Image courtesy of Flickr user eszter.

Summer 2011
Volume 52, Issue # 4

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Michael A. Cusumano, professor of management, MIT Sloan School of Management

How to Innovate When Platforms Won’t Stop Moving

  • Interview
  • Read Time: 19 min 

In this interview, MIT Sloan School of Management professor of management Michael Cusumano discusses traits that will help companies through disruptive transitions. One trait is agility, which has four principles: capabilities rather than strategy; pull rather than push concepts; economies of scope rather than scale; and an emphasis on flexibility rather than efficiency. A second trait is deep, differentiating capabilities, which can be found in processes (such as supply-chain management).

Image courtesy of Flickr user alvazer.

The Business Models Investors Prefer

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 6 min 

Why are investors so bullish on companies like Apple and Disney? Is it metrics, management, industry prowess, good investor relations or good timing? Probably all of these. But something else may be at work, too. According to research conducted at the MIT Sloan School of Management, the stock market consistently values certain types of business models more highly than others. In recent years, investors have favored models focused on intellectual property and highly innovative manufacturing.

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Can Marketing Lift Stock Prices?

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 10 min 

Traditional marketing practices are increasingly viewed with skepticism. In many organizations, marketers struggle to document the return on investment for expenditures; as a result, marketing has less influence in the boardroom — and marketing is viewed as a questionable cost rather than a worthy investment. This article is based on a study that found that certain marketing techniques can influence a company’s stock market valuation — if the techniques increase customer lifetime value.

Image courtesy of Flickr user kenjonbro.

What Really Happened to Toyota?

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 20 min 

Consumers were surprised in October 2009 by the first of a series of highly publicized recalls of Toyota vehicles in the United States. Citing a potential problem in which poorly placed or incorrect floor mats under the driver’s seat could lead to uncontrolled acceleration in a range of models, Toyota announced that it was recalling 3.8 million U.S. vehicles. The article discusses two root causes for Toyota’s quality problems.

Image courtesy of Flickr user le_huf.

Why CRM Fails — and How to Fix It

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 25 min 

Customer relationship marketing was supposed to be a “new paradigm” that yieldied more loyal customers and more profit for companies. It hasn’t. Researchers from Cranfield School of Management write that the problem is fundamental: “Most senior management teams have an unbalanced approach to managing marketing investments, and this is particularly evident in the case of CRM.” Their suggestion: successful CRM investment begins with new capabilities to improve customer relationships and then backfills the capital investment as needed.

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Image courtesy of Flickr user eszter.

Why Every Project Needs a Brand (and How to Create One)

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 23 min 

Project leaders should sequence and articulate messaging about their projects in the same way a marketing manager would organize an external branding effort to promote a company’s products and services. Just as product branding creates awareness and sustains value in the minds of an organization’s external customers, shareholders, and constituents, a brand mindset can empower a project leader to develop strategically-timed messages to create visibility and engagement among key targets.

Image courtesy of Flickr user TheBusyBrain.

In Praise of Dissimilarity

  • Opinion & Analysis
  • Read Time: 9 min 

Products and markets with nothing in common “taxonomically” can have “thematic similarity,” which may open up important business opportunities.