I’m amazed by how much Unilever was able to shorten the product launch time to a third, a bit of this time was by streamlining the regulatory process, but I wonder whether the end product is as good (or will be as successful) as the same product which had a few more months of development put into it. I definitely understand the need to be a “fast fish” and keep pace with nimble smaller companies, but at the same time the advantage of being large like Unilever is that you can play the long-game rather than focusing on short-term response. If they have a better product which would hopefully result in a higher long-term market share, then it may make sense to invest in an extra month or two or preparation.
I’m really intrigued by this article, because I would assume that Heineken’s motivation for creating innovation is to patent those ideas, or at least to protect them as trade secrets. I wonder how Heineken can enforce control over such innovation which is coming from non-employees who seem to be coming up with the ideas on their own and somewhat before contracting with Heineken. Do the innovators get some monetary compensation for ideas which are successfully implements, and if not, how will Heineken be able to keep convincing people longer-term to give them their innovative ideas for free.
I am interested whether Adidas could use the 3D printing to customize the shoes to an invidual’s foot. You could come in, have a foot scan, and get a perfect size and width made-to-order with the design of your choice (customized designs for an added fee of course). As mentioned in the article, new players in the market will be easily able to jump in as the cost of printers drops, thereby dropping the fixed costs (which before could only be dealt with economically by scaling up to spread the fixed costs) and shifting most of the costs to variable costs (a great model for newcomers). I think Adidas (and Nike) will have a competitive advantage because of their brand recognition and will become even more fashion companies, rather than innovation companies.
I love this article because I a huge fan of MoS. I have a fair amount of their clothing and find it worth the higher price point because of the comfort and convenience. The most amazing thing is how robust the clothing is, whether while running a half marathon (or running with my partner in scorching Florida heat wearing a button down and khakis), or throwing those same clothes in the washer with no special concern. While I agree that their price point needs to be lowered in order to appeal to a wider market, I think they have a great opportunity with 3D printing because it can allow them to adopt Just-In-Time philosophies with their production. It also means that they should be able to produce clothing from older lines, without the same concern of economies of scale that a normal clothing maker might have, meaning you could just keep re-ordering a pair of pants that you love how they fit, and you bought a decade ago. I will not that I say, “should”, because my own experience is that they don’t keep older lines of their clothing accessible.
The last thing I would like to ramble about is that they have actually had the problem that some of their innovations have been too advanced for users, specifically they had non-traditional buttons on pants. They no longer include those buttons because (having talked to people at MoS about this) consumers kept using them incorrectly and tearing the buttons out. I think their biggest problem is that their value-add is their innovation, but their innovation is sometimes too far ahead for their market.
It is very interesting to think shortcomings in understanding the “why” aspect of biochemical and pharmaceutical processes. There is a whole field of researchers devoted to creating better and more accurate models of how molecules interact with each other, but I wonder whether ML could be applied to the understood chemical reactions and processes to create a good enough model at the cellular level. I am picturing an AI program that is given biological and chemical inputs, and scored based on how close to the outputs it gets, using a base data set of known chemical, biological and pharmaceutical reactions and their products.
I don’t buy the JD argument presented in reference 9 about why they don’t want farmers to have the ability to do repairs. For anything software related, they could use the Tesla model of having everything linked remotely, and would be able to do any diagnosis, upgrades, repairs quickly and cheaply. For anything else mechanical or electrical there is no more risk than with a conventional piece of equipment. To me this seems like a play for more revenue by adding on hidden fees in the form of service which cannot be gotten elsewhere.
It will also be interesting to see how legislation changes this model and forces JD and others to stop this monopoly-like practice. MA has had a law on the books since 2012 aimed at right to repair in the automotive industry, and many more states are following suit (and some countries already have, like Australia).