When I was reading this article, I thought of my friends who were struggling with college life. The struggling students tend to be quiet and not actively seeking help from school, even if they get below average scores in mid-terms and finals. In most universities, the current model of student support is that they will analyze students’ test scores and class participation after mid-terms or finals, but even after mid-terms may be too late in most cases. Therefore, I think it is a great idea for the University of Arizona to utilize all sorts of data to identify the struggling students early in the semester and actively offer help to improve student retention.
I personally do not think the millennial college students would be too concerned about schools using their personal data to provide student support. I am even in favor of the personalized commercial ads as a result of machine learning and precision marketing, because I think these ads are tailored to me and thus save my time. When it comes to school support, I cannot see why I would refuse such personalized services.
Throughout my school years, it is always painful for me to read the thick and boring textbooks, so I personally find this article about Knewton very intriguing. This business model will help students to study more efficiently and thus save much time. Although currently Knewton functions best in domains with more fixed rules only, it still has a huge market potential. I think it has a strong competitive edge in the market of preparation for standard tests, e.g. CPA for accounting, CFA for finance, TOEFL for English language learning, GMAT. These tests are standardized globally and have huge customer bases, and Knewton can help test takers to better prepare for the tests in an efficient and effective way.
To answer your last question, as a revolutionist against the traditional textbooks, Knewton certainly poses competition and pressure on conventional players such as Pearson, but it also offers opportunities. Pearson alike companies already have interactive learning platforms for students to read digital version of the textbooks and complete assignments online. If they are able to incorporate Knewton’s adaptive learning education technology into the existing interactive platforms, these companies will actually be able to improve the user stickiness.
Application of 3D printing in aerospace is a very interesting topic. In recent years, almost all of the leading manufacturers in this sector are using 3D printing to realize flexible manufacturing. For instance, Boeing is already 3D printing more than 300 of its airplane parts, and the production lead time has been reduced greatly from months to less than one month. When I think about the potential partners / use cases of 3D printing for GE, I think in the short term, GE can apply its technology and expertise in 3D printing from aerospace department to other departments, e.g. medical device. Same as aerospace, production of medical device is very costly. Using additive manufacturing will enable GE to reduce manufacturing costs and do R&D in a more agile way.
Leveraging the LEGO Ideas platform to inspire ideas and design new models is indeed a very smart move. LEGO is outsourcing part of the R&D process to its enthusiastic fans, and the fans would feel engaged and more attached to the brand after participating on the platform. However, I am not in favor of the idea of a digital future for LEGO. The physical product is what made LEGO so attractive to its fans, both adults and children. Especially for children, playing with the physical toys is an important way to develop their brains and capabilities. LEGO can combine the digital and physical parts to tap into the digital trend while remaining true to itself, e.g. encourage fans to customize their own models and then sell them the corresponding physical product, so that fans can build their own physical model.
About the “3D-printed, interactive, soft robot”, I read a news earlier this year which says that Disney is considering replacing the current costumed characters in Disney parks with the 3D-printed soft robots. In the near future, Disney employees no longer need to wear the heavy costumes. A 3D-printed soft robot can greet, hug and interact with visitors as well, and the material is safe for children.
As to your first question, I agree with Lindsey that Disney needs to move quickly to grab market share before competitors. Surely, in the short term, they may not be able to achieve considerable (or any) profit from this customized 3D-printed toy business, but I think Disney should be the early mover now. Once the 3D-printing market matures and the cost of production decreases due to economies of scale, Disney will be able to make money from this business.
To some extent, the business model of Xiaomi is quite similar to Valve. For Valve, users are involved in game modifications on the Steam platform, which became a major source of innovation for Valve. Xiaomi’s fast growth and expansion is largely fueled by its online forum and “Mi Fans” too, and they are able to maximize customers’ life time value through cross-selling. Once a customer buys in Xiaomi’s philosophy, he or she is likely to buy Xiaomi’s other products such as TVs and rice cookers. I wonder, though, to what extent was the innovation at Xiaomi achieved through open innovation? As we can see from the results, their products lack originality and innovation. Are the Mi Fans really contributing to the company’s innovation process?