Jane, you raise a question many of the current players in the auto supply space are dealing with – do I succumb to the current administration’s short-term pressures or make long-term decisions in the bubble of a non-protectionist future? I would argue the latter – while it might be good press to give into Trump’s demands today, basing a supply chain that is “off market” and suboptimal is not the move, in my opinion.
Sam – this is an issue greater than the auto industry that we all should be paying attention to, in my opinion. I think you highlight a two-faced approach to protectionism by US-based multi-nationals (acquiescing to Trump publicly while disagreeing with him behind closed doors) that is dangerous to the competitiveness of these companies and the prices their customers will ultimately bear for products. To your question – I think making employees “partners” whose interests are aligned with the profitability of their employer is a creative solution here that could work to bring those employees to the defense of globalism, instead of serving as the public “victims” protectionist politicians use as a political toy.
Lucas, I thought it was pretty honorable of you to take a view here that is a bit out of “favor” with most people’s perceptions of Tesla and Mr. Elon Musk. To your first question, I do think electrification is a solution and that some of the kinks in the system (largely the non-environmentally-friendly sourcing this article refers to) will work themselves out as this issue becomes more mainstream. While there are issues with the current waste impacts from electronic vehicles – I think it’s hard to argue with the evidence that EV is a more eco-friendly answer to combustion vehicles. With that said, it is on consumers to hold Tesla and other EV manufacturers responsible for the years to come.
Tim, this is a very thought-provoking piece and one that reveals an issue that goes largely unnoticed in the excitement and press surrounding the shift to “green” electronic vehicles. To your questions, unfortunately I do not think corporations have an obligation to do what is socially right unless we as consumers force them to do so. It is incumbent on consumers to understand the sourcing behind their products and purchasing decisions, for better or worse. Fortunately, we live in an era of increasing transparency around these issues, so I am hopeful we will hold auto OEMs and suppliers, and ultimately mining companies like First Cobalt, responsible when we purchase the electronic vehicles of the future.
I applaud 3M for its effort to get out in front of its competition in the digital era with this technology, differentiating itself to customers while also savings costs (a double whammy!). To your question – I don’t see significant risk to getting to close to your customers in this capacity. In fact, I think ingratiating yourself with your customers is a good way to not only increase stickiness, but also provide them with a better product, at a lower price. Hats off to this chemicals business that is changing with the times!
I will take the contrarian view here (based on the comments above) and argue that this is more hoopla and hype than it is a real cause for concern at this stage. Blockchain today has not demonstrated (to my knowledge) any remote functionality with respect to serving as a viable alternative to auditors. Yes, I am cognizant that at its face the technology may potentially serve to help verify transactions – but I view this more as a tool than substitute as the far more likely outcome. My advice to Deloitte – spread the headlines that you’re “investing in the blockchain lab,” but don’t waste your partners’ hard-earned money on this speculative technology.
While the conceptual “IoT future” and all of its use-cases (particularly in the context of Coca Cola) is intriguing, I think this is still “too much, too soon” for Coca Cola to roll out to the extent you are proposing. Without a tried and true technology in existence today, this feels like a too expensive concept to roll out at scale. I think the right move here is for Coca Cola to wait for a first mover to prove out this story, as the risks to security are too high at this point in addition to the cost for Coca Cola amid a slowing soft beverages backdrop.