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Mastering Strategy

  • Interview
  • Read Time: 15 min 

How can executives develop their skills as strategists? One way is to learn from the masters. The book Strategy Rules: Five Timeless Lessons From Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs (HarperCollins, 2015) explores insights drawn from the careers of these former CEOs of Microsoft, Intel, and Apple. In a Q&A, the book's authors, David B. Yoffie of Harvard Business School and Michael A. Cusumano of MIT Sloan, explain how strategic thinking is a capability that leaders — even the superstars — develop over time.


Using Unstructured Data to Tidy Up Credit Reporting

Greg Jones, vice president of Enterprise Data & Analytics at Equifax, says the credit reporting agency is beginning to incorporate unstructured data from sources such as social media to better round out the individual profiles in its database. “My focus is to create a compelling differentiator between us and the other credit reporting companies by enabling our customers to provide the most efficient, the most predictive, and the most accurate experience for their customers,” he says.


Why Social Engagement May Be More Important Than Marketing

  • Interview
  • Read Time: 8 min 

In a Q&A, Carlos Dominguez, president and COO of social media management company Sprinklr, notes that while marketing is about getting people to want to talk to a company, customer service is about interacting with someone who is already invested in the brand. His goal: get companies to blend those tasks in “ways that are radically different.”


Telling Data’s Story With Graphics

At the alcohol beverage company Constellation Brands, graphic presentations of data are making it easier for sales people to see how they’re performing. In an interview with MIT Sloan Management Review, Joseph D. Bruhin, the company’s CIO, says that measuring marketing and sales efforts is a particular challenge in the alcohol industry — but one that his team has come up with a solution to. “Visibility of data is a critical piece,” he says. “We came up with a solution that’s really driven predominantly by information technology.”


Marketing In Five Dimensions

Computers, scanners, mobile and wearable technology have made it both easier and harder for companies to find their customers. Easier, because there’s so much more data about consumer behavior; harder, because analyzing that data is a significant challenge (never mind deciding how to act on the analytics). Companies like Epsilon are stepping up to help businesses to figure out what the data tell them about their customers — and what to do with that knowledge. In a Q&A, Epsilon’s CEO Andy Frawley describes some of the challenges his company works through on a daily basis.



How Digital Transformation Is Making Health Care Safer, Faster and Cheaper

  • Interview
  • Read Time: 17 min 

What does it take to bring world class digital technology to one of the world’s leading medical centers? As chief information officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston, Dr. John Halamka leads exactly that charge. Overseeing digital strategies designed to make patients safer while being completely secure and stable is, he says, like “being asked to change the wings on a 747 while it’s flying. Total security, total reliability and stability, with complete innovation at the same time.”


At This Education Nonprofit, A Is for Analytics

In an interview with MIT Sloan Management Review, Christopher House CEO Lori Baas and director of quality assurance Traci Stanley explain how they're using data throughout their educational organization to track student outcomes and look for improvements. "We now can show, based on the assessments, not only how our kids are improving in their cognitive development, or social-emotional development, but also how we compare to similar organizations," says Bass.


Innovating with Airborne Analytics

Hong Kong’s premier airline is using a blend of data and know-how to guide its daily operations. In an interview with MIT Sloan Management Review, Cathay Pacific CIO Joe Locandro describes how the airline uses analytics to make decisions that balance data with what it knows from the field. “Analytics will give you statistical spreads, give you training, but you still need to have this thing called experience and insight,” he says.

Image courtesy of Steelcase Inc.

The Workplace of the Future

Thanks to technology, business is evolving into an office-less enterprise that’s more mobile and fluid than the “desk jobs” of the past. In a Q&A, Steelcase vice president of Strategy, Research and New Business Innovation Sara Armbruster explains how Steelcase is approaching the challenge as a supplier, changing how they conceptualize the physical environs of the workplace. “In our view, technology is actually a form of culture, a manifestation of our culture and what we value,” she says.


General Mills Builds Up Big Data to Answer Big Questions

General Mills brought a data scientist into its Consumer Insights group because it wanted to use its existing data more effectively. The company thought it was making decisions based too much on outside data at the expense of what it knew. But figuring out what the company actually knew about its consumers was the challenge facing Wayde Fleener as he came on board. In an interview with MIT SMR’s Michael Fitzgerald, Fleener talks about how he got started in building a Big Data practice within his division.



Coca-Cola’s Unique Challenge: Turning 250 Datasets Into One

At The Coca-Cola Company, one of the big challenges is how to understand customers who are a long pipeline away in the inherently intermediated world of hundreds of Coke bottlers. That means moving toward newer technologies to do more forward-looking analytics versus backward-looking analytics, says the company’s Remco Brouwer and Mathew Chacko.


Sustainability Reporting As a Tool for Better Risk Management

GRI is an international organization based in Amsterdam with offices around the world. It produces a set of standards used by organizations in over 90 countries and has become the global standard-setter for sustainability reporting. But as the organization’s Chief Executive, Michael Meehan, explains, sustainability reporting is not about writing a report; it’s the process by which organizations identify their risks related to important issues, like human rights, the environment, labor and other social issues.


Are You Part of the Email Problem?

Over-reliance on email as a communication tool is sapping people of their time and energy. Author, speaker and consultant Phil Simon says there are better ways — and many new and better tools — to do things. "As consumers, it’s never been easier. Hundreds of millions of us use Dropbox, Facebook, Snapchat, texting, Skype, and other tools to communicate with each other," says Simon. "Why do we resist change at work?" Embracing new tools, he argues, will result in better communication and far less wasted time.


‘People Analytics’ Through Super-Charged ID Badges

The data points employees generate about everything from how often they interrupt others to how many people they sit with at lunch tell surprisingly useful stories. Ben Waber, CEO and co-founder of Humanyze, describes how his company is providing the tools and analytics to interpret this social data, helping businesses identify the best collaborative practices of their most effective people.


Are You Ready For the Certainty of the Unknown?

The skill set for both companies and individuals of the future will be to embrace impermanence and continual reconfiguring, according to Benn Konsynski, a professor of information systems at Emory University. He says both organizations and employees need to prepare for the “the remix era” and “the certainty of unknown.” He sees “improvisation” as a personal and enterprise necessity in the 21st century.



Analytics in E Major

The Echo Nest, a self-described “music intelligence” company recently acquired by Spotify, uses machine-learning technology to connect people with music. “At our core,” says CEO Jim Lucchese, “what we’re trying to do is what a great deejay does, or the friend that you rely on musically: to better understand who you are as a fan.” In a Q&A, Lucchese describes how the company merges machine learning and cultural analytics to describe music in an analytics-friendly way and help users find new music they’ll enjoy.


Remaking a Company for the Digital Natives

At USAA, the financial services group, social business is helping the company productively engage both its 26,000 employees as well as its customer base. Renee Horne, the vice president of social business for USAA, says that’s just part of the larger opportunity to make social tools a more holistic and integral part of the company.


Gone Fishing — For Data

When you’re dealing with data on the massive scale that a company like GE uses, a data warehouse just isn’t big enough to house it all. And organizing it ahead of analysis is more of a burden than a help. GE’s CIO Vince Campisi explains to MIT Sloan Management Review why his company is now storing data in a data lake — and how that approach changes the kind of human resources his company is looking for.


How to Hire Data-Driven Leaders

For recruiters, the technological developments of the past 3 years have been transformational, says Tuck Rickards of Russell Reynolds. With the transformation of business to a more real-time, connected, data-driven focus, the type of talent companies seek — even the type of organizational structure they’re building — has undergone a quantum shift. But the changes aren’t yet done: “The next five years are huge for companies to reorient themselves from a leadership and team perspective,” warns Rickards.


Video: Building Capabilities for Digital Transformation

  • Interview

In a video panel the authors of Leading Digital discuss how large companies in traditional industries—from finance to manufacturing to pharmaceuticals—are using digital technologies to gain strategic advantage. They talk about what it takes to become a “digital master,” and offer examples from Asian Paints, Caesars Entertainment, Nike, and others. And they explain where to invest in digital capabilities, and how to lead the transformation.

Showing 1-20 of 172