Digital Business

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The Need for ‘Techno-Supporting Skeptics’

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Digital technologies will increase the high levels of ambiguity that executives must navigate. Aspiring leaders may respond by ignoring the challenge, which isn’t sustainable. A better response is to harbor healthy skepticism of the digital technologies they champion, develop values that will lead to better decisions, and work to institutionalize those values at the organizational level.

Digital Is About Speed — But It Takes a Long Time

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The ability of digital technologies to accelerate business is giving rise to new value propositions — new ways to eliminate hassles and create solutions. But research from MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research suggests that while business leaders need to start redesigning their existing systems and roles to better solve customers’ problems, they will not be able to do so quickly. Case in point: The slow and steady digital transformation of Dutch technology company Royal Philips.

The Risk of Machine-Learning Bias (and How to Prevent It)

Machine-learning algorithms enable companies to realize new efficiencies for tasks from evaluating credit for loan applications to scanning legal contracts for errors. But they are as susceptible as any system to the “garbage in, garbage out” syndrome when it comes to biased data. Left unchecked, feeding biased data to self-learning systems can lead to unintended and sometimes dangerous outcomes.

Why Businesses and Governments Need to Stop Trying to Secure Their Networks

Moving to a zero-trust network, where all the services an organization needs are hosted in the cloud, is the most secure IT option. Most network breaches are caused by human error: People forget their laptops in bathrooms and cabs, connect to insecure public Wi-Fi, click on emails they shouldn’t, and download attachments carrying malware. The only way to manage this threat is to dismantle the privileged intranet and treat every login as a potential threat.

What Sets ‘Superbosses’ Apart From Other Leaders?

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In a Q&A, Sydney Finkelstein, the author of Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent, notes that employees entering the workforce today have technological capabilities unmatched by any workforce before them. That’s changing the way leaders must operate. Today’s best leaders embrace technology as a management tool but retain a human touch, creating opportunities for the employees they manage and enabling flexible work practices.

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The Store Is Dead — Long Live the Store

At the same time that many traditional retailers are closing offline stores, digitally native vertical brands such as Bonobos and Warby Parker are aggressively expanding into offline locations. And both online and offline retailers are converging in experience-oriented “showrooms.”

Tangled Webs and Executive Naïveté

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Leaders in a digital world have to navigate more complexity than ever before, where a problem that arises in one node of such network work can spread easily, with widespread adverse impact. But complexity-induced problems often have similar fundamental causes — and similar solutions. Leaders can ameliorate the effects of complexity by developing broader, not just deeper, perspectives; learning to think in terms of scenarios; and being clear about strategic intent.

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The End of Scale

For more than a century, economies of scale made the corporation an ideal engine of business. But now, a flurry of important new technologies, accelerated by artificial intelligence (AI), is turning economies of scale inside out. Business in the century ahead will be driven by economies of unscale, in which the traditional competitive advantages of size are turned on their head.

How Big Data and AI Are Driving Business Innovation in 2018

According to a 2018 NewVantage Partners survey, executives now see a direct correlation between big data capabilities and AI initiatives. For the first time, large corporations report having direct access to meaningful volumes and sources of data that can feed AI algorithms to produce a range of business benefits from real-time consumer credit approval to new product offers.

Architect Your Company for Agility

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In the digital economy, speed matters. To keep pace with customer demands and competitor moves, companies must be able to quickly experiment with a potential offering and, depending on customer response, continuously enrich and scale that offering, or discard it and move on to the next experiment. Innovating at speed means utilizing empowered teams that are aligned to achieve company-wide objectives.

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The 20 Most Popular MIT Sloan Management Review Articles of 2017

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The impact of artificial intelligence on the future of work and organizations was an especially popular topic on MIT Sloan Management Review’s website in 2017. But AI wasn’t the only subject on readers’ minds. Other widely read pieces of new content addressed timely issues like digital transformation and design thinking — as well as perennially important topics such as innovation, strategy execution, problem formulation, and negative emotions in the workplace.

The Unique Challenges of Cross-Boundary Collaboration

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Technology has made business more globally connected than ever before. This is especially true for innovation projects, where diverse experts bring their specialized knowledge to play. But there’s a hitch: Many of today’s team projects have built-in hurdles because of differing communication styles, cultures, and professional norms. Leading this kind of “extreme teaming,” which often involves complicated hierarchies of power, demands both curiosity and humility.

Manufacturers Can Also Win in the Sharing Economy

The sharing economy isn’t all bad news for manufacturers of big-ticket items such as cars. Research from Carnegie Mellon and UC Berkeley says that manufacturers will sometimes be able to charge higher prices to customers who are planning to rent out those goods. In a Q&A, one researcher says that when there’s heterogeneity in the market, meaning both a high-usage population and a low-usage population, circumstances are ripe for “a win-win-win for the borrower, the owner, and the manufacturer.”

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