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Irving Wladawsky-Berger



A collection of observations, news and resources on the changing nature of innovation, technology, leadership, and other subjects.



Updated: 2016-12-05T06:57:52-05:00

 



How Will AI Likely Impact How We Work, Live and Play?

2016-12-05T06:57:52-05:00

A few weeks ago I discussed whether AI is finally reaching a tipping point, mostly based on a recently published report, - Artificial Intelligence and Life in 2030. The report was developed by a study panel of AI experts convened...



Digital Twin: Bringing the Physical and Digital Worlds Closer Together

2016-11-28T09:26:09-05:00

A few weeks ago I first learned about a relatively new concept - Digital Twin. A Digital Twin is essentially a computerized companion to a real-world entity, be it an industrial physical asset like a jet engine, an individual’s health...



The Evolution of the Firm

2016-11-21T13:43:48-05:00

A few weeks ago I discussed The Rise of the Global Superstar Company based on a recent special report on the subject by The Economist. The report noted that the decade-long trend toward increasingly concentrated global firms is somewhat surprising....



Towards a Trusted Framework for Identity and Data Sharing

2016-11-14T06:39:46-05:00

I recently participated in a Treasury Identity Forum organized by the US Treasury Department in Washington, DC. The Forum focused “on the critical role of legal identity for financial inclusion, economic development, and anti-money laundering/counter financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) safeguards,...



The Rise of the Global Superstar Company

2016-11-08T05:42:17-05:00

The September 17 issue of The Economist included a special report on the rise of so called superstar companies. “Disruption may be the buzzword in boardrooms, but the most striking feature of business today is not the overturning of the...



Is Design Thinking the “New Liberal Arts”?

2016-10-31T07:46:26-04:00

Design thinking has become an increasingly popular topic of discussion over the past decade. It was featured in the September, 2015 issue of the Harvard Business Review with several articles on the subject. Design is no longer just for physical...



Has AI (Finally) Reached a Tipping Point?

2016-10-24T08:53:09-04:00

After many years of promise and hype, AI seems to be finally reaching a tipping point of market acceptance. “Artificial intelligence is suddenly everywhere… it is proliferating like mad.” So starts a Vanity Fair article published around two years ago...



Reflections on the Development of Implementable, Winning Strategies

2016-10-18T08:46:43-04:00

I recently read an article by strategy consultant and writer Ken Favaro which nicely explained how to best think about strategy in today’s business environment. “Many business leaders subscribe to the classic definition of strategy as a set of actions...



Blockchains: the Promise of More Frictionless, Trusted Economies

2016-10-11T07:21:06-04:00

Why do firms exist? Ronald Coase, - the eminent British economist and University of Chicago professor, - addressed this question in The Nature of the Firm, - a seminal paper published in 1937 which along with other major achievements earned...



Competing Against “Digital Invaders”

2016-10-04T06:38:57-04:00

Last year, IBM’s Institute for Business Value conducted a C-suite study aimed at identifying the key disruptive trends that will likely impact companies around the world over the next three to five years, as well as what their senior executives...



Why Are We Stuck in a World of Slow Economic Growth? Nobody Seems to Know for Sure

2016-09-27T07:38:09-04:00

Over the past few centuries, the natural sciences, - e.g. physics, chemistry, biology, - have developed a variety of principles and models. These have enabled them to analyze and predict the behavior of our highly complex physical systems under widely...



Blockchain Can Reshape Financial Services… But it Will Take Significant Time and Investment

2016-09-19T13:10:13-04:00

In early August, the World Economic Forum (WEF) published two excellent reports: A Blueprint for Digital Identity, - which I wrote about a few weeks ago, - and The future of financial infrastructure: An ambitious look at how blockchain can...



STEM Literacy and Jobs

2016-09-13T05:21:14-04:00

In the early days of the Industrial Revolution, it’s been estimated that around 12% of the world's population was literate. Literacy rates increased throughout the 19th century, as people started moving from the countryside to towns and cities for the...



Automation Technologies and the Future of Work

2016-09-06T06:40:04-04:00

Last year, McKinsey launched a multi-year study to explore the potential impact of automation technologies on jobs, organizations and the future of work. “Can we look forward to vast improvements in productivity, freedom from boring work, and improved quality of...



Digital Identity - the Key to Privacy and Security in the Digital World

2016-09-08T09:45:33-04:00

From time immemorial, our identity systems have been based on face-to-face interactions and on physical documents and processes. But, the transition to a digital economy requires radically different identity systems. In a world that’s increasingly governed by digital transactions and...



Blockchain - Once Again, the Technological Genie Has Been Unleashed from its Bottle

2016-08-22T18:05:09-04:00

Skeptics needing further reassurance that the Blockchain is truly reaching a tipping point can rest easier with the recent publication of Don Tapscott’s Blockchain Revolution, co-written with his son Alex. Don, whom I’ve long known, has a knack for identifying...



The Top Ten Emerging Technologies of 2016

2016-07-28T08:07:15-04:00

For the past several years, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has published an annual list of the Top Ten Emerging Technologies that would likely have the greatest impact on the world in the years to come. A few weeks ago,...



Is There a STEM Crisis or a STEM Surplus?

2016-08-05T07:39:21-04:00

Is the US facing a critical shortage of STEM skills? Do we have enough STEM workers to meet the demands of the labor market? Are enough young people choosing STEM careers so we can meet future demands? Such serious concerns...



Is the Blockchain Now Reaching a Tipping Point?

2016-07-27T15:39:09-04:00

A few weeks ago, the World Economic Forum (WEF) published its annual list of the Top Ten Emerging Technologies for 2016. The technologies on the list have been worked on for years. But their inclusion in the Top Ten List...



The Long Term Impact of AI on Jobs - Some Lessons from History

2016-07-26T06:03:17-04:00

The June 25 issue of The Economist includes a special report on artificial intelligence. AI has been making extraordinary progress in the past few years. It’s ironic that after years of frustration with AI’s missed promises, many now worry that...



The Continuing Evolution of Service Science

2016-07-19T07:34:21-04:00

Service Science emerged in the mid-2000s as an academic discipline aimed at applying technology and science to the service sector, - by far the largest sector of the US economy and of most economies around the world. Since its inception,...



Vehicle Automation - a Very Important Priority for AI Research

2016-07-10T11:32:13-04:00

In September, 2014, I attended an MIT conference that explored the major progress that’s taken place in artificial intelligence, robotics and related technologies over the past several years. Autonomous vehicles was one of the main areas of discussion. With most...



The Smart London Plan

2016-07-04T09:35:57-04:00

Urbanization is one of the major forces shaping the 21st century - right up there with the digital technology revolution and globalization. Over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and as the 2014 UN World Urbanization Prospect...



Virtual Work Interactions, Context, and Related Subjects

2016-06-27T08:55:37-04:00

I just read Tripping Down a Virtual Reality Rabbit Hole,- a very interesting NY Times column by technology journalist Farhad Manjoo. Manjoo recently spent a few weeks testing the Occulus Rift and the HTC Vive, two of the most powerful...



FinTech and Financial Inclusion

2016-06-21T06:19:24-04:00

In early June I spent a few days in Mexico City. The main purpose of the trip was to participate and give a keynote at the 2016 Cumbre de Directores (Director’s Summit), a conference sponsored by Endeavor Mexico in collaboration...



Platforms and the New Rules of Strategy

2016-06-17T19:19:14-04:00

Last week I wrote about one of the talks at the annual conference of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, - Only Humans Need Apply by Tom Davenport, based on his recently published book of the same title. I...



Learning to Work with Our Increasingly Smart Machines

2016-06-06T12:06:31-04:00

A few weeks ago I attended the annual conference of MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy. The day-long conference featured a number of interesting talks on the impact of digital technologies on business, the economy and society. Tom Davenport, -...



The Prosperity Puzzle

2016-05-31T06:43:43-04:00

The April 30 issue of The Economist includes a special briefing on The Prosperity Puzzle. The briefing highlights how tricky it is to compare living standards across countries, across economic classes within a country, and, - arguably hardest of all,...



The President’s Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity

2016-11-10T14:15:01-05:00

Last February, President Obama issued an Executive Order establishing the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity within the Department of Commerce. The Commission is charged with “recommending bold, actionable steps that the government, private sector, and the nation as a whole...



Can AI Help Translate Technological Advances into Strategic Advantage?

2016-05-17T06:50:13-04:00

After many years of promise and hype, artificial intelligence is now being applied to activities that not long ago were viewed as the exclusive domain of humans. It wasn’t all that long ago that we were wowed by Watson, Siri,...



The Public Face of Science

2016-05-11T12:27:57-04:00

Last month, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences launched a three year initiative to address the complex relationship between scientists and the public. The Public Face of Science project will explore the interactions of the general public with science,...



The Analog Foundations of the Digital Revolution

2016-05-02T03:05:06-04:00

This past January, the World Bank issued the Digital Dividends report, a comprehensive study of the state of digital developments around the world. All in all, it’s a mixed picture. Digital technologies have been rapidly spreading in just about all...



Why Some Work Groups Thrive While Others Falter

2016-04-25T16:14:32-04:00

I recently read an interesting article published earlier this year in the NY Times Magazine by reporter Charles Duhigg, - What Google Learned From its Quest to Build the Perfect Team. The article is focused on Project Aristotle, an initiative...



Could Blockchain Prove to Be “The Next Big Thing”?

2016-04-18T07:16:14-04:00

Over the past several decades, information technologies (IT) have been fundamentally transforming companies, industries and the economy in general. In its early years, - ’60s, ’70s, ’80s - companies deployed IT primarily to automate their existing processes, - leaving the...



Is FinTech Forcing Banking to a Tipping Point?

2016-04-15T17:35:41-04:00

For the past few decades, digital technologies have been systematically transforming one industry after another. The transformations have generally proceeded along three different stages. First comes the use of IT to improve the productivity and quality of production-oriented, back-end processes....



Computing Beyond Moore’s Law

2016-04-05T06:27:58-04:00

The March 12 issue of The Economist includes a special report on the future of computing after the very impressive 50-years run of Moore’s Law. In his now legendary 1965 paper, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore first made the empirical observation...



How is the Real America Doing?

2016-03-28T06:31:31-04:00

Listening to cable news, talk radio, and our heated election campaigns, you might quickly conclude that the US is going to hell, that the best days of America are behind us and that the country is unraveling right in front...



Anticipating the Future of the IT Industry

2016-03-22T05:43:18-04:00

How can we best anticipate the future of a complex, fast changing industry like IT? Which hot technology innovations, - e.g., artificial intelligence, the blockchain, cloud computing, - will end up having a big impact and which are destined to...



The MIT Inclusive Innovation Competition

2016-03-14T17:55:58-04:00

About three years ago, MIT launched the Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE), a major effort focused on the broad changes brought about by the relentless advances of digital technologies. As its website explains: “While digital technologies are rapidly transforming...



The Coming Robotics Revolution

2016-03-08T07:17:04-05:00

Hi, Robot: Work and Life in the Age of Automation, reads the Hamlet-inspired cover of the July, 2105 issue of Foreign Affairs. The clever cover highlights the issue’s main theme, artificial intelligence and robotics, - a set of technologies that...



What’s the Value of a Liberal Arts Education in Our 21st Century Digital Economy?

2016-03-01T05:23:06-05:00

A few years ago, I came across a very interesting article about the efforts of Roger Martin to transform business education. At the time, Martin was the Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. He...



The Fourth Industrial Revolution

2016-02-23T06:26:25-05:00

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond was the central theme of the 2016 World Economic Forum (WEF) that took place earlier this year in Davos, Switzerland. The theme was nicely explained by Klaus Schwab, WEF founder...



Shaping the Future of the Internet

2016-02-16T06:22:58-05:00

The Winter 2016 issue of Dædalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, is devoted to the Internet. Its 7 articles explore some of the major issues shaping the Internet’s future. The issue was curated by Harvard...



The Rise of the Platform Economy

2016-02-09T16:04:04-05:00

What do we mean by platform? I particularly like this definition by MIT Professor Michael Cusumano: “A platform or complement strategy differs from a product strategy in that it requires an external ecosystem to generate complementary product or service innovations...



Leadership in a Changing World

2016-02-02T05:51:41-05:00

What are the critical competencies needed to lead in our fast-changing business environment? This question was the focus of a study jointly conducted by the professional services firm Heidrick & Struggles and the University of Oxford Said Business School. The...



Corporate Survival: Lessons from Biology

2016-01-26T06:07:25-05:00

Having lived through IBM’s near-death experience in the early 1990s, respect for the forces of the marketplace is edged deep in my psyche. It’s frankly sobering how many once powerful IT companies are no longer around or are shadows of...



The (Uneven) Digitization of the US Economy

2016-01-19T06:24:49-05:00

Digital technologies are all around us, - increasingly ubiquitous and commoditized. But, are they a major source of competitive differentiation? Are they still a strategic value to business? Can digital innovation drive long term economic growth? Several weeks ago, the...



The Blockchain and Open Innovation

2016-01-12T05:47:41-05:00

Transformational innovations don’t always play out as originally envisioned. Once in the marketplace, they seem to acquire a life of their own. Lest we forget, the Internet started out as a DARPA sponsored project aimed at developing a robust, fault-tolerant...



Why People and Companies Die While Cities Keep Growing

2016-01-05T06:30:46-05:00

The Winter issue of strategy+business includes a very interesting article on theoretical physicist Geoffrey West, - The Fortune 500 Teller. Dr. West is Distinguished Professor and Past President of the Santa Fe Institute (SFI), a non-profit research institute dedicated to...



Learning to Apply Data Science to Business Problems

2015-12-29T07:02:37-05:00

This past semester I was involved in an interesting course at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, - Analytics Labs (A-Lab). A-Lab’s objective is to teach students how to use data sets and analytics to address real-world business problems. Companies submit...