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On November 20, 2016, LW commented on Bea-con and Carry On :

Really interesting article, and one that shows how IoT can help industries leverage a lot of unstructured data to help inform future decisions. I think from your post, it makes sense for a retailer like Macy’s to implement this kind of technology, so they can better track retail related metrics, and feedback from the consumer’s in-store experience (e.g. how well did a promotion work in driving food traffic, etc.). But I was wondering from your research if you’ve seen any other use cases outside of retail. Presumably, there may be use cases in say officers to engage with the employee or at airports who engage with the consumers. Additionally, with respect to retail, are there any potential privacy issues to this, and if so, how do you think companies like Macy’s may be able to alleviate/address these concerns.

On November 20, 2016, LW commented on Will you please Clarifai? :

Nice post Samar!!

AI is such a hot topic these days, and manifests itself in a variety of different techniques, one of with is deep learning and neural networks as your suggested. In your post, you mentioned that Google and Facebook, and likely other big tech companies are working using AI to improve their current product offering as well as develop new ones. In your opinion, why doesn’t a company like Google or Facebook just buy / acquire a company like Clarifai. Certainly, these big tech companies have the capital to do so. Similar question from the other side of the table, how do you think a company like Clarifai (and other startups in a similar space) can stay relevant in the long term, without entertaining acquisition options as exits by the existing big players?

Interesting post Pete!!

Curious to get your thoughts on the regulatory side to leveraging Otto to automate driving and deliveries from large trucks. Presumably, the regulatory hurdle is a little lower given the fact that trucks are less “consumer” facing. However, they still represent a very real player on roads and can potentially still cause issues with other human drivers on the road. With this being said, do you foresee regulation hurting the adoption or will it be a case where the logistics industry can convince the Department of Transportation to rethink their regulations and promote the use of automated trucks to productivity and efficiency. Additionally, do you think regulation will end up factoring in that truck drivers are one of the largest occupational groups in the US as you mentioned and what doing away with their jobs may mean in the broader economic / social / public context?

On November 20, 2016, LW commented on Bitcoin and the Blockchain :

This post is fantastic!!

I think you are spot on when you speak about the underlying Blockchain technology as the key disruptor as opposed to the idea of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Curious to get your thoughts on where the future of blockchain adoption is going, and your opinion on how large institutions that mainly act as intermediaries will react to the widespread adoption of a technology like blockchain. Take for example the major financial institutions. A core concept to the idea of a “bank” is to record transactions and serve as a platform to clear transactions between a buyer and seller. In the ideal world, blockchain could do all this work (and without a transaction fee), and it seems from your post do it even better than what current intermediaries can do. Given this, do you think financial institutions will act to prevent this from happening. And if so, what can they realistically do? In reality, I’ve read about the financial institutions currently working on investing in blockchain platforms themselves, if they can’t stop it how do you envision them leveraging a platform like this in their business and how they will justify charging consumers for their services?

On November 20, 2016, LW commented on Why Technology is Causing Your HBS Degree to Depreciate :

Really interesting piece!!

I think the concept of online education serves two key purposes: (1) provides access to educational content in a structured format to users that traditionally may not have had easy access to such content and (2) serves as a complimentary tool for students who may need additional help on a particular subject or are looking for content on a specific topic that a course curriculum at a school may not have dived deep enough in. Given this, it leads me to the question of “what is the true value of a school like HBS?”. While I believe that online education platforms will disrupt the more traditional methods of education, such as lecture-style, classroom learning, etc., I wonder if they’ll be able to disrupt the more unique styles of learning like the case method, and a heavily debate driven method like the one Law school classes use. Additionally, I think the value of some schools may come down to brand recognition and the access to be a powerful network. Of course this begs the question, are things like brand value, and access to a network enough to support the longevity of a school’s position in a constantly changing education landscape? Only time will tel.

Very interesting post Alex!! One point you brought up in your post that I thought was particularly relevant was the concept of “access” and how consumers today expect more access to content for free. We saw this a lot in Marketing, especially when it comes to the idea of having a “freemium” pricing model. Curious to get your thoughts on how Pearson and the textbook/publishing industry can potentially use the freemium model to provide greater access to consumers and what this could look like in practice. I know you had mentioned the IBM Watson partnership, but how would you think offering free content can lead to monetization and up selling for other (value add) services that Pearson can provide. Do players like Khan Academy and MOOCs imply that more content has to be free or is there still some value to be derive from premium content that Pearson can offer?

Awesome post! This is particularly interesting as transportation is disrupted by many avenues, and I constantly wonder how consumers will change their behaviors with new modes of transportation. For example, some of the ride sharing companies will say their mission is to get less cars on the road, leading to a positive impact on climate change from lower emissions. Other companies like Tesla will say the electric car is what will stall climate change in the future. While others may believe something like biogas is ultimately the solution to all of this. When consumers have so many choices, I am always interested to understand how adoption here will play out. It’ll likely be some combination of all the above, but from a company’s perspective, they’ll likely have to make some interesting tradeoffs as well when going to market. I like what Renault is doing, which is ultimately taking a stance. I believe that it is what will resonate with consumers as you had noted, but with industries where disruptive technologies can rise, what would happen when / if another major disruptor comes to market?

Thanks for the thought provoking piece!!

On November 6, 2016, LW commented on California Dreamin’: West Coast Wines in Peril? :

Interesting post!!

As we had learned in our recent classes, the pressure to be sustainable also has a profit motive piece to it. I liked your suggestion on investing in technology, but constantly wonder how a competitive industry like wine can / will justify these technology investments. Some of the wine producers sell fairly low priced wines, but I would assume they are some of the bigger players who drive the highest volume of sales. Given this, I wonder if they did invest in technology to be more sustainable / climate friendly, if they would pass on the cost to the consumer. Will the consumer that normally buys a lower priced bottle of wine, now pay more for a bottle that is environmentally friendly and made with sustainable practices? Would be interesting to see how this could play out.

On November 6, 2016, LW commented on Amazon Web Services: Greenhouse Gases in the Cloud :

This is a great post! AWS is so widely used, and even when you think about Netflix content alone, that means many, many servers to support just one client. As content continues to move online, I agree with you that AWS is at a key point where it really has to think about sustainability and ensure that it is doing its part to address broader climate change issues. Content and data storage on the cloud will only grow, especially if you think about the types of content that is growing (videos, movies, pictures, all resource intensive compared to say a word document), there is likely going to be significant future investment for physical servers. What would be interesting to see is if AWS sets the tone on creating a sustainable physical infrastructure for its business, and what other cloud based storage businesses will follow. Is this something that Dropbox will start thinking about? What about startups in this space that are resource constraint but looking to disrupt this industry. Is sustainability now a new expectation?

Really thought provoking piece!

This is a really interesting post and from my prior experience I’ve seen a lot of companies try to repurpose waste. Organic waste most notably is a key contributor to the environment mainly due to the fact that organic waste such as food waste, etc. releases methane gas, which is a couple times more damaging to the environment than CO2. As such, many companies, mainly start ups are finding ways to divert organic waste to the landfill, as you mentioned in your post. One of the questions that these new methods / technologies begs is the idea of adoption, and how do you actually get it to scale. I was surprise how many technologies actually already exist in the market to do their part in eliminating waste and reusing them in a more eco-friendly way, but it seems like the adoption curve hasn’t hit the exponential growth part yet. Interesting to get your thoughts on how you think companies like this will manage adoption, and what you think is really stopping key stakeholders (mainly consumers) from adopting easily. Is it really as simple as costs? Is it behavior? Is it something else?

Greg, an interesting perspective you provide. As someone who also read about the Starbucks situation with climate change, I was wondering if you thought about alternatives beyond the coffee operations. From my research, it seems like worst case, the prices of coffee can go really high, and I believe it’s unlikely consumers will start to pay couple more times the price for a cup of coffee. One thing during my research that I kept wondering was what else can Starbucks do that is really game changing. There is always the question of controlling the supply chain (vertical integration) as we explored in recent TOM Classes, which would be interesting as they could potentially control the newer-age technology to coffee production. However, I’d be interested to get your thoughts on the fact that they may have to diversify their product portfolio and drive more sales through non-coffee based products. This would definitely be interesting because they are a coffee company after all, but if history does repeat itself, many companies started off in one product-line and pivoted completely. In the worst case scenario, what do you think the Starbucks of the future could look like?

On November 6, 2016, LW commented on Greener Apple :

This is a really interesting post! Throughout the post, I kept wondering how sustainability and a complex global supply chain like Apple’s will support / hinder its future product development and the unit economics of Apple’s current and future products. From your post, it looks like it some ways, Apple was being reactive to the supply chain problems they faced, partially due to media attention. It would be interesting to see how as they move forward with product design and service, what factor a sustainable supply chain would factor into this. As you probably know, the markets have the view point that innovation at Apple has stalled, and we’ve learned about this in a few of our classes (FRC, most notably); I wonder given this context if Apple’s next wave(s) of products will proactively (as opposed reactive) factor in the potential supply chain issues of manufacturing products with newer specifications. Said another way, can Apple make sustainable products, that are innovative, with a healthier supply chain (potentially more costly) and still meet the expectations of shareholders and stakeholders.

Really thought provoking read!!