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

+ THREE INSIGHTS FOR THE WEEK August 1 – August 7, 2021

1. Chief information officers have played a crucial role in companies’ digital transformation efforts. Now the CIO role itself is evolving, according to a new survey of more than 500 CIOs from professional services firm Genpact and the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium.

There are still technology tasks to be done, like setting up data lakes or cloud computing. But technology is no longer the hardest part — transformation is, as leaders manage people, processes, data, and technology.

The survey found that CIOs who are part of the C-suite are most effective, with “pilot CIOs” — those who are building new business models and embracing digital technology — leading the charge.

These transformational leaders are concentrating their attention on three areas:

  • The cloud and hyperautomation.

  • Data analytics and artificial intelligence.

  • Upskilling and hiring.


2. Digital platforms aren’t just for upstarts or emerging industries anymore — traditional companies and everyday businesses are now tapping the power of platforms to innovate new products and services and stay abreast of tough competition.

Any industry where data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning have the potential to drive change is a candidate for a platform strategy, said Marshall Van Alstyne, a visiting scholar at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy.

But time is of the essence. “Organizations need to move now, because if they’re not, their competitors will be,” said Van Alstyne, who moderated a panel at the recent 2021 MIT Platform Strategy Summit. “You have to run really hard in order to stay ahead of the pack.”

Given that platforms are dominated by tech giants like Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft, it’s natural for the average company to question how they can compete.

Panel experts said industry domain expertise, strong relationships with customers, and a willingness to collaborate with partners provide an opening.

“Knowing your customer is your strength — pull on that with partners, and it will help drive the rotation into a platform company,” said Emma McGuigan, global lead of Intelligent Platform Service at Accenture.


3. Economic inequality is expanding worldwide — but what role, if any, should central banks play in trying to mitigate its effects?

A panel of banking officials tackled the question at the 2021 annual meeting of the Central Bank Research Association, hosted by the MIT Golub Center for Finance and Policy. Some of their observations:

James Bullard, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, said the focus of monetary policy should be to keep credit markets running smoothly “because everyone needs them to be functioning well in order to get the best allocation of resources.”

Olli Rehn, governor of the Bank of Finland, said that monetary policy should be used to stimulate economic activity and assist in saving and creating jobs, especially during times of crisis.

Zeti Aziz, former governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, Malaysia’s central bank, noted that in emerging economies, central banks have more than one objective. “In addition to the monetary and financial stability, there is the mandate to develop the domestic financial markets, the payment system, and the financial infrastructure — while also promoting a balanced and inclusive growth that is sustainable,” she said.

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By MIT Sloan CDO