M Williams

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I believe the concept of open innovation will always receive a healthy level of skepticism due to it’s synergies with PR and marketing. For this case, I don’t think this is a gimmick or a way to drum up interest in the company — their sole focus is to help create cities of the future. Their strategy of collecting ideas, asking for feedback, and developing mock-ups is similar to what we saw with the IDEO case — it’s a common product development practice. I completely agree that Sidewalk should not only deliver an amazing waterfront experience, but also bring the customer along for the journey. A key aspect of IDEO’s strategy was to always keep the client in the loop — in this case, I don’t believe Sidewalk is keeping the people of Toronto fully in the loop.

The one issue that I see here, and similar to what I commented on in Ankur’s post on Amazon, is that open innovation is a sneaky way to collect data on users. However, this data is not just limited to a given project — it’s used to fuel others and obtain a competitive advantage. I now wonder: is the cost of providing this data worth having a technology-first city? Are the elected officials aware of how their decision has larger impacts?

Great paper — I didn’t realize this was something that Barilla was exploring!

Similar to Walter Mitty, I question how additive manufacturing will impact quality and flavor. However, my biggest concern is with the fact there is no barrier from consumers bringing this into their houses. What if I bought a “home sized” 3D printer where I could make all of my starch staples? While seemingly unrealistic at the moment, I do believe this could be a potential game changer to the entire CPG ecosystem in the future.

Wonderful article!

I agree with Amazon’s decision to shut down the program — they got what they needed and have reason to exit. I believe their sole intent with this program, as with all of their business units, was simple: collect data. While this initiative created positive brand externalities, I believe the crux of this strategy lies in the fact they had people submit ideas for shows they wanted to see. By collecting this data, Amazon is now able to take these inputs and better craft shows that people want to see. While they collected the data they needed, I believe their ultimate decision to end the program was also due to potential reputational risk. What would the Screen Actor Guild or Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences think of them for doing this?

On November 13, 2018, Erika Jayne commented on Rest Easy, Global Giant: additive manufacturing as risk mitigator :

Prior to reading your post, I always believed additive manufacturing was in a precarious position — it’s not fully adopted, yet it’s not unknown to people. However, after reading through your analysis, I’ve concluded that the concept is extremely mature and will definitely disrupt infrastructure design and construction within the next 2-10 years. With this in mind, Michael Burke should invest heavily in 3D printing technology. He needs to focus the first on “Big Bets” to maintain their competitive advantage. If Burke fails to do this, he may last another 10 years, but eventually he’ll go from $18B to $0B.

On November 13, 2018, Erika Jayne commented on Getting Swiggy With It: Your Favorite Foods, Faster :

I knew you were trouble when I read the headline — I want to order takeout now!

I completely agree with the current risks you outlined — focusing on cycle time for the bottleneck (most likely traffic) is definitely going to position Swiggy ahead of Uber and Google. Food delivery has moved from being a novel product to one that is established. This signals a sift toward customer focus rather than product focus in order to survive in a competitive market — it’s the same strategy that Amazon has pivoted towards.

As you alluded, the only way to reduce the bottleneck is through delivery people. One option I thought of is to reduce the delivery radius of restaurants during peak rush hour. Essentially you set a maximum delivery step to 12 minutes — the radius of delivery will then vary based on traffic patterns (which you could easily pull from Google Maps’ API). While this will reduce options during peak demand, I hypothesize there is significant population density that reducing delivery radius may not drastically limit food delivery options.

On November 13, 2018, Susan H commented on How Birchbox Stays Competitive using Machine Learning :

That’s quite the equation you posted! 🙂

As a consumer of subscription based services, Birchbox included, I didn’t realize how difficult it was to stand out in this industry given fierce competition. I particularly enjoyed the insight you provided on converting customers to “full size” products. I definitely see how this serves as a competitive edge for Birchbox; however, how I struggle to see how they can compete with more established beauty businesses with a loyal following (e.g., Sephora, Blue Mercury). If someone finds a product they love through Birchbox, what prevents them from ordering it through one of the traditional retailers? What if a traditional retailer launches their own subscription based service?

I bring this up since it is widely speculated that subscription based services are in a venture backed bubble [1]. One example of this is Blue Apron. They IPO’d in June 2017 with an original trading price of $9.34 per share; however, over since then, they’ve been on a steady decline to $1.22 (as of after-hours trading on Nov 13th).

This perceived skepticism in the market brings me to an answer to your question about acquiring talent: they don’t need experts in ML, they need experts in branding. Given the saturation and steep declines in the market, Birchbox should focus on creating a brand millennials love, not optimizing an algorithm.

What point is the algorithm if no one’s there to buy anything?

[1] https://hbr.org/2017/12/subscription-businesses-are-booming-heres-how-to-value-them