The rise of data-driven decision making is real but uneven — Kristina McElheran and Erik Brynjolfsson

Kristina McElheran, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy Visiting Scholar

Kristina McElheran, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy Visiting Scholar

 

 Professor of Information Technology, Director, The MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy


Professor of Information Technology,
Director, The MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy

From Harvard Business Review

Growing opportunities to collect and leverage digital information have led many managers to change how they make decisions – relying less on intuition and more on data. As Jim Barksdale, the former CEO of Netscape quipped, “If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.” Following pathbreakers such as Caesar’s CEO Gary Loveman – who attributes his firm’s success to the use of databases and cutting-edge analytical tools – managers at many levels are now consuming data and analytical output in unprecedented ways.

This should come as no surprise. At their most fundamental level, all organizations can be thought of as “information processors” that rely on the technologies of hierarchy, specialization, and human perception to collect, disseminate, and act on insights. Therefore, it’s only natural that technologies delivering faster, cheaper, more accurate information create opportunities to re-invent the managerial machinery.

At the same time, large corporations are not always nimble creatures. How quickly are managers actually making the investments and process changes required to embrace decision-making practices rooted in objective data? And should all firms jump on this latest managerial bandwagon?

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A sports fantasy too big to fail: Regulate, don’t eliminate, daily fantasy competitions — Ben Shields

MIT Sloan Lecturer Ben Shields

MIT Sloan Lecturer Ben Shields

From NY Daily News

New York sports fans may not care to admit it, but Brady Nation is getting it right with their approach to regulating the daily fantasy sports industry.

Last month, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced a draft of regulations for fast-growing but now embattled daily fantasy sports services like DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo. Among the proposed measures, the state would institute a 21-year-old age limit, prohibit employees, professional athletes and other insiders from playing the game, and require those ubiquitous advertisements to better inform and safeguard consumers.

These proposed regulations are appropriate and necessary for two reasons. First, they embrace a mainstream cultural and business phenomenon without trying to outlaw it. Second, they do so while protecting the integrity of fantasy games at a critical juncture in the nascent industry’s history.

For starters, the regulations recognize and accept the remarkable influence of fantasy sports, in both the daily and “traditional,” season-long formats, on the modern sports fan’s experience. Much has changed since the first known fantasy football league, the Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League, launched in 1963.

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The most rotten part about Thanksgiving Day — It’s time for America’s retail industry to change its ways — Zeynep Ton

MIT Sloan Visiting Prof. Zeynep Ton

MIT Sloan Visiting Prof. Zeynep Ton

From Fortune

This year, all kinds of holiday shopping traditions are being upended as desperate retailers do everything they can think of to increase sales. On what’s being called “Gray Thursday,” retailers like Walmart WMT 0.85% , Toys“R”Us, Target TGT 0.37% , and Kmart are giving shoppers the jump on Black Friday by opening on the evening of Thanksgiving, presumably after you’ve had enough turkey and cranberry sauce. JC Penney JCP 1.57% is opening even earlier — at 3 p.m.

This is a rotten break for employees forced to work while the rest of the family gathers together, as I point out here. REI, the outdoor sports and gear retailer, seems to be taking another approach, closing its 143 outlets on bothThanksgiving AND Black Friday. This move may earn REI a lot of publicity and goodwill. It is also consistent with the company’s brand as an environmentally concerned business and its “get out there” message: In this busy world, you don’t get enough time with your family or with nature. Why not use the holiday to enjoy the very things that REI promotes? You can always shop for our products later.

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Three ideas on fixing the troubled MBTA — Steven J. Spear

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Steven Spear

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Steven Spear

From The Boston Globe

After the T’s recent collapse, the Globe asked management specialists at local business schools for recommendations to put the system on track (and maybe on time).

Steven J. Spear: Anticipate problems, then practice responses

The MBTA was walloped by January’s and February’s snow, and capital, technological, and urban planning ideas are being floated to prevent future disruptions.

For instance, the Commonwealth acquired two snow melters capable of processing 100 tons per hour to clear tracks and streets. There will certainly be calls for fleet modernization and maintenance, given the blame assigned to older equipment. Longer term planning has a role in ensuring the right type of vehicles are purchased and available to meet commuter needs.

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How to turn an internship into a job offer — Sue Kline

Senior Director, Career Development Office, MIT Sloan

Senior Director, Career Development Office, MIT Sloan

From Financial Times

First and foremost, they want to see if you are able to accomplish the tasks put in front of you. Beyond that, they want to determine if you fit with the company. Do you interact well with colleagues and managers, and understand the company’s culture?

For example, in a culture where there is a lot of collaboration and you are not a team player, you are giving a signal that you do not understand how things work. If everyone goes to lunch once a week as a group and you decline because you are focusing on a task, then that is another signal.

Ask yourself: are you paying attention to the norms of the company?

Is networking important for an intern?

Networking is a critical part of what is, in essence, an eight or 10-week interview. It is through building relationships over time that you have the opportunity to get to know people and learn from them, as well as let them get to know you. This is a chance for them to see the value you bring to the organisation. This is important because hiring decisions are rarely made by one person alone. It is common for companies to ask for feedback from several people to determine if you will receive an offer.

Read the full post at the Financial Times.

Sue Kline is the senior director of the Career Development Office at MIT Sloan.