Digital Business

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Blockchain Isn’t as Unbreakable as You Think

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Between 2011 and 2018, at least 72 blockchain breaches were reported, costing users over $2 billion. Many of these were possible because blockchain is vulnerable in some of the same ways conventional record-keeping systems are. The rest are even more troubling, because bad actors were able to exploit the very features that make blockchain revolutionary. Managers should look closely at both types of vulnerabilities so they can weigh the risks before exploring business applications.

Demystifying the Intelligence of AI

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Three common trouble points impede companies moving toward using AI: Leaders are unclear what it means to adopt AI; systems are drawing from too much junky data; and there isn’t a careful balance between customer loss of privacy and the value returned. These problems can be resolved only when leaders pay close attention to the strategic challenges of bringing AI on and approach AI as an integrated element of their processes.

Leading Remotely

Digital tools make remote teams possible, but it’s not easy to wrangle an increasingly distributed workforce. Leaders must grapple with problems in several key areas: communication, project management, talent development and management, and reliable access to technology. Still, those who take steps to harness the strengths of remote work while minimizing the drawbacks will find themselves with a highly motivated, invested team.

Digital Transformation Should Start With Customers

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Few organizations have the resources necessary to transform operations, business models, and customer experience all at the same time. They need to prioritize. Focusing on the transformation of the customer experience should be first. This is not because it’s necessarily the easiest, but because doing so is far more likely to keep a company viable than changing other aspects of business.

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Navigating the Contested Rise of Fintech

Technology adoption based on the technology alone is bound to miss the mark. Fintech will not disrupt the financial industry overnight, but when it does, it will reflect a larger and more complex social debate than its inherent technological or economic merits. Managers need to get involved in this debate now, so they can navigate the uncertainty, and decide to adopt it — or not.

The Right Way to Regulate the Tech Industry

  • Read Time: 5 min 

There’s very little regulatory oversight for the tech industry, and this has become a problem. The status quo lacks transparency and shuts down competition — while holding no one accountable for breaches of trust. Some want big tech companies broken up. Others want stronger government oversight. They all are trying to answer the same question: What’s the best way to regulate the tech industry so that privacy and ethics concerns are addressed without stifling innovation?

How to Survive Digital Disruption

Too many companies mistakenly view digital disruption as a technology threat, so they undertake digital transformation by focusing primarily on the need to upgrade their systems. That is a costly error — one that could even be fatal if taken to the extreme. Above all else, digital transformation is about people: the right people inspired by the right culture prepared to adapt to a very new landscape. Driving that culture is a leader’s most important responsibility today.

What We Publish, and Why

When we consider articles for publication, we look for three things: ideas that will help managers navigate an increasingly digital world, evidence-based thinking, and accessible frameworks and recommendations that readers can apply. We’re eager to hear from our readers about what they value in MIT SMR, what topics they would like to see us explore more often or more deeply, and what we could do better.

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You Can’t Afford to Please Everyone

While giving customers what they want — and as rapidly as possible — may be a worthy goal for service organizations, Amy R. Ward at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business notes that businesses can’t always afford to do this. Her research uses probability to understand how best to align resources with customer demand and improve operational efficiency on a day-to-day basis.

Self-Driving Companies Are Coming

  • Read Time: 9 min 

Automation can go far beyond cars. Self-driving company capabilities are closer than many leaders realize. And just as automobile manufacturers are rethinking the meaning of driving within the context of self-driving technology, business leaders are being forced to rethink an equivalent question: What does it mean to manage an enterprise once some of the work can be done autonomously?

‘Just Enough’ Piracy Can Be a Good Thing

When piracy is rampant, its negative impact makes manufacturers and retailers worse off — but anti-piracy measures are often expensive. Before going full force against piracy, organizations should ponder whether doing so would be a worthwhile investment. One factor to consider: Research shows that a moderate level of piracy — not too much, not too little — can actually benefit the manufacturer, the retailer, and consumers, all at the same time.

Creating Digital Offerings Customers Will Buy

How can companies decide which new digital offerings to pursue? Successful digital offerings are created at the intersection of what technologies can deliver and what customers want and will pay for. That point of intersection, however, has proved to be elusive. To find it, companies must experiment repeatedly, cocreate with customers, and assemble cross-functional development teams — and the insights gleaned along the way must be shared internally.

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The Regulation of AI — Should Organizations Be Worried?

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As companies pour resources into designing the next generation of tools and products powered by AI, many are failing to simultaneously examine the question of who is ethically and legally responsible for the societal backlash if these systems go awry. Over 80% of Americans now believe that robots and/or AI should be carefully managed. Because there are no clear-cut answers or solutions, the talk of regulations — and, more lightly, standards — is getting louder.

Digital Success Requires Breaking Rules

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Developing new rules for the digital age is proving uncomfortable for people at every organizational level. Digitization (the transformation for operational excellence) requires top-down leadership principles with centralized accountabilities, while success with digital business (the transformation toward rapid innovation) requires local empowerment with distributed accountabilities. These are basically opposite approaches to accountability, but they’re both necessary.

How Managers Can Help Workers Tackle Digital Distractions

Managers and staff alike have been conditioned to respond to digital messaging platforms to the exclusion of all else — and digital distraction is costing businesses big in employee productivity. Managers can teach their reports how to tune out the siren song of digital devices, but they must model these behaviors themselves if they’re to encourage employees to do the same.

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