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innovation@work™ Blog

What we’re learning from the Target data breach

Data breaches in the news over the past two months have affected millions of people; 110 million Target shoppers and 1.1 million Neiman Marcus customers. Retailer Michaels Stores is investigating a possible data breach. In addition, some Marriott Hotels, Holiday Inns, Sheratons, and other sites managed by White Lodging Hotels were also the target of cybercriminals. As these retailers, businesses, and industry experts brief Congress on the situation, consumers are learning more about the implications of cybercrime. The overall takeaway is that data breaches are common and will continue. In fact, as The Washington Post reported in Experts warn of coming wave of serious cybercrime,” “Only 11% of businesses have adopted industry-standard security measures … and that even these ‘best practices’ fall short of what’s needed to defeat aggressive hackers.”

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Six steps for creating a winning business strategy with the Delta Model

Contributed by MIT Sloan Executive Certificate holder and guest blogger Juan Ignacio Genovese

Strategy can be defined as thinking about and establishing new ways to reach company goals, and although many examples exist, few models of winning business strategy provide the diversity of tools necessary for actualizing that strategy.

Most readers are aware of the important influence of Michael Porter, author of Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors. However, his model does not necessarily make us take action; rather, it determines what we should be aware of to protect and increment our market share. Another example is The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy Into Action, written by Robert Kaplan and David Norton. However, this book is not a tool for modeling strategy but for measuring the strategic impact of our actions. Although there are many other books about the subject, most do not successfully present a complete strategic model.

While searching for a powerful strategic model to use in my position as a marketing consultant, I discovered MIT Sloan Professor Arnoldo Hax’s The Delta Model: Reinventing Your Business Strategy. The strength of this model is that it puts the customer at the center of the strategy, with the goal of achieving customer bonding. The model is based on application of the eight competencies of the firm—specific strategies developed by Professor Hax that help us accomplish our final goal of customer bonding. Each of these strategies will work for a particular market segment.

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The real-world value of an MIT Sloan Executive Certificate

“It’s like getting an MBA in two weeks,” says Tauseef Ayaz, who recently completed an MIT Sloan Executive Certificate in Management and Leadership.

Executive certificates are earned by taking four courses—three in a chosen track, and one more in any of the three tracks. Ayaz earned his certificate with four Management and Leadership programs that really pack a punch: Transforming Your Leadership Strategy; Essential Law Executives: The MIT Advantage; Strategic Marketing for the Technical Executive; and Fundamentals of Finance for the Technical Executive.

An account manager at Nokia—a global leader in mobile communications—Ayaz says he found the courses challenging and in line with his career. In addition, he says the short-term schedule allowed him to complete the certificate without too much time away from the office. “The program’s flexibility was very helpful. It was just the right amount of time and effort.”

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Challenges and solutions for women entrepreneurs

In a recent report from The Daily Finance, Dell had successfully launched its first female global entrepreneurship and development index, or GEDI, created to measure high-potential female entrepreneurship based on individual aspirations, business environments, and entrepreneurial ecosystems. According to the female GEDI, the U.S. was ranked the best country—number 1 out of 17 countries indexed—to be a female entrepreneur.

According to Professor Fiona Murray of MIT Sloan, however, women still have a long way to go. In an interview with Rob Matheson of MIT News, Murray expands on the specific inequalities in female entrepreneurship and what businesses and higher education can do now, to build a better future for female entrepreneurs.

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Networking your way to new products

Many companies get it wrong when it comes to creating new products. They focus on what they need for revenue streams, how to evolve current products into new extensions, and immersing themselves in their R&D labs. Then they take the new product out to a focus group to get feedback.

This process, however, is backwards. Innovative products really come from users who have a need for something. And often, those users are finding workarounds to solve their needs. Research conducted by Eric von Hippel, Professor of Management of Innovation and Engineering Systems at MIT Sloan, in collaboration with Steven Flowers, Jeroen de Jong, and Tanja Sinozic, found that 6.1% of consumers over the age of 18 in the U.K. had created or modified a product for their own use within the last three years.

User-innovators are unlikely to bring their idea to a focus group—after all, the product is already “baked.” That’s where networking—or participating and observing your target markets—comes into play. In today’s open, collaborative world, that’s very easy to do.

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