Chris – what a great article to highlight the challenges posted not only by isolationism, but also the resulting skills gap. I thought your comment, “As the most valuable company in the world, Apple has both the social responsibility and long-term incentives to help bridge that skill gap through investing in education and vocational training,” was particularly insightful. Do you believe that Apple has this responsibility because it is the most valuable company in the world or because it is arguably one of the biggest contributors to the skills gap? Is any company that contributes to the skills gap responsible for investing in education and vocational training? How much responsibility does the U.S. government bear, and should it be incumbent upon the government to take the lead? I personally believe that this is one of the largest challenges facing the global economy today and that the answers to these questions will determine how successful we are as a society moving forward.
Mykola – very interesting article about an extremely important topic that does not get discussed enough. I have confidence that the federal government is doing everything that it can to protect critical infrastructure and national assets from cyber espionage, but I am not sure that private companies operating in sensitive industries like transportation are doing everything they can. I personally believe that there should be a public-private partnership that shares sensitive information about attempted cyberattacks. I know that many financial institutions have invested heavily in building out their cybersecurity capabilities and have partnered to share information. While it has not been a foolproof partnership, it has been successful in thwarting additional attacks. Hopefully the airline industry will adopt this type of collective defense mechanism before it is too late.
Giovanni – this is a fascinating article. I had no idea how much these natural disasters adversely affected Toyota’s production capabilities. I also found the company’s action plan to be ingenious. More broadly, your question about the future viability of just-in-time is extremely interesting. Do you think that this is a unique situation given Toyota’s increased exposure to natural disasters or do you think that other companies will adjust their production systems to account for these events? Are there any other types of events, outside of natural disasters, that could cause companies to adjust their just-in-time processes?
Michelle – what an interesting, and potentially devastating, article for chocolate lovers. I was left wondering what alternatives Mars and other chocolate producers have if the overall population of cacao trees continues to decline over time. While improving yields could help to blunt this decline, at some point it won’t be able to overcome the natural decline. I wonder if Mars is trying to find ways to plant and develop cacao trees in other climates and environments that may not have historically been viable but because of global warming could be. I think Miguel also has a good point about developing cacao alternatives, similar to what is occurring in the produce industry today. Either way, hopefully they will find a solution!
Japees – your article provides a great example of how digitization of information can lead to less costly and more efficient supply chains. Based on these metrics and the success of the pilot program, it seems like digitization is a no-brainer not just for BJC, but for any healthcare company. You touch on a few challenges to implementing this kind of system more broadly, but I wonder why these initiatives have taken so long to fully implement. Is it that there are too many technology platforms for companies to evaluate? Have some healthcare companies had trouble convincing their suppliers to adopt these platforms? What happens if a vendor serves multiple healthcare companies with different platforms? I don’t think anyone can deny the massive benefits from the digitization of medical supply chains. I just wonder how we can speed up the implementation.
Pascal, thank you for a very interesting article! I think one of the most interesting aspects of the move towards fully-automated manufacturing facilities is the impact on the workforce. As you mention, there has been a transformation of the nature of “work” in each of the previous industry transitions. While societies have always adapted, these transitions have had lasting impacts on the skills that we have and the way that we spend our time. This transition will no doubt be similar, but I think it is yet to be seen how prepared we are for such a large change. A recent McKinsey report, “Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained: Workforce Transitions in a Time of Automation,” suggests that nearly 1/3 of current jobs could be displaced by automation. A displacement of this magnitude will require every society to figure out ways to retrain its workforce and ensure that its citizens are leading fulfilling lives. It won’t be easy, but I believe it is one of the most important challenges facing the global economy today.