Digital Innovation and Transformation

Firms today are establishing market leadership by mastering digital innovation. For example, the traditional "Mad Men" advertising agencies now have to be able to blend digital products and services with creative strategy. Amazon is as much a retailer and supply chain powerhouse as it is a digital innovator. Similarly, the Netflix business model is heavily reliant on continuously building and enhancing digital products and services to compete against incumbents in the entertainment industry. Ford is realizing that its future competitors are likely to be Facebook and Google and not BMW and Toyota. Meanwhile, Local Motors, an HBS-alum led startup, is using crowdsourcing, digital fabrication and 3D printing to disrupt the automotive industry.

Digital Innovation and Transformation is a new Harvard Business School course designed to equip students to confidently help conceive, lead and execute digital innovation initiatives. To enrich the course experience, Professors Zhu and Lakhani have elected to use this platform for assignments. The goal of using Open Knowledge is to stimulate deeper conversation, cross-pollination between ideas, and inclusion of the global "digital transformation" community.

We invite you to read more and dive in by adding your own thoughts through contributions and comments.

Assignment Prompts

March 2017

Managing Digital Crowds

March 2017

Read The Full Prompt

In this module we have examined how firms can leverage digital technologies to harness the power of collective intelligence from the crowds to tackle a range of problems such as innovation problems and funding startups. For this assignment you have three options:

1 – Pick one industry where no firms have leveraged crowds, and come up with a crowd-based business model that may potentially transform the industry. Describe how you plan to create and capture value. Explain why the crowd will participate, and why your crowd-based model is better than the current model employed by the incumbents.

2 – Describe a company that is using crowds (external or internal) in an innovative manner. Describe how they incentivize participation and manage the crowd. What are the challenges? Describe how value creation and value capture occur, and the growth potential of this business.

3 – Companies often struggle with crowds as well. Describe failed crowdsourcing efforts and explain how and why the company failed. Given what you have learned in the course, what would you do differently?

Create an approximately 500-750 word post to make your contribution by 6pm on March 20. Please create appropriate tags for your post. Please also respond to and comment on three other posts per module. Feel free to use graphics, data, videos and links to other sites to corroborate your points.

Please prepare a two minute pitch about your blog entry before the class.

Featured Responses

TED: Changing the World, 18 Minutes at a Time
Kathy Wang
Posted on March 21, 2017 at 7:59 am
Power posing. Underwater sea creatures. Reinventing the education system. Most of us have watched a TED Talk – but how did it leverage its community to grow into a global phenomenon, or is it really just one big groupthink bubble?
Impact Guru: Crowd funding for your need
Venkat
Venkat
Posted on March 22, 2017 at 2:20 am
Are you one of the following in the need of money: NGO raising funds for its operation, an individual trying to figure out the medical expenses, or a startup looking to raise capital, Impact Guru is there to help.
De Correspondent: member-based journalism
Daniel C
Posted on March 21, 2017 at 12:24 am
In 2017, the Dutch online newspaper “De Correspondent” reached a new milestone: 50,000 paying members1. Even though only 4 years old, the new venture is already rivaling the biggest newspapers in digital users5. Their secret? Building and sustaining an active, [...]

February 2017

Growing Businesses in the Age of Platforms

February 2017

Read The Full Prompt

One consequence of the digital transformation is that platforms are becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s economy.

For this module please pick ONE company/organization and discuss how it creates and captures value in platform markets:

Issues you may want to address (feel free to consider other related issues not listed below):

  • How to scale up platform businesses?
  • How do various factors such as local/global network effects and multihoming affect competitive dynamics in platform markets?
  • When can an entrant take over market leadership when competing with an incumbent in a platform market?
  • How can product/service-centric firms grow into platform-centric firms?
  • How do firms cooperate and compete with powerful platforms when they serve as complementors and partners of these platforms?

Create an approximately 500-750 word post to make your contribution on digit.hbs.org by 6pm on Feb 26. Please create appropriate tags for your post. Please also respond to and comment on three other posts per module. Feel free to use graphics, data, videos and links to other sites to corroborate your points.

Please prepare a 2-3 min summary of your blog post before class.

Note: Since our third module is on crowd-based business models (business models that leverage collective intelligence from a large number of users), please do not pick crowd-based companies such as Kickstarter and Threadless for this OK blog post.

Featured Responses

February 2017

Digital Winners & Losers

February 2017

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Digital technologies are upending many industries and companies. Think about Uber’s impact on the taxi business or Spotify’s impact on music downloads and the record industry.

For this assignment, we would like you to identify companies/organizations that you think are winning or losing. Just work on either winners or losers. Please focus on just one organization. Tell us why they are a winner or loser. Discuss elements of how they create and/or capture value that is leading you to call them a winner or loser.

Create an approximately 500-750 word post to make your contribution on digit.hbs.org by 6pm on Feb 2. Please create appropriate tags for your post including if it is a “winner” or “loser.” Please also respond to and comment on three other posts per module. Feel free to use graphics, data, videos and links to other sites to corroborate your points.

Selected posts will be discussed in class and also featured on the HBS Digital Initiative website.

Please prepare a 2-3 min summary of your blog post before class.

Featured Responses

SquadRun: Uprooting traditional BPO workforce by on-demand jobs
Venkat
Venkat
Posted on February 3, 2017 at 1:17 am
How does one convert people who are connected digitally and looking for freelance jobs into a high quality workforce? – by training and connecting them with e-commerce companies. Squadrun, a 5 year old start-up in India, is trying to create [...]
Is Journalism Dead?
Kathy Wang
Posted on February 2, 2017 at 7:13 pm
"The most shareable breaking news, original reporting, entertainment, and video" or making journalism stupider and stupider?