What’s happening this week at the intersection of management and technology: Three stages of digital transformation; questions for digital disruptors; IoT and blockchain in the supply chain.
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- Research Feature
- Read Time: 24 min
Early adopters of software robots exemplify how companies generate tangible benefits via service innovations in three ways: (1) by developing an approach to service automation supported by top management, (2) by initiating effective processes that deliver value to customers and employees, and (3) by building enterprise-wide skills and capabilities. Managers interested in capturing the benefits of service automation need to pursue all three avenues.
- Research Feature
- Read Time: 18 min
The combination of new analytical capabilities and burgeoning data assets are being used to form value-added “data products.” Such products have powered rapid growth in the value and success of online companies, but the expansion of analytics means the standard model for developing these products needs to evolve. An updated model needs to reflect new “time to market” expectations and input from a variety of stakeholders.
Smartphones and cloud technology work in tandem to provide a prized perk to managers lower on the corporate ladder: The ability to pass repetitive, tedious scheduling tasks off to someone (or in this case, something) else. As digital agents become ubiquitous, their input will greatly enhance collaboration.
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.
In business, it’s costly to try something new, especially if it doesn’t work out. But in the digital era, technology can be deployed to augment the creative abilities of people and organizations. Today’s digital technologies have reached a level of maturation that enables cheap and rapid iteration to make new, invaluable forms of innovation possible.
- Read Time: 4 min
More tasks are being done by cognitive technologies, cutting costs, improving efficiencies, and displacing humans. This may lead to less differentiation between organizations, and a shifting composition of activities within the organization.
Artificial Intelligence is about to transform management from an art into a combination of art and science. Not because we’ll be taking commands from science fiction’s robot overlords, but because specialized AI will allow us to apply data science to our human interactions at work in a way that earlier theorists like Peter Drucker could only imagine.
We are just at the beginning of the transformation from an economy dominated by human workers to one dominated by electronic workers. The great management challenge of the next few decades will be understanding how to get the best out of both humans and machines, and understanding the ins and outs of who manages whom.
- 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.
- 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.
Is AlphaGo the supersized model of your future machine management assistant? What to consider when you’re in the market to enhance your company’s digital capabilities. And if you are looking for a way to enhance the value of transparency, try videotaping – and maybe even broadcasting – your executive meetings.
- Read Time: 8 min
It has become a truism that the pace of work is faster than ever, as digital technologies speed up communication and operational processes in a story of unending progress. But increased speed has not translated into increased rates of productivity growth. Since 2004, growth rates have slowed not just in the US but across the world. Chad Syverson, J. Baum Harris Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, explains what the implications are, and why the benefits of new technologies are not straightforward.
In a new report, International Data Corp. forecasts a near doubling of the robotics market over the next 4 years. Meanwhile, President Obama sent The Annual Report of the Council of Economic Advisors to Congress which says that advances in robotics technology are “presaging the rise of a potentially paradigm-shifting innovation in the productivity process.” So how should companies use robotics between now and then? One answer: Hire robots for supporting, rather than primary, roles.
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.”
- Read Time: 1 min
Paul Michelman joins MIT Sloan Management Review as editor in chief and digital strategist. As chief content strategist Paul will guide MIT SMR’s digital content strategy across the entire content lifecycle. Paul was previously editor in chief at Safari Online, executive editor at strategy+business, and executive editor and director of new editorial products at Harvard Business Review.
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