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How is Digitization Affecting Your Business?

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How much of a threat does digital disruption present to your business? A short online questionnaire from Peter Weill and Stephanie L. Woerner, both of MIT Sloan's Center for Information Systems Research, helps assess digital risk. “Although sweeping technology-enabled change often takes longer than we expect, history shows that the impact of such change can be greater than we ever imagined,” they write. “Think steam engines, cars, airplanes, TVs, telephones and, most recently, mobile phones and e-books.”

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Better Decision Making with Objective Data is Impossible

“Our world is awash in data, and data is not the same thing as facts,” writes Boston College's Sam Ransbotham. “While data seems to promise objectivity, instead it requires analysis — which is replete with subjective interpretation.” Ransbotham argues that while having data is a necessary step towards making objective decisions, it’s a myth that data is objective. Moreover, findings that counter current thinking provide organizations with opportunity for distinction, differentiation and advantage.

Image of Elon Musk courtesy of Flickr user Maurizio Pesce
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How Do Innovators Spot Market Opportunities?

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Executives need the ability to quickly spot both new opportunities and hidden risks. Asking the right questions can broaden perspective and shake up existing assumptions. For instance, Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Motors, SpaceX and SolarCity, has a noted ability to spot unmet market needs. Musk has said that his forward-thinking style, exemplified in his vision of commercializing electric vehicles for the mass market, comes from “just trying really hard — the first order of business is to try. You must try until your brain hurts.”

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Using Big Data for Better Health Outcomes

Intermountain Healthcare is leading the way in data driven healthcare. In an example from Intermountain’s own operating rooms, the use of data to measure the impact of standardized surgeon attire on infection rates resulted in a significant drop in those rates. The infection control scenario is just one result from decades of work at Intermountain to build a data culture. Over the years, clinicians have learned to work together on a concerted effort to bring data based insights to clinicians and managers.

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Infographic: Transforming the Digital Enterprise

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A key finding from the 2015 digital business research report by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte indicates that strategy, not technology, drives digital transformation. An infographic illustrates some of the primary features of a digitally transformed business, as highlighted in the report. The infographic also illustrates the importance of digital maturity to employees across all age groups and industries and the keys to making digital transformation happen.

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To Red-Card Corruption, You Have to Know What a Foul Is

Soccer’s governing body, FIFA, is in crisis over corruption — and MIT Sloan Management Review’s guest editor for Sustainability, Gregory Unruh, says the situation offers a useful case study for corporate social responsibility. By looking at the FIFA scandal, Unruh argues, managers can learn how to identify corruption from a systems perspective — and understand why it harms their business.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Yuichi Sakuraba. https://www.flickr.com/photos/skrb/4376216155
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Embracing Digital Technologies in Traditional Worlds

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Business that are succeeding in the digital world are questioning key managerial assumptions. Case in point: PagesJaunes, the French Yellow Pages company. It “realized a few years ago that selling ads in thick, yellow print directories would not remain viable for long in an age of Google and Yelp.” To embrace digital opportunities, the company questioned assumptions about what is valuable about it strategic assets. It shifted its business model to online advertising and helping its small business customers build their own digital capabilities.

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The New Data Republic: Not Quite a Democracy

There are clear signs that the movement to democratize data is making real progress. Barriers such as infrastructure, culture, tools, and governance that once kept data access limited are quickly eroding. But access to data isn’t enough: Data democratization also requires knowing how to work with data and understand data analysis tools and techniques. Without these capabilities, the data democracy is only an illusion — and most people are still unable to participate fully.

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Social Media Expands Horizons for Workers with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Social media is a tool that allows autistic workers to better express their unique abilities — and tech companies are taking notice. Software giants such as SAP and Microsoft are now actively looking to hire people with autism, and SAP plans to have autistic employees make up at least 1% of its workforce by the year 2020. “Only by employing people who think differently and spark innovation will SAP be prepared to handle the challenges of the 21st century,” says Luisa Delgado, a member of the SAP executive board.

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More Companies Are Cashing In on Underused Resources

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Companies can participate in “collaborative consumption” through creative new approaches to defining and reusing their resources. So write Kurt Matzler, Viktoria Veider and Wolfgang Kathan, all of University of Innsbruck. For instance, LiquidSpace, based in Palo Alto, California, connects organizations that have unused office space with temporarily renters. It has been called the “Airbnb of work spaces” and is extending the idea of sharing unused capacities to companies that aren’t totally built around the collaborative model.

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Participant Questions from the Recent Data & Analytics Webinar

On May 7, 2015, we held a free, live webinar to share the findings and insights from the latest MIT Sloan Management Review Data and Analytics Big Idea Initiative research report, “The Talent Dividend.” The report presents our findings on the role of analytics talent in creating competitive advantage. At the end of the webinar, many participants asked questions. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to answer them all during the webinar itself. So instead, we’ll answer some of the questions this month, and some next month.

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Should Employers Help Employees Turn Off Technology?

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Pervasive and near-continual use of organizational information technology systems is taking a toll on some employees’ health. Companies have to step in to help, argue Monideepa Tarafdar (Lancaster University), John D’Arcy (University of Delaware), Ofir Turel (California State University) and Ashish Gupta (University of Tennessee Chattanooga). “Even as they dream of escaping from IT, many employees also confess to feeling ‘addicted’ to some of these stress-causing technologies,” the authors write. “We may be entering an era in which human frailties begin to slow down progress from digital technologies.”

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Salary, Benefits, Bonus … and Being

At the 2015 Milken Global Conference, attracting and retaining talent is a hot topic. It used to be that the job negotiation formula was simple: salary, benefits and bonus. But that’s not enough anymore. The next generation wants something different from their work life than their predecessors — a more self-actualizing experience — and corporations are scrambling to decipher the keys to keeping employees engaged.

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Business Needs to Pay Off Its Climate Debt

As the world gears up for a new round of climate talks, companies need to step up and make sustained, multi-year commitments to absolute reductions in their carbon footprints. It’s been calculated that the U.S. business sector needs to reduce emissions by more than 3% per year to avoid the worst climate scenarios — but this option is surprisingly cost-effective. Although many of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases haven’t yet stepped up, Gregory Unruh argues that they must do so now — or face catastrophe.

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One Critical Strategy New Products Often Overlook

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“New industries are characterized by an early period of confusion and uncertainty about use and meaning, which brings about a proliferation of category labels that attempt to describe the new products,” write Fernando F. Suarez and Stine Grodal, both of Boston University School of Management. Ideally, companies want to time their entry into a new industry to when a dominant category label emerges, but not every product can enter the market at the ideal time. Three strategies identified by Suarez and Grodal can help new products make the most of any timing.

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Thinking Outside the [Penalty] Box

When you think of sports teams using social media to great effect, you probably don’t automatically jump to the NHL’s use of Pinterest — but you should. The league has far outstripped all other sports leagues in gathering a following on the fast-growing social media site, with nearly 50 times the followers of all other leagues combined. Impressive as those results are, its path to success involved following some fairly simple, basic rules of social business.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Randy Heinitz https://www.flickr.com/photos/rheinitz/8578335823
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Real Innovators Don't Fear Failure

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One way to learn, argue Paul J.H. Schoemaker and Steven Krupp, is to “try to fail fast, often and cheaply in search of innovation.” Asking “what if” questions, they say, challenges executives to incorporate broader perspectives, stimulating “out-of-the-box dialogues that help leaders make better choices and find innovative solutions sooner.” Schoemaker and Krupp write that to help a team learn faster, leaders must frame mistakes as valuable learning opportunities.

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Does Your Boss Want You to Sleep?

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Being fresh for the work day requires prioritizing sleep — which organizations can do a better job encouraging. Academics Christopher M. Barnes and Gretchen Spreitzer argue that sleep is “a key to human sustainability” but note that many leaders model behavior that discourages getting a full night's rest: executives who brag about only needing a handful of hours of sleep “are not setting a good example, especially when it comes to getting the best performance out of the talent in an organization.”

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Social Media’s Expanding Relationship Universe

Social psychologists studying technology have created new classes of relationships among people. To understand the potential value of social tools within the enterprise, technology platforms need to take into account four factors identified by researchers studying offline social networks — proximities, interactions, relationships and flows.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Fred Scharmen. https://www.flickr.com/photos/sevensixfive/530725770
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How to Manage Too Many Good Choices

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When faced with information overload, it can be easier to make good decisions if you're able to remove yourself from all the details of the decision and consider the choices more abstractly. Research shows that such distancing, which can be either temporal or physical, can help people to filter out the less-vital details and enable them to focus on the gist of the matter.

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