Information Technology

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Seizing Opportunity in Data Quality

Bad data is the norm. Every day, businesses send packages to customers, managers decide which candidate to hire, and executives make long-term plans based on data provided by others. When that data is incomplete, poorly defined, or wrong, there are immediate consequences: angry customers, wasted time, and added difficulties in the execution of strategy. Getting in front on data quality is crucial, and presents a terrific opportunity to improve business performance.

Six Lessons From Amsterdam’s Smart City Initiative

The city of Amsterdam is becoming a model for “smart cities” through its innovation efforts to improve the lives of its employees and inhabitants. This case offers insights into what it takes to achieve these goals, including: taking the crucial step of doing an initial inventory of data available; using and integrating data from the private sector; and experimenting and learning from pilot projects.

Blockchain Data Storage May (Soon) Change Your Business Model

Blockchain is a data storage technology with implications for business that extend well beyond its most popular application to date — the virtual currency, Bitcoin. Managers need to build their organization’s absorptive capacity around this topic for at least three reasons: (1) the potential effects on organizational value chains, (2) communication within and between organizations, and (3) benefits from cooperation.

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“Information” vs “Communication”: The Battle to Influence Decision Making

Information and communications technologies (ICT) have revolutionized the way we work. But do we really understand their organizational impact? In recent research, Raffaella Sadun, Thomas S. Murphy Associate Professor of Business Administration in the Strategy Unit at Harvard Business School, argues that, in spite of the shared acronym, the effects of information technologies and communication technologies should not be lumped together. In fact, their influences within the enterprise not only differ but actually diverge.

Where Digitization Is Failing to Deliver

It has become a truism that the pace of work is faster than ever, as digital technologies speed up communication and operational processes in a story of unending progress. But increased speed has not translated into increased rates of productivity growth. Since 2004, growth rates have slowed not just in the US but across the world. Chad Syverson, J. Baum Harris Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, explains what the implications are, and why the benefits of new technologies are not straightforward.

How Time-to-Insight Is Driving Big Data Business Investment

With the emergence of a digital economy over the course of the past two decades, leading companies have learned that they must act faster to respond to customer needs and competitive dynamics. The fourth annual Big Data Executive Survey confirms that Fortune 1000 firms recognize that faster time-to-insight correlates with success and will be the driving force behind Big Data investment for the years ahead.

Secrets in the Age of Data

Secrets may be an unexpected casualty of increasing analytical prowess — just ask Volkswagen. Companies often have information they’d rather keep under wraps; sometimes it’s innocuous, like the timing of a new product launch, but other times it’s embarrassing details about unethical or even criminal behavior. But as data analytics becomes more broadly available, the chances of keeping secrets out of public view grow slimmer every day. Will this result in a change in how companies do business?

When Health Care Gets a Healthy Dose of Data

American health care is undergoing a data-driven transformation — and Intermountain Healthcare is leading the way. This MIT Sloan Management Review case study examines the data and analytics culture at Intermountain, a Utah-based company that runs 22 hospitals and 185 clinics. Data-driven decision making has improved patient outcomes in Intermountain’s cardiovascular medicine, endocrinology, surgery, obstetrics and care processes — while saving millions of dollars in procurement and in its supply chain.

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Should Employers Help Employees Turn Off Technology?

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Pervasive and near-continual use of organizational information technology systems is taking a toll on some employees’ health. Companies have to step in to help, argue Monideepa Tarafdar (Lancaster University), John D’Arcy (University of Delaware), Ofir Turel (California State University) and Ashish Gupta (University of Tennessee Chattanooga). “Even as they dream of escaping from IT, many employees also confess to feeling ‘addicted’ to some of these stress-causing technologies,” the authors write. “We may be entering an era in which human frailties begin to slow down progress from digital technologies.”

The New World of Work

Advanced digital technologies are swiftly changing the kinds of skills that jobs require. Researchers Frank MacCrory, George Westerman and Erik Brynjolfsson from the MIT Sloan School of Management and Yousef Alhammadi of the Masdar Institute studied the changes in skill requirements over the 2006-2014 time period. While demand has clearly grown for computer skills, it has grown for interpersonal skills, too. The authors advise people in all lines of work to be flexible about acquiring new talents.

Image courtesy of Wal-Mart.

Sustaining an Analytics Advantage

Many companies have maintained a competitive advantage through analytics for many years — even decades. Those companies include Wal-Mart, ABB Electric, Procter & Gamble, American Airlines, and Amazon. Peter C. Bell (Ivey Business School) writes that “research over a 30-year period suggests that there have been five basic ways in which companies have sustained an advantage generated through analytics.” Tactics include keeping your company’s analytics secret and applying analytics to the right problems.

Revamping Your Business Through Digital Transformation

Large companies in traditional industries might think that digital transformation can wait — that a follower strategy is a safer route than trying to be a pioneer. “That kind of thinking, while tempting, is wrong,” write George Westerman and Didier Bonnet. “In every industry we studied, companies are doing exciting things with digital technology and getting impressive business benefits.”

Are Data Scientists Really a Breed Apart?

What differentiates data scientists from other quantitative analysts? It’s partly their skill set and partly their mind set. “The recent emergence of the digital enterprise has created a seemingly insatiable management appetite to amass and analyze data,” write Jeanne G. Harris and Vijay Mehrotra. Data scientists are particularly able to make sense of so much information. For instance, 85% said their projects often or always address new problems, compared to 58% of analysts who made that claim.

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The Dark Side of Information Technology

All of our wonderful mobile devices don’t always make us good at managing what we do with them. Handling information flows can take a toll on employee well-being, with some employees experiencing “technostress” from the pressure to multitask and to respond to Emails quickly. But there are steps executives can take to counter the negative effects of IT use. These steps encourage employees to step back and examine their personal relationships with IT.

Is Your Organization Ready for the Impending Flood of Data?

Hal Varian, chief economist at Google and emeritus professor at UC Berkeley, has been with Google for more than a decade and has unique insight into the past and future of data analytics. In a conversation with MIT Sloan Management Review guest editor Sam Ransbotham, Varian says that companies need to beef up their systems to function within an overwhelming data flow — including new voice-command system data and other computer-mediated transactions.

Why Social Media Will Fundamentally Change Business

Of you haven’t yet jumped on the social media bandwagon, you may want to hurry up and join. Social media is not a passing fad, but a permanent, transformative technological change to how companies conduct business. Social business expert Jerry Kane explains how social media is likely to fundamentally alter the business environment in the near future.

Are Companies Ready to Finally Kill Email?

Embracing social collaboration tools could raise productivity by 25%. So what’s the hold up? The problem is that too many companies have installed the right products and networks but have not implemented them into the fabric of how they work. “Full implementation means not only that people know how to use the new tools from a technological perspective, but that they adjust their communication,” writes Terri L. Griffith, author of The Plugged-In Manager.

The Surprising Effectiveness of “Assembly Line” Innovation

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Unconventional approaches to innovation are speeding up new product development, making R&D faster and cheaper. In China, companies are embracing an industrialized approach to research that allows them to complete projects as much as two to five times faster than they did before. “These developments have potentially huge implications for how companies should think about global competition and whether they need to rethink and reengineer their established innovation and product development processes,” the authors write.

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