Really interesting article! I agree with your recommendation for CircleUp to invest in proprietary data partnerships to build a sustainable competitive advantage. That said, I am curious about accuracy of the outputs from the machine learning system and wonder whether identifying good investments is something that can truly be automated. Anecdotally, I have heard that the founding team is at least as important to investors as the product. On that vein, I wonder whether this system can assess founder potential well enough to be effective as as sourcing tool. Perhaps this is something the company can build into their data set, maybe by partnering with LinkedIn to assess the founders’ skill sets and credibility as part of output.
This is a really interesting read and initiative! For me, the main concern is credibility of the submissions that the government receives. For example, if a random person submits a perspective to 311 based on an analysis they did – how does the government determine whether the analysis is accurate? In cases where the submission is supported by an institution or academic, that might not be a concern. However, if the submissions are largely from unqualified citizens, or worse, from malicious actors, the government would need to either ignore them or spend resources verifying them. A potential solution would be to engage another organization or the community to also participate in a peer review process for the submissions. Ultimately though, I do think this is a step in the right direction for governments because as you mentioned, it gives people the opportunity to engage with and support their government. Furthermore, it allows the government to tap into the latest technologies that they might not otherwise have the resources or awareness to incorporate. Great article!
I too see huge potential but also risk in this technology. Ultimately, I think the decision on how broadly this is implemented will come down to whether innovations in reducing the cost of mobilizing these printers can outpace innovation in transportation. It may end up being a hybrid approach, I believe, where these printers are located regionally and then improvements in transportation such as the use of drones can help improve distribution from there. That said, as you mentioned, risk level would also be a factor. For example – whether the benefit of inexpensive and flexible transportation outweighs the potential cost of items being intercepted. In some cases I expect the answer would be that it does not, in which case it stands to reason that there will definitely be circumstances where having the ability to locally produce parts is highly valuable.
I think Sony does need to break free from its culture to a degree. You mentioned that SAP is Japan focused and I think that stifles their ability to source innovation. If the program can be broadened to be more inclusive of other nationalities, the added diversity can expand the scope of innovative ideas that come through the program. To win in the global economy, they will have to develop products that are applicable in societies far beyond just Japan, and for that reason, extending the program to source ideas globally gives them a far greater likelihood of finding that success. Furthermore, it would increase their chances of identifying that global opportunity when/if it comes through their program.
Nice article, Yoda. I would think there are definitely diminishing returns with more data. That said, I think we are still far from the point of diminishing returns. There’s an innovative new company called Gong  that is using ML to listen to sales rep calls and provide insight to sales reps about how to close the deal. By using the data of actual conversations to create insight, the company is really making an impact to improve sales force effectiveness. I think Salesforce has a way to go before they hit any point of diminishing returns, and the competitors may beat them by being more innovative rather than by having more data.
I think customized sneakers are absolutely an important new frontier. Consumers are increasingly expecting tailored products and if Adidas can be the first to market with that, it could create strong differentiation. That said, they will have to bring the costs way down. Many consumers don’t want to pay more than $100 for shoes. Two big questions for me remain – how much functional benefit (whether comfort, performance, or both) does the consumer gain from customized shoes, and for how many will that justify the additional cost?