Noemie Renaerts

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On November 26, 2017, Noemie Renaerts commented on Grocery: the next online frontier :

Great insights on the need for brick-and-mortar players to move to a more effective use of online channels to compete against Amazon!

One angle I believe is under-represented in this paper, although a key driver of the acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon, is in-store consumer experience. Grocery shopping used to be a fairly universal / homogeneous experience. However, Whole Foods has become a master at driving people into their stores to buy the fresh produce, grab a quick but healthy lunch, buy the best cheeses, etc.

Hence, I would suggest to Kroger to look across the industry for successful chains delivering a great customer experience, whether online or in-store. Different people are looking for different types of groceries at different times. Eataly, Trader Joes, Fresh Direct, Blue Apron, etc. each have very different experiences, while many consumers shop at each of them depending on the needs they are solving for. Balancing those needs across a set of experiences, while maintaining overall scale and logistics viability will be important for success.

On November 26, 2017, Noemie Renaerts commented on Do You Mind If I Take Notes? — McKinsey Turns an Eye to Digital :

The author raises several insightful points on recruiting and engagement models.

First, a professional services firm focused on leading digital transformations needs a different talent pool. Focusing recruiting efforts on top Business Schools will no longer suffice. Hiring more developers won’t do the trick either. Digital transformations need design thinkers, who can translate a line of code into a unique user experience. Designers (like Jonathan Ive at Apple) are needed to lead these efforts.

Second, attracting this new talent pool is merely a start. Next comes retention. Partnership models, common in large consultancy firms, incentivize employees to stay for their full careers if they want the big paycheck. It is likely that designers and / or developers will not wait until the age of partner in order to receive significant remuneration, and that large tech companies are willing to pay higher salaries earlier on. Consultancy firms will need to take a closer look at their remuneration schemes in order to make this work.

Third, as the author describes, the engagement models need to change as well. Less stringent models, with better work/life balance, and more tailored customer needs based approaches are a start.

The key challenge to solve I believe lies in driving forward a clear “delta” in expertise between McKinsey professionals and client needs. As long as you stay ahead of your client, you can help them lead the way.

On November 26, 2017, Noemie Renaerts commented on Brexit and BMW: Disintegration of European supply chains? :

The author raises a very contemporary problem around isolationism and the risks for economic growth. Specifically within the Brexit context, I believe 2 key topics should be discussed further.

First, considering the political challenges both in the UK and within the broader EU Brexit negotiations, will Brexit actually happen? Recent political losses resulted in a very difficult negotiating position for the British conservative government, who will likely lose the next general election to Labour. Furthermore, as the author raises, a “good deal” will not be in the interest of the EU mainland. If a deal is struck, it will likely hurt the UK economy badly and no others will want to follow. This expectation is emphasized by the fact that nationalistic parties campaigning for a EU exit have been losing across the EU over the past 12 months.

Second, global supply chains move around on a regular basis and they will continue to do so. Creating flexibility within an uncertain geopolitical stage will be high on the agenda across global corporations. Key solution dimensions will be global demand (driven by regional growth), capital expenditure (driven by government incentives), talent deployment (matching supply and demand), and flexible production (driven by the cost to establish facilities and cost to leave).

This paper raises a very important and timely issue within the technology sector, and urges us to take a closer look at the value created by large technology players. When deciding whether to store and control data locally vs. globally, the operational challenge needs to be compared to the opportunity of delivering a great user experience.

Currently, many of these technology players work with a hub-and-spoke data center model, where all data is stored in the hub, and cached locally in the spokes. This local caching is necessary to ensure delivery of a great user experience.
Imagine how long it would take to load a video stored on Facebook’s main data center, without it being cached in a local spoke. If several users access that same video, the same data transmission would have to happen several times. In a hub-and-spoke model, that data transmission only happens once between the hub and each spoke, and then several times from the spoke to the user. A hub-and-spoke model leads to lower redundant data streams, and is therefore much more efficient. In addition, users can access the desired content more quickly, as data needs to travel for shorter distances. Because of the increasing richness of media consumed, local caching of data is becoming more and more common to ensure delivery of that great user experience.

Yes, compliance with local data privacy and control will be something new for multinational tech giants to work with, but local data caching is necessary from a user experience point of view.
The only reason why tech giants (should) leave a country is because they cannot create a competitive user experience (e.g., eBay in China)

On November 26, 2017, Noemie Renaerts commented on McDonald’s: can fast food be sustainable and profitable? :

Great fact base for the paper, very interesting to read! I think the author touches on the core of challenge in the questions she is raising at the end of the paper. The company clearly has a responsibility to source sustainable beef and we should expect large multinationals to help us “save the planet”. However, the core of the problem is consumer preferences for beef. If we cannot change this, anything McDonald’s tries to do will be off-set by competition taking market share because of shrinking margins and lower ability to compete. There will always be a fast food chain that purely looks at consumer preferences.

Overall, climate change is a typical free-riders problem that needs to be solved through government intervention. The free market cannot solve the problem, because it cannot price externalities effectively. Hence 2 proposals – First, calculate the real cost of beef (including externalities, such as greenhouse gas emissions and eventual harm to the planet) and levy taxes so that consumers make “real” choices between beans and steak vs. today. Second, increase education around the effects of eating beef, starting in pre-school.

On November 26, 2017, Noemie Renaerts commented on Where in the world will our wine come from? :

Important problem to solve for any wine enthusiast! Climate change will create new questions / challenges for wine makers all over the world. At the extremes, I believe some of the warmest regions will not make (the same) wines 30 years from now vs. today. In some cases, technology or other solutions can help, but at the end of the day, it’s hard to grow wine in a desert-like environment (assuming that for some regions temperatures would go up by that much).

Looking at the current footprint of the wine making industry, I believe there is overall an opportunity as more regions will become great places to make wines (e.g., parts of the US, Europe). The core regions suffering from extreme heat, rising sea levels, and other climate change effects are around the equator in Latin-America (Chilean and Argentinian wine is typically made well above sea level), Africa, and Asia, most of which are not wine regions today.

Finally, as climate gradually changes, so will our preferences. This will create room / pressure for innovation in the industry, hence to answer the authors question: No, the wines and grapes will not be the same, nor have they been over the past 200 years.
From over 200gr of sugar in champagne 200 years ago, vs. 3-6gr today, relatively demise of port, rise of (high quality) rose wines, rise of Californian Cabernet and Oregon Pinot as well as Australian Shiraz… All of these innovations, whether grape, location, or style, have accommodated changing preferences. I believe that great winemakers will continue to do so for the next 200 years.