What an interesting post! Amazing how a cellular company became one of the biggest financial players in Kenya. My question is – how transferable is this success to other countries? As you mentioned, M-Pesa was less successful in other countries due to regulatory conditions. I suspect there’s more to it than that. I think two crucial factors enabled M-Pesa’s success: 1. The existing distribution network of Safaricom dealers. 2. Traditional retail banking penetration level in Kenya was low. I’m not sure how many other countries can exhibit these two condition. As far as the second factor: if we look at data from the World Bank using percentage of male adults with an account at a financial institution as an indicator for financial services penetration (see: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/WP_time_01.2?view=map ) – countries without high level of financial service penetration are scarce and located mostly in Africa.
What a challenging space to be in, competing head to head with Amazon.
I agree that physical books will probably stay with us in the future but my biggest concern is at what scale. I do see a possibility that what happened to physical music in the form of CDs or Vinyl records will happen to books. Physical music is still here but cater mostly to a niche market segment. Considering this premise and the understanding the Barnes & Noble can’t successfully compete with Amazon at the same space I would suggest to turn to a different, but still digital, space. One such opportunity may be with research databases used by universities or commercial entities, such as LexisNexis for legal research or Capital IQ. Barnes & Noble could enter that market through acquisition or even develops its own product. Another option would be to partner with research companies like Markets and Markets. In essence, through synergies with its current business model, Barnes & Noble can transform to be a “knowledge” owner rather than just a publisher. The opportunity is big – the market research market size alone is valued at $44 billion .
 Source: Statista, https://www.statista.com/topics/1293/market-research/, accessed November 2016.
What an innovative topic! I had no idea 3D printing was so evolve that we’re at a stage we can print food. In terms of possible applications or uses I think the sky is the limit, and not even that. As NASA is planning the first journey of humans to Mars, one of the key challenges is food, both on the journey to Mars and while being there. 3D printing could be the answer (given that the technology could be compacted enough). In terms of challenges I think the key challenge, one that should not be underestimated is consumer preferences. It would be an uphill battle convincing people to eat food that originated from capsules. Microwave was just a method to cook food and coffee capsules are not that different from regular ground coffee. A potential operational way to deal with this concern would be to vertically integrate and control the process of manufacturing capsules. By controlling both the machine and the raw materials Natural Machines can better control the PR message and perhaps change consumer preferences. Another option would be to choose a different design than capsules for the raw materials. Something that will favor better with consumers.
Thank you for an interesting post!
I was curious to learn what digital innovation initiatives McDonald’s is pursuing. I think that most of the initiatives McDonald’s has implemented seem to be must-haves rather than revolutionary. As their CEO mentioned – they were late to the game. Mobile app, location technology, and coupons are necessary, but not enough. To maintain its position and continue to grow McDonald’s should find a way to deal with the health trend which has intensified in the last few years. Given that its current menu is not at the forefront of healthy food, McDonald’s should use digital to at least offer customers with a way to limit their calorie consumption. For instance, McDonald’s can incorporate an option to customize orders, as Nicklas suggested, but with an added optionality of restricting total calories. Although it would add operational complexity, as standardization will decrease, it will generate new revenue from health-conscious hamburger-loving customers.
As SL436, I’m also a fan of North Face and surprised to learn that their climate change/ global warming efforts are falling short. I agree with mrp that they could and should do more. What North Face is missing I believe is a clear focus. With so many different initiatives such as “Hot Planet / Cool Athletes”, “The Backyard Project” and others, it’s hard to deliver significant impact. Other fashion companies have focused on clear initiatives and have succeeded. For example, Stella McCartney has branded itself as a vegetarian fashion brand and has tied global warming initiatives to this goal. The company has founded, together with others, “Meat Free Mondays” in an effort to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions (see http://www.stellamccartney.com/experience/us/press-room/paul-mary-stella-mccartney-join-forces-greg-barker-mp-launch-meat-free-monday-climate-pledge-campaign-2/ ). North Face should choose one of its initiatives and double down on it.
Disappointing, but not surprising, is what comes to mind when thinking of Exxon’s management behavior. Thank you Alex for covering the important topic of how oil and gas mega-corporations are, or are not, facing climate change. I agree that it seems that Exxon’s management is in denial. Maybe they do acknowledge the potential effects of climate change but believe them to be more long term than short term. Maybe they believe it will all happen after their tenure will be over. Maybe, they are knowingly trying to mislead the public, in a similar fashion to Big Tobacco a few decades ago when studies linking cancer with cigarette consumption began to surface. Either way, I think this is a prime example to a situation where the regulators must take a more active role and impose company or industry specific targets linked to mitigating climate change. Perhaps more conversations on this topic, such as this one, will fuel the change.
Jina, thanks for a very interesting post. Climate change discussions, as with other issues, tend to focus on large economies. They rarely go in depth of the special challenges, beyond rising sea levels, that islands face. It was inspiring to read that Hawaii has set a 100% renewable energy goal to Hawaiian Electric Industries by 2045. I agree that since fuel import is extremely costly for remote islands, like Hawaii, they are better situated to lead innovation and develop new renewable technologies. One such new technology I think islands can especially benefit from is Wave Energy. Several such technologies have been proposed and some already tested for capturing the energy from waves. These technologies vary on different dimensions such as location (e.g. on-shore and off-shore), orientation to the waves and so on. See the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for additional information about Wave Energy https://www.boem.gov/Ocean-Wave-Energy/ . Although this technology is still in its infancy in terms of commercial use it might hold significant opportunities for locations such as Hawaii.
Trash – what a great solution to clean energy. Alan, I completely agree that the notion of two birds with one stone is extremely powerful in incentivizing a shift to energy production using waste. I do think however that a major barrier for adopting this kind of technology is costs. So long as waste-to-energy won’t be cost competitive to other green technologies, increasing the percentage of electricity produced by it will be an uphill battle. As such, I see two paths forward for companies like Galaxy Green Energy, Inc.: One, focus on innovation and technological improvement with the goal to significantly reduce costs; Second, focus on lobbying for state or local incentives for waste-to-energy technology. Such incentives may be tax related, price subsidies and so on. I think that looking into how the Photovoltaic industry has grown to be widely adopted after facing similar challenges in the past, can prove to be insightful. Good luck going forward!
Thank you Nicklas for writing on such an interesting topic. When we think about global warming and oceans the image that usually comes to mind is melting glaciers. We usually do not consider the effects of higher temperatures on the delicate balance of marine life. It is both interesting and scary to understand that we can already observe significant changes to different species’ habitats and population. I agree that due to these rapid changes different types of fish might appear and disappear from different areas, thus forcing companies like Royal Greenland to change their production facilities to accommodate different processes as a result of the different inputs. I expect these alterations to be both costly and time consuming. The question arises – whether it is even feasible to change production facilities when the expected duration of the new type of fish in a certain location is unknown (given that climate changes frequency will increase). Considering that, I wonder whether we’ll see a shift towards aquaculture (which already accounts for more than 50% of total global production – according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/aquaculture/faqs/faq_aq_101.html – 1what is) and specifically to production in inland fish ponds where control of temperature and type of species will be easier.