Frontiers

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Why It Pays to Be Where the IT Talent Already Is

As demand for big data technologies grows, so does the problem of finding sufficient skills. Result: Talent shortages could limit the rate of productivity growth. Research shows that labor-market factors have shaped early returns on investment in big data technologies such as Hadoop, a framework for distributed processing of large data sets. It turns out that when know-how is scarce, organizations that invest in new IT or R&D derive significant benefits from the related investments of other organizations.

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Achieving Trust Through Data Ethics

Eight out of 10 executives surveyed say that as the business value of data grows, the risks their companies face from improper handling of data increase exponentially. While digital advancements enable new opportunities for businesses to compete and thrive, they also create increased exposure to systemic risks. Success in the digital age will require a new kind of ethical review around how companies gather and use data.

Paul Michelman on the Launch of MIT SMR’s Frontiers Initiative

In a video interview, MIT SMR editor in chief Paul Michelman explains the impetus behind the launch of the publication’s Frontiers initiative and the value he hopes it will hold for readers. Michelman explains the genesis of the Frontiers idea, the nature of the essayists selected for the program, and why it’s important for MIT SMR to launch this initiative now. He also discusses the themes that emerged from the essays, including the changing nature of the man-machine collegial relationship.

A New Approach to Automating Services

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.

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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.

A New Era of Corporate Conversation

Social media technology is changing how managers and employees communicate and is breaking down traditional corporate heirarchy. To gain advantage from this trend, executives must recognize the value of dialogue and employees need to know that their leaders won’t punish them for expressing dissenting opinions. Executives will also need patience and a thick skin — but leaders who invest in truly open dialogue with their workforce will reap the long-term benefits.

Executive Assistants for Everyone

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.

Predicting a Future Where the Future Is Routinely Predicted

The ability of artificial intelligence to sift through mountains of data and identify patterns — and problems — in real time is its key value for business. Using AI to predict failures and take action to prevent them will become commonplace in the very near future. But it can also offer insights into human behavior to help managers improve customer service and employee relations.

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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Unleashing Creativity With Digital Technology

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.

The Three New Skills Managers Need

As digital technologies evolve, managers and employees will need to learn three important skills: partnering with new digital “colleagues,” creating a mindful relationship with omnipresent digital technologies, and developing empathy for the varying technology preferences of their human coworkers. Organizations, for their part, will need to design processes to support these efforts, and managers will need to be both flexible and thoughtful in how they respond.

Digital Today, Cognitive Tomorrow

Digital transformation is happening all around us, but it’s the foundation for a much more profound transformation still to come. With huge challenges facing humanity on many fronts — climate, disease, population, food and water — we need cognitive technologies to augment human problem-solving capabilities. And those technologies are almost here.

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