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Thanks for the great post! I agree with our classmates’ comments that some of the best lessons around digitization come from the failures. There is definitely something to be said about Yahoo’s inability to innovate fast enough to meet consumer needs. Particularly with mobile technology and applications, Yahoo was always a step behind Apple and Google, both when it came it integrating its server with smartphones as well as developing high quality applications. By the time they started the process of correcting their mistakes, it was too late to compete.

One of the things they could have considered in this situation would be to rethink their target customers. Instead of trying to compete head-on with Apple or Google (which is particularly hard given how integrated mobile applications are making it hard for consumers to switch), Yahoo should have taken up a strategy similar to Snapchat- focusing on a younger target segment that would grow up using their services.

Thanks for the really interesting post, Rashi! Apollo has progressed the digitization of hospitals in India by leaps and bounds with their technology initiatives over the past few years. My concern with many of these initiatives is that they are heavily dependent on scale. While Apollo does have large hospital footprint- the key to a sustained competitive advantage will be the compatibility of its systems across all hospitals in the country, not just Apollo hospitals. UHID for instance, completely breaks down once a patient visits any other hospital, even if it is to treat a different condition. Moreover, there are a number of technology startups that are developing systems for patient data collection, remote monitoring and tele-medicine which can be used across hospitals in the country. If these startups are able to achieve scale, Apollo may need to switch over to these new systems and forgo much of the technology and IT infrastructure they’ve built in-house.

On November 20, 2016, Shreya commented on Sony’s struggle with Music :

Thanks for the great post! I agree completely that companies need to be ahead of the digitization curve to survive, since most technology and digital innovations have strong network effects. The only way I see Sony being able to compete in the digital music space is through some of the cutting edge research they’re doing around further integration of music into the internet of things and the composition of songs through artificial intelligence. It’ll be interesting to see how Sony finds a way to commercialize these developments and whether they can regain their position as market leaders in the space.

Thanks for the really interesting article, Pat! There is huge potential for this business model across high population cities in emerging markets. While I agree that there is cause for concern around the safety aspect, the fact that the market exists in Bangkok independent of Uber indicates the potential here. I like your proposal that traditional motorcycle drivers should collaborate with technology companies to achieve higher utilization while at the same time improving the customer experience. In India, Ola (an Uber competitor) collaborated with the government to list registered tuk-tuk drivers on its app. This was a great win-win for both parties and saw little friction from regulators concerned with competition.

On November 19, 2016, Shreya commented on Nordstrom: Balancing Bricks with Clicks :

Thanks for the great article! I agree that replicating its customer service experience on an online platform may be a real challenge. While Nordstrom has certainly used technology in a way that improves the customer experience- there is significant potential for them to innovate here. An interesting collaboration for Nordstrom could be with online personal shopper services like Stitch Fix which sends you a personalized outfit based on your size and requirements. This could be a great way for Nordstrom to leverage its competitive advantage in the e-commerce space.

Another interesting way that Nordstrom is leveraging the advent of e-commerce is by becoming the partner of choice for a number of online-first retailers. Nordstrom can use its existing retail footprint to supplement such businesses.

On November 19, 2016, Shreya commented on Pill Popping Made Easy :

Thanks Elyse, for the great post! It seems that PillPack is solving a real problem and as they expand geographically, they could become a real threat to the conventional pharmacy.

I wonder though, what consumers’ response to this system would be. I think that the idea of consuming pre-sorted pills may be difficult for some consumers because they won’t be able to see drug labels. Robotic scanning may minimize the margin of error- but a misplaced pill, incorrect strength or even a wrong combination of drugs at a specific time could have a serious impact on patients. Moreover, how would they deal with lost pills? Does PillPack offer a safety stock? I wonder how willing consumers would be place complete trust in PillPack for the accuracy of the pill sachets. I do however believe that there is huge potential for this technology amongst the elderly- particularly in cases where care-givers or nurses are sorting out a patient’s pills and where human error rates may be higher than machine errors.

Thanks for the great article, Jenn! I had never considered the environmental impact of “fast-fashion” to be material enough, until I read your piece. I think Cuyana’s business model is really interesting, but like our classmates mentioned above, it seems rather inaccessible and at the current price point it may not be able to compete with the H&Ms and Zara’s of the world. I do think that Cuyana needs to find a way to bring down its production costs while still retaining quality. It seems to me that consumer behavior in this market is driven less by durability of products and more by the fleeting nature of trends (I was so surprised to learn that we wear an item of clothing on average 7 times!). I do think more needs to be done to collect and recycle clothes that people no longer have use for.

Great article! Thanks for laying out the problem and DHL’s solution so succinctly. It appears that DHL is doing a far bit to implement a green supply chain. However, as we move more and more towards an “on-demand” economy, I question the premise that DHL will be able to impact consumer decision-making and reduce short-term deliveries, even if these are better for the environment. I wonder if consolidation or collaboration within the industry (especially for the “last-mile” delivery) may be a potential solution to increase efficiencies here and minimize the carbon impact as demand continues to grow. What do you think?

Thanks for the great article! It certainly seems that Nestle is doing a fair bit to implement sustainable practices across their value-chain.

I do however, question Nestle’s motives and the extent of their commitment to ethical and sustainable practices. Last year, Nestle came under fire for not shutting down its water bottling plants in California despite severe drought. It was claimed that they even interfered with local elections to try to get control of water sources in the region! For a long time, they were sourcing palm oil (used in their chocolate products) from suppliers that were destroying Indonesian rain-forests. Only after extensive lobbying and protests from Greenpeace have they finally begun to source palm oil in accordance with Responsible Sourcing Guidelines. Most recently with the ban of Maggi in India, they were accused of not meeting environmental and food regulation standards with illegal quantities of lead in their products! I think that Nestle needs to take a stronger stance on their commitment to the environment and not just focus on the areas that benefit them in the near term.

On November 6, 2016, Shreya commented on TATA: Leading India’s Path To Sustainability :

Thank you for the well written and informative post! TATA is certainly making steps in the right direction. As you (and our classmates above) have identified- it is crucial for TATA to get behind adaption and not just focus on mitigation.

Interesting, in the EU, TATA has benefited with over EUR 700mn from carbon free allowances (prior to the Paris Accord, the EU was subsidizing companies to reduce their carbon emissions). TATA of course argued that the environmental controls had made their steel business unsustainable in the face of cheaper imports from China. However, the Chinese competitive advantage is probably driven more by the cost of labor than the lack of regulation. From a policy perspective, I think there’s an interesting debate to be had here regarding subsidies versus grants as incentives to promote sustainable practices within businesses. How do you think the Indian government should tackle this issue?

Thanks for the great post. In addition to anti-malarial vaccines and anti-malarial drugs, there’s been extensive research on long-term solutions to the proliferation of vector-borne disease in the face of global warming. One of the most interesting proposed solutions for malaria is the genetic modification of mosquitoes. Technology of gene drive enables a mutant gene to pass on a trait to almost all its offspring (instead of 50%). Mutant mosquitoes engineered to resist the parasite are introduced into the mosquito population causing the whole local mosquito populace to become resistant to malarial parasite transmission.

In the case of pharmaceutical companies, there’s an interesting debate to be had around profit-incentive versus social consciousness. It may seem counter intuitive for pharmaceutical firms with profit-maximizing incentives to reduce disease burden when they stand to gain directly from it. When it comes to reducing their impact on the environment, big pharma like Pfizer, Astra and Novartis, have begun to take steps in the right direction. However, governments may need to intervene to better align incentives through subsidies or grants.

On November 6, 2016, Shreya commented on IT’S TIME TO PLAY BY THE RULES :

Thank you for the very insightful post. The circular economy concept is a great way for businesses to evaluate how they may reduce their environmental footprint. I agree that Mattel must take on the responsibility of finding a more a sustainable solution to the large quantities of plastic used in their toys. I also recently learnt that Mattel is considered to be one of the largest apparel manufacturers in the world. Close to 95 million Barbies are sold per year and over 105 million yards of fabric have been used to make Barbie’s clothing! There is potential for Mattel to reduce their ecological impact in the near term by shifting to 100% organic cotton and procuring sustainably on this front as well.