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 October 10 – October 16, 2021

1. In late August, video-sharing app TikTok became a digital storefront, helping companies like Kylie Cosmetics, the billion-dollar makeup company founded by Kylie Jenner, sell products. Powered by e-commerce platform Shopify, the new function is an example of the “platform-to-platform” integration experts see proliferating in 2021.

This trend and others are covered in the new 2021 platform strategy report from the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy. Among other topics, the report covers how to regulate platforms; shifting corporate cultures to embrace digital transformation; and ways in which companies like Shell and Mitsubishi Power are using platforms to meet green energy goals.


2. The COVID-19 pandemic drove a sudden and significant shift in business technology investment. But a new report from McKinsey & Co. reveals that C-level executives and senior leaders believe their organizations are still vulnerable to digital disruption.

The report finds that the top-performing digital businesses have invested in a technology endowment that includes cloud adoption and infrastructure, cybersecurity initiatives, and greater investment in talent.

Other major findings, according to visiting lecturer Irving Wladawsky-Berger:

  • Companies see technology capabilities as a key strategic differentiator. “Fully 51% of respondents said that they invest in digital technologies to differentiate their companies from competitors, and 7% said that they aspire to become a technology company.”
  • Bold investments by top competitors have put them ahead, and they will be hard to catch. A review of the top performers’ technology endowments shows them ahead of peers, though there is still room for improvement.
  • Top performers were more innovative during the beginning of the pandemic. “Twenty-one percent of products and services sold by the top-decile performers didn’t exist the previous year, compared to 12% for all other respondents.”


3. In Silicon Valley, where entrepreneurs closely guard their ideas, codes, formulas, and secret sauces, Frederic Kerrest is an open book. The co-founder, executive vice chairman, and COO of identity management company Okta is a firm believer in sharing ideas with as many people as he can, and that “keeping your ideas to yourself is a big mistake.”

In a recent Q&A, Kerrest explained why people should worry less about having their ideas stolen:

Who do you share new ideas with?  

I share new ideas with as many people as I can, as often as I can. I am of the strong opinion that keeping your ideas to yourself is a big mistake. Some people don’t want to share their ideas because they are worried someone is going to steal them. This kind of fear usually means you don’t have the experience and expertise needed to be thinking 30 years ahead of everyone else. But even more importantly, this fear indicates to me that the idea can be easily implemented without barriers, signaling it’s really about who can run faster. This does not create sustainable competitive differentiation and innovation in the long term.

How do you test ideas? 

I test ideas by bouncing them off of people, including partners, prospects, colleagues, customers, investors — pretty much anyone who will listen. Talking through ideas helps me look at the problem I’m trying to solve through different lenses, and getting feedback early on saves me valuable time in the long run.

Content from the: MIT Sloan Office of Communications Building E90, 9th Floor 1 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02142

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