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

July 4 – July 10, 2021

1. Organizations worldwide are adapting to new ways of doing business, with automation and artificial intelligence playing key roles. These insights from MIT Sloan Management Review can help ensure digital transformation initiatives are successful in the face of new disruptions:

  • Lean into the ways COVID-19 forced enterprises to change for the better, challenging longstanding notions about the efficiency of remote work, the agility of corporate IT departments, and the willingness of customers to embrace (and pay for) digital interactions.
  • Confront the impact of remote work and the return to the office. An approach called organizational role analysis can help make individuals’ roles clearer, more aligned, more manageable, and more autonomous amid significant transitions.
  • Effectively harnessing artificial intelligence capabilities will play a critical role in determining how well organizations are able to respond to disruption. Companies should consider emphasizing four major areas of AI activity: automation, risk detection, data analysis, and prediction and monitoring.
  • Establish an automation center of excellence to set a vision for the use of automation within the enterprise. Whether the center is placed within the IT, data science, or quality management functions, the first step is to determine what humans can do better and what machines can do better.


2. MIT Sloan has four new faculty membersHere’s what they’re working on:

Mert Demirer, assistant professor of applied economics, was most recently a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft Research New England. He earned a PhD in economics from MIT in 2020. Demirer studies industrial organization with a focus on developing new methods to analyze firm behavior, productivity, and market power.

Thodoris Lykouris, assistant professor of operations management, comes from Microsoft Research in New York, where he was a postdoctoral researcher in the machine learning group. He earned a PhD in computer science from Cornell University in 2019. Lykouris studies data-driven sequential decision-making as it relates to machine learning, optimization, stochastic models, and revenue management.

Anna Stansbury, assistant professor of work and organization studies, earned a PhD in economics at Harvard University this year and was a scholar in Harvard’s Inequality and Social Policy program. Stansbury’s research focuses on topics in labor and macroeconomics, particularly on issues to do with inequality, power, and institutions in the labor market.

Andy Sun, associate professor of operations research and statistics, will join MIT Sloan in January 2022. He is currently an associate professor at the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech. He earned a PhD in operations management from MIT Sloan in 2011. Sun’s research focuses on developing optimal decision methods to facilitate large-scale renewable energy integration in electric power systems.


3. As antitrust advocates increase their call for tech giants to be broken up, industry watchers wonder how Amazon would behave under such a scenario. Michael Cusumano, a professor of management and deputy dean at MIT Sloan, suggests looking back on Microsoft’s antitrust battle from the late 1990s for clues.

Cusumano summarized the case recently for the On Point radio show. The courts determined that Microsoft should be broken up into an operating system and an applications company; Microsoft appealed, and won on appeal, but then had to proceed a number of years under monitoring.

“Microsoft was absolutely affected by the antitrust trial,” Cusumano said. “They definitely became much less aggressive, much less inclined to abuse their Windows position.”

During the period following the settlement, Microsoft “made some desperate acquisitions” — mobile phone provider Nokia chief among them — but primarily focused on its core business, enterprise computing, before establishing a presence as a cloud computing provider.

“Its behavior definitely became muted, and that probably will happen to Amazon as well,” Cusumano said.

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