Great article! While FbF is a great concept, I wonder about its compatibility with the markets and environments disaster relief situation tend to arise in. On a central or regional level, Red Cross could certainly benefit from improving their demand forecasting so that there are less stock-out and wastage situations. While FbF can help with forecasting, it won’t necessarily lead to better outcomes because of challenges with rapid last-mile delivery logistics. Given poor road infrastructure, getting products where they need to be rapidly is costly. Given limited funds, critics might argue that deciding to actually deliver products should be contingent on an actual disaster having occurred. Otherwise many of the gains from improved upstream supply chain via demand forecasting may be offset by wastage of transport dollars and expired products that may have to be recollected if unused.
Given its large scale, Amazon has strong potential to disrupt almost any space they want to play in. That said, a huge part of Amazon’s success is their optimized and easy online platform for consumer purchasing, for which the “checkout process” is a matter of seconds. While this technology could have interesting applications at Whole Foods and as a licensed products for other traditionally brick and mortar stores, I am not convinced that Amazon should enter the B&M directly given the risk and unpredictability of product mix and consumer purchasing preferences. More broadly, as Amazon continues to expand its scope of business, I wonder what (if any) monopoly regulatory concerns could become potential issues.
Amazon’s autonomous drones have the potential to change both regular consumer and commercial deliveries. While safety is a big concern in near-term, similar to the evolution of airplanes, I think we can expect the technology to improve rapidly in the near future. In this sense, I don’t think rapid delivery is at inherent odds with safety. I would also add that there are some emergency, non-frivolous use cases in which the speed could be need-driven (not just convenience-driven). For example, drones could be used to deliver medicine on-demand at the site of a car accident in a high traffic area.
Beyond the technology, there are a lot of implications for government oversight that are worth considering. For example, the introduction of drones puts considerable additional burden on the local civil aviation authority for monitoring in parallel to commercial aircraft. Amazon should think critically about how it can partner to make this as easy as possible for governments.
Great read! While I agree that digitization can help with upstream supply chain issues, it’s also worth considering what (if any) control Merck has on downstream supply chain, particularly demand and delivery. As you mention, emerging markets are becoming more relevant consumers for pharma companies, but their needs and basic infrastructure are often not sophisticated and lag in terms of readiness for digitization. For example, stockouts, wasteage, and temperature sensitivity are all issues that can effect potency of medication. Digitization can mitigate many of these risks, but would require investments beyond Merck’s “core.”
Though Starbucks is doing a great job improving the sustainability of its own supply chain, it could do more by investing vertically in its coffee production. While margins would decrease with this kind of investment, the company could view this as a long-term investment in raw input security.
In terms of broader responsibility to improve coffee supply chain, this case reminds me of IKEA. While Starbucks can and should do more to improve its internal sourcing, I think it’s outside of the company scope, impractical, and a large investment for Starbucks to invest in climate change improvement more broadly (especially because many contributing environmental factors are dependent on other corporations and consumers, e.g., oil).
This is a great read! Though I applaud the grassroots model to address hunger and food wastage, I believe that education and disaster relief are different efforts that required a systematic and sustained presence of trained professionals that coordinate with existing regulatory bodies. Without this kind of coordination and formalization, it’s hard to standardize the experience that underserved populations are getting and to guarantee a certain level of quality. Even with its classic model, I worry about liability that RHA takes on in case something goes wrong (e.g., delivering food that is unknowingly spoiled).
With regards to a no fund model, I believe that RHA could greatly benefit from standardization and external capital as it grows. This would enable the organization to hire top talent, invest in supply chain management software, and systematically track outcomes, which in turn grows RHA’s ability to have impact.