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I agree on both points. When my company first started selling our cloud software, we targeted innovative companies who were more likely to be receptive of the cloud, rather than legacy companies that had used manual processes for years mostly because it was a much easier sell. This is starting to change (both in my company, and in cloud-first ERP systems) as new entrants’ offerings become more robust, but I do agree with your point that Oracle has the opportunity to grab that market now (especially the larger companies that are a bit too sophisticated to use some of the downstream cloud systems) before others gain too much traction. And the security point is a great one as well. This is a huge concern, especially for the legacy customers because they don’t know how/whether to trust new technology, but I do have some concern whether Oracle actually has the in-house expertise to credibly claim that they offer the most secure solution.

Thanks for a great read! While the buzz around blockchain and healthcare is real, adoption has been slow. In addition to the challenges you raise (lack of buy-in and lack of infrastructure), this article by PwC highlights another challenge: the inability to audit the new technology (1). They mention the newness of blockchain, lack of technical expertise in the industry, and challenges with reconciling old control systems with this new decentralized technology as key audit limitations. With time, I believe that they’ll be able to overcome this, but to me the biggest barrier preventing adoption of blockchain technology throughout healthcare systems will be uncertainty about data ownership, privacy, and access. To your last point, there seems to be some doubt whether blockchain technology (pseudonymous via mathematical algorithms) is HIPAA compliant, and though a solution can likely be found, anything that endangers the privacy of patient health records is likely to slow down adoption greatly (2). All that said, one study I found reported that 76% of its respondents identified the adoption of blockchain technology as a key strategic initiative (3). For these reasons, I think addressing credentialing is a great way to start introducing blockchain into the healthcare system. It sits far enough from medical record access and patient confidentiality to placate blockchain skeptics, but would introduce tangible efficiencies across the networks that could spur adoption in additional areas.

1) http://usblogs.pwc.com/emerging-technology/the-blockchain-challenge/
2) https://iapp.org/news/a/blockchain-and-big-data-privacy-in-healthcare/
3) https://www.cognizant.com/whitepapers/healthcare-blockchains-curative-potential-for-healthcare-efficiency-and-quality-codex2995.pdf

Thanks for an interesting article, Jan. I hadn’t heard about this before, but I did a bit of research and it looks like platooning is also being tested in the US. I think I’d find it shocking to see trucks so close together on the highway, but I understand the need for reducing emissions and improving fuel efficiency. Aside from the obvious benefits in terms of environmental impact, I wonder how platooning will impact shipment patterns. As companies are pressed to shorten lead times between order and delivery, it becomes harder for companies to ship full truckloads, but operating at capacity is critical from a cost savings standpoint. If companies are now attempting to fill 2-3 trucks instead of one, I wonder whether this will slow down delivery timetables – a result that few customers would be willing to accept in the age of Amazon same-day delivery.

This article also discusses the question of who companies will choose to platoon with: http://www.truckinginfo.com/channel/fuel-smarts/article/story/2016/04/platooning-is-on-the-way.aspx

While the preference to build platoons within their own fleet, it seems like this may be unrealistic in some settings – especially for the smaller operators who will certainly need to adopt any cost-saving processes in order to remain competitive. As companies look to form platoons across fleets, who will be responsible for coordinating and managing the platooning process? Fleet operators and logistics companies seem well positioned to do this, but is coordinating across customers going too far? They’ll need to be careful to protect companies’ privacy regarding frequency and content of shipments while also pairing them up with other companies making similar journeys.

This was a great read. I agree that in the long term climate change may cause farmers to exit the avocado industry as consumers, no longer in the midst of an avocado craze, shift their preferences to lower cost produce. But short term, it seems that the high prices that avocados are commanding have led to a surge in production and crime in some areas (1). This article states that some Mexican farmers have turned to illegally destroying forests in order to plant avocados. The destruction of forests disrupts many local species and avocado orchards use twice as much water as the typical forest that’s being cut down, further exacerbating the water shortages in these areas. There’s also increasing gang violence in areas where avocados are grown as players seek control of these high-demand, low-supply fruits. I think these trends heighten the need for quick action by Avocados from Mexico and other advocacy groups. Less water-intensive growing methods and experimentation with different varieties like Ryan suggests are a good start, but I’m not sure how long it will take to increase supply and decrease prices enough to de-incentivize illegal growing and violence in Mexico.

1) https://www.pbs.org/newshour/economy/column-avocado-boom

On November 25, 2017, PC commented on Checking Out Should Feel Like You’re Stealing :

Aside from the obvious opportunities to leverage this technology in a few of their own stores and at Whole Foods — despite claims that they are not currently pursuing such a rollout (1) — I would think that Amazon’s end goal is to license this technology to other retailers. As you mentioned, B&M is not Amazon’s core competency and failure in this arena would be highly visible, so it is important for them to fully prove out this technology before licensing it as a service to others. But once complete, this technology allows them to become a key supplier for all retailers much in the same way they’ve done with Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the cloud, and ensures that they’ll benefit no matter where shoppers choose to transact. Similar to how they’ve become the eCommerce site for many brands online, their “walk out shopping” technology could serve as the in-store platform for major brands. Further, by essentially replacing retailers’ historical POSs with their own system, Amazon will have access to vast amounts of data on shopping habits and inventory turnover that they can incorporate into their online sales experiences. Today, online marketers are able to retarget customers who have recently browsed their sites, peppering them with discount codes and pressuring them to complete transactions. With access to in-store data, Amazon could blend online and offline marketing programs, notifying customers of in-store deals when they’re passing by retailers with products related to their Amazon browsing history or prompting customers to subscribe to regular deliveries of items they’ve seen them purchasing weekly in stores. To Grant’s point that small retailers being the biggest losers in this story, I think it depends on how/if Amazon markets this technology. Again comparing to AWS, the vast majority of companies on AWS are small and medium sized companies without the infrastructure or know-how to build systems of their own. If this technology takes off, I think the smaller retailers may be quicker to adopt while larger retailers might stubbornly believe that they can either build it better themselves (or acquire someone who can) or have a strong enough brand/shopping experience that changes aren’t needed. In that case, the larger companies would be the biggest losers.

1) https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-15/amazon-s-cashierless-store-is-almost-ready-for-prime-time

While it makes sense that, faced with lower purchasing power, UK consumers would turn to discounters like Aldi and Lidl, my first thought was that these discount retailers would suffer more than regular supermarket chains in the wake of Brexit. My assumption was that as discount retailers, they had tighter margins so less flexibility to absorb increases in supply chain costs, and as German companies, and discount stores to boot, their supply chains were likely more European/international than UK-based stores. I was surprised to read about Lidl’s 100% British meat program (https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/1344085/how-aldi-and-lidl-are-set-to-benefit-most-from-brexit-compared-to-other-major-supermarkets/). I wonder what drove their early decision to focus on local sourcing.

While I agree with your second recommendation, I don’t think that’s what Ford is doing. As you mention, by shifting small-car, efficient vehicle production to China where costs are lower, Ford is freeing up space and investment dollars to build large, inefficient, but (currently) profitable vehicles in the US. Though Americans may be buying fewer compact, efficient vehicles currently, it feels short-sighted for Ford to double-down on producing SUVs and other inefficient vehicles in the US. As macro trends suggest shifts towards electric and autonomous vehicles, will Ford not suffer doubly (financially, and potentially politically) if/when demand for large SUVs drops (and US jobs disappear as a result) at the same time that demand for their efficient vehicles (produced in China, subject to import tariffs) increases (resulting in larger share of production outside of the US)? I’d also be curious to know how Ford is thinking about the political risk that accompanies Chinese manufacturing because while changes to NAFTA may seem more imminent, the current administration’s stance on China isn’t exactly friendly.