Category: Digital Transformation and Emerging Technologies

Implementing IIoT: A systems challenge disguised as a technological one?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 6 days ago

Industry 4.0

The current challenge facing operations across the globe can be summarized as follows: Make an increasing variety of products, on shorter lead times with smaller runs, but with flawless quality. Improve our return on our investment by automating and introducing new technology in processes and materials so we can cut prices to meet local and foreign demand. Mechanize – but keep your schedules flexible, your inventories low, your capital costs minimal, and your work force contented.1

While these words succinctly address the majority of challenges companies are trying to address with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), it should be noted that they come from Wickham Skinner's 1966 Harvard Business Review article, "Production Under Pressure."

Advances into IIoT and initiatives such as Industry 4.0 may seem to operations executives to be more of a threat to defend against rather than an opportunity. Perhaps this is why a 2016 Cisco survey found leaders skeptical regarding investment in IIoT2. As expressed by Daryl Miller, vice president of engineering at Lantronix, "Companies need to keep the IoT simple by adapting their existing systems to become compatible with the IoT."3

In other words, the introduction of a new technology often reveals a lack of understanding of the current system, rather than that of the new technology. Therefore, adoption of IIoT is primarily a systems problem, rather than a technological one.

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Nothing says love like putting down your devices

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 10 days ago

Nothing says love like putting down your devices

It's hard to find bigger fans of technology than the staff, faculty, and global participants of MIT and MIT Sloan. We love using it, inventing it, and sharing it with the world. Tens of thousands of innovators have masterminded new technologies while here, or took programs to understand how best to bring those innovations to market. We also love using technology in the classroom itself, from management flight simulators and collaborative software to some of our newer experiments with telepresence and virtual reality. MIT researchers have even launched a new decision-making tool to help teachers, administrators, governments, and development practitioners around the world make smart decisions about incorporating technology in the classroom.

Given all of the above, the title of this post may seem counterintuitive. And yet, in light of Valentine's Day, we thought it worthwhile to remind our readers and ourselves that our love of all things digital can sometimes thwart true connection.

Breaking up [with smartphones] is hard to do

Smartphones, the most likely culprit, have been reshaping our etiquette for years now. Particularly in America, our "always on" state of mind has posed significant challenges for users vis-à-vis their relationship to others--whether colleagues in the boardroom or a romantic partner across the dinner table. According to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center, for many Americans, cellphones are always present and rarely turned off, and this constant connectivity is creating ever-evolving social challenges. Of the 3217 people surveyed, 89% of cellphone owners say they used their phone during the most recent social gathering they attended. And similar studies have shown that the mere presence of cellphones in face-to-face conversations inhibits the development of closeness and trust and reduces the amount of empathy we feel from our partners.

Americans are not alone in their smartphone temptations. A national study released last week in Australia shows that nearly a quarter of Australians have played second fiddle to a smartphone on a first date, with their prospective partner switching their attention to their digital device. The Intel Security study of 1200 Australians found more than a third of people have argued with friends or family about their smartphone use.

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Shifting realities: Augmented, virtualized, and mixed realities in the classroom

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 12 days ago

Contributed by Paul McDonagh-Smith, Digital Capability Leader, MIT Sloan, Office of Executive Education. With a focus on driving digital transformation and harnessing emerging technologies, Paul works with the team to create learning programs to fit how we live and work in today's digital age.


Let's be honest—reality isn't what it used to be. Right now, all around us, carbon world experiences are being augmented, virtualized, and mixed by a series of emerging technologies and their offspring products. These new flavors of reality are offering tantalizing opportunities to imagine and invent improved online learning interactions to complement what we're currently doing in classrooms and on campus.

In one corner, we've got augmented reality (AR) overlaying content in the form of computer generated, gesture features and 360-degree video onto the physical world. Aiming to add meaning and context to our carbon-based reality, this content floats over it like a butterfly, if you will.

In the other corner, virtual reality (VR) is loitering with some serious heavyweight intent, looking to replicate or simulate physical and imagined environments via hardware such as Google Cardboard and HTC Vive. Whether using pre-rendered or rendered software, VR computer generated immersive experiences are getting ready to rumble.

Positioned somewhere in the middle of the ring, we've got the hybrid of mixed reality (MR), which in effect merges real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations where physical and digital objects can co-exist and interact in real time. MR hardware includes products such as Microsoft's Hololens device, which might be seen as ushering in a new era of holographic computing.

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Attending by telepresence robot--no falling down stairs, please

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 month and 26 days ago

Contributed by Paul McDonagh-Smith, Digital Capability Leader, MIT Sloan, Office of Executive Education. With a focus on driving digital transformation and harnessing emerging technologies, Paul creates learning programs to fit how we live and work in today's digital age.

telepresence robotics  at MIT Sloan

Earlier last week, from my home office desk here in London, I logged into one of our telepresence robotics units stationed in the Executive Education suite of the MIT Sloan School of Management. Using telepresence robotics is a normal occurrence among our team, where units get "hired" for a number of jobs including teaching and learning in class, collaborating with team members, meeting with external companies as well as doing plain old-fashioned, day-to-day work.

But this day was a little different. I was using the robot to attend a Sloan Fellows and EMBA Alumni event on campus in Cambridge, MA.

As I logged onto the unit (via a website) I saw my colleague, Lisa, waiting for me at the front desk. Having asked the robot to drive me to where Lisa was standing (the robot has mapped the floor space and can either be used in autonomous or manual mode), I had just enough time to give myself a pep talk.

"Please don’t trip anybody up, don’t knock coffee cups out of anyone’s hands, and above all please don’t fall down the stairs with the Robot, again," I murmured to myself in a positive mantra.

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