Frontiers

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.

How AI Can Amplify Human Competencies

The fear of robots eclipsing human power in society, in particular the workforce, has persisted for decades despite the moderate progress of artificial intelligence systems. For professor and robotics researcher Ken Goldberg, a hybrid human-machine workforce is much more likely to take shape, and in many industries, it has already begun.

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Why Supply Chains Must Pivot

Even today’s most digitally advanced supply chains still try to predict what will happen, then optimize performance against plan. The problem is, the world is not predictable. For operations teams, the challenge and competitive advantage becomes: how well do you respond and execute against ongoing uncertainty?

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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Technical Debt Might Be Hindering Your Digital Transformation

Data reveals the C-suite recognizes that technical debt — the “price” companies pay for short-term technological fixes — hinders their ability to innovate and adapt in the digital age. One strategy to combat technical debt? Digital decoupling.

Five Ways to Improve Communication in Virtual Teams

If you think sophisticated communication technologies are the ticket to your virtual team’s success, think again. It’s not the tech that matters — it’s how people use it. New research reveals five strategies for conquering distance and improving communication and performance in dispersed teams. The same strategies can help colocated teams, which depend increasingly on virtual collaboration tools to get work done.

Three Signals Your Industry Is About to Be Disrupted

Emerging technology and new business models have created new ways of serving customers and allowed digital leaders to disrupt traditional companies. Disruption rarely comes out of nowhere, however: There are common patterns to learn from and three major signals to recognize in evaluating the risk for your industry.

Master the Challenges of Multichannel Pricing

Retail customers may accept different prices on different channels — but retailers need to manage new complexities to make it work. These include understanding what customers value in each channel and how that affects what they will pay, giving store employees the right language for talking about price differences, and working out operational challenges. Getting it right has a real payoff: Retailers that effectively price differently across all channels see bottom-line growth of 2 to 5%.

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.

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Want the Best Results From AI? Ask a Human

Companies are adopting artificial intelligence at an accelerated pace — and learning that developing and deploying AI is not like implementing a standard software program. Before diving into AI systems, companies should consider three principles that can greatly improve the chances for a successful outcome. First, they need to recognize that humans and machines are in this together. Second, they need to teach the AI systems with a lot of data. And third, they need to continually test what the systems have learned.

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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