Christian Catalini: “Breaking Down the Libra Cryptocurrency”

Christian Catalini, co-creator of Libra and a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management (on leave)

We hope you’ll tune in to the next installment of the MIT Sloan Experts Series

Join us on November 7 at 12 noon ET for a live conversation with Christian Catalini, co-creator of Libra and the Head Economist at Calibra, the Facebook subsidiary developing a wallet for Libra. Catalini, a professor at the MIT Sloan School (on leave) and an expert in blockchain, will explain how Libra works, how you will be able to use it once it goes live, and what Calibra is doing to address issues around privacy and security.

Michael Cusumano, Professor of Management at MIT Sloan and co-author of the book, The Business of Platforms: Strategy in the Age of Digital Competition, Innovation, and Power, among others, will weigh in on the political and regulatory challenges that Libra faces.

Scott Onder, Senior Managing Director, Social Ventures, at Mercy Corps, the humanitarian aid organization, also appears on the program to talk about Libra’s potential to bring financial services to the many people around the world who don’t use banks or other traditional institutions.

You will be able to view the live show by bookmarking this page and tuning in November 7 at 12 noon ET.

At the end of the show, Catalini will take questions from social media. If you’re joining us on the MIT Sloan Facebook page, submit your question in the comments. On Twitter, tag your questions with the hashtag #MITSloanExperts. Your question could be answered live on the air.

It pays to have a digitally savvy board – Peter Weill, Thomas Apel, Stephanie L. Woerner, Jennifer S. Banner

Peter Weill, Senior Research Scientist and Chair of the Center for Information Systems Research, MIT Sloan School of Management

Stephanie L. Woerner, Research Scientist at the MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research, MIT Sloan School of Management

From MIT Sloan Management Review

Boards of directors have many issues competing for their attention, but being digitally conversant in an era of digital transformation is quickly rising to the top of the list. Nearly all companies are looking for ways that technology can be used to improve their business models, customer experience, operational efficiency, and more — and boards must help them move forward at a sufficient pace, advocating for change by supporting and sometimes nudging their CEOs. Those that do are likely to see better financial results than those that don’t.

That’s what we discovered when we did a machine learning analysis of the digital know-how of all the boards of U.S.-listed businesses. (See “About the Research.”) Our research shows that companies whose boards of directors have digital savvy outperform companies whose boards lack it. We define digital savvy as an understanding, developed through experience and education, of the impact that emerging technologies will have on businesses’ success over the next decade. We measured it by analyzing data from surveys, interviews, company communications, and the bios of 40,000 directors, extracting key words that signal exposure to digital ways of thinking and working.

Our discoveries are striking: We found that among companies with over $1 billion in revenues, 24% had digitally savvy boards, and those businesses significantly outperformed others on key metrics — such as revenue growth, return on assets, and market cap growth.

Doing business in the digital era entails risks ranging from cybersecurity breaches and privacy issues to business model disruptions and missed competitive opportunities. When a board lacks digital savvy, it can’t get a handle on important elements of strategy and oversight and thus can’t play its critical role of helping guide the company to a successful future. But companies can fix that by understanding what characteristics to look for in existing and new board members, managing board agendas differently, and cultivating new learning opportunities.

Read the full post at MIT Sloan Management Review.

Peter Weill is a Senior Research Scientist and Chair of the Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Stephanie L. Woerner is a Research Scientist at the MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research.

Thomas Apel is chairman of the board at Stewart Information Services Corp.

Jennifer S. Banner is CEO at Schaad Cos. and lead director of BB&T Corp.

A study of more than 250 platforms reveals why most fail – Michael A. Cusumano, David B. Yoffie, and Annabelle Gawer

Michael Cusumano, SMR Distinguished Professor of Management, MIT Sloan School of Management

From Harvard Business Review 

Platforms have become one of the most important business models of the 21st century. In our newly-published book, we divide all platforms into two types:  Innovation platforms enable third-party firms to add complementary products and services to a core product or technology. Prominent examples include Google Android and Apple iPhone operating systems as well as Amazon Web Services. The other type, transaction platforms, enable the exchange of information, goods, or services. Examples include Amazon Marketplace, Airbnb, or Uber.

Five of the six most valuable firms in the world are built around these types of platforms.  In our analysis of data going back 20 years, we also identified 43 publicly-listed platform companies in the Forbes Global 2000. These platforms generated the same level of annual revenues (about $4.5 billion) as their non-platform counterparts, but used half the number of employees. They also had twice the operating profits and much higher market values and growth rates.

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It’s all about business model innovation, not new technology – Irving Wladawsky-Berger

MIT Sloan Visiting Lecturer Irving Wladawsky-Berger

MIT Sloan Visiting Lecturer Irving Wladawsky-Berger

From The Wall Street Journal

To survive in today’s fast changing marketplace, every business–large or small, startup or long established–must be capable of a continual process of transformation and renewal. Surveys show that most executives agree, and in fact, many believe that business model innovation is even more important to their company’s success than product or service innovation. But other studies have determined that no more than 10% of innovation investments at established companies are focused on creating transformative business models.

This is not surprising. Most successful new business models come from startups. Despite the talent and resources at their disposal, business model success stories from well-established companies are relatively rare.

“Building a great business and operating it well no longer guarantees you’ll be around in a hundred years, or even twenty,” notes business model expert Mark Johnson in his new book, “Reinvent Your Business Model.”

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Robots might not take your job — but they will probably make it boring – Matt Beane

Matt Beane
Research Affiliate in
Management Science

From Wired

Whether they believe robots are going to create or destroy jobs, most experts say that robots are particularly useful for handling “dirty, dangerous and dull” work. They point to jobs like shutting down a leaky nuclear reactor, cleaning sewers, or inspecting electronic components to really drive the point home. Robots don’t get offended, they are cheap to repair when they get “hurt,” and they don’t get bored. It’s hard to disagree: What could possibly be wrong about automating jobs that are disgusting, mangle people, or make them act like robots?

The problem is that installing robots often makes the jobs around them worse. Use a robot for aerial reconnaissance, and remote pilots end up bored. Use a robot for surgery, and surgical trainees end up watching, not learning. Use a robot to transport materials, and workers that handle those materials can no longer interact with and learn from their customers. Use a robot to farm, and farmers end up barred from repairing their own tractors.

I know this firsthand: For most of the last seven years, I have been studying these dynamics in the field. I spent over two years looking at robotic surgery in top-tier hospitals around the US, and at every single one of them, most nurses and surgical assistants were bored out of their skulls.

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