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Very thought provoking essay on the tensions that many actors in our society face when these isolationist ideas come around. In this particular case, I agree with your point that the overlap between the incumbent President’s supporter base and Walmart’s core customer base puts the company at particular odds in this subject of American manufacturing jobs; however if we look at the highly publicized subject of bringing iPhone manufacturing to the U.S., by some accounts (http://www.businessinsider.com/how-much-products-would-cost-if-made-in-us-2016-11) the retail price could more than double, while job creation would not reach significant numbers (https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601491/the-all-american-iphone/). If we extrapolate those considerations to the overall question of Walmart’s role in supporting U.S. manufacturing jobs, I believe the company is better off fending back the isolationist cries than trying to compete with higher priced goods made in the U.S., even though the two actually impact the same group of people.

Really enjoyed reading about a subject that comes close to heart, being myself from a country famed for its coffee production and having seen some of the early impacts of climate change on crop yield. Drawing upon some of the other essays written on the subject of climate change, I would suggest that going forward, Starbucks also explores options to include another key component of its production process into its conservation efforts, namely water. We saw in the other essays some of the actions that water-intensive companies are working on, with aims towards being capable of renewing its water intake each year. If Starbucks were to include this additional resource, it could really present a robust, comprehensive program, that might help mitigate some of the questioning around the “true nature” of its corporate responsibility efforts.

On the second question of your essay, I agree that in this case it is highly unlikely consumers will move away from an age-old beverage that fuels our daily lives. Given that, it falls on the companies and in society in general to move towards sustainable practices that ensure we can, as you mention, get our frappuccinos to cool off during these raising temperatures! Really like your point on how the resource-constrained communities and countries from which the company sources its coffee beans are not readily able to join in the sustainability efforts; however going forward it would also be nice to see Starbucks helping entire countries that make their living on coffee exports, do it so in a sustainable way.

Very relevant subject that brings up again the question we’ve been trying to get our heads around in several of the cases in class, of whether it is acceptable, or on the flip side questionable, to have cost savings while reducing environmental impact. In this particular subject I am on the side of it being not only acceptable, but also it being a behavior that society should encourage from the big corporate citizens, given their unique position to have sizable impacts; ABInbev could very well focus on plant automation to reduce costs, on marketing campaigns to increase margins, or many other areas; not that they don’t, but still they choose to have a very comprehensive environmental impact reduction program at the core of its business that also happens to support their profits. I am truly amazed by seeing such a comprehensive program in favor of a key natural resource.

The other aspect I wanted to touch upon after reading this essay, is the question of investing either on the seed technologies or in the efficiency technologies to reduce water consumption. In this case I would agree with previous comments that it is a definite AND, where they invest on both ends of this complex issue. Not only that but I would also add other aspects to the program, particularly a local-community oriented approach, given the challenges that arise to local communities that have big water-consuming factories in their immediacies.

On November 30, 2017, JAC commented on Apple combats with Protectionism in India :

Very relevant essay showcasing the delicate balance that governments need to take into consideration when establishing and enacting these protectionist policies. In the case of Apple and India, as some other comments mentioned, it is true that Apple needs India more than India needs Apple’s products, however in the push to have manufacturing investment and jobs in the country, there is also interest on India’s end to be attractive to large companies. In the subject of whether manufacturing the iPhone in India will allow Apple to gain traction in that market, we saw many media outlets and institutions assess the potential benefit (or impact) of changing the manufacturing location during the presidential elections in the U.S., when the now incumbent President called for Apple, and other companies, to bring back the manufacturing jobs to the U.S.

When assessing the impact of moving production to the U.S., many of the commentators found that labor cost is a small fraction of the cost of the iPhone, and that shifting the assembling portion here, would add potentially 5%-10% to the retail price (https://9to5mac.com/2016/06/13/iphone-made-in-usa-cost/). The other option that was evaluated by various analysts was shifting the entire production of the phone, including the manufacturing of its components, to the U.S. In this case, what they found is that the cost could easily double, given the level of efficiencies that the manufacturing ecosystem of suppliers and plants that exists in China for the iPhone, actually enabled to a great extent the current cost/price levels (https://www.marketplace.org/2014/05/20/business/ive-always-wondered/how-much-would-all-american-iphone-cost). In light of this, analysts concluded that shifting this to the U.S. was simply not economically viable.

In the case of India, one may argue that there are advantages on labor costs, but given the similarities with the analysis for the U.S. it is evident that Apple cannot recreate its entire manufacturing ecosystem from China, so it is very likely that Apple will still have to subsidize via lower margins it’s own growth to gain traction in the market.

Interesting subject on the benefits of supporting an age-old industry with the latest technologies and data processing capabilities. In regards to the use of RFID, it is a technology that has been around for at least a decade and is still being “piloted” in many areas to prove it economically feasible; even in higher ticket price items such as concert tickets (via RFID wristbands – http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2017/01/how-radio-concert-wristbands-can-scale-for-smaller-shows.html), or industrial goods, it hasn’t become mainstream due to cost concerns. It will be interesting to see companies explore other ways to either build-in data around food items, or translate this type of tech into higher value provided to the customer in order to make it economical. Given this, the question you pose for the future is quite relevant on not only the concerns with the surrendering of data by the supply chain actors, but also on the economical aspect of it; if a large enough company struggles with realizing the value of this initiative, the struggles up the supply chain, particularly for the agricultural sector, are magnified.

On November 30, 2017, JAC commented on The New Netflix Challenge :

Definitively an interesting subject and agree with the need for Netflix to explore both sides of the value chain to find opportunities to hold its competitive position. A couple interesting questions as they begin to move into content creation would be: is it possible for Netflix to use their big data capabilities to support this process in this next phase?, and also, should they do so in the first place given their incumbent core business?. On the first question we have seen a few examples in class, as well as in other papers in this TOM challenge, about the challenges of leveraging data for content or artistic creation beyond the “if you liked this you’ll like that” model, interestingly, when reviewing the average rating on rotten tomatoes for movies released each year, there’s a slightly increase from the 2000s where the average rating for movies was 50%, up to 60% in 2010 onwards (http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2011/06/slates_hollywood_careeromatic.html). The trend shows correlation (not causation) with the broader availability of data on consumer tastes, but the mechanisms through which big data can actually help create better content are still to be widely proven.

On the second question around whether Netflix should even move to content creation in the first place, rather than partnering with dedicated, specialized content creators, my opinion is that given the point you make on the diminishing value of content distribution, the only remaining high-value item in this supply chain is the quality of the content itself, and thus it is of Netflix to enter this space in order to support its competitive position in the longer term given the lack of barriers to entry on the distribution side.