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On November 20, 2016, Lena commented on Airbnb: My host wants to be my roommate. What does this mean? :

Thanks for the post CB! I’m intrigued by your Airbnb concierge suggestion, and I think that it is definitely something that Airbnb could start piloting. My only hesitation would be that I think Airbnb should do some preliminary market research before pulling the trigger on the added service. There are without a question Airbnb customers who would welcome this added service and be willing to pay for it. However, I think there are also a number of customers who enjoy the anonymity and independence that the Airbnb affords them. Folks traveling are doing so for different reasons — vacation, work, visiting family, etc. For the Airbnb customers traveling for work or visiting family, this concierge service would be unnecessary or even a nuisance. On the other hand, it could provide some true value for customers traveling for vacation, particularly for customers never having been to the city/country that they are visiting. Airbnb could potentially have customers booking select the reason they are traveling (vacation, work, visiting friends/family, etc.), and indicate whether it’s the first time they have been in the location. Airbnb could then target these concierge services to customers who would find value in it. I’m thinking that the concierge services would have to be an opt-in program for renters, but could also potentially be localized for particular renters interested in offering guide experiences to customers in the area.

On November 20, 2016, Lena commented on Thinking of getting a connected Tesla? Beware the risks. :

Great article – Thanks Alan! I think that your four-point plan forward for Tesla makes a lot of sense. I have similar concerns to Michael about open-sourcing portions of Tesla’s software leading to potentially easier penetration by safety threats. However, I think if Tesla is going to truly distinguish itself as the leader of the smart car market, it will need to be able to embrace and manage the benefits from open-sourcing its software as leaders in the tech space that you mentioned have done. It would be interesting to see how Tesla is building its organizational competencies as it moves from electric car design to electric smart-car design.

I think another topic that is relevant here is the increased privacy concerns for consumers that comes hand in hand with smart car technology. As we move towards a reliance on smart technology for our everyday activities, more and more data is being created and stored. The technology that powers Tesla’s smart cars would no doubt be able to track where its passengers are at a particular time, and you brought up another audio/microphone concern in your article. This is an issue that consumers will face with increased digitization in any and all industries, and it is something that we should be careful of moving forward.

On November 20, 2016, Lena commented on Go Home Handelsbanken, You’re Obsolete :

Thanks for the post, Emma! I think you touched on a really interesting point about LC being incentivized to increase loan origination since its revenues are based on origination fees and like you hinted, that story begins to sound a lot like the incentives for mortgage origination that set up the mortgage crisis. As Ilan mentions, LC is not limited to the same extensive regulations that banks are subject to. But I wonder as LC begins to get more successful and increase its $22.7 billion in loans issued and new fintech firms continue to grow in success, whether it is only a matter of time for regulation to catch up to the business model and write new standards. With the added administrative costs and restrictive nature of potential future regulation, the sustainability of LC’s business model looks a little shakier.

I found the LendingMatch social networking aspect of LC to be very interesting, and I would be interested to see the psychology behind how customers’ willingness to lend is impacted by that feature. It also brings a very antithetical flavor to traditional bank lending compared to the perceived impersonal, transactional nature of borrowing from banks.

On November 20, 2016, Lena commented on CVS: From Consumer Value Stores to Consumer Value App? :

Thanks for the post, Wiss! Reading about CVS, like Ben, reminded me of the Catalina marketing case the indicated CVS didn’t use its point-of-sale technology. There may be regulatory or industry restrictions on offering coupons for prescriptions/pharmacy products, but I wonder if the CVS in-house point-of-sale technology was something that they work on in their innovation lab. I think the point-of-sale information could be helpful in providing additional convenience for customers. For example, if there are certain products that are typically purchased together with prescriptions, CVS might be able to use its MedRemind or In-Store Pharmacy Message tools to cross-sell products to customers or offer deals on complementary products as customers enter the store. I think your idea about gamification as a way to incentivize healthy behavior is an interesting one. Perhaps picking up prescription refills on time (or for a limited period ahead of time) could provide bonus points for the customer — this would align healthy customer habits (picking up prescriptions on time and therefore not running out) with efficiency in CVS operations (not having to hold inventory in the form of filled prescriptions waiting to be picked up).

Thanks for the post Majken! I thought the approach for HarperCollins to go directly to consumer was very interesting, and I think will definitely help them stay on the cutting edge of consumer demands. I have similar concerns to Ben about HarperCollins entering the B2C space in distributing e-books directly to consumers, as I think it would be difficult for them to compete with an established platform like Amazon for purchasing e-books. In terms of the threat of Amazon entering into content creation in addition to distribution, I was generally surprised by that move, although it does parallel entry of digital streaming companies into original video content creation. I would imagine that HarperCollins adds some additional value to the supply chain other than content distribution that would allow them to maintain a competitive advantage in the space. Perhaps they have developed relationships with content producers/authors and editors, or have developed skills critical to identifying best-selling content? If that is the case, it might make sense for HarperCollins to focus on adding value in the selection of content instead of attempting to try and compete with a behemoth such as Amazon in distribution. I do agree, however, that it is important for them to connect directly with customers, if only to collect data on genre and topic interest trends.

On November 7, 2016, Lena commented on TESLA: THE CHANGE IS…NOW? :

Thanks for the interesting article! I think one of the most innovative aspects about Tesla’s introduction of the Model S is not only that (like your article states) it was a fully electric car but also that it has been able to achieve a coveted brand image in the automotive industry. Because of this allure to an electric car that not only reduces CO2 emissions but also has a sleek design and high driving performance, Tesla is able to appeal to a wider group of consumers (not only ones interested in buying a car to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions). When I ready the part of your article that talked about government subsidies in certain countries to make Tesla cars more affordable to the mass market, I thought this was a great step forward to increase adoption of electric cars. However, it seemed a little counter-intuitive to try to gain adoption for a luxury car by the mass market. This made me think about Tesla creating a separate line (and potentially separate brand altogether) that was more affordable for the mass market. This new subset could hopefully benefit from the fuel saving technology in Tesla, but include less luxury features so that it could be adopted more broadly.

On November 7, 2016, Lena commented on Union Pacific: Incalculable Risks? :

Thanks for the article! It was very interesting to learn more about a big player in the rail industry such as Union Pacific. One thing that I was thinking of while reading the article was if costs are increasing for Union Pacific due to the effects of global climate change (and assuming that there are no inhibiting emissions caps placed on the company) would Union Pacific then need to transfer these costs to its clients or would it result in diminishing margins for its operations? Perhaps this is what is happening in the coal industry to cause the 24% and 31% decreases in its coal revenues. I would be interested to understand how the cost structure looks for Union Pacific’s clients who are choosing between different ways to transport freight across the U.S. You mention that rail remains one of the most fuel-efficient ways to move freight, so I would assume it would also be cost effective for clients to use rail over a certain threshold of freight volume,compared to alternatives (ground and air). In addition, I imagine Union Pacific’s competitors are facing similar pressures due to climate change since they would rely similarly on fuel consumption and are affected by weather patterns.

On November 6, 2016, Lena commented on Paper for the Planet :

Thanks for the interesting article, NAK. But also sorry to hear that you are sick of pizza because I don’t think it’s going anywhere for the next three semesters of your business school career. 🙂

I would like to learn more about how WestRock’s recycling program works, and the logistics of how they are able to pick up recycled packaging from customers. I wonder what type of transportation costs and subsequent energy consumption and CO2 emissions come into play from this system. I also wonder how this recycling program is marketed to customers to make them aware of it. My understanding is that WestRock creates packaging for its clients, and therefore would not have a strong brand presence in the minds of consumers.

Regardless, I think the initiatives that WestRock is taking to make the paper and packaging industry more sustainable are commendable. I think it’s important for companies to look into how sustainability practices (such as WestRock’s recycling practices) can save a business money. That way, incentives of the company and prevention of global climate change are aligned. I also think it’s great that WestRock has an internal auditing process to make sure that standards are being followed.

On November 6, 2016, Lena commented on United: Flying the EcoFriendly Skies :

Thanks for the interesting article! I liked Michael’s point about the biggest option for increasing fuel efficiency being the age of an airline’s fleet, as the technology for newer airplane models allows more and more efficiency. One issue I see with this solution is that an aircraft is such an enormous capital expenditure, that it is not realistic for an airline to be able to update its fleet constantly. However, as we learned in our United case, using a hub-and-spoke network like United requires a larger fleet due to operational complexities and lower aircraft utilization percentages. It would be interesting to do an analysis on how the different types of networks and linear vs. out-and-back systems affect CO2 emissions and necessary fleet size. Although out-and-back systems may increase operational efficiency and reduce variability by decoupling routes, the lower aircraft utilization and larger required fleet size may contribute more to global climate change.

On November 6, 2016, Lena commented on Coffee: Hotter is Better, Right? :

Thanks for the post! You bring up an interesting point that the recent shift towards offering heated foods has led to more energy consumption by refrigerator and oven appliances. I wonder, however, whether this was an intentional shift by Starbucks to diversify their product offerings to concentrate less on coffee due to the exposure to climate change risk of the Arabica coffee bean that you outline in your article. This calls into question for me the core intentions of Starbucks when it makes sustainability claims, while increasing energy consumptions in other aspects of business.

Another aspect that was interesting in reading your article was the fact that Starbucks purchased a coffee bean farm in Costa Rica as part of its sustainability efforts. This reminded me of the IKEA case, where the company was considering purchasing/leasing land in order to have more control over the sustainability of its supply chain. I wonder whether this would be a viable option for Starbucks, to go one step past partnerships, and actually acquire or lease land for coffee bean farming. This would allow Starbucks to have even more control over making sure sustainable practices were being used for coffee bean growing, but also might be a distraction from its other business initiatives and would require a large upfront cost.