Frontiers

Leading to Become Obsolete

Zhang Ruimin, the CEO and chairman of the Qingdao, China, white goods giant Haier Group Corp., has done what most chief executives dare not even dream about. He blew up nearly the entire administrative structure of a global manufacturing enterprise, eliminating the 10,000 management jobs that once held it together, and reshaped the organization into a network of entrepreneurial ventures run by employees.

Supply Chains Built for Speed and Customization

Thanks to emerging technologies like 3-D printing, manufacturers can offer consumers customized products and do so with unprecedented speed. Intrigued by a new product you saw in a YouTube video? Well, someday soon you may be able to personalize it, order it via the company’s website, and have it in your hands in a matter of days. But to enable this phenomenon at scale, an entirely new model of supply chain is required.

A Data-Driven Approach to Identifying Future Leaders

Many executives believe they are good at identifying leadership talent. However, when asked how they make their decisions, they often cite intuition or “gut” instincts. Social science research, on the other hand, suggests that individuals are often prone to cognitive biases in such decisions. Rather than just relying on the subjective opinions of executives, some companies are using assessment tools to identify high-potential talent.

The Power of Consumer Stories in Digital Marketing

New research finds that stories about consumers’ positive experiences with a brand significantly increase users’ engagement with brand websites, and stories originating from consumers are especially powerful in shaping brand attitudes in social media. Indeed, companies that aren’t offering experiences that leverage consumer input in brand-related narratives are missing out on important opportunities to connect in a meaningful way with potential buyers.

What You Need to Know Before Starting a Platform Business

There’s a great deal of enthusiasm about platform strategies these days. Entrepreneurs pitch their startups as the next Uber, the next Facebook, or the next Airbnb, while executives in established companies are retooling their strategies around platforms to drive growth and compete digitally. But creating a successful platform business is not easy — as economists Richard Schmalensee and David S. Evans explain in this MIT Sloan Management Review interview.

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Seeing Beyond the Blockchain Hype

Blockchain has recently taken center stage in the conversation about management’s digital makeover. Many believe the impact of blockchain on the ways organizations function and produce value may be greater than other technologies that have grabbed most of our recent attention — data and analytics, the cloud, even artificial intelligence.

The Jobs That Artificial Intelligence Will Create

A new global study finds several new categories of human jobs emerging. These roles are not replacing old ones. They are brand-new positions that complement the tasks performed by AI machines and will require skills and training that have never before been needed.

How Digital Media Will Bring Out Our Best Selves in the Workplace

Tomorrow’s most productive individuals will have more and better digital versions of themselves. The vision: Individuals will be able to utilize customized software and digital tools to improve their performance and productivity, with these digital versions of themselves able to significantly outperform their average self. In this world, AI will stand for “Augmented Introspection” as well as “Artificial Intelligence.”

Reframing Growth Strategy in a Digital Economy

Too many big companies are formulating their growth strategies using traditional planning approaches — yearly cycles, historical analytics, incremental thinking. The velocity that characterizes this new digital economy means this kind of growth planning is obsolete. To assert digital dominance, big companies need to capitalize on their ability to do things the disruptors can’t — like plan globally and mobilize considerable resources.

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Beyond Viral: Generating Sustainable Value From Social Media

Social media provides the fuel for unpredictable, temporary mobilization, rather than steady, sustainable change. To reverse this trend and reap more enduring benefits from social media requires a fundamental change in focus. Research shows that incentive networks are an important middle layer between ideologies and activity in online digital platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. So, too, is a focus on establishing loyalty and stickiness rather than just “likes” and retweets.

‘Moneyball’ for Professors?

While there’s a boom in using analytics for HR decisions, predictive analytics hasn’t yet made substantial inroads in the place of its birth: academia. Tenure decisions for the scholars of computer science, economics, and statistics — the pioneers of quantitative metrics and predictive analytics — are often insulated from these tools. Now research we conducted with Dimitris Bertsimas and Shachar Reichman finds that data-driven models can significantly improve tenure selections and predict future research success.

What Executives Get Wrong About Cybersecurity

Cyberattacks are in the news. All kinds of organizations — ranging from Target Corp.and Bangladesh Bank to the Democratic National Committee in the United States — have fallen victim to them in recent years. MIT cybersecurity expert Stuart Madnick explains some of the biggest cybersecurity risks businesses face today — and what executives should do to decrease their companies’ vulnerabilities.

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How Blockchain Will Change Organizations

Blockchain technology has the potential to transform how businesses are organized and managed. It allows companies to eliminate transaction costs and use outside resources as easily as internal resources. The implications for areas such as accounting, contract negotiation and enforcement, sales and marketing, and capital investment are myriad. Companies should start exploring how this technology could impact their industry and processes.

Why Your Company Needs Data Translators

When it comes to putting data to use, communication — or rather, lack of it — between the data scientists and the executive decision makers can cause problems. The two sides often don’t speak the same language and may differ in their approach to and respect for data-based decisions. Given these challenges, organizations may need to call upon a “data translator” to improve how data is incorporated into decision making processes.

Winning the Digital War for Talent

Competition for digitally savvy talent has never been higher, but companies’ methods for acquiring and keeping the skilled employees they need are outmoded. Whether they want to develop capabilities in employees or tap on-demand talent markets — or some mix of both — human resources directors need to experiment with new talent management models.

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