- Research Highlight
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Today’s retailers need to adopt a data-driven view — with the goal of understanding how website features and advances in AI will affect consumer behavior.
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The accelerating pace of technology, fueled by hyperspecialization, digitization, and the ability to control these new environments, has been quietly ushering in a new economy set to disrupt every industry — the coherence economy.
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.
Data from MIT SMR’s research suggests corporate leaders may need a reality check on the threat level posed by evolving digital technologies. Quite a few executives see the opportunities and potential for digital technologies — but most don’t recognize the threat posed by failing to respond fast enough.
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.
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.
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.”
There are four different pathways that businesses can take to become top performers in the digital economy. Leadership’s role is to determine which pathway the company should pursue – and how aggressively to move.
Companies tend to compete not as individual entities, but as members of networks — which makes collaboration a strategic necessity, not merely a tactical choice. But while many executives say they want win-win solutions, in reality, they usually seek victories that don’t excessively annoy their counterparts. In other words, “win/no-lose” is a more accurate description.
For young adults accustomed to continually checking their cellphones, even a single day without access to them can be anxiety-producing. What are the implications for executives about managing this constantly connected generation – and their devices – in the workplace?
Responding to a recently published essay, an MIT SMR reader pushed back against the view that managers must prepare for radical and rapid change in a digital world; he argued that this position may be overly alarmist. The discussion continues.
Companies today will have to reinvent themselves to survive, and every large and ambitious company should be trying to figure out how to become a destination for its customers. Consumers are voting with their mobile devices and choosing from a handful of dominant “ecosystem drivers”— businesses such as Amazon and WeChat, which become destinations for their customers’ needs by offering complementary or sometimes competing services — for each domain in their lives.
Our research suggests that the approach many companies take toward digital transformation may be misguided. Early and developing companies push digital transformation through managerial directive or by technology provision. In contrast, maturing companies use an approach that cultivates conditions in which transformation can occur.
There was once a time when middlemen were indispensable. Intermediaries facilitated transactions between makers and buyers; they closed the gaps between disconnected entities that required one another for survival; and, within organizations, they interpreted high-level corporate strategy and connected it to front-line execution. But one by one, such intermediaries are being made obsolete by technology.
As sexy as it is to speculate about new technologies such as AI, robots, and the internet of things, the focus on technology can steer the conversation in a dangerous direction. Because when it comes to digital transformation, digital is not the answer. Transformation is. In various industries, including banking, paint, and shipbuilding, digital leaders are finding that technology’s value comes from doing business differently because technology makes it possible.
A study of 250 global companies found that a company’s digital intelligence is informed by four dimensions: strategy, culture, organization, and capabilities. Within these dimensions, the research identified 18 management practices that contribute the most to digital leaders’ financial and market success — and offer a road map for companies seeking to expand their digital know-how.
Some of the thorniest obstacles to achieving digital maturity aren’t technological — they’re political. Most internal political conflicts, however, can be mitigated by a careful, systematic approach to defining, structuring, and deploying large-scale initiatives.
Although traditional financial services companies now offer mass-market financial advice via “robo-advisers,” average U.S. customers seeking investment advice are still underserved — and platform-based digital powerhouses like Amazon are taking notice.
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