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On December 1, 2017, SW commented on Re-inventing NYT: Impact of digitalization on news media :

I agree with the previous commenters that as the NYT I would not invest in a tech company. However, I do believe it would be smart for the NYT to partner with some of them. In the age of digital media, information – including “fake news” – travels very fast and is available almost instantaneously and ubiquitously. In such an environment even Facebook becomes a competitor for a news outlet – as far as the pure provision of information is concerned. This is why the key differentiator for a publication like the NYT has to be high-quality content. However, I believe that newspapers should continuously innovate, to make that content conveniently available (most of us now consume news on the go, on our mobile phones) and innovative using new ways to communicate. The NYT has done this for example by introducing more and more interactive exhibits, 360 degree pictures, or its daily podcast. In the future, it is likely that we will also consume news using AR and/or VR technology for instance. The NYT should partner with tech companies and use these kinds of technological innovations to enhance what it is already best at: producing content.

Thanks, Ashley, for shedding light on this issue I was not aware of before!

I agree that the FDA should require secondary manufacturing facilities that could take over production of single source drugs in times of emergencies. However, this seems to me more of a “band-aid solution” trying to fix a symptom but not underlying issues. I think one of the underlying issues is that – in particular the current administration – has not taken a stance on climate change and committed to tackling the issue. While I agree it is important in the long run that the government requires high-level “polluters” to improve their CO2 footprint, I also believe that the government in the short- to medium-term has an obligation to help improve the infrastructure in a state like Puerto Rico that is highly likely to be hit by tropical storms – and will be even more so in the future. I don’t think that shutting down pharmaceutical manufacturing in Puerto Rico is feasible. It makes up roughly 8% of Puerto Rico’s economy, which is already crisis-stricken. While improved infrastructure cannot completely prevent damage caused by natural disasters, it can surely help mitigate its severity, and should at least be one aspect of a more sustainable and long-term oriented solution that will not only help stabilizing the pharmaceutical supply chain but also benefit the island also on a broader level.

On December 1, 2017, SW commented on A long overdue disruption in The Construction Industry :

Thanks for providing insights on an often overlooked industry when it comes to digtilization.

I think BIM (5D and in the future also 7D) will become much more prevalent in the construction industry. However, I believe there is one critical player you haven’t mentioned: the government. BIM can heavily reduce not only construction cost and time but overall cost over the lifetime of a building. It can help increase efficiencies for all players involved in the construction industry. However, as you have mentioned it does require a high initial investment, especially in training people adequately. And as DM pointed out, smaller contractors are not necessarily incentivized to adapt to those new systems, even though they will likely benefit from savings in the long term. This is where I believe the government can play a crucial role. In 2014, for example, the EU issued the European Union Public Procurement Directive that allows all member states to encourage, specify or mandate the adoption of BIM for publicly funded building projects. Several countries, including the UK and the Netherlands and a handful of others, already require the usage of BIM. I believe that it takes some sort of incentive system like that to really accelerate the digitization of the construction industry.

Like many of the other commenters, I am an international student myself, and I believe this is a critical issue for both HBS and Harvard at large. This is precisely why I think HBS needs to join forces with Harvard more broadly as well as other universities. I agree that it is important for HBS/Harvard to educate its student in a way that fosters an “international” mind (e.g. through programs like FGI), but I also believe that the fundamental issue as far as HBS’/Harvard’s own “supply chain” is concerned are the recent changes and potential future challenges in immigration policy that might prevent international students from attending Harvard. Harvard has already filed a number of amicus briefs to oppose recent shifts in immigration policy under President Trump. However, I think the university needs to increase its efforts, and HBS should play an integral part in that. It should leverage its extensive alumni network and contacts across universities, politics and the business world to help shape the public and the policy discussion as much as possible. No matter how much HBS/Harvard might increase its efforts abroad in order to train their students to think more globally, the foundation of a truly international education is the diversity in the class room that shapes students’ learning experience every single day.

I am convinced that we are only at the onset of digitization. I believe that, even though AI capabilities are increasing, humans will still be needed to do all kinds of digital tasks over the next few years. So I am not too worried – at least not at this point – that the market for the type of service Samasource provides will shrink. However, I do think it is critical, especially in the face of recent isolationist movements, that Samasource focuses on outsourcing digital labor not only internationally but also nationally. One way to do that is to partner with other non-profits or organizations (e.g. Opportunity@work in the US) that work on training people who have lost their jobs for instance due to automation. The proportion of those people will increase over the next years, so that even within the US the need to retrain people tobe able work new kinds of jobs will likely be high. Samasource’s clients such as Walmart or Google could then make the active decision to pay a little bit more for the service in order to support people in their communities.

After the IKEA case we discussed in class I have gotten a lot more skeptical (maybe also cynical) towards CSR programs. I agree with Fred that most of the customers (parents) as well as end consumers (kids) probably do not care as much about the sustainable production of LEGO. When making the purchasing decision, what matters the most is most likely primarily quality and safety. When googling LEGO’s sustainability initiative I found some articles that talked about how difficult it will be to actually find a suitable material that, in all its features, is equivalent to the plastic currently used. And I imagine LEGO does not want to increase sustainability at the cost of lowering quality or safety standards. Given that the time horizon LEGO has given itself for actually implementing this strategy and introducing new materials is 15 years, it makes me doubt (1) how realistic it is and (2) how serious the company is about the initiative, or whether they are primarily hoping for positive PR.