IT Strategy

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When Jobs Become Commodities

Most of us view our jobs as specialized or somehow differentiated, but the world of business and management increasingly feels otherwise. For many organizations today, the next big driver of job commoditization is automation driven by smart machines. Simply put, if a job is viewed as a commodity, it won’t be long before it’s automated. The key for workers whose jobs have traditionally seemed safe: Highlight the tasks that require a human touch.

Platform Sprawl Leaves No Industry Behind

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 5 min 

A decade ago, Apple’s iPhone cornered the mobile phone market by developing a platform interface that expanded its product from a simple one-task tool to a multitask utility. Using platforms to gain competitive advantage is no longer unique to Apple — it is happening in other industries across the board as readily available platform options grow in number.

Ethics Should Precede Action in Machine Intelligence

As analytics and big data continue to be integrated into organizational ways and means from the C-suite to the front lines, authors Josh Sullivan and Angela Zutavern believe that a new kind of company will emerge. They call it the “mathematical corporation” — a mashup of technology and human ingenuity in which machines delve into every aspect of a business in previously impossible ways.

The Best Response to Digital Disruption

Although digitization’s disruptive influence is growing rapidly, there’s surprisingly little empirical evidence on the magnitude of digital disruption — nor any showing how companies are reacting on a broad scale. A new global survey of C-suite executives looks at how digitization unfolds across industries and how incumbents are responding. With some notable exceptions, the answer is: “Not well.”

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Digital Maturity, Not Digital Transformation

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 4 min 

Digital transformation has two key implications for managers: First, it’s fundamentally about how your business responds to digital trends that are occurring regardless of your input. Second, how an organization implements technology is only a small part of digital transformation; strategy, talent management, organizational structure, and leadership are just as important as technology.

To Improve Cybersecurity, Think Like a Hacker

To protect their organizations from cyberthreats, companies need to understand how hackers go about their work. The authors’ research suggests that hackers’ attacks typically involve four steps: identifying vulnerabilities; scanning and testing; gaining access; and maintaining access.

What Executives Get Wrong About Cybersecurity

Cyberattacks are in the news. All kinds of organizations — ranging from Target Corp. and Bangladesh Bank to the Democratic National Committee in the United States — have fallen victim to them in recent years. MIT cybersecurity expert Stuart Madnick explains some of the biggest cybersecurity risks businesses face today — and what executives should do to decrease their companies’ vulnerabilities.

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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.

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.

The Real Lessons From Kodak’s Decline

Former photography giant Kodak is often cited as having lacked the vision to recognize the effects digital technology would have on its business. The reality of what happened — and the true lessons of Kodak’s experience with digital disruption — highlight the complex challenges posed by fast-moving technological innovation.

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Foundations of Analytics Strategy

Competitive advantage from analytics is declining, according to the 2016 annual report about data and analytics by MIT Sloan Management Review. In this on-demand webinar, the authors of the report — Sam Ransbotham, an associate professor in information systems at Boston College and guest editor at MIT SMR; David Kiron, the executive editor of MIT SMR’s Big Ideas Initiative; and Pamela Kirk Prentice, the chief research officer at SAS Institute Inc. — discuss how analytically-sophisticated companies are managing to cultivate both innovation and competitive advantage with analytics.

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.

Free Webinar: Foundations of Analytics Strategy

The 2016 MIT SMR/SAS Data and Analytics report, “Beyond the Hype: The Hard Work Behind Analytics Success,” finds that competitive advantage from analytics is declining — but that organizations achieving the greatest benefits have figured out how to ensure that the right data is being captured. In this webinar, the authors of the report explain how companies are making this transition and which are seeing the most success.

Just How Smart Are Smart Machines?

Managers don’t expect to see machines displacing knowledge workers anytime soon. Instead, they expect computing technology to augment rather than replace the work of humans. But in the face of a sprawling and fast-evolving set of opportunities, what forms should that augmentation take? Davenport and Kirby, authors of “Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines,” examine what cognitive technologies managers should be monitoring closely and what they should be applying now.

Cognitive Technologies: The Next Step Up for Data and Analytics

This free on-demand webinar offers context for understanding cognitive technology offerings. It focuses on what technology capabilities will be available — and what tasks will still require human input. Topics include artificial intelligence, automation, and business rules for making cognitive technology functional. Presenters Thomas H. Davenport and Julia Kirby are co-authors of the forthcoming book Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines.

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