Awesome! Using 3D printing for tooling is definitely appealing. This allows the auto companies to use the same materials and processes they are accustom to in their production designs. Using 3D printed designs directly in products could be more troublesome though. Auto companies typically require each and every material-set used in a vehicle to go through an intense qualification and accelerated lifetime analysis. Unfortunately, most 3D printed products come with some compromise in strength vs. a bulk material. For instance, I’ve heard UV-curable materials are basically ruled out completely by these manufacturers because they tend to become brittle with continued exposure to sun. This means they won’t work with SLA processes.
Your point that Machine Learning and AI might go the way of TCP/IP protocol is interesting. Like the internet infrastructure we could think of ML/AI systems as a platform that facilitates, but does not directly contribute to value generation. That is, there is orders of magnitude more value in the amount of consumer data that IBM holds than the actual ML/AI algorithms that actually can process it. If IBM focuses on strengthening it’s collection and implementation of user data as a service and opens up its IBM Watson system to the open-source community it would probably be in a much better position.
Great analysis. There’s definitely a chicken-and-egg problem going on in the AR/VR industry. I have been blown away by some of the hardware systems being produced (HTC Vive and Magic Leap being at the top of the list), but even after a few years there has not been a blockbuster hit in VR. You might be right that leveraging Valve/Steam’s access to customer data to inform a game offering might improve the decision-making, but many full-fledged modern games take up to $100M in investment to develop. This is probably why these gaming companies appear to be addicted to providing sequels and expansion packs to current offerings they know with certainty will resonate with customers. It’s a shame, but some company will need to take a big risk moving to this new platform or VR might go the way of the Microsoft Kinect and Wii nunchucks.
Providing energy data to these companies as a service seems like a great concept. There’s a pretty simple value offering here. I wonder though what kind of changes the end customers have to implement in order to realize the energy savings they propose. Are these companies implementing infrastructural changes or simply changing the time that heating systems go on in the morning and off in the afternoon? To this question, offering a customer guarantee opens them up to a lot of risk, but does signal their commitment to their product.
It’s understandable that the medical device industry is hesitant to implement 3D printing tech. The materials are still relatively unproven for long-term use. Many nascent 3D printing companies don’t completely understand the amount of research and regulation that goes into approving a new material or manufacturing method for a product in medical or even automotive industry. However, some tangential industries have had success here. I recommend taking a look at NextDent if you have not (https://nextdent.com/), developing materials and systems to print dentures for patients. Understandably, the prospect of using a new method to produce a device that will go into surgery (i.e. knee-replacement) is hotly contested, but Medtronic shouldn’t be too quick to rule out the potential here.
I like how Amazon is leveraging so much of their existing data on users to make the cashless system work. Using users’ previous purchasing data to inform edge-cases is pretty intelligent. However, as we have discussed in class regarding some ML systems I do wonder if this exposes the company to people gaming the system.
To answer one of your questions, I do foresee some version of the this cashless system becoming the industry standard. Automated “self-checkout” seems to already be a widely adopted technology, and I see this as the natural progression in user experience.
You’re not wrong. I think the industry should certainly be worried about DTC competition like Allbirds. These companies hit on a different customer values. Instead of individualization and “aspiration” we talk about these companies offer pragmatic value and socially responsible sourcing. I definitely don’t see the need in Nike offering 1000 different sneakers, but some people must see the value.
Still, a vast majority of the retail volume is still driven through brick-and-mortar distributors, and the companies like Footlocker have a lot of control over how they push Nike’s product. Nike has to be careful not to burn that bridge too soon.
Yeah, this definitely hit’s on the shoe industry’s aim to make customers feel unique. I know of companies that develop scanners that will measure your foot and customize shoes, so I think the industry is moving that way. Still, the unit-cost metrics need to make sense, because I don’t think there is enough fundamental value in that product to warrant a significantly higher price-point.
In my previous career we threw around the idea of printing custom designs on football (soccer) cleats that would allow customers to specify the pattern on the top of the cleat which would effect how you strike the ball.