I was an NYTNow loyalist for the couple years that it existed, and even in its demise it represented the best of NYT: a constant willingness to experiment and improve, to go directly to readers to test their products, and to unabashedly acknowledge when what they’re doing is no longer enough or no longer relevant. I am quite glad NYT is committed to living in the digital world, and I’ve enjoyed seeing them adapt their forms of content.
That said, I am wary of the usage of digital to personalize content or curate a newsfeed. The US learned an important lesson last week, that living in an echo chamber of media defeats the purpose of media in the first place, which is to represent a well-rounded and truthful view of the world that will make people actively think and question. I don’t think the NYT is there yet, as unlike Facebook, NYT seems to only curate based on topic (e.g., politics) rather than political view (e.g., pro-Clinton). One could also argue that the NYT itself is quite biased or narrow in perspective, so even if a reader got a random sampling, their views would not be broadened (a different discussion for a different post). However, I would warn the NYT as they move towards a more personalized content feed, to be quite cautious of the echo-chamber effect. Feeding us what we like may make them money, but feeding us what we need is critical to maintaining the integrity of a free and democratic media.
First off, I need to request that Luke’s homemade buttermilk dressing and home-baked croutons be made for sale on DLSH.com. They are unreal.
This is quite an interesting business, because DLSH is not just a marketplace, but also a journalism/media outlet/marketing company of sorts. Given that many of these vendors have very little marketing in-person appearances and some social media presence, the fact that DLSH sources and promotes talent is a large value-add service for customers who appreciate good taste and a good story! I can imagine a scaled-up DLSH eventually serving as a kind of food-reporting service for towns across America. For instance, when I plan my vacation to Ames, Iowa, I could look up some of the best vendors in the county and incorporate them into my itinerary. For someone who loves food and farmers, it would be a new kind of foodie-cation.
I also think it’s an excellent operational choice for DLSH to not take on any of the logistics. However, given that much of the customer service and vendor margin may depend on the sophistication of the logistics, perhaps DLSH could offer best practices or recommendations to member vendors. Eventually, as volumes of vendors build in certain regions, DLSH could even help negotiate group rates with logistics providers.
This is incredible! I had no idea Boston was so forward-thinking in utilization of digital to enhance communication and coordination. Whenever it comes to municipal processes, I just assume it’ll involve paperwork and snail mail (when I found out I could check my NY voter registration online I nearly cried with joy). This is a fantastic step and I absolutely agree that IT processes need to be built to integrate with business processes and with each other. Most people will assume city governments don’t have mobile apps – the city could do so much more in terms of marketing and increasing their user base. In addition, as of 2015, only ~64% of Americans have smartphones (http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/01/chapter-one-a-portrait-of-smartphone-ownership/). I would love to see Boston promote the webpage equivalent of these apps in places like public libraries and schools.
DVDs by mail in 1997…digital streaming in 2008…I feel like we are due for another revolution in the coming years. Netflix and its competitors reminds me of our discussion of Uber and its competitors: Uber has done the heavy lifting establishing the business model, working out the kinks, battling the lack of legal precedent (just think of our FRC Netflix case!), and educating users. Then the swarms of competitors swoop in and compete on price! While Netflix certainly retains some advantage versus competitors like Hulu, Amazon video, or HBONow in terms of content, user loyalty, and geographic availability, that advantage will not last forever. And as you mention, the encroaching competitors raise content acquisition prices for Netflix, eroding their margin. I’d be surprised (and disappointed) if the only move Netflix has in its pipeline is vertical integration to resemble more of a traditional studio, as Netflix is the poster child for business model innovation. How else can digitization improve user experience and enable our right to lie on our couch for 5 hours in a row? Perhaps Netflix can democratize content development, creating a Youtube-esque ability to crowdsource talent. Or perhaps they can stream live content (sports, news)? Either way, something will be required so that when we say “Netflix and Chill” in 2050, our kids don’t give us that “you’re so OLD” look again.
Of course I clicked on this article for the click-bait title! But what an interesting situation – the Daily Mail actually seems to be much more innovative in terms of taking advantage of the online platform than newspapers such as NYT or WSJ. For these established and well-respected newspapers, the online portals are mostly a re-packaging of the print content (with some additions of videos and multi-media articles). I had not thought about the possibility of actually creating separate content with the belief that people are looking for different things when they engage with an online versus a print newspaper. However, as these two arms diverge (and, perhaps, the print paper starts to fall out of favor), perhaps it may be best for the online paper to be spun out? At the very least, there needs to be some organizational segregation so that there is no conflict of resources between the new/growing division and the original/shrinking division. This reminds me of the JC Penney case, where Ron Johnson actually suggested appointing someone to “wind down” the old JCP. Perhaps the two papers need to be separated so that someone can help the original Daily Mail (gracefully) exit the scene and allow the new Mail Online flourish.
This is a great re-framing of the problem. When Elon Musk inevitably visits HBS for a talk, I would love to hear a question from the audience on this!
I’d add that there are even more hidden sources of environment damage in a car like a Tesla beyond the ones you mentioned (that’s the challenge of an 800 word limit). Wired (https://www.wired.com/2016/03/teslas-electric-cars-might-not-green-think/) does a great job of walking through the environmental effects of the mining required to produce the rare minerals that make a Tesla super-light and energy efficient, as well as the potential problems in battery disposal.
Of course, the ultimate purpose of framing a problem across the entirety of the supply chain is to create a transportation solution that, end-to-end, produces the lowest environmental impact. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy for an average consumer to comprehend the entirety of a supply chain while making purchasing decisions and under the pressure of a Tesla salesman! Perhaps there will eventually be more regulation in how “environmentally friendly” products are marketed to consumers, much in the way that nutritional benefit terminology is starting to become more tightly controlled in order to help consumers make smart decisions.
I’m quite impressed that Toyota, despite their success with the Prius, did not rest on their “green” laurels (pun intended), or make only incremental changes to EVs, but have in fact pushed ahead into a new technology sector! What is interesting to me is how Toyota manages potential internal conflict between the two technology types. Presumably, both EVs and FCVs benefit from economies of scale, both in the manufacturing of the vehicles as well as the infrastructure required to operate each. By splitting their investment, Toyota is both hedging their bets on takeoff of each technology, as well as losing scale benefits. This is both courageous and risky! Or perhaps they see the Prius as first-generation, and FCVs as second-generation? I’d love to see from a company-wide perspective how they manage investments between the two, and how they fit together into the company’s overall strategy.
Great article! Now I’ll have to go read Chris’ to compare and contrast a company vs. an agency’s response to similar problems. What is really interesting to me is how USPS can address these issues in the face of operating losses, as you mentioned. I’d imagine that they are under massive pressure to find new sources of revenue and increase existing sources, particularly as a network system like this experiences significant volume benefits. There might be a conflict of interest between 1) needing to raise volume and revenues in order to continue to exist, 2) acting as a federal agency established to meet citizen needs rather than a for-profit company, and 3) reducing overall environmental impact and improving resiliency. USPS has a tough challenge ahead of them – good thing we are graduating lots of smart minds who are keen on tackling our public sector challenges!
It’s hard to read this without a bowl of ice cream in my hands! Ben & Jerry’s is also one of the few companies that utilizes an internal carbon tax (http://www.benjerry.com/values/issues-we-care-about/climate-justice/internal-carbon-tax), the proceeds of which will presumably go towards one of their environmental initiatives.
What I’m really interested in is the relationship between Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever, as KZ pointed out. Ben & Jerry’s does maintain an independent board, which I think enables them to make an authentic push for these initiatives, without selling out to a big corporation. And they play a more vocal role in the parent company’s actions than other brands might (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/23/business/how-ben-jerrys-social-mission-survived-being-gobbled-up.html?_r=0). However, as we found out in the Dove case, any conflict of interest or hypocrisy between Unilever brands can create bad press – it would be interesting to see how Ben & Jerry’s protecting themselves from this!
Very interesting & thoughtful article – thanks for posting! One frequently suggested solution for individuals reducing environmental impact is to ditch cars and ride the public transit. Yet the risks posed to public transit are not frequently discussed, in particular the threat of extreme weather. I would argue that it may be more important to spend limited public money on improving the resilience of mass transit, as opposed to reducing baseline environmental impact, precisely because mass transit is already one of the more environmentally-friendly forms of transit. While not MBTA-specific, Freaknomics provides some interesting stats on energy consumption by mode of transit (http://freakonomics.com/2012/11/07/can-mass-transit-save-the-environment-right-wing-or-left-wing-heres-a-post-everybody-can-hate/). Turns out moving one person for one mile by rail uses about 75% the number of BTUs required to do the same by car, while also using a more environmentally-friendly form of fuel (buses may actually use more, but that’s a for a different post…). Additionally, as we push more riders to mass transit, the per-passenger-mile usage decreases, while exposure to disruption of mass transit service increases. If this trend continues, the energy consumption is less worrisome than the resiliency. It would be great to see city-specific reports on energy consumption by transit type, as well as impact per dollar spent of each project to perhaps turn more public funding towards this important topic!