heavy wine drinker, I am from Massachusetts and many of my friends would be frustrated with a significant rise in wine prices. I really like your point about exploring different grape varietals, and your point made me think a bit deeper about how best to spark innovation in the space. Winemaking is well-known to have a significant number of co-ops where a group of vineyards share resources and knowledge in order to lower aggregate costs for the customer (interesting article here: http://www.winemag.com/2011/10/13/best-bets-for-co-op-shopping/). Do you think this would be a good vehicle to drive more innovation and IP sharing in the business? It seems to me that maintaining an affordable wine is good for the entire industry, and more co-ops might be the way to do it.

On November 7, 2016, DT commented on The Bitter Truth for Beer :

Thanks for the post Hugh! I find this topic really interesting as the underlying climate issues likely affect a number of agricultural products across the entire world. I agree with all the solutions, but particularly like your point about lowering the water/beer ratio and working with growers to lower their water usage. I think another awesome angle for reducing this ratio is the genetic aspect (i.e. engineering crops that use less water), which is being tackled by AB InBev (http://www.forbes.com/sites/taranurin/2016/08/31/in-race-against-climate-change-innovations-to-this-ingredient-could-determine-the-future-of-brewing/#1c1896cf7810). Given the acquisition earlier this year, odds are that there is some form of IP sharing on the topic.

On November 7, 2016, DT commented on Hunger in the time of climate change :

Great post Saksham! I agree that food shortage is an extremely important issue and will be affected by climate change. I also think that all the programs the WFP is enacting can spark significant change in reducing hunger across the world. That being said, I do wonder how well the WFP will be able to implement these programs given that the countries in most need will oftentimes have the least developed infrastructures and government responses. I saw that the WFP has partners across the public and private sector (http://www.wfp.org/partners)- which avenues do you think are the most effective?

On November 7, 2016, DT commented on The Crossroad faced by state-owned China Coal Corp :

Thanks for the post Olivia! I myself have never visited China, but my brother visited in 2008 and also spoke of the grey skies looming over Beijing. I do agree with your point that China uses a significant amount of coal to be able to reach out to the many individuals living in rural areas, but to Mark’s point above, I also think that an energy shift is beginning to occur. China is by far the world’s biggest generator of wind power (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_by_country), which could help supply rural areas with power, and has also been steadily decreasing its coal usage (https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-decline-in-chinas-coal-consumption-accelerates). With those two things in mind, maybe the skies in China have a slightly brighter future?