Katherine Cheng

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On November 19, 2016, Katherine Cheng commented on Are we approaching the end of management consulting? :

I find this article fascinating, and it brings up the age-old question: what are consultants actually worth? While it is simple that HourlyNerd can be paired with a client directly, ask client to define the problem and then solve it, I wonder if there is value lost without the teamwork in a typical consulting engagement. Part of the traditional management consulting proposition is to guide the client in solving for the right problems. Sometimes clients do not know what the underlying right problem is, and it takes years of experience from senior partners with expertise to develop an intuition for the root cause. Another issue is the branding. Whether it is right or not, many times companies hire big consulting companies to buy reassurance through the brand name (aka, the analysis has been verified by XYZ consulting company). This provides leverage for a specific decision to present to the board. While HourlyNerd employees may come to the right answer, that is only half the battle. The other half is to get buy-in from the key stakeholders of the client, which requires a lot of soft skills and networking skills developed through a typical consulting path.

On November 18, 2016, Katherine Cheng commented on Wearables and Big Data Make It a Small World After All at Disney Theme Parks :

It is interesting that Disney has not seen a lot of profit from the initiative even though it makes a lot of sense. Top of mind for me is managing process optimization in waiting lines through these digitized wristbands. I wonder if they can create a wristband that has an algorithm, which translates into your mobile phone telling you the most optimal route to take to wait for the least amount of time in lines. Would this be a value add where Disney can charge for the service from the app? This is more looking at this from a revenue maximization perspective rather than the cost-saving perspective that you mentioned in your article.

On November 18, 2016, Katherine Cheng commented on Building Consumer Trust: Walmart Introducing Blockchain to Chinese Pork :

This is very fascinating! I’ve never thought that pork and bitcoin had anything in common. The blockchain technology you described is interesting in that it shows the historical transaction of how the meat flow through the supply chain. While I understand that IBM is developing a shared forum where companies can see the information, I wonder how the information translates to the end consumer? How can you convey the quality of good pork vs. bad pork and all the information on the supply chain to the middle-aged Chinese woman, who is the typical consumer of the product? Would digitization be too sophisticated for this market?

On November 18, 2016, Katherine Cheng commented on A Wholly Digital Whole Foods :

Very interesting article! It is interesting how Wholefood as a premium grocery store is implementing digitization to increase their product value and attract environmentally-friendly consumers. I wonder though with the rise of grocery home delivery apps, which is another form of digitization, that consumers are less concerned with where there food comes from in each step of the supply chain. On the scale of importance, how much does convenience weigh vs. the responsibilities of protecting the environment? Can Wholefoods use digitization to facilitate more delivery-type capabilities for the busy, health-conscious Millennial consumers they it serves?

On November 18, 2016, Katherine Cheng commented on The ZocDoc will see you now… :

Thank you for your post. One of the issues with healthcare is that patients often do not know when to go to the doctor. While I agree that ZocDoc has the potential to connect patients with doctors, I wonder if ZocDoc can leverage its digitization capabilities in screening patients before they make an appointment. Patients often diagnose themselves online, which results in either delaying seeing a doctor or seeing the wrong doctor for their symptoms. ZocDoc could incorporate an algorithm that asks a series of questions that can recommend certain types of doctors to the patients based on symptoms. There are a couple of start-ups right now that does this, such as Buoy, which is a technological platform that diagnoses and recommends patients to the right provider.

On November 6, 2016, Katherine Cheng commented on Too Hot for Choc? :

I particularly agree that science has the potential to help cocoa trees survive in the new normal. I wonder if this is something that Indigo can look into through altering genetics or microbiomes, especially given cocoa is a more premium product than corn or wheat.
The one thing I worry about is the competitive landscape of the chocolate factory. Given Mars produces relatively cheap chocolate, how could it ensure to keep prices low if it pays certified growers a premium to meet its goals of 100% sustainable cocoa by 2020? How would it make sure that Hershey’s or Nestle will not gain market share due to lower prices?
One solution could be premium product introduction, where Mars introduces a sustainable chocolate bar similar to “Divine,” where the packaging is much sleeker and contains a story of the social mission for fair trade. Could Mars differentiate itself this way, while connecting with consumers and fulfilling its sustainability mission?

On November 6, 2016, Katherine Cheng commented on Not So Fast: The Unglamorous Side of Fast-Fashion :

Interesting article about the fast-fashion industry! It really open my eyes on my own spending habits as well, as a consumer, and how I am contributing to the climate change based on my demand. Forever21’s value proposition is based on cheap trends for the aspiring fashionistas with limited spending power. It usually copies popular designs from the runway but with cheaper materials. I wonder given all the materials used for the clothing is relatively the same (no hand-crafted jewelry or silk used here), Forever21 can employ a “recycling” program where consumers can donate their outdated styled clothing for a discount? These clothes could be re-purposed for other items, such as handbags or scarves.

On November 6, 2016, Katherine Cheng commented on Toyota: The XXI Century Race to the Moon :

You’ve raised some interesting questions regarding the future of Toyota. It is not enough to mitigate the risk, but also to proactively manage the future. I wonder what extent Toyota can actually change its operations given the risks involved with climate change. With the pressures on water, Toyota is dependent on the supply chain. For extreme weather events, Toyota may be able to build manufacturing facilities in locations that are least affected by adverse events (hurricanes, rising sea levels, etc). But all these actions, as you mentioned, seem very reactive. I think the only way for Toyota to actively reduce impact of climate change is innovation of its car models to use less fuel, and reducing its factory emissions.

On November 6, 2016, Katherine Cheng commented on Apple: Reducing emissions, one target at a time :

I agree that Apple is leading the way in reducing its carbon footprint, especially in developing countries where their suppliers are located. I think it’s fascinating that you mentioned Apple’s plans to build 200 megawatts of solar projects in China, which could potentially reduce 30 million metric tons of carbon pollution. I wonder what Apple will do to regulate those operations in China? Due to the lack of environmental regulations in China, it might be hard for Chinese operations to make the switch. Apple needs to be very clear that the factory will have to use solar energy rather than fuel, and maybe even get the government’s support. But if Apple is successful, it will really benefit the local pollution in China, in addition to being environmentally sustainable.

On November 6, 2016, Katherine Cheng commented on DOW Chemical: The Next Night’s Watch? Desalinization is Coming… :

Very interesting proposition of desalination methods to solve fresh water shortages. Reverse osmosis desalination, like you mentioned, is probably the most efficient way currently to filter water. Dow is well-positioned to enter the space given its expertise in chemical manufacturing, which is necessary for the fabrication of membranes needed for the method.
In addition, there are new technologies coming out of MIT that bypass the membrane technology all together. Last year, I visited MIT lab working on using shock electrodialysis to separate salt water from fresh water. Essentially the system uses an electric shockwave within a stream of water, separating salty water and fresh water to opposite sides. No filters were needed. I wonder if this is something that Dow can additionally invest in to solve the world’s drinking problem, even at a potential high cost? http://news.mit.edu/2015/shockwave-process-desalination-water-1112