Category: Faculty Insights

Monetization lessons from Pokémon Go

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 7 days ago

Marketing lessons from Pokemon Go and Catherine Tucker of MIT

Marketing successes often spark a series of copy cats—companies that decide the best approach to a quick marketing win is to just "do what they did" and reap the same benefits. Sadly, that almost never works. Mostly this is because what makes the marketing campaign successful is its uniqueness, and a copycat campaign lacks just that. So for all those companies thinking they should copy the wildly popular Pokémon Go, it’s time to put the brakes on that idea.

But there are some marketing strategies—or, more specifically, monetization strategies—that companies can learn and co-opt from Pokémon Go’s commercial and viral success. Catherine Tucker, Professor of Marketing at MIT Sloan School of Management, touched on these in her TechCrunch article, "The Monetization Promise and Pitfalls of Pokémon Go." We've summarized them below.

Develop target partner personas
One might think nearly every business—especially small business—would appreciate the extra foot traffic from Pokémon Go players hunting rare characters. Some businesses with traditionally long lines and a tendency towards rapid ordering and service are not necessarily the right place for people to be playing games on their phones, however. Imagine being in a lunchtime line at a typical New York pizza place, only to be held up by Pokémon Go players glued to their phones—that’s not going to go over well with the other patrons, or with the counter staff (think Seinfeld’s famous Soup Nazi!).

On the other hand, Tucker points to franchise companies like Jamba Juice. "For starters, Pokémon Go and Jamba Juice have similarly youthful brand images ... At the very least, it's unlikely that Pokémon Go customers searching for Pokémon would inadvertently annoy Jamba Juice's existing customers." Lesson: think about how your customers, their demographics, and their behaviors map to those of your ideal partners' customers.

Don't over-value your data
Consumer or user data was once thought of as extremely valuable. What kind of powerful and successful business could Foursquare build based on all that data it was acquiring (where and how frequently its users dined at and visited various types of businesses)? Well, one rather disastrous pivot later and that question will never be answered. As Tucker points out in her article, Waze and Facebook both have volumes of location-based data. Pokémon Go also has location-based data. It’s all valuable, but not unique. If you think data is your monetization strategy, proceed with caution.

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Next steps for C-ROADS and climate change

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 28 days ago

Earlier this spring, MIT Sloan Professor John Sterman presented an important and well-attended live webinar, The Dynamics of Climate Change--from the Political to the Personal. One of the highlights of the webinar was a live demonstration of C-ROADS (Climate Rapid Overview and Decision Support) a free, award-winning computer simulation that helps people understand the long-term climate impacts of policy scenarios to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In the live Q&A sessions immediately following the webinar, Sterman fielded a great number of questions from the audience. However, there were simply more questions than could be answered in the time allotted. We recently posed three of the larger, unanswered questions to Sterman, and we have shared his responses below.

What's next for C-ROADS?
The next steps for C-ROADS are driven by the negotiations and conversations occurring during the Paris climate agreements. First, there will be a new interface that will be easier to use and more widely available. (You can view a video preview of it here). And while the team behind C-ROADS will continue to work with negotiators and policymakers, they are also actively seeking to increase the number of skilled users. If you are interested in learning how to use C-ROADS in any setting--from the classroom to the community room to the boardroom--you can join the movement at:

The team behind C-ROADS also has a number of other related projects in the prototype phase, one of which is EN-ROADS, a simulation tool (similar to C-ROADS) for understanding how we can achieve our energy transition and climate goals through changes in energy use, consumption, and policies. The tool focuses on how changes in global GDP, energy efficiency, R&D results, carbon price, fuel mix, and other factors change carbon emissions, energy access, and temperature. It is ideal for decision-makers in government, business, NGOs, and civil society.

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Podcast roundup: MIT Sloan experts lend their voice to the latest business insights

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 months and 28 days ago


Need something to listen to on your next commute? How about podcasts by experts here at MIT Sloan? Hear what our faculty has to say about critical issues ranging from collective intelligence to innovation to neuroscience and how these issues affect organizations and executives around the world.

Collective intelligence: its impact on our society today and tomorrow
What is collective intelligence and how does it impact the future of organizations? MIT Sloan Professor and Director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence Thomas Malone defines collective intelligence, and explains the components that contribute to a "smart" group--as well as changing hierarchical structures in the workplace, and how collective intelligence is helping to address the problem of global climate change. Professor Malone leads the Intelligent Organizations 4Dx (live online) course.

Applying the benefits of neuroscience in the working world
Tara Swart--world-renowned neuroscientist, psychiatrist, and coach of C-suite executives--comments on the positive and negative effects of technology in our professional lives, the prevalence of the imposter syndrome among executives, and some simple measures to ensure we maximize our brainpower on a daily basis. MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Swart leads Neuroscience for Leadership and Applied Neuroscience: Unleashing Brain Power for You and Your People at MIT Sloan Executive Education.

What four-year olds know that adults don't about creativity
What is creativity and why do many of us lose it as we grow older? MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Hal Gregersen talks about the barriers to creativity brought on by our society and what we can do to overcome them. Gregersen teaches in The Innovator's DNA: Mastering Five Skills for Disruptive Innovation and Innovation and Images: Exploring the Intersections of Leadership and Photography.

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Price optimization: Q&A with Professor Simchi-Levi

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 3 months and 26 days ago

MIT Sloan Executive Education recently hosted the latest in its INNOVATION@WORKTM webinar series, entitled “The New Frontier in Price Optimization," with MIT Professor David Simchi-Levi. The webinar, now available on demand, which drew hundreds of attendees from across the world, presented recent breakthroughs in the development of models that combine machine learning and optimization for pricing that significantly improve revenue and reduce inventory risks

During the webinar, Simchi-Levi presented a case study on Rue La La—an online retailer with whom he worked that offers invitation-only flash sales—to answer the question: “How can we generate an effective forecast for a product we’ve never sold before?” His second example, Groupon, a daily deal website and mobile application offering things to do, see, eat, and buy, focused on how to combine forecasting with learning on the fly to understand the probability that a customer will purchase a product at a specific price. Simchi-Levi’s third case-in-point was the story of B2W Digital, the leading e-commerce company in Latin America, which took price optimization even further by leveraging forecasting, learning on the fly, and optimization.

The event included a live question and answer session and was immediately followed by a Facebook chat with the webinar audience. Recently we spoke with Professor Simch-Levi to dig deeper into the topic of pricing optimization.

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Productivity wisdom: My top 5 articles

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 5 months and 6 days ago

Contributed by Bob Pozen, Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan Executive Education

Regardless of location, industry or occupation, productivity is a challenge faced by every professional, following us throughout our respective careers. Even as a professor and published author on the topic, I still find myself improving my own skills, both at work and at home, to get the most out of each day.

With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that there is a crowd of journalists, thought leaders, and gurus tackling the topic from almost every conceivable angle. While I have my own conclusions on the best ways to stay productive, which you can read in my book and learn more about in my class, Maximizing Your Personal Productivity, staying tuned into the perspectives of other productivity experts is critical to a well-rounded outlook. In the spirit of broadening our collective productivity wisdom, below are five great articles on the topic I've enjoyed:

  1. Inc.: "Why the Excuse "I'm Overloaded" Doesn't Work Anymore" This is a harsh reality to those who think they're too busy, but it points to a fundamental rule of productivity--prioritizing. One of the first lessons I teach in my course is how to prioritize. It seems obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people looking to be more productive don’t prioritize tasks appropriately.
  2. Fast Company: "This Googler Explains How to Design Your Time Rather Than Manage It" Creating to-do lists is a vital task to daily productivity. In this article, Google’s Thomas Davies describes his "Quadrant-style" to-do list that categorizes his tasks under 4 responsibilities or "quadrants" that help prioritize tasks.

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MIT Sloan reading list: Books by Executive Education faculty

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 6 months and 18 days ago

MIT Sloan's world-renowned faculty are experts in a vast number of subjects. Catch up on their latest research and breakthrough concepts in these books, authored or edited by the faculty themselves.
Reading List MIT Sloan ExecEd

The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators
By Hal Gregersen, Jeff Dyer, and Clayton Christensen
By identifying behaviors of the world’s best innovators--from leaders at Amazon and Apple to those at Google, Skype, and Virgin Group-- the authors outline five discovery skills that distinguish innovative entrepreneurs and executives from ordinary managers: Associating, Questioning, Observing, Networking, and Experimenting. Gregersen teaches in the Advanced Management ProgramInnovation and Images: Exploring the Intersections of Leadership and Photography, and The Innovator's DNA: Mastering Five Skills For Disruptive Innovation.

Strategy Rules: Five Timeless Lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs
By Michael Cusumano and David B. Yoffie
An analysis on the strategies, principles, and skills of three of the most successful and influential figures in business—Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs—offering lessons for all managers and entrepreneurs on leadership, strategy and execution. Cusumano teaches in Managing Product Platforms: Delivering Variety and Realizing Synergies.

Handbook of Collective Intelligence
Edited by Thomas W. Malone and and Michael S. Bernstein
In recent years, a new kind of collective intelligence has emerged: interconnected groups of people and computers, collectively doing intelligent things. Today these groups are engaged in tasks that range from writing software to predicting the results of presidential elections. This volume reports on the latest research in the study of collective intelligence, laying out a shared set of research challenges from a variety of disciplinary and methodological perspectives. Malone teaches in the upcoming program, Intelligent Organizations 4Dx (live, online).

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Health care loans: Combatting escalating drug costs with financial engineering

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 6 months and 23 days ago

Escalating drug costs

In today's economy, for better or for worse, taking out a loan to cover the cost of a major expense--a new car, a new home, or a new baby--is commonplace. So why not apply that thinking to healthcare? Specifically, expensive medicine. That's exactly what MIT Sloan Professor Andrew Lo and his colleagues Vahid Montazerhodjat and David M. Weinstock are proposing in response to the ever-escalating cost of prescription medicine.

It's known as the "healthcare loan (HCL)" and is not unlike a home mortgage where a large expense is broken into smaller monthly payments that stretch over years. Everybody wins. Patients get the medicine they need. Drug makers reap the profits of a lucrative marketplace, and banks are able to bundle loans and resell their related cash flows to third-party investors (otherwise known as securitization). In their research, numerical simulations suggest that securitization is viable for a wide range of economic environments and cost parameters, allowing a much broader patient population to access transformative therapies while also aligning the interests of patients, payers, and the pharmaceutical industry.

"The basic idea is to create a new financial entity that offers healthcare loans to patients, issues bonds and equity to investors, and the proceeds from these new issues are used to pay for the loans," writes Lo and his co-authors in a recent article published in Science Translational Medicine.

Lo explains this concept as similar to today's home mortgages, auto loans, student loans, and other large consumer purchases. "As patients pay interest and principal on these loans, these payments flow through to the bondholders, and once all the bonds are paid off, the remaining funds go to the equity holders," Lo recently told Medscape Medical News.

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In the news: Our faculty weigh in on hot business topics

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 8 months and 22 days ago


MIT Sloan Executive Education faculty are world renowned for their research and cutting-edge business thinking. Publications and news outlets seek their expert advice on everything from concise decision making to optimizing shareholder returns to executing complex business strategies. Here are just a few of their many recent takeaways circulating in the media.  

Bob Pozen on making big decisions, The Economist: "If you spend two months researching an issue before making a decision, you'll waste time gathering irrelevant facts and may miss critical issues. Start ruling out options after just two days and keep making tentative conclusions to focus your research and make better decisions faster."

Zeynep Ton on happier employees and higher profits, CNN: "The tradeoff between low prices and good prices is actually a false tradeoff. If companies run their operations well, they can have low prices, good jobs, and great shareholder returns at the same time."

Deborah Ancona on new management structures, Fast Company: "Leaders will come in and they'll change the structure without realizing that they haven't changed the norms of how things get done. People don't take the initiative that you need in that kind of structure because the culture is still one of hierarchy."

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