Daniel, thank you for the interesting article. I was about to drown with all your ship terms floating around.
When thinking about cruise ships, I could imagine how digitalization could help in cutting costs, such as building ships that had better hydrodynamics making it more fuel efficient, or having better control of their food supply chain management, but I had never thought about it in the sense of whole new experiences for costumers. For example, the AR/VR aspect that you mention in your article is very interesting. When I think about services in cruise ships, I actually felt that there really was no need for innovation. Of course, customers will always enjoy a higher quality of services, such as better pools, cleaner rooms, better restaurants, and so forth, but not necessarily an innovation in the services. But learning about some of Royal Caribbean’s ideas, such as using AR/VR to transform ship spaces into virtual environments, it convinced me that there are still a lot of areas where innovation can take place to provide different values and experiences to the customers. I am really excited to see what kind of innovative experiences Royal Caribbean can bring to us in the near future.
Thank you for a very interesting article. I knew that companies such as Komatsu and Caterpillar were making autonomous trucks for open-pit mining, but I was surprised to learn that a company like Volvo was actively moving inside the underground mining industry. Thinking about the safety issues related to underground mining, the increasing labor cost in mining, and also the industry trend that more underground mines will be developed in the future (many feasible mines on the surface have already been depleted), it looks like there would be a lot of potential in the underground mining business.
Also, as you have mentioned and others have also commented, autonomous trucking raises a very difficult issue of taking numerous jobs away from humans. I do believe that this is a major threat for these workers, but I also do believe that there are many other roles that only humans can perform, for instances roles that involve human interactions. This is Japan specific, but with the aging population and also the lack of nurseries for babies, I believe that these kind of care and nursing roles are an example of jobs that cannot be automated (or at least for quite a while). So it may not be roles in the same industry, but I do believe that there are many other roles specifically for humans.
Amanda, thank you for an interesting article, and I strongly agree with both of your recommendations.
Reading your article, it made me wonder how other automobile companies are battling President Trump’s pressure, and came across an interesting article about a new Toyota and Mazda alliance deciding to build an assembly plant in the US by 2021 for $1.6 billion.  Like Ford, Toyota dealt with Trump’s strong criticism earlier this year when they announced that they were planning to assemble the Corollas at a $1 billion plant that was already under construction in Mexico. And what Toyota announced in the summer was this construction of a new plant in the US.
As some people have mentioned in their comments, one way to deal with uncertainty is to diversify into other countries. But another way is to de-risk through partnership, which is what these two players did. As you have mentioned, we do not know what the future beholds, but what is certain in this Toyota and Mazda alliance is that Mazda does not have a production plant in the US. So for Mazda, there is an incentive for them to diversify their production into the US, especially considering a situation when new policies do arise. But if the new policies do not happen and nothing changes, as you have mentioned for your second recommendation, the alliance can change their plans by leveraging the high-skilled labor in the US, making the new plant a central location for electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles.
Considering the fact that NB is not big as their giant competitors such as Coca-Cola, I agree that it is more difficult for them to spend costs on initiatives that will only lower their profit, but I also thought that this is actually a place that they can take advantage of and differentiate. It depends on what the goal of NB is, whether they want to become a beverage giant like Coca-Cola, or continue to fight only in the seltzer market, but if it is the latter, I believe that there are opportunities to differentiate. For giant companies such as Coca-Cola, it has become a world that you sort of expect them to have good sustainable initiatives without having to raise the prices of their products, but for companies like NB, especially with great marketing capabilities and a sense of “fashion” in their brand, I believe that it is possible to bring in customers who will not only buy a product for the product itself, but for the customers who are also willing to pay a tad extra for their values/initiatives . So in order to do this, I believe that NB should proactively continue to engage in these initiatives and aggressively appeal to the customers through their savvy marketing.
As a brand that is trying to sell outdoor clothing/gears to outdoor lovers, it seems quite natural for a company like Patagonia to be active towards an issue like climate change, but I was surprised to learn how much effort they were putting into their campaigns. For example, having just gone through Black Friday, I was surprised how they donated all of their Black Friday sales last year ($10mil) to grassroots environmental organizations. Thinking about the importance of Black Friday to many companies, this is a huge commitment.
The question you raised about if only private companies can do these initiatives, is a very important and very difficult question. Though I do not want to admit it, I believe that it is not possible for public companies, unless the initiatives are profitable. But usually, these initiatives just add more costs. Also, companies can change their suppliers to lower their carbon footprint, or think of ways to better manage waste to reduce resources, but I think that these kind of initiatives will ultimately reach a limit, unless technological innovations occur. And for these technological innovations to occur, you need to invest in organizations that are fighting to create these innovations, which Patagonia exactly did with their Black Friday sales.
But is it really not possible for public companies to do what Patagonia did? I mentioned that these initiatives need to be profitable, and what happened to Patagonia on Black Friday? The sales beat the expectation by 5 times, which shows that there are people who are also choosing their products looking at the core values of the company. So maybe there is hope.