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ABOUT THE INITIATIVE

The Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) is a major effort addressing one of the most critical issues of our time: the impact of digital technology on businesses, the economy, and society. Drawing on MIT Sloan’s strengths in technology and innovation, its internationally recognized faculty, and more than a decade of research and partnership with MIT Sloan’s Center for Digital Business, the IDE is analyzing the broad sociological changes brought about by the advance and spread of digital technology.

While digital technologies are rapidly transforming both business practices and societies and are integral to the innovation-driven economies of the future, they are also the core driver of the great economic paradox of our time. On one hand, productivity, wealth, and profits are each at record highs; on the other hand, the median worker in America is poorer than in 1997, and fewer people have jobs. Rapid advances in technology are creating unprecedented benefits and efficiencies, but there is no economic law that says everyone, or even a majority of people, will share in these gains.

Technology is advancing quickly, but organizations and skills advance slowly. What’s more, the gap between swiftly evolving technology and the slower pace of human development will grow rapidly in the coming decades, as exponential improvements in artificial intelligence, robotics, networks, analytics, and digitization affect more and more of the economy and society. Inventing effective organizations and institutions for the digital economy is the grand challenge for our time, and for MIT in particular.

The Initiative on the Digital Economy will address four major subject areas, or key pillars:

Productivity, Employment, and Inequality

What will the workforce of the future look like? How can we accelerate the transformation of institutions, organizations, and human skills to keep up with the quickening pace of digital innovation?

New Digital Business Models
What new business models are made possible by digitization and how can entrepreneurs more quickly implement them in ways that create widespread benefits?

Big Data
We believe the real power of big data lies not only in its scale, but also in its granularity. How can we harness the remarkably fine-grained, real-time data now available to answer age-old questions and identify new opportunities?

Social Analytics
How do new technologies and new means of social interaction impact productivity, consumer demand, political mobilization, and public health?

We believe MIT Sloan, with its tradition of rigor and relevance and its deep roots within MIT, is uniquely qualified to lead intellectually in this area of knowledge creation. The Initiative has
three main goals:

  • To rigorously analyze the potential of digital technologies to transform businesses, the economy, and society
  • To engage students and faculty in educational programs relevant to the digital revolution, keeping MIT Sloan at the forefront of management education
  • To make grounded recommendations to industry leaders and policymakers about the digital economy and job growth

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