Are mobile payments today's VHS / Betamax battle?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 minutes ago

People of a certain age likely remember the battle between VHS and Betamax. These were the first two affordable in-home video tape systems, and they were completely different formats, incompatible with each other. Sony’s Betamax hit the market in 1975, but the company had previewed the product to other manufacturers the previous year. The company hoped that the other manufacturers would back their Betamax format, thus enabling competitors to develop and market compatible products to the marketplace. 

Instead, JVC developed a competing format, VHS (Video Home System)—and the home video recorder format war began. The competing platforms battled on the retail cost of the systems and on recording time. JVC licensed the technology to other manufacturers, while Sony was the sole manufacturer of Betamax until the late 1980s. Sony went from owning 100% of the market share in 1975 to just 25% of the U.S. consumer home market.

What does that history have to do with the quickly evolving world of mobile payments? In “Mobile Pay Not Yet Ready for Prime Time,” Boston Globe’s Scott Kirsner writes, “We’ve got smartphone apps and accompanying devices [for mobile payments] that work at one retail chain or a bunch—but nothing yet that’s universal.” Given that, the market is poised for another potential platform battle.

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MIT program helps Scotland plan to accelerate its economy

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 8 days ago

When you think of MIT Sloan Executive Education, you probably think about professional skills development and a focus on private sector growth. But that’s only a partial view. MIT Sloan has numerous offerings that serve the public sector as well, including the MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP), a two-year program designed to help regions accelerate economic development and job creation.

MIT REAP engages teams from key regions around the globe in the development and execution of a well-designed acceleration strategy, focused on entrepreneurial activity that can enhance innovation-driven economic development (IDE) and job creation. The result is a custom regional strategy for enhancing IDE ecosystems.

One recent REAP success story is the result of two years of work by a six-member team of public and private leaders in Scotland. Participants were guided by MIT Sloan faculty, including Fiona Murray, Associate Dean of Innovation; Bill Aulet, Managing Director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship; and Scott Stern, Chair of the School's Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management Group. The Scottish team participated in four multinational residential workshops alongside teams from Finland, New Zealand, Spain, Mexico, and regions of China. These workshops provided a framework for analyzing the country’s IDE ecosystem, using both academic research and stakeholder consultation.

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Ideal problem solvers are both specialists and generalists

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 11 days ago

Contributed by guest blogger Arnaud Chevallier

There is wide agreement among researchers that effective problem solvers—or problem-solving teams—are not just good specialists in their fields, they also are good generalists. In other words, T-shaped professionals.

Reading employer surveys, executives seem to agree. For instance, a 2014 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers lists the top skills sought by employers as "ability to work in a team structure; make decisions and solve problems; plan, organize, and prioritize work; and communicate." Analyses by other organizations—including the Council of Graduate Schools, the Conference Board, and the Association of American Colleges & Universities—concur. All make the same observation: in addition to having specialized knowledge, new hires must be able communicate effectively, work in teams, think analytically, be innovative, and solve complex problems. Succinctly said, executives want their employees to be good strategic thinkers.


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Lessons in the classroom applied in the office, on the web, and on the air

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 13 days ago

As a talk show host, business analyst, and founder of an economics-focused website, Kiriti Rambhatla wears many hats--each of which have been influenced by his educational experience at MIT Sloan.

Rambhatla, who is currently the on-air host of Arambham--a popular talk show broadcast in India--says the courses he took as part of the Strategy and Innovation Executive Certificate program at MIT Sloan had a "profound impact on the way he viewed things" in his work in India, Tanzania, and Italy.

Before his segue into the world of entertainment, Rambhatla was a business analyst for Indesit, a leading European manufacturer and distributor of major domestic appliances. "When I was at Indesit, my focus was on improving the process of innovation in product development."

During his tenure at the appliance company, Rambhatla worked on building a tool to quantify the innovation process within the company, but realized he needed a better conceptual understanding of how strategy and innovation were involved in the product development process in various industries. While exploring doctoral opportunities at MIT, Rambhatla discovered the certificate track program and decided the courses were "tailor made for the issues I was focusing on at work--ranging from innovation, macroeconomics, strategy, and product development to understanding the dynamics of globalization."

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The downside of wearable fitness technology

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 17 days ago

It’s almost the time of year for making New Year resolutions, and as always, fitness goals will top most lists. With so many fitness products and technologies available, there are no shortage of tools to help to those goals come to fruition. As reported by Investor’s Business Daily, Morgan Stanley “expects wearable device shipments to increase from 6 million units in 2013 to 248 million in 2017.” Samsung has issued its own research, saying “it expects spending on technology such as smartwatches and fitness trackers to increase by 182% this Christmas, compared with last Christmas.”  So is there a wearable fitness device on your wish list—or shopping list—this year?

The options are starting to feel endless. According to Wired, “As of September 30 [2014], there were 266 wearable devices on the market (including 118 fitness wearables), with 23 slated for release before the year is out.” Most fitness trackers monitor activity, steps, calories, sleep, and more. Popular devices come from FitBit, Jawbone, Garmin, Samsung, Microsoft, TomTom, and other technology and sports equipment vendors. Fitness bracelets, for example, monitor everything from your heart rate to your sleep cycle, providing a range of metrics that can be analyzed on smartphones and/or computer applications.

What to do with all this data? Users can decide to increase the amount of time they exercise, add more walking steps to their daily routine, adjust their hours of sleep, or recalibrate their calorie intake. The metrics these technologies provide are intended to help users eliminate the “mystery” behind meeting their own fitness goals, whatever they may be.

But what most consumers don’t realize is a potential big downside to these smart devices: the potential loss of privacy. While the average consumer may think that the data collected lives on their device or in their app, it really lives on servers owned and maintained by the device providers. For this reason, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has called these devices a “privacy nightmare.”

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What can enterprise architecture do for your organization?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 20 days ago

As the business world continues to digitize and grow in complexity, many businesses will need to avail themselves of “enterprise architecture”—the process of defining every aspect of an organization’s structure for the successful development and execution of strategy. Enterprise architecture may not be synonymous with enterprise transformation, but it is a means to that end.

There are some significant challenges to leveraging enterprise architecture for success. By definition, architecting a business is a vast undertaking; designing every aspect of an organization’s structure including people, processes, strategies, and accountabilities requires time, resources, and education. The biggest challenge blocking most businesses from prioritizing enterprise architecture is its emergence as a new discipline. Because it is new, most organizations don’t know what enterprise architecture is and/or how to utilize it. 

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The world according to MIT

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 1 day ago

MIT has long been recognized as a pinnacle of science, technology, and all things innovative. And, it has the credentials to prove it: in the last few years the institution has been recognized as the #1 college in the country by QS, a leading global career and education network; as the fifth-best college in the country by Forbes; and at or near the top in nearly every category in the U.S. News &World Report's annual rankings of the United States’ best colleges and universities.

These honors are certainly noteworthy in and of themselves, but to put them into perspective it helps to examine arguably the most remarkable honor of all: if MIT were a country, it would have the 11th largest economy in the world.

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Managing the seasonality of products

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 1 day ago

The seasonality of products is an issue that manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and consumers are well aware of. We all know back-to-school advertising, products, and sales hit stores in July. Soon after, we see Halloween items. And before Halloween even arrives, we start to see Christmas advertisements and promotions. Getting ahead of the season has become standard operating procedure.

But when is it too early to issue a seasonal product? Many craft beer aficionados are beginning to argue that the practice of "seasonal creep" has gone too far. Simply put, seasonal creep is when a beer specific to a season appears on store shelves way before the season actually hits. The best example is the category of pumpkin beers.

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