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Is Your Company's Data Actually Valuable in the AI Era?

harvardbusiness.org 17 January 2018
jan18_16_688576276Carmen Martínez Torrón /Hayon Thapaliya/Getty Images AI is coming. That is what we heard throughout 2017 and will likely continue to hear throughout this year. For established businesses that are not Google or Facebook, a natural question to ask is: What have we got that is going to allow us to survive this transition? In our experience, when business leaders ask this with respect to AI, the answer they are given is 'data.' This view is confirmed by the business press. There are hundreds of articles claiming that 'data is the new oil' - by which they mean it is a fuel that will drive the AI economy. If that is the case, then your company can consider itself lucky. You collected all this data, and then it turned out you were sitting on an oil reserve when AI happened to show up. But when you have that sort of luck, it is probably a good idea to ask 'Are we really that lucky?' The 'data is oil' analogy does have some truth to it. Like internal combus

How Automation Will Change Work, Purpose, and Meaning

harvardbusiness.org 11 January 2018
The vast majority of humans throughout history worked because they had to. Many found comfort, value, and meaning in their efforts, but some defined work as a necessity to be avoided if possible. For centuries, elites in societies from Europe to Asia aspired to absolution from gainful employment. Aristotle defined a 'man in freedom' as the pinnacle of human existence, an individual freed of any concern for the necessities of life and with nearly complete personal agency. (Tellingly, he did not define wealthy merchants as free to the extent that their minds were pre-occupied with acquisition.) The promise of AI and automation raises new questions about the role of work in our lives.
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How One Company Made Its Analytics Investment Pay Off

harvardbusiness.org 4 January 2018
In the age of rapid advances in data science and artificial intelligence, many organizations still struggle to incorporate advanced analytics capabilities into their business models. True incorporation requires bold decisions about reorganizing the business to make analytics a key component of strategy. Here we present the case of Grupo Financiero Banorte (GFNorte), a large Mexican financial group, where the analytics transformation has been a success story. This case came to light when one of us, Jose Murillo, GFNorte’s chief analytics officer, presented it to a graduating class of the Queen’s College analytics program, where the rest of us learned about it. (Disclosure: Jose is long GFNorte; the rest of us do not have GFNorte holdings.)

The Internet of Things Is Going to Change Everything About Cybersecurity

harvardbusiness.org 18 December 2017
Cybersecurity can cause organizational migraines. In 2016, breaches cost businesses nearly $4 billion and exposed an average of 24,000 records per incident. In 2017, the number of breaches is anticipated to rise by 36%. The constant drumbeat of threats and attacks is becoming so mainstream that businesses are expected to invest more than $93 billion in cyber defenses by 2018. Even Congress is acting more quickly to pass laws that will - hopefully - improve the situation. Despite increased spending and innovation in the cybersecurity market, there is every indication that the situation will only worsen. The number of unmanaged devices being introduced onto networks daily is increasing by orders of magnitude, with Gartner predicting there will be 20 billion in use by 2020.
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The Real Reasons Companies Are So Focused on the Short Term

harvardbusiness.org 13 December 2017
dec17-13-637552554-MirageC MirageC/Getty Images This has been a remarkable year for the markets.  The S&P and the Dow indexes are up 18% and 19%, respectively.  But this run-up isn't based on solid business foundations.  Quarterly profits have only increased 5% since 2012, but investors' valuations of those profits (as measured by earnings per share) has increased 59% over the same period. What's behind the disconnect?  Some argue that profits are stagnant because of short-termism-that decades of focusing on current profits over long-run innovativeness has resulted, now, in companies that are hollowed out. Indeed, a study by Rachelle Sampson and Yuan Shi found that company short-termism is negatively correlated with innovativeness, measured as RQ ('research quotient,' a measure of the return on R&D investments). Investors punish companies with a short-term orientation by applying higher discount rates to them, which increases the cost of capital for those co
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How Machine Learning Can Help Identify Cyber Vulnerabilities

harvardbusiness.org 13 December 2017
People are undoubtedly your company’s most valuable asset. But if you ask cybersecurity experts if they share that sentiment, most would tell you that people are your biggest liability.

How Technology Tests Our Trust

harvardbusiness.org 12 December 2017
Rachel Botsman, the author of Who Can You Trust?, talks about how trust works, whether in relation to robots, companies, or other people. Technology, she says, speeds up the development of trust and can help us decide who to trust. But when it comes to making those decisions, we shouldn’t leave our devices to their own devices.

The Key to Better Cybersecurity: Keep Employee Rules Simple

harvardbusiness.org 21 November 2017
It's a common adage that employees are the weak link in corporate cybersecurity. But I believe they are also the best defense, if they are given policies that are easy to follow and not too numerous and complex. Employee security training and best practices need to be user friendly and simple to be effective. Cyber attackers don't need to have advanced hacking skills to break into corporate networks; they just need to know how to trick people into opening attachments and clicking on links. Phishing attacks are the cause of 90% of all data breaches and security incidents, according to the latest Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report. Clearly, employees are the main gateway into the organization for attackers. As a result, they are also the first line of defense. The Verizon report found that employee notifications are the most common way organizations discover cyberattacks.

Why the Entire C-Suite Needs to Use the Same Metrics for Cyber Risk

harvardbusiness.org 17 November 2017
When it comes to cybersecurity, the chains of communication that exist within an organization, if they exist at all, are often a mess. Multiple conversations about cyber risks are happening across a multitude of divisions in isolation. At the same time, members of the C-suite are measuring their potential impact using different metrics - financial, regulatory, technical, operational - leading to conflicting assessments. CEOs must address these disconnects by creating a culture that promotes open communication and transparency about vulnerabilities and collaboration to address the exposures. Organizations of all sizes across all sectors are experiencing an exponential increase in their exposure to cyber risk. The number of endpoints that need protecting is exploding as consumers demand more digital interactions and smart devices. (Gartner estimates there will be more than 20 billion connected devices by 2020.) Adversari

Can You Be a Great Leader Without Technical Expertise?

harvardbusiness.org 15 November 2017
There is a broad assumption in society and in education that the skills you need to be a leader are more or less transferable. If you can inspire and motivate people in one arena, you should be able to apply those skills to do the same in another venue. But recent research is rightly challenging this notion. Studies suggest that the best leaders know a lot about the domain in which they are leading, and part of what makes them successful in a management role is technical competence. For example, hospitals managed by doctors perform better than those managed by people with other backgrounds. And there are many examples of people who ran one company effectively and had trouble transferring their skills to the new organization. Over the last year, I've been working with a group at the University of Texas thinking about what leadership education would look like for our students. There is broad consensus across many schools that
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Understanding Customers by Blending Human Insight and Machine Learning

harvardbusiness.org 27 October 2017
How can companies use machine learning to efficiently understand the needs and wants of their customers, without sacrificing the insights that come from employees’ intuition and empathy? My company is in the business of helping other firms create new products and services that will be both functionally useful and emotionally resonant with customers. As part of this work, we solicit materials online from a firm’s customers and potential customers. In a given year, we receive approximately 13 million unstructured text submissions and over 307,000 photos and videos from about 167,000 diverse contributors, all of whom are answering open-ended questions posed by us, as well as generating their own conversations on topics of their choosing. Our challenge: finding the unmet needs and often unarticulated longings in this wealth of content. To do this, we use a method of human-supervised machine learning that we think other companies could learn from. Here’s how it works.
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Netflix and Why the Future of Streaming Looks Like Old-School TV

harvardbusiness.org 19 October 2017
Netflix hit the industry with some bombshell moves this month. First, it announced that it plans to spend $8 billion on original content next year (including on 80 new movies). This is far more than any other online player. Obviously, this is great news for its 100 million-odd customers worldwide.

Blockchain Could Help Us Reclaim Control of Our Personal Data

harvardbusiness.org 5 October 2017
It's a strange world we live in when large companies such as Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion are able to store huge quantities of our personal data and profit from it in a way that doesn't always benefit us. And when those same companies lose our personal data and make us susceptible to identity theft, there's virtually nothing we can do about it. Equifax lost the data of more than 140 million people, and recompense is not forthcoming. Meanwhile, the CEO may be stepping down with a pension worth $18 million. Clearly, the system is broken, and it's time to stop and ask ourselves why we continue to rely on a system that doesn't stand up to the challenges we face in a digital society.
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Whiteboard Session: How Does Blockchain Work?

harvardbusiness.org 20 September 2017
The power of a distributed ledger.
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Technology Is Changing Transportation, and Cities Should Adapt

harvardbusiness.org 13 September 2017
It has taken only a few years for ride-hailing services to make urban journeys more convenient in many cities, much to the delight of city dwellers the world over. And as innovation brings self-driving cars, electric vehicles, in-vehicle data connectivity, mechanisms for sharing rides and vehicles, and other technologies to more people, getting around cities will become easier, faster, and safer.
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3 Ways Companies Are Building a Business Around AI

harvardbusiness.org 23 August 2017
There is no argument about whether artificial intelligence (AI) is coming. It is here, in automobiles, smartphones, aircraft, and much else. Not least in the online search abilities, speech and translation features, and image recognition technology of my employer, Alphabet.
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PE Firms Are Creating a New Role: Leadership Capital Partner

harvardbusiness.org 11 August 2017
During the last 20 years, private equity (PE) investors have assumed an increasingly influential role in business, with publicly traded firms dropping from about 7,500 to 3,800. Today, large private equity firms not only buy and sell (phase 1), buy and hold (phase 2), but buy and transform (phase 3). This third phase has led to large private equity organizations governing their assets in a unique way.
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How the Imagined 'Rationality' of Engineering Is Hurting Diversity - and Engineering

harvardbusiness.org 10 August 2017
Just how common are the views on gender espoused in the memo that former Google engineer James Damore was recently fired for distributing on an internal company message board? The flap has women and men in tech — and elsewhere — wondering what their colleagues really think about diversity. Research we’ve conducted shows that while most people don’t share Damore’s views, male engineers are more likely to.
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6 Digital Trends Are Poised to Transform How We Work - SPONSOR CONTENT FROM DXC TECHNOLOGY

harvardbusiness.org 3 August 2017
In addition to the digital tools entering the workplace now, several technologies and trends on the horizon have the potential to further transform the way we work and interact with others.
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How Machine Learning Is Helping Morgan Stanley Better Understand Client Needs

harvardbusiness.org 3 August 2017
Systems that provide automated investment advice from financial firms have been referred to as robo-advisers. While no one in the industry is particularly fond of the term, it has caught on nonetheless. However, the enhanced human advising process — augmented by machine learning — that was recently announced by Morgan Stanley goes well beyond the robo label, and may help to finally kill off the term.
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Leading Digital Transformation Is Like Urban Planning

harvardbusiness.org 2 August 2017
Most companies want their businesses to keep pace with digital startups, but end up bogged down by the need to fix the daily challenges that their decades-old IT systems create. How do you redesign and rebuild major infrastructure while keeping the day-to-day work going? This kind of challenge is often referred to as “repairing the airplane while you’re flying it.” But a more instructive analogy might be the redesign of a major city’s infrastructure.
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How AI Will Change the Way We Make Decisions

harvardbusiness.org 26 July 2017
With the recent explosion in AI, there has been the understandable concern about its potential impact on human work. Plenty of people have tried to predict which industries and jobs will be most affected, and which skills will be most in demand. (Should you learn to code? Or will AI replace coders too?)
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How AI Is Already Changing Business

harvardbusiness.org 20 July 2017
Erik Brynjolfsson, MIT Sloan School professor, explains how rapid advances in machine learning are presenting new opportunities for businesses. He breaks down how the technology works and what it can and can’t do (yet). He also discusses the potential impact of AI on the economy, how workforces will interact with it in the future, and suggests managers start experimenting now. Brynjolfsson is the co-author, with Andrew McAfee, of the HBR Big Idea article, “The Business of Artificial Intelligence.” They’re also the co-authors of the new book, Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future.
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Sometimes 'Small Data' Is Enough to Create Smart Products

harvardbusiness.org 19 July 2017
When thinking about practical applications for artificial intelligence in your business, it’s easy to assume that you need vast amounts of data to get started. AI is fueled by data, and so it only makes sense that the more data you have, the smarter your AI gets, right? Not exactly.
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The Amazon-Whole Foods Deal Means Every Other Retailer's Three-Year Plan Is Obsolete

harvardbusiness.org 21 June 2017
When Amazon announced last week that it will acquire Whole Foods Market, a grocery chain with over 450 retail stores and deep industry talent, for $13.7 billion, Amazon’s stock price rose 2.4% on the news, increasing its market capitalization by $11 billion. At the same time, the price of SuperValu plummeted 14.4%, Kroger dropped 9.2%, and Sprouts fell 6.3%. You could almost hear the three-year plans of every grocer, and nearly every other traditional retailer, grinding through the shredding machines.

Blockchain - What You Need to Know

harvardbusiness.org 15 June 2017
Karim Lakhani, Harvard Business School professor and co-founder of the HBS Digital Initiative, discusses blockchain, an online record-keeping technology that many believe will revolutionize commerce. Lakhani breaks down how the technology behind bitcoin works and talks about the industries and companies that could see new growth opportunities or lose business. He also has recommendations for managers: start experimenting with blockchain as soon as possible. Lakhani is the co-author of the article “The Truth About Blockchain” in the January-February 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review.

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