Another Step to Sustainability

Starbucks announced on July 9th, that they will be eliminating plastic straws in all their stores globally by 2020, and replacing them by alternative-recyclable solutions. This commitment has gained widespread media headlines and comments.

Personally, when I shared this news within my circle, the first of many comments were “what? that green straw!” This statement was often followed by a ‘how’ and ‘why’. Once the bigger picture of ‘global sustainability’ was clear to them, everything else was on the line of ‘but it represents Starbucks’.

 

Re-Branding

Any Starbucks drink is known by it traditional green logo and a green straw. To remove the straw would not only mean to re-brand the image of a Starbucks drink but also to allow for customers to adjust (and possibly dislike) the new alternative options.

 

The Environment

Most of the articles that I read showed pessimism towards this huge step and wondered if this would actually have any affect to the global plastic problem. The actual effect is yet to be seen, but as estimated by Starbucks themselves, it would reduce 1 billion straws annually. Any reduction at this point is important to save the sea-life and the environment.

 

The Chain Effect

Once the general consumers get used to the alternative solutions, i.e: strawless lids, recyclable straws, it would indirectly push the major fast-food chains to rethink about their straws for cold drinks. The united effort to reduce plastic consumption may have a positive effect to the environment.

 

The Cost

On the Starbucks page, they said this commitment would cost them $10 Million. Clearly, the long term perceived long term benefit is much larger than this cost.

 

This is one of the first steps at a commercial scale to stop plastic waste and harm. It’s to be seen how far the benefits will go, or if the decision will backfire on the Starbucks Brand.

 

FTK 🙂

 

Photo Credits: VisualHunt.com

Sources:

  1. Starbucks News
  2. Forbes

 

What’s a Business Process

Working as a business analyst, the most common question I get is “What is a Business Process?”

I often sigh when a new member joins our cross-functional team, and then I take out my “Business Process 101” power point and spend the next hour explaining them what theoretically is their own work.

This is how that conversation goes:

Me: Please send me the business process of your department.

Team Member (from Marketing Department): Uhm. Sure.

Team Member [4 Hours later]: “Marketing plan is drafted. Budget is allocated. Marketing plan is executed.”

Me: (Internally shouting) Please expand to include more details.

Team Member [3 days later]: Help.

 

While I might have exaggerated a bit in the example above, it is not very far from reality. Often non-business folk (and including some business-folk too) don’t realize the importance of a process map. It is needed to layout the whole process, from start to finish, to observe the run time of the process and to notice any bottle-necks that slow down the whole thing. Once we, business analysts, analyst it, we recommend, plan and implement certain methodologies  that improve the overall efficiency of the process.

 

I developed a 5-question checklist that I use to evaluate all process maps:

  1. What is the high-level activity?
  2. What are the sub-steps? Tasks? (Who, What, How, Where, When)
  3. Are there any decisions to be made? (Will have Yes/No answer)
  4. What are the tasks? Frequency of this task? (current path)
  5. What are the Exceptions &/or Conditions? (alternative path)

Does your process answer all those questions? Is there something missing? One of the biggest thing people forget is to reiterate what they’ve done. A process is a flowchart. A flowchart can be arranged in numerous different ways. What is the most efficient way to display (this) information? Does the new format answer all those questions? What’s Missing? Can this be understood by someone who has nothing to do with this industry/organization?

 

Once you have revised, revised, and revised your process map, and have looked at it from various angles and reconfirmed the process from different people from that department, it is time to call it “Final.pdf”.

 

Of course, Process Improvement is an ongoing process in itself, so that “Final.pdf” might end up as “FinalFinal7.pdf”. Also, business processes vary from person-to-organization-to-industry. No template fits-all, so this is all a guideline, it works for me, it might work for you too.

 

🙂 FTK

 

Photo Credit: Visual Hunt.com

 

 

 

Big Fish, Small Fish

In the decade of social networking and on-demand living, some businesses may still be suffering, while others find new goals to achieve.

The proverb ‘big fish eats small fish‘ is becoming more relevant than ever. When large organizations go global, they unknowingly wipe out some local businesses in both, their home country and abroad.

 

Who is affected?

Everyone.

From your local farmer’s market, to that indie bookstore around the corner, or perhaps even your neighbor who is a freelancer, or your friend who is a full-time Youtuber.

 

Why are they affected?

When big businesses get bigger, they can easily meet economies of scale  – which means they can produce more for less, which in return translates to better profit margins with reduced prices.

What’s in the mind of an average consumer? Obviously, getting the better deal. Big companies have a quality standard they commit to and if the average consumer can get same (or higher) quality than the local produce at a lower (or same) price, they will take it.

Then what happens if that single average consumer was one of the twenty people who visits (for example) a local flower shop (a small startup)? The shop would see a drop in sales, but it would be slightly recoverable. But if more and more consumers shift, the shop would see a drastic decline in sales, while their expenses remain same (or increase), they are likely to close the shop sooner or later.

 

From experience, I saw two drastic changes around me, that made me write this post.

YouTube: I follow several Youtubers who make content full-time and all what they get is earnings from YouTube Monetization. Last month, they were pledging against the “New Monetization Rules“. I looked those up, and watched their videos where they explained how it would effect them. Basically, YouTube made Monetization only available to the ‘almost popular to very popular’ content creators, while everyone else is left to lick their dust.

Goodreads: This site is great for authors and readers alike, where they can converge and discuss books they like. Recently, as a newly turned author, I posted a giveaway for my book in January. While NetGalley is another great site for having your book available tp readers; but as their packages start from +$200, I decided to stick with Goodreads. Soon enough, Goodreads announced a change in their Giveaway policies. With the newly added price tag of giveaway packages starting from +$120, self-published authors like me and other small publishers, would think twice now to host giveaways.

 

In short.

Big Fish (companies) have money to make huge investments and also to recover lost sales or expenses. Small Fish (local startups, freelancers, etc.) have limited cash and a regular expense, and so they depend highly on those possibly limited sales.

 

How can you, a consumer, help?

All I can say is support local businesses whenever you can. Most times you might not like the quality or the price, but local businesses (artists, freelancers, authors, etc.) are willing to take one extra step for their local clients in the form of unique products, special customer service, or even discounts. Their earnings are often reinvested to provide better product/service, or used as their living expenses. In both cases, it provides an overall benefit to the local society.

 

🙂 FTK

 

Photo Credit: Visual Hunt.com

Potential Game Changer of U.S Healthcare Industry

Healthcare industry is known to be complex, growing and ..well, expensive; both to care providers and patients. The complexity comes from the decentralized and defragmented nature of Healthcare Providers. There are just too many inputs for a single output. Its costs comes from various sources such as, the latest technology and machinery, and the pharmaceutical side of it; prescription drugs. Healthcare as an industry is growing due to more and more people aging and complicated diseases being identified, the cost are, as a result, also increasing.

While other countries have a universal healthcare system, U.S Healthcare relies on health insurance coverage, often provided by the employers or paid privately. But since health insurance premiums are often expensive, minorities are left with little or no health coverage.

 

The New Spark

Amazon is notorious disrupting the industries is entered, from books to on-demand streaming, and groceries. It’s most recent target – the U.S Healthcare Industry.

It recently announced a  partnership with two other U.S giants, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan to tackle the ever-rising healthcare costs. (1)

“Our goal is to create solutions that benefit our US employees, their families and, potentially, all Americans.” – JP Morgan CEO, Jamie Dimon.

The trio stated that the ‘solution’ would be “independent and free from profit-making incentives and constraints.

 

The Game Changer

While the actual affect on the healthcare industry is yet to be seen, the impact made was huge. The stocks of 10 larger health insurance providers and pharmacy were dropped a combined value of $30 Billion upon the announcement of the partnership. (2)

While Amazon is leagues ahead in their disrupting game, if this venture is a success, other large companies may as well be able to enter the race to provide affordable healthcare. Of course, new healthcare regulations that may spring up during this time is another issue.

 

 

The Perfect Trio

With the vast knowledge and expertise of the three companies, Berkshire Hathaway’s understanding of insurance providers, JPMorgan’s financial competence, and Amazon’s technological and distributing know-how; affordable healthcare might be only few steps away.

 

 

🙂 FTK

 


Credits:

(1) Via TheGuardian.com

(2) Via QZ.com

Further Reading:

(3) Via CNN.com

(4) Via CNN.com

 

Photo: VisualHunt.com

 

Netflix Disrupting the Anime Industry

The Japanese Anime Industry was valued at a whooping $17.5 Billion in 2016 (1). Anime industry is notorious for not only underpaying their staff and animators, but also overworking them. 2 to 3 decades ago, “anime” wasn’t known in the West, but due to the influx of online streaming channels, anime industry got a boost.

With works of Studio Ghibli, being a classic-favorite in the industry, and more recent successes of Attack on Titan and Your Name; Anime has seen unprecedented growth on a global scale.

 

Anime Distribution and Online Streaming

Anime producers primarily earn from the original TV run in Japan, and the merchandise that sells afterwords. This didn’t give Anime a wide-enough scale for growth. However, anime distributors like, Crunchyroll and Funimation, gave a platform for foreign audience to also enjoy anime.

Last year, they announced their partnership to better serve their growing demand (2). Recently, Sony is in process to acquire Funimation, value at $150 Million! (3).

Amazon and Netflix soon entered the race and got distribution rights to several anime. This was the true boost the industry needed.

 

Game Changer

Netflix did not stop in just buying distribution rights, they decided to invest in making anime. With the majority of the $8 Billion budget of 2018, expected to produce 30 anime projects for next year, Netflix will not only change the paradigm of the market but also disrupt the industry (4).

The industry in Japan in always severely tight on budget (5). However, with the Netflix label, past known successes on animation originals, and the global reach of Netflix, several animation companies and talent will be flocked towards this new window of opportunity.

 

What’s in for Netflix?

Netflix’s audience are people who mostly love to binge-watch. Who watches anime? – people who (definitely) binge-watch. Netflix will be gaining loyal subscriber base who are not hesitant to spend (Note: Anime Merchandise is super expensive) and are willing to move on to different platforms if they get quality content to watch and enjoy. Netflix will be tapping into a huge market whose characteristics match their target audience to the core.

 

Edit 2/2/18: Netflix Original Series, such as Violet Evergarden have taken a kick start, and have been going good with fans. Before the month ended, Netflix had yet another announcement (6). They announced a partnership with three of the biggest anime production houses. This can be the deal-breaker of making quality Anime on a global level.

 

If this new venture of Netflix is a success, it’s bound to leave competition behind.

Until then, happy watching!

 

🙂 FTK

 


Credits:

(1) Anime Industry Revenue Via Goboiano.com

(2) Crunchyroll and Funimation Partnership Via IGN.com

(3) Sony acquiring Funimation Via IGN.com

(4) Via HollywoodReporter.com

(5) Via Comicbook.com

(6) Via Comicbook.com

 

Photo via Visualhunt.com