I agree with many of the comment above and worry about “greenwashing”. You state: “If climate change is truly threatening the long-term sustainability of the coffee industry, it is crucial for coffee roasters to work together on developing structural joint solutions to improve farm resilience.”. I agree with this. Another avenue to explore is we as a society may opt to reduce consumption of individually wrapped packages. I think the demand side of the equation could also be interesting to explore especially as it impacts the supply chain.
I certainly agree with you that those who work hard (in many cases extremely hard) to make low-cost goods should benefit from the value they are creating. This is currently not the case in the US or abroad. You state “Walmart also should focus on American labor, bringing manufacturing into the United States and employing the people who buy their products – the everyday American customers, the people who technically are paying regularly so that the Walmart execs exist at all. ” I want to challenge that because I think that trying to create jobs is not necessarily the right answer. The right answer may actually be to automate all of retail with no-cashier stores (such as those that Amazon is piloting) and e-commerce. Warehouses too could be automated in many ways. That will be tremendously value-accretive financially and destructive in terms of jobs. One possible solution to the human emotional and financial cost is to provide a basic income. Experiments are underway in Finland as to the results of basic income. I think the real question will become to what extent do we want to use robots/technology to improve the quality of human life and how are we as a society going to distribute that value?
Interesting take on a somewhat controversial, but relevant, supply chain issue.
A couple points I’d like to add
1) I agree that shipping and transportation costs will likely have some part to play here. However, I would venture to say that because of the high value-density of iPhones, labor may be a more relevant cost.
2) How can Foxconn create a business and supply chain that is resilient to future changes in administration?
3) You state: “Meanwhile, I would suggest that that workforce in Wisconsin to not be unionized.” I would say it is generally best practice from what we have learned in TOM to have as much flexibility as possible if it does not come at additional cost. However, in the case of non-unionized workers, there is a cost. The cost is the power that works have, which is not directly borne by the company. I would challenge others to ask, that if there is no union, how will the workers push back on what are likely to be increasingly strong demands to, for example, wake up in the middle of the night and make iPhones?
I think this is an interesting problem because it touches on the supply chain difficulties that arise from long lead time items. Right now, OLEDs may be in short supply. The problem arises because it is extremely capital intensive and time-consuming to build an OLED factory that achieves reasonable yields. Because demand for OLED is temporally separated from supply, there are likely to be a series of shortages and oversupply situations. This is similar to oil and gas in which projects have such a long lead time that they risk entering markets that have significantly changed from the time the investment decision was made.
Great analysis! One question I would dig deeper into is the time frame of these changes. If autonomous trucking is able to capture the market in the medium term there is a chance it could beat out the adoption of IoT. Another broad question to think about is barriers to implementation inherent in the industry. Another comment referenced the trust issue and “big brother” concerns. The relatively less technologically advanced nature of trucking (historically) could also be an obstacle. It may be difficult for key players in the industry to understand and accept blockchain as a place to store and transfer information. I appreciate your analysis on how blockchain could revolutionize IoT and this it might also be applicable in other industries.
You make a very interesting point on the energy consumption of Bitcoin. From a supply chain standpoint, I think the largest Bitcoin producers will have to optimize production based on what proportion of costs are from energy, personnel, and government regulation. Right now, energy may be the main factor, however, I think that in the future the optimization will have to be more sophisticated. As we saw in the Fuya Glass case, choosing a location for production of any product can be complex. I wonder if the breakdown of costs will shift in the future. For example, if machine learning becomes the main competitive advantage, players with access to engineering talent may be in a superior position. Alternatively, if lack of regulations is a competitive advantage, players in those countries will accel.