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Fascinating post! I, too, am really interested in the OPN product and how it provides customized recommendations to users about what drinks they may like, etc. It’s unusual for people to make a cocktail more complicated than a G&T at home, but it seems like the OPN, as it evolves, could make those cocktails much more accessible. A gamechanger for entertaining at home! It’s great to see how the company is using digital from a marketing perspective, but I wonder how PR could better use digital technologies to improve its supply chain and operations. Beverage companies like these have vast and complicated supply chains and distribution networks, and digital tools could likely enhance this experience for the company and partners. Looking forward to seeing whether the OPN achieves some scale and starts to appear in peoples’ homes!

Interesting post, HBS123! I like the idea of incumbents leveraging robo-advisors as a way to engage younger clients, whom the firms can then ladder up into their higher margin wealth management businesses. I think robo-advisers certainly reduce the barriers to invest for younger customers, typically put off by the formality and fees of traditional financial advice. However, another major opportunity for robo-advice is in providing it as part of a “hybrid” solution along with a traditional advisor. A hybrid solution could be more appealing to older, higher net worth investors whom research suggests also want access to better digital tools when it comes to their investments. These higher net worth clients may still value the human element, but it seems they do want the ability to do more self-directed. Providing a hybrid solution, therefore, may increasingly become something that an FI like Morgan Stanley needs to provide in order to attract and retain higher net worth customers. Lastly, I’m intrigued by the potential of robo-advisors as a tool for lower net worth investors. It’s essentially infeasible for traditional advisors to work with clients that have less than $50,000 of investable assets or so, meaning that a huge portion of the population hasn’t really had access to financial advice. Robo-advice changes that, opening up the opportunity for FIs to manage these clients’ wealth profitability, a highly important development for the vast majority of the population.

On April 29, 2018, HU commented on BCG: Digitally disrupting … or disrupted? :

Really interesting! It seems like BCG is doing a pretty good job preparing to “disrupt itself” by investing in the next generation tools and capabilities that you outlined in your post. While I imagine it’ll be incredibly difficult to disrupt itself, BCG (and the other large consulting firms) is likely somewhat uniquely positioned since it has such broad insight into trends and things that matter to companies and customers around the world. The firm would certainly be smart to accelerate efforts to develop these capabilities since you can bet that others will if they sense the opportunity. They must be careful, however, where and how they invest in these efforts, since it is not entirely clear where makes the most sense to focus investment. A lot of resources and energy can be wasted, which could distract the business and make it less effective in what’s already a highly competitive space. I can’t imagine a time at any point soon when management consulting firms will entirely cease to exist, but you can definitely see how AI and machine learning could dramatically adjust how junior employees at the firms spend their time. Likely, in the future these firms will end up being much smaller and provide more specialized advice.

Really interesting, Jesse. Fascinating how something like this really has the potential to disrupt the power dynamics in the industry. It had me thinking as I was reading your post… you can almost imagine a situation where Spotify could know so much about what types of music are trending at a particular moment that they could automatically produce a song/beat that would appeal to listeners (i.e., using particular pitches, tempos, etc.), especially in more electronic genres. I hope that all this doesn’t stifle creativity and impact the diversity of the music that’s released or promoted through the app!

On April 9, 2018, HU commented on Moreyball: The Houston Rockets and Analytics :

Fascinating post, Zach! The movement of data analytics in sports has been an interesting one. As you alluded to, the importance of data in sports has led, in some cases, to a change in the profile of those who are running teams. For many years, teams were run by former players who deeply understood the game because they had participated in it for many years. More and more now, however, you’re seeing teams hiring managers who may have limited experience playing the sport but have deep experience in data analytics. Interestingly, a number of these more data-oriented managers are significantly younger. Take John Chayka, for example. He’s the GM of the Arizona Coyotes in the NHL. He became their GM at the age of 26, the youngest GM in the history of the big four North American sports. Before becoming GM of the Coyotes he was a member of the analytics company, Stathletes. Gives us non-former pro athletes hope of one day being able to run a team!

Interesting post, Austin! I can only imagine how difficult it would be to forego a milkshake when the McD’s mobile app remembers that I ordered one last time and is incessantly encouraging me to order one again! It’s quite surprising to me that McD’s wasn’t capturing and analyzing some of this data before. It’s a good thing that they’ve started because I feel like the company will need all the advantages it can find to fight what will likely be a continued decline in customer traffic. Really interesting about the eye-tracking menus. Would love to see that in action!

On March 26, 2018, HU commented on I paid $200 for someone to name my company Whiskass :

Well at least it turned out to be a pretty good story even if it wasn’t the most helpful! Just the other day I was helping a friend come up with a name for a brewery he’s opening, and it turned out to be a pretty frustrating process. Each time we felt like we had a great name, we would go online to discover that the name was taken. It’s pretty surprising that Squadhelp doesn’t have the ability to filter out names that are already being used (or at the very least indicate that they may be in use). I feel like presenting the customer with an option only for the customer to then discover that the name is already taken after a simple Google search is a pretty good way to generate a ton of dissatisfaction. I do think Squadhelp could be helpful as a thought provoker though by generating a bunch of ideas. With that said, it doesn’t sound like Squadhelp is worth recommending to my friend… I guess he’ll have to figure it out the traditional way.

On March 26, 2018, HU commented on GoFundMe: Leveraging Crowds for Good :

GoFundMe and similar platforms are fascinating. There’s such a wide range of campaigns that they can benefit as you pointed out. I read just the other day that the CEO of a toy maker was looking to raise money through GoFundMe to buy Toys “R” Us out of bankruptcy. It also raised millions for victims of the Stoneman Douglas tragedy. I’d like to think that its new business model will be successful because I think people have developed a pretty strong appreciation for the value that the platform provides. The platform is predicated on peoples’ generosity, so it’ll be interesting to see whether GoFundMe themselves can benefit from that in their new model.

On March 26, 2018, HU commented on Amazon reviews: Loved, but also to be trusted? :

Interesting post! Amazon takes the integrity of customer reviews extremely seriously. I worked on the Amazon Vine program this past summer. Vine enables sellers to pay for reviews, but Amazon manages the entire process to preserve the integrity of the reviews. For example, sellers send goods to Amazon and then Amazon sends the goods to the reviewer in order to prevent sellers from ever interacting directly with reviewers. Even with these measures in place though there definitely continues to be issues. I can’t imagine the elimination of all “fake” reviews will ever be achieved, but it will be interesting to see how Amazon leverages ever more sophisticated technology to help ensure reviews are genuine, especially given the importance the organization places on this.

On March 5, 2018, HU commented on Just the Ticket: The Evolution of SeatGeek :

Interesting post! It’s fascinating that SeatGeek’s mobile application has been so much more popular than Ticketmaster and StubHub’s. These companies have done a really good job at limiting disintermediation by preventing users and sellers from connecting directly. Many ticket sellers are professional resellers and if a user was able to develop a trusted relationship with a particular seller, they could go straight to that seller whenever they needed tickets and avoid the ludicrous service fees that these sites typically charge. In such an extremely competitive industry, it’ll be interesting to see if SeatGeek can achieve sustainable growth.

Very interesting post. It doesn’t seem like Amazon has made much effort to develop a tailored strategy (or much buzz) for Handmade. It feels like Handmade has been more of a bolt on to Amazon’s core business. I worked at Amazon this past summer and never actually heard Handmade ever referenced. Interestingly, Etsy just reported its first billion-dollar quarter demonstrating that there certainly could be some money for Amazon to make in the space. There are definitely things that Amazon does have going for it (and potential differentiators), e.g., its Prime feature and its extremely sophisticated fulfillment network, which provide the opportunity shoppers to acquire their handmade goods at the last-minute and with greater confidence.

On March 5, 2018, HU commented on The League: Challenges of Scaling an Exclusive App :

Very interesting, Ari! A couple of thoughts came to mind as I read your post. The scaling concern is an interesting one. Dating apps are somewhat unusual in that disintermediation is particularly likely to occur – many users are looking to meet someone through the platform but will then continue that relationship outside of the platform. If the app is successfully connecting those whom are most “like-minded,” those individuals may be expected to meet that special someone more quickly and, therefore, leave the app. That will always be a challenge for growing the userbase. There is also extremely high multi-homing. Many who use dating apps have multiple on their phone that they’re using at any given time. There’s no doubt that The League is operating in a highly competitive space. It’ll be interesting to see if their differentiators – exclusivity, “elite” clientele – will be enough for it to win or if they will instead become a hinderance.

On February 1, 2018, HU commented on Netflix’s Growth Alongside Digital Transformation :

Interesting post, Ari! Tough to imagine a life without Netflix now! I wonder what the future has in store for the company. When Netflix started streaming, it was providing a product that was pretty easy to replicate and, as a result, we’ve seen a multitude of other content streamers enter the space. As you mentioned, Netflix then moved to original content to differentiate, and many of their competitors followed suit. I remember reading that Disney even pulled their content from Netflix for their own streaming service. Moving forward, there is increased pressure on Netflix to continuously produce great content or find some other way to prevent itself from becoming essentially a commoditized business. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out!

On February 1, 2018, HU commented on Amazon | To Go Or Not To Go :

Thanks for sharing your insights, Juan. I, too, tired Go during its Beta this summer. It’s pretty amazing and eerie to experience first-hand. You almost need to force yourself to walk out after collecting your things – it’s a very unnatural feeling not to pay someone! Coincidentally, I was reading an article earlier today that attempted to estimate the number of cashier jobs that technology like Go could impact if rolled out across the U.S. Not surprisingly, the numbers were pretty substantial: 1.3% of the private sector workforce or 2.3 million jobs would be impacted if this tech became ubiquitous. To your point, estimates like this, even if they’re pretty rough, might raise some eyebrows in D.C. It’ll be fascinating to see if this tech sees any action beyond the single store in Seattle!

Interesting post, Brittany! Robo-advisors are a fascinating example of disruption at work. I agree with Liza that the economics of the platforms are a little suspect! However, one thing that I find particularly interesting is the impact the robo-advisors have hard on the FS industry generally, namely that they have encouraged large FIs to recognize the growing importance of technology in FS and make investments accordingly. As a result, almost every major player in the wealth management industry has either acquired a robo-advisor or started their own (or both). In some cases (e.g., Vanguard, Schwab) these robo-advisors have grown very quickly. It results in an interesting dynamic where these large FIs now have more of a hybrid offering, where they can “shift” lower net worth clients to the passive technology platforms and focus active management on larger accounts. At the same time, the larger FIs also have a broader set of solutions to satisfy more customers (e.g., younger, more tech-savvy). Regardless of their ability to scale into highly profitable, stand-alone organizations, Wealthfront, Betterment and other early robo-advisors certainly have had a meaningful impact on the industry (for the “betterment” of customers!).