Research Highlight

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The Public Sector Can Teach Us a Lot About Digitizing Customer Service

Digital customer service agents (known as virtual assistants, chatbots, or softbots) are typically used to sift through and process only the most straightforward customer inquiries, such as requests for basic information. At most companies, complex issues get passed along to human agents. In that regard, public sector agencies in Australia are ahead of the curve: They are using digital agents to handle complex inquiries from citizens, and businesses stand to learn much from these applications.

Trapped in the Data-Sharing Dilemma

There are clear benefits for companies allowing website users to login with social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Google. But the ease of user access that social logins make possible comes at a price: The platforms learn a great deal more about users’ buying and searching behavior via these agreements — information that could wind up helping the company’s competitors (including the platform itself) down the line.

Using Artificial Intelligence to Promote Diversity

What if, instead of perpetuating harmful biases, AI helped us overcome them? What if our systems were taught to ignore data about race, gender, sexual orientation, and other characteristics that aren’t relevant to the decisions at hand? They can do all that — with guidance from the human experts who create, train, and refine them.

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How Should Companies Talk to Customers Online?

Digital customer service is becoming more widely adopted, but one place it falls short is in the language and phrases it uses. Many digital service platforms use words that alienate customers rather than engage them; selecting customer-centric language for chatbots and service platforms can make a significant difference in customer satisfaction.

Twitter Is Not the Echo Chamber We Think It Is

The popular perception of Twitter as a social media “echo chamber,” where people only receive and retweet opinions that match their own, does not reflect the data about users’ actual engagement. The average Twitter user propagates more mainstream content and follows a diverse group of users — and this has implications for social media marketing.

Consider Culture When Implementing Agile Practices

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  • Read Time: 13 min 

Adopting agile development practices helps organizations bring their products and services to market quickly and respond nimbly to market changes. In an increasingly global business landscape, taking the time to address cultural differences when implementing agile is crucial for project success.

Preparing for a Blockchain Future

With the rise of blockchain and adoption of cryptocurrencies, companies across different industries can benefit from the increased trust and transparency these emerging technologies provide. Most executives recognize the need to prioritize blockchain as part of their business strategy, but the question of how to adopt and reskill can be daunting.

Digital Transformation Opens New Questions — and New Problems to Solve

Modest questions about how today’s problems could be solved more effectively lead to applications of technology with easily foreseeable gains. But when people start asking bigger, bolder questions that challenge basic assumptions about how a problem has been framed, they open up space for breakthrough innovations. That’s been the pattern in many digital realms, including cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things.

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Four Ways Jobs Will Respond to Automation

The robots are coming! But counter to popular belief, it’s not just low-paying jobs that are at risk of automation. According to research by Scott Latham and Beth Humberd, predicting which jobs are vulnerable requires analyzing the type of value job holders deliver and the skills they use to deliver it. Workers must understand four paths of job evolution — and factors behind each path — if they hope to adapt.

Taking Stock of Corporate Risk-Taking

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  • Read Time: 6 min 

Research shows equity incentives introduce bias in executive recommendations and strategic planning. To counter this, boards should consider three key steps in assessing corporate risk.

Platforms That Grow Are More Than Matchmakers

Platform businesses, like Airbnb or Lyft, often talk about themselves as if they’re merely matchmakers. That’s a smart pitch — when a company is negotiating with investors. But any platform that wants to succeed will have to learn something Airbnb did: Matchmaking isn’t everything. Success also depends on identifying and mitigating risks for your buyers and sellers. The quantity and quality of goods or services bought and sold on your platform will be proportional to the amount of risk mitigated.

When Communication Should Be Formal

Formal communication channels, such as protocol-guided meetings, are often eschewed by today’s managers and employees, who prefer the ease of email and apps. But informal avenues can lead to oversights and inefficiencies that hurt performance. That’s the central finding of research from IE Business School on manufacturers of high-tech machinery. Fortunately, formal communication protocols can be designed to both maximize performance and overcome people’s resistance to adopting them.

Wait-and-See Could Be a Costly AI Strategy

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  • Read Time: 4 min 

Less than 5% of companies are using AI to reinvent how they do business, but the competitive intensity surrounding the technology suggests that a wait-and-see strategy could be a costly mistake. To get a share of the global profit pool of $1 trillion that AI will produce by 2030, the McKinsey Global Institute says companies should begin adopting it at scale within the next three years.

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With Goals, FAST Beats SMART

The conventional wisdom of goal setting is so deeply ingrained that managers rarely stop to ask if it works. The traditional approach to goals — the annual cycle, privately set and reviewed goals, and a strong linkage to incentives — can actually undermine the alignment, coordination, and agility that’s needed for a company to execute its strategy.

How to Compete Against the New Breed of National Champions

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  • Read Time: 8 min 

While the threat of national champions is nothing new, their essential character has substantially changed, and the competitive advantage of national champions in the global marketplace has become more pronounced. Today’s national champions are much more sophisticated, competing in more industries, and harder to spot than ever before. As a result, Western companies need a new strategic guide for competing against them.

Why AI Isn’t the Death of Jobs

When pundits talk about the impact that artificial intelligence will have on the labor market, the outlook is usually bleak, with the loss of many jobs to machines as the dominant theme. But that’s just part of the story — a probable outcome for companies that use AI only to increase efficiency. As it turns out, companies using AI to also drive innovation are more likely to increase headcount than reduce it.

Managing the Distraction-Focus Paradox

The seductive clamor of social media is a workplace reality from which there’s no retreat. Those who’ll succeed in this distraction-filled world as managers and innovators must combine two seemingly opposing traits: They must to be able to absorb information from many sources and to focus intensely. Together, these apparently contradictory qualities comprise the skill set for managing your most valuable personal resource — your attention — in a hyper-connected age.

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