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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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The Nine Obstacles to Digital Transformation

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To get real transformation from technology requires company leaders to set digital priorities and work together across departments to reach those goals. A new survey identifies nine significant leadership, organizational and cultural challenges that work against digital transformation. But leaders who present a strategic vision and continue to articulate it will get buy-in from employees, a large majority of whom see technology as a way to gain real competitive advantages. Digital transformation is a challenge — but a manageable one.

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A Little Competition Brings Out Astonishing Innovation

Contests can be big motivators for getting people to bring all their creativity to the table. The Oil Cleanup X Challenge, for instance, shows how an organization can generate new solutions to a known problem. Companies vied for a $1.4 million prize in 2011 to come up with a product to recover oil from the surface of the sea. The winner, Elastec/American Marine, is now preparing to bring its winning design to market.

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Why Social Business Initiatives Fail

Deeper analysis of the 2013 social business report from MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte shows that organizations may be inadvertently setting up their social programs to not succeed by not having clear objectives for the programs and by not giving employees enough free time to fully engage with the projects. Gerald C. Kane, an associate professor at Boston College, combs through the data to find three insights into social business failure.

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Your Turn: What Questions Do Managers Have About Social Business?

What trends and companies should we explore in our upcoming social business survey? The differences between countries and cultures when adopting social business globally? The differences between using social tools internally and externally? The ways social can provide competitive advantage? Tell us your thoughts and help shape the next survey, which will launch in October 2013 and be reported in the summer of 2014.

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Can Social Business Make Employees Happier?

Social business can breed contentment among employees — but it doesn’t happen automatically. As the 2013 social business report from MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte notes: “Businesses that are making the greatest progress toward becoming a socially connected enterprise focus rigorously on four interrelated areas: leading a social culture, measuring what matters, keeping content fresh and changing the way work gets done.”

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Is Digital Advertising a New Form of Market Manipulation?

Social networking and digital advertising are colliding at a dizzying rate. Facebook, which has over 1 billion users, is launching video ads. Twitter, with more than 200 million users, just bought MoPub, a digital advertising platform that essentially creates an ad space that is sold and delivered every time a user views a page. What does this all mean for the relationship between businesses and consumers? The short answer: Market manipulation.

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When Big Businesses Push the Start(up) Button

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Companies inevitably lose their startup mojo as they get big. But even the biggest companies can get it back, as evidenced by Nestlé. It brought in Pete Blackshaw to serve as a stimulant for its digital and social media. He’s helped the company build a little bit of Silicon Valley startup into its operations, forming a Digital Acceleration Team that spreads “digital vitamins” throughout Nestlé. The company is speeding up its digital marketing, too.

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The Insurance Industry’s Renewed Commitment to Sustainability

Insurers are just beginning to wake up to their role in environmental sustainability, argues Olivier Jaeggi, founder and managing partner at ECOFACT. The most important recent development: the launch of the Principles for Sustainable Insurance in 2012. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, wrote that the Principles provide “a framework for the global insurance industry to address environmental, social and governance risks and opportunities.”

Image from an 1864 manual of gymnastic exercises for the school-room and the parlor courtesy of Flickr user CircaSassy.
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How to Build More Personal Power

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Executives who find themselves experiencing a power deficit have two strategies for overcoming it: they can either play the existing game more effectively or they can change the game. “Career counselors often advise people to shore up weaknesses, but the secret to becoming indispensable is consolidating strengths,” write Jean-Louis Barsoux and Cyril Bouquet.

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Five Steps to Digitally Transforming City Government

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Boston Mayor Tom Menino is almost radically tech averse, yet he’s led a revamp of a customer relationship management system that has transformed the way the city, its workers, and its citizens interact. Starting with its Citizens Connect app (initially for better pothole reporting), Boston has expanded its data interface to allow faster turnaround times for repair, and has even held a competition across departments to reward the quickest response to citizen requests.

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BMW Test-Drives Mobile Microvideo

BMW is pursuing consumer-to-consumer marketing using microvideo on mobile phones. The company wants to see if mobile social media can help boost sales. Wolfgang Breyer, head of international advertising, online communications and social media at BMW, says the company wants to see how mobile sharing compares to PC-based sharing, and whether microvideo offers an effective format for consumers. BMW is planning a pilot this fall.

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Does Data Have a Shelf Life?

Recent research out of the Department of Operations and Information Systems at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, and the Department of Management Information Systems, Eller School of Management at the University of Arizona, Tucson, asks a seemingly simple question about organizations’ data collection and usage that could have some big implications on your own data techniques.

The question: When is the right time to refresh data to support organizational decision-making?

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Omnichannel Retailing and Data Analytics: Leveling the Playing Field

We’re in a new world of omnichannel retailing that includes physical, online and mobile channels. And those channels are blurring.

In a recent AllAnaltyics video and web chat, Analytics in the Age of Omnichannel Retailing, researchers Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Center for Digital Business, Yu Jeffrey Hu, associate professor at Georgia Institute of Technology’s Scheller College of Business, and Mohammad Rahman, associate professor at University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business, discussed the challenges facing retailers.

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Big Data That’s Good for the Public

Facts: 900 million. Active sources: more than 100,000. Data sets: 30,000, with 200 million time series and 1.5 billion fact values.

Link all these data sources together and what do you get? Timely, if not crucial, contextual information about markets, trends, competitors, products and consumer opinions.

This is the promise of DOPA, a project funded under the umbrella of the European Union.

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Social Business: Flat or Hierarchical? A Surprising Answer

The most effective social businesses of the future may start to look more like organizations that long predate modern corporations — so-called “loosely coupled” organizations such as military, education and religious institutions.

These organizations remain deeply hierarchical, argues Gerald C. Kane, but these hierarchies operate differently than modern corporations, pushing decision-making capabilities down to people who can better deal with conditions on the ground.

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Five Steps To Leading Change Successfully

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Before making a change, you need to identify the influencers who can push the project forward — or who can cause it to stall. “Left unattended, skepticism, fear and panic can wreak havoc on any change process,” write Ellen R. Auster and Trish Ruebottom.

Their solution is a five-step, proactive process designed to help leaders navigate both the politics and the emotions that are churned up by heading in new directions. The steps include mapping the key stakeholders who will be affected by the change and involving the most influential of them.

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Sustainability? Don’t Go It Alone

At the Sustainable Brands seventh annual community in June, a key theme was succinctly framed by Sally Uren, acting chief executive, Forum for the Future: “pioneering companies are hitting the limits of what they can do alone.” To address sustainability-related issues, a growing number of companies are becoming more collaborative. Not merely with suppliers, but with competitors as well. The complexity of business problems connected with sustainability is demanding collective action.

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