This is an interesting read, thank you for sharing, Sarah. I totally understand how Monsanto as a for-profit company has taken advantage of economic protectionism and wants to avoid entering economically inhospitable companies. Your analysis well addressed the point that those incentives have prevented the company from pursuing innovations.
As much as I’d like to encourage more innovations in Monsanto, I really can’t see significant financial benefits and incentives for the company to invest in innovative talent while protectionism is still in place. Otherwise it will require a big change in the entire organization culture to make it happen, and I presume that will be a challenge as a conglomerate. Technology has potential to disrupt the trend though, as it can increase productivity or further cut down costs in unexpected ways. Also with the globalization and fast-changing political climate observed in many countries, Monsanto should get prepared for what may come in the near future.
I really enjoyed reading your analysis of looking at the water problem from the customer and supplier sides of a large multinational company, Unilever. I believe that large corporations play an increasingly crucial role in resolving some of the world’s pressing challenges. That is the trick of being part of the supply chain system – all players need to be on board. To answer your last questions:
1) Education is necessary to get consumers change their water consumption, but I don’t think it is enough. Behavior change is one of the most difficult things to do and it takes extremely large amounts of time, costs and commitments. That’s why I think engaging large companies is a key because it not only has sufficient resources to keep investing in the mission but also has technologies to creatively alter consumer patterns. As you mentioned, Unilever should commit to more product innovations to reduce water usage without making consumers start the practice on their own.
2) I think big companies also have power to get suppliers convert their practices quickly. There are more they can do than selecting “preferred suppliers” or offering monetary awards as you suggested. For example, big companies can help finance suppliers to convert their practices or put in joint efforts to work on the conversion together.
Thank you for sharing, Daniela. I’ve heard of similar services in Kenya, and it was helpful to read your analysis and learn more about the business model.
As you mentioned, thin margins, high labor costs and tricky economies can be worrisome to run startups like Rappi. However, I agree that Rappi selected Bogota as the right location to start the business and grow its profitability. This kind of business model seems to be looking for specific business environments in which it operates, and it works the best in big cities in emerging economies including Bogota. The income gap in those urban areas make it possible as labor costs are low enough to provide sustainable margins to the company, the growing economy creates an attractive market with high level of demand, and flexibility in regulations allows room for expansion. There are similar services in the U.S. which offers deliveries of meals and groceries, but I don’t think they are able to expand to courier services that run errands and become the everything store due to extremely high costs and inefficiencies as well as information security regulations. I find it amazing that technology advancement can sometimes do more disruption to lives of people in developing countries than developed countries.
Thank you, Abdoulaye, for shedding light on irrigation infrastructure in Africa from a different angle. It was great to learn about how an intermediary in the market can help the farmer side of the overall supply chain.
Interestingly, this also speaks to what we’ve been discussing in class – you have to think about how your actions affect others in the supply chain, not just about your own benefits, to actually maximize outcomes and results for all players in the system. With that being said, I think CEDIAM has to consider long-term partnership building with farmers, rather than its own short-term supply security and financial goals, to achieve the best for the company itself and the overall supply chain of processed mango products. In order to do so, CEDIAM needs to ensure the company has good communications with the farmers and to better understand the supply side of the story – what exactly they need and how they should get what they need.
Thank you for an interesting view on Uniqlo, Kiara. I personally had not really thought about the company as fast fashion directly competing with Zara and always viewed its value proposition well differentiated from other clothing companies. As you mentioned, Uniqlo has had longer production cycles than fast fashion and has consistently catered for needs for high-quality basics at low prices. Because of the slower cycles, it faced difficulties matching current trends and produced lots of excess inventory. I do agree that speed will be a key for Uniqlo’s operational strategy in the era of digitalization, not necessarily to beat Zara, but mainly to resolve the excess inventory issues resulting from unmatched needs.
I also read articles on this new project about Uniqlo’s attempts to shorten its production cycles, back in March 2017, and I found it quite intriguing. In addition to what you mentioned, Uniqlo planned to insert IC chips in all product tags and track inventory and sales on a daily basis. That way Uniqlo wanted to produce what customers wanted in real time eventually, further enhancing its existing just-in-time operational model. I think, if successful, this will revolutionize the way the fashion industry operates because all companies will have potential to operate in the fast fashion style. However, it will not be easy to make it successful as it will require changes in the mindsets of employees. Employees are currently assigned to work specifically in different departments, such as design or production, but to implement the real-time production cycle, everyone will be constantly required to think more on the strategic view of the entire production cycle.