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In Carliss Baldwin’s view, more modular organizations are better positioned to innovate.
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The key problem facing organizations with respect to digital disruption is the different rates at which people, organizations, and policy respond to technological advances. The gaps between innovations and their adoption — and organizations’ ability to adapt — pose a challenge for companies.
As analytics and big data continue to be integrated into organizational ways and means from the C-suite to the front lines, authors Josh Sullivan and Angela Zutavern believe that a new kind of company will emerge. They call it the “mathematical corporation” — a mashup of technology and human ingenuity in which machines delve into every aspect of a business in previously impossible ways.
Doing business digitally isn’t an “add technology and stir” proposition. Success in digital business means fundamental changes in how you do business. Marriott International’s George Corbin knows this all too well. “For any company that is being disrupted by digital, it’s important that they not just be able to recognize if there’s a potential threat to its existing business,” he says. “The bigger challenge is, how and what do you change to make the transition from where it is to where it needs to be?”
We are evolving toward the age of networked enterprise, in which the traditional hierarchies of the corporation will be supplanted by self-organizing systems collaborating on digital platforms. In this environment, strong cultures may turn from assets to liabilities.
Digital technology creates new opportunities to work differently, which in turn offers opportunities to infuse technology into the work process. When managers shift from thinking about digital tools themselves to a focus on how the tools help companies work differently, they can begin to identify ways to transform the company’s processes to get real value from integrating new tools.
When faced with an emerging technology, many companies have trouble responding — not because they don’t recognize how it impacts their business, but because they have difficulty managing the uncertainty around the new technology’s competitive viability. And when the technology significantly disrupts the company’s existing business, it can create structural impediments to pursuing opportunities.
Research shows that successful digital transformation does not require secret digital knowledge; it simply requires the boldness to recognize that digital transformation is occurring and to begin trying to adapt your business to account for and capitalize on these trends.
Social media technology is changing how managers and employees communicate and is breaking down traditional corporate heirarchy. To gain advantage from this trend, executives must recognize the value of dialogue and employees need to know that their leaders won’t punish them for expressing dissenting opinions. Executives will also need patience and a thick skin — but leaders who invest in truly open dialogue with their workforce will reap the long-term benefits.
In this webinar, James Heppelmann, president and chief executive officer of PTC, discusses how IoT is transforming companies’ organizational structures. He illustrates the new need for companies to coordinate across product design, cloud operation, service improvement, and customer engagement, and some of the models for making the transition to a new structure, including centers of excellence and steering committees.
Making the transition from management to leadership requires managers to exercise skills in strategic thinking — skills they don’t often get to practice in the action-oriented environment they know best. Managers moving into senior leadership must learn to embrace ambiguity and uncertainty and learn the importance of taking time to think things through.
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.
Alberto Andreu Pinillos is a pioneer in business sustainability. Asked what a CSR director does, Andreu gave a three-part answer: A CSR director sees the future, nurtures sustainability projects, and makes the post of CSR director obsolete.
There are clear signs that the movement to democratize data is making real progress. Barriers such as infrastructure, culture, tools, and governance that once kept data access limited are quickly eroding. But access to data isn’t enough: Data democratization also requires knowing how to work with data and understand data analysis tools and techniques. Without these capabilities, the data democracy is only an illusion — and most people are still unable to participate fully.
General Mills brought a data scientist into its Consumer Insights group because it wanted to use its existing data more effectively. The company thought it was making decisions based too much on outside data at the expense of what it knew. But figuring out what the company actually knew about its consumers was the challenge facing Wayde Fleener as he came on board. In an interview with MIT SMR’s Michael Fitzgerald, Fleener talks about how he got started in building a Big Data practice within his division.
Although workers and consumers generate two-thirds of all new data, that’s about to change. Sensors and smart devices — from traffic lights and grocery store scanners to hospital equipment and industrial sensors — are beginning to generate an enormous wave of data that will increase the digital universe ten-fold by 2020. Guest blogger Randy Bean, CEO of NewVantage Partners, explains what this means for executives trying to adapt to a rapidly changing, data-centered business environment.
For recruiters, the technological developments of the past 3 years have been transformational, says Tuck Rickards of Russell Reynolds. With the transformation of business to a more real-time, connected, data-driven focus, the type of talent companies seek — even the type of organizational structure they’re building — has undergone a quantum shift. But the changes aren’t yet done: “The next five years are huge for companies to reorient themselves from a leadership and team perspective,” warns Rickards.
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.
Recent research by the Center for Effective Organizations shows that most companies aren’t relying on HR departments as part of their sustainability focus — yet most think there’s an opportunity for HR to play a major role in the structuring of a company’s sustainability processes, practices and strategies.
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