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Can We Quantify the Value of Connected Devices?

In the 1990s, Procter & Gamble’s Product Supply Organization kicked off a major Reliability Engineering program, much like the efficiency initiatives of companies such as Toyota. They institutionalized the use of data collection systems in their manufacturing facilities to understand how products and machines would “behave” and could be optimized. By collecting machine failure data via manual sources as well as PLCs (programmable logic controllers), they were able to plot statistical distribution curves that predicted the failure rates of machines, along with the specific causes. More impressively, by linking all the machines together, they were able to predict — and subsequently improve — overall process reliability and product quality. This was all done through physical, smart, connected devices and sensors, which mon....
Watch: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators

Have you mastered the five skills that distinguish innovative entrepreneurs and executives from ordinary managers? In The Innovator’s DNA, co-authors Jeffrey Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton Christensen (The Innovator’s Dilemma, The Innovator’s Solution) built on what is known about disruptive innovation to show how individuals can develop the skills necessary to move from idea to impact. Through their research on the world’s best innovators—including leaders at Amazon, Apple, Google, Skype, and Virgin Group—these authors have identified five key skills that differentiate great innovators. In this interactive Harvard Business Review webinar, Dyer describes these five key skills and explains how managers can develop them. He discusses how to generate innovative new ideas, collaborate with colleagues to implement them, and ....
What Apple Should Do with Its Massive Piles of Money

An Open Letter to Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Dear Mr. Cook, In a recent article posted on this website, I criticized Carl Icahn’s call for your company to intensify its stock buybacks. In this letter, I’d like to explain more fully why I view the $51 billion already spent by Apple on open market (including accelerated) share repurchases under your leadership as a major misallocation of resources for both the company and the U.S. economy. Unlike Mr. Icahn, I do not write to you as an Apple shareholder (I hold no Apple shares). Nor do I write as the satisfied Apple customer that I am. Rather, I am an academic economist who, through in-depth studies of high-tech companies and industries, has come to the conclusion that stock buybacks are eroding the foundations of economic prosperity in the United States. There is mounting evidence that....
Stop People from Wasting Your Time

We’re all too busy, spending our days in back-to-back meetings and our nights feverishly responding to emails. (Adam Grant, a famously responsive Wharton professor, told me that on an “average day” he’ll spend 3-4 hours answering messages.) That’s why people who waste our time have become the scourge of modern business life, hampering our productivity and annoying us in the process. Sometimes it’s hard to escape, especially when the time-waster is your boss (one friend recalls a supervisor who “called meetings just to tell long, rambling stories about her college years” and would “chastise anyone who tried to leave and actually perform work”). But in many other situations, you can take steps to regain control of your time and your schedule. Here’s how. State your preferred method of communication. For years, mil....
Computer-Based Teaching Ends Up Being Costly and Risky for the Navy

A decade ago, the U.S. Navy replaced instructor-led teaching with computer-based learning in entry-level training courses, in part to reduce costs, but the result has been less-well-trained sailors and an estimated $16 million in excess maintenance costs, say Robert M. McNab and Diana I. Angelis of the Defense Resources Management Institute. When such expenses as lost productivity and additional required education are factored in, computer-based training could end up costing hundreds of millions of dollars and endangering the fleet’s readiness, the researchers say.
At Amazon, It’s All About Cash Flow

In a few days, Amazon will report its quarterly earnings. If recent quarters are any indication, there will be a lot of worried talk before and after the announcement about the company’s minuscule or perhaps even negative profits. If its stock price continues to slide downward, the story will probably be that investors are losing patience with Amazon’s persistently low profit margins. Maybe that’s true. Why stock prices do what they do over the short term is an enduring mystery, and I’m not going to claim to solve it here. But given that the company’s profit margins have never been much to look at, it’s a little hard to understand why that would suddenly be a big deal now. The far more interesting things in Amazon’s earnings releases, it turns out, can be found on the cash flow statement. Here, for example, are the comp....
It’s Your Job to Tell the Hard Truths

Rashid,* the CEO of a high-tech company and a client of mine for nearly a decade, called to tell me we had a major issue with some of the newer members of his leadership team. What comes to mind when you think of what might constitute a “major issue” with some senior leaders? Maybe they’re in a fight? Maybe they’re making poor strategic decisions? Perhaps they’re not following through on commitments they made about the business? Maybe they’re being abusive to their employees? Maybe they’re stealing? I’ve seen all of those problems in the past at various companies. But none of that was happening at Rashid’s firm. The major issue he was talking about was far more subtle — and in most places even acceptable. Rashid had heard, through the grapevine, that two new team members were quietly questioning whether they shoul....
Can HBO Compete in an Unbundled World?

HBO will launch an online streaming subscription next year, and fans are understandably excited. As The Wall Street Journal put it, the company is embracing the inevitable: the unbundling of cable. But can HBO compete in a world without cable TV? HBO will likely pick up short-term revenue from cord-cutters eager for its content, but inevitable or not the move puts it up against a new set of competitors like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and even YouTube. HBO may be in a strong position in terms of content, but it faces new challenges in distributing it. For now, HBO is hinting at offering a skinny bundle of broadband plus access to its streaming offering. But a post-cable HBO will be going up against competitors who specialize in delivering digital content exclusively and, in some cases, have control over the devices on which that conte....
What If Companies Don’t Own All That Data They’re Collecting?

Big data and the “internet of things” — in which everyday objects can send and receive data — promise revolutionary change to management and society. But their success rests on an assumption: that all the data being generated by internet companies and devices scattered across the planet belongs to the organizations collecting it. What if it doesn’t? Alex “Sandy” Pentland, the Toshiba Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT, suggests that companies don’t own the data, and that without rules defining who does, consumers will revolt, regulators will swoop down, and the internet of things will fail to reach its potential. To avoid this, Pentland has proposed a set of principles and practices to define the ownership of data and control its flow. He calls it the New Deal on Data. It’s no less ambitious than it sound....
The Real Revolution in Online Education Isn’t MOOCs

Data is confirming what we already know: recruiting is an imprecise activity, and degrees don’t communicate much about a candidate’s potential and fit. Employers need to know what a student knows and can do. Something is clearly wrong when only 11% of business leaders — compared to 96% of chief academic officers — believe that graduates have the requisite skills for the workforce. It’s therefore unlikely that business leaders are following closely what’s going on in higher education. Even the latest hoopla around massive open online courses (MOOCs) amounts to more of the same: academics designing courses that correspond with their own interests rather than the needs of the workforce, but now doing it online. But there is a new wave of online competency-based learning providers that has absolutely nothing to do with offeri....
How to Invent the Future

We need more than big ideas, or pithy words, or an ultra-clear vision to invent the future. Odd as it may seem for discussing innovation and management, I’m reminded of a sociology experiment done in the 1960s. Five monkeys were placed in a cage, with a batch of bananas hung from the ceiling and a ladder placed right underneath it. It took only a few seconds for one of the monkeys to race up the ladder to grab the bananas. But the next day, whenever any of the monkeys started up the ladder, the researchers sprayed all of the monkeys with ice-cold water. Soon, each of the monkeys learned to not go up the ladder, and if any of them started to, the others would hold them back by pulling on their tail. This was done repeatedly until each little monkey had learned the lesson: no one climbs the ladder. No banana is worth it. Once all fiv....
Why Does Food Taste Better if Someone Else Is Having the Same Thing?

People who ate chocolate in the presence of another person thought it tasted better if the other person had eaten the same thing, rating it 6.83 on an 11-point flavor scale versus 5.57 if the other person had been merely reading a booklet. This is even though there was no conversation about the experience, says a team at Yale led by Erica J. Boothby. Imagining another person’s feelings during a shared event may increase the cognitive resources you devote to it, thus intensifying your experience, the researchers say.
What You Eat Affects Your Productivity

Think back to your most productive workday in the past week. Now ask yourself: On that afternoon, what did you have for lunch? When we think about the factors that contribute to workplace performance, we rarely give much consideration to food. For those of us battling to stay on top of emails, meetings, and deadlines, food is simply fuel. But as it turns out, this analogy is misleading. The foods we eat affect us more than we realize. With fuel, you can reliably expect the same performance from your car no matter what brand of unleaded you put in your tank. Food is different. Imagine a world where filling up at Mobil meant avoiding all traffic and using BP meant driving no faster than 20 miles an hour. Would you then be so cavalier about where you purchased your gas? Food has a direct impact on our cognitive performance, which is why....
Disrupting TV’s Status Quo

Famed producer Norman Lear on developing groundbreaking sitcoms, managing creative partnerships and the lessons he wants to pass on to the next generation. Download this podcast
​Numbers Show Apple Shareholders Have Already Gotten Plenty

Carl Icahn is at it again. On Oct. 9, armed with about 1% of Apple’s outstanding stock, the hedge-fund activist published an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, urging him to accelerate the company’s stock repurchases by making a tender offer. I hope Cook doesn’t listen, because I think it would be bad for Apple, all of its employees who have contributed to its success, and the American economy. But judging from Cook’s past actions, I fear he will do Icahn’s bidding. In August 2013, Icahn bought more than $1 billion worth of Apple shares. As he tweeted, he then had a “cordial dinner with Tim” the following October, during which he “pushed hard for a $150 billion buyback.” Icahn later reduced his buyback request to $50 billion, and in April 2014 Apple’s board approved a $30 billion program to be carried out by repur....
Corporate Universities Should Reflect a Company’s Ideals

If the number of executives from other companies who have been benchmarking GE’s management-development centers is an indication, interest in creating corporate universities is on the rise. While these visitors are always intrigued by the commitment and sense of mission they observe, many tend to focus on traditional metrics like the number of classes, the number of participants per year, and the cost. But they sometimes fail to understand that a corporate university can and should be used to drive strategic and cultural change and to champion individual and collective growth. Here are some of GE’s principles for achieving those essential aims: A leadership institute should reflect the company’s leadership ideals. Establishing a corporate university is a big deal. It is a statement you are making to employees about the c....
What Peter Drucker Knew About 2020

When PwC released its annual survey of corporate chief executives for 2014, it was immediately obvious that change is on leaders’ brains: “As CEOs plan their strategies to take advantage of transformational shifts,” the consultancy reported, “they are also assessing their current capabilities – and finding that everything is fair game for reinvention.” It’s no wonder why. “Every few hundred years throughout Western history, a sharp transformation has occurred,” Peter Drucker observed in a 1992 essay for Harvard Business Review. “In a matter of decades, society altogether rearranges itself – its worldview, its basic values, its social and political structures, its arts, its key institutions. Fifty years later a new world exists. And the people born into that world cannot even imagine the world in which their gran....
The Economics of Knowledge Sharing

Open-source software is, in business-world terms, weird. The people who write it and test it collaborate as volunteers. Yet corporations have built billion-dollar businesses around it. This juxtaposition has led some scholars outside of economics to theorize that a new sharing economy is dawning in which economic incentives have to cede ground to other motivations. A decade-and-a-half ago, though, Josh Lerner of Harvard Business School and Jean Tirole of the University of Toulouse decided to see if they could tell the story of open source in economic terms. They did, and that work has since led to joint papers on standards-setting organizations and patent pools. With the news that Tirole had won this year’s economics Nobel, I talked to Lerner about the pair’s joint project. What follows is an edited version of our conversation. Y....
Make the Internet of Things More Human-Friendly

In early research, McKinsey emphasized that the distinctive character of the Internet of Things — which is predicted to be a $7.1 trillion market by 2020 — lay in its ability to operate with little or no “human intervention.” The initial vision involved embedding sensors and actuators in physical objects like UPS packages and factory machinery to sense the environment, transmit “huge volumes of data,” and facilitate new kinds of automation. But I’d argue that notion is shifting, and that people will be a more deeply intrinsic part of the IoT. And as the Internet of Things (IoT) expands to include people, companies that create value will need to understand user experience, psychological, and even some philosophical concepts much more deeply than they do now. They must learn how people really interact with t....
Banning Affirmative Action Hurts Minority Enrollment in Elite Colleges

Bans on affirmative-action-based admissions in certain U.S. states are associated with a decline of 15% to 30% in the proportions of blacks and Hispanics enrolled in selective colleges and universities there, says Peter Hinrichs of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Courts have upheld states’ authority to impose such bans, and Hinrich writes that nationwide, the tide appears to be turning against affirmative action. Average schools appear to be unaffected by affirmative-action bans.
How to Deal with a Mean Colleague

When a colleague is mean to you, it can be hard to know how to respond. Some people are tempted to let aggressive behavior slide in the hopes that the person will stop. Others find themselves fighting back. When you’re being treated poorly by a coworker how can you change the dynamic? And if the behavior persists or worsens, how do you know when you’re dealing with a true bully? What the Experts Say “When it comes to bad behavior at work, there’s a broad spectrum,” with outright bullies on one end and people who are simply rude on the other, says Michele Woodward, an executive coach and host of HBR’s recent webinar: “Bullies, Jerks, and Other Annoyances: Identify and Defuse the Difficult People at Work.” You may not know which end of the spectrum you’re dealing with until you actually address the behavior. If it’s....
Strategy Lessons From Jean Tirole

Why did Jean Tirole win this year’s economics Nobel? Here’s one key reason: “Jean has a bit of magical quality of being able to take very complex situations where there are a lot of different moving parts and a lot of institutional details and structuring the essence of it in a relatively simple model,” says Harvard Business School professor Josh Lerner, who has co-authored several recent papers with Tirole. “Obviously models have to simplify reality, but one of the real skills is essentially being able — it’s an art, not a science — to say, ‘What are the key levers here? What are the aspects that distill the situation down to its very essence?’” In other words, Tirole does what modern academic economists do, only better than almost anyone else. He is the eighth most-influential economist on the planet among....
Gender Balance Is Hard, but It’s Not Complicated

Large, established organizations are finally starting to accept that gender imbalances are a business problem. Yes, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella recently lit up the blogosphere with his unfortunate suggestion that women should not ask for pay raises. (He quickly apologised.) But gaffes like his are increasingly out of step with the mainstream. This summer, Google publicized the gender balance of its workforce, and vowed to improve. This led other large tech companies to do the same. Leaders at Harvard Business School have admitted the school has not been hospitable to women, and publicized their efforts to improve in a front-page New York Times story. These and other changes are evidence of a steady and growing recognition that today’s gender imbalance are a business and leadership issue. We are literally – and collectively &#....
How to (Gradually) Become a Different Company

A number of recent headline-grabbing announcements of divestments and split-ups by companies such as HP (spinning off its PC and printer businesses), GE (the sale of its appliances business to Electrolux), Bayer (the flotation of its MaterialScience chemicals business), and Royal Philips (its separation into two autonomous companies, Lighting and HealthTech) are putting the spotlight again on the phenomenon of “core shifting”: how a company, through a sustained process of acquiring and divesting assets, changes the mix of its business portfolio and thus purposefully shifts the core of its activities. PPG (originally “Pittsburgh Plate Glass”) is a splendid example of such a transformation. The US-based company used to be a diversified industrial group, with activities in all types of glass, chemicals, paints, optical materials....
Whatever It Is, You’ll Get Over It

Despite wars, famine, economic collapse, and personal tragedies, a majority of human beings feel happy a majority of the time, extensive studies have demonstrated over the past two decades. In fact, people seem to have “happiness set-points” to which they return after even the most extreme perturbations, says a team of researchers led by Ed Diener of the Gallup Organization. The reason for our baseline happiness may have to with evolutionary advantage: A good mood leads to greater creativity, sociality, and, ultimately, reproductive success, the researchers say.

TECHNALINK HIGHLIGHTS
  

In celebration of women role models in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), STEMconnectortm unveils in hard copy and online its inaugural 100 Women Leaders in STEM publicatin. The heroines included in 100 Women Leaders in STEM share stories about their commitment to serving as mentors and sponsors of those who are next in the stem jobs pipline.
           
Mclean, VA - Technalink, Inc. is excited to announce that Alka Dhillon, Founder & Chief Executive Officer has been selected as a winner for the 2012 BRAVA! Women Business Achievement Award Presented by SmartCEO.
    
Alka Dhillon, Founder and CEO, Technalink (McLean,VA) Recognized as one of the leading female CEOs in the Washington, DC, area, Ms. Dhillon is known for her irrepressible entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for giving back to the community.

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