Digital Business

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MIT SMR Summer Must-Reads

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  • Read Time: 1 min 

The most popular articles from the MIT SMR archive reflect the depth and range of management challenges our readers face in areas such as innovation, leadership, strategy, and technology. Authors of these “must reads” include MIT Sloan faculty Nelson Repenning and Donald Sull, plus Clayton Christensen, Albert Segars, Michael Schrage, Sam Ransbotham, David Kiron, Philipp Gerbert, and Martin Reeves.

AI-Driven Leadership

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  • Read Time: 7 min 

Not many companies are there yet, but there’s a developing framework for what it takes to lead an AI-driven company. Leaders at the forefront of AI have seven key attributes: They learn the technologies; establish clear business objectives; set an appropriate level of ambition; look beyond pilots and proofs of concept; prepare people for the journey; get the necessary data; and orchestrate collaborative organizations.

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Global Competition With AI in Business: How China Differs

AI’s largest and most enduring contributions will be in non-technology sectors, and many of them will come from China. Buoyed by the country’s latest five-year plan and enabled by centralized data, Chinese companies are investing aggressively in AI and adapting their business models to make the most of AI’s potential, but unclear business cases and bottlenecks due to lacking technical capabilities hinder adoption.

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?

Business, Technology, and Ethics: The Need for Better Conversations

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The fusion of business, technology, and ethics is unfolding at a rate that appears to outstrip our ability as citizens to have meaningful and careful conversations about the effects of our actions on others. At the same time, the civic processes that should encourage innovative solutions to new problems appear to be broken. What we need is a commitment to honestly talk about the challenges technology now poses.

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Why Companies Need a New Playbook to Succeed in the Digital Age

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  • Read Time: 4 min 

In the digital world, companies need to become a destination for customers. The key is using digital as differentiation and offering customers something compelling. This requires a new playbook for how to do business as well as new ways of engaging customers. The trend is for individual and business customers to prefer just one or two powerful ecosystems in each industry, raising the stakes for leaders to better understand their options and clarify their own game plans.

Goodbye Structure; Hello Accountability

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  • Read Time: 7 min 

Companies will be able to operate as true digital organizations only when they learn how to respond quickly to unanticipated opportunities and threats. But instead of restructuring to increase agility, some organizations are assigning accountabilities for specific business outcomes to small teams or individual problem owners. Tackling new objectives is then built around individual flexibility, market-based resource allocation, experimental mindsets, and coaching rather than managing.

Why Tech Companies Don’t See Their Biggest Problems Coming

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  • Read Time: 4 min 

Technology companies, such as Facebook, often fail to make crisis management a central feature of their operations, thanks to five blind spots to which they are especially susceptible. Recognizing these shortcomings is the first imperative; the next is developing a well-designed crisis-management program that includes several key features. All tech companies should take heed, because failing to reflect — and then act — can worsen the consequences of crises that come down the pike.

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Your Customers May Be the Weakest Link in Your Data Privacy Defenses

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  • Read Time: 5 min 

Many ethical, lawfully managed businesses have consumer data they aren’t legally authorized to possess, obtained from a surprising source: their customers, who inadvertently share the personal data of family, friends, and colleagues. And in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the enactment of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, peer-dependent privacy is emerging as a critical consideration for businesses.

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.

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