Sunday, October 14, 2007

Innovation and Productivity

In my work on innovation one topic that frequently arises is the definition of innovation. Innovation is not the same as invention. In contrast, innovation includes both value creation and value capture. This means that innovation is just as likely to be a service as a product or technology. In addition, innovation has a direct link on the economy in a way that invention does not necessarily have. The Economist's recent article & interview with Vijay Vaitheeswaran does a good job of covering these concepts.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

John Patrick at MIT

Last week internet pioneer John Patrick came to speak to my Technology Driven Business Change class. John worked at IBM for over 30 years and helped guide IBM through the internet revolution. In addition, the class is taught by Irving Wladawsky-Berger who headed IBM's internet division. Together John & Irving have some great experiences and stories about the challenges IBM faced. Rather than relay them all I'll just say that you should check out Lou Gerstner's book "Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?" Also, John's slides are posted on his blog.

Check out John's blog and post about his experience at MIT and Irving's technology leadership blog.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Grand Central

I just got my invite to beta test Grand Central. I stumbled upon this company when I was doing research this summer and about a week later they were purchased by Google. The technology aggregates up to six phone numbers. When a contact calls, Grand Central can be set to ring to specific numbers. Additionally, each contact can receive a custom greeting, voicemail can be checked online, and calls can be blocked. This service is great for people who are constantly checking multiple voicemail boxes. If you have a desk phone, mobile phone, home phone, etc this is worth checking out. Now that they are owned by Google I'm sure we can expect some exciting new features. Also, check out the recent Wall Street Journal article for another review.

Back to School - Week 4

This semester has been unbelievably busy. I thought second year would be fairly relaxing but as it turns out I'm working just as hard as my first semester of business school. Although, this year most of my workload is self-induced.

One of my classes this semester is through the MediaLab at MIT. The class is called Digital Innovations and we are researching how cell phones can be used to spark economic development in Costa Rica. In the coming weeks you'll probably see lots of mobile tech postings from me. My group is especially interested in how cell phones can be used to enable carpooling. We believe that a good, cell phone enabled system could significantly increase productivity and quality of life by reducing daily travel times. The BTIS system in India has a great start on solving this problem as well as the related traffic issues. In addition, today's Wall Street Journal had an interesting article on phones in India.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Back to School

It is hard to believe that the summer is over and school is starting back up again. For my summer internship I was back at Harrah's Entertainment working on their IT Innovation team. Before I cronicle my summer or launch into new topics I want to cover a few things from the end of the school year.

I want to thank Michael (MJ) Sikorsky, CEO of Cambrian House for coming to speak to Tom Malone's class. MJ is one of the most well read people I met and he is full of passion for what he does. Cambrian House is working hard to build an engaged community. MJ and I had an interesting discussion on perdictive markets versus a head to head competion format.

I also want to congradulate Harpreet Marwaha, MIT Sloan class of 2007, on his new startup AudioDizer.

There are about a million other things I need to highlight but given my recent track record of posts I think I'll start with this.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


As you probably know business school is all about group projects. Given that I've done a fair amount of research on Web 2.0 topics I figured I should put my money where my mouth is. I've been using PBwiki for many of my class projects. I haven't tried many of the competing products but PBwiki was easier to uses the the other ones I checked out. One of the features that I like is that you can set it up to email you when there are changes to the page. This means that you don't have to constantly check to see if your group members have made changes. In addition, they are offering ad-free wikis for educational purposes.

The company has been adding features since their recent round of fundraising.

I'd love to hear what other collaboration tools you have been using. The field of solutions seems to be growing more crowded everyday.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

More Great Video Content

As you may have realized I spend far too much time surfing the internet. I'm always looking for new and interesting sites to help me with my various research projects. Today's Wall Street Journal highlighted a couple of video sites that seem to have a lot of good content. The Research Channel is a nonprofit organization that brings the work of notable and respected researchers, speakers, and professors to the public. is another site that has a lot of great video content. Fora is great because the break the video into easily viewable chapters and also let you download the videos in multiple formats including Mp3, Ipod Video, or PSP Video.

YouTube for PowerPoint

Last fall when I was doing some research on Web 2.0 trends I found a site called SlideShare. The site lets people upload their PowerPoint presentations and share them in much the same way as YouTube. For hot topics like Web 2.0 it was another great place to look for information but I became a bit frustrated when I realized that you could not download the presentations. Since then I've gone back one or two times but found that the site had become cluttered with less factual and more entertaining presentations. Now it looks like they are trying to drum up some new traffic and have added the ability to download the presentations (given the owner's consent). They are currently running a contest for the best slide show. Check out their site and feel free to vote for my entry.

Friday, April 13, 2007

MIT Sloan Places 3rd in Red Hat Challenge

I have to give a plug to my fellow Sloanies who recently placed 3rd in the first Red Hat Challenge. Teams had the opportunity to compete for $20,000 by tacking a real-world business challenge for Red Hat. There was a great turnout for the competition with over 343 teams from 143 schools. Congrats to the Sloan team, Jon Krafcik, Glenn Wilson, Donna Pitteri, and Eric Cheung. The four of them are also competing in the McKinsey Business Technology Challenge which kicks off tonight.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Banking's Most Innovative CIO

As you may know I used to work for a research and consulting firm focusing on financial services technology. Most of my clients were banks and vendors to banks. I get many of the trade emails and I thought this one might be of interest:

Bank Systems & Technology is accepting nominations for September 2007 "Innovative CIOs" issue. The person must be a senior technology executive at a bank (CIO, CTO, EVP or VP in charge of a line of business technology, such as e-business strategy, customer solutions, etc.). Keep in mind that bankers can be from non-U.S.-based institutions as well.

Your role in nominating potential candidates will be completely confidential. This year's nominees will be honored at the Bank Systems & Technology Executive Summit, to be held Sept. 23-26 at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa in Phoenix. Please provide the following information on your nominee (as much data as you can provide will be helpful):
Nominee's name, Title, Bank name, Contact information (if possible)

Tell us in just a few sentences why you think this person should be included in BS&T's 2007 Innovative CIOs feature. Deadline for nominations is Friday, June 1, 2007. E-mail all submissions to with "CIO 2007" in the subject line.

What Can A Wiki Do?

As I've mentioned before I am currently taking a class taught by Tom Malone focusing on how organizations will be designed in the future. Professor Malone is the head of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence and one of the leaders of the We Are Smarter project. As one of our class assignments we were required to contribute to the book (check out my contribution in chapter II under innovation and invention). To be frank I am not sold on the idea of collective writing. Wikis are an excellent tool for short factual information such as Wikipedia or potentially things like employee handbooks. However, they are currently not well suited to writing that requires a narrative (for another example check out the wiki project at Penguin Publishing). For other types of writing the Helium model seems much more promising. Helium pays authors for submissions that the community finds valuable. They claim to have over 600,000 articles and 5,000 authors. I haven't spent much time on their site yet but it looks pretty interesting.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Clayton Christensen and Chet Huber at Sloan

Clay Christensen and Chet Huber co-presented today on the topic of disruptive innovation and GM's OnStar. With Sloan's strong connection to the automotive industry, many students were there to hear from Chet while others were just interested in seeing Clay. Professor Christensen, who is well known for his books on innovation, is practically a celebrity around Cambridge. As it turns out both men were classmates at HBS.

I found the presentation to be interesting although much of Professor Christensen's talk was on material from his first book, Innovator's Dilemma. I was unfamiliar with the OnStar business which turned out to be fascinating. Chet recalled how the set up the OnStar business within GM while maintaining its independence. Little did they know that many of their strategies would align with Professor Christensen's future bestseller.

Later in the day I had the opportunity to join a small group of students for a Q&A with Professor Christensen. Here are a few thoughts from that discussion:
Think about the job the product is being hired for not the market segment/demographic it is being marketed to. Too many companies are missing the reasons people use specific products.
Financial analysis is ill suited to foster innovation. DCF, NPV, and shareholder maximization frequently lead to companies sticking with the status quo. The costs of setting up a new business will always look unattractive in comparison to the marginal costs associated with an existing business.
Competing down market requires speed to market and customization. These customers do not need more features they need a lower cost product that better serves their needs.
Christensen has a rapidly growing consulting practice to help other companies improve innovation. Check out there website for some good reading:

There is also a new article in the Sloan Management Review called "Finding the Right Job for Your Product."

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Costa Rica to Boston

Pardon my recent lack of posts. The last two weeks were Sloan SIP/spring break. I went down to Costa Rica with a group of students and had a great time. I highly recommend visiting. The Arenal region was especially beautiful.

The day after retuning I started the Boston University Tech Strategy Case Competition sponsored by Motorola. This is the second year of the competition. 11 teams of MBA students from around the world took part. They included IIM, Kellogg, Stanford, LBS, Seoul, and others. We were given 24 hours to put together a strategy for Motorola's entry into the digital contnet space. Our proposal focused on using internet enabled set-top boxes as a P2P network. With a bit of luck and a lot of hard work we came in first place earning the $25K prize. Check out the contest blog to learn all the gory details.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Business Innovation on CNBC

CNBC has a new show called The Business of Innovation airing on Sundays at 9 PM PST/12 EST. I haven't seen the show yet but it looks like they have a good lineup of guests including the CEO of the NASDAQ, founder of Staples, CEO of eBay, and many others. The first two episodes are available for download as a podcast. Episode 2, Evolution to Revolution, featured Larry Huston, former VP of Innovation at P&G, discussing how companies need to realize that great ideas exist outside the walls of the firm.

Even the Economist wants to innovate

It seems that The Economist magazine is on the hunt for innovative ideas. They have set up a website called Project Red Stripe. I'm not quite sure what to make of the site yet. At the very least it seems fairly like a fairly interesting read. A few people have made some sarcastic submissions and there may even have been some good ones. So far they have received at least 140 submissions. I'm not so sure that I'll be sending them my valuable ideas (assuming I had any) but then again they are offering a six month subscription to the magazine as compensation.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Future of Work

I'm currently taking an organizational design class with Professor Tom Malone. The class focuses on what future organizations will look like. His book, "The Future of Work," makes the assertation that the reduction of communication costs has been the driving factor in the development of new organizations such as Wikipedia and InnoCentive. This is a speech he gave in 2005.

Clayton Christensen Speech

Take a listen to Clayton Christensen's keynote speech at the at the 2004 Open Business Conference. It runs 1:48:43 but you can download the file and listen to it on your iPod later.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Customer Driven Innovation at Intuit

When I think of innovation Intuit always comes to mind. Visiting the company headquarters this past January only reinforced things as I got to see some of their customer interview rooms and also hear from their Chairman and former CEO Bill Campbell. Their innovation is primarily focused on solving customer pain points. To do this they obsessively listen to customers and watch them use the product. If you are interested in trying out some of their new products and features check out their innovation website.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Harrah's Entertainment & Innovation

ZDNet has a great series of CIO videos. Recently they interviewd Tim Stanley, CIO of Harrah's Entertainment, on his new role as Chief Innovation Officer. As I've mentioned before, Harrah's is on the cutting edge of innovation in the gaming industry. They view innovation as a requirement for improving customer service. They are constantly looking to other industries to find new ideas and technology to improve the experience of the customers. Listen to the interview with Tim to hear more about the technologies they are looking at including mobile, RFID, etc.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Building an Environment for Innovation

This semester I am working as a research assistant on a project with the Center for Information Systems at MIT. The project is headed by CISR research scientist George Westerman. We will be writing a series of short vignettes on innovation as well as some full length case studies. Check out the CISR website for more information.

In this project we will explore how IT leaders exert the necessary pressure to develop an organizational capability to innovate. Specifically, we will study how leaders in innovative firms reshape IT management processes and organizational culture to enable innovation. We will address the following questions:

How can IT leaders successfully suggest and implement innovative uses of IT?

How do innovation processes differ across firms with different strategies and/or structures?

How do IT management processes need to change to improve IT innovation?

What are the elements of an innovative organizational culture?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Cool Mobile Apps

Nokia is working on some new applications for mobile phones. Check out their site, The application lets you add mobile widgets to your phone to track blogs, news feeds, online communities, etc. Currently it works with Flickr, Digg, Engadget, Meetup, Simply Hired, and many others.

While I was out in Vegas in January for CES I got to meet the co-founder of Soonr. The application lets you access any files and programs on your home computer through your phone. It also lets you designate shared files that others can access. The power of the application is that it can easily access programs like Skype or your Outlook over almost any phone. It could also be a great tool for sales people who need access to materials or want to share designated files with prospects. The company is backed by Intel Capital and the application is currently free.

Nokia at Sloan

Today Taneli Ruda a Director of Strategic Projects for Nokia spoke at Sloan. Taneli focused on Nokia's view of internet enabled phones. He brought with him the N95, N800, N76, and N8801. Nokia believes that an increasing value of the cell phone will come from social networking applications, location based services, and mp3 functionality. As consumers get increased value from their cell phones Nokia hopes to see a higher average selling price. They believe that the iPhone will be good for their business as it will increase user adoption of higher priced mobile devices. Although I agree with this I wonder if Apple's good customer service and innovative designs will give them a big advantage over Nokia. If I'm going to buy a $500 - $800 phone you better believe that I want to know that I can get good support and repair. Check out some pics of the N95 (retail price $800) on Engadget:

Monday, February 26, 2007

Steve Wozniak at MIT

Check out a great video of Steve Wozinak's visit to MIT last fall as part of his book tour for iWoz.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Meebo CEO at Sloan Today

The MIT Innovation Club hosted Meebo CEO, Seth Sternberg, today. Meebo lets AOL IM, Yahoo, Google Talk, and MSN users chat directly through their browser without downloading any software. Corporate users who cannot download software will find this especially useful (at least until the page is blocked). Currently the site is getting about 80 million instant messages daily. They also just received $9 million in funding from Sequoia and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

MIT Deshpande Center IdeaStream

The MIT Deshpande Ceneter will be holding their annual IdeaStream Symposium on April 12th 2007. This is an invite-only event that brings together venture capitalists, MIT researchers, and successful entrepreneurs. Focus areas include energy, health care, transportation, and communications. To get an invite you must submit your idea by March 1st, 2007.

McKinsey Business Technology Case Competition

Today McKinsey announced their first business technology case competition. For a chance at $10K you can bet I'll be signing up. This past fall I competed in the Darden Innovation Challenge which was a great chance to evaluate Web 2.0 trends for financial services. My team didn't end up in the top 3 but two other Sloan teams competed in the finals. Hopefully, this will be another good learning experience.

The McKinsey Business Technology Challenge invites teams of 3-5 MBAs from Berkeley Haas, Kellogg, MIT Sloan, University of Chicago GSB, and Wharton to show how a breakthrough technology could transform one of the world's leading
companies. On Friday, April 13th, we'll reveal the technologies and companies.
Your team will then have 48 hours to develop a plan for how one or more of the technologies can create extraordinary value. The incentive? $10,000 for the Campus Winners and an additional $20,000 for the team that wins the National Competition, to be judged in New York on April 20. Plus, the winning team will receive the first-ever McKinsey Business Technology Prize. Interested? Save the date: April 13. We'll be sending you further competition details, including registration information, on March 1.

InnoCentive Co-Founder at Sloan

Yesterday the Co-Founder of InnoCentive, Alpheus Bingham, spoke to students in Tom Malone's Organizational Design class. The class focuses on innovative organizational designs and the future of work. InnoCentive is one of the companies demonstrating innovative organizational structures. The company was founded as a subsidiary of Eli Lilly and later spun off. They post scientific challenges in the areas of biology and chemistry and reward solvers with compensation between $10,000 and $100,000. They have posted roughly 400 - 500 challenges and over 25% have been solved.

InnoCentive is particularly interesting because it demonstrates a potential structure for the future of the knowledge economy. By outsourcing these problems companies have the ability to reduce the risk/expense associated with R&D. In addition, the InnoCentive network harnesses the power of the masses to tackle problems that have been unsolvable. InnoCentive will not replace R&D in organizations; however, it can reduce the expenditure on in house knowledge workers. As companies become more comfortable using this type of service we will hopefully see an increased rate of scientific breakthroughs at a reduced cost. Given their current success, the company is planning on expanding into other technical areas.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Wharton Technology Conference

Wharton is hosting a technology conference this Friday, February 23rd, focusing on monetizing innovation. Topics include clean technology, digital content, globalization in venture capital, e-fraud, and more. It looks like they have a good list of speakers including the CIO of FedEx Robert Carter, Keith Rabois VP of Business Development at LinkedIn, Marc Pecen VP of Advanced Technology at RIM, and Anil Vijendran Director of Mobile User Experience at Motorola.

Monday, February 19, 2007

MIT Sloan Tech Trek in

While I was out in San Francisco I spoke with a reporter from Forbes Magazine about the types of jobs MBA's are looking for this year. Check out the full article in "Follow the Talent" by Elizabeth Corcoran:

In three days, the visitors from Boston enjoyed a whirlwind of introductions and sneak peeks. They talked with executives of fledgling start-ups and toured companies with market caps in the billions. They chatted with venture capitalists. And of course, they lunched at Google.

Sony Customer Service

I just have to take a second to rant on Sony customer service. Over the summer I purchased the Sony Light Blue Earphones, model number MDREX51LP. This is the second pair of these that I have purchased. For $40 they have decent sound and are comfortable for extended listening. However, they only last about six months before they stop working. This being the second time buying the earphones I decided to purchase the optional $10.99 two year replacement warranty.

When I called up the number listed on the warranty I was told that they don’t cover the product for the first year and so they would transfer me to Sony technical support. Sony technical support told me that they only cover the earphones for 90 days and I should call a different extended warranty number which just happened to be disconnected. Now I’ve called the original support number and the Sony number twice and spent 30 minutes on hold each time I’ve called. At this point I’d rather just go buy a new pair of earphones but I’m too stubborn to let them keep my $10.99. Thanks for nothing Sony. Can I have two hours of my life back?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

New BlackBerry 8800 Announced

MIT Sloan Innovation Club partner Research In Motion is set to launch their new BlackBerry 8800 on February 21st. The device will be available through the new AT&T and will be the first BlackBerry to have built-in GPS. In addition, the 8800 incorporates trackball navigation, a multimedia player, and Push To Talk. Members of the Innovation Club have been testing two different BlackBerry models for the past year. Unfortunately, I was not one of the chosen few but hopefully it was worth the wait and I will get my hands on one of the 8800s. Check out the RIM website for all the specs.

RIM Co-CEO and Founder, Mike Lazaridis spoke at Sloan last week as part of the Dean’s Innovative Leader Series. Members of the Innovation Club had the opportunity to have lunch with Mr. Lazaridis and hear more about the company’s current strategy. Check back soon for video of the speech.

Sloanies Trek to Silicon Valley, Seattle to Experience the Best of Tech, Networking - MITSloan News

A great article by Jen Laio in the latest edition of Fifteen:

Sloanies Trek to Silicon Valley, Seattle to Experience the Best of Tech, Networking - MITSloan News

To kick-off 2007, Sloanies descended upon Silicon Valley and the Emerald City to get a taste of technology companies, start-ups, and the city's nightlife. The treks were hosted by the MIT Sloan MediaTech club, drawing almost 40 students to the Bay Area and over 20 to Seattle. Silicon Valley The Silicon Valley Tech Trek (SVTT) spanned 4 days and involved 25 companies; students visited on average three companies per day. In the evenings, they networked with alumni at the Menlo Circus Club and attended an Open House at the Plug & Play Center...

A watch fit for James Bond - Student Life

Check out my article on the Suunto n3i SPOT watch that I have been testing out courtesy of Microsoft:
A watch fit for James Bond - Student Life

SPOT, or Smart Personal Objects Technology, watches were first released in early 2003. These watches offer automatic time adjustment, customizable faces, news, weather, traffic, stock quotes, sports scores, instant messaging, Outlook synchronization, and other advanced features. The information is continually updated through low-power FM frequencies and requires a subscription to MSN Direct services.

Externship Report: My Month with Harrah's - MITSloan News

Externship Report: My Month with Harrah's - MITSloan News

Harrah's Corporate

Originally uploaded by dodge2315.
I spent the month of January working for Harrah’s Entertainment corporate IT group. Harrah’s is well known for being the first casino company to implement a nationwide rewards program. They are widely recognized as the industry leader in the use of technology and have been the recipient of many IT awards. For my month long project I had the opportunity to do some research for one of their strategic initiatives and present my findings to Harrah’s CIO, Tim Stanley.

Check on my article in the MIT Sloan newspaper, Fifteen, to hear more about my Vegas experience.