Ronnie Palejwala

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On November 20, 2016, Ronnie Palejwala commented on Fighting the counterfeit drugs market, one text at a time :

Thanks for sharing this one Akyaa! I thought this was a really cool look at a company that’s doing some good in the world!

In terms of the power of this technology, I think that this is a huge customer acquisition opportunity for the company. In the digital age, it’s getting more costly than ever to acquire email addresses and phone numbers on customers. Sproxil can offer customers to be “opted in” to future communications and can use this as a way of distributing information on new drugs. Moreover, Sproxil can improve the customer experience by reminding them when it’s time to refill, sending additional prescription directions and informing customers on other potential actions to take to improve their health. All of these things would make the technology that much more appealing to pharmaceutical companies.

I am concerned, however, about how this technology works and how easy it is to replicate. For instance, if I was running a large counterfeit pharma ring, what would stop me from creating my own technology with my own phone number that says my drugs are real? Perhaps there’s something with authentication/ branding that Sproxil is doing to prevent this but this would be my one big area of concern if I was Sproxil or one of their customer pharma companies.

Thanks again for sharing- this was great!

On November 20, 2016, Ronnie Palejwala commented on Bigbelly Trash Cans: They know a lot more than you think :

Casey- this was so interesting! Thank you for sharing this post!

What Big Belly is doing in the waste management industry is truly next-level. I particularly enjoyed understanding how they’re using smart modems in their trash cans to hone data. I wonder if there is also an opportunity to better educate consumers as a result of the data collected. For instance, in particular parts of a city, if customers are frequently recycling materials that shouldn’t be recycled, perhaps Big Belly can run public campaigns to educate consumers on what goes where. Or if customers are frequently throwing away clothing items or other items that can be donated, suggesting the locations of nearby Goodwill or Salvation Army drop boxes might allow Big Belly to help customers better society. This data is very powerful and can have a ton of impact on cities as a whole.

Thanks again for sharing Casey- this was great!

On November 20, 2016, Ronnie Palejwala commented on How digital technology is breathing new life into Manulife :

Hugh- this is great post, thank you for sharing! I particularly loved hearing about the Vitality and Move applications. The screenshots were quite helpful, the UI looks great!

As Manulife thinks about continuing to build out these apps, I wonder if there’s an opportunity to update premiums in real-time and create a social component to them. “Gamifying” the act of improving your lifestyle may incent more consumers to participate. For instance, with every prolonged period of physical activity logged into the app, a consumer’s premium could drop slightly, showing their progress. If days go by without a consumer getting to the gym or if weeks go by without a consumer getting a physical exam, premiums may go up. Similarly, if others are able to see healthy actions that their friends and family are taken through some kind of social network, they may be more motivated to actually lead a healthier lifestyle.

I loved what you said about integrating technology and innovation into the culture. I wonder if one way to do this is by having employees participate in some kind of contest where they come up with new ideas for using digital technology to improve the customer experience and present them to the company’s leadership. This is a great way of empowering employees while also mining their individual perspectives for new ideas.

Thanks again Hugh- really enjoyed reading this post!

On November 19, 2016, Ronnie Palejwala commented on Iron Mountain looks for new ways to “Shred it” :

Phil- love this. It’s a great look at a company that’s struggling to survive with the advent of technology. I think some of the changes IRM has made are very smart in helping to adapt their operating model, but I ultimately agree with your conclusion that there’s more to be done.

As I think about industries that consumer significant amount of physical documents, the legal process comes to mind. Given IRM’s ability to scan on-demand, they have the technological capability to create electronic records from physical ones. I wonder if they could act as temporary storage for legal proceedings during the discovery phase. Currently, lawyers spend copious hours pouring over physical records. What if those records could be sent to an IRM facility, scanned and sent back to the lawyers.

Furthermore, I wonder if there is an opportunity to expand into the individual consumer market. I know that consumers often hold onto physical documents just for fear of throwing out something important. If IRS could offer to pick up all of your old documents and convert them into electronic records that they then store for free on their cloud, they could likely generate an additional business line.

Overall, I think the types of innovations and adaptations you’ve laid out are necessary if this company wants to continue to compete and thrive. Thanks again Phil- this was great!

On November 18, 2016, Ronnie Palejwala commented on Nike’s Play in the Digitization of Fitness :

George- thanks for sharing this super interesting story about Nike’s foray into new digital technologies. I actually hadn’t realized that the Fuelband had disappeared but it makes sense now.

The story about Nike’s inability to maintain the wearables technology talent and capability in-house reminded me of the Li & Fung case we recently reviewed in class. Namely, the fact that Nike was trying to extend its business model into an area that was totally new to them and, ultimately, eluded their capabilities. As we learned in Li & Fung, it’s important to think carefully about how you execute such a go-to-market. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the decision to go-to-market is wrong. Perhaps, one option for Nike would have been to license its Nike+ brand to Fitbit in its early days for use. I imagine that Fitbit’s key problem in early days was brand recognition and customer acquisition, something Nike could have offered in exchange for the capabilities and talent to support a wearable technology.

As Nike continues to move forward, it will be interesting to see how they continue to leverage digital technology given this failure. In an effort to “stick to what they know” one initiative could be to leverage Nike+ data and technology to provide personalized fitness recommendations in Nike retail stores. Such personalized consultations could help lead to apparel and equipment recommendations that help improve a customer’s fitness regimen. Another idea could be for Nike to integrate a pedometer function directly into the Nike+ app. This would be a way to provide a lot of the insight that comes from a wearable without the need for any new hardware. Recent developments in mobile phone technology have enabled this type of step tracking.

I’ll be sure to keep an eye out on how Nike moves forward with digital technology. It’s been interesting to see the development of the Nike+ Run Club as an extension of the app to create a tighter social network. Thanks again for sharing George- this was great!

Thanks for sharing this Casey. I think this is a great look at what McDonald’s has done and needs to do to respond to climate change. I think you make a number of great points – notably the fact that sustainably sourcing coffee is not enough for McD’s. I wonder if one way they can help more sustainably source other crops is by providing their farmers with tools that can help them manage their farms more sustainably. For instance, many wine growers are now using infrared technology to examine plant roots and determine which plants need the most water. Do you think this type of technology could be applied in the agricultural fields that McD’s works with?

Again, thanks so much for sharing Casey- great article!

On November 6, 2016, Ronnie Palejwala commented on Your daily jolt: Global coffee production can’t keep up with demand :

Thanks KQ- this was a super interesting and well-written post! Very easy to read!

It’s clear to see how Starbucks’ business model will be impacted by climate change, especially given their worldwide supply base. I see a lot of parallels between this and the impact climate change is having on the global wine industry. As you pointed out, investing in lands that are expected to be more suitable for future agriculture is a key step that wine companies are also taking and exploring new varietals of wine is similar to what you’ve suggested for Starbucks.

Additionally, I think Starbucks can think about how to create incentives within its supply chain and within its own four walls to ensure that the move toward a more sustainable production process is reached. Many companies in the wine industry have created publications of how their suppliers are complying with new standards and have created awards for the farms that most advance sustainable practices. If this is something Starbucks has not already explored, it’s certainly worth entertaining.

Moreover, wine companies are supplying their farmers with the tools they need to better comply with sustainability practices like water conservation. For example, many farms are now using infrared technology to determine which grape vines are most malnourished and require the most water and are targeting their water use based on this data. This could be something that could also be employed by coffee producers to help them conserve water as they face rising temperatures and reduced precipitation.

Again, I think you’ve presented some wonderful points here. Thanks for sharing!

Thanks NDG- this is a great, informative post about the impact of water supply fluctuations on cereal production! I had a couple of thoughts as I read through this:

1. The work that General Mills is doing sounds like its high priority for the organization. It reminded me of our IKEA case from Friday, particularly Option 2 that IKEA had for reducing its impact on the environment by setting high targets for sourcing materials. As we discussed in class, this was a low-risk approach to reducing the impact of climate change on the organization (and reducing the organization’s impact on the environment) but it was also limiting in terms of control over the results. I wonder if this action can be paired with additional initiatives to help ensure that the lofty goals Mills has set (sustainably sourcing 50% of its ingredient buy by 2020) are met. For example, Wal-Mart has a supplier sustainability index that it publishes and creates great press around suppliers who are complying well with sustainability initiatives (and bad press for those who are not). Mills has enough scale to make such action effective and successful. This is an example of creating incentives in the supply chain to ensure compliance.

2. I also love the example you included from Kellogg’s. I think this is an example of another action that Mills could take to ensure its work through the supply chain is successful. In thinking about other tools that may be helpful, I wonder if Mills could publish a newsletter for farmers in its supply chain that highlights best practices for water conservation. This would help improve communication and best practice sharing and to improve suppliers efforts by leveraging one another.

Thanks again NDG- great note!

Thanks for sharing this perspective on the coal industry and the impact of climate change regulation and sentiment on the field- I think it’s a really interesting case. It seems like there is a lot of room for action with Murray Energy, as they’ve been largely lackadaisical in their response to climate change. The opportunity you point to at the end – the opportunity for diversification of Murray’s business – makes a lot of sense to me. In particular, beyond natural gas, if Murray were able to look into sources of clean and/or renewable energy (solar, wind, hydroelectric), this would seem to make business sense. These sectors are growing rapidly and will (hopefully) shape the future of energy.

One fact that I found interesting as I looked for additional reading on the topic was that the coal industry uses an amount of fresh water that is so high, it would meet the needs of one billion people. Moreover, pollution from coal extraction contaminates waterways and ground water, further straining the world’s fresh water supply. Not only is coal an atmospheric polluter, the industry is also heavily using many of our precious natural resources. This makes the need to move away from coal even more dire.

I think it’s imperative that Murray consider responses to either reduce the impact of climate change (finding safer, more environmentally-friendly methods of coal extraction – if possible?) or adapt their business by diversifying the areas they play in.

Thanks again for sharing Danny- it’s a very well-written article!

On November 6, 2016, Ronnie Palejwala commented on Germany’s Adidas And Global Climate Change :


Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful post on Adidas’ impact on the environment and what they’re doing to improve their environmental impact and reduce their contribution to climate change. In thinking about Adidas’ goals to reduce water consumption by 50% at suppliers and 20% at strategic partners, I was reminded of our IKEA case from Friday. Namely, some of the pros of ambitious target setting was that it was low-risk and aimed at bringing the overall level of consumption down (vs. finding alternate ways of consuming). However, such target setting leaves Adidas with relatively little control – they’re ultimately at the mercy of their suppliers to meet their goals. I wonder if vertical integration could instead be a means of reducing environmental impact. While it’s certainly higher risk, it could help improve margins and gives Adidas full control over the steps to reduce environmental impact. This, in tandem with their attempts to find alternative methods to dying that require less water, can be very powerful.

You opened with the notion of “fast fashion” as a category in which we consume and discard quickly. This made me think that there are ways to reduce impact by encouraging reuse (so not every unit consumed equates to a unit produced). I wonder if there is an opportunity for Adidas to create a apparel and equipment recycling program and potentially reuse materials in markets that would value a discount price for secondhand goods.

Finally, I wonder if there is any impact from reduced precipitation in many parts of the world on Adidas. How do they now collect their water for us in the process? Will the rising price of water be an additional impetus for water consumption reduction?

Thanks again for sharing Paul, it’s a great analysis.

On November 6, 2016, Ronnie Palejwala commented on A Hotel Under Water? Hilton Worldwide :

Thanks for sharing this information on Hilton and how they (and the hospitality industry more broadly) will be impacted by climate change. I think this is a really interesting space — a couple of direct reactions to your points:
1. I was interested in understanding ISO 50001, 14001 and 9001 and actually found them to be very useful frameworks for companies looking to better manage energy, reduce environmental impact and provide high quality products and services for their customers. Most interestingly, they all adhere to the principle of continuous improvement, much like the Toyota Production System. The frameworks encourage companies to plan for better energy, environmental and quality management, act, learn and refine. I appreciate this type of operating model, as it emphasizes action over inaction and ensures that companies start taking steps forward, even if they’re small ones.

2. The idea of installing vehicle recharging stations is a really interesting one. While small in scale at the moment, I could see this becoming a wider industry practice. Moreover, I wonder if Hilton could potentially create an additional revenue stream by maintaining and renting out a fleet of electric vehicles. It would be perfect for individuals travelling who need a rental car to explore new areas and would be a great way of helping reduce the overall impact their guests have on the environment.

3. The partnership with GRO-Holland in collecting coffee grounds and growing mushrooms is also an interesting one. Do you think there’s an opportunity to reuse their own coffee grounds and other waste from their current kitchen operations to fuel farming practices at the hotels? I wonder if there is a way for the hotels to become more self-sustaining and do away with external partnerships, to some degree. This would be similar to what they’re doing now with creating fertilizer from coffee grounds to improve air quality.

In terms of what more can be done, I agree that an expanded environmental education program would help. Partnered with incentives that guests care about, like additional Hilton Honors points for guests who reuse linens instead of requesting a maid, Hilton can really move the dial on the amount of water they use everyday. To your initial point about losing tourism in areas of the world that are getting hotter, one adaptive technique Hilton can use to support their business is educating consumers on “new” or “trendy” vacation locales to “redirect” tourism to properties that may have seen less demand in the past.