Innovation Article

Knowledge at Wharton’s picture

By: Knowledge at Wharton

Have you heard of a media company called T-Series? Chances are, you probably haven’t. Gulshan Kumar, whose résumé up to 1983 read, “Fruit juice seller, streets of New Delhi,” founded it that year. Since its inception, T-Series has become an unlikely media powerhouse—its YouTube channel has 119 million subscribers. To put that in perspective, The New York Times, which was founded in 1851, has a total subscription base of 4.7 million across print and digital. The T-Series channel also has 90 billion views. That’s the equivalent of every human on the planet, including babies and people with no access to the internet, having watched 13 videos each on this channel.

According to the Nov. 14, 2019, issue of The Economist, media giants in the past five years have been battling for viewers’ attention and have spent $650 billion for acquisitions and content. As The Economist puts it, with wry understatement, “There will be blood.” In this shifting media landscape, how are brands going to win at getting their customers’ attention and emotional engagement? In this opinion piece, we will explore five modern principles for winning brands.

Benjamin Kessler’s picture

By: Benjamin Kessler

It’s generally accepted that large organizations, for a host of structural and cultural reasons, are at a disadvantage when it comes to innovation. Less agreed upon is why their employees outside of R&D should care. Can’t acquisitions and partnerships make up the creative deficit?

Think again, counsels Manuel Sosa, INSEAD associate professor of technology and operations management, in a recent interview for the INSEAD Knowledge podcast. Sosa says that the fruits of innovation—novel, valuable products and services—should not be confused with the tree itself.

First and foremost, innovation is a process for conceiving “novel and useful” solutions, which is necessary for business and career success, no matter where you’re sitting in an industry or organization. The fruits can easily be bought and sold, but planting, cultivating, and harvesting know-how is far less transferable. For the neophyte, learning to innovate requires diligence, patience, and (most of all) direct collaboration with skillful role models.

Rob Matheson’s picture

By: Rob Matheson

MIT researchers have devised a novel circuit design that enables precise control of computing with magnetic waves—with no electricity needed. The advance takes a step toward practical magnetic-based devices, which have the potential to compute far more efficiently than electronics.

Classical computers rely on massive amounts of electricity for computing and data storage, and generate a lot of wasted heat. In search of more efficient alternatives, researchers have started designing magnetic-based “spintronic” devices, which use relatively little electricity and generate practically no heat.

Spintronic devices leverage the “spin wave”—a quantum property of electrons—in magnetic materials with a lattice structure. This approach involves modulating the spin wave properties to produce some measurable output that can be correlated to computation. Until now, modulating spin waves has required injected electrical currents using bulky components that can cause signal noise and effectively negate any inherent performance gains.

Multiple Authors
By: Nadia Naffi, Ann-Louise Davidson, Houda Jawhar

Today, the survival of many organizations depends on their plans to leverage cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to transform their workplaces into augmented environments.

A recent IBM study found that, as a result of AI and intelligent automation, 120 million workers will need to develop new skills or even be transitioned out of companies to different jobs during the next three years. Half of the surveyed organizations had done little to rethink their training strategies to respond to this urgency.

For that digital transformation to happen, organizations must avoid the costly “buy, not build” talent strategy that involves opting for expensive new hires instead of retraining their current employees.

Anne Trafton’s picture

By: Anne Trafton

Having trouble paying attention? MIT neuroscientists may have a solution for you: Turn down your alpha brain waves. In a new study, the researchers found that people can enhance their attention by controlling their own alpha brain waves based on neurofeedback they receive as they perform a particular task.

The study found that when subjects learned to suppress alpha waves in one hemisphere of their parietal cortex, they were able to pay better attention to objects that appeared on the opposite side of their visual field. This is the first time that this cause-and-effect relationship has been seen, and it suggests that it may be possible for people to learn to improve their attention through neurofeedback.

“There’s a lot of interest in using neurofeedback to try to help people with various brain disorders and behavioral problems,” says Robert Desimone, director of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research. “It’s a completely noninvasive way of controlling and testing the role of different types of brain activity.”

Nathan Furr’s picture

By: Nathan Furr

Few companies and CEOs have attracted as much praise, derision, skepticism, and enthusiasm as Telsa Motors and its founder Elon Musk. Having interviewed Musk and the Tesla leadership as part of my research, one of the questions I’m asked most frequently is: How can you make sense of Tesla’s wild strategies? The latest example is the move to create a “gigafactory” for car batteries just outside Berlin.

Tesla’s many critics and observers, whose reactions range from short-selling to star worship, are part of the challenge. Many ask the wrong questions, such as why Tesla isn’t making any money—a question appropriate for a mature business but not a growth one. Although all businesses must be sustainable in the long run, Tesla is like most rapid-growth companies that eat up more cash flow than they produce while in the early growth phase.

Quality Digest’s default image

By: Quality Digest

As usual with Quality Digest’s diverse audience, this year’s top stories covered a wide range of topics applicable to quality professionals. From hardware to software, from standards to risk management, from China trade to FDA regulations. It’s always fun to see what readers gravitate to, and this year was no different.

Below are five articles that garnered a lot of interest from our readers. As you can see, the topics are quite diverse.

Improve Risk Management and Quality Across the Value Chain by Increasing Visibility
by Kelly Kuchinski

Andrea Canidio’s picture

By: Andrea Canidio

The culture of overwork—with the expectation of incredibly long hours and interrupted vacations—is often criticized for its negative impact on workers and organizations. Workers suffer from burnout, are not as productive as they think they are, and make mistakes, as research has made overwhelmingly clear. Because of this, overwork can cut into a company’s bottom line. But as the evidence against overwork mounts, understanding why it is still so widespread becomes even more important.

Nico Thomas’s picture

By: Nico Thomas

Earlier this year, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, celebrated its 50th anniversary. The recognition is much deserved for an agency that has worked hard to strengthen minority-owned businesses. Through a network of centers and partners not unlike our own Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) National Network, the MBDA works with minority-owned businesses to create and retain jobs, build scale and capacity, and increase revenues. The drive to increase the competitiveness of underserved businesses by leveraging a network is something that connects the MBDA and the MEP program.

Clifton B. Parker’s picture

By: Clifton B. Parker

An underlying theme emerged from the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence’s fall conference: Artificial intelligence (AI) must be truly beneficial for humanity and not undermine people in a cold calculus of efficiency.

Titled “AI Ethics, Policy, and Governance,” the event brought together more than 900 people from academia, industry, civil society, and government to discuss the future of AI (or automated computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence).

Discussions at the conference highlighted how companies, governments, and people around the world are grappling with AI’s ethical, policy, and governance implications.

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