Weekly Recap

The Best of This Week

The week’s must-reads for managing in the digital age, curated by the MIT SMR editors.

Avoiding the Technology Trap

AI and automation might benefit society at large, but as with the technology revolutions that have come before, there will be losers in the process — and at times even outright resistance, if people feel that their jobs and incomes are threatened. In this article for MIT Sloan Management Review, Oxford researcher Carl Benedikt Frey traces the history of automation anxiety and finds that governments must pursue policies that kick-start productivity growth while helping workers adapt in order to avoid tech backlash.

12 Things to Know About Robotic Process Automation

What is robotic process automation (RPA)? What is the difference between RPA and AI? How does RPA play a role in my automation strategy? These and other questions are answered in this useful guide from The Enterprisers Project, which includes a roundup of articles, books, and talks that will get you up to speed on the emerging technology.

Blockchain Isn’t as Unbreakable as You Think

Blockchain is vulnerable in some ways that conventional systems are — and in ways all its own. In fact, between 2011 and 2018, at least 73 major blockchain breaches were reported, costing users over $2 billion. Organizations need to look closely at both new and familiar vulnerabilities so they can weigh the risks before exploring business applications.

A Helpful Reminder for Managers

As we approach the end of the year — when companies typically take the opportunity to recognize their employees — it’s a good time to remember that recognition and appreciation are not interchangeable. This article from Harvard Business Review offers some simple ways managers can show appreciation for their employees year-round.

Is Your Company an Innovation Leader or a Laggard?

What makes a company an innovation leader? To a great extent, it’s a matter of mindset. New research from Accenture sheds light on the key changes companies must make for their technology-led transformation projects to deliver real value.

Experts Discuss the Human Side of AI

At a recent AI forum at Stanford, Susan Athey, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor at MIT Sloan, discussed AI’s impact on the digital economy and the future of work. Each emphasized the importance of human work in the era of AI and, as Brynjolfsson put it, “the need to understand first what our values are so we can understand how best to use these technologies.”

Quote of the Week

“Data doesn’t speak for itself, because it needs a storyteller to tell what it means. … By using and applying storytelling principles, which are classic persuasive communication structures, you’re able to convey what you found in the data and the action that needs to happen from the data. And this will speed up decision-making in any organization.”
— Nancy Duarte, in the latest episode of MIT Sloan Management Review’s new podcast, Three Big Points