I think that B&N isn’t necessarily benefiting from their brick and mortar stores. The challenge is on two fronts: when I think of B&N, I think of mega bookstores.” I don’t think of having experiential learning moments as they suggest in their proposed plan for revitalization. It’s hard to change your brand identity when you’re at the scale of a B&N. It’s hard to monetize being a community center for a specific type of demographic, especially when you’re store footprint is so large. It’s hard to be the 3rd destination when your store size is 3x that of Starbucks.
While an interesting prospect, I agree that the effect on employment (at least in the U.S.) will be severe. Previously, driving a truck has been immune to globalization and automation – two of the biggest trends affecting U.S. jobs. An NPR article highlights which suggest that midwest and southern states will be most affected by this trend, which have truck drivers as the most common job (see article here: http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2015/02/05/382664837/map-the-most-common-job-in-every-state).
These new features sound fantastic – while the Atlantic article criticizes the trend, I think there’s real value here in knowing the exact temperature my coffee should be, when the dryer is finished and if someone leaves the fridge open (a common thing in large families like mine!) which I’d imagine the temperature change should hint at. A consideration I had was the integration of all these platforms and how the crux of these capabilities depends on data sharing across individual companies. Whirlpool will need to partner with Apple, Google and others to ensure that these features are seamless. But this in itself poses a challenge as two MIT professors point out in their recent paper. You can read here: http://sloanreview.mit.edu/projects/data-sharing-and-analytics-drive-success-with-internet-of-things/
MOOCs are an interesting, yet puzzling. Indeed, the lack of “street cred” among employers is a challenge and I don’t think digital credentials is going to be enough to bring firms over the mental hump as it sounds pretty time intensive to go through all that data. I could see a Coursera or Edx really benefiting from partnering or acquiring an online skill assessment platform (like Pluralsight’s Smarterer, which allows us to measure any skill set with as few as 10 questions in under two minutes based on an adaptive algorithm – see https://www.pluralsight.com/product/tests) to help standardize and quantify what a potential job candidate knows, or does not know. This seems to me to be a feature that makes sense and addresses the issue of proper credentials in the right sectors, barring fields like healthcare where there is high regulatory oversight.
Interesting that Pearson is seeing digital providers as a threat and deciding to enter into the market; however, digitized curriculum poses new challenges – it reminds me of lessons learned from the news of Curriculet closing for business in June 2016. The company was one of the earliest providers of online textbooks who amassed 1.2 million active users since its founding in 2012. The founder cited problems with getting pricing right, student hardware access to read online textbooks, and adoption challenges as teacher training and finding the right school administrators to champion rollouts proved more difficult than expected. For now, it seems as if physical textbooks in the K-12 markets are here to stay and that the focus on university-level digital textbook play is more fitting. (See here for more info: https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-05-25-curriculet-closes-shop)
Really love the concept – I had not heard of Wheelys before! Interesting read. Regardless about whether they can take on SBUX, reaching 44 countries is super impressive. The bikes look super cool and I agree could be applied to other mobile markets. On the cold weather issue, it’s interesting that Wheelys is in Canada and Northern Europe. Though it’s not clear where exactly the bikes typically reside in those countries, it seems as if folks who have decided to join Wheelys are making to make sure the investment math is favorable despite the snow patterns. I’m also a skeptic about consumers, millennials or not, making purchasing decisions based on the level of environmental sustainability. To me, it’s probably something that functions more at the margin after meeting price, taste, convenience, and service standards so it’s a little concerning that sustainability is marketed as Wheelys main value prop. Lastly, I wonder how Wheelys manages its fleet – specifically, whether or not it knows if bike shop owners lease their portable shops to others during their downtime.
I had no idea about Stella before I read this! Thanks for the informative article. Stella’s seemed to have developed such a strong reputation in the fashion industry and it’s an interesting second order solution to the effect of livestock production’s impact on climate change. Rather than assume people are paying luxury prices to primarily support the environmentally friendly company, I agree that quality and design play an even more important part in the value proposition for consumers, especially if the underlying material (i.e., faux leather) is not typically used for luxury items. I’ve heard that plastic is one of the hardest materials to recycle and it was awesome to read how Stella is using it on shoe stoles. I wonder if any other design innovations are in the works and other actions Stella is taking to develop a reputation beyond just artfully-used faux leather where Stella would become THE name for any luxury fashion item made from a variety of sustainable goods.
Interesting that BK is lagging behind MCD in terms of implementing more environmentally-friendly practices. Who’d have thought! I wonder if the fact that McDonald’s has some of the strictest brand and standardized procedural requirements in the quick service restaurant industry plays a role in how Burger King and others deliver a consistent message and operational strategy around environmental sustainability. Also, I love a MCD or BK burger just as much as the next person, but I wonder what expectations we should have on fast food companies whose very business models (e.g., meat usage, disposable packaging) are inherently at odds with climate change? One could argue that the above efforts is only change at the margin.
This post was super interesting, not just because I love Luke’s Lobster’s food. I’d imagine in the short to medium term, if lobsters are flourishing in Maine and the company wants to remain vertically integrated, Luke’s would have to decide if they want to expand their operations northward to source more fresh lobster. Another step beyond perhaps protecting the eggs until when they hatch is protecting the ecosystem that baby lobsters grow up in too. Coastal rockweeds are a lobster’s main source of food, so linking up with the community to ensure its survival is equally critical!
Thanks a lot for the insightful post Alejandro. Having just read a post on cocoa production, I’m noticing some similar challenges in both sectors. While there are clear production factors that differ between U.S. and places like West Africa where there is a lot more emphasis on cocoa growing, I wonder how the tactical experience that vineyards are amassing on how to optimize yield in the face of dry-farming could be shared with tangential industries. I imagine there’s quite a bit of best practice that vineyard owners have learned!