Operations

Revisiting the Logic of Being Global

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The state of the multinational and how “the world is losing its taste for global businesses” is the subject of a recent cover story in The Economist titled “The Retreat of the Global Company.” For many multinationals, the article notes, the case for global integration has been hurt by falling profits, lower returns on capital, and increasing pressures from governments looking to protect local jobs and tax revenue.

A Three-Point Approach to Measuring Supply Chain Sustainability

A sustainable supply chain must operate within the limitations imposed by nature and society — but most approaches don’t explicitly take those into consideration. A new framework for supply chain sustainability assessment lays out eight key considerations organized into three categories: sustainability context, collaboration, and communication.

Protect Your Project From Escalating Doubts

Many big projects start off well, but then lose momentum and spiral downward as skeptical stakeholders withdraw support. Executives need to identify common triggers that spark stakeholder concerns — and take action to avert the ‘cycle of doubt’ that can ensue.

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From the Archives: How to Reshore Manufacturing Successfully

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The Trump administration has an aggressive stance about finding new American manufacturing jobs, which could pressure some companies to consider bringing overseas operations back to the U.S. But the task is complex. “While the macroeconomic data on comparative labor and factor costs may be compelling, the actual process of reshoring — bringing assembly work back from abroad — is hard work,” wrote Harvard Business School’s Willy C. Shih, in a 2014 article in MIT Sloan Management Review.

Getting Past the Hype About 3-D Printing

Despite the promise of additive manufacturing, the authors argue, near-term expectations about how 3-D printing will revolutionize manufacturing are overblown. Much of the technology is still being hammered out, and the authors examine three important myths about additive manufacturing.

Does Your Supply Chain Risk Management Strategy Hold Water?

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Water’s deceptive abundance and low cost in many countries is not yet promoting responsible management within many companies. That needs to change, argues Alexis Bateman, director of the MIT Responsible Supply Chain Lab. “Increasingly stressed water resources represent a major threat to the integrity of global supply chains,” she writes. Mitigating or eliminating these risks will require action on multiple fronts.

Competing Through Joint Innovation

Even as multinationals struggle to make inroads in emerging markets, companies from those markets are finding ways to compete in Europe and the U.S. A case in point is Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications company, which has used strategic partnerships to gain ground in Europe. Huawei’s overseas expansion closely resembles the strategy the company used to build its position in China: Start at the perimeter and work toward the center.

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How Blockchain Will Change Organizations

Blockchain technology has the potential to transform how businesses are organized and managed. It allows companies to eliminate transaction costs and use outside resources as easily as internal resources. The implications for areas such as accounting, contract negotiation and enforcement, sales and marketing, and capital investment are myriad. Companies should start exploring how this technology could impact their industry and processes.

Engaging With Startups in Emerging Markets

For large multinationals, forging effective partnerships with emerging-market startups is complicated. Traits that make startups attractive as partners also make it hard for large companies to engage with them. Looking at startups in India, China, and South Africa, researchers identify key factors inhibiting emerging market partnerships and offer strategies for addressing them.

Winning the Digital War for Talent

Competition for digitally savvy talent has never been higher, but companies’ methods for acquiring and keeping the skilled employees they need are outmoded. Whether they want to develop capabilities in employees or tap on-demand talent markets — or some mix of both — human resources directors need to experiment with new talent management models.

IoT Can Drive Big Savings in the Post-Sales Supply Chain

Product monitoring enabled by the internet of things can unleash cost savings, service improvements, and better customer experiences. But before this revolution can move forward, both the quality and collection of performance data need to be greatly improved. A research project at the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics carried out in collaboration with OnProcess Technology underlines the potential for fresh approaches.

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A Fresh Take on Supply Chain Innovation

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For PepsiCo, entering the natural beverage markets of coconut water and smoothies meant developing new risk-management practices. In the coconut water business, “lead times are longer and supply is more variable than in PepsiCo’s traditional beverage supply chain,” write Tim Rowell of PepsiCo and James B. Rice Jr. of the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics. “The company has had to build enough inventory to minimize stock outs — without causing excessive losses through obsolescence.”

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.

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.

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