FFF, I like the idea of getting a free eBook with a print book purchase. Amazon has a similar program called MatchBook, where users who bought a print book (from Amazon) as far back at 1995 can get most eBooks for $2.99 or less (1). However, I do not know if this program is enough to entice users to buy more eBooks. Sale of eBooks from traditional publishers has actually declined some 14% although it is hard to tell if Amazons eBooks sales have similarly declined (2). This notion of “digital fatigue” where users are trying to limit their screen time might be a short-lived trend but I think that eBooks will need more distinguishing features from print in order to entice more buyers. Textbooks are a great place for innovation as publishers create more interactive content that is more eBook-friendly than print-friendly.
Alex, I agree that libraries need to adapt to stay relevant. However, print books are not dead! Pew Research conducted in 2016 shows that of the Americans who read a book within the last 12 months, 38% read print only, 28% read both digital and print, and only 6% read digital only. Digital only readers represented 8% of those with annual incomes of over $75,000 compared to only 3% of Americans with incomes of $30,000 of less(1). I agree with AbMcK that libraries represent accessibility of information. So I would caution against any radical change with more digital content than print.
Educationally, I would also argue that maintaining an adequate print database benefits learning. With tablets, computers, and mobile phone usage, young readers are likely to be more distracted and less likely to lose themselves in a great book!!
Dimitris, I also wrote about Barnes and Noble! Check it out: https://digital.hbs.edu/platform-rctom/submission/finding-a-cozy-nook-in-the-ebook-world/
I agree with your focus on B&N’s physical store presence. However, I do not think the company will survive unless it adopts an omni-channel presence. The issues with BN.com are prime examples of where the company should focus its attention. This is an interest depiction of the number of visits the site gets and the social media attention it generates: https://www.similarweb.com/website/barnesandnoble.com#overview
While I agree Nook is taking some devastating losses, I do not think that the Nook is the true area of improvement. I think partnering with Microsoft will only serve to bring the tablet up to speed for current customers but it will not convert iPad or Kindle users in a substantial way. I think B&N’s differentiation in creating a community around its products and stores will keep the company alive. If they can create a frictionless online purchasing platform and provide highly personalized service like an
Angelo, thank you for taking on HBS and its ability to evolve with the digitization of education. I agree that HBS should consider selling the SPOC platform to other schools. As a personal story, I took HBX CORe in the summer of 2015 while a few of my co-workers were doing UNC’s online MBA program. One of the biggest differences I found, in terms of student experience, was participation. HBX has really figured out how to translate what it does well in the HBS classroom to the digital space. Using things like cold calls and grading the content/quality of posts ensure that the fragile digital learning space is not eroded by low quality or lack of participation. I think this is a constant struggle for online learning platforms and one that Harvard should distribute out to other learning institutions.
Dave, interesting take on USAA’s digital leadership in the banking world. Great feedback from the Strobels – how did you score such an exclusive interview?!
While I agree with your assessment on blockchain and its ability to lower costs, I think USAA customers are core to the firms ability to stay ahead of digitization. In a recent interview with assistant vice president Prianka Advani, PYMNTS.com reported that the company gets critical feedback from customers and incorporates the feedback into new initiatives. One critical example of this is the use of voice activated assistant Eva. Based on customer reports of the shortfalls of Alexa and Siri with digital banking, USAA created virtual assistant Eva.
Cara, such an interesting and entertaining read on the future of California wines. I agree that more innovative irrigation techniques will need to be employed by Gallo and the like. I was honestly alarmed to hear that extreme droughts in California can and will have a huge impact on the grapes from that region. One interesting aspect I noted from Wolkovich and Cook in the NPR article “An Upside to Climate Change? Better French Wine” is that the effects of climate change are not equal across all regions. While temperatures are rising as a whole, certain areas in France could experience the perfect balance between climate-change-induced early harvests and the crippling droughts experienced in California. Seems like a fine line between producing premium wines and barely having sufficient water to produce at all. Excellent read!
Alastair Bland, “An Upside to Climate Change? Better French Wine,” March 21, 2016. http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/03/21/470872883/an-upside-to-climate-change-better-french-wine
John, thanks for your analysis of the IOC’s effort to promote sustainability in a global context. I wonder if the IOC cannot do more to be at the forefront of change? While I agree with you that the global context and popularity of the Olympics make a perfect platform, I think that the Olympics can do even more than that. I like how the previous post spoke about the refugee team and spreading awareness. That is a perfect example of the Olympics as a platform. In what ways do you think the Olympics can be an innovative leader? One thing I thought about was the impact of the host city with new, costly construction on facilities that mostly lay empty after the games. Perhaps the Olympics can team up with other world/regional sporting events (i.e. World Cup) to re-use and recycle these facilities. There are also ongoing efforts to use sustainable transportation for spectators and athletes. I wonder what risks these pose from a safety standpoint at the additional costs of providing specific infrastructure and transportation. Thanks for sharing! Intriguing post.
Emily, awesome take on Whirlpool’s efforts. Whirlpool is an interesting example of a company whose environmental impact is tangential. Businesses with heavy carbon emissions can connect a straight line between their business operations and their environmental impact. With Whirlpool, consumers play more of an active role in dictating if Whirlpool’s energy efficient products will have an impact. I looked on Sears.com and found that, not surprisingly, the non-energy saving washers were at the lowest price point. Sometimes there was more than a $100 price difference between the non-energy saving washers and the ENERGY STAR ones. As you pointed out, these don’t really fit with the sustainable mission but I guess Whirlpool is trying to cater to customers with a lower WTP. I would think that the stickers that display the energy cost savings could persuade consumers to switch to the efficient washers, but apparently not all consumers are willing to trade short term price differences for long term energy savings.
Truly interesting read about energy efficiency at Philips Lighting. I’d be interested to see if the goal of selling 2.5 billion LED lights by 2020 is achievable, reaching, or under-estimated. I tried to find some data on the number of light bulbs sold each year and the percentage of LED light bulbs sold. I would suspect that there would have to be a significant shift in buyer behavior to support the industry shifting toward LED light bulb consumption.
Excellent post! One question I had about Shake Shack’s supply chain management is how many of its suppliers are practicing sustainable farming techniques. As a leader in sustainable fast-food sourcing, I was surprised that they weren’t more explicit in their progress. I checked their website and couldn’t find any concrete numbers. Comparably, McDonalds website shows at least some explicitness in their ability to source some but not all of their meat from sustainable sources. Another interesting dynamic in the fast-food/casual industry is whether Shake Shack’s overt sustainability positioning had any effect on fast food giants like McDonalds and Burger King.