207. Competing in the Digital Age
Digital technology platforms – smartphones, cloud computing, wired and wireless communications, Internet of Things—have become the foundation for a large share of economic activity, leading to what is called the digital age. Many products have been (music, movies, newspapers, financial instruments) or are being (cars, medical devices, industrial machines) digitized. Marketplaces are increasingly being structured as digital platforms (travel, advertising, auctions). As a result, there is a fundamental and ongoing shift in the sources of value creation and competitive advantage toward digital technologies. We have observed that companies that understand how to harness the power of digital technologies are winning; those that don’t often lose.
Through our research, we have learned that creating value in a technology-driven world is driven by management practices that complement the foundational technologies. A business can succeed by developing new knowhow and business practices suited to the digital age and representing it in software. With better data and advanced analytics, companies can develop a more sophisticated understanding of their customers, operations, and products.
The objective of this course is to train the next generation of business leaders how to leverage digital technologies to grow their companies profitably. This course will prepare students to drive digital (business) innovation.
We will begin by discussing the technological forces of change. We will then develop the capability to identify emerging technologies that have the potential to disrupt the status quo. We will explain what software is and how it can be leveraged in business. Students will learn the capabilities of new forms of software (like analytics and machine learning) both conceptually and through hands on experience.
We then shift to studying the economics of the digital world, which are different from the economics of a physical world. Students will learn the economics of digital products and platforms. Based on their understanding of the technologies and their economics, students will then learn how to apply strategy frameworks and gain insights into new ways to compete and organize.
We close with technology decision-making. The objective is for students to develop an understanding of the factors they must consider. These include evaluation of the technology investments from a financial perspective, the timing of the investment, whether to build, buy or partner to acquire the technology, and how to build systems that are adaptive and flexible.