Digital Business

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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.

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.

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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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  • Read Time: 6 min 

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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  • Read Time: 6 min 

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.

Casting the Dark Web in a New Light

Cyberattacks are increasing in frequency, sophistication, and impact. Defending against them requires a new perspective on the attacks and the attackers. By applying a value chain lens to the problem, we can better understand the dark web as an ecosystem in which well-orchestrated attacks are assembled by entrepreneurs and supported by well-organized service offerings. This casts new light on the dark web and suggests more effective and proactive responses to cyberattacks.

What Does an AI Ethicist Do?

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  • Read Time: 7 min 

Microsoft has been active in advocating for an ethical perspective on artificial intelligence, and in 2018 it appointed its first general manager for AI policy and ethics. Tim O’Brien, who had been with the company for 15 years, says his activities as “AI ethics advocate” include extending the community of people who are focused on the ethics topic, meeting with Microsoft customers, and leading a research effort to develop a global perspective on tech ethics.

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Accelerating Digital Innovation Inside and Out

In the 2019 Digital Business Report, MIT SMR and Deloitte’s survey analysis and executive interviews unveil the distinctive characteristics of innovation in digitally maturing organizations. Ecosystems and cross-functional teams allow them to be agile, but this increased agility demands a thorough consideration of governance as well.

Building Digital-Ready Culture in Traditional Organizations

For legacy companies, culture change is often the biggest challenge of digital transformation. How can they become more agile and innovative without alienating their best employees or wrecking their best existing practices? This article provides a framework for leaders in any industry. The process begins with understanding four key values of digital culture: impact, speed, openness, and autonomy. It then involves adopting or refining a set of digital-ready practices, grounded in these values.

Learning to Love the AI Bubble

  • Frontiers

  • Opinion & Analysis
  • Read Time: 5 min 

All bubbles are different. Bubbles occur when the market value of assets decouple from their intrinsic value and expectations of rising valuations generate investor demand. Many ambitious infrastructure projects that produced canals, railways, and telecom networks were fueled by bubbles. Unlike the housing bubble, the effects of a bursting AI bubble wouldn’t cause great harm.

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