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6 fresh business insights from MIT Sloan Management Review

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Why the data marketplaces of the future will sell insights, not data

A stock market for data?

At a time when data is seen as a business asset, there’s no good way to put a value on it, says Munther Dahleh, director of MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems, and Society. But Dahleh has an idea.

In an interview with MIT Sloan Management Review, he proposed a data market, where buyers bid not on data, but on data predictions.

“You might come into the market because you’re a retailer and you’re trying to predict your inventory,” Dahleh said. “You describe the prediction you need, choose the prediction algorithms you want to use, and place a bid.”

The market will tell you what access to data you get based on your bid, and will provide you with your requested prediction.

Dahleh said predictions are more valuable because of their accuracy. Companies today put a high value on storing lots of data, he said, but “it is going to be a surprise to a lot of people that much of that data is just useless. It becomes stale too quickly to be effective.”

The trouble with cybersecurity management

Flight simulators help pilots hone their skills and react in emergency situations, without the risk of injury.

Mohammad Jalali, a research faculty member at MIT Sloan, suggested a similar training tool for managers and how they handle their company’s cybersecurity.

Jalali and his colleagues built a “management flight simulator” to test managers on how they handled a cybersecurity crisis. Both experienced and inexperienced managers were part of the test.

The results were surprising. Experienced managers did not do any better than their inexperienced students. In fact, the inexperienced managers were able to adapt more easily to random attacks, while experienced managers had a hard time dealing with attacks that occurred at unpredictable times.

Regardless of experience, Jalali said, tools like the management flight simulator are important for all managers “to improve their decision-making skills and build effective cybersecurity systems in organizations.”

Breaking logjams in knowledge work

In the roughly 20 years since the human genome was first sequenced, the process and price tag for genomic sequencing have dropped dramatically thanks to research centers like the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.But it wasn’t luck that cut years into days and billions into thousands of dollars — it was the organizational overhaul.

MIT Sloan senior lecturer Don Kieffer, MIT Sloan professor Nelson Repenning, and Broad Institute scientist Sheila Dodge, write that moving from a push to a pull-based system “[improves] transparency, which enables learning, and greater productivity.”

Digital transformation opens new questions — and new problems to solve

The digital transformation phase of a company shouldn’t be a reason to develop more answers to questions that are already known, it should be a time to ask better questions.

That’s according to MIT Sloan senior lecturer Hal Gregersen, who writes that rethinking the digital transformation phase is what can lead to company breakthroughs.

“Modest questions about how today’s problems could be better solved lead to applications of technology with easily foreseeable gains,” writes Gregersen, who is also the executive director of the MIT Leadership Center.

Those questions are “catalytic,” Gregersen writes, because they inject energy into more creative solutions.

 

How platform strategies continue to create value

At the heart of the 2018 MIT Platform Strategy Summit is this: “The adoption of platforms continues to transform industries and create new value where it did not exist before.”

Geoffrey Parker, a research fellow at MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy, and his fellow authors rounded up key takeaways from the summit. Among their findings are the importance of building value through diversity, taking on fragmented markets, and building a pool of data-driven, artificial intelligence-knowledgeable talent.

Let your digital strategy emerge

Digital technology is a game changer, writes Jeanne Ross, principal research scientist for MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research, but only if you know how to apply it to the field.

Automation, unlimited connectivity, and ever-growing data sets create a wealth of solutions for a company, Ross said, but not every solution is valuable.

The way to choose the right solutions and be competitive comes down to two habits:

  • create a portfolio of business experiments.

  • engage with customers to get deep insights.

“These habits will help find the point of intersection between what’s possible and what’s desired,” Ross said. “That intersection is where a business will succeed digitally.” 

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