M. Diaz

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On November 23, 2017, M. Diaz commented on Taking a Bite out of Apple: Fighting the Tides of Isolationism :

This is a very complex topic Chris and I am glad that you selected it because I am sure it will open up for an interesting discussion. In the last few years, we’ve seen how policies have augmented the uncertainty of several industries that leverage international trade to do business while others have reported hundreds if not thousands lost jobs (https://goo.gl/ne8X2y).

The complex supply chain that Apple handles and involves almost a dozen of countries is a reminder that specialized talent and skills are spread all over the world. As such, corporations and countries alike must adapt and evolve at a fast pace or perish in the process. I see how the government is pressuring large multinational corporations to bring back jobs to the country and how new legislations could go against innovation and the companies’ growth.

Apple is without a doubt one of the largest contributors to the US economy and as such is held accountable on many fronts, from sustainability to corporate responsibility and even diversity and inclusion in Tech. However, I strongly believe that the public, in general, should not expect the private sector to do the job that the government is supposed to do using the resources collected from tariffs. Several public figures have pushed for a more diverse workforce in the tech industry but never held accountable the tech titans like Apple or Google (https://goo.gl/QoPLES). In fact, Apple millions of customers in every continent and I even question if it remains an American company to become a globalize enterprise (the reason why they have billions parked in the tax haven such as Dublin in Ireland).

I encourage and applaud Apple internal initiatives to create a more diverse workforce, to propel computer science education in high schools or even to employ as many people as possible in the US while paying fair salaries but I don’t think we should hold this company, or any, accountable for what the government has fallen short to provide or blame the sophisticated and streamlined supply chain in Asia as they never attributed their underdevelopment to foreign companies, instead they evolved and reached a superiority of economies of scale that we positively envy these days.

Laura, I definitely agree with your suggestion that Antidote should have a partnership approach in order to solve the convoluted task of matching patients with clinical trials. More recently several companies such have pushed to incorporate new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) to address the matching process of clinical trials s (https://goo.gl/4BqT2J) by mining a large amount of data.

From your description, I can see that Antidote has made a great contribution to the pharmaceutical industry, patients, and science in general by maintaining those clinical trials that would not have been possible if CRO’s had not found optimal patients to continue them. The fact that this startup company has developed extensive and strong ties with key organization as the ones you mentioned is an outstanding milestone because it breaks down the information silos and bridges the gap between two parts of the equation that are equally necessary to each other: high-quality patients and relevant clinical trials.

In fact, digitizing such a large amount of critical health-related data is probably one of the most daunting tasks, especially when it is collected directly from patients or their relatives, and that is where I have a problem with this approach. Until now I have been fairly agnostic about the quality of medical information collected directly from patients, as they usually lack a sense of the big picture of the company and are easily manipulated by the type of entries or questions posed by the platform (e.g. website or app). However, I think Antidote is a powerful source by connecting two populations that have been historically apart despite needing each other at the core. Possibly, Antidote could retrieve medical records directly from hospitals across the nation or even all over the world (with prior patient consent), and sum forces with well-developed algorithms such as Watson to generate highly relevant results that can be further filtered to offer both parties (patients and CRO’s) extremely precise patient information for specialized clinical trials, reducing the large expenditure in this exhausting matching process.

I see a bright future in the optimization of this supply chain given the imperative necessity of saving lives while advancing science and paired with an important financial muscle from the pharmaceutical industry. Several large healthcare companies such as Roivant Sciences had devoted important resources to create new companies in this space (https://goo.gl/yx2hT1) and I cannot wait to see how these efforts on digitalization in the medical field unfolds!

This is perhaps one of my main concerns in today’s world Thiago, the long-term disruptive effect that human exploitation can cause on biodiverse habitats such as the one that lives in the lung of the world: The Amazon jungle. Few years ago, The Smithsonian reported that the mining industry has had an incredible disrupting effect on ecosystems around the globe and that one way to reduce it was to ask companies that source those precious materials such as Tiffany & Co. to stop sourcing what it was related as “dirty” gold, which could also apply for other minerals mined around the world (https://goo.gl/U9MU8G).

I am delighted to see that you chose a vital topic in a project that I am sure will become a historical reference for the world, either for the transformational change of an industry or for a pitfall that will have unmeasurable ecological consequences, which I truly hope is the former.

It is unavoidable that as the population increases and with it a large need of resources, humans continue to search for untapped areas where precious metals can be extracted. The key issue is how governments in developing countries can protect national resources that will eventually affect the current or future of climate change around the globe. It is very difficult to estimate the future environmental cost of a project such as the S11D conducted by Vale because even if the new technology can reduce energy and water consumption, it is uncertain the short-term and long-term impact in a complex biological environment with so many entangled variables and with a not entirely understood Amazon’s flora and fauna.

Many times, these projects are accepted because lobbying and political pressures on local officials by multinational corporations, and it is imperative to resist the temptation of making decisions solely based on the short-term financial rewards without contemplating potential ecological disasters so we can ensure we leave this planet in a better shape we found it for our children and the generations to come.

Lastly, in a similar way, foreign companies have come to Colombia to create one of the largest gold mining explorations in the middle of a natural reserve. They continuously lobbied the government until they reached the permits to continue the explorations and extraction against several academic experts and international organizations claiming that those efforts will compromise one of Colombia’s most important water supply (https://goo.gl/k24HF6).

On November 23, 2017, M. Diaz commented on As Temperatures Warm, Your Favorite Warm Beverage is Under Threat :

This is a fascinating topic Sarah, and something that I also believe will play a fundamental role in the near future, not only in coffee but in the supply chain of many other agricultural products. As you succinctly highlighted, the most vulnerable part of the coffee’s supply chain is the sourcing of high-quality coffee beans, and this is pivotal for Starbucks as they continue to consolidate their brand.

I found the interplay between coffee bean production, quality and climate change as fascinating as frightening as recently has been suggested that nearly 90% of the current coffee production in Latin America could be compromised by 2050 if the climate change trend continues (https://goo.gl/QSfC6u). I fully agree with your assessment that company leaders in the coffee industry such Starbucks or Lavazza should take a most active role to continue innovation that translates into a more robust supply chain.

I do agree that mitigating global warming by implementing sustainable practices is a lofty mission that every company must incorporate in their supply chains and at every level in an organization. However, I am skeptical of companies taking the lead of educating others such as customers, governments or competitors about climate change because it could alienate some customers and create a bad spirit with competitors. On a more positive note, I believe they should continue creating secondary awareness through campaigns that are not directly intended to bring up the topic but that definitely openly discuss it as a part of the corporate culture (e.g. using recycle cups on earth’s day, or asking customers to bring their own cup once a month instead of using disposable ones).

Most of the coffee producers are small growers that lack the infrastructure to implement strong changes on its own as recently described in this article in the Guardian (https://goo.gl/aCoa5w). They went even further to suggest that the main steps to address this issue lie on the farmers, small growers and the ability to develop new technologies (https://goo.gl/zeBQM6).

In addition, the Climate Institute released a report in August 2016 (https://goo.gl/nn6wwF) informing that the production is declining at alarming rates while farmers are on their own to try to solve this complex and global issue.

Lastly, about finding alternatives to replace coffee beans, several people have tried to circumvent the use of this millennial bean but failed in finding the right mixture of unique flavor, distinct color, aromatic depth. Perhaps this is because this drink is more than a staple in our society and it has become a tradition and a morning ritual for a continuously growing fan base.

I am glad you wrote about this topic Angela because this is a very important issue that is drastically affecting companies across the nation given the uncertainty of the rulings and the volatility created by secret political agendas in Washington.

It is well known that for decades, domestic companies have looked overseas to manufacture goods in order to remain competitive in the market and take advantage of economies of scale, reaching 80% of the world’s manufacturing concentrated in China (https://goo.gl/oqrgan). The important question for the government is how much should they intervene to protect the internal economy by providing subsidies in the form of tax credits without becoming a disruptor and fostering a “ghost” economy (eventual collapse of the economy once the subsidies are taken away). Also, the key challenge for the national corporations is how can they protect their operations from the influence of existing or new regulations by implementing contingency plans while still remaining profitable. As fundamental that those questions are, there isn’t a unique or simple answer, in part because political factors are usually changing every four years with every new government.

As you cleverly pointed out, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signed between Mexico, Canada, and the US will be crucial for SunPower as it will define their corporate strategy and product route map for future years. Besides of the lobbying efforts that SunPower does, I can imagine how much the American counterparts that will benefit from isolationist measures will lobby as well to make sure they get substantial benefits from the modification of the treaty. I also think there are several components that need to be discussed in an open national forum such as the education of government officials on the long-term impact of trade policies on local economies across different sectors, and the role of the government on modifying past treaties or signing new ones and what safeguards can be imposed to avoid being used as part of a political agenda.

As far as for the photovoltaic (PV) industry, we have seen for years that manufacturing costs are significantly lower in Asian countries predominantly in China and for the US competing in that arena will prove a costly mistake. Instead of focusing on the direct manufacturing, American companies such SunPower should concentrate their attention on improving processes that decrease fabrication times and strive for higher energy conversion by leveraging advanced R&D in the US. In addition of that, growing emerging markets are demanding more and more PV panels but that would be questionable if the demand will be enough to have a plant in Mexico working at full capacity in case the NAFTA negotiations take an undesirable direction for SunPower. However, after recent turns in the environmental regulation of Chinese factories of polysilicon, the main component of PV panels, several factories have been shut down causing an increase on this raw material of up to 35% and constraining the supply chain of this product (https://goo.gl/M1romb). Perhaps it won’t be even a bad idea for SunPower to move forward with their Mexican factory as they could supply the shortage in the world demand of PV panels.

On November 21, 2017, M. Diaz commented on The Digitization of Beauty at L’Oréal :

Thanks for sharing those interesting insights about digitalization in the beauty industry Mohamad.

The way L’Oréal has managed to innovate in an almost stagnant industry is something really admirable. Your write up reminded me of an article (https://goo.gl/6HeZD2) highlighting L’Oréal’s innovations in digitalization as well as their use of data and analytics to detect future beauty trends by survey big search engine results in the beauty area to identify what consumers were searching for.

More frequently, we see companies realizing that investing in innovation is a lengthy and expensive process but only doing so would allow them to reinvent itself in moments of crisis. L’Oréal has been one of such pioneers in the beauty industry by setting up a Research & Innovation Center (http://sf.incubatorloreal.com) to incubate startups innovating in their space.

As you mentioned, it remains to be seen if the public can adopt technology in the beauty industry as fast as in other areas as the intimacy of the products coupled with the traditional distribution channels can be of concern and a deterrent for some potential users.

I look forward to learning more about this topic from our discussions in class.

Thanks for sharing!