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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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Digital Transparency and Permanence

Social media has offered a new means of intra-enterprise communication that has surprising benefits for creativity and innovation. But there are drawbacks as well, mostly relating to issues of transparency and permanence in a digital environment. In part 3 of his 5-part series, Gerald C. Kane offers a perspective on balancing the pros and cons of enterprise social media.

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Overcoming Legacy Processes to Achieve Big Data Success

Most large corporations are saddled with fragmented analytical processes, limiting their ability to operate with agility, flexibility, and insight. As a result, larger firms are often challenged when it comes to innovation and responsiveness. But Big Data approaches that enabled the flexibility and rapid growth of newer, smaller firms are being adopted by mainstream corporations. The goal: overcome legacy challenges and introduce greater corporate speed.

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Secrets in the Age of Data

Secrets may be an unexpected casualty of increasing analytical prowess — just ask Volkswagen. Companies often have information they’d rather keep under wraps; sometimes it’s innocuous, like the timing of a new product launch, but other times it’s embarrassing details about unethical or even criminal behavior. But as data analytics becomes more broadly available, the chances of keeping secrets out of public view grow slimmer every day. Will this result in a change in how companies do business?

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Webinar: Flourishing in the Face of Supply Chain Disruption

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The webinar speakers explain how proactive managers create innovative, dynamic organizations that survive and prosper under any circumstances. They show how resilient enterprises adapt successfully to turbulence and design resilient assets, products and processes, highlighting companies that have improved shareholder value in turbulent times. And, they demonstrate a research-based methodology to identify important supply chain vulnerabilities and set priorities for strengthening capabilities.

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Strategic Sustainability Uses of Life-Cycle Analysis

At its roots, life-cycle assessment (LCA) is a method to quantify total sustainability impacts — like resource use and environmental damage — over the entire life of a product, from “cradle to grave.” While there is informational value in the basic exercise, the real utility of LCA is comparison — that is, comparing one product’s sustainability impacts with another’s. Given the effort and cost involved, what are the strategic benefits of LCA? And should you be employing such a process?

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The Insurance Industry Wants a World That Is Sustainable and Insurable

Insurance companies are uniquely positioned to address challenges such as climate change and human rights issues in their roles as risk managers, risk carriers, and investors. The Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI) initiative launched by the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative in 2012 serves as a global framework for this effort. The PSI are now backed by more than 80 organizations worldwide, representing 20% of world premiums and $14 trillion (USD) in assets.

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The Talent Imperative in Digital Business

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In MIT Sloan Management Review‘s 2015 Digital Business Report, we found that lack of digital maturity has profound implications for talent acquisition and retention. The vast majority of employees (80%) say they prefer to work for digitally mature companies — which means that if your company isn’t there yet, it may soon cost you valuable talent.

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Why Boards Must Look Beyond Shareholders

Shareholders are just one audience a board of directors considers when making decisions for the corporation. Others include employees, customers, suppliers, and NGOs. In the face of limited resources, directors must make choices regarding the significance of the corporation’s many audiences. Given obligations to multiple stakeholders, the authors suggest that boards of directors issue an annual “Statement of Significant Audiences and Materiality” to identify the company’s significant audiences.

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Deodorizing Your Data

Problems with data quality come from a lot of sources — short-term solutions, mergers or acquisitions, or even the mundane complications of living in a complex society. The “stench” that develops when data quality declines can create serious issues for data-driven business. If a foul odor is emanating from your data, one solution might lie in refactoring analytics processes.

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Participant Questions From the Recent “Internet of Things” Webinar

On July 30th, 2015, MIT Sloan Management Review hosted a webinar on “Managing Data in the Age of the Internet of Things.” At the end of the webinar, many participants asked questions, but we didn’t have time to answer them all during the webinar itself. We’ll answer some of the most popular questions here. Included: Should an international organization be required to take control of uniting the Internet of Things (IoT) into one system?

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The Talent Dividend: Interactive Infographic

An interactive infographic from MIT SMR’s content collaborator, SAS, and its partner site, AllAnalytics.com, highlights findings from the 2015 data and analytics research report, The Talent Dividend. The animated infographic illustrates several key stats from the report, including findings on finding, acquiring and managing analytics talent, and on changes to how companies are leveraging analytics for competitive advantage.

Image courtesy of Flickr user enshahdi https://www.flickr.com/photos/shahdi/5210439036/
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How to Build (and Keep) a World-Class Data Science Team

To manage a first-rate data science or quant group, leaders need to build an engaging environment, get the team the resources it needs and balance being involved while also staying out of the way. In banking, for example, division managers generally don’t review loan applications. But in analytics, the most successful leaders engage regularly in hands-on research and continue to publish regularly even as they move up the executive ladder. By staying active in line research, analytics managers are able to hone their abilities to judge how difficult projects are and how long they will take.

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Why Sustainability Ratings Matter

The convergence of communications technology, big data and globalized markets make ratings based on environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance indispensable for B2B and B2C exchanges. Credible, transparent and timely ratings are a powerful enhancement in a fast-moving global economy. As ESG issues are recognized as material to investment decision making, the need for trusted, transparent ESG ratings will intensify.

Image courtesy of Flickr user janneke staaks https://www.flickr.com/photos/jannekestaaks/14391226325
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Why Managing Data Scientists Is Different

The process of managing a data science research effort “can seem quite messy,” writes MIT Sloan’s Roger M. Stein. That can be “an unexpected contrast to a field that, from the outside, seems to epitomize the rule of reason and the preeminence of data.” While businesses are hiring more data scientists than ever, many struggle to realize the full organizational and financial benefits from investing in data analytics. This is forcing some managers to think carefully about how units with analytics talent are structured and managed.

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How is Digitization Affecting Your Business?

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How much of a threat does digital disruption present to your business? A short online questionnaire from Peter Weill and Stephanie L. Woerner, both of MIT Sloan’s Center for Information Systems Research, helps assess digital risk. “Although sweeping technology-enabled change often takes longer than we expect, history shows that the impact of such change can be greater than we ever imagined,” they write. “Think steam engines, cars, airplanes, TVs, telephones and, most recently, mobile phones and e-books.”

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Better Decision Making with Objective Data is Impossible

“Our world is awash in data, and data is not the same thing as facts,” writes Boston College’s Sam Ransbotham. “While data seems to promise objectivity, instead it requires analysis — which is replete with subjective interpretation.” Ransbotham argues that while having data is a necessary step towards making objective decisions, it’s a myth that data is objective. Moreover, findings that counter current thinking provide organizations with opportunity for distinction, differentiation and advantage.

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