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MIT Sloan Management Review

MIT Sloan Management Review Winter 2017

MIT Sloan Management Review leads the discourse among academic researchers, business executives and other influential thought leaders about advances in management practice, particularly those shaped by technology,  that are transforming how people lead and innovate. MIT SMR disseminates new management research and innovative ideas so that thoughtful executives can capitalize on the opportunities generated by rapid organizational, technological and societal change.

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United States
MIT Sloan Management Review
4 Issues

in this issue

3 min.
please go away (and spend more time somewhere else)

Having spent most of the spring and summer months head down in the office, I’ve been on the road more recently. And I’ve been reminded of how powerful an experience it is simply to be “elsewhere,” especially in times of uncertainty. We find ourselves in an unsettled and unsettling era. Our politics are in turmoil; our economies heave and sigh; technological change occurs at a speed that makes even our robots’ heads spin. As humans and as organizational leaders, our world may often seem distressingly unpredictable. There is so much beyond our control and so much with which we need to keep pace. If you’ve been following MIT Sloan Management Review during the past several months, you know that we — and perhaps I most of all — believe we are on…

7 min.
how to develop a great digital strategy

As leading technology companies embrace biometrics, artificial intelligence (AI), drones, and other exciting digital technologies, senior business executives at many other companies feel pressured to do the same. But if they are to maximize the value from investment in new technologies, business leaders first must make sure that their companies have a great digital strategy. We studied digital strategies as part of a research project on designing digital organizations that the MIT Center for Information Systems Research conducted in partnership with The Boston Consulting Group; in that project, we interviewed more than 70 senior executives at 27 companies. Our findings underscored the importance of developing a winning business strategy that takes advantage of digital technologies. A great digital strategy provides direction, enabling executives to lead digital initiatives, gauge their progress, and…

12 min.
how blockchain will change organizations

For the last century, academics and business leaders have been shaping the practice of modern management. The main theories, tenets, and behaviors have enabled managers to build corporations, which have largely been hierarchical, insular, and vertically integrated. However, we believe that the technology underlying digital currencies such as bitcoin — technology commonly known as blockchain — will have profound effects on the nature of companies: how they are funded and managed, how they create value, and how they perform basic functions such as marketing, accounting, and incentivizing people. In some cases, software will eliminate the need for many management functions. Sound far-fetched? Let us explain. The internet vastly improved the flow of data within and between organizations, but the effect on how we do business has been more limited. That’s because…

8 min.
why your company needs data translators

Over the past two years, we’ve worked extensively with leaders in the world of professional sports, a field known for its use of analytics. An emergent theme of our work has been the persistent cultural divide between the decision makers on the field and the data analysts who crunch numbers off of it. Our work has included a series of research workshops to discuss trans-Atlantic and cross-sector issues around performance management in professional sports. A key issue that emerged from these meetings was the recognition of this consistent disconnect within performance management practice between “big data” analysts and the decision makers they support. This is evidenced by the predominantly dismissive attitude of many executive decision makers (general managers, head coaches, CEOs, COOs, etc.) to both the data itself and those responsible…

9 min.
winning the digital war for talent

As companies attempt to compete in an increasingly digital world, they face a wide range of challenges. Somehow, with limited resources and competing priorities, they must develop the capabilities they need so that their activities, people, culture, and structure are well-aligned with their organizational goals in a changing competitive environment. One of the most critical issues is finding the right people — something many companies appear to be struggling with — and designing paths forward that meet their needs. In a 2016 digital business study and research project that MIT Sloan Management Review and consulting firm Deloitte LLP conducted, we found that the ability of companies to attract and retain talent was one of the most serious — and most overlooked — digital threats companies faced. Seventy percent of the…

5 min.
is your company ready for hr analytics?

Big data and analytics are omnipresent in today’s business environment. What’s more, new technologies such as the internet of things, the ever-expanding online social graph, and the emergence of open, public data only increase the need for deep analytical knowledge and skills. Many companies have already invested in big data and analytics to gain a better understanding of customer behavior. In fact, due to the introduction of various regulatory guidelines, some of the most mature analytical applications can be found in customer-focused areas in insurance, risk management, and financial fraud detection. But what about leveraging big data and analytics to gain insights into another group of your company’s key stakeholders: your employees? Although we see many companies ramping up investments in HR analytics, we haven’t seen many success stories in that…