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On November 20, 2016, MS_2018 commented on Ziosk: Digitalizing the Fast-Casual Restaurant Experience :

I very much enjoyed this post– it was interesting to see not only how Ziosk brings digital solutions to restaurants but also how Ziosk has leverage technology to improve its own business strategy and operating model. As Ziosk scales up to feature in more restaurants, its data will become increasingly valuable: they could implement and restaurant consultancy business line that offers best practices gleaned from all the restaurants it covers; more broadly and creatively, once they have scaled sufficiently, their data could serve as an excellent indicator of the financial health/growth of certain segments of the restaurant industry. They could conceivably license these findings to financial institutions.

On November 20, 2016, MS_2018 commented on The Internet of Trash :

Thanks for a wonderful post.

When it comes to logistical improvements stemming from digitization’s impact on WM’s operating model, I am very curious where specifically the gains have been made. I presume that better, real-time data and ‘smart bins’ would provide for better information with less lag — and, in turn, that informational advantage could lead to an optimized pickup/drop-off route. In this way, it’s interesting to see how better information process flow directly cuts out time and inefficiency in the physical flows.

There is one other area that it would be interesting to see WM take on a more active role in: changing consumer behavior in terms of waste disposal / sorting for recycling. Of course, a huge piece of the issue is cultural and governmental, but the difference between the US and Germany is just staggering. In Germany, 65% of waste is recycled– it is sorted so efficiently that an entire industry has blossomed that converts waste into energy [1]. This industry is, in fact, so effective that Germany is now importing trash from neighboring countries to fuel its incineration plants [2]. Is there some way that WM could establish economic incentives that could drive consumer behavior in waste disposal?


This was a very interesting post that offered a compelling synopsis of how an AT&T/Time Warner merger would create value, while substantially altering the business and operating models of both pieces of the new combined company. Yet, there seem to be huge question-marks regarding the regulatory landscape and the chances that the deal will be scuttled on anti-trust grounds; in fact, it’s precisely because of the ability for AT&T to capture value as a result of its size that can worry regulators. This raised a few questions in my mind that I think would be interesting to explore in more depth.
(1) How may AT&T alter its public comments surrounding the deal to perhaps assuage these anti-trust concerns? Is it possible that some of the value creation you pinpoint will be better left unsaid to shareholders?
(2) How might the recent election results impact the regulatory risk? Both candidates came out with highly negative commentary surrounding the announced merger; it seems like a risk that absolutely cannot be ignored. For example, back in October, Donald Trump condemned the deal saying he would block it because it would result in “too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.” [1]


On November 20, 2016, MS_2018 commented on Digitization in Video Games: Taking Advantage of Gamers :

Thanks for a great piece. It was really interesting to read about the downsides of internet access in video game production, particularly the capacity to mislead buyers (intentionally or through misguided wishful thinking). Your post as well as Ryan’s comment made me think back to the product development funnel — it seems that continuous internet access may be leading to a more backloaded product development design where there is room for continuous, iterative improvement after release. In that regard, it felt similar to Indigo Agriculture and their model in which launching a product expediently was the emphasis ; they knew that they could iterate and improve better post-launch with the help of input from farmers. Bringing this analogy back to video game production, it seems to me that, when properly marketed and properly executed, video game developers have an incredibly willing fan base that is willing to help ‘beta test’ and aid product improvement. Perhaps billing game releases as a ‘soft launch’ or to a limited set of customers could be an interesting compromise.

On November 20, 2016, MS_2018 commented on Too Much Data Strikes a Blow to Tableau :

This was a very interesting synopsis of where the value in big data analytics is heading in the years to come. I took a closer look at McCrory’s blog that you referred to in the post, and it was really interesting to see yet another example of a major corporation that is aiming to move closer to the epicenter of big data– Their strategic construction of and Dreamforce plays right into this phenomenon of ‘data gravity’ that we have seen from Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. What I found most fascinating about this discussion was that a company like Tableau could be positioned within one of the most dynamic growth sectors in the world [1]– yet, face existential risks stemming from how it relates to the value chain within the big data analytics space.

[1] McKinsey Report

On November 7, 2016, MS_2018 commented on NIKE combats Global Warming: “Just Do It” for the Planet :

I really enjoyed this post. I thought it was particularly interesting in the context of some of the lessons we have recently gleaned in class. I think there is a direct parallel to the IKEA case, where we discussed the reputational importance of spearheading sustainability initiatives regarding wood procurement and use, given IKEA’s sheer size– its role as industry leader affords the company many options, but also places an enormous target on its back. NIKE faces a similar dynamic in the apparel industry. Secondly, I thought it was very interesting to hear about NIKE Football’s 2010 World cup South Africa campaign in our marketing class, and I think some of the lessons from Nike executives in that instance can shed some light on the issues at play in your post. Nike product designers continually stated that they needed to lead with good products– if they couldn’t improve the products while simultaneously reducing how climate-damaging and material-intensive they are, then they would scrap any initiatives. It is not sufficient to design a friendlier product– it has to be an overall better product as well, from a quality v. cost perspective, or consumers simply will not adopt it and any sustainability gains will evaporate.

On November 7, 2016, MS_2018 commented on The insatiable appetite of climate change :

Saurav, this was a very compelling read. I find it interesting that, in my opinion, Cargill’s declaration almost sidesteps the chief issue. While they boldly declare that “we are optimistic that the world can feed itself,” it seems to me that this is actually not the foremost concern. It’s not food production that is most at risk– it is food availability. Roughly one-third of the world’s global food production– some 1.3 billion tons per year– gets lost or wasted [1]; meanwhile, nearly 800 million people around the world do not have sufficient food to live a healthy life. [2] Mapping a better solution to get current food production into the hands of those who need it most– and doing so in a climate-friendly manner with regard to transportation of these calories– should be the chief, near-to-medium-term concern. For reference, food transportation has risen far faster than food production: in the thirty years up to 1998, “world food production increased by 84 percent and the population by 91 percent, but food trade increased 184 percent.” [3]. By the mid-2000s, the typical American prepared meal contained, on average, ingredients from at least 5 other countries. [3]

Focusing primarily on tackling this food availability/transportation problem while simultaneously investing for the long term in more climate-friendly food production techniques overall seems like a good path forward–and it is concerning to see that Cargill’s priorities may not align with this objective.

[1] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,, accessed Nov 2016
[2] World Food Programme, Hunger Statistics,, accessed Nov 2016
[3] ‘Health Facts,’ Natural Resource Defense Council, 2007,, accessed Nov 2016

On November 7, 2016, MS_2018 commented on Always Coca Cola? :

This was a very interesting post. I was particularly intrigued by the geopolitical considerations inherent in water scarcity/availability, particularly in Asia; I really appreciated your example of the bottling plant in Kerala. For some perspective on the scope of this issue in the decades to come: Asia is home to three-fifths of the world’s population but has less freshwater per capita than any other continent. [1] Zooming in on Asia’ two largest and most influential countries, China and India account for nearly 40% of the global population, but less than 11% of the world’s fresh water. [1] According to the World Bank, 9 out of 10 aquifers underneath major Chinese cities are polluted, and 300+ million Chinese lack access to safe drinking water. [2] I’m curious to see how Coca-Cola can brace for extreme geopolitical dislocation stemming from water availability.

[1] “Water: Asia’s New Battleground,” Brahma Chellaney, Georgetown University Press, 2012
[2] ‘Why We Care About the Price of Water in China,’ Peter Orszag, July 2011,, accessed Nov 2016

On November 7, 2016, MS_2018 commented on Running on Fumes :

This was a fascinating post on a compelling industrial niche that I knew very little about. Daniel, I particularly appreciated how you pulled back in your last few paragraphs to raise some of the key questions facing Ingevity in the decades to come. There is a significant irony at play that makes for a fascinating dynamic: Ingevity is an example of a company that has and will continue to ride the wave of incremental adoption of more climate friendly solutions– yet, their business model is directly threatened by a disruptive leap forward (electric vehicles). I completely agree with your assertion that they need to diversify into other technological applications; it would be a real tragedy to see this company devolve from a forward-thinking, environmentally innovative company into an organization that combats more substantial progress because it undermines their current business model. Said simply, Ingevity should innovate with its business model rather than lose its place high atop the list of climate-friendly innovators.

This was a really fascinating overview of an industry where economic and climate considerations seem to align quite favorably—there is clear rationale for Johnson Controls to be part of the solution given that there are not daunting economic strings attached. This was particularly clear when it comes to the central thrust of the post: the case for shifting away from HVACs.

However, when it comes to driving the shift to more energy efficient buildings (as discussed in the final paragraph), the calculus is likely more complex from a financial perspective. It is one thing to sell more energy efficient components in existing air conditioners; it is quite another if boosts in energy efficiency must come from a shift away from individual air conditioning units over to centralized solutions. Initial research does not reveal the value proposition to Johnson Controls for working on centralized building solutions at the expense selling a larger quantity of individual units in a given residence. But it is very interesting to note the following comment from a Johnson Controls sponsored white paper on this very issue:

“First, the industry is quickly approaching the theoretical limit of how much efficiency can be expected from individual components. Granted, HVAC equipment manufacturers have made great strides in the past 25 years, increasing the efficiency of components by as much as 40%. But we can’t expect the same gains in the future. Moving forward, engineers and building owners will have to look beyond the component level to reach increasingly aggressive energy-efficiency goals… Secondly… today’s high-efficiency components are designed to work optimally when they are part of a networked, interrelated system. For both of these reasons, the focus is beginning to shift away from component-based efficiency targets toward a broader, holistic approach to achieving persistent, peak performance. This emerging, ‘whole-building’ philosophy is known as Central Plant Optimization.” [1]

In this vein, my follow-up question to this thought-provoking post would be the following: as the bar for improved energy efficiency thankfully gets higher and higher, can Johnson Controls continue to be part of the solution and do so in an economically viable way?

[1] “Seven Steps to Maximizing Central Plant Efficiency,” David Klee (Director of Channel Marketing & Strategy, Johnson Controls) & Gary Gigot (Vice President Business Development, Optimum Energy LLC), 2011, accessed Nov 2016