Ken Rowe

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Roberto, great post, I find it really interesting that Barilla created a pilot program like this. Typically you only see companies selling organic products voluntarily expose their production and supply chain processes like this. I think it is incredible Barilla is creating this system, because I think it puts internal pressure on themselves to continue to source raw materials responsibly or continue to strive to do better. They are not leaving anything up for question if a consumer has an issue with their product. As you mentioned, it is unfortunate that Barilla has not taken this pilot program company wide to date. I wonder if they realized that the effort and cost to create the entire system was not worth it in the long run. I don’t have any statistical data, but it seems like this could require a large investment up front to create the program and sustain it over years as the company continues to grow and evolve. I personally would probably never actually scan the box with my smart phone, or if I did do it once I probably would never do a second time in the future. So I wonder if they determined it wasn’t worth their time or money to complete the program, it will be interesting to see what they decide to do in the future.

On November 20, 2016, Ken Rowe commented on Ziosk: Digitalizing the Fast-Casual Restaurant Experience :

HC great article, I have only used a Ziosk tablet once or twice but it did make a big difference especially when the restaurant was busy. I also like the fact that they are purposely not eliminating the waiter or waitress, other restaurants that require you to order through the tablet can be incredibly frustrating. I wonder if restaurants that have implemented this system have seen any negative perceptions to their restaurant by being seen as cheap or as a slightly dressed up fast food chain? Based on your research and the information you have provided it has made positive impacts in specific areas for the restaurant.

Many restaurants for years have used a similar technology in Canada and Europe where they have a remote card reader, but it still requires a person to bring the device over to the table. I agree with the first comment, it seems like great value added in the near term, but I am also concerned about the longterm benefits of this technology, and perhaps they will evolve over time to accept payments from smart phones. This seems like the logical next step for Ziosk and the restaurants.

On November 20, 2016, Ken Rowe commented on Tractors & Technology: John Deere’s Self-Driving Tractors :

Pat great article. To be honest I was initially thinking John Deere could target farms owned by corporations because they may have more access to capital to invest in this technology, but according to the USDA, 97% of the 2.1 million farms in the US are family owned operations [1]. John Deere clearly can’t dismiss the cost burden this technology may be for many American farmers. However, you did bring up some great points of how this technology can improve efficiency and crop production for farmers, but it will be interesting to see if John Deere can keep prices low and effectively market this technology as a long term profit generator.

Also, I was wondering if you came across any research to suggest that John Deere was looking to implement cheaper technology in lawn mowers or smaller tractors that could be used for homeowners with large lawns? I guess I am thinking about this coming from the perspective of the oldest child who was given lawn mowing responsibilities from the time I was 7 years old. I wonder how long it will be until John Deere is making autonomous lawn mowers for families in the suburbs!


On November 20, 2016, Ken Rowe commented on Filld: fueled by on-demand consumerism :

Great article, and thank you for introducing me to a new startup that I had never heard of before. I think Gonzalo brings up a great point about the challenges Filld may have in the future with respect to electric and autonomous vehicles, but to counter that I think that is a very long term concern. In my opinion there will still be gas fueled vehicles on the road for the next 20+ years.

I liked your idea of including other services such as car cleaning, but I was thinking strategic partnerships could have significant increase revenues very quickly. I was thinking they could partner with hotels especially within a 20 mile radius of a major airport where it is likely a lot of individuals staying at the hotel have rented cars. Offering this service to hotel guests could save them a lot of time in the morning before they fly out by not having to stop by a gas station before returning their rental car. Additionally, this partnership could even save customers money on rental car refuels because rental companies typically over charge for gas, as do gas stations right next to airports. Maybe this platform could also assist with car “sharing” services and make life easier for car owners or customers of those applications as well.

On November 20, 2016, Ken Rowe commented on Peloton: Digitalizing Spinning :

Catherine, great post, and thank you for introducing me to Peloton, I had never heard of it. I’ve never been to a SoulCycle class before, but I do participate in the “boutique fitness studio” trend by being a member of a CrossFit gym in Somerville for the last 2+ years, and I have taken classes at Wheel House and spin classes at Equinox. I agree with Lynn, a large appeal for me with respect to the boutique fitness studios is the community and the energy I get from the other people in the class. However, to look at it from a slightly different approach, the $2,000 price tag for a bike doesn’t seem that outrageous to me when you consider the customers who are paying $32 per class at SoulCycle must be making a decent income in the first place. Also, instead of trying to steal customers from SoulCycle, why not just simply market Peloton as an additional option for them. This customer base, making a decent living, is not always going to have a set schedule, and they are probably traveling semi-regularly. I think Peloton could attract customers by offering a similar product to SoulCycle but as a substitution when they can’t make classes, from my understanding Peloton doesn’t offer in person classes, their showrooms are just a place to look at the products.

I found the comparison between Ford and Tesla very interesting, and I never realized they were the only two American automotive companies that have not been bankrupt. I was thinking, to continue the comparison between these two companies you could discuss their focus on autonomous vehicles and how that technology can help combat climate change and eliminate carbon emissions. Ford’s CEO announced a lofty goal this year of creating an fully autonomous vehicle by 2021, and they are doubling their Silicon Valley Team, and more than doubling their Palo Alto campus [1]. Clearly these two companies are in competition with one another, and it will be interesting to see which company can create this technology the fastest. I believe autonomous vehicles can play a significant role in eliminating the total number of cars on the road through the continued popularity of ride sharing applications, and in turn this could decrease total carbon emissions. I thought this could be another way to analyze these two companies with respect to climate change.

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On November 7, 2016, Ken Rowe commented on Nike: A Poster Child for Climate Change? :

Lynn, I thought you did a great job highlighting the positive efforts Nike has made over the years in minimizing their impact on the environment. I fully agree with you when you discussed the fact that Nike has a large sphere of influence and they have an opportunity to educate their consumers on the climate change, and how they can also encourage their competitors to do more as well. I find it interesting that Nike is implementing all of these sustainability programs while simultaneously continuing to create a massive amount of products for their consumers. It must be hard to balance priorities, particularly as a publicly traded company that wants to be profitable for its shareholders. Nike could make drastic improvements in the reduction of the most hazardous materials used in certain products while focusing on products that use more sustainable resources, but this would clearly negatively impact their bottom line. Sometimes I wonder how genuine large corporations are to their sustainability efforts, or if they see it more as a cost of doing business from a PR perspective. I don’t think Nike has this pessimistic of a view point, but it will be interesting to see how they continue to work towards meeting their goals. Thanks for the great post!

On November 7, 2016, Ken Rowe commented on Reduced Snowpack in Washington State :

Pat, I enjoyed reading about this topic, and my first thought was very similar to Fey’s. When you discussed Washington’s reliance on hydroelectric power, I was curious if Washington’s current population growth over the last five years, particularly in urban areas, is contributing to additional strain in creating more electricity for this growing population? The State of Washington released their 2016 Population Trends back in September and it is interesting to analyze the way the population is migrating to areas around Seattle/Tacoma and Spokane specifically [1]. Also, after you discussed the economic impacts that climate change has on the salmon industry in Washington, I began to wonder want additional impacts climate change could have on the logging industry? I thought that could be an additional industry you could look at in the future.

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On November 7, 2016, Ken Rowe commented on Vail Resorts Could Be Doing More :

This is a great topic to write about and it was a fun read, thank you. I spent time growing up in Colorado and I lived there for two years after college, during both of those times of my life I spent a lot of time in the mountains skiing at Vail, and I witnessed first hand Vail Resorts’ growth throughout Colorado and into California. I had no idea that Vail Resorts acquired Whistler Blackcomb last month. I thought you did a great job discussing the operational changes the company is currently making to mitigate seasonal variability. It is also incredibly frustrating to hear that Vail Resorts has donated to politicians that continue to deny climate change. Were you able to look at or analyze what Vail Resorts’ competitors are doing to mitigate the risk of their business in North American? I would also be very curious to learn more about how European companies are handling the situation, particularly because European countries were much more excepting and reactive to climate change years ahead of the US.

On November 7, 2016, Ken Rowe commented on Climate Change and the fight against ISIS :

Doug, this is an excellent topic to discuss, and I remember when O’malley made these comments I thought it was a very logical connection.

I also found your post interesting to read because it allowed me to reflect on my time in the Middle East while serving in the Army. I was able to witness first hand the impact of climate change in a war torn country. During the course of two deployments to Afghanistan I got to witness the reliance that many Afghanis have on farming and the need for water. Particularly in northeast Afghanistan the amount of snowfall during the winter months directly impacted the water supply in the valleys to support agriculture throughout multiple growing seasons in the spring and summer months. The primary crops grown in northeast Afghanistan were corn and wheat, but the Taliban were also able to leverage certain “safe havens” within the valleys along the river to grow large amounts of opium and contribute to the current global heroin problem.

I was wondering if you considered discussing the multitude of different secular groups that make up the Middle East particularly in countries that have been in conflict, like Syria, for multiple years, and the additional conflict that can be created from certain groups controlling natural resources, particularly water?