Necessity vs. innovation-based entrepreneurs – Trish Cotter

MIT Sloan’s Trish Cotter

From Xconomy

What makes someone an entrepreneur? Most simply defined, an entrepreneur is a person who identifies a need and starts a business to fill that void. But others will argue that a “true” entrepreneur must come up with an innovative new product or service and then operates their business to sell and profit from that innovation.

Under the broader definition are those people who become entrepreneurs out of necessity – starting their own business after losing a job, to supplement their income, or to gain the flexibility to attend to other demands in their lives.

Take Joanne, for example. Joanne started her holistic health business about eight years ago. Although she doesn’t necessarily consider herself an entrepreneur, the necessity of a family member’s health situation created both a challenge and an opportunity that shifted her path of employment. As a graduate of Boston University with a degree in math, and Syracuse with an MBA, Joanne had been working as a technical engagement director managing large-scale database development projects.

However, she was also managing the special needs of a son at home with learning differences. She was hit with a layoff from her job about the same time that her son required more services. She was doing tons of research to help him in any way possible, including alternatives to mainstream treatment, and she started an unpaid e-mail service to friends and family sharing what she learned. The response was tremendous – several people told her that she had changed their lives and she should make a career out of it. She decided to take the plunge, pursued further education, and then started JBS Holistic Nutrition where she offers health coaching and healing alternatives. The nature of her business allows her to be flexible. She is currently working part-time, which enables her to manage the needs of her family and help take care of an ailing parent. She sees her business as an opportunity to help people change their lives for the better.

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Will consumers pay for responsible supply chains? – Tim Kraft, Karen Zheng

Tim Kraft, Visiting Assistant Professor of Operations Management

Karen Zheng, Associate Professor of Operations Management

From SupplyChainBrain

Do consumers place a monetary value on supply-chain visibility? Are they willing to pay more for a product that is “socially responsible”?

A new study led by two professors at the MIT Sloan School of Management suggests that the answer is yes – at least to a point. Tim Kraft, visiting assistant professor of operations management, and Karen Zheng, associate professor of operations management, set up a “behavioral lab” that mimicked the dynamics of a real-world supply chain. It consisted of a three-player game, with participants playing the roles of consumer, seller and worker.

The experiment examined whether a consumer is willing to pay more for a given product if the seller provides visibility into its treatment of factory workers. The decisions of all players directly impacted their ultimate payments. So how much of a premium did the “consumers” agree to pay for products of the socially responsible “seller”? How did their actions affect the lot of the “worker”? And can a limited experiment of this type really mirror behavior in the real world?

Listen to the full podcast at SupplyChainBrain.

Tim Kraft is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Operations Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Karen Zheng is a Sloan School Career Development Professor and an Associate Professor of Operations Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Join the #DesignedforDigital Twitter Chat on October 8 to learn how to propel your business into the digital world

Many established companies have deployed such digital technologies as the cloud, mobile apps, the internet of things, and artificial intelligence. But few established companies are designed for digital. MIT Sloan Experts will join the authors of Designed for Digital: How to Architect Your Business for Sustained Success for a Twitter Chat on October 8 at 1 p.m. ET. During the chat, authors Jeanne RossCynthia Beath and Martin Mocker will discuss how organizations can retool their practices for digital success. 

Designed for Digital argues that business strategies must be fluid to adapt to the rapid pace of change in technology capabilities and customer desires. Business design has become a critical management responsibility. Effective business design enables a company to quickly pivot in response to new competitive threats and opportunities. Most leaders today, however, rely on organizational structure to implement strategy, unaware that structure inhibits, rather than enables, agility. In companies that are designed for digital, people, processes, data, and technology are synchronized to identify and deliver innovative customer solutions—and redefine strategy. Digital design, not strategy, is what separates winners from losers in the digital economy.

Designed for Digital offers practical advice on digital transformation, with examples that include Amazon, BNY Mellon, DBS Bank, LEGO, Royal Philips, Schneider Electric, USAA, and many other global organizations. Drawing on five years of research and in-depth case studies, the book is an essential guide for companies that want to disrupt rather than be disrupted in the new digital landscape.

Join us for the #DesignedforDigital Twitter chat on October 8 at 1 p.m. ET. to learn how companies can prepare for the digital economy. Make sure to use the hashtag #DesignedforDigital and follow @mitsloanexperts, @jrossCISR, @CynthiaBeath and @martinmocker to learn all about designing for digital. 

How digital health tools can help transform healthcare – Joseph Doyle and Sarah Reimer

Joseph Doyle, Erwin H. Schell Professor of Management and Applied Economics, MIT Sloan School of Management

From Health Data Management

A coming wave of digital health tools has the potential to transform how and where healthcare is provided.

Using information from a patient’s medical record—including lab results, provider notes and images, such as CT scans—along with genomic data, prior insurance claims and environmental information, machine learning algorithms can substantially improve diagnostic testing. They can also support decision-making tools for providers to improve guideline adherence.

The tools’ success is not a given, however. They must first gain the trust of patients, providers and payers. In addition, the tools must not prompt alert fatigue. If providers are flooded with warnings and advice, they may become desensitized and tune out the information.

This coming wave provides a golden opportunity to overcome both hurdles—smart piloting of the new tools. By systematically introducing these digital health tools, we learn what works and what doesn’t. Randomized trials do not need to be limited to pharmaceuticals and medical devices; they can inform healthcare delivery designs as well.

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Blockchain beyond the hype – Irving Wladawsky-Berger

MIT Sloan Visiting Lecturer Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Visiting Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management

From the Wall Street Journal

With cryptocurrencies having lost more than 80% of their market value from their high in January, it’s a fair question to ask what this means for blockchain, the technology underlying the turbulent crypto market. There’s a difference, of course. Blockchain’s true potential value lies not in making–or losing–the quick buck, but in helping solve some of the internet’s biggest challenges around authentication and security. But it can be hard to identify that long-term value given the hype surrounding bitcoin and related currencies. It’s time to get back to blockchain basics.

A recent issue of the Economist included a special report on cryptocurrencies and blockchains. The Economist’s overall conclusion was that “Bitcoin has been a failure as a means of payment, but thrilling for speculators.” Its assessment of blockchain was somewhat more positive. “For blockchains, the jury is still out,… For all the technology’s potential, though, most attempts to use it remain tentative … The advantages of blockchains are often oversold.”

In 2016, blockchain made the list of the World Economic Forum’s Top Ten Emerging Technologies. That same year, blockchain also made its first appearance in Gartner’s yearly hype cycles. Even the Economist has been guilty of overselling when it featured blockchain on the cover of its October 31, 2015 issue with the tag line “The Trust Machine: How the technology behind Bitcoin could change the world.”