MIT Sloan Executive Education innovation@work Blog

Category: Digital Business

An executive's deep roots and ongoing collaborations with MIT Sloan

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 6 months and 16 days ago

Carolyn Cameron-Kirksmith

Carolyn Cameron-Kirksmith manages key initiatives and a diverse range of projects for Standard Bank Group in Johannesburg, South Africa. In her complex role, Carolyn manages new and existing relationships throughout Africa and writes on topics like innovation and digitization for the company’s executive committee. She is charged with finding innovation solutions to complex problems for the bank. In 2012, Carolyn began a journey at MIT Sloan Executive Education that continues today. She holds an Executive Certificate in Management and Leadership as well as an Advanced Certificate for Executives, and in 2014 she embarked on the five-week Advanced Management Program, simultaneously helping to forge innovative collaborations between MIT and her company.

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Obama to speak next month at the 12th annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 year and 27 days ago

Ben Shields' Analytics Management program at MIT Sloan Executive Education

What does the sports revolution mean for businesses in other industries? Everything. "Championship organizations" are using analytics to inform and shape their overall strategy, make wise investments in technology, and more. Learn more about the upcoming Sports Analytics Conference as well as how analytics can help your organization get more wins in 2018.

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5 reasons large-scale transformation efforts fail—and what to do about them

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 year and 5 months and 2 days ago

MIT Sloan's Douglas Ready on Transformation

Douglas Ready knows a lot about leadership. The MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer is considered one of the world’s leading authorities on strategic talent management and executive development and has been named multiple times to Thinkers50, the premier ranking of the world’s top thought leaders. Ready, who is also Founder and CEO of the International Consortium for Executive Development Research, is a prolific writer on enterprise leadership and implementing strategic and cultural change; his articles have set the agenda for talent, leadership, and strategic change over the last two decades. And he is an active advisor to CEOs and top executive teams around the world.

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New research shows integrated solutions are key to digital transformation

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 year and 7 months and 30 days ago


Digital disruption is rapidly changing the entire competitive landscape for companies, prompting them to learn how to apply new technology and organizational capabilities. In a working paper published earlier this year, "Designing Digital Organizations—Summary of Survey Findings," researchers including Jeanne W. Ross of the MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) looked at the digital capabilities of 171 senior business and IT leaders and offered recommendations on how companies can stimulate their digital transformations.

Digital disruption, as Ross explains in this 2016 video, involves the impact of "SMACIT"—social, mobile, analytics, cloud, and the Internet of Things. In the course of their research, the paper's authors noted that efforts to leverage digital technologies and enhance customer information and engagement is resulting in the need for greater integration of products, services, and processes across entire organizations.

Among the report's key findings:

  • The extent to which digitized solutions are integrated and customer engagement is personalized predicts a company's performance relative to competitors.
  • Companies that create both integrated digitized solutions and personalized customer engagement demonstrate more innovativeness and agility.
  • Companies rely on three key technology resources to build this innovativeness and agility: an operational backbone; a digital services platform with reusable business, technology, and data components; and linkages between newer digital services and data and infrastructure services embedded in the operational backbone.

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8 ways to launch a successful digital platform

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 3 months and 20 days ago


The digital platform—connecting people, organizations, and resources in an interactive ecosystem through technology—is taking the business world by storm. The platform model powers many of today's biggest and most disruptive companies, like Amazon, Airbnb, and Uber. Platform businesses bring together producers and users in efficient exchanges of value (think Uber drivers and passengers), and they leverage network effects—the more participants, the greater the value produced.

Building a platform business differs from traditional product or pipeline marketing in a number of ways, perhaps most notably by virtue of its pull (rather than push) strategies. Instead of creating awareness through channels like advertising and PR (that's the push), the goods and services of a platform must attract users with incentives for participating (the pull). In network businesses, marketing must be baked into the platform. While push strategies are still valuable to a platform model, they can easily get lost in a sea of abundance and distraction.

However, platforms and the pull they require poses a conundrum. How can you begin to build a user base for a two-sided market when each side depends on the prior existence of the other? Geoffrey Parker, a visiting scholar and research fellow at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, refers to this as the chicken-or-the-egg dilemma in Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy – And How to Make Them Work for You. In the book, Parker and his co-writer’s Marshall W. Van Alstyne and Sangeet Paul Choudary, propose eight strategies for beating this dilemma and successfully launching a platform business. We summarized them briefly here, but you can learn more about them in depth in Parker's online MIT Sloan Executive Education program, Platform Revolution: Making Networked Markets Work for You (online), which starts next week (November 7).

  1. The follow-the-rabbit strategy: Use a non-platform demonstration project to model success and attract users and producers and then convert to a platform. (Amazon, for example, started as an effective pipeline business, then converted itself into a platform by opening its system to external producers.)
  2. The piggy-back strategy: Connect with an existing user base from a different platform, such as when PayPal piggybacked on eBay’s online platform, or when YouTube rode the Myspace growth wave by offering its powerful video tools to attract members of the social network.
  3. The seeding strategy: Create value units that will be relevant to at least one set of users, and other users (who want to interact with the first set) will follow. Take Adobe, for example, which launched its PDF document-reading tool in part by arranging to make all federal government tax forms available online. The IRS saved money on printing and postage, and taxpayers got fast and easy access to documents. Millions of people were turned on to Adobe this way and since adopted Adobe as their document platform of choice.

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How digital platforms conquer all

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 8 months and 6 days ago


The platform concept is not new; it's actually been practiced for millennia. The traditional, open-air marketplace, such as a Middle-Eastern souk, is one such platform in which farmers and craftspeople sell their wares openly to consumers. The original stock markets were the same--buyers and sellers of shares would gather in person to establish fair market prices.

The difference between these traditional platform businesses and modern platforms is the addition of digital technology, which expands reach, efficacy, and convenience. Businesses engaged in digital platform models seek to leverage network effects--a phenomenon whereby a good or service becomes more valuable when more people use it. The car-service platform Uber is the perfect example, claiming a huge and growing share of the rides-for-hire market, displacing taxi and limousine services as a result.

However, Uber's disruption of its industry may only have just begun. In the upcoming MIT Sloan Executive Education program, Platform Revolution: Making Networked Markets Work for You (online), Geoffrey Parker, a Visiting Scholar and Research Fellow at MIT's Initiative for the Digital Economy, will suggest that the advent of self-driving cars may signficantly improve Uber's already stellar economic model and possibly lead to a series of cascading impacts. Might millions of people eschew car ownership altogether and instead rely on instantly available driverless vehicles? What would this mean for ancillary business, such as automakers, auto insurance, or even parking?

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Waiting for blockchain's tipping point

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 8 months and 7 days ago


There's great debate around Bitcoin, a digital currency and blockchain (the underlying technology behind Bitcoin). Is it a good thing, or will it propagate in the "dark Internet?" How will countries and institutions regulate it? Could it really revolutionize financial transactions in developing and third world countries? And, a question posed at the recent MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, what use case of blockchain will become its tipping point?

The MIT Media Lab's Digital Currency Initiative describes blockchain as a decentralized public ledger of debits and credits that no one person or company owns or controls; its users control it directly. This system lets people transfer money without a bank, for example, or write simple, enforceable contracts without a lawyer. It can even turn physical items like real estate or concert tickets into digital assets that can be sold with low (or nonexistent) transaction fees. According to Brian Forde, Director of Digital Currency at the MIT Media Lab, "Many are projecting that the impact [of blockchain] will be similar to that of the Internet--disrupting traditional industries, challenging existing regulations, and significantly increasing the volume of commerce by dramatically lowering the cost to transact and establishing trust between two previously unknown parties." You can learn more about blockchain in this video from Financial Times.

MIT's Digital Currency Initiative brings together global experts in areas ranging from cryptography to economics, privacy, and distributed systems to take on this important new area of research. Experts involved in the Initiative include MIT Professor Christian Catalini*, who moderated the recent CIO Symposium panel, "How Blockchain will Transform the Digital Economy." As Catalini described it, blockchain is “bringing together the fields of computer science, market design, and law.” In some ways, the opportunities around blockchain technology seem almost limitless—it can enable trusted micro-transactions, it is inherently auditable, and it addresses what can’t be addressed by traditional distributed databases.

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Join the platform revolution

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 years and 9 months and 23 days ago

It's no overstatement to say that the two-sided networked market--or platform--model is one of the most important economic and social developments of our time. The platform model powers many of today's biggest and most disruptive companies, like Amazon and Airbnb, with others, like Nike, coming on board. Platforms use technology to connect people, organizations, and resources in an interactive ecosystem in which enormous value is created and exchanged. And researchers believe that the transformation is soon to hit a range of other economic and social arenas, from health care and education to energy and government.

Surprisingly, many people--even savvy business executives--remain unaware of how the platform revolution happened, or what to do about it. In a new MIT Sloan Executive Education program, Platform Revolution: Making Networked Markets Work for You (online)Geoffrey Parker, Professor of Management Science at Tulane University and Visiting Scholar and Research Fellow at MIT's Initiative for the Digital Economy, explores the escalation of IT-driven platforms over established product leaders--such as iPhone's rapid domination of its industry at the expense of Nokia, Blackberry, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and others. The four-week, online course also provides technology leaders with ways to prepare for even more rapidly unfolding disruption.

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