The challenge with the Weather Company that you don’t mention is that they don’t source they own data. They get their data from the National Weather Service (NWS), a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the U.S. Dept of Commerce. In my work for the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, we worked with the Weather Channel to ensure that we could get NWS data effectively to Americans. The Weather Channel, in my understanding, takes the raw data that NWS provides and analyzes/interprets it in their own way. This basically means that the Weather Channel is somewhat beholden to how accurate the NWS and government data is from the NOAA planes. The U.S. Government has recently undergone a large upgrade in terms of weather infrastructure, satellites, and other technologies that the NWS uses to collect data. This should all have a positive impact on the Weather Channel but we should be careful in giving them full credit for their forecasts–like many industries (the private space industry for example) they rely on government infrastructure that’s already in place to drive their success.
I disagree with the notion that polling companies are doomed. On Election Day, Nate Silver, the renowned statistician of FiveThirtyEight.com, predicted a 70 percent Hillary victory but Trump won. That’s not a failure of the statistics–there was, afterall, a thirty percent change of a Trump victory and that’s what happened.
I also believe that to a certain extent there will always be holes in the polling data that are difficult to ascertain from the front end. In my opinion, voting history is not always indicative of future voting. The American populace and opinions are a fast moving target, and as we saw this November, there is always room for surprises when it comes to elections. I just don’t see how Civis is doing anything different that will allow it to accurately predict outcomes that go against historical statistical evidence.
Being a big Barnes and Noble fan, it’s sad to see them struggle, just as it was sad to see Borders file for bankruptcy. I wish you had discussed more what the new store concept was for B&N–that would’ve been a helpful and relevant way to gauge how they are reacting to this evolution. There definitely is a way for them to drive foot traffic into bookstores because many readers still value the ability to peruse a store to find their book instead of perusing the internet. The fact that Amazon sees value in the brick and mortar footprint is a signal that B&N has the potential to stay afloat.
Regarding the Nook, B&N will never be a technology provider. They should’ve outsourced the research and technology to a third party who knew what they were doing. I do think that there’s an opportunity still for them in the e-reader arena. They could be the library and content provider where another company could be the hardware provider. Perhaps, if they partnered with Sony or Apple, this partnership would be a successful one. There are plenty of technology companies that haven’t entered into this e-reader industry that could provide a superior product to Kindle but don’t want to manage the content library.
This is such a cool company! I remember the pain of being a college senior and not having any website that was particularly helpful in terms of finding a good job opportunity or knowing where to put your recruiting time. Indeed.com and Monster.com are not very helpful and oftentimes leave a student feeling more stressed and confused than when they began.
Two words: big data. I am a huge believer in the value of big data, having watched my former boss, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, create a Chief Data Officer for the U.S. Department of Commerce to manage all of the data we receive via the Bureau of Economic Analysis and U.S. Census. The Obama Administration has done a wonderful job at leveraging big data to its advantage and attempting to unleash Government data for private-sector use. Similarly, Handshake could, and should, unleash its data and sell it to company human resource departments so they can analyze it and improve their targeted hiring practices. The data they store is useful to all parties involved: students, universities, and hiring companies. This is a company where its value will increase exponentially because once they have the initial data they won’t just be about selling the actual website for hiring purposes, they will be about creating revenue from their data.
Wow. It’s depressing to see a once popular company go down like Blockbuster. I understand the challenge though–I used to shop at GameStop and now there’s less reason to visit the store now since you can just purchase games on the console. Blockbuster is a company that just watched this digitalization and disruptive change happen around them without adapting to the shifting trends. GameStop, I believe, is not yet in that desperate a territory and still has time to adapt if they choose to. I agree with the posts above that the company could leverage itself as an online gaming marketplace both on PC and game consoles. In order to do this they would likely need to share profits with the gaming companies but would relieve those companies of the need to manage, update, and maintain the marketplace for buying video games. The gaming companies would have to agree to let GameStop take a percentage of the game revenue in exchange for their marketplace. This is, in my mind, the only way for them to go since it is apparent that the brick and mortar store model is out of date and won’t sustain.
As a non-coffee drinker I have a hard time relating to the “specialty coffee” craze. Nonetheless, I think this is a really unique, innovative business model. However, we need to be realistic. Is Wheelys really going to expand and become the next large coffee chain? I’m doubtful-the chain has very low barriers to entry which means that almost anyone anywhere can open one, but that doesn’t guarantee long-term success or strategy. The graph comparing its country footprint to Starbucks is not a fair comparison. I also doubt whether or not Starbucks is actually influenced by Wheelys in terms of driving sustainable practices. Chances are that Starbucks is looking towards its fellow Fortune 500 companies and large coffee chain competitors to set the tone for their sustainability practices. That being said, I agree that a huge value add for Wheelys is to raise awareness of the importance of a) drinking sustainably sourced coffee and b) climate change efforts.
I’d really like to know more about the bikes that Wheelys uses for these street shops. It’s wonderful to tout how organic your sourcing is and use renewable energy, but the bikes also need to be sourced from sustainable materials, manufactured in a sustainable way, transported sustainably, and not cause harm to the environment when disposed. After all, bikes are usually made with less sustainable materials–paint, rubber, and metal. It would be very ironic to grow this business to raise climate change awareness, but in fact you are doing the environment much harm by increasing demand for unsustainable bikes.
This article perfectly highlights two connections Exxon has with climate change that many people don’t often consider: shareholder responsibility and its own facility and operations sustainability. Most people assume that because Exxon is an oil producer and contributes directly to increased CO2 they aren’t impacted negatively by climate change but that’s not true.
It sadly appears from news sources that Exxon had leading information on climate change as early as the 1970’s and deliberately misled Washington and shareholders, and even lobbied against research efforts on Capitol Hill (1). However, they are somewhat making up for it now with a small effort toward a diversified energy portfolio. This portfolio includes research and forays into natural gas, biofuels, wind power, nuclear, and landfill efforts (2) (3).
It’ll be a long time before Exxon is perceived as an environmentally sustainable company but I do think that, given the industry they operate in, they are making strong progress towards this goal.
I really appreciate your personal touch to this blog post and great suggestions for how Coca-Cola can refine this already impressive strategy. I have heard through the years about how Coca-Cola struggled to enter and maintain market share in India due to some of these initial challenges they faced and public backlash. I wanted to also highlight some of the other important efforts in addition to water that Coca-Cola makes towards sustainability because they give us a more full picture of how much they really invest. Some efforts include:
1. Polar Bear Protection-Coca-Cola has committed $3 million over 5 years to partner with the World Wildlife Fund and conserve polar bear populations (1).
2. Signed onto the White House’s American Business Act on Climate Change pledge–Coca-Cola committed to reduce its carbon footprint by 25% by 2030 in this agreement and was influential in the COP 21 negotiations in Paris in December 2015 (2).
3. Targeting 2020 for going all hydrofluorocarbon (HFC)-free in cold-drink dispensers (1).
4. Work with partners to recover and then recycle used bottles and cans-Coca-Cola has set a goal of recycling 75% of them by 2020 (1).
5. Save on energy by creating more efficient manufacturing processes through factories (1).
I think even just these select few highlight how much Coca-Cola does as an entire company to help the environment. It’s very impressive what incredible resources a company this large has and the impact it can have on climate change.
Thanks for sharing this information on Makers’ Mark–as a bourbon connoisseur it’s great to know that they are a socially responsible company. While Makers’ Mark’s efforts are to be applauded, I think there is much more they can do to be “green,” such as:
1. I am not sure that if bourbon production continues to increase these white oak forests will be able to meet demand, particularly if Makers’ Mark only uses local trees from Kentucky. To stay environmentally responsible, they would need to continue sourcing locally and keep transportation costs down, which is a huge problem if demand increases. Perhaps they could look into finding ways to recycle barrels or use stainless steel barrels like some competitors, namely Eagle Rare. Stainless steel barrels are being used more and more in bourbon production and while they yield a different taste profile they are much more environmentally sustainable.
2. They should look into using recycled glass for their bottles and recycled paper for the labels. This seems less significant than using sustainable wood but given their high production levels this would have a large impact on sustainability.
3. Managing forests and harvesting in a sustainable way is a step in the right direction, but to balance out their constant use of wood they could also manage forests for the sake of sustainability and not harvest them. Being a conservationist would be a wonderful PR move on their part and earn them great publicity as a sustainable company that cares about the environment.
I really appreciate your due diligence on all the things that Shake Shack does to be an environmentally responsible company. I was unaware that Shake Shack sourced from sustainable partners, encouraged sustainable agriculture, and mandated aggressive recycling policies. All of these practices set them apart from their competitors in the fast casual burger chain arena.
I do, however, have one overarching concern with Shake Shack’s sustainability practice: no matter what way Shake Shack serves its food, by nature of its business it contributes to global warming. Whether they offer vegetarian alternatives or not, Shake Shack is a burger restaurant serving unhealthy foods in large quantities. You can package it up very nicely in LEED-certified buildings and with environmentally friend beer suppliers but you can’t change the fact that they contribute to the obesity epidemic our world is facing. The obesity epidemic has been linked to increases in global warming for the at least a decade. Not only do increased obesity rates increase healthcare costs, thereby depleting more resources, but leading university research shows that a society with a higher obesity percentage needs more food production and transportation. This increases greenhouse gases significantly. In fact, the London School of Hygiene quoted CNN that an increased obesity percentage to 40% from our current level would translate to roughly 270 million more metric tons of greenhouse gases (1). So while Shake Shack may be sustainable in the way it delivers its food, that doesn’t change the fact that what it delivers is bad for the environment. To draw a comparison, Ford Motor Company can deliver an F350 super-duty truck in a hybrid tractor-trailer, but it’s still delivering a super-duty truck.
I did very much appreciate your thoughts on how Shake Shack could be more environmentally friendly and find those to be practical solutions. I wonder, however, if they would benefit the entire restaurant industry more by teaming up with other partners to directly educate farmers on sustainable practices and go straight to the source, rather than educate other restaurants.