MIT Sloan Executive Director of Executive Education Peter Hirst
What if I told you that you could visit three continents in one day without leaving your office and truly feel like you were there in person? That you could move down a hallway or across a stage, make eye contact and feel, well, more like a human being than just a face on a screen?
Earlier this year, Paul McDonagh-Smith — my coworker at MIT Sloan Executive Education who is based in London — did just that with the help of “telepresence robotics.” First thing in the morning, he co-presented at a conference in Singapore alongside our colleague Cyndi Chan, then had a business meeting in Cape Town, South Africa and later that afternoon met with me and other team members on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
When Steve Blank wrote the book “The Four Steps to the Epiphany”, he brought a sea change in the way technology entrepreneurs do business. Rather than plow ahead with a technology-led process, most entrepreneurs have embraced “customer development”. Getting out of the building and doing primary market research has saved a great many startups from solving the wrong problems, and repeating the mistakes of projects like Google Glass.
You don’t know what you don’t know
When you are just getting started, the first thing to do is to admit that you don’t know what you don’t know. You have hypotheses about your target market and end users, but you don’t know if your intuition is right.
What you need to do at this stage is “problem research”. This is the phase in primary market research where you try to understand the problem. The technique that is central to the Lean Startup movement, MVP (minimum viable product) testing, is all about “solution research”, which I will cover in a separate post.
We know what productivity growth requires: investments in new technology. For previous generations, this was factories full of machines, first powered by steam and then by electricity. More recently it was the arrival of computers, which changed how work was organized within and across firms.
We often perceive the impact of new technology imperfectly and with a lag, and today is no different. We can see a wave of hardware and software innovations underway — technologies such as 3D printing and distributed ledgers will allow manufacturing and finance to become more dispersed — but it is hard to know exactly where it will take us.
We hope you enjoy the latest installment of the MIT Sloan Experts Podcast series!
The third in our series of MIT Sloan Experts podcasts features Chris Knittel, professor of applied economics at MIT Sloan, talking about his latest research on racial bias in the ride-sharing industry.
Knittel’s research focuses on how Uber and Lyft are failing black passengers and what to do about it. Listen to this brief podcast and find out how Knittel came to his conclusions, what his findings say about drivers who cancel on customers with names that generally indicate they are a person of color, and what takeaways Uber and Lyft can garner from these findings to improve.
Stephanie L. Woerner, Research Scientist at the MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research
From MIT SMR Custom Studio
Realizing value through the Internet of Things (IoT) may begin with simple goals, but it can also catapult a business toward new horizons. The level of commitment to completing the journey really depends on the presence of four factors:
Translating Threats Into Opportunity.
A major driver in IoT initiatives is finding a new source of revenue in the face of changing industry trends. In CISR’s survey of 352 CIOs, respondents with the highest levels of IoT commitment generated 50% of their revenues from products introduced in the past three years. These CIOs see firsthand how quickly disruptive change can occur.
Consider Schindler Holdings AG, which manufactures, installs, and maintains escalators, elevators, and moving walkways. In this increasingly price-sensitive industry, maintenance accounts for 75% of operating profits. This prompted Schindler to use IoT to not only improve equipment maintenance through the data generated by its elevators but also to reposition itself as a service provider that helps customers with building management using this data. To move in this direction, it developed a Web-based customer portal and a mobile app to provide real-time insights.