PC 3 – the fact that Iron Mountain is still around today is truly amazing. Once a physical storage company – you would have thought the internet would have destroyed this business. But like you mention, they have adopted and now offer the scan storage strategy which is sustainable in a digital world. Security has to be a differentiator for their scan product – take EHRs (electronic health records) – many legal implications for patient safety. Really innovating their offering around security I believe can be a key means by which this enterprise sustains growth long-term and remains relevant.
Thanks Andrew. I just wanted to challenge the ultimate commercial capacity of these robo advisors. You note that penetration of these products is still quite modest despite being on the market for some time. I think this is a product of the fact that robots simply cannot match the same fundamental analysis required in sound investing that humans can deliver. Not sure how commercial these products will ever get. That said, I totally agree that the transition from B2C to B2B was a great idea. Much less competitive market and it seems they have real traction with some well capitalized, respected banking institutions.
Reets – this was an awesome post. I think you highlighted one of the most essential ways digital technology can differentiate a business product – the ability now for real time and endless customization. The fact that this ap is tailored towards the specific behavior and income level of the end-user must dramatically increase the value it brings to the customer. In general, when I reflect on online banking, its amazing how satisfying of an online experience these banks have created. Depositing checks for instance through your phone is so convenient. A huge benefit of digitization has been convenience. Thanks again for this article.
This is very interesting. As you mention, somewhat of an enigma that Nike was a first mover in the wearable and fuel idea, but they ultimately failed. I agree with you that the two main takeaways are: i) you must always anticipate what your customers will and will not understand. Once people didn’t get fuel points, even a great interface / product was doomed; and ii) talent is everything in an organization – especially in tech when rapidity of innovation is very real. The fact that retention to other companies for engineers was an issue must have posed a real challenge for Nike. Thanks for writing this GH.
Yi-Chen. This was a very enjoyable post about a market making tool used in Chinese Real Estate. I completely agree that one of the key differentiators in the digital age is reliability of information. It is now a days so hard to track back to whether or not a website is providing credible information, By eliminating fake posts, as you discuss above, Lianjia is able to offer a superior real estate product. I believe the integrity of their postings will be able to sustain their business for years to come.
Matt thanks so much for this. One of the things I was thinking about is the balance between technological innovation in combating climate change (like this software you mention) and just the pure trade-off of people being out of a job. I think in agriculture this has already started (as you mentioned, more tractors, automated planting, etc.). But I suppose my question is how will these software programs gain support / commercialization where now there won’t even be anyone driving the tractor because there is auto navigation. US ag is 5.7% of our GDP (http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/chart-gallery/gallery/chart-detail/?chartId=58270). So I just think its critical we remember the political ramifications (job security, employment, etc.) of over automating an industry and removing low to medium skill jobs in our economy.
This is one industry where Toyota has a compelling, for-profit reason to pursue climate change initiatives. The consumer will be more insulated at the pump from volatile swings in crude oil. However, I totally agree that the path to commercialization is all about justifying the payback period in the buyer’s eyes. At a price of 3x the Corolla, the gasoline savings aren’t justified in a reasonable time period. Perhaps one of the things Toyota can due is ask for more subsidies from the government or another third party to close this gap. The Wind industry currently offers this and it has spurred investment in an area where the payback periods are not yet attractive enough to necessitate massive standalone investment.
Sophie – this article is very interesting. I know we are obligated to focus only on a single company, but when reading through your post, my broader thought was the requirement for all financial institutions to really work together in promoting climate change. Specifically when you discuss less credit exposure to the coal industry (due to its high carbon footprint), the issue I foresee is that there is an oversupply of capital in the debt markets right now chasing yield, and although the coal industry may be in slow secular decline, it likely can still meet bond coupon payments and produce return for investors. Therefore, even if BAML will not lend to those industries, perhaps one of its peers (also public and under the pressure of quarterly reporting) will act as a creditor. Just goes to show that broad cooperation is critical in combating climate change.
I enjoyed reading about GE and specifically it’s end-markets. GE plays in so many critical areas that will affect climate change. This includes building locomotives, plane engines and even wind turbines. I think one of the most interesting things for GE is the balance they have between the short time and long term. Clearly this business is preparing now for the manner in which climate change will have a long-term impact. However, it is one of the most prestigious, large cap, public companies, known for brutal quarter to quarter targets and a legacy left by Jack Welch’s results driven management orientation. I think this corroborates that even the most profit focused institutions have to take a long-term view when secular change is on the horizon and is undeniable. For GE, climate change certainly fits this criteria.
I find it fascinating that you mention that Intrawest has not yet made a public comment on how it will specifically deal with this issue. To me their business model is truly fundamentally challenged by the issues you have described. Unlike many of the other posts I have read where there are clear mitigating strategies (technological development to use fewer resources, fuel efficiency, etc.) here the ultimate customer experience of what they are serving is in question. I think this illustrates the large risk inherent in single service (or single hospitality) concepts. Sure these businesses can try to monetize the off-season (zip line, etc.), but fundamentally these were large bets on the longevity of skiing whereas now a more diversified service offering is clearly required.