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Dan, thanks for sharing this thought-provoking piece on how management and Boards should think about corporate strategy in the face of increasing demands for service players to become high-technology players. I believe there is a third option to consider – to grow capabilities in technology, PAE does not necessarily have to acquire a business or grow organically, but it can form partnerships with technology companies to add capabilities to its existing suite of services. More and more, we are seeing tech start-ups form strategic long-term partnerships with key industry players as part of a core tenant to their operating model. While there may be security/privacy concerns on information sharing when partnering with a high-tech cybersecurity firm, I believe if done correctly, this is a very viable path for a highly-levered, private-equity owned company to being successful in quickly building out its breadth of its National Security Solutions segment and landing future government contracts.

Nikki, I found this post to be a very unique answer to how different industries, in this case state-owned airports and airlines, are improving upon their customer promise by employing novel digitization techniques. One additional reason why biometric identity products should be implemented across more airports is because for every minute a passenger saves in the security line, there is a multiplier effect on the amount a customer spends at the airport on dining and entertainment while waiting to board his/her flight [1]. Thus, companies like Tascent should prove a real, measurable ROI to airports on implementing technologies like iris recognition systems, that demonstrates how airports can boost non-aeronautical revenues through implementation of these types of biometric technologies.

[1] Chris O’Malley. Indianapolis Business Journal. Accessed November 2016.

On November 18, 2016, PThatai commented on How to Rent Your Neighbor’s Tesla with Getaround :

MayC, your post raises a number of questions for me on the benefits of a sharing economy-based business. While a two-way sharing platform provides for a highly scale-able business model (i.e., the ability for Getaround to use existing cars on the road which requires no capital investment by the company to scale, unlike traditional companies such as ZipCar or Car2Go), the business model also has very little barriers to entry when it comes to building brand and scaling. This, coupled with the fact that switching costs for car-owners and consumers is virtually zero, makes it a tough business to maintain sustainable margins (as car owners will gain bargaining power as more entrants enter the space and Getaround can no longer command 40% commissions). Ultimately, because these car-sharing platforms do not have a product but are simply intermediaries or connectors, they will have to find some way to differentiate itself on brand and user experience, like Uber has been able to in the ride sharing marketplace. While digitization created a strong initial opportunity for Getaround, I see it as a large challenge in the coming years for the company to maintain and grow its position.

On November 18, 2016, PThatai commented on Knewton: Can the Education Industry Teach Itself a New Trick? :

MicMacMan, I found this post to be incredibly insightful, particularly after today’s class on IBM Watson. As machine learning and artificial intelligence can guide a physician to correctly diagnose and provide treatment to a patient, its clear to me that these impacts can occur in the classroom as well, as AI software can guide students through materials at their individual pace and assess their performance objectively. As teachers begin to integrate this technology into the classroom, however, I’d be worried about a few things. First, AI technology is expensive, and only the most well-funded school districts and private schools will likely be able to afford this technology, creating an even greater disparity between the “haves and have nots.” If the technology is sold to state governments who can distribute it in an equitable way across its public school systems, this may be one way to ensure that every child is able to access personalized learning through Knewton’s technology. Second, as students go through school, they learn a lot more than simply classroom subjects – through being in a classroom and interacting with peers, students learn how to treat others, how to converse, how to make decisions, how to influence and persuade, and who they would like to be in a school-based society. I would want to be careful that these softer elements of learning remain in place, even if computers are replacing the actual teaching of subject materials.

Cordelia, this is a great example of how digitization is revolutionizing the flow of remittances and human migration across countries. As the world is becoming increasingly globalized, it is my perspective that the ease of international remittance through start-ups like TransferWise are not only enabling migrants to send money home, but also fueling the total amount of money being sent across borders. Prior to digitization and the emergence of digital players, consumers were forced to use Western Union or MoneyGram, which charge consumers exorbitant fees (ranging from 8% to as high as 20% in certain corridors) to send money home to loved ones in developing countries [1]. By charging a 1% fee per transaction, TransferWise is producing tremendous social value by spurring economic development in recipient areas, while also creating very healthy profit margins for itself. Its a model for how the era of digitization-led companies is having an enormous positive impact in the world in which we live in. The question remains, how will TransferWise differentiate its business model from players like Xoom (acquired by PayPal) and Remitly who are aggressively capturing market share? Do you think it will have to adapt its business and operating model to compete as more competitors enter the space?

[1] Dilip Ratha. “Understanding the Importance of Remittances.”, accessed November 2016.

On November 4, 2016, PThatai commented on Keep on trucking: An overlooked lever for sustainability :

Vincent – awesome post and thanks for sharing. I agree with you that the only way this company succeeds is if it innovates in a large way to combat future regulation and create a step-function change to zero-emission trucks. I wonder if a solution to consider here is a partnership for DT with Tesla or other EV innovators. As you know, Tesla is operating the Tesla Gigafactory to supply the worldwide production of lithium ion batteries. If DT could partner with Tesla for its R&D and battery technology, I believe it could greatly accelerate its timeline of commercialization of zero-emission trucks and expand its role beyond a traditional OEM.

On November 4, 2016, PThatai commented on Science Fiction Will Save the World :

I find this post extremely intriguing – how much can the sci-fi media industry influence society’s view about the truth and impending nature of climate change? While I agree with the author that, by showing the dark potential of worlds devastated by climate change, sci-fi movies can influence the public psyche, I do not believe that this (conscious or subconscious) shift in psyche will spur movie viewers into shifting actual behavior. From my perspective, climate change themed movies that may instill fear in the minds of viewers of what our world may become does not necessarily translate into viewers who take it upon themselves to change their daily behaviors to combat climate change. The issue remains that climate change is not a graspable issue in which an individual’s change in actions will be rewarded with a outcome – it depends on all of us to work collectively to reap rewards.

On November 4, 2016, PThatai commented on BMW iDisruption :

While BMW’s electric car series is contributing to a shift towards sustainable transportation globally (at least for high-end, luxury users), I would argue that there needs to be greater collaboration between BMW and other luxury vehicle makers, such as Tesla, to educate the market about electric vehicles and increase availability of power restore technology. The author of this post highlights that BMW is building upon its ChargeNow network. Instead of expanding its own network, I would instead advocate that BMW should be working with other electric vehicle makers to create a standard electric vehicle car charging station, that all vehicle makers are installing around the globe. I see this as a way to increase market share of electric vehicles generally as a product category (i.e., make the entire pie bigger which BMW will also benefit from).

MicMacMan hit the nail on the head – the cost of inaction for Owens Illinois far outweighs the cost of proactively shifting towards sustainable business practices and contributing to the policy conversation. While the same logic can be applied to many U.S. companies operating in environmentally-consuming industries, few companies are able to take such a long-term perspective on their business.

Let’s take a look at the auto industry, focusing specifically on Volkswagen (“VW”). In 2015, it was discovered that VW was using illegal software to deceive U.S. environmental regulators about how much their diesel engines pollute. As a result, VW, the largest auto manufacturer by revenue in the world, could face fines up to $18BN by the U.S. government, and has likely suffered irreparable reputational damage with consumers [1]. If VW had adopted a mindset similar to Owens Illinois, one focused on innovation around their supply chain to optimize for sustainability at cost parity and / or collaborating with policy makers, VW would be in a very different position today.

[1] Timothy Gartner, “After year of stonewalling, Volkswagen stunned U.S. regulators with confession,” Reuters, September 24, 2015,, accessed November 2016.

The author of this blog post hails Amtrak’s partnership with Alstom (which will replace Amtrak’s current Acela trains with Avelia Liberty trains for the Northeast Corridor) as a step in the right direction towards improving the country’s sustainable transportation. However, while a step in the right direction, I disagree with the author about the extent of the impact this will have, as the new trains will run at the same speeds as the older Acela train due to the actual track speed limits [1]. Until the country actually improves the rail infrastructure, improvements in high-speed trains will have limited impact in shifting consumer behavior towards environmentally-friendly rail travel versus environmentally-damaging flying. The U.S. government needs to first and foremost turn its resources towards improving the physical rail infrastructure, to promote a future of sustainable transportation in our country.

[1] “Alstom to provide Amtrak with its new generation of high-speed train,” Alstom, August 26, 2016,, accessed November 2016.