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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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Trader Joes. Image courtesy of Flickr user niiicedave.
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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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Image courtesy of Flickr user Tax Credits.
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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.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Torley.
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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.”

Image courtesy of Flickr user LunaWeb.
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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.

Image courtesy of Nestle.
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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.”

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