Inspiring story! I’ve also seen that M-Pesa has further differentiated itself by providing highly useful agricultural information to farmers in Kenya through SMS and helplines, which takes what ITC eChoupal was doing a step further .
Having said that, however, I can’t help but notice that M-Pesa’s success was predicated on the alignment of a couple of crucial factors: (1) first mover advantage and (2) existing physical presence in rural communities. I wonder how scalable this is to companies in other countries looking to replicate the same model?
 Vodafone, “Agriculture – Our approach”, https://www.vodafone.com/content/sustainabilityreport/2014/index/transformationalsolutions/agriculture.html
As is, OpenTable already charges quite a significant amount to restaurants for being part of the service: $1259 in fixed sign-up costs + $199/month fixed fee, $99/month to be featured in dining guide + $0.25-1/reservation . I worry that if they expand into mobile payments and incentivize customers to pay through the OpenTable app, it would open the question on whether OpenTable would raise its fees further as they receive additional transaction data and potentially charge by % of transaction size. This possibility would run the risk of alienating restaurant owners. If enough restaurants start to question this, it might be just the tipping point for restaurants to bail out on OpenTable, ripening the opportunity for another table reservation app that has less fees and power to swoop in and fill the vacuum.
 Houston Press, “As fees become problematic, restaurants move away from OpenTable, but do they stay away?” (May 1, 2014), http://www.houstonpress.com/restaurants/updated-as-fees-become-problematic-restaurants-move-away-from-opentable-but-do-they-stay-away-6409337
It’s fascinating what Bright Cellars is trying to do but understandable that wine connoisseurs would frown upon such a technique to learn about other types of wine. This would likely have a negative knock-on impact on novice wine drinkers who see their more expert wine friends frown upon this technology.
Perhaps what Bright Cellar could do to get over the psychological hurdle of using big data in wine is to take a page out of Vivino’s book and combine their big data capabilities with Vivino’s wine scanning capabilities. Bright Cellars could have wine scanning capabilities to allow customers to not only store information on the exact label of wine they have tasted, but also – leveraging on Bright Cellars’ big data capabilities – find out what other wines are similar to the wine they tasted. They could also rate how much they liked the wine so that Bright Cellars’ algorithm will be able to understand what types of wines each customer would want vs. not want to be recommended. This might be a more “natural” and acceptable way for customers to discover the type of wine they like, instead of just taking a quiz.
I agree with you that Burberry needs to maintain the balance between access and brand exclusivity. However, I disagree that the Runway to Reality program is additive to its brand equity. Based on the scarcity principle, Runway to Reality dilutes the exclusiveness of getting a runway piece because it is open to all followers of Burberry. While I do see some value in going digital, there is a way in going digital while retaining exclusivity for the Runway to Reality program: limit the program to be accessible to top customers only. This would increase loyalty among top customers, while retaining the exclusivity factor and boost pre-selling of runway pieces.
Interesting! While I do agree that Hourly Nerd could solve questions that are highly limited in scope, the key assumption in the appeal of Hourly Nerd’s main value proposition is that the work that has shifted outside of classic strategy (80%) is in the analytics field and that the opinion of one expert is sufficient to analyze the entire problem.
However, what is actually happening is that “other” work is shifting towards implementation, project management, post-merger integration, operations, etc.  – all of which require more of a human touch and face time to work because it involves soft skills and convincing people to get on board with management-provided strategy and ensuring proper on-field execution.
Additionally, this type of work typically requires larger teams with more experts than just the one that Hourly Nerd believes is sufficient for the job because to come to an accurate and balanced conclusion, you will likely need to factor in the viewpoints of multiple experts.
 The Economist, “To the brainy, the spoils” (May 11, 2013), http://www.economist.com/news/business/21577376-world-grows-more-confusing-demand-clever-consultants-booming-brainy
While I agree that Forever21 will need to reconsider its sustainability efforts and perhaps pursue eco-friendly recycled materials, without backward integration, I wonder how Forever21 will execute this strategy. The issue of traceability of materials has been a top-of-mind roadblock for sustainability programs for consumer products and retail companies due to multi-layered distribution systems of raw materials; Forever21 will have to go multiple layers into the supply chain to guarantee eco-friendliness of raw materials.
While I do like the overall spirit of the “Future by Airbus” initiative, especially in pursuing sustainable aviation fuels, one of the key aspects here is to get buy-in from airline companies. Pursuing these sustainability initiatives will likely increase airlines’ cost base since sustainable fuels are less cost-efficient. With declining oil prices, I question how aligned the incentives are for these airline companies to pursue sustainable initiatives to cut oil use since there is less of a profit motive. Perhaps Airbus’ sustainability initiatives would garner more buy-in from airline companies if Airbus could lobby governments to get rebates for using sustainable fuels and aid with the economics of sustainable planes?
While Tesla’s progress has been impressive in the US, I question Tesla’s viability in other countries where there is a lack of infrastructure of supercharging stations within a full charge’s driving radius. Without sufficient availability of infrastructure in most countries, Tesla’s impact would be confined to the US. Would Tesla’s impact on improving environmental sustainability be more pronounced if they expand into more applications but just focusing on the US or would it be more significant if they were to focus on Tesla cars and expand geographically?
I agree that selling corporate social responsibility in developing countries is a tough sell especially when the key priority for developing countries is to accelerate economic development and growth (typically by exploiting natural resources). In order for Unga to expand their sustainability efforts, Unga will need to be able to find enough companies that would want to source and pay a premium for sustainable flour. To create a community that would be dedicated to this, perhaps the first step is to have a common sustainable maize certification that Unga can be a part of or spearhead so that there’s a common global language across the industry for what sustainable maize is defined as (similar to RSPO in palm oil or FSC/PEFC in forestry). Unga would then be able to organize their lobbying efforts and justify premium pricing on the basis of these certification standards.
While Monsanto has issued some laudable initiatives to contribute to sustainability, I wonder what the impact of their genetically modified seeds will be on the environment. As Monsanto improves the yield on their seeds and engineer them to be herbicide resistant, this starts to bring into light the potential for risks of creating herbicide resistant weeds and superviruses. Would R&D that expands in this direction bring about a crop epidemic going forward?