THINKING FORWARD – Ideas for your work from MIT Sloan School of Management


Ideas for your work from
MIT Sloan School of Management | Office of Communications

May 23 – May 29, 2021

1. Artificial intelligence is no longer a technology of the future — large companies are leveraging it today for competitive advantage.

Experts at MIT Technology Review’s recent EmTech Digital conference outlined innovations that tap the power of AI and big data to deliver real-world value:

  • Siemens is among industrial manufacturers augmenting its engineering software with AI-infused generative design features. Engineers can specify critical design and cost parameters such as weight or performance characteristics, and the software quickly comes up with a broader range of options than what a typical human could ideate on their own. Benefits include greatly reduced manufacturing costs and improved product performance.
  • Mastercard is improving fraud detection by combining AI with the vast stores of data available from its network to reduce the number of false positives that shut off customers’ cards unnecessarily. Mastercard’s decision-management platform leverages 13 AI technologies to deliver more-accurate determinations of fraud in less than 50 milliseconds.
  • John Deere has integrated a modern AI and computer-vision platform into its industrial farming machines. A robotics-enhanced sprayer, for example, uses computer vision to recognize plants, ensuring it sprays herbicide on weeds and fertilizer on crops. The result is less herbicide used, which brings both economic and environmental benefits.


2. As an investment professional in what can be a male-dominated field, Jennifer DeSisto draws sustenance from her “career squad.”

“These are people who will support and advocate for me. I go to this team for advice, networking, and support,” said DeSisto, who is chief investment officer and portfolio manager at Anchor Capital Advisors.

In a recent Q&A, DeSisto, MBA ’05, talked about the power of women supporting women and where she sees room for optimism in the finance industry.

How do you support women coming up behind you? I make sure women on my investment team are heard. I invite them to industry events and client meetings, I make introductions to expand their networks, and I advocate for them in going to business school and future jobs.

Where do you see progress for women in finance? We are seeing more attention in the investment industry to having diverse teams, which is allowing an opportunity for women to progress. There is never a better time for women in this industry, and I’m excited to see the progress.


3. How are companies like Costco, Trader Joe’s, and QuikTrip able to pay their workers more than their competitors yet remain highly profitable? The answer isn’t as simple as customer loyalty, according to Hazhir Rahmandad, an MIT Sloan associate professor of system dynamics.

These retailers and others like them have figured out unique business methods — often involving employee scheduling, inventory, and maintenance — that ask more of workers and are tailored to each company’s needs.

A commitment to “task-rich” jobs requires more detailed systems design but ultimately improves employee retention and the bottom line, according to a paper by Rahmandad and MIT Sloan professor Zenyep Ton published last year in Organization Science.

“You need high-quality employees who want to grow in their jobs,” Rahmandad told MIT News. “Issues involving schedules, insourcing maintenance, and inventory are critical for making this approach work. And it takes a two-year commitment before you see the benefit.”

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By MIT Sloan CDO