Research Highlight

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

Beyond the Speed-Price Trade-Off

In response to increasing consumer demands for faster deliveries without added cost, more companies are implementing IT solutions that enable access to real-time sales data and inventory data across the whole enterprise. Real-time sales and inventory information, coupled with advanced analytics enables networks to accommodate fluctuations and changes in the business environment quickly, a quality the authors call distribution agility.

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If You Cut Employees Some Slack, Will They Innovate?

Giving people time and resources to pursue innovation projects can produce extraordinary outcomes — but only if you match your “slack strategy” to employee type. The authors found that different types of employees respond in different ways to slack innovation programs; that different kinds of slack resources are better suited to certain types of employees than others; and that different kinds of slack innovation programs produce different kinds of innovation.

Customer Relationships Evolve — So Must Your CRM Strategy

Customer relationships can evolve through four stages — they can be transactional, transitional, communal, or damaged. Understanding each of these stages, using them to classify customer relationships, and tailoring CRM efforts accordingly can enable your company to better deploy its limited CRM dollars. Not all outreach efforts work equally well in all stages of a relationship. And without this kind of tailoring, you’re likely wasting some of your CRM budget.

Can IT Be Too in Sync With Business Strategy?

IT alignment can produce inertia — unless it’s accompanied by the right culture. Sure, closely aligning IT with the rest of a company’s strategy can cut costs and improve the ability to collect data, facilitating the creation of early-warning systems and operational dashboards. But a less regimented approach has its place, too, allowing responses to changing business and economic conditions that are swift and creative.

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