Miguel, thank you for this interesting post!
Actually I believe that even if coal mining companies manage to become more efficient/environment-friendly, coal itself should not have any future. In my opinion it is highly hypocritical if countries such as Germany, shut down nuclear plants but still heavily rely on coal due to its availability. The U.K. leads by a great example having reduces coal consumption by more than 50% and having closed three coal power plants. On April 21 the U.K. celebrated its first coal-free day for almost 200 years.
I hope many other countries will follow this example and rather invest in renewable energies than try to incrementally improve efficiencies in the coal mining process or its supply chain.
Great article Kamau! I loved to read it, it feels like a short HBS case!
It was both interesting and striking to see how a 20% border tax could affect and destroy an established player like Target. I fully agree with the contingencies you propose: qualify and develop new local suppliers and invest in manufacturing technology. The latter is in my opinion a potential solution to approach the key considerations you raised at the end of your article. You mentioned the cost of labor as key differentiator for production facilities outside the US, particularly in Asia. Assuming that this difference in labor cost will remain in the foreseeable future, the only way to be competitive is to reduce to a minimum the amount of human labor required in manufacturing. Today’s technology advances allow to design manufacturing plants that are (almost) fully automatized and will ultimately help the US strengthen a competitive advantage through manufacturing technology, a field that is less attractive to invest in for Asian manufacturers benefiting from low cost labor.
Darius, thank you for this very interesting post and for choosing Smurfit Kappa! Smurfit Kappa was a potential client when I was working in Business Development in Mexico. In addition, during my time as strategy consultant I worked on a procurement optimization project focusing on paper supply.
I strongly agree with the concerns you raised about increased costs of raw material supplies that will ultimately result in higher sales prices. However, I do not think Smurfit Kappa’s competitiveness is at risk since the pulp & paper industry is a highly local industry when it comes to distribution. Paper mills in the UK supply primarily customers within the UK. Thus, a price increase in the UK will not only affect Smurfit Kappa but also its competitors in the UK. In the end, the British end customer will be the one most affected since he will end paying a higher price for products manufactured in the UK that use paper as input.
Ines, thank you for this very interesting post with a great title!
I love the idea to leverage Blockchain to ensure traceability of products across the supply chain and ultimately reduce risk of counterfeits. I certainly see the value for food products taking into account past frauds, however I think that Blockchain would be even more powerful for high value items, such as luxury goods. You mentioned fashion brands such as Gucci, but I also think about jewelry. For instance, the diamond company De Beers used blockchain to trace and distinguish between legitimately acquired and blood diamonds: https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/04/blockchains-used-to-trace-blood-diamonds.html
Thank you for the very interesting post, Alejandro!
I completely agree, self-driving trucks are a fascinating topic and will necessarily disrupt the transportation business. Actually, I think that we will see self-driving trucks very soon. For instance in the UK, government allowed convoys of semi autonomous trucks, known as “platooning” on public highways as of next year for testing purposes: https://www.engadget.com/2017/08/25/uk-platooning-trials/
In Germany DHL will start tests of self-driving last mile delivery vans next year: https://www.inc.com/will-yakowicz/dhl-self-driving-trucks-germany.html
In addition, very recently, the US Senate’s Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved a bill called the “American Vision of Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act, or the AV Start Act” speeding up legislation for self driving vehicles: http://ipjournal.law.wfu.edu/2017/11/u-s-senate-speeds-up-self-driving-car-legislation/
Thanks for the very interesting post, Sharat!
Miami is a great example for a US city heavily impacted by climate change. Rising sea levels is a serious challenge not only for Miami. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration almost 2% of all homes in the US are at risk in 2100 if sea levels rise by 6 feet, equaling 882 billion worth in real estate. I completely agree that Miami should partner with other cities and increase pressure on federal entities. Climate change is a global issue and I hope that such examples like Miami can change people’s perspectives who still think climate change is a “scam invented by the Chinese” to finally take it seriously and to commit to fight against it in a global effort.