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“Social media’s role in the Capitol insurrection was undeniable.” That’s one of many observations made by MIT IDE Director, Sinan Aral, after the extraordinary events of January 6 when extreme right-wing, Trump supporters stormed the U. S. Capitol.

Aral was interviewed by numerous media outlets-including CNBC, Bloomberg, Fortune, and Yahoo! Finance — for his insights as author of The Hype Machine, especially after Twitter and Facebook banned the President from their social media platforms.

“This has been a steady momentum build of reaction by social media platforms,” Aral told Fortune. “This is a culmination of an understanding by social media companies that they need to do more and that the laissez-faire attitude isn’t going to cut it.” …


The financial services giant uses existing data, analytics to fuel decision making and new business opportunities

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Mastercard contactless payment card: Source, Mastercard

By Thomas Davenport

Thirty years ago, consultants Stan Davis and Bill Davidson wrote a book called 2020 Vision in which, not surprisingly, they laid out their vision what would happen by 2020. I am not quite ambitious enough to review all their predictions, but one is of particular interest to me. In fact, in a Wall Street Journal column 7 years ago, I wrote this about one prescient Davis and Davidson prediction: a company’s “information exhaust” (information byproducts gathered in the course of its normal business) could be used to “informationalize” a business (develop products and services based on information).

I wrote then that big data companies were beginning to make use of data (fewer syllables than information, roughly the same thing) exhaust, but it’s been a slow trend to go mainstream. …


MIT researchers zero in on hot topics for 2021

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Credit: Gettyimages

COVID-19 clearly dominated the world’s business concerns last year and will continue to be a primary focus in 2021, too. At the same time, AI, data analytics, algorithm bias, social media, digital experimentation, and fake news are critical topics spilling into the new year as well. Researchers at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) continue to interpret these digital economy trends, and offer guidance for IT and business leaders. Below is a quick reference guide of recent IDE research papers, video, and blogs that will help jumpstart action plans for the year ahead.

  1. The future of work starts now. As businesses get back on their feet in 2021, many challenges lie ahead. When and how can supply chains, healthcare, municipalities, and workers rebound from COVID-19? Here’s a compilation of articles and research to answer the most pressing concerns. …


MIT research points out discrepancies that discourage new hiring

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By Sara Brown, MIT Sloan

Technology can create jobs and economic growth. Yet there is also concern that newer technologies, like automation, are hurting workers — perhaps with encouragement from the U.S. tax code.

In a new research brief, MIT professor Daron Acemoglu, MIT PhD student Andrea Manera, and Boston University professor Pascual Restrepo argue that tax discrepancies between labor and capital encourage companies to automate while discouraging them from adding workers. …


MIT graduate students apply data science to help grocery chain boost healthy food sales

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By Paula Klein

Can data analytics help spur healthier eating habits? The answer is definitely yes, based on the work of the 2020 MIT Analytics Lab (A-Lab) winning team. The four graduate students worked with Retail Business Services on a project analyzing the correlation between healthy foods and cost savings.

The MIT MBA students — Anjali Krishnamachar, Juliette Chevallier, Philipp Simons, Taylor Facen — guided by their mentor, MIT alumni Heather Fraser, set out to determine what incentives might drive supermarket shoppers to more nutritious food choices. …


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Businesses often find that it takes too long to see the results of their costly marketing campaigns. By the time they measure exactly whether an advertising plan or discount promotion works, the market can change and opportunities are missed, including how to target further efforts.

As a remedy, MIT researchers experimented with “statistical surrogacy” to estimate outcomes and make adjustments before the year or so they may otherwise have to wait for results. They studied churn management at The Boston Globe to see if discounts for digital subscriptions maximized long-term revenue. At an IDE seminar this fall, MIT Sloan Associate Professor, Dean Eckles, explained that in order for the news organization to increase retention and profits over the long term, the researchers developed and applied methods for learning surrogate outcomes. “Over three years, our approach had a net-positive revenue impact in the range of $4 million to $5 million compared to The Boston Globe’s current policies,” according to Eckles, a co-author of the research paper, Targeting for Long-Term Outcomes. The paper won this year’s Best Paper Award at the INFORMS Annual Conference in the eBusiness category. …


To be successful, an AI pilot needs to go beyond the minimum viable product requirements of standard IT projects

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By Thomas H. Davenport and Rudina Seseri

*Reposted from the MIT Sloan Management Review

One of the key attributes of the lean startup approach popularized by Steve Blank and Eric Ries is the development and refinement of a minimum viable product (MVP) that engages customer and investor attention without large product development expenditures. Initially defined by technologist Frank Robinson, an MVP may not meet all customer needs, but it offers enough capabilities for highly interested customers to get started. It’s a paradigm that has become well established in technology product development.

But what does the concept of an MVP mean for artificial intelligence? This is a question that is relevant not only to startups but also to large enterprises. Many companies are developing AI pilots in different areas of their business that they hope will demonstrate the potential value of AI and eventually lead to production deployment. An MVP for a large organization has many similarities to a pilot or proof of concept. …


Re-setting for a digital future and meeting new workforce requirements are good starting points

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By Irving Wladawsky-Berger

“What now?,” asked a recent McKinsey article on the implications of Covid for business.” Over the past six months, they have reorganized supply chains, set up remote operations, and made tough financial decisions. But without a COVID-19 vaccine yet available, not much feels different, and the summer pause hasn’t done much to relieve fatigue.”


Data scientists crack the CoDE to algorithmic testing at annual MIT event

Digital experimentation is going corporate. Rapid market testing tools have been a key for data scientists and programmers for some time as they seek to more accurately target marketing campaigns and test apps in real time and at large scale. With AI techniques, the practice is accelerating.

The two-day, MIT IDE Conference on Digital Experimentation (CoDE) event, held virtually with more than 300 attendees on November 19–20, proves how popular these tools have become. Leaders from academia and industry discussed how they are rapidly deploying and iterating complex social and economic problems. Academic researchers still have a head start in this data analytics field, but businesses are jumping in as they see the value of better time-to-market and consumer-demand targeting techniques. …


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By Norris I. Bruce, Keisha M. Cutright, Renée Richardson Gosline, Jacquelyn S. Thomas, Tiffany Barnett White *

*(from The Harvard Business Review)

The intersection of the global pandemic and the uprising around racism has highlighted the systemic obstacles that disproportionately affect Black people. Many corporations have responded with commitments to anti-racism and are beginning to hold their brands, employees, suppliers, and corporate partners accountable. But one important partner is often overlooked in these commitments: academia.

As Black business school professors, we notice that few make the connection between management programs and the lack of representation of Black executives (there are currently only three Black CEOs in Fortune 500 firms). But academia plays a critical role in shaping the next generation of leaders, and Black representation (or lack thereof) in materials and faculty can affect racial stratification. As a reckoning with systemic racism is upon us, we need to think about who is in front of the classroom as being predictive of who will be in the executive suite. …

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MIT IDE

Addressing one of the most critical issues of our time: the impact of digital technology on businesses, the economy, and society.

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