Rebecca S.

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I’m so excited to see a post about Whoop! I’ve been following Whoop over the past few months and it seems like what they’re doing is really awesome. In response to Ben’s comment above, I think Whoop and Fitbit target entirely different users. Whoop targets high-performance athletes. The high price point of their devices further signals its intention for serious athletes. Fitbit, on the other hand, targets the lay person (such as myself): someone who cares about their health but isn’t trying to optimize athletic performance. To that end, I don’t think Fitbit poses much of a threat to Whoop despite Fitbit’s market share. A serious athlete isn’t looking to purchase a Fitbit, even if they develop their technology further.

I think one of the great aspects of Whoop is the company’s commitment to maximizing value across the entire lifecycle of the product. In addition to creating a hardware device, Whoop works with athletes and coaches to analyze the data. Their ability to make sense of immense data is a huge value add to users and is a value proposition that many companies are not currently providing. I’d be curious to learn more about how Whoop is using data across users to gain valuable insights into athletic performance.

On November 20, 2016, Rebecca S. commented on Citi: Banking on a digital future for financial services :

Ben — First, incredible title. Loving the pun. Second, I wanted to comment on a few specific points you made that really resonated with me.

You write: “At the intersection of business and operating models, Citi’s relatively advanced global technology infrastructure—rather than disparate regional or product-specific systems—enables it to achieve the kind of scale necessary to provide high-touch local services.”

I find this point intriguing, especially as we learn about supply chain management. If I understand you correctly, it sounds like Citi has more control over the banking supply chain and is thus able to use “vertical integration” to its advantage. This is a very salient point and one I haven’t heard discussed much in the conversation on traditional banking and threats posed by fintech companies. I wonder how traditional banks can use this attribute to their advantage when competing for consumers.

In addition, I think it’s fascinating that Citi is launching a global API developer hub. I’m not entirely sure what this means from a data security perspective (what data would be available?), but it’s something I’ve seen done among private sector companies and government when trying to outsource innovation. I think it’s really brilliant and reminds me somewhat of the “Netflix Prize,” where Netflix outsourced the development of a new algorithm that predicts a consumer’s movie preferences with a higher level of accuracy ( It would be really cool if Citi could leverage being tech-forward (and do something that engages the public and stirs up conversation.

On November 20, 2016, Rebecca S. commented on Fitbit is the current market leader, but are its steps limited? :

As an “avid” Fitbit user, I was very excited to see a blog post about the wearable device. I wholeheartedly agree that Fitbit won’t be able to keep up with Apple watch, but also agree with Kelly regarding ways in which Fitbit could differentiate itself in the market. I do think, however, that Fitbit may lack first mover advantage when it comes to accurate performance reporting. Whoop, a startup out of Harvard, is meant to “monitor heart rate, sleep patterns, and other data to help athletes fine-tune their bodies.” Given Whoop’s extremely high price point, I wonder if Fitbit would be able to reach Whoop’s accuracy levels at an affordable price.

I noted that I was an “avid” Fitbit user (in quotations) because, while I wear my Fitbit ever day, I rarely (if ever) check my dashboard and/or review my results. How can Fitbit change consumer behavior so that users are actually engaging with the data to ensure that Fitbits and its associated data become indispensable to users? Until Fitbit is able to accomplish this, I have a hard time seeing Fitbit rebound in the market.

About Whoop:

On November 20, 2016, Rebecca S. commented on The New Waze to Drive :

I really enjoyed reading your blog post and thoroughly appreciate the punny title. I agree with Nicole about the safety issue Waze presents and wonder if there are alternative ways for the app to assess traffic. Could a phone’s camera be used to visually identify police activity instead of relying on the driver/passenger to enter the data?

In addition, I think one of Waze’s biggest opportunities is around the data is collects. You allude to this in your point about car insurance, but I think the data possibilities are much broader than the ones you mention. For example, the City of Boston has partnered with Waze to address a variety of public safety issues. Can other cities follow suit? How can large tech companies leverage network efforts to have a positive social impact? Should tech companies even be doing this? Is it wise for their bottom line?

On November 20, 2016, Rebecca S. commented on Starbucks: A Technology Pioneer :

As an avid Starbucks mobile pay and rewards card user, I really enjoyed reading your article. I had no idea that Starbucks was experimenting with drone delivery – how cool!

I’m curious how you arrived at your recommendation regarding Starbuck’s inventory management system. Based on an article from the University of San Francisco, it appears that Starbucks has a fairly robust supply chain management system, which includes inventory management (see What else do you think they should be doing in this space? Should Starbucks really develop machines that automate ingredient add-ins? I fear that such a development wouldn’t be pushing the technology frontier in the same way that drone delivery is. Also, Starbucks lines move pretty quickly already (especially with advance ordering)…

One recommendation that I found intriguing was your idea that Starbucks launch a campaign to crowd source ideas from customers. My main question related to this recommendation would be: what would Starbucks be trying to achieve by doing this? I think your idea aims at leveraging user-centered design to improve the customer experience through technology. Would Starbucks focus on user-centered design innovations that improve store operations? Or, would they be more focused on the virtual Starbucks environment? How should Starbucks balance innovation in the physical store (which Mary noted is quite important) with an increasingly digitized environment?

On November 20, 2016, Rebecca S. commented on Catalyzing Brilliant Talent in a Digitized World :

Thanks for your comment! I think the idea of charging for years of experience is an interesting one. I struggle with this idea in an “on-demand” economy. How does one quantify years of experience for a consultant who isn’t working full time? Or a consultant from a firm (with extensive training opportunities) compared to a freelance consultant? I think your point that there should be some avenue for advancement and growth is a valid point, though. Perhaps Catalant could do assessments on its consultants and enable them to earn various credentials or “levels” through Catalant. This would definitely require Catalant to have additional resources and manpower, but could provide a solution to opportunities for upward mobility.

On November 20, 2016, Rebecca S. commented on Catalyzing Brilliant Talent in a Digitized World :

Rob – I absolutely agree with your concerns and believe that if Catalant wants to continue to uphold its value proposition, it will need to invest money and resources into training its consultants. Given the dispersed nature of the Catalant workforce, I’m struggling to figure out *how* it would provide professional development opportunities. Perhaps one solution is creating something along the lines of “Deloitte University” and requiring or incentivizing consultants to attend at least once a year, with follow up training opportunities throughout the year.

Regarding attracting talent, I think the platform provides opportunity an opportunity for consultants to make more money than in traditional consulting, as we discussed. While you had mentioned that the platform hasn’t catered as much to parents wanting increased professional flexibility, I think this would be a really great avenue for Catalant to pursue. Given the changing expectations within the home (men and women are splitting work at home at an increasing rate), so this may present a unique opportunity for talent acquisition. One potential pitfall of this idea is that senior level consultants are already given flexibility through their firms, given the “inflexible time” they put in as a junior consultant. Thus, these folks may not need Catalant for additional flexibility.

As someone passionate about workforce and talent development, I really enjoyed chatting with you about this and appreciate your thoughtful comments on my post!

On November 6, 2016, Rebecca S. commented on It’s Time to Whine about the Future of Wine :

Such a fun post, Nicole! Thanks for being relevant AND informative — it was a great read.

I am still a bit confused by the actually implications of climate change on the wine industry. One thought: California is currently in a big drought, and when I was in Napa/Sonoma/Wine Country this summer, I noticed the just how dry the region was. From what I heard, this has had a HUGE impact on grape farming (is that what it’s called?) and thus, a huge impact on wine production. I think it would have been great if you dove a bit deeper into the specific implications of climate change on wine country. (To Cristina’s question — yes, I think the wine industry is really feeling the pressure, but there is little incentive to do anything given the global free rider problem.)

One particular solution NVVA could work on is water scarcity. During droughts (which I’m assuming are increasing in frequency due to climate change), how can NVVA help vintners and growers use water more efficiently? Are there new technologies (such a various forms of irrigation) that improves water efficiency and increase crop yield?

Water scarcity is just one way climate change may be impacting vintners and growers. I’m curious if there are other ways that climate change is impacting the industry, too. Yikes!

As a recreational skiier, I really enjoyed reading your post. Your piece was particularly salient given that I haven’t been able to ski in Vermont around Christmas for the past two years due to temperatures above 50F degrees and we’re about to head into winter and ski season.

I agree with your suggestion that Vail resorts should diversify its activity offerings by leveraging year round opportunities (and I respectfully disagree with RC). Vail is “sexy” — families want to go there year round. To that end, Vail can (and should) capture this value for its shareholders. It will also ensure that revenues remain steady during warmer years when the winter months aren’t conducive to skiing.

You allude to another interesting point: there is a vicious cycle occurring right now. As temperatures increase, Vail must produce most snow, which isn’t a sustainable business practice. However, there is little incentive fro Vail to stop producing snow and adopt more sustainable practices, given the free rider problem inherent in climate change. If Vail invests in cleaner technology and reduces its carbon footprint, temperatures aren’t going to stop rising. Therefore, they may not benefit from the upfront investment in clean practices — so is it worth the investment? It seems like a Catch22 to me…

On November 6, 2016, Rebecca S. commented on Can banks save the world? The case of Bank of America :

Really great post, Eugenio! You made a really compelling case of why there are genuine synergies between the smart business and environmental sustainability. In particular, I found your assessment of the correlation between default rates and unsustainable business practices quite compelling conceptually. I would have loved to see more of a quantitative argument around this: are there data that shows that unsustainable (not environmentally friendly) business practices are correlated with higher default rates? I would imagine that these data would be hard to obtain, but it could strengthen your argument.

I agree with your proposal that BoA integrate climate change into its riskiness and default models; however, I wonder if the more appropriate business-specific metric would be a variable that indicates the effect of climate change on a business. For example, if a business is not sensitive to climate change, then the climate change metric wouldn’t affect the model. Conversely, if climate change is directly related to the business model (correlation = 1), then the metric would drastically affect the model.

Overall, this was a very compelling read — thanks for sharing your insights!

On November 6, 2016, Rebecca S. commented on The Unforeseen Cost of Fast Fashion :

I really enjoyed your post — very thoughtful and well articulated. I agree with much of what has been said in the prior comments, but one thing still remains unclear to me: how does H&M benefit from reducing their carbon footprint? Many of your points seem to suggest that it’s not in H&M’s best interest to move towards organic cotton and reduce the use of synthetic materials; adopting these practices would drive up costs and may receive push back from shareholders.

At the beginning of your post, you state that fast fashion retailers are being criticized for their unsustainable practices. I would have loved if there was more of a conversation about this and how H&M’s sales would struggle as a result of continued unsustainable practices. If sustainability practices would increased sales, then I could understand the business case for investing in eco-friendly business practice. I think this would also give additional credence to your closing sentence.

On November 6, 2016, Rebecca S. commented on Cruising to the Arctic? That’s Ironic… :

I really enjoyed reading your thought-provoking blog post. I think you did a really great job of explaining the tension between greenhouse gas emissions and revenue generation in the tourism industry. In your post, you mention that Crystal needs to (1) reduce the environmental impact of its operations and (2) be more proactive (beyond merely adhering to regulation). However, given the inherent tension between business objectives and environmental impact, I wonder if Crystal would be willing to make this investment. Namely, are there ways in which the two goals (reduced environmental impact and increased business opportunities) are NOT at odds with one another?

I like the suggestions that Eugenio outlined, especially the third idea, because it’s something the company can do without regulatory pressure. In addition, I wonder how continued rising temperatures would affect Crystal’s business model. Would an increase in global temperatures destroy some of the natural beauty in the Arctic, thus decreasing tourism? If so, this might be a compelling reason for Crystal to invest resources in combating climate change.

Happy to discuss further and thanks again for your thoughtful post!