Excellent post on a very cool airport! I was very impressed by the butterfly garden during my past visit, and I should have paid more attention to the technology and automation 🙂
I always question the usefulness of instant feedback systems, given the limited degree of data that can be collected. How does the organization that is collecting the data actually improve service based on these simple feedback options? I liked Shantanu’s note on the rapid embrace of these labor reducing technologies when labor is plentiful and cheap and didn’t think about this earlier. While the same could be said for many other industries, an airport is still a heavily service-based organization and the elimination of traveller-facing roles may hurt the travel experience, unlike banking or manufacturing for example. Flying can be a stressful experience, even harrowing if you are afraid of flying in today’s turbulent world, and sometimes a positive human interaction at the airport can make all the difference in your experience.
Great Post Gonzalo! This was very interesting, especially after our marketing class on dynamic pricing of parking spaces. I agree with Patrick and ask if cell phones are really the best media to deliver parking data given the safety concerns of driving. I see a way around this of the city installing LED signs advising drivers of available parking spaces in neighborhoods. China does this with parking garages and has LED signs alert drivers of available spots in upcoming lots. However, this could prove to be a source of competition with FastPark as cities develop their own parking monitoring and advertising technologies. Even if FastPark provided the sensing software to cities for use in their own platforms (such as LED signs), the risk to FastPark would be that it no longer engages directly with customers. Do you think this would be a bad thing? Specifically, do you think FastPark needs to be a customer-facing company, or would it be successful providing the software to municipalities behind the scenes.
Thanks for this post Fay!
My mom is a huge TJMaxx and Marshall’s shopper, and totally embraces the thrill of what you term as the “treasure hunt” above. There is certainly a value proposition in providing a platform to discover fashion and housewife bargains in-store and I wonder if this discovery process can truly be recreated online when your inventory list is heavily curated due to the challenges of putting products online, inventory discovery is open to the World Wide Web, and customers must actively search out and click on a page to find the bargain. Stumbling upon a great deal online does not seem to have the appeal of finding that last perfect shirt in your size on the sale rack and tangibly carrying that product home.
On the other hand, an online platform for bargain hunting may have the appeal of providing an easy way to share bargain finds with your friends. You can either be informative and inspire your friends to access this deal or brag to them about this last-in-stock item that you managed to get for a great price. Either way, bargain hunting is becoming “crowd sourced,” which in the zero-sum game of being the one to actually snag the bargains before others could be problematic .
Great post Doug!
We hear a lot about Nest and other residential building control systems in bringing innovation to building controls, but not much about the significant improvements and opportunities for innovation in larger buildings. It is great to read about this here. As Kamoy noted, real estate investors are certainly evaluating projects based on the efficiencies made possible through these technologies and, I assume, the ability for an investment property to be retrofitted to take advantage of building control technologies. I see a big opportunity for Johnson Controls to expand its presence in retrofitting, especially as new technologies enter the market and compete with existing software that may or may not properly integrate with existing systems. Do you think Johnson Controls is the best player to manage the platform for these innovations, or should they instead focus on its services business, staying on top of external trends and innovations to serve its clients? There 5 million commercial buildings in the United States with 72 billion square feet of floor space. Urban Land magazine claims that 80% have good potential for retrofitting, meaning plenty of customers for Johnson Controls to serve in the future.
Great post Ken! As a happy turbotax customer, I agree that Turbotax provides important tech-driven innovation to simplify the arcane tax process. My main concern as a customer is privacy and security of my personal information. I was happy that earlier commenters highlighted Elizabeth Warren’s proposal for a government-led online tax preparation system, but even government systems, as we saw with the Chinese hacking of the federal Office of Personnel Management , are not hack-proof, and perhaps the private sector can provide a more-secure online tax prep service cheaper and with greater marketing reach. In this regard, I wonder if instead of Turbo tax only acting as filer-facing interface platform to input and submit data to the IRS through the IRS’ predefined forms, Turbotax could instead be an outsourcing agent of some of the IRS core functions such as return processing and auditing. This shift is especially important as the IRS operates in a period of declining funding with the IRS budget declining 17% since 2010  and congressional scrutiny of its operations. Interestingly, the IRS has reduced the amount of money it must spend to process taxes even with budget cuts and smaller staff. According to the Fiscal Times, the IRS’ tax collection efficiencies, assumed to be due to electronic filing, has brought “the cost of collecting $100 in taxes [down] to 35 cents, down from 53 cents in 2010 and the lowest level since 1980.” 
I just skied the Alps for the first time last year, and was shocked at how climate change seemed ingrained into the local conversation. On several occasions I heard from skiers and hotel proprietors how snowfall is declining and is sadly getting worse each year. Many in the local population seemed resigned to this fact and also bitter that their predicament was caused by factors beyond their control.
When I think of snow-making, I think of the resorts in Dubai that are trying to bring winter weather to the middle of the desert. To me, snowmaking is most viable on small mountains near New England where skiers expect treacherous and icy conditions, but I can’t imagine the cost and energy-intensiveness of snow-making on the scale of the Alps, especially given that skiers are likely used to and probably demand access to fluffy natural powder. Snow-making just doesn’t seem environmentally sustainable, and I agree that resorts will need to shift towards more warm-weather and summer activities to sustain their balance sheets. I found a few interesting facts on snow-making in the United States. In the 2009-10 ski season, 88 percent of resorts belonging to the National Ski Areas Association were also using snowmaking to supplement natural snow with a cost of $500,000 annually per resort. Snowmaking accounted for about 50 percent of each resort’s energy costs .
Burakowski, E., Magnusson, M. Climate Impacts on the Winter Tourism Economy in the United States. National Resources Defense Council. December 2012.
Well-written analysis Doug! This is a very relevant story to today’s geopolitical situation, and a great window into how climate change will significantly impact geopolitics in the years to come.
The whole idea of “climate refugees” is certainly going to place a strain on existing infrastructure, especially in urban centers as those relying on agricultural production confront droughts, and in turn this strain will ignite conflict over resources that governments must be able to respond to effectively. Unfortunately, the toolkit for governments to respond to climate change is quite limited, and a “Manhattan-project like” initiative to encourage technological progress and innovation might just be what is needed. I just wonder if adding this as a line within the Global Coalition to Fight ISIL limits research to only those problems afflicting Syria. Perhaps a single agency within the U.S. Defense Department could be tasked with investing in and developing technological responses to a wide range of climate change induced threats such as floods, droughts, rising seas, and migration induced by extreme storm frequency. Hopefully, this project will not be as secret as the Manhattan project, allowing for multi-disciplinary involvement, as well as collaboration between the public and private sectors. The private sector definitely needs more incentives, as you say more market motivation, to pursue resource intensive projects that not only benefit consumers, but also serve to stabilize geopolitics and resolve conflict in the future.
Interesting analysis of United’s climate change challenges Rashard! I think this is a great way to tie in our TOM case on United Airlines into the climate change debate. I imagine that the cascade of delays that we discussed in the case may also have a cumulative impact on United’s environmental footprint as planes wait and burn gas on the tarmac, efficient passenger connections are missed, and delayed planes encounter unexpected storms/wind that drag on the plane’s fuel efficiency.
I also found it very interesting that climate change could influence the jet stream. I’ve always enjoyed the faster plane ride along the jet stream to the East Coast, and I never even thought about how climate change may alter this resulting in significant impact on scheduling and fuel efficiency of airplanes. In general, scientists are still debating whether climate change will actually impact the jet stream. However, scientists do expect that melting of the arctic ice caps – with a full ice free summer expected by 2020 – will cause less pronounced differences in temperature between the arctic and middle lateral temperatures, making the jet stream weaker . Indeed, this is another depressing fact on climate change.
Interesting overview of sustainability issues at the Home Depot (THD). I’m sure a whole post could be devoted to THD’s efforts to combat climate change in it’s store design alone. One depressing climate thought whenever I visit THD is the size of the parking lot. Through that helpful graphic above, it is clear that THD is trying to minimize its parking lot and amount of “unporous surfaces.” An alternative I’ve seen at Wal-Mart in the suburbs of Boston is to locate parking underneath the store building, further minimizing the store’s footprint.
It was also interesting to learn of the large amount of energy-efficiency SKUs in-store. As a company, THD can certainly do a lot to improve its own climate change impact, but the ability for the firm to encourage its customers to embrace energy efficiency and climate change awareness is huge! I agree with your suggestion that THD could offer more advice and in-store services to promote not only energy efficiency, but also climate change resiliency in customer homes. Customers will need to invest in new technologies to prevent damage from flooding, large swings of temperatures, and other climate change effects that put homes and structures at risk.
I had no idea that Patagonia incorporated recycled plastic bottles into their fleece jackets. This seems like a great way to tackle a large sustainability problem as water bottle use increases across the World with approximately 8 out of 10 water bottles ending up in a landfill . Consumers are growing increasingly wary of plastic water bottles, with many turning to reusable bottles such as S’well metal bottles, and this campaign by Patagonia may be able to hop onto this trend. Patagonia’s marketing campaign of advising consumers not to purchase their products – the “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign – is quite odd, but shows that Patagonia is certainly concerned about the environment. One additional suggestion I would have in addition to encouraging customers to repair their existing jackets is to offer a recycling program similar to our IKEA case on Friday. Customers could return old jackets to the store, and materials could be recycled back into the manufacturing process.
 Knopper, M. (2008). Bottled Water BACKLASH. E: The Environmental Magazine, 19(3), 36-39.