Parvathy – fascinating article! When I compare this new personalization technology against traditional make-up sell strategies, I can see that it may attract a new type of customer base. In traditional make-up sell strategies such as those found on the first floor of Macy’s or Nordstrom, large numbers of sales associates get into the customers’ faces and try to have awkward conversations with them. However, a robot greeter or even augmented reality mirrors could really help break down those boundaries, and I believe that jives well with the millennial customer who lives life on the go and cares more about efficiency than a high touch environment. Finally, with a saved online version of the customer’s skin type, facial structure, and make-up desires, customers using this new Sephora technology can pursue more dramatic looks that they would feel uncomfortable putting on themselves but feel fine testing in a computer simulated model. This is a compelling business idea and I would be excited to see its success play out.
Katsu, this is a fascinating topic. I wonder for certain industries like funeral services, perhaps the emotional aspect will always be more important in the decision making process, rather than the optimization of price and quality. The value proposition of Minrevi is clear, but how can Minrevi establish emotional trust with its target customers? I wonder if there are a generational difference as well, and that the younger generation will be more open to using a digital service to select a funeral home. I like Eduardo’s idea of adding additional technology-based services like streaming the funeral to relatives and friends. Perhaps if Minrevi and differentiate its offering with technology itself, the stigma against technology will erode over time.
Really interesting read! I completely agree that there is potential to further digitalize the home buying process through AR/VR. I remember reading about a startup called Matterport that can capture an environment in 360 degrees targeting realtors looking to show off homes for sale. As the cost of this type of technology goes down, I think both realtors and homebuyers will be the beneficiaries of transitioning more of the physical due diligence process online. Homebuyers will be able to greatly increase the efficiency of their home buying process by only physically visiting their top choices, rather than the whole set of homes they are considering. On the other side of the same coin, Realtors can save a great amount of time by targeting more informed homebuyers in a later stage of the home buying process. I wonder as the frictional costs of the home buying process go down, how will that affect the industry? Will we see homes changing hands more frequently, or prices going up due to more international and cross-city purchases?
Great post, Brian. I’ve used Headspace on and off for the past year and I think it has the best meditation library of any app out there. I really like your idea about connecting it to a wearable device, and my biggest issue I had was that it wasn’t able to show me whether or not I made progress before and after I meditated. I’ve discovered another app, Spire, that has meditation content and a physical clip that measures your breathing rate. Depending on your breaths per minute, Spire can tell whether you are calm, focused or tense and it will notify you by the clip buzzing. Similar to your suggestion, it also prompts you to do a quick meditation if your breath rate is measured as tense. However, the depth and breadth of Headspace’s meditation content is much better than Spire. I would love to see a partnership between these two companies who are both doing great things to solve the underserved stress epidemic.
Great post, Nick. I think the inventory management feature is the biggest opportunity here. Similar to the Zenefits model (but with less legal issues), Toast can potentially even offer that feature for free or at a low cost, and charge suppliers for access to restaurants. Since most small business restaurants are somewhat resistant to new technology and are very budget conscious, this could be an effective way to get in the door.
While the data analytics and business intelligence offering sounds like very powerful tools for optimization, I wonder whether restaurant owners will have the appetite to review the data and do analysis like customer segmentation. Perhaps Toast will need to be somewhat prescriptive with operational recommendations rather than just surfacing the data to the end user.
Very interesting post! At UPS’s massive scale, even seemingly minor changes could make a huge difference. I remember reading that back in 2007 UPS had changed their truck GPS systems to only allow right turns which saves gas due left turns having longer idle times. UPS ended up saving 29 million miles driven and over three million gallons of fuel as a result of that change. It’s good to see that more recently, UPS has continued to think proactively about sustainability as they have been testing electric vehicles and drone technology for last mile delivery. Many competitors such as Amazon are looking at similar technologies, and I think that the player that can demonstrate the most environmental and cost innovation longer term is going to be most well positioned to win in this logistics industry.
Great post, Lane. I’m also a huge fan of Elon Musk’s work with Tesla and Solar City. I wonder how Tesla will adapt in a future world where ride sharing in autonomous cars could be the prevalent form of transportation, rather than individual car ownership. Should Tesla be prepared to become an Uber competitor? I feel that minimizing the excess capacity and therefore the number of vehicles on the road should be a key consideration for Tesla if it truly wants to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. I hope to see Musk’s technology continue gaining traction with the mass consumer and challenging the way we think about energy.
Very fun read, Mike. Similar to you, I’m not very convinced that Marriott is committed to reducing energy consumption. It’s very disappointing that while Marriott is planning to grow its properties by 8% next year, it seems to be content with only 1% of its properties being LEED certified. New construction especially seems like a great opportunity to double down on LEED certified buildings. Additionally as a frequent Marriott customer, I have noticed the product choice and design details rarely point to a company that cares about environmental sustainability (i.e. they tend to not have key card light switces or water efficient shower heads). I hope that as maintenance and replacement needs arise, management will take into consideration more environmentally friendly options.
I agree with the previous comments that Whole Foods can do more in helping consumers choose more sustainable food categories. Given that food system emissions could account for as much as quarter of all human emissions, shifting consumers to foods with similar nutritional values but lower carbon footprints could make a big difference. For example, a consumer eating beef and lamb as the primary source of protein emits almost 4x as much carbon as a consumer eating chicken, fish and pork as their primary source of protein. Perhaps the nutritional labeling of the future should also include some information on the sustainability of the food production process to help consumers make wiser food choices for the environment.
I love New Belgium! It’s interesting to see that New Belgium is 100% employee owned. If the company was owned by private equity or public investors, I wonder if it would still be able to commit to such large capital expenditures with extremely long payback periods for the purpose of sustainability.
I hope that major players in the beer industry can work together to figure out lower cost ways to replace existing machinery with more energy-efficient technology. I think there is also potential for the government to create subsidized debt instruments targeted towards helping companies investing in more energy-efficient technology that require large capital expenditures. Government subsidies for consumers buying electric vehicles has been extremely successful, and they should consider similar concepts for B2B capital expenditures.
I agree that given its household brand recognition, Google has a lot of potential to develop consumer products like Nest that would encourage consumers to adopt more energy efficient lifestyles. Beyond Nest, Google has also tried to build a smart grid product called PowerMeter, which was a free web tool that allowed consumers to track their home’s energy usage. Unfortunately, the product never took off because consumers lacked the knowledge that there is an energy management problem in the first place. As consumers become more wary of energy consumption and as utility companies are more amenable to mutually beneficial partnerships, the chances of a smart grid product being successful could be a lot higher if Google gives it another shot. So despite these lackluster product performances, I do hope that Google will invest more in energy management products, especially since Google Home would serve as the perfect centerpiece.
Google has a history of open sourcing technologies that it believes will be most beneficial for the best minds to collaborate on and I hope it will do the same for the DeepMind AI technology, especially since the potential applications are so far reaching beyond data center efficiency.
I believe that Alphabet’s other venture bets in self-driving cars, electric planes, Project Loon, etc. that have environment benefits are also very calculated long-term commercial bets. Google is lucky to have very high operating margins that allows it the luxury to invest in these kinds of venture bets without needing them to generate immediate cash flows. I do think Alphabet truly believes that these technological innovations will help promote long-term sustainability, and are probably sacrificing higher ROI near-term projects to allocate resourcing for these venture bets.
With Google’s extensive experience in sustainable operations for a internet technology company, I agree that there is a great opportunity for Google to work with governments in thinking about regulations for the industry. Google is already lobbying heavily for cybersecurity and other policy issues directly related to its core business and it would be a great extension of its capabilities to have a more formal voice in sustainability issues as well.