Thanks for this thoughtful piece! Really enjoyed learning more about WB and disruption in the entertainment industry.
I think people will begin to become more selective in their subscriptions. We see this now in people who are no longer getting cable or un-bundling cable. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/14/business/dealbook/bundling-online-services.html I wonder how many internet services people will subscribe to and maintain and how much some services overlap. Some additional risks to the Netflix/ streaming business model is the high content cost and more recently the debate around net neutrality. I would love to get your thoughts on the impact this might have on the future of streaming. Also increasingly content providers are choosing to un-bundle themselves and provide content on their own platforms. To stay competitive, WB will need to pay attention to customer trends and how they will evolve over time.
As for the traditional movie-goer experience, I don’t think it should stay the same. We see a increase of movie theaters that now serve food at your assigned seat. I think this reflects a general goal of making movie going less transactional and more of a family experience. I do think movie theaters need to move beyond just showing a movie to retain customers. However, the tradition of going somewhere to see a movie will probably continue. The use case may change to either a family planned experience or a convenient way to kill time. The movies themselves may even become interactive. Movie theaters will need to adapt to that but there will likely continue to be a case for entertainment outside the home.
I am a huge fan of online learning, but I do not believe that online education will truly replace a in-person degree in the near term for a few reasons.
1. The online education platform tends to focus on technical skills and knowledge. A few successes that come to mind are platforms that teach coding or pre-taped lectures on different subjects. HBX Core is an example of a platform that tries to bring in cohort discussion, but implementation is a challenge. Having gone through a degree program, I believe that while the grade matters, the soft skills which are less tangible are sometimes more valuable skills to learn.
2. Network is important. I think the value of an on campus, in person, education is as much to do with knowledge as it is to do with getting to know people. Not often valued, this aspect of both undergraduate and graduate experience helps to build lasting trust and friendships. I am not certain it can be replicated as readily on an online platform.
3. Immersion might generate motivation to learn. The difference between learning something at your own pace and at home is very different from being in an environment that is completely geared towards it, measures you on your ability to learn, and then provides objective feedback. From this perspective, online learning again still has a long way to go.
I think in the future, a few key enablers of the next step of remote learning includes things like VR. However, true human interaction and how well technology can replicate it will be a key driver of traditional education disruption.
Jim- Great article and very interesting to read!
I agree that issues with immigration will have a detrimental impact on the diversity of students at HBS. Given the fact that the case method relies on diversity of experiences to work, this impacts HBS perhaps more than any other business school. Also, policy is making it challenging for international students who hope to work in the US after graduation. This may decrease interest in coming to a U.S. school and having limited options with companies recruiting on campus. That being said, I am not certain programs like FGI and encouraging work abroad is the only solution.
While I have concerns about the impact of satellite campuses on brand dilution, I also think that HBS needs to disrupt itself to stay ahead of global trends. While things like online universities still have some stigma associated, HBS has taken on the HBX program as a way to extend its reach. Part of that includes classes and meet up at the Boston campus. While the program is not a degree program, careful use of the platform can generate significant interest as a marketing as well as educational tool. In addition, capital cost of adding an international campus does not exist with the platform and improvements in technology can replicate a live case discussion experience. Initiatives like these will help increase HBS visibility and keep the name top of mind for potential students.
Everett- great piece on renewable energy. Well written, researched, and fun to read.
In response, a few of my thoughts:
1. Depending on who you ask, the distribution of generation fuel sources in the next few decades can become significantly more dominated by renewables. Certain technology improvements are needed to enable it and drop the installation costs. I think we already see this with panels costs. However, wind power costs have also been dropping over time (https://www.lazard.com/perspective/levelized-cost-of-energy-2017/) and overall wind and solar sources have the potential to become much cheaper in the coming decades (https://www.csis.org/events/bloomberg-new-energy-finances-new-energy-outlook-2017) and become competitive.
2. While distributed solar can be a threat, not every situation will be suitable for it. This includes cities, where the demand for electricity in a single building might outpace its surface area for panels. Distributed solar also likely requires a market for excess generation, installation, and different infrastructure. Rather than see it as a threat, NextEra can become a service provider in this space to provide maintenance and storage solutions.
3. Both policy and infrastructure have friction points. One thing I see as an issue is curtailment of renewables that are generated, kind of related to storage. Because traditional base load is harder to turn down, renewables are “curtailed” instead, which raises costs. Would definitely be interested to see how technology and law might be employed here in the future, but the grid will probably look different.
John- great article on one of my favorite food groups! I do think Ben & Jerry’s is an interesting pick in the context of climate change.
In response to your thoughts about mitigation vs adaptation, here are my two cents:
1. While it is very admirable that Ben & Jerry’s is investing in clean energy and raising awareness, the reality is that we are quite off track from the 2 degree goal of the Paris agreement. Even hitting the 2 degrees does not imply business as usual. In California, we are seeing rising agriculture costs, of which attribution to climate change may or may not be debatable. Thus, in terms of mitigation I don’t think Ben & Jerry’s can alone turn the tides. That being said, perhaps carbon sequestration and other technologies will become feasible in the future due to economic drivers related to increased costs from climate change. References: http://www.dw.com/en/climate-change-world-way-off-track-on-paris-accord-goals/a-41173220
2. I think the adaptation front is where Ben & Jerry’s has more hope. I am concerned to learn about the concentration of cocoa production. I think in the near term, Ben & Jerry’s can benefit from diversifying their supply chain to look at other locations that may be or become suitable for growing. Alternatively, they might be able to influence growers to try breeding for plants with more drought/ heat/ etc resistance. Of course, there is the option of offering less chocolate based options (which I am personally not in favor of given my fondness for chocolate).
The impact of climate change on global food supply is definitely concerning. Hopefully a combination of technology and re-risking the current supply chain will keep ice cream on the shelves!