Category: Innovation

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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The downside of wearable fitness technology

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 16 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 - 19 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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How should hotels respond to the sharing economy?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 3 months and 6 days ago

The sharing economy—also known as the collaborative consumption or the peer economy—is disrupting many industries. The sharing economy is one where participants share products or services—such as cars or spare rooms—instead of individual ownership. 

Airbnb is the one of the pioneers of the sharing economy and seems to be a major disruptor in the traditional hotel/hospitality market. (Incidentally, one of the founders of Airbnb was a student of Nelson Repenning, Professor of System Dynamics and Organization Studies at MIT Sloan; Repenning mentions this in his innovation@workTM webinar, “Useful Does Not Always Mean Used”.) Airbnb rents lodgings in more than 34,000 cities in 190 countries and has served more than 17,000,000 guests. What was once thought of as a place to find vacation housing is now frequently used by business travelers as well; as of late July 2014, the company saw 10% of its revenue from business travelers.

One would think the hotel industry would be up in arms, worried, and reacting the way the taxi cab industry is to Uber and Lyft. According to Fast Company, however, the hotel industry is not overly concerned—or so they claim. The magazine quotes Hilton Worldwide EVP Jeff Diskin as saying he “loves what Airbnb is doing … [offering a more] home-like experience.”

It appears the actual revenue impact is minimal; one recent research report found that “every 1% increase in listings [on Airbnb] in a given market would result in a 0.05% decrease in quarterly hotel revenues.” While the revenue Airbnb is siphoning from hotels is having minimal impact, its rapid growth is still worth watching. As noted in Fast Company, “At the current rate of expansion, Airbnb … will soon surpass the InterContinental Group and Hilton Worldwide as the world’s largest hotel chain.”

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The real challenge for self-driving cars

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 4 months and 25 days ago

It’s a given that almost all new technologies foster some unintended consequences. Take mobile phones: what was once viewed as revolutionary is now something ubiquitous. But the ubiquity of mobile phones has resulted in 1.3 million vehicle crashes in 2011—a full 23% of auto collisions that year involved cell phones. Despite the large number of incidents, the laws around texting while driving vary widely. Thirteen states— Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands—all ban drivers from using mobile phones while driving. Forty-four states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands all ban text messaging while driving.

It makes one wonder how the U.S.—either federally or state-by-state—or any government for that matter, will determine how to react to the emergence of commercially available self-driving autonomous cars. What was once viewed as “science fiction” is soon to be a reality on the roads. As Erik Brynjolfsson, Professor of Information Technology at MIT Sloan School of Management, told the Wall Street Journal, “About 10 years ago, I was teaching a class at MIT. One of the topics of discussion was what machines can do and what machines can’t do. One of my examples of things that machines can’t do was drive a car.” Fast-forward to 2012, when Brynjolfsson was able to take a test drive in a fully automated Google car. And, Google’s not the only innovator working on self-driving cars—Nissan has committed to having commercially viable autonomous drive vehicles on the road by 2020. So, it’s not a matter of if, but when.


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Are the courts stifling innovation?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 5 months and 1 day ago

For seven straight years, Fortune has named Apple as the World’s Most Admired Company. The magazine wrote the following about why Apple is held in such high esteem:

“The iconic tech company known for the iPhone and other stylish and user-friendly products is back in the top spot on this year’s list, for the seventh year in a row. Apple, the most valuable brand on the planet according to Interbrand, brought in $171 billion in revenues in FY2014 and is flush with cash, but fan boys and girls (not to mention the market) are getting antsy to see its next big product. Bets are on a smartwatch or AppleTV, but the company is also reportedly turning its attention to cars and medical devices.”

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Can the cab industry innovate?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 5 months and 9 days ago

Those of us who work and/or live in Cambridge are quite familiar with the controversies stirred up by the wildly successful business, Uber Technologies, Inc. Uber considers itself a technology company, offering a mobile app that connects riders with drivers. The company has taken an innovative approach to making it easier to get from one point to another, eliminating the need to hail a cab on the street.

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It’s time to rethink wages

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 5 months and 17 days ago

For the last year or so, there’s been a significant amount of news coverage around the wages paid to low-income earners, such as those working at fast food outlets and in retail stores. There have been public protests, calls for boycotts, and legislation to raise the minimum wage in some states.

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