IT Strategy

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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.

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.”

Balancing Tradeoffs in Social Media

Successful enterprise social media use has less to do with the tools employed than with the climate that a company creates. Cultivating the right climate requires balancing a number of tradeoffs through crafted social media policies, adapting characteristics of existing organizational culture, and having managers model effective social media practices for employees. In part 5 of his 5-part series, Gerald C. Kane offers a perspective on how to balance these tradeoffs and create the right mix for a company and its culture.

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The Long-Tail Strategy for IT Outsourcing

No longer just a cost-saving measure, IT outsourcing has emerged as an important strategic tool for acquiring cutting-edge ideas. Many companies are expanding their portfolios of IT suppliers to include smaller, highly innovative companies. But this expansion increases the complexity of managing supplier portfolios. To take full advantage of the innovations that diverse suppliers provide, organizations need to reimagine their strategies to be dynamic, diversified, and still disciplined.

The Talent Imperative in Digital Business

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 6 min 

In MIT Sloan Management Review‘s 2015 Digital Business Report, we found that lack of digital maturity has profound implications for talent acquisition and retention. The vast majority of employees (80%) say they prefer to work for digitally mature companies — which means that if your company isn’t there yet, it may soon cost you valuable talent.

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Why Social Engagement May Be More Important Than Marketing

  • Interview
  • Read Time: 8 min 

In a Q&A, Carlos Dominguez, president and COO of social media management company Sprinklr, notes that while marketing is about getting people to want to talk to a company, customer service is about interacting with someone who is already invested in the brand. His goal: get companies to blend those tasks in “ways that are radically different.”

Strategy, not Technology, Drives Digital Transformation

Digital success isn’t all about technology: The 2015 Digital Business Global Executive Study and Research Project by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte identifies strategy as the key driver in the digital arena. Companies that avoid risk-taking are unlikely to thrive and likely to lose talent, as employees across all age groups want to work for businesses committed to digital progress. The report is online and in PDF form, with a Digital Business Interactive Tool to explore the data set.

Revamping Your Business Through Digital Transformation

Large companies in traditional industries might think that digital transformation can wait — that a follower strategy is a safer route than trying to be a pioneer. “That kind of thinking, while tempting, is wrong,” write George Westerman and Didier Bonnet. “In every industry we studied, companies are doing exciting things with digital technology and getting impressive business benefits.”

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Does Your Company Collect Data — Or Hoard It?

As it has become clearer that data offers value to companies, some organizations are tempted to take a “more is better” approach. But there’s a fine line between collecting data that offers value and hoarding data, which ultimately proves counterproductive. Ransbotham’s Three Laws of Data Collection offer guidance.

Revisiting Complexity in the Digital Age

As businesses grow and diversify, they almost inevitably make their range of offerings more complex. Until now, managing that complexity usually involved a trade-off between creating value from complexity and benefiting from the efficiencies of simplicity. But smart use of today’s digital technologies can help companies finesse those trade-offs between costs and benefits. Digitization can help companies, for instance, increase product variety and integration while maintaining process simplicity.

Preparing Analytics for a Strategic Role

The way health care is billed in the U.S. system is part of the reason costs are so high. WellPoint*, one of the largest providers of health care benefits and insurance in the U.S., is using analytics to change its provider payment system. The goal: promote a health care system based on value, not the volume of services. This Data & Analytics Case Study takes an in-depth look at how WellPoint went from idea to implementation, working with physicians and IT staff to build its Enhanced Personal Health Care program.

Raising the Bar With Analytics

More than half of managers surveyed strongly agree that their organizations need to step up analytics use, according to a 2013 global survey by MIT Sloan Management Review and SAS Institute. In addition, survey data suggests that in companies where analytics has improved the ability to innovate, managers are more likely to share data with partners and suppliers.

Thriving in a Big Data World

Words have become data; the physical states of our machinery have become data; our physical locations have become data; and even our interactions with each other have become data. Three recent books offer expert perspectives on the increasing power and importance of analytics.

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Image courtesy of Walmart

Should You Outsource Analytics?

Outsourcing analytics activities can offer benefits, but it requires a carefully constructed relationship between the company and the business process organization (BPO). Customers must be careful not to lose their expertise or their core intellectual property. Research suggests that companies with superior analytics capabilities will approach outsourcing differently than companies that are analytically challenged.

What’s Your Information Footprint?

Wealth once was measured by the amount of land, employees or equipment you had. Today we are on the cusp of a period in which another factor is an indicator of potential wealth: how much information you have. Information has the potential to be a valuable asset, and a new framework, dubbed “the information footprint,” presents a way for companies to assess their information assets and the opportunities it gives them for new value creation.

How Big Data is Influencing Big Companies

A recent data and analytics survey sheds light on what large organizations are actually doing with big data initiatives. The survey of nearly 100 senior executives from Fortune 1000 companies found that executives are reporting anincreasing commitment to big data projects. As well, most executives, 70%, are looking to improve their “time to answer” with big data.

Does Data Have a Shelf Life?

Recent research out of the Department of Operations and Information Systems at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, and the Department of Management Information Systems, Eller School of Management at the University of Arizona, Tucson, asks a seemingly simple question about organizations’ data collection and usage that could have some big implications on your own data techniques. The question: When is the right time to refresh data to support organizational decision-making?

How eBay Uses Data and Analytics to Get Closer to Its (Massive) Customer Base

You can find just about anything on eBay: A vintage BMW, a Lear jet, a half-million-dollar yacht. From all that activity stems a lot of data and, eventually, information. In conversation with MIT Sloan Management Review contributing editor Renee Boucher Ferguson, Neel Sundaresan, senior director of research at eBay, discusses how eBay uses data and analytics at every level of the company to continuously evolve eBay’s numerous sites and services for buyers and sellers.

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