Category: Technology

Making sense of IoT with the best of MIT

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 days ago

Contributed by Peter Hirst, Associate Dean, MIT Sloan Executive Education

Making Sense of IoT with the Best of MIT

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending the Internet of Things World Forum (IoTWF) in London, and participating in several conference events as a speaker. One panel in particular--"IoT in Society," which focused on the intersections of various areas of life and work—brought the idea of interconnectedness into high relief. The Internet of Things is--of course--not limited to "things" or just to the Internet or even to the tech sector. As business leaders grapple with the IoT reality and prepare their organizations and themselves for the future, understanding the importance of interconnectedness among different sectors of business and life is essential.

Here at MIT, we have a long history of different kinds of thinkers collaborating, which is just what organizations need to be doing, and which makes the Institute a naturally appealing place for managers to learn how to develop the skills needed to lead in the era of IoT. We have faculty members in engineering and technology, and science and social science, as well as business--all at the cutting edge of their fields, but also used to actually interact with each other and collaborating both in research and teaching. And so the ability to bring all of those resources into an executive education program, for example, and collaborate with partners from across departments, is unusual for a business school. MIT's Sloan School of Management is in a fortunate position to tap into the whole of MIT.

The executive education programs that we offer--in partnership with the School of Engineering, the Office of Digital Learning, MIT Media Lab, and the Computational Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL)--are about "demystifying" IoT, as our Digital Capability Leader Paul McDonagh-Smith puts it. A tech industry veteran, McDonagh-Smith knows where we need to shed the light. Prior to working with us, he spent decades at companies like Nortel and Avaya, and now is driving a lot of the development of our IoT-focused programs and making sure that we engage the best partners from across MIT.

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7 systems principles you need to know before implementing IIoT

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 27 days ago

The system principles you need to know before implementing IIoT

The use of Internet of Things technologies in manufacturing--known as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)--has been heralded as a way to improve operational efficiency by correcting inefficiencies and identifying problems sooner. Ultimately, this will also lead to more rapid supply chains and greatly enhanced customer satisfaction. In many ways, the IIoT stands to revolutionize manufacturing, from behemoth organizations down to "mom-and-pop" manufacturing shops. This is why IIoT is often referred to as the "4th Industrial Revolution."

However, before any facility, plant, or organization starts down the path of implementing IIoT, there are a number of factors to examine and consider. Dr. John Carrier, Senior Lecturer of System Dynamics at MIT Sloan, detailed these steps in the recent MIT Sloan Executive Education webinar, "The 7 System Principles You Need to Know Before Implementing IIoT." Carrier takes an even deeper dive into system dynamics as applied to the industrial Internet in his new Executive Education program, Implementing Industry 4.0: Leading Change in Manufacturing and Operations.

If you want to understand a system, try and change it

The seven principles Carrier presents in his webinar can serve as a checklist of what to assess, analyze, and potentially adjust before implementing any aspect of IIoT. He likens this process to preparing to move to a new home. If you take the time to assess, examine, and identify which belongings are worth keeping and which should be tossed, your new home will have less clutter and contain more items of value, instead of just "stuff." In theory, your move should also take less time and money. In the words of Kurt Lewin, the late German social psychologist, "If you want to understand a system, try and change it."

Carrier also points out that implementing IIoT can help expose the "hidden factories" within manufacturing operations--a chaotic mix of unstable and ad hoc procedures and norms.

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

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 months and 9 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 - 3 months and 12 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 - 3 months and 14 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.

TERF

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 - 4 months and 1 day 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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Fast fashion: What's the true cost of a bargain?

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

fashion waste

American consumers love a bargain. In fact, consumers will often choose a bargain over ideals; this past spring an Associated Press-GFK poll found that, "when it comes to purchasing clothes, the majority of Americans prefer cheap prices over a Made in the USA label." This, despite decades of political rhetoric about the need to bring manufacturing jobs back to America.

But there's a bigger, hidden cost behind our love of a deal—particularly our love of cheap clothing. In today's market, there's no shortage of options for buying amazingly inexpensive, yet trendy clothing, including big box stores, "fast fashion" stores such as H&M and Primark, and off-shore clothing retailers advertising on Facebook. Some of the messaging inherent in these brands is that the items are so cheap, it's OK to purchase them for only one wear. You can buy that novelty sweater for the "ugly sweater holiday party" or any other frivolous clothing item for a one-time event. After all, it cost less than a night out, or even an entrée at many restaurants.

However, the dirty little secret that these retailers, manufacturers, and their supply chains don't share is the true cost of the disposable clothing industry. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, "15.1 million tons of textile waste was generated in 2013, of which 12.8 million tons were discarded." According to MSNBC, "10 percent of the world's total carbon footprint comes from the fashion industry, and apparel is the second largest polluter of fresh water globally."

The fast fashion industry not only generates textile waste, but the economics behind it demand the clothes be produced using massive amounts of cheap material and cheap labor. This means relying on the laborers at the very lowest end of the wage spectrum in countries with few protections for workers. While the fashion industry on the whole is a job creator, many of those equate to low wages, forced labor, unhealthy and dangerous working conditions, and even child labor, which is now rampant through apparel supply chains.

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Upping the IT quotient: A custom program for News Corporation

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 10 months and 13 days ago

news media

With business units as diverse as 20th Century Fox, The Times, MyNetworkTV, National Geographic Channel, and Fox Interactive Media, News Corporation touches 70% of the world's population every day. While its vast reach and numerous holdings are a plus in terms of a successful business model, these elements make for a complex organization, along with challenging leadership responsibilities.

In an effort to assist its executives and strengthen its organizational structure, News Corporation’s then Senior Vice President and CIO Dave Benson turned to MIT Sloan for help—in particular, Peter Weill, whose book, IT Governance: How Top Performers Manage IT Decision Rights for Superior Results, Benson was reading at the time. Weill is a Senior Research Scientist at MIT Sloan and the Director of the School's Center for Information Systems Research (CISR).

Benson's ultimate goal was to enhance the company executives' skill set so that they could manage their IT operations like businesses and better align the IT activities with the company's diverse business units. Weill suggested a custom program because of MIT Sloan's research and expertise in finance, marketing, leadership development, and generating business value from IT—as well as the program's tailored curriculum and one-on-one coaching aspects. "The key to the success of this program was the combination of MIT Sloan’s reputation, a strong customized curriculum, outstanding faculty, and the ability to deliver it all without relieving people of their day jobs," says Benson.

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