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Webinar on Cognitive Technologies with Tom Davenport and Julia Kirby

Now available on-demand: This free webinar offers context for understanding cognitive technology offerings. It focuses on what technology capabilities will be available — and what tasks will still require human input. Topics include artificial intelligence, automation, and business rules for making cognitive technology functional. Presenters Thomas H. Davenport and Julia Kirby are co-authors of the forthcoming book Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines.

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How Time-to-Insight Is Driving Big Data Business Investment

With the emergence of a digital economy over the course of the past two decades, leading companies have learned that they must act faster to respond to customer needs and competitive dynamics. The fourth annual Big Data Executive Survey confirms that Fortune 1000 firms recognize that faster time-to-insight correlates with success and will be the driving force behind Big Data investment for the years ahead.

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Avoiding Analytical Myopia

Analytics offers managers a great way to fine-tune processes, but too many executives focus on metrics at the expense of the bigger picture. The blinders and focus that work well to optimize the details of a problem may prevent managers from seeing other options, and intense focus on a narrow measure can address only the well-specified puzzle — resulting in a myopic view of the problem. Executives who desire bigger breakthroughs need to encourage exploration.

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Sustainability-Oriented Innovation: The More the Merrier

In the third in a four-post series on Sustainability-Oriented Innovation (SOI), the authors look at the SOI process and the key actors and roles involved. To facilitate and accelerate the complex process of SOI, the authors suggest the development of SOI centers of excellence and SOI communities of practice. With both, diverse networks of problem solvers can emerge and start managing the challenges of socially and environmentally complex issues.

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MIT SMR Welcomes Veteran Business Editor Paul Michelman as Its New Editor in Chief

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Paul Michelman joins MIT Sloan Management Review as editor in chief and digital strategist. As chief content strategist Paul will guide MIT SMR’s digital content strategy across the entire content lifecycle. Paul was previously editor in chief at Safari Online, executive editor at strategy+business, and executive editor and director of new editorial products at Harvard Business Review.

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Balancing Tradeoffs in Social Media

Successful enterprise social media use has less to do with the tools employed than with the climate that a company creates. Cultivating the right climate requires balancing a number of tradeoffs through crafted social media policies, adapting characteristics of existing organizational culture, and having managers model effective social media practices for employees. In part 5 of his 5-part series, Gerald C. Kane offers a perspective on how to balance these tradeoffs and create the right mix for a company and its culture.

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The Rise of Visual Content Online

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Photos, videos, and even gifs are gaining importance as the primary means by which companies communicate. Brands that emphasize visual content are rewarded with measurable impact on ROI and engagement metrics. As it becomes harder and harder to get customers’ attention in a noisy online marketplace, there are important reasons — both technological and biological — why managers should pay more attention to their visual assets.

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Ready or Not, Here IoT Comes

The Internet of Things is on the brink of transforming business, but most businesses aren’t ready for the changes to the marketplace that the IoT will bring. There is very little time for companies to prepare for the changes coming as data-collecting devices proliferate. The good news is that by recognizing certain challenges, organizations can begin the possible, albeit difficult, process of getting ready.

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Environmental and Human Rights Assume a New Urgency for Boards

The G7 summit in June of 2015 and the G20 meeting in November both upheld the idea that businesses have a responsibility to respect environmental and human rights principles. As such concerns take center stage, business leaders must recognize their role in navigating the new regulatory environment. As environmental and human rights risks rise in importance, board members are at risk of being seen as negligent if they fail to ensure that their companies comply with the G20/OECD Principles and the standards to which the Principles refer.

Photo courtesy of Patagonia/Dylan Lucas Gordon.
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Why Sustainability-Oriented Innovation Is Valuable in Every Context

While the most basic form of Sustainability-Oriented Innovation has led to combining sustainability practices with revenue generation, more refined forms of SOI target innovation at different stages and in different contexts. Jay, the director of the Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan, along with Gonzalez and Gerard, write that “SOI allows companies to push beyond their usual innovation boundaries and their typical business protocols.”

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The Killer App for 3D Printing? The Circular Economy

3D printing is currently a niche technology — but it has the potential to help us completely alter how we use and reuse materials to make custom goods. As a technology, it offers 3 factors that define sustainable systems: (1) materials parsimony, (2) power autonomy, and (3) value cycling. Guest editor Gregory Unruh explains how 3D printing represents a sustainability game-changer.

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The Ethics of Wielding an Analytical Hammer

With analytics as a hammer, so many questions can start to look like nails. It is difficult for organizations to know what to do. But the “should” in “What should we do?” goes beyond just selecting what to hammer on for maximum insight. Companies need to pay attention to the ways in which the possibilities that analytical abilities create involve responsibilities as well.

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How Well Does Your Company Integrate Demand and Supply?

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An online questionnaire by the authors of the MIT Sloan Management Review article “Integrating Supply and Demand” helps users assess how well their company’s supply chains are helping meet product demand — and serve key customers. The self-assessment lets users rate their companies in five areas in the demand and supply integration spectrum: relevant value focus, integrated knowledge sharing, strategic resource allocation, integrated behavior, and capacity and demand balance.

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Finishing School for Social Intrapreneurs

The Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program is focused on developing business leaders for a sustainable society. One of its fundamental founding questions was, “If we want business to operate in a way that’s attentive to long-term value creation and an array of stakeholders, what kind of leadership do we need?” The solution: Aspen’s “First Movers” program, cultivating creative intrapreneurs dedicated to products and management practices that enhance profitability without negative social and environmental impacts.

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Sustainability-Oriented Innovation: A Bridge to Breakthroughs

This blog post is the first of a four-part series on sustainability-oriented innovation (SOI). The authors explain what SOI is, where and how it can be used, its impact, and its challenges. While many businesses are aware of SOI, they are struggling to shed the traditional tradeoff model that they have come to accept and rely on. Achieving sustainability-oriented innovation means taking off blinders, shifting away from deeply embedded mental models, and working closely with a more diverse stakeholder base.

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Dare to be Digital: Transforming Your Workplace

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Research in 2014 and 2015 shows that the digital workplace is about a fundamentally different way of working, with distinctive behavioral norms. Influence, networks, and dynamic decisions become much more important than power, hierarchies, static decisions, processes, and rules — features that make sense in a slow-moving, traditional environment. As a result, making the transition from a traditional to a digital workplace can be challenging.

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The Post-Email Organization

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People have a natural tendency to gravitate to people similar to themselves. This habit offers social benefits but also reinforces biases and degrades decision making. Enterprise social networking platforms may help counteract these typical social tendencies, allowing people to develop and maintain networks more beneficial to an organization’s purpose and to their own performance.

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What Companies Can Learn From Social Scalers

A new breed of social entrepreneurs has evolved. “Social scalers” focus on market-based solutions that can be scaled up to create social change. Their goal: transform social problems into business opportunities on a national or even global scale. The authors of Strategy and Competitiveness in Latin American Markets: The Sustainability Frontier (Edward Elgar, 2014) look at how companies seeking to address social issues can learn from these social scalers.

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The Changing Business Climate Is Causing Product Die-Offs

As sustainability becomes a driving force in the evolving marketplace, many products and technologies are unable to compete within the new parameters. The recent scandal involving Volkswagen’s falsifying of its diesel cars’ emissions is a case in point: If your business model can meet the ever-higher standards of sustainability only when customers reduce consumption of the product, it is by definition unsustainable. What does this mean for managers committed to products with questionable sustainability?

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