How small businesses can fend off hackers — Lou Shipley

MIT Sloan Lecturer Lou Shipley

MIT Sloan Lecturer Lou Shipley

From The Wall Street Journal

If you wanted to hack a business, which one would you pick: A Fortune 500 company with a large digital-security budget and a team dedicated to protecting its cyberassets? Or a small enterprise that doesn’t employ a single IT security specialist? Of course hackers are equal-opportunity criminals, but you get my point.

Security breaches at big companies such as J.P. Morgan, Sony and Home Depotdominate the headlines, but safety measures are crucial for organizations of all shapes and sizes. According to the 2012 Verizon Data Breach Report, 71% of cyberattacks occur at businesses with fewer than 100 employees. The average cost of a data breach for those small businesses is $36,000.

We can no longer assume that hackers are solitary figures sitting in basements fiddling with their laptops. They may be members of organized-crime groups or employed by nation states, and they have resources that can destabilize entire companies and countries. These hackers constantly look for Internet vulnerabilities. They break through firewalls, infect machines, and use phishing schemes to gain access through emails to people’s passwords and Social Security numbers. They can then leverage weaknesses in applications to cause a database to output its contents.

So what can the owner of a small business do to defend himself? Here are some tips.

Read More »

Why the Internet did not kill RadioShack — Andrey Malenko

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. Andrey Malenko

From Fortune

We’ve seen the downfall of many bricks and mortar stores over the last decade, including Borders, Circuit City, and most recently, RadioShack — to name just a few. As e-commerce continues to rise, it’s seemingly becoming more difficult for traditional stores to stay in business.

It’s true that online shopping has significantly grown over the last 10 years. Even in the last year, we’ve seen a noticeable uptick. According to the U.S. Census, total e-commerce sales for 2014 in the U.S. were estimated at $304.9 billion, which is a 15.4% increase from 2013. However, plenty of bricks and mortar stores are still healthy. Is it fair to blame e-commerce for every store closing and bankruptcy?

As a U.S. bankruptcy judge on Tuesday said he would approve a plan by the electronics retailer to sell 1,740 of its stores to the Standard General hedge fund and exit bankruptcy, it’s worth taking a closer look at why RadioShack failed. E-commerce wasn’t the only culprit. One big mistake involved poor strategic decisions over its financials. Feeling undervalued, the retailer bought back $400 million in stock in 2010 when its net profit was $206 million. It did something similar in 2011 when its net profit had declined to $72 million and it did another buy back for $113 million. In the end, it spent more than $500 million trying to push up the stock price.

Read More »

C2C: The next frontier in mobile payments is all about trust — Lou Shipley

MIT Sloan Lecturer Lou Shipley

MIT Sloan Lecturer Lou Shipley

From The Conversation

Mobile payments will be one of the hottest businesses in 2015 as consumers increasingly swap cash and credit cards for their smartphones. How fast the mobile payment market segment grows, however, will depend on consumer trust, security and ease of use.

While consumer-to-business (C2B) payments have taken off with companies like Apple Pay and PayPal, consumer-to-consumer (C2C) payments are the next frontier.

Reliable statistics on C2C mobile transaction growth are hard to come by. But according to Gartner Research, by 2017 the total worldwide mobile payments market is expected to reach 450 million users (18% growth a year) and be worth $721 billion (35% a year).

Read More »

Harnessing technology — David Schmittlein

From The Financial Times

David Schmittlein, dean of MIT Sloan School of Management, discusses the effect of the digital economy on management education with FT Business Education Editor Della Bradshaw.

Watch the video at The Financial Times.

David Schmittlein is the John C Head III Dean and Professor of Marketing at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Constructing innovation supply chains for the pharmaceutical industry — Noubar B. Afeyan

MIT Sloan Sr. Lecturer Noubar Afeyan

MIT Sloan Sr. Lecturer Noubar Afeyan

From Xconomy

Competition via innovation has been recognized as essential for mid- to long-term success and even survival of science-based corporations such as pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. As such, understanding how best to innovate, and how to do it more often and efficiently, is top of mind for executives at many large corporations.

Traditionally, the approach for pharma companies has been to dedicate a large portion of spending on R&D, in the hopes of generating a steady internal stream of innovation to fill pipelines with new, differentiated, and competitive products. However, as is now widely known, these costly efforts have been disappointing at best, resulting in major reductions in R&D expenditures at many of the leading pharma companies. AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Sanofi, to name a few, have made headlines recently for their reductions in R&D. Though many acknowledge that the majority of R&D cuts have been completed, this trend still exemplifies the major shakeup that has caused the industry to reevaluate its focus on innovation and examine the productivity of R&D. A recent study conducted by consulting firm Oliver Wyman concluded that “the value generated by $1 invested in pharma R&D has fallen by more than 70%.” From 1996-2004 drug companies produced $275 million in five-year sales for every $1 billion spent on R&D, and from 2005-2010 it was $75 million.

Read More »