I’ve been trying to think about a product faced with a similar challenge — how do you convince a user base that’s used to physical materials to transition to an all-digital experience. I think this can be best compared to the iPod revolution — everyone who made the switch from diskman to iPod loaded their current CD collection into iTunes. Your suggestion to have free electronic copies with every hardcopy book purchase aligns with this, but I think there has to be some kind of additional benefit and that additional benefit could be seamless use across devices. By that I mean consumers should be able to transition from listening to their book in the car via their phone, to reading their book in bed with the backlight, to reading it on the beach with no backlight. The ease of transition across devices could be incredibly valuable and facilitated through a kindle app on all devices, connecting computers and phones to kindles. I also think reading is a communal experience, so to the extent that a network effect of recommending or even sharing books can be created should help the Kindle succeed. I would add this in addition to your other suggestions, which seem so core to the success of Kindle that I’m shocked Amazon has not already done them!
Thank you for helping us think about digital innovation within the context of agriculture, an industry many of fail to consider as a technological leader. I think the work John Deere and Caterpiller are doing is terrific, but I believe they could be doing so much more with their data. There are three levels of data analytics; the first is descriptive, which focuses on what happened, the second is predictive, which takes that information about the past to make predictions about the future, and the final is prescriptive, which provides probable outcomes for different actions (http://www.informationweek.com/big-data/big-data-analytics/big-data-analytics-descriptive-vs-predictive-vs-prescriptive/d/d-id/1113279). My sense is that John Deere has only made it as far as the descriptive analytics. If they were to advance into the predictive, and even the prescriptive levels of analysis, the maintenance needs can be better anticipated and planned for, or (in the prescriptive model) minimized as a result of the use or care of the equipment.
As someone who had to go to three doctor appointments prior to HBS to collect my medical records and get additional vaccinations when the papers could not all be tracked down, I love the idea of digital medical records. However, one concern comes to mind — information security. I recognize that security is an issue with paper records (properly locked drawers and filed papers), and the AMA is already very focused on ensuring appropriate access for doctors or administrators (http://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/2012/09/stas1-1209.html), but I think we need to be concerned about connecting hospital networks. If one hospital in the Epic network gets breached, I as a patient would want assurance that the entire system of patient data is not exposed to hackers.
This is a perfect example of huge benefits from advancing into the digital age, but also tremendous risks to the privacy of individuals.
I admire the work of GMS in enabling financial inclusion in the Philippines, but it strikes me that they’re over-selling their “fintech” services. They strike me as more of a micro-finance company with a high-tech collection model. They serve clients in physical centers, and the technology component of their work seems more focused on protecting the firm against default rather than revolutionizing the way it serves clients. It struck me that there must be a way for them to add more digital capabilities to their service model, thus reducing the cost to deliver loans to any one individual and broadening their network. I am inclined to believe that the BPI Globe BanKO mobile micro finance savings bank (http://www.philstar.com/banking/2014/01/28/1283617/e-trike-loan) can provide more value to the so-called “BOP” individuals in the Philippines since it can provide both a loan and a savings account.
I’ve been intrigued by Stitch Fix for some time, and even gave my Mom a subscription as a birthday gift a couple of years ago. I think you did a terrific job of calling out some of the opportunities for the company — they’ve done a great job curating items based off of style and size preferences, but their overall delivery and pricing system has vast opportunity for improvement. I’d like to add one more thing for Stitch Fix to consider — how do the curate pricing appropriately for an individual? Short of that, how can they use pricing to encourage people to buy more in each box (I guess I have pricing on my mind this week!). I read about a company calledEditd (http://fortune.com/2014/09/22/fashion-industry-big-data-analytics/), which puts the power of data in the hands of consumers to help them find the best deals for items they’d like to buy. Could we put the data Editd has into the hands of Stitch Fix’s data scientists to help expand the value Stitch Fix provides? Right now their client base is just the less price-sensitive “Subscription Sallys (or Sams)” and could it eventually also include the “Bargain Betty (or Bills).”
Emily, this is a great example of something that is a win-win-win: great for the company (more sales), great for the consumer (lower energy costs), and great for the environment (reduced emissions). Its easy to celebrate the progress Whirlpool has made in bringing energy conservation to home appliances, but I agree with your sentiment that it should be doing more. I think your suggestions are a start, but I also think that given consumers really drive the most energy use, perhaps Whirlpool can be doing more to change consumer behaviors through education such as encouraging lower temperature drying or less frequent and larger loads. I’m sure it will be difficult, but I’d like to see Whirlpool doing more to educate and influence consumers.
T.S., a rare example of a company both benefiting from and exacerbating global climate change. Though not a cruiser myself, I’ve always had this perception that cruise lines epitomize modern day waste – polluting the waters and the air and wasting food with all-you-can-eat options. I’m disappointed to hear that they claim sustainability efforts, but act in ways that counter those objectives. This Carnival example makes me concerned about the many other companies who may be claiming environmentally friendly behaviors, but in many ways making the situation worse. Kudos to you for calling them out!
Amy, this blog stuck out to me because so many organizations have few incentives to manage climate change, yet the survival of the Kayonza community seems dependent on its ability to adapt to changes in weather. However, the term “survival” stuck in my mind the entire time I was reading your blog post. The Kayonza’s plans were merely aiming for a best case scenario of survival — when talking about things like population management, we’re merely delaying the inevitable collapse of the community rather than aiming to thrive. I have to wonder whether there are innovations in the types of tea plants or the access to water that could give this community a better chance to thrive.
AC, this is a very interesting glimpse into the fast fashion industry. My take-away from this summary is that H&M is far from doing enough to reduce its impact on the environment, but your suggestions demonstrate how challenging it is to balance the sustainability and profitability of an organization and an industry. If H&M were to limit the new lines of clothing it releases each year, it may win the reduction of its carbon footprint, but lose its foothold in the fast fashion market. A difficult trade-off, and likely difficult to achieve success without an industry transformation.
This is a fascinating organization, Marcheta. I have to say I’m most intrigued by the statistic that “45% of consumers answered that they were already ‘very heavily’ or ‘heavily’ influenced in their purchase decision by whether a product is from a company known for being environmentally friendly.” To Anton’s point, I wonder how the degree of environmental friendliness matters, or do things like having a place to sit outweigh the value a neutral carbon footprint. The other thing that strikes me is that this is a model that is easy to replicate. If the coffee trend heads in this direction, it could be great for the environment, but may dilute Wheely’s market penetration.