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On November 20, 2016, Jon commented on Nest Learning About More Than Just Thermostats :

I wasn’t even aware they were doing the grid smoothing until researching for this post. While I think its a big opportunity, there is still a lot of overlap of when users want the cooling. And cooling earlier might require more energy overall or you’d need to exceed the temperature setting to use less during peak hours. Not sure if consumers would be ok overshooting by a few degrees to enable that.

On November 20, 2016, Jon commented on Nest Learning About More Than Just Thermostats :

I think that risk exists for any new technologies, but is exacerbated with the most recent ones that depend on ongoing services. Buried deep inside 20 page agreements that consumers don’t read is the legal non commitment for these services. Apparently, even John Deere’s model from another post only include right of use of their machine on purchase and not ownership of the whole machine. There’s just the increased possibility for the going concern of these new ventures. I think this an underlying element that explains the adoption curve; early adopters are willing to take on this risk.

I am always a fan of more openness, but I realize that doesn’t usually align with a company’s incentives to innovate. To be clear the device does communicate over wifi, but is only controllable through Nest’s closed proprietary app. More openness would be allowing other companies to connect and control a user’s nest thermostat. For example, Amazon is working to make these connections so users can use Alexa-enabled devices to change the temperature among other actions.

I definitely like the realtime and persistence aspects of social-media platforms. The way most companies leverage email is definitely past its prime, but the open, ubiquitous, and cross-platform nature of email is what keeps it in the lead for companies. I would actually much prefer to see a more open version of Facebook for Work, potentially as a modernization of the email platform like HTML5 did for web design. For example, how would a company using this product collaborate with a partner company that does not? I don’t expect a single product to be able to solve all future communication needs for businesses. Maybe for companies developing internally that have open cultures like Facebook.

On November 20, 2016, Jon commented on Starbucks: A Technology Pioneer :

I agree with Exxon that they are at risk of ruining the Third Place they’ve created by allowing so much digitization. As mobile ordering increases, that’s less chance for the face-to-face ordering and decreased impulse purchasing. When wifi was rolled out, students and bloggers among others began parking for hours at Starbucks tables decreasing conversation and making it hard for a flow of customers to enjoy tables. However, each of Starbucks moves you noted above was well ahead of competition and other players that would typically lead in this space. For example, they were one of the first retailers to have an app that you could make payments through; this was also years before Apple Pay, Google Wallet. They are definitely using digitization to create competitive and improve the customer experience for those that want to opt-in. One challenge is maintaining the ever-growing methods for customers to buy coffee.

On November 20, 2016, Jon commented on How Daimler becomes a software and service company :

I’m glad to see all of the car makers transforming quickly to become software experts to not only innovate internally for production but also into self driving, as you wrote about. I think the safety of the self-driving capabilities will become a key differentiator for auto makers over the coming years. I’m hopeful that instead of a winner-take-all, sole operating system arising, key players such as Daimler will be able to implement unique systems that are safe and compatible with others. I also agree that some driving will continue to be “manned” for pleasure and certain consumers, but when self-driving cars exhibit much more safety that may become either illegal, prohibitively expensive, or available only in limited zones.

In the short run a physically different car will provide a marketing differentiator and warn other drivers. While the Figure 2 concept design is interesting, for the medium-run a typical e-class is likely to be the more popular style. In the long run I could see the form evolving to enable new experiences such as sitting around a table in the car or laying flat to catch some sleep on the way to work. Toyota already exhibited this with their hybrid models. They started with a differentiated model so it was obvious when a consumer selected the green option, but then they seamlessly integrated into the traditional models like Camry’s and Corrola’s. Other makers have followed suit.

On November 20, 2016, Jon commented on John Deere: the future of farming :

While it’s great to see the innovation, I had no idea that John Deere claims that farmers only have right of use and not full ownership. I would curious to see how their competitors are approaching this same problem especially since it’s a highly commoditized space. It must be so challenging for farmers to adopt this rapid increase in farming technology when they’ve been used to operating for generations.

I can’t wait until this trickles down to every level of all sports. It’s a shame that this kind of technology isn’t available to more players earlier in their careers.

One of my concerns for pro sports is that this can become more of a game theory challenge over time. For example, teams can predict where teams like the warriors hope to take higher probability shots, and adjust defense accordingly. I totally agree that this needs to be used in balance with strong strategies game-by-game.

Have they used this yet to infer defensive strength? I think this is an area with even worse data except for a few juicy stats like blocks and steals that are infrequent and poor indicators of overall effort and decreases of opponent offense.

While its great to see an air conditioning maker improve the inputs to its product, air conditioning itself is inherently bad for the environment. It has altered the development of the world into geographies where most people just do not actually want to live. For example, in the American Southwest where temperatures reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit, most people just travel from their air conditioned house, to their air conditioned car, to the next air conditioned building. Daiken will always have this inherent conflict where they want to sell and encourage more use, but any use is unnatural and arguably not necessary. On the flip side, warming is a necessity but also arguably causes development in areas that are too cold. Changing the temperature of a small box of air within a huge environment is inherently inefficient and creates entropy that cannot be regained.

I would also love to see them better inform the users of their products not just of the energy costs, but of ways to cool and heat that are significantly less energy intensive. For example, keeping ones home at a few degrees warmer in the summer can have a massive reduction in both cost and carbon footprint. The same is true in the winter. Basically, narrowing the gap between the indoor climate and the outdoor slows the heat transfer and requires less intervention by Daiken’s devices. I don’t think the average consumer understands that concept.

That being said, its great to see that Daiken is working to make its products greener and eliminate the worst of its ingredients. Staying ahead of these findings or leading can be a source of competitive advantage for Daiken, as you noted.

On November 10, 2016, Jon commented on Paper for the Planet :

I would challenge that their business has to depend on cutting down trees. Its admirable that they already achieve 54% post-consumer inputs by leveraging recycling, but they are positioned to push that to 100% before their competitors due. This could eliminate their reliance on forests, and improve their bottom line even further.

Having worked for Amazon, I constantly challenged the need for cardboard boxes given the wastefulness of using them one time. The only positive benefit of cardboard is that it is so highly recyclable (when not covered in pizza grease) and fairly renewable even when deforestation is necessary. And the truth is that most alternatives can be worse than the cardboard incumbent solutions. For example, reusable containers often require 100x the usage to justify the additional upfront investment in manufacturing, for example a plastic alternative such as a tote. The same could said for pizza, for example, if Domino’s started delivering in reusable pizza boxes how many would get trashed before crossing the breakeven point in carbon footprint. One thing WestRock could do is to continually monitor the alternatives and even invest in ones they think are able to disrupt the use of paper goods. Eventually someone will come up with a better solution than just a box, so better if WestRock odes it first.

On November 10, 2016, Jon commented on Coca-Cola – Corporate Greenwashing or Genuine Change? :

I also wrote about Coca-Cola, but about the microeconomic impacts on 20 oz. soda offerings. This was an interesting piece that focused more on the macroeconomics, especially related to the largest, critical input for soda: water. While Coke started with these initiatives, I agree they haven’t gone nearly far enough. They should be offering more ways of enjoying their products that are less water intensive such as concentrated offerings. I also think their bottled water, arguably non-value added products, are inherently in conflict with water usage reductions since we already efficiently pump water directly to people’s homes in most countries. So any extra water to manufacture bottled water is just wasteful. I do think that in developing nations where clean water sources are less prevalent, bottled water serves an important role in hydrating and stopping the spread of disease. But its definitely overdone in developed nations, and the perceived value of bottled products is still a mystery to me when the next alternative is free and clean.

On November 9, 2016, Jon commented on Impact of Climate Change on Vail Ski Resort :

I had no idea that 88% of resorts now employ artificial snow making. This unfortunately is moving the industry in the wrong direction in order to preserve winter activities unnaturally. I think the summer activities is a better means of sustaining their business. However, they don’t offer the same competitive advantages for their summer activities; you don’t need to be at a mountain to ziplines, golf, etc. I love skiing, but I think the industry actually needs to realize its terrible impact on the environment and start investing in credits to offset the impact. For example, traveling to a ski resort has a massive footprint in addition to the snowmaking and other challenges.

On November 9, 2016, Jon commented on Coral Reef or Coral DebReef? :

Even with Big Cat Green Island Cruise’s efforts, the effects of global climate change are externalities from the whole world. While its good they are taking actions, I think there efforts might be better spent in raising awareness as you suggested. If they do want to take steps themselves, I wonder if they could move to sailboats or even greener means of transporting to do better than just 8% reduction. Even wilder, I wonder if they could create a different experience to share the GBR’s with the world through videos or more immersive Augmented Reality.

I wonder if there are ways to replace the Zooxanthellae as a stop gap measure. This won’t fix the problem, but perhaps could prevent the bleaching in the short term until we can reverse negative impacts from climate change.