Interesting article. OverDrive is making a business by providing an e-book platform but might have to evolve fast as books are becoming increasingly less relevant in the field of education. Schools are migrating towards more interactive, multimedia driven pedagogy (a la Khan Academy). Millennials are also transitioning towards ‘audio books’ as they find listening to an audio is easier than reading. As attention spans decrease and more modern forms of communicating content are developed – it will be interesting to see how books and ebooks survive this test of time.
This is an interesting article – great to see how Washington Post has rediscovered itself. You have mentioned the transition from text to multimedia content – this is something the newspapers have traditionally struggled with as they always think in terms of text reports. Moreover, in the information age – the attention span of people is constantly reducing. Twitter has put us in the habit of reading 140 characters so do we expect people to read full news articles. There is an Indian startup called ‘inshorts’ which publishes news story no longer than 60 words . They are becoming really successful and I believe this is what the future is going to be. It will be interesting to see how conventional news organizations will respond to this challenge.
Interesting article. Reflecting on my own experiences of retail shopping for myself and my wife, I feel there are a lot of inefficiencies that can be solved. For example, why do I need to always ask the staff if they have ‘medium’ size of the dress that I like – can’t they make this information transparent to the customer. The moment you select a dress, you should easily know whether a different size / color of that dress is available and moreover, you should electronically be able to request to see that size / color. This will really simplify the process of staff running back and forth in the store. I do believe that there is a place for offline stores especially for luxury retail as customers want to touch / feel / try out what they want to buy. Also, luxury shopping is an experience which the online world might not be able to replicate. However, they need to fix some of the inefficiencies with better use of technology.
This was a great read. I was in the Singapore BCG office when the BCG team was working on the 2 year project to implement these very changes at the Changi airport. Going back to our classroom discussion during the Watson case – it is interesting to see how even emerging economies are pushing for greater automation / digitization at the cost of reducing their workforce. Given that manpower is much cheaper in these emerging economies, it will be interesting to see whether these initiative are actually ‘cost effective’. For example, installing self check-in / self baggage drop counters were found to non-value adding for New Delhi airport. Firstly, manpower is quite cheap in India. Secondly, there was a huge risk that passengers might not be able to put baggage tags properly on their luggage. Thirdly, what to do for oversized baggage – can passengers be trusted to not shove oversized baggage through self check-in. Fourthly, are we missing out on additional revenue which we get through over-weight baggage – because the current technology was not fool-proof. For example, a passenger could take heavy items out of his/her bag – get it weighed, print the baggage tag, stuff the heavy items back in and then submit the luggage. Due to these reasons, it was felt that such a system might not be net positive for the New Delhi airport and BCG recommended Delhi airport to not go for it.
Great topic. I see similar things happening in Hindu temples. During a typical visit to a Hindu temple, the devotees would offer a few sweets and donations to the temple. In order to present these to the Gods, the priest is supposed to chant some prayers on your behalf while offering your sweets / donations. This used to be a very sequential process. The priest has to chant prayers for each temple visitor and hence on important Hindu festivals, temples used to experience long queues. However, one of the biggest Hindu temples – Vaishno Devi has now started offering e-visits to the temple. You can make your donations online – the priests will bundle all the donations received and then offer them to the Gods together. Moreover, you can see the video of the priest doing this on the temple’s website – they are also developing a mobile app!
The blog very nicely highlights how Deloitte can become better at advising clients on sustainability issues but I don’t think the role of consulting ends there. Being a former management consultant myself, I feel that firms like Deloitte should be shaping our thinking as far as sustainability is concerned. Will Deloitte be willing to push the topic of sustainability for clients who are turning a blind eye to it right now? Or more provocatively, will Deloitte stop a consulting relationship with a client if it finds that the client is indulging in practices that are detrimental to the environment? Historically, consultants have been unwilling to play that role. The 2008 financial crisis is a case in point when consultants who were advising clients in the financial sector failed to pro-actively bring up the ticking time bomb that these companies were sitting on . But will consulting redeem itself by taking more ownership with the environmental crisis?
The blog points out interesting ways to limit impact of beef production on the environment but they focus heavily on how to limit beef industry’s impact on ‘deforestation’ and not so much on the methane emission. In fact, methane emissions due to beef have been increasing at an alarming rate , primarily driven by higher meat consumption in India  and China  due to rising middle class. But how do we solve for this? Do we just hope that people are going to turn vegetarians overnight or can we produce beef and other meats in a way that leads to less methane emission? Recent scientific advances have proven that lab-produced beef can be an alternative. Health risks associated with lab-produced beef and customer’s willingness to adapt are still open questions but more research in this area can be a potential solution to the methane crisis.
The blog raises interesting points around how corporations are reacting to water scarcity. But my worry is that the measures employed by Air Products and Chemicals are not tackling the real issue – how can we raise water table? There is some on-going research that aims to solve this problem by artificial replenishment  or by using the natural ecosystem to raise water table . Organizations like Air Products and Chemicals can help sponsor some such research to help solve the problem.
It is interesting that you state that McDonald’s has led to a flatter world – it has made me anything but flat :). The blog mentions how different stakeholders are ‘shaming’ McDonald’s into doing something about climate change. I strongly believe that they do not need to do that as McDonald’s is already, quite literally, feeling the ‘heat’ of climate change in its income statement. Because of unpredictable periods of drought and excessive rainfall that we have seen over the last few years, food prices are increasing which are adversely affecting all Quick Service Restaurants, including McDonald’s. For example, beef prices went up by 17 percent over 2011 – 2015 while consumption only dropped by 3 percent. In 2013 – beef prices were so high that McDonald’s actually lost money on every burger it sold. Driven primarily by that, McDonald’s profits have fallen in each of the past 11 years. So McDonald’s and others should be doing something about climate change not out of a sense of charity but because their survival depends on that.
The impact of climate change on agriculture is an interesting discussion because of how inter-related agriculture and climate change are. Agriculture corresponds to a quarter of total greenhouse gas emissions  and conversion of non-agricultural land (e.g. forests) into agricultural land leads to surface warning . The blog summarizes very well how the coffee industry is being negatively affected by climate change but it would be interesting to look at how the coffee industry itself is contributing to climate change. So in addition to the steps that you have recommended, maybe the coffee industry needs to look inwards for a more long-term and sustainable solution to global warming.