Frontiers

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%.

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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.

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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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.

The Quest to Create Utterly Normal Virtual Reality Experiences

Virtual reality is used today for job training, but that’s just the beginning. In a Q&A, Jeremy Bailenson, a leading expert in virtual reality, says that VR has the potential to be a much-improved video conference tool — one that’s good enough to reduce our need to commute. What Bailenson calls “avatar-based communication,” with eye contact and facial expressions, has the potential “to create the intimacy and non-verbal behavior that you get face to face.”

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The Risk of Machine-Learning Bias (and How to Prevent It)

Machine-learning algorithms enable companies to realize new efficiencies for tasks from evaluating credit for loan applications to scanning legal contracts for errors. But they are as susceptible as any system to the “garbage in, garbage out” syndrome when it comes to biased data. Left unchecked, feeding biased data to self-learning systems can lead to unintended and sometimes dangerous outcomes.

Why Businesses and Governments Need to Stop Trying to Secure Their Networks

Moving to a zero-trust network, where all the services an organization needs are hosted in the cloud, is the most secure IT option. Most network breaches are caused by human error: People forget their laptops in bathrooms and cabs, connect to insecure public Wi-Fi, click on emails they shouldn’t, and download attachments carrying malware. The only way to manage this threat is to dismantle the privileged intranet and treat every login as a potential threat.

The Secret to Successful Knowledge Seeding

Launching a peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing platform is not easy. Online support forums have two distinct segments: those who seek product support, and those who provide it. Knowledge seekers are hesitant to ask questions if knowledge contributors are few and far between, and knowledge contributors will not sign up if there are not enough problems to solve. It is a classic chicken or egg challenge that can be effectively addressed by seeding the platform with expert knowledge.

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