To kick off the new year, we asked MIT Sloan Executive Education faculty to weigh in on trends they’re seeing in their fields. Here are their forecasts.
Kristine Dery: Companies will need new ways to nurture top talent
Large companies are going to continue to struggle to get the digital talent that they need to fulfill their strategies. Organizations need to find ways to attract and retain the best and brightest in fields like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and data analytics … this is going to become increasingly challenging as the use of these new technologies becomes more prevalent. Companies will need to refine their employee experience and create fertile ground for talent to excel, e.g., continuously upgrading technology and allowing talent to pursue their own interests and projects. These are the organizations that will come out on top. Dery teaches in the new course, Cybersecurity Leadership for Non-Technical Executives.
Hal Gregersen: At the edge of uncertainty, questions really are the answer.
Future breakthroughs in health care, politics, manufacturing, transportation, sustainable energy, artistic expression, and more hinge on rebuilding our capacity to ask well-framed, catalytic questions—ones that challenge and transform the status quo into something far better. Let’s make 2019 the year of asking better questions— of ourselves and others— by encouraging more productive, probing inquiry in everyday work and life. To kick start better questions, set aside four minutes each day to ask nothing but questions about a challenge you face … by the end of the year you’ll have accumulated 24 hours of question asking that might lead to your biggest breakthrough yet. Gregersen teaches in Leadership and the Lens: Reframing the Question to Unlock Insight and Impact and The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators. Learn more about his new book, Questions Are the Answer: A Breakthrough Approach to Your Most Vexing Problems at Work and in Life.
Stuart Madnick: Regarding cyber attacks, the worse is yet to come
Although the good guys are getting better, the bad guys are getting ‘badder’—faster! That is because of the growth of a sophisticated cybercrime ecosystem, often referred to as the “Dark Web.” In spite of these challenges, there are many things that corporations can do to be better prepared, especially since most cyber attacks are aided or abetted by insiders (typically unintentionally, by responding to phishing schemes). Effective preparation requires the active involvement of all members of the organization, especially the managers—not just the IT department. Madnick teaches in the new course, Cybersecurity Leadership for Non-Technical Executives.
Jeanne Ross: Digital is all about speed … but it takes a long time
Agile methodologies and empowered teams are helping large legacy companies address the need for speed that characterizes digital businesses. But agile methodologies and empowered teams do not fit naturally into the processes and structures of big, complex companies. We have found that companies cannot simply throw out old ways of working and introduce new ones. Rather, these businesses must evolve toward a digital business one component at a time and help each team become proficient at using data to make decisions that address strategic objectives. It’s slow at first, but you’ll get on a roll. Ross teaches in Revitalizing Your Digital Business Model and Leading Change in Complex Organizations.
Ben Shields: Tech firms will disrupt sports media
There's been an interesting amount of experimentation with live sports programming among technology firms to date. Amazon Prime streamed (on a non-exclusive basis) the NFL's Thursday Night Football games the last couple of seasons, and MLB fans could watch 25 games exclusively on Facebook in 2018. These are just the warm-ups—it's only a matter of time before the real game begins. Unsurprisingly, Amazon might be the likeliest and most successful disruptor, in light of their recent bid on Disney’s 22 regional sports networks. Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter all have sports strategies and budgets, and don't be surprised if Apple gets in the mix as well. The one thing we can count on: the next frontier in the sports data revolution will be in sports media, and technology firms will be at the center of it. Shields teaches in Analytics Management: Business Lessons from the Sports Data Revolution.
Tara Swart: The intersection between neuroscience and AI is heating up
In 2018, I introduced new topics in my programs: AI and the future of work; organizational plasticity; and psychopathic traits in leadership. 2019 will be all about managing human-robot mixed teams, organizations that can flex and pivot in response to massive change, and the increasingly important skills of empathy, intuition, and creativity. Our brains are the source of mastering all of this. Brain agility and an abundant mindset will be key. Swart teaches in Neuroscience for Leadership and Applied Neuroscience: Unleashing Brain Power for You and Your People. Learn more about her forthcoming book, The Source: Open Your Mind, Change Your Life.
Zeynep Ton: Retail works wages, and responsibilities, will be on the rise
The labor market is very tight, and a lot of retailers that I speak to are competing for talent and having trouble finding the right people. This means employees who are dissatisfied with conditions at their current employer will find it easy to move to one that can accommodate them better. Retailers that can create an environment where employees are productive and where they can contribute a lot to the company’s success will do fine. Also, as retailers shift toward digital and omnichannel business models, workers will be expected to take on a wider range of tasks and responsibilities, and that will necessitate better compensation. Ton teaches in Strategies for Sustainable Business; Achieving Operational Excellence Through People; and the ELLE International Fashion and Luxury Management Program.