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On November 20, 2016, SPage commented on Building Dreamliner with 3D printing machine :

Rapid prototyping with digital technology has come a long way in the past few years! This is the first time I have heard of its use in such a stringent / regulated development process, but I am excited to hear that Boeing is taking steps to be forward thinking with technology. I also think there is a huge opportunity for Boeing to implement augmented reality systems (such as the Hololens) into its manufacturing operations. The final assembly process for each aircraft in Boeing’s fleet is highly labor intensive. Since the industry is highly regulated and the final product is safety critical, the assembly mechanics must follow strict protocols for each step in the process. They must constantly refer to maintenance manuals, standard work instructions and checklists to confirm that the procedure has been done correctly. Augmented reality, however, could save mechanics a lot of time by showing which steps (visually) the mechanic must complete, streamlining the entire process. Here’s a neat article that explains the potential of augmented reality’s role in manufacturing in more detail!

Great post, Jenna!

I think Bezos made a bunch of smart moves when he bought the post a few years ago as you described! It was very smart of them to focus on accessibility and user base in these early years to gain traction over the other traditional media companies that may have not been as forward thinking. However, I think the Post is hitting a turning point. Although we don’t know the details of their financials, it’s likely that they have taken a hit in this area in the past few years. Growing user base is great, but providing free content, and relying on mainly ad revenue is a dangerous strategy. Even if The Post charges for subscriptions, they will likely run into a similar problem to Netflix (and many other digital content-based services), where multiple people sign in with just one paid account. One possible solution could be to take a Spotify approach and see a list of curated articles based on what other people are reading. The Post could also potentially look into page customization for each person, but I think this could be dangerous because exposure to many types of headlines is important. It is critical that valid news sources continue to play a role in our society, and I worry about the future of journalistic integrity if these media groups cannot properly fund their operations.

On November 20, 2016, SPage commented on IoT – Internet of Trash?! :

The BigBelly bins have been a great addition to waste management technology. I really appreciate that you pointed out the added difficulty of emptying these bins. Implementation of these new trash bins certainly requires some behavior change by waste management staff in each of the cities. Perhaps BigBelly is also working to make disposing of BigBelly waste simpler. Do you think the waste management group in Philadelphia will be able to change their operations and leverage the digital technology to actually streamline operations? It probably makes sense to have the trash bins alert waste management when they are at a certain threshold. This way, they are not sporadically picking up trash all around the city.

I agree with Roberto, and think that waste management technology will only get us so far. People must fundamentally change their consumption habits to get to the root cause of this issue. I think the first step for consumer understanding is to SHOW people where their trash actually ends up. MIT ran a project called trash track to see where their trash components actually ended up after a few days, weeks and months. It’s so easy for people to throw out their trash and forget about it. Showing people the reality of the situation is likely imperative to actually solving the issues. Deploying a trash tracker for every single piece of trash would be extremely costly, but perhaps it would make sense to track a select group of trash and connect it to an app for people to understand the implications of their waste habits.

Check out this video to see MIT’s project in action!

I LOVE Turbotax! I think they have done a great time integrating digital technology into the tax filing process for many Americans. I have never done my taxes on paper, and this is the only way I know to do my taxes. I think the way they introduce the product to users makes it very accessible because you can start with the free version and upgrade as needed. However, as I have gotten older and had to incorporate more complexity into my tax filing, I have considered moving to a tax advisor. You can use their SmartLook or AnswerXchange services for one off technical questions, but I wonder if they can implement a services that provides a dedicated supplemental support advisor [1]. Although it would probably be complex, they could potentially transition from a human advisory workforce to bots once they develop the technology. It will be exciting to see how Turbotax integrates technology to help their customers in the future, and make tax filing even easier!


On November 20, 2016, SPage commented on The Beauty of CRM in a Digital Age :

I agree that Sephora has deployed a lot of technology to improve many aspects of their operating model, and they have taken on some interesting projects. It seems like Sephora is using these pilot projects to understand which digital technologies customers most positively respond to. I think the younger generation of Sephora customers will adopt most of these technologies seamlessly and consider it value add, but I am concerned that these technologies will also alienate their older customer base.

In a few articles I read, Sephora has had strong strategic partnerships in the past with Google and Apple. It’s clear that these strategic partnerships help them deploy some of the digital technologies they are currently using, but I think they should also look to suppliers selling digitally oriented products to increase the use of technology in actual product use as well. Check out some of the cool new technologies for beauty products here!
If Sephora can integrate their customer service oriented digital technologies with technology enhanced products from suppliers, I think they will be unstoppable in the future beauty industry.

On November 7, 2016, SPage commented on Is One Man’s Trash (Fish) Another Man’s Treasure? :

This post really hit close to home for me. My uncle is a commercial fisherman in Gloucester, MA. Growing up down the street from him, I was exposed to many aspects of the fishing industry. As I’ve grown up, the regulations have become harsher are small commercial fishing operations, putting many fishermen out of business. The argument for dogfish is very interesting, but I am concerned that people who are not used to eating this fish will not be willing to make the switch from Cod. I wonder how feasible it will be to convince people that dogfish is a yummy fish and introduce the species without it becoming invasive. Farm fishing is another alternative solution to this problem, but also has many drawbacks including persistent water contamination, use of pesticides to feed fish, and aquatic ecosystem destruction.

Here’s a trailer from a documentary about the Cod fishing industry

On November 7, 2016, SPage commented on Is your fleece made of recycled plastic bottles? :

This post does a great job of outlining the steps Patagonia has taken to help preserve our environment, and not produce more waste in the world. Patagonia is in an interesting position because its business model is inherently dependent on selling stuff to people, but they also actively campaign against this (as described in the “don’t buy this jacket campaign”). Patagonia has a lot of power to deliver their message to consumers and encourage them to use less product with the environment in mind, but this also has some downsides. If consumers actually listen to this message, their business ultimately fail. If their business fails, then they will no longer be able to deliver their message. Patagonia has to balance this fine line of producing consumer goods and actively encouraging people not to buy them. Now that Patagonia is a household brand name, they could consider changing how they make their products and which products to make. Using recycled materials is a great move, but I am interested to see how they develop their sustainability program and continue to convey their core message to customers.

On November 7, 2016, SPage commented on Let’s Go Fly a Kite – SkySails and Climate Change :

Devi, this is a really interesting technology with two very interesting applications that you described here. It is disappointing to hear that none of the shipping companies have picked up the technology, and it seems like the main reasons are related to how the business operates. I think the technology application is also difficult in this instance because wind power is quite unpredictable (less so offshore, but still unpredictable) providing an unsustainable source of energy when ships need full on demand power generation.

I think the second application- use of these wind kites in offshore environments is a promising idea! Many wind turbine manufacturers are looking to expand the size of both wind turbine blades and tower height. While R&D efforts have shown that these changes to the technology will provide higher power output for each turbine, there are many logistical issues associated with manufacturing and transporting these larger turbines. The kites are an interesting solution to many of the logistical problems posed by current turbine technology deployed in the field. Another group that has made a lot of progress with wind kites is Makani (at GoogleX). Check out their work here!

Thanks for writing about this topic! I am personally very passionate about advanced nuclear and small modular reactors. Your post nicely outlines the current situation in the industry and how NuScale intends to disrupt the industry to continue to provide zero emissions power to communities and industries when storage technology is nowhere close to viable to rely only on renewable power. The state of the current nuclear fleet is troubling. Many of the plants that have been operating for decades are now being shut down largely for cost reasons. A recent shut down example is the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant (604 MW), which was shut down on Dec 29, 2014. While many in favor of the plant shut down argued that the nuclear power generation would be replaced by other renewable sources, the state of Vermont’s emissions increased 7% in 2015 [1]. This pattern of shutting down the current nuclear fleet shows that new business plans and different operating models for the nuclear industry are imperative for zero emissions generation implementation. NuScale is one of the leaders in this segment and I am excited to see how they progress over the next decade.

One of the major issues facing all the advanced nuclear companies is licensing through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. This process is extremely costly for the company pursuing licensing and will likely be the pitfall for all of these companies unless the processes are significantly overhauled. Many people in the industry are working with the NRC to try to develop new / different policies to help manage the differences for new nuclear. Read here for some of the issues related to advanced nuclear licensing


On November 7, 2016, SPage commented on Vail Resorts: Is Diversification Enough? :

You’re post is very insightful and does a very good job outlining the different levers Vail has control over to manage their business while they face climate change issues. I completely agree that “diversifying” their business away by adding locations is not a smart long term approach because climate change will affect all areas. For example, the Whistler has an usually warm winter season in the 2014-2015 season.

Another interesting aspect of these ski resorts is how they generate power to run the resorts. One ski resort that has continuously been committed to clean power generation is the Aspen ski company. They have made a significant effort to invest in both renewable energy generation projects and GHG conversion projects to ensure that the power provided to their resorts are contributing to sustaining our environment.

See this article for more detail about Aspen and their investments in sustainable projects