Frontiers

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Education, Disrupted

Facing sizable skills gaps in their current and future workforces, companies have stopped waiting for the traditional education system to supply the workers they need. Amazon, AT&T, and others have stepped in with their own solutions to fill those gaps. These companies may be shaping the future of not only their own workforces, but of yours as well.

How Digital Twins Are Reinventing Innovation

A digital twin is a virtual replica of an object, being, or system continuously updated with data from its physical counterpart. Supported by billions of connected global sensors, digital twins will soon exist for millions of things. Jet engines, a heart, even a city can have digital twins that mirror physical and biological properties. Real-time assessments and diagnostics will be more precise; repairs will be executed in the moment; and innovation will be faster, cheaper, and more radical.

The Future of Work in Developing Economies

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  • Read Time: 5 min 

Countries facing the greatest risk from automation are those that have labor economies in which many jobs involve manual or routine tasks that can be easily automated. Analyzing occupations in terms of their component parts provides a much richer way of looking at jobs than estimating the effects of automation more broadly.

Preparing for the Risky World of Extended Reality

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  • Read Time: 9 min 

Technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality show great promise in fields like medicine and manufacturing, but they come with risks to individual and societal well-being that could be incredibly hard to reverse. Now is the time for business leaders to take measures to prevent, or at least mitigate, the potential downsides of such tools.

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Why Large Companies Struggle With Lean

Large corporations have found that applying the principles of lean is more complicated than expected. Large organizations aren’t just bigger versions of startups. To make innovation integral to the organization, there has to be a vision of where new ideas will be incubated and how they will be delivered.

Measuring Emotions in the Digital Age

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  • Read Time: 6 min 

Employers have learned that their employees’ emotional states contribute to productivity, sales, and culture. But how do you measure emotions when self-reporting is often inaccurate because respondents either aren’t aware of or don’t want to report their emotions? Facial recognition technologies may hold the answer, but there are significant privacy concerns to be addressed.

Employee Emotions Aren’t Noise — They’re Data

Within organizations, emotions reveal not just how people feel but also what they think and how they will behave. Emotional culture gets communicated non-verbally in people’s facial expressions, vocal tone, and body language. You see it expressed by the people around you, including—or even most of all—managers. For companies, emotions are an important lever for improving employee satisfaction and productivity.

How Tech CEOs Are Redefining the Top Job

About a quarter of high-tech companies are run by CEOs who double as inventors. Through patenting and publishing activity, such leaders contribute their own expertise to their companies’ innovation and production efforts, even as they steer their respective ships. This hands-on approach may sound like a distraction from strategic thinking, but it’s the future for top leaders across many sectors, not just tech — and it is already upon us.

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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.

Take a Wrecking Ball to Your Company’s Iconic Practices

As they pursue digital transformation, most leaders know they must also orchestrate a cultural shift — from prioritizing flawless execution to valuing more agile learning and experimentation, from doing siloed work to fostering true interdisciplinary collaboration, and from evaluating people’s past performance to enabling their future development. Articulating the ambition is the easy part. Taking a wrecking ball to what’s really getting in the way is a lot harder.

Leaders Don’t Hide Behind Data

The theory is simple: With a clipboard and a stopwatch, you can measure and improve the performance of your workforce. But management by metrics doesn’t facilitate breakthroughs. For that, you need leadership: the art of doing things you’re not sure of, and doing them with enrollment instead of authority.

Five Rules for Leading in a Digital World

To thrive in times of digital transformation and rapid change, organizations accustomed to siloed bureaucracy must become nimble and customer-centric; command-and-control models must give way to distributed leadership. Many leaders fear letting go, but they must evolve quickly or risk extinction. Research at the MIT Leadership Center suggests that executives and managers who do five things in particular are best equipped to navigate what lies ahead.

Creating the Symbiotic AI Workforce of the Future

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  • Read Time: 7 min 

To effectively implement AI, organizations will need to use human-centered AI processes that motivate and retrain workers, which shifts the focus from automation to collaboration between humans and machines. To test that idea, an experiment was designed to see how human workers might augment an existing AI system and embrace their new roles as AI trainers — resulting in a symbiotic system that enabled humans and AI to each work to their strengths.

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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.

Three People-Centered Design Principles for Deep Learning

As organizations begin adopting deep learning, leadership must ensure that artificial neural networks are accurate and precise to avoid negative impacts on business decisions that hurt customers, products, and services. A designed-centered approach helps address both these short-term concerns as well as the long-term concerns that machines might displace humans when it comes to business decision-making.

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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