I’m concerned about the streaming music industry for a couple of reasons that haven’t yet been discussed here. First, the business model depends upon writers/artists/producers/labels cooperating and the first two are not happy. Per NeYo, a prolific and successful writer, “Right now, for example, 1 million streams of a song on Pandora only earns a songwriter $90 on average. And that then has to be split with publishers too…Even if you write a hit song that’s streamed millions of times, you’re still not going to earn enough to pay the rent from streaming. And that’s where the entire industry is moving.” (http://fusion.net/story/139678/songwriters-equity-act/) Additionally, as new artists seek to break out by pursuing distribution over profits, sites like noisetrade.com facilitate distribution on a ‘tips only’ model that could become a new norm when successful new bands go mainstream. If not completely overtaking traditional pay-per-listen fee structures, “free” and other distribution mechanisms could quickly whither Spotify’s market.
Second, a marked decrease in per-song purchase prices by the likes of iTunes could turn the tables in a hurry. At $10/month, a user will pay as much for year’s worth of streaming (after which they lose all access to the music) as it would cost to purchase 120 of their favorite songs for permanent ownership. After 10 years, a Spotify user will be left with nothing but memories while a music purchaser at *current* rates would have 70 hours of hand-selected music to listen to for life (at $1 cost and 3:30 duration per song) . Given that many users’ music tastes become fixed in a given period or genre, that 70 hours may satisfy the majority of their music demands for life.
I don’t think Spotify will stand the test of time. Within a decade it will be on the decline or have changed forms dramatically, if it’s still around.
To both SLHarland and JL, I absolutely agree that compensation and quality control remain critical areas that a company considering all-telework model will need to figure out. In order for this to be resolved, productivity must be measured on a qualitative scale, but the measures to be used are as yet undefined in this context. That said, most corporate HR departments have set evaluation criteria for employees – and rarely do those criteria measure “hours worked” – so the existing model may be more suitable for application to a telework model than it may now seem. If compensation structures can be linked to these assessments, companies will have no reason to be concerned by working hours.
Data security will be a challenge for as long as humans interact with IT systems. In the words of my first IT class instructor “The only secure computer is one that is unplugged and locked in an impenetrable safe.” The US Military uses parallel networks in order to protect classified information. One network is connected to the internet, the other is a functionally closed-loop system. Instances of leakage do occur when users intentionally or accidentally share the information, but overall the system works. Companies may need to consider splitting corporate data onto multiple systems as well – to create hard barriers between proprietary/sensitive data and general communications. User habits and self-discipline then become the greatest concern and vulnerability, but restricting access to vetted and experienced personnel is a feasible way to reduce that risk.
Also to JL and to Brian, the human factor certainly still must be managed. I’ve participated on many projects that were conducted from distributed locations but entailed pre, mid and post-project in-person meetings to develop, maintain and harvest the group rapport and learning experiences in order to make the most of the project for the organization. With that time to demonstrate in-person goodwill and learn each others’ temperaments and personal style at the outset of a project, subsequent e-communications can be interpreted through the readers’ learned lens for the applicable sender. I don’t think telework can be done well without such meetings except for projects that only require cut-and-dried technical piecework.
I think it’s worth highlighting that, per your reference xii, the project got off the ground as a result of a grant from the UK’s DFID for 50% of the initial capital outlays. This is a great example of a government agency looking beyond its shores to support forward-thinking projects in developing countries whose future will directly impact its own. Whether altruistic or self-serving, successful efforts such as MPESA demonstrate the viability of Public/Private partnering on projects that align with the goals of both parties. It also serves as a counterpoint to the push for privatization of industries. When a government uses its reach and control for positive ends, such projects have a strong chance of success.
DK – I absolutely agree that this model will not replicate every aspect of workplace communication, but the upsides of bias elimination (one may not be able to see or hear teammates on a project) could give greater voice to people who would otherwise garner less respect. This could dramatically level the playing field in a competition of ideas and afford women, elderly employees and people from various cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds the opportunity to co-work on projects while bypassing the pitfalls of bias and culture barriers. This is a bit of an idealized view, but we should keep in mind that, for many people, working physically “together” can be a hindrance as well as facilitator of their (and the teams’) success.
The idea of combining emojis and burritos is literally making me hungry. That said, I don’t think I want my burrito to be made by a machine. Having worked in the food service industry, I know what a struggle it is for employees to keep utensils clean, food changed out (for health reasons) on an appropriate schedule, and the work space clean (to prevent germ and pest infestation). When I picture the future of Chipotle as you’ve presented it, my hunger turns to queasiness (or disinterest at best). All that said, if Chipotle can do for burritos what Keurig did for coffee…… you’ll have my attention!
During our two years living in Spain we visited Decathlon several times. It’s a great store and many of my coworkers shopped there often as well. The employee availability was amazing – we bought 4 bicycles and throughout the process one young man helped us understand what was available and best suited each of our kids. If that was a direct result of RFID employment improving employee availability to serve customers, the impact is real and amazing.
My hesitance is customers’ willingness to procure products into which RFID tags are inextricably sown or manufactured. When word gets out that Decathlon can track every time you visit the store (and moreover that RFID could be used to track the item by anyone anywhere with the right data and scanner) I’m concerned that customers will push back strongly. I would! But I also really want that new backpack…
This is a fascinating business model, but I’m concerned that boutiques near populated areas will bear a significantly higher than fair share burden of customer service. As customers visit to try on or make returns of goods that the visited boutique does not profit from, the incentive to provide commensurate service may fall short. At worst, I’m concerned that the staff could be overwhelmed by the demands of Farfetch customers and experience a corresponding decline rather than an increase in profitability as a result of the arrangement.
It sounds like Coke’s strategy is to “do more of the same.” That will likely help, but with decreasing marginal returns. At a minimum Coke should take a lesson from Starbucks and work to educate its suppliers and enforce standards that are congruent with Coke’s stated environmental priorities. Coke has the luxury of massive leverage – I hope they put it to good use!
This is a really interesting perspective on how the demands of climate change drive public infrastructure innovation and development. The US would be wise to look to this and other countries whose investments in public transportation have yielded such positive results. Perhaps there is an opportunity to leap from our history-constrained rail network to a leading-edge transportation system that American business and individuals can afford and actually prefer to use over traditional vehicle transportation.
As a coffee-lover, this reads like a horror story! As a fan of Starbucks, I am very curious to see measures of the impact of their farmer-outreach and support initiatives. It seems unlikely that future demand can be met entirely by changing farmers practices and replacing trees. Rather, increased productivity and increases in land farmed seem likely to exacerbate climate change problems related to water usage, forest conservation, etc. And while you pointed out that in-store electricity use will remain a continuing challenge, total consumption per store seems to be stable or improving – let’s hope that trend continues!
MC – thanks for sharing! Related to Karla’s comment, future opportunities for Mother Dairy seems broad but uncertain. While buying from farmers is great – in that it helps them make the most of the production from their fields, seasonal variations would not only hurt Mother Dairy but could crush the farmers as well. It seems the company could take a proactive role in helping farmers maximize productivity, facilitated by contracts that promise support in the way of fertilizer, price assurances or income guarantees in exchange for an exclusive option to buy all produce. This would protect and assist the farmers while assuring Mother Dairy of reliable supply even as market prices fluctuate.
This is fascinating and, through the ‘lens’ of my military experience, presents some really interesting security concerns and opportunities. I’m curious if at some point Planet will be directed by governments to limit the availability of data so that only specific landowners or government agencies can access it. The risk of equipping anti-government groups with this kind of near-real-time field positioning information is that it could enable much more effective guerrilla warfare operations – particularly where government forces are spread thin. On the other hand, under-resourced national security organizations could use this data to defend against such activities. I suspect this will become an even more complex ‘conversation’ as the technology is deployed further.