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The Fall 2012 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review features a number of articles about how companies can use data to better manage their businesses.
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Online retailing is the fastest growing retail sector in the United States. The growth is being fed by two forces: (1) traditional retailers getting their “Internet acts” together, and (2) “pure play” online retailers becoming innovative. This article does a deep dive into two groups: online retailers selling popular-brand consumables for the home; and online retailers selling specialty items. The findings have implications both for pure-play Internet retailers and for traditional retailers.
Everyone has experienced the frustration of having to repeat voice commands multiple times before finally asking to speak to a service representative. Many large companies have become so focused on optimizing their business processes and systems that they have become all too willing to forget about cultivating emotional connections with customers. But in order to detect and respond to shifting customer needs, companies need to show more, not less, empathy with their customers.
These days, lots of people in business are talking about “big data.” But how do the potential insights from big data differ from what managers generate from traditional analytics?
A data and analytics survey conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review in partnership with SAS Institute Inc. found a strong correlation between the value companies say they generate using analytics and the amount of data they use. The creators of the survey identified five levels of analytics sophistication, with those at Level 5 being most sophisticated and innovative. These analytical innovators in Level 5 had several defining traits. This article explores those traits.
Marketers know social media should be a powerful way to generate positive word-of-mouth. If marketers can select the right platform, design the right message and engage the right users to spread that message, their campaign should succeed. One successful campaign — which marketers can look to as an example — took place at Hokey Pokey Ice Cream Creations, an upscale ice-cream retailer in India. By following a seven-step process, Hokey Pokey substantially improved its social media marketing.
For organizations to achieve the psychological synergies required to realize economic synergies from mergers and acquisitions, executives need to attend to a more complex set of identity issues. These issues define the essence of the entity and give employees a clear answer to the question “Who are we?” and external stakeholders a clear answer to the question “Who are they?” Left unattended, these identity issues will diminish engagement and will affect the performance of the merged entity.
Though the use of social media can be a valuable way to enrich a company’s culture and enhance its productivity, it isn’t a sure thing. The main reason some social media initiatives fail to bring benefits to companies is because the initiatives don’t create emotional capital — that is, a strong emotional connection between stakeholders and the company. That’s the main finding of a survey of 1,060 executives about their experience with social media, along with a number of in-depth case studies.
A persistent challenge for companies as they grow is how to maintain the high level of dynamism and employee commitment that drove success in the early days. Over the years, thoughtful managers and management theorists have formulated many approaches for dealing with the problem, all aimed at giving managers and employees more responsibility and accountability for the performance of their own profit centers. But few companies have taken things as far as Kyocera Corp.
In a period of rapid technological and business change, successful executives particularly need the ability to think critically — and to be aware that some of their most cherished assumptions may, at any point, be challenged or invalidated by changing events. Business schools excel at teaching young managers well-structured models, theories and frameworks but need to spend more time helping their students surface, debate and test the assumptions underlying each model, theory or framework.
Many companies have initiated sustainability and corporate social responsibility programs that represent good first steps toward improving the impact of their organizations on the environment and society. However, unless boards change, many of the initial sustainability efforts launched in corporations are likely to be temporary. For organizations to achieve sustainable effectiveness, they need a corporate board that is designed to lead in a sustainably effective way.
The growing number of chief marketing executives reflects the increasing importance companies attach to marketing. Yet the average tenure of a chief marketing officer (CMO) is three and a half years, well below that of the typical CEO. Both the prevalence of the CMO position and its precariousness give rise to the question,“Has marketing realized the vision to which its adherents have long aspired?” This article asks if that question is an important one — and where marketing goes from here.
The Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) is a comparatively new but increasingly important role in many organizations. This article proposes a typology of four CSO archetypes – Internal Consultant, Specialist, Coach and Change Agent – who carry out a variety of responsibilities in the CSO role. By understanding how the duties of the CSO can vary significantly from organization to organization, boards and CEOs can make better decisions about which type of CSO is necessary for their leadership teams.
A surprising number of high-profile Western companies have stumbled in e-commerce in China, including Amazon and Google. This article offers a list of workable strategies to succeed in Chinese e-commerce, gleaned from U.S. companies’ experiences.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, in a market like China’s, where local knowledge and culture are crucial to success, more thought should be given to how to better serve local customers and adapt in a rapidly changing market.
Companies located in developing countries are currently serving billions of local consumers with innovative and inexpensive products. But what happens when more of those companies make the leap into more developed markets? Is it inevitable that these companies will overtake the more developed companies? Using historical examples, this article looks at how disruptors and incumbents compete. For incumbents, knowing that much of their fate rests in their hands is half the battle won.
Logistics clusters are local networks of businesses that provide a wide array of services, including transportation carriers, warehousing companies, and freight forwarders. Logistics clusters address several challenges that economies face, including the need for good jobs. In addition to helping companies navigate global supply networks, logistics clusters are contributing to the efficiency of global supply chains and, in the process, increasing international trade and global trade flows.
The editors of MIT Sloan Management Review are pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize, awarded to the authors of the most outstanding MIT SMR article on planned change and organizational development published from fall 2010 to summer 2011.