Google is not the first technology company to face pushback against its practices or dominance in Europe. While the trend of isolationism is no doubt growing, companies like Microsoft faced antitrust lawsuits in Europe that caused them to change business practices. Google should look to the experiences of such companies in designing their response to EU allegations. They should also consider how they can deepen offices/relationships within the EU to make it more difficult for the EU to push them out altogether.
One additional question for organizations like Google and other large technology firms is how they respond to the threat posed by international interference in European elections, especially attempts that seem to favor isolationist candidates such as Le Pen. Will the EU as these firms to take a more proactive role in protecting the information they store and the news they disseminate? If so, how should Google prepare for such eventualities even as it tries to get in good standing with the EU?
The questions facing the MLB when it comes to digitalization are vexing and complex ones, especially as regards cannibalization of their non-digital offerings. However, history would seem to indicate that sports leagues need to move to where their consumers are, and especially as baseball has a reputation for attracting an older crowd it could get an outsized benefit from moving its operations online quickly and offering diverse digital products that can attract a young audience. One additional question is how individual teams with their own networks (e.g. the Yankees and YES) or teams with strong relationships with regional networks (e.g. the Red Sox and NESN) will respond to the league’s move to one singular online platform? Will they cede greater control to the MLB who through BAM has shown competence and leadership in digitization? Or will they attempt to build some of their own platforms that compete independently?
Gotham Greens at a crossroads when it comes to achieving scale. There is an inherent tension in their branding, which is local/sustainable and a desire to take on big agriculture. One question is whether they might want to consider partnering with one of the large agriculture businesses that control production in the U.S. to achieve scale. Such a partner might have the resources to cover Gotham’s high fixed costs and add supply chain expertise that would enable them to reach new markets. Another possible path to scale is selling their technology to such companies and establishing hydroponic facilities outside of urban areas at a cheaper cost. Finally, for double bottom line businesses like Gotham, there is a question of whether they might be able to address challenges like urban poverty and decay through their business model.
I agree with Viroopa that UPS may have some protections from isolationism that B2B businesses do not. In fact, if tariffs or other goods prevent international shipment of goods, that could be boon to UPS given its strong network in the U.S. since more individuals might be shipping goods internally rather than relying on external suppliers. However, there is an even more dramatic risk for U.S. companies if isolationism continues and a trade war results. Major U.S. businesses may be excluded from certain markets in retaliation for such a war.
One additional question is: what policy levers UPS is exerting to try to fight isolationism through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable? It seems like pushing back against an isolationist an agenda in Washington might actually be one of the most powerful tools they have even as they move to protect their supply chain by building in-country capabilities.
Häagen-Dazs’ early response to the disappearance of bees demonstrates how important it is for companies to constantly be monitoring risks to their supply chain. If their goal is ultimately good PR, I agree it seems like they could be doing more to publicize their efforts, perhaps including bees in their labels of sustainably produced items with honey. However, if their goal is to actually save honeybees, it seems as though they should be focusing even more of their efforts on lobbying. The disappearance of honeybees is something that USDA and the White House Council on Environmental Quality were concerned about during the Obama Administration. Asking Congress, in conjunction with other food companies that rely on honey bees, for additional resources for USDA to research and develop policies to support honey bees would likely have an outsized impact on the amount of funding that the efforts receive. I think the question you raise is ultimately an important one – Häagen-Dazs is not a brand that is associated with bees or honey, so should they be putting their sustainability efforts elsewhere?
I agree that blockchain presents an interesting opportunity for Walmart to be a leader in the sustainability and food safety space and potentially gain a competitive advantage when it comes to understanding their supply chain and creating efficiencies within it. This is especially true as Walmart seeks to eliminate a billion tons of emissions from along its supply chain by 2030 (see: https://digital.hbs.edu/platform-rctom/submission/save-emissions-live-better-walmarts-gigaton-gauntlet/?section=7749&sort=rand). I disagree that Walmart necessarily needs to build this technology entirely in-house. Doing so could distract from Walmart’s core competency of retail and supply chain management and might make the project so costly, especially as they would have to build a tech talent pipeline in Bentonville, that it is viewed as impractical by senior executives. At this stage, partnership, therefore, seems like the right choice to me.
The point you raise about how stakeholders will react along Walmarts supply chain reminds me of the challenges faced by Barilla in introducing just-in-time. Walmart has a scale that has gotten them buy in from at least some suppliers who have participated in pilots. I wonder whether the rest of their supply chain will be compelled by the results? Or will they like Barilla’s distributors fear losing even more control to Walmart if they give up instant data about their processes?