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When Should You Fire Customers?

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Many customers are simply not profitable. Letting them go is one option, but so is trying to train them out of expensive behavior. Options suggested by Jiwoong Shin and K. Sudhir, both of Yale School of Management, include reducing services to unprofitable customers and educating them to use less costly service channels. “We recognize the mix of concerns, both ethical and practical, that swirl around firing customers,” write Shin and Sudhir. “We advocate firing customers only as a last resort.”

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Prognosis for GIS in Health Care Is Excellent

Using geo-coding and analytics to reshape operations and care is taking hold in healthcare systems. A recent conference on healthcare and geographic information systems from GIS software company Esri highlighted how the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and the Veterans Health Administration use technology to gain better understanding of patient and health trends. The related area of social work is also beginning to see some uptake of the technology.

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Are Predictive Analytics Transforming Your Supply Chain?

While some industries like health care and retail are starting to see the transformational potential of big data and predictive analytics, these strategies haven’t quite panned out for supply chain managers. Why? Two big barriers: The cost of hiring skilled employees and the complexity of connecting nodes across an extended supply chain network.

New research suggests that the convergence of data science, predictive analytics and big data have the potential to transform the way in which supply chains leaders lead, and supply chains operate.

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Why Predictive Analytics Needs Due Process

Researchers are proposing a new method to limit privacy harms from predictive analytics: Apply due process that would determine, legally, the fairness of an algorithm. While a new framework may be a step forward for individual privacy, what does it mean for organizations that collect and utilize big data through a predictive analytics lens? A couple of things — should data-oriented due process pass policy and legislative muster.

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Are Companies Ready for the New Global Executive?

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HR executives believe that tomorrow’s leaders will be a more diverse group than today’s and will face special challenges as a result. A survey of 197 human resource executives from global companies finds that “leaders from highly diverse backgrounds will need to work together more effectively.” The challenge is that diverse groups often have more disagreements than homogeneous groups, demanding proactive skill development in group dynamics.

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How to Be a Better Boss

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Asking reports if they would recommend their manager provides quick and efficient management assessment. A condensed question, which strips away the language and diluted focus of so many evaluations, is a more focused way of getting at the true quality of a manager. So argues Julian Birkinshaw, a professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at London Business School and the author of “Becoming a Better Boss: Why Good Management Is So Difficult” (Jossey-Bass, 2013).

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On the Evolution of “Social Business”

Social business means different things to different people. Some see it as business-oriented collaboration. Others, as a way of mobilizing people to do good. Still others dismiss it as “goofing off” or wasting time. However you look at it, social has the capacity to radically alter how business is done — whether it’s for-profit business or more altruistic ventures, or (as is the case with a growing number of companies) a little of both.

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Turning Big Data Into Smart Data

Current thinking has big data and analytics turning companies into data-driven powerhouses. But just having data doesn’t make a company smarter; if companies don’t know how to use data well in the first place, it can actually prevent companies from making the transition to data-driven operations. Jeanne Ross, the director of MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research, says that companies can build cultures that encourage people, even low-level employees, to work well with data by using evidence-based management.

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How Big Data is Influencing Big Companies

A recent data and analytics survey sheds light on what large organizations are actually doing with big data initiatives. The survey of nearly 100 senior executives from Fortune 1000 companies found that executives are reporting anincreasing commitment to big data projects. As well, most executives, 70%, are looking to improve their “time to answer” with big data.

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How to Revitalize Your Digital Business Model

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What should a company do if its digital business model isn’t working very well? Peter Weill, chairman of the MIT Sloan School of Management’s Center for Information Systems Research, has created some principles to revamp the fortunes of a digital business. His framework focuses around three planks: content, experience and platform. Executives should decide which plank offers competitive advantage and develop a world-class version of it online, partnering with others for the other two planks.

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Three Paradoxes of Big Data

The 1997 sci-fi film Gattaca presents a society where DNA determines social class. A registry identifies and creates genetically superior individuals — termed “valids” — while winnowing out their naturally conceived “in-valid” counterparts. The “valids” have a predetermined career (and life!) path, unalterable by desire, capability, circumstance or happenstance.

But how close are fact and fiction? Can genetics, biometrics and, essentially, predictive analytics be utilized to determine an individual’s path?

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Are Algorithms Influencing Your Business?

The growing importance of algorithms to business and society is a little discussed feature of our increasingly digital world. These algorithms are the underpinnings of NSA surveillance, online search engines, corporate security, modern matchmaking and other activities in both the private and public sector. They can be a source of competitive advantage (think Google), play an operational role or drive marketing. Just what are algorithms, how are they used, and what happens when influential algorithms go wrong?

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Social Business Research Study Launched

MIT SMR has launched its 3rd annual global study on social business, exploring how social technologies and social data are changing company operations and corporate behavior. Now we need readers’ help. Please tell us how social business is evolving in your company via the short survey we’ve designed. The survey will take about 10 minutes of your time. It will help us to continue our inquiry into how social business is influencing the practice of management.

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Three Things Retailers Must Do To Compete

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Companies looking to build a satisfied and loyal customer base need to understand what drives satisfaction for their particular group of customers. Grocer Trader Joe’s, for instance, typically carries only about 4,000 carefully selected items, in contrast the the 50,000 found in many other grocery stores.

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MIT Sloan Management Review Launches Chinese Edition

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MIT SMR has launched a Chinese edition of its magazine and website, in partnership with local publishing firm Shanghai Li Han Technology Information Management Co. Ltd. Building on MIT SMR’s English language content, translated into Simplified Chinese, the publication will be enhanced by localized content relevant to business leaders and academics in China. The Chinese edition will bring MIT SMR’s premier content to the Chinese management and business community.

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How To Develop a Useful “Why” Statement

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Asking why you’re embarking on a project before you begin raises the project’s chance of success. But “to our continuing surprise, we often discover these teams have not even discussed, let alone agreed on, why they are pursuing the project,” write Karen A. Brown, Nancy Lea Hyer and Richard Ettenson. But producing a good “why” statement often requires both a lot of work and heated debate.

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CDOs Are Reaching New Heights — and Quickly

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The chief digital officer (CDO) is a new title in the C-suite, and it’s gaining traction. According to David Mathison, the head of the CDO Club, the number of executives with that title has risen from 75 in 2011 to nearly 500 in 2013. Though the CDO title is most prevalent in industries related to content, where digital disruption is ongoing, CDO posts are appearing in all sectors of the economy. And CDOs are becoming hot candidates for CEO jobs. Despite their small numbers, at least seven people have leapt from the CDO chair to a CEO or president’s title.

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Smart Cities and Economic Development: What to Consider

Smart cities are popping up around the globe, from China where 193 smart cities are being piloted, to Europe, the U.K. and the U.S. Their development involves a wide scope of technology, everything from renewable energy, green buildings and smart grids to traffic management, urban security and medical technology. The goal: urban sustainable development and economic growth. Opportunities abound to be part of this global urban revitalization effort. The question is, at what cost to participants?

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The Hidden Costs of the U.S. Government Shutdown

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Standard & Poor’s estimated the short-term cost of the recent U.S. government shutdown at $24 billion. MIT Sloan professor and former IMF chief economist Simon Johnson discusses the potential long-term consequences if trust in U.S. currency is undermined by continuing political uncertainty.

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