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On November 19, 2016, NathanB commented on H&R Block: A Taxing Fall from Grace :

Interesting post, Joey! I personally use the semi-DIY online H&R Block Software for many of the reasons you list above. (I imagine the true DIY is to actually fill our the tax forms by hand and complete all calculations manually.) I am a bit skeptical of the idea that H&RB can go fully digital for the following reasons: (1) the physical stores in my mind are the company adapting itself to consumer habits, which, as we have learned in marketing, are very hard to change, (2) while there is an constant drumbeat in the private sector towards automation and ease of use, one should not assume the same progress with the government as their incentives are entirely different, and (3) when we consider the game theory of H&RB, I would imagine that any serious challenges to its physical store model would be met by lobbying from H&RB to complicate the tax code enough to necessitate those locations again.

Great post. I hadn’t thought of this in the context of digital transformation previously.

Hi Shaun, nice post! You’ve really “built” a strong argument for why digital transformation is needed in the construction argument. I was actually introduced to Zach Scheel, the CEO of Rhumbix back when I was first applying to business school as he is a fellow Navy vet. I think he is a great example of someone operating in an analogue and inefficient industry who has the insight to apply basic and commodified technology — like that inside iPhones — to do the job better.

I’d be interested in hearing more about (1) how Rhumbix delivers its promised value to construction companies and (2) what sort of advantage Rhumbix has that would prevent large construction companies from developing proprietary software guaranteed to link seamlessly with existing infrastructure?

Once again, great topic.

On November 19, 2016, NathanB commented on The Battle of the Books: Should Barnes & Noble Concede? :

Thanks for a great “read”! Quite the “page turner.” It is very interesting to see how intensely analogue stores like Barnes & Noble can compete in an increasingly digital environment, especially as so many of their peer group (like Borders, which I frankly prefered) cannot.

I don’t mean to throw the “book” at you, but your post ends with the conclusion that B&N should focus on its traditional brick and mortar business instead of engaging in a digital transformation. That left me with two questions for you to “leaf” through: First, do you really think that there will always be a space for physical book retailers with large, pre-printed inventories like B&N? It seems like there is a lot of room for digital transformation with on-demand book printing, especially from one of the more niche self-published authors who have developed cult followings in the age of the Kindle. Second, is the lesson they should learn from the Nook really that they should steer clear of the device market? What about building apps that reside on iPads and such that best simulate the book reading experience or in some other way leverage the book-seller’s bibliognostic expertise.

On November 19, 2016, NathanB commented on Selling cars in 10 minutes: Disrupting used cars :

This is a very “Smart” and “Noble” post. One “Mini” suggestion: I think you could a”Ford” to talk more about which business model you believe will win out, as right now you “Dodge” this natural question, when really you should “Ram” into it head first.

In light of our recent cases about Li&Fung and Uber, do you think that Auto1 can maintain its competitive position as an intermediator of parties? It doesn’t strike me that there is a particularly resilient network effect here given that consumers would probably only sell a couple cars in their lifetime, and that enterprises would have the resources to source cars from many different vendors. Compounded by the fact that the value chain between the initial seller and ultimate buyer is longer, it would seem that Auto1 would need to find a way to achieve significant market share in order to gain market power with the buyers at the next step in the chain. What would enable them to do this? Reduce the capital intensity of its operations by not actually buying the cars? Make the car diagnostic more self-directed such that they no longer need physical locations to inspect the cars or inspectors to dispatch to people’s homes? Those seem to be the important questions for Auto1’s digitation.

Way to “Go(.com)” on this post! I have “Naver” seen one with such good “Info(.com)”. After all, not to “Dogpile” on Yahoo, but who in need of a “GoodSearch” uses Yahoo anymore? “SearchMe”! I think you succinctly captured the “Google” of trends that led Yahoo missed, leading to an “empas” with marketshare and a “Blekko” profitability outlook.

I also like this topic because we can probably learn more about digital transformation from the failure cases than the successes. In your last section, you show clearly how a savvier Yahoo could have changed it operating model to benefit from the key drivers of search engines in web 2.0 — customized ads, data capture, mobile first, and technological proliferation. It is a bit outside the scope of this assignment, but I would have liked to hear your ideas on why Yahoo missed these trends. Was it a David and Goliath moment where Yahoo, as the incumbent, was unable to take a risk on different business model? Was it complacency? Once Yahoo realized its problems, why couldn’t it recover? Is the network effect in search too strong, and if so, what does that tell us about other products undergoing digital transformation?

On November 7, 2016, NathanBruschi commented on General Motors Tackles Climate Change by Talking About It :

Very interesting article, and a great topic for climate change! Given the scale with which car companies operate, even incremental changes in the efficiency of automobiles can have a huge impact on the 26% of greenhouse gases emitted in the US each year from transportation sources.

Couple questions to consider: 1) Do you think it is necessary for Chevy to subsidize electric cars? If gasoline taxes are raised and the public is properly educated about climate change, do you think that organic demand would enable Chevy to sell vehicles like this at full cost? Would that make the business model sustainable?

2) What exactly is Chevy’s angle with signing public stances against climate change? Is this pure marketing or something more?

Great article!

On November 7, 2016, NathanBruschi commented on Killing Mosquitos in the Age of Zika: AMVAC Considers Climate Change :

Hi Mike! Thanks for this “sick” article. Like every “red blooded” America, I’m “bugging out” that Zika is “going viral” in the U.S. as microcephaly really “sucks.” I’m afraid that “spraying and praying” only “scratches” the surface of this problem and that we can do better than just come up with solutions “on the fly.”

If those bug puns didn’t “zap” your energy, I’ll say that your article raised a number of questions for me — first, if Zika’s spread is indeed linked to climate change, is there a way to use a changing climate to stop the mosquito’s reproductive cycle? If climate change is rendering some places arid and others lush, will the net effect be to shift mosquito populated areas or spread them? What will this mean for the business model here?

Second, where does Zika go next? It sounds like there is a massive business opportunity for anti-mosquito businesses to work throughout the United States but I’m a little concerned that there is a perverse incentive for fumigation businesses to not do a great job. How can we prevent principal-agent problems here? If Zika continues to travel internationally, what will be the role of international institutions in leading the charge?

Finally, it sounds like dibrom has some pretty bad ecological effects — what about a more “targeted” solution like this mosquito-killing laser? Great job!

On November 6, 2016, NathanBruschi commented on A Slippery Slope: How Can Ski Resorts Adapt to Global Warming? :

“Cool” article, Colin. When it comes to topics like skiing, it’s hard for me to get “board”. I’m sad to see that climate change has the winter sports industry going “down hill” and on “thin ice” but I’m sure once we’ve “gondola” list of solutions and implemented some, I’ll get the “lift” I need.

Since there’s “snow” way I’m going to be able to fix the problem just by pointing it out, I wanted to raise a few questions for you to consider. First, do you buy Vail’s strategy of reducing weather risk from climate change by diversifying its mountain portfolio? It would seem like a good strategy in normal circumstances, but isn’t the danger of climate change that it will make the slopes everywhere too hot to ski? Is there any data on the correlation of snow melt across resorts?

Second, it sounds like lobbying congress and developing more efficient snow-making technologies would help to address some of the challenges of climate change, but indirectly. What can Vail do by itself? Is it a passive victim of climate change or does it’s business model allow it to take action itself?

On November 6, 2016, NathanBruschi commented on Vail Resorts: An Avalanche of Change :

Nice post, Alex. I can see how your experience shepherding the offspring of the outdoorsy affluent combined with your own athletic prowess in (at times) treacherous environment, have enabled you to make such killer comments in LEAD (and TOM for that matter!).

As for Vail, I was unaware of its attempts at diversifying its snow resort portfolio to decrease environmental risk, but can see how such a model would protect it against one-off weather events at its rarified mountains. But given the global and catastrophic nature of climate change, wouldn’t such a model succeed only in the short run? Isn’t the danger of climate change that it will end the sport of outdoor skiing as we know it, or force us to continue searching for new slopes further and further north?

I am really intrigued by your idea to use Vail as a platform for educating its elite clientele on climate change. Moneyed individuals like them would surely be in good positions to make change either in business or government, and would be good allies to cultivate. How would you market to them this call-to-action? Would you impose a “global warming” fee on their individual lift tickets? Plant yard-sticks measuring how the snowpack has decreased year over year? Keep entire trails verdant to adumberate the consequences of climate change on this resort in particular? It’s a question more fit for Marketing than a TOM, but I’d be interested to hear your strategy.

On November 6, 2016, NathanBruschi commented on Netafim: Grow More With Less :

Thanks for a great piece Rotem! This is an important topic and you argue well for its relevancy in the face of climate change. My reaction reading this is that while drip irrigation was novel at the time of its debut and was used to great effect in Israel and other resource-stressed areas, it seems to be an old idea that is easily replicated.

You have a section titled “innovation” but I’m really wondering what innovations Netafim has made in the last decade or so that will allow it to reduce the burden of climate change over the next century. How will the internet-of-things be incorporated? Is the company able to make sensors smaller and more economical such that they can be used more widely? What about even more controlled systems such as the Food Computer at the MIT Media Lab? see: Is that the future?

Answering these questions will be important for determining the environmental impact, but also the long-term sustainability of the company. As drip irrigation becomes more of a commodity business what will Netafim do to stay competitive? Great piece!