Digital Transformation

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Mastering the Digital Innovation Challenge

For Volvo Cars, pursuing digital innovation required fundamentally rethinking the organization, while also keeping the core business functioning efficiently. The company did so by balancing four interrelated competing concerns: (1) new and established innovation capabilities; (2) process and product focus; (3) external and internal collaboration; and (4) flexibility and control in relationships with external partners.

Reframing Growth Strategy in a Digital Economy

Too many big companies are formulating their growth strategies using traditional planning approaches — yearly cycles, historical analytics, incremental thinking. The velocity that characterizes this new digital economy means this kind of growth planning is obsolete. To assert digital dominance, big companies need to capitalize on their ability to do things the disruptors can’t — like plan globally and mobilize considerable resources.

Unexpected Benefits of Digital Transformation

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 4 min 

Digital technology creates new opportunities to work differently, which in turn offers opportunities to infuse technology into the work process. When managers shift from thinking about digital tools themselves to a focus on how the tools help companies work differently, they can begin to identify ways to transform the company’s processes to get real value from integrating new tools.

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Free Video Panel: Creating a Data-Driven Enterprise: Real-Life Cases

In a video panel and Q&A, MIT SMR editors discuss key insights from a recently completed series of in-depth case studies on how prominent organizations are using data and analytics to transform their operations. They review Intermountain Healthcare, GE, Nedbank, and the City of Amsterdam’s efforts to become more data driven. This set of diverse organizations offers a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities associated with becoming a data-driven organization.

Lessons from Becoming a Data-Driven Organization

Organizations across the business spectrum are awakening to the transformative power of data and analytics. They are also coming to grips with the daunting difficulty of the task that lies before them. It’s tough enough for many organizations to catalog and categorize the data at their disposal and devise the rules and processes for using it. It’s even tougher to translate that data into tangible value. But it’s not impossible, and many organizations, in both the private and public sectors, are learning how.

Management’s Digital Future Has Arrived

The impact of digital technology on how businesses design and produce goods, interact with their supply chains, manage internal communication, and connect with customers is a rich topic that has been, and continues to be, broadly addressed in both commercial and academic business media. But as the digital revolution enters its next phase, we find ourselves confronting a new set of questions about the relationship between technology and management. These questions go to the core of the organization.

Why Digital Transformation Needs a Heart

Digital innovation is transforming every part of the company, from customer experience to business models to operational management. But it’s people who make companies work. The digital economy shouldn’t be one where automation squeezes workers — and managers — out, but one where computers help employees to collaborate fluidly, make decisions scientifically, and manage better with automation than they ever could without it.

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Digital Health Care: The Patient Will See You Now

  • Interview
  • Read Time: 9 min 

Kristin Darby, CIO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America, is keenly aware of the impact of digital technology on patient care. “We crave constructive disruption, so we are always challenging ourselves with the question, ‘how can technology positively impact our patients?’ If there’s value for the patient, we’re interested and we dig deeper.” Darby is interviewed by Gerald C. (Jerry) Kane, associate professor of information systems at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College and a guest editor for MIT SMR.

Mass Customization and the Do-It-Yourself Supply Chain

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  • Read Time: 5 min 

With the help of third-party developers, customization is shifting from the producer to the customer. While Industrial Age customization did enhance options for different customer preferences, those options were hardwired into a firm’s supply chain in ways that preserved efficient scale. Customers could choose only from those options that a firm had already programmed to deliver through established supply chains. Digital Age customization allows customers options outside the boundaries of a firm’s traditional supply chain.

Halting the Corporate Brain Drain

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  • Read Time: 4 min 

Companies often don’t know what their employees’ experience contributes until employees leave, taking their unique knowledge assets with them. But digital tools have the potential to reshape the relationship between organizations and retiring employees. First, when used for collaboration, advanced social media platforms can record all interactions between employees and preserve them for later use. And second, digital platforms introduce the possibility of redefining the relationship companies have with retired staff.

Tech Savvy: March 3, 2016

This week’s Tech Savvy looks at what’s happening in wearables at work, virtual reality in hiring, enhancing big data ROI, and digital transformation preparation. For instance, in a Netherlands warehouse, employees wearing smart glasses to pick orders show a 25% improvement in efficiency. And in big data, Wharton’s Eric Clemons notes that “Where big data analytics may create local fiefdoms, online social networks create distributed pockets of autonomous connection, affiliation, and even affection.”

Tech Savvy: February 26, 2016

Peter Drucker defined the work of business leaders by three principal tasks: delivering financial results, making work and workers productive, and managing a company’s social impacts. Technological advances have transformed — and continue to transform — the world in myriad ways since Drucker published that definition in 1974. But technology hasn’t changed Drucker’s tasks. Instead, it is giving rise to new and better ways of executing them. This new column aims to help you identify big ideas and new tactics at the intersection of technology and management.

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The Dark Side of the Digital Revolution

  • Interview
  • Read Time: 10 min 

As digital technology transforms the way we do business, too many executives aren’t recognizing how business is changing at a fundamental level. “I think there’s a tendency to look at digital technology and think about it more as an opportunity, a choice,” says Deloitte Center for the Edge Innovation co-founder John Hagel III. “The mounting pressure turns this from an opportunity and choice into an imperative. The longer you wait, the more marginalized you’re going to become.”

A New Vision for Personal Transportation

Smart data and mass customization have the potential to radically change the way trips are planned. Already, the Boston-based startup Bridj is piloting a dynamic bus system that optimizes routing in response to demand, while Düsseldorf Airport is piloting a robotic parking system in which users just drop off their cars, which are then parked automatically. In the future, intermodal routing could provide customers with a seamless experience and reshape the transportation infrastructure.

Dare to be Digital: Transforming Your Workplace

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  • Read Time: 3 min 

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.

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.

How is Digitization Affecting Your Business?

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 2 min 

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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