Technology and Innovation

Technology and Innovation is a featured research topic at Harvard Business School.

The early works of William Abernathy on roadblocks to innovation and Richard Rosenbloom on technology and information transfers in the 1960's and 1970's started the Technology Strategy field and helped pave the path for our research today, which focuses on value creation of platforms and two-sided markets; use of open architecture and leverage of its collective value; development and execution of innovation strategies; innovative attributes of executives and firms; development of new markets through the creation of disruptive innovations that displace earlier technologies; development of innovations in sectors; and the impact of innovation on economic growth.​ 

  1. Philips Healthcare: Marketing the HealthSuite Digital Platform

    John A. Quelch and Margaret L. Rodriguez

    In June 2014, leading healthcare and consumer technology company, Royal Philips ("Philips"), announced its HealthSuite Digital Platform to house healthcare data and enable applications used by physicians and patients. Philips had strong equity in the healthcare technology space, due to its extensive portfolio of medical devices and related software sold primarily to hospitals. Philips designed the first two apps for the platform (eCareCoordinator and eCareCompanion) in-house, but it planned to open it up to third-party developers who would create an array of health-focused apps. Healthcare had long lagged behind other industries in adoption of technology as well as patient-relationship management. However, many health players had recently increased investment in new infrastructure and data analytics. Would the new Philips HealthSuite Digital Platform find success in the rapidly evolving industry?

    Keywords: health; healthcare; digital; platform; ecosystem; Health Care and Treatment; Technological Innovation; Technology; Product Development; Health Industry; Medical Devices and Supplies Industry; Netherlands; United States;


    Quelch, John A., and Margaret L. Rodriguez. "Philips Healthcare: Marketing the HealthSuite Digital Platform." Harvard Business School Case 515-052, May 2015. View Details
  2. American Well: The DTC Decision

    Elie Ofek and Natalie Kindred

    In late 2013, telehealth company American Well, which developed a digital platform that allowed patients to conduct online medical consultations with physicians, is considering pursuing a direct-to-consumer (DTC) strategy. Founded in 2006, American Well had, to date, primarily sold its solution to health plans, which then provided online care services to their members using their own brand name. But while American Well attracted some of the largest U.S. health insurers as clients, a surprisingly small number of individual members had actually used the online care service. American Well management believed low consumer awareness—the result of insufficient marketing by health plans, among other factors—was hampering uptake of what should be a highly valuable offering for all stakeholders involved. They wondered if a DTC approach, in which American Well would become a consumer brand and market a telehealth service directly to the public, for example through a mobile app, could drive utilization and catapult the business to the next level. If a DTC offering were given the green light, the company had to come up with a coherent marketing plan to launch it and figure out how to manage potential conflicts with existing clients, who might view the move as competing with their own telehealth efforts. Moreover, the move had to be considered in light of other initiatives the company had recently embarked on, such as marketing its platform to pharmacy chains, targeting large employers, and selling kiosks that provided a physical space to conduct online consultations. The case forces students to grapple with the challenges and barriers involved in disrupting an established industry, examine alternative go-to-market strategies and the timing of implementing them, and consider different business models to manage supply and generate revenues. The case also offers a rich analysis of digital marketing issues.

    Keywords: health care; telehealth; telemedicine; American Well; Schoenberg; Boston; Israel; technology; online care; direct-to-consumer; DTC; health insurance; Affordable care act; health care reform; accountable care organizations; strategy; technology adoption; technology change; innovation & entrepreneurship; marketing; digital marketing; Strategy; Competition; Technology; Marketing; Technological Innovation; Technology Adoption; Entrepreneurship; Marketing Strategy; Health Industry; Technology Industry; Boston; Massachusetts; United States; Israel;


    Ofek, Elie, and Natalie Kindred. "American Well: The DTC Decision." Harvard Business School Case 515-032, March 2015. View Details
  3. The Language of Global Management

    Tsedal Neeley

    Over the last two decades, organizations seeking global expansion have been mandating an English lingua franca, or common language to facilitate global collaboration regardless of the country location of their headquarters. This article explains why stipulating a lingua franca for employees has replaced the exclusive use of language brokers. In the era of a business lingua franca, nevertheless, gives rise to the phenomenon of native and nonnative speakers. While a lingua franca can unify a nationally and linguistically diverse workforce, nascent research reveals challenging dynamics among speakers of various levels of lingua franca fluency. In-depth studies at the micro-, macro-, and meso-levels can shed important light on this nascent field of research.

    Keywords: Networks; Governance; Technology; Management; Ethics; Emerging Markets; Innovation and Invention;


    Neeley, Tsedal. "The Language of Global Management." In Wiley Encyclopedia of Management, Volume 6: International Management. 3rd ed. Edited by Markus Vodosek and Deanne den Hartog. John Wiley & Sons, 2014. View Details
  4. Technology, Innovation and Economic Growth in Britain Since 1870

    Tom Nicholas

    This chapter examines technological change in Britain over the last 140 years. It analyzes the effects of patent laws and innovation prizes that were designed to promote technical progress. It explores the challenge associated with the changing organizational structure of innovation and the shift from independent invention to R&D activity taking place inside the boundaries of firms. And it also studies the development of British industrial science in universities and efforts to promote innovation through the formation of industry clusters. Overall, the evidence supports the traditional story of British failure in generating large payoffs from technological development. Although from the early 1970s Britain experienced a revival in the quality of innovation and improved productivity growth, structural weaknesses in the commercialization environment still remain.

    Keywords: Technology; Organizational Change and Adaptation; History; Economic Growth; Change; Innovation and Invention; Great Britain;


    Nicholas, Tom. "Technology, Innovation and Economic Growth in Britain Since 1870." Chap. 7, Vol. 2 of The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain. New ed. Edited by Roderick Floud, Jane Humphries, and Paul Johnson, 181–204. Cambridge University Press, 2014. View Details
  5. The Decoupling Effect of Digital Disruptors

    Thales S. Teixeira and Peter Jamieson

    While the Internet's first wave of disruption was marked by the unbundling of digital content, the second wave, decoupling, promises to generate more casualties in an even broader array of industries. Digital start-ups are disrupting traditional businesses by inserting themselves at every juncture in the customer's consumption chain. By decoupling—the act of separating activities that people are used to co-consuming—new digital businesses are disrupting retailing, telecom and other industries. Decoupling allows consumers to benefit from the value created at a lower cost or effort compared to what is delivered by traditional businesses. For those companies, the only solutions are to either recouple activities or rebalance to create and capture value (i.e., revenues) from both activities separately. Here, digital technologies can be seen as an instrument that will both disrupt traditional business models and potentially preserve them.

    Keywords: Disruptive Innovation; Information Technology;


    Teixeira, Thales S., and Peter Jamieson. "The Decoupling Effect of Digital Disruptors." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 15-031, October 2014. View Details
  6. edX: Strategies for Higher Education

    David Collis, Matthew Shaffer and Ashley Hartman

    In May 2012, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) founded edX, a new non-profit joint venture that would provide a platform for massive open online courses (MOOCs). edX did not produce original courses or instructional content—it made a web platform through which Harvard and MIT, and subsequently dozens more "partner" universities, could offer their lecture courses as MOOCs.
    While the future role of MOOCs in higher education remained a topic of public debate, edX needed to answer concrete managerial and strategic questions. For example, what should edX's scope be? Should edX try to develop a consumer brand of its own, or rely on the brands of its partners? And how could edX monetize its services to recoup Harvard and MIT's investments and reward participating universities? This case presented the history of edX and the online education market as background for a discussion about edX's strategic choices.

    Keywords: MOOCS; edX; online platforms; online education; Harvard University; MIT; Execution; monetization; brand management; Higher Education; Technology; Strategy; Disruptive Innovation; Education Industry;


    Collis, David, Matthew Shaffer, and Ashley Hartman. "edX: Strategies for Higher Education." Harvard Business School Case 715-413, September 2014. (Revised December 2014.) View Details
  7. Cree Inc.: Introducing the LED Light Bulb

    John Gourville and Michael Norris

    Cree, a North Carolina-based maker of light emitting diodes (LEDs), has just introduced its first consumer product—an LED light bulb. It is designed as an energy efficient replacement for the ubiquitous incandescent light bulb. But given that it is an unfamiliar technology and that it costs ten times what an incandescent bulb costs, there are questions about how best to promote adoption and what sales level might be expected.

    Keywords: marketing; innovation; product adoption; Technological Innovation; Technology Adoption; Energy Conservation; Product Launch; Consumer Products Industry; North Carolina;


    Gourville, John, and Michael Norris. "Cree Inc.: Introducing the LED Light Bulb." Harvard Business School Case 515-026, September 2014. (Revised April 2015.) View Details
  8. Netflix in 2011

    Willy Shih and Stephen Kaufman

    Reed Hastings founded Netflix to provide a home movie service that would do a better job satisfying customers than the traditional retail rental model. But as it encountered challenges it underwent several major strategy shifts, ultimately developing a business model and an operational strategy that were highly disruptive to retail video rental chains. The combination of a large national inventory, a recommendation system that drove viewership across a broad catalog, and a large customer base made Netflix a force to be reckoned with, especially as a distribution channel for lower-profile and independent films. Blockbuster, the nation's largest retail video rental firm, was initially slow to respond, but ultimately rolled out a hybrid retail/online response in the form of Blockbuster Online. Aggressive pricing pulled in subscribers, but at a price to both it and Netflix. But a new challenge was on the horizon—the rapid growth of the company's online streaming service, which had a very different business model. Hastings' efforts to separate the activity into two separate companies met with strong pushback from consumers and the press. What was the best path forward?

    Keywords: Netflix; DVD; DVD-by-mail; streaming; online entertainment; online video; Disruptive Innovation; Innovation and Management; Innovation Strategy; Business Model; Disruption; Operations; Service Operations; Entertainment; Film Entertainment; Television Entertainment; Media; Strategy; Business or Company Management; Competitive Strategy; Competitive Advantage; Corporate Strategy; Expansion; Technology; Technology Adoption; Technology Platform; Web; Entertainment and Recreation Industry; United States;


    Shih, Willy, and Stephen Kaufman. "Netflix in 2011." Harvard Business School Case 615-007, August 2014. View Details
  9. Four Products: Predicting Diffusion (2014)

    John Gourville

    An updated "Four Products" case. This 2014 version includes: raw lobster meat, electric-powered Formula One race cars, a 3D printer for cosmetics, and a "smart" tennis racket. These four products form the basis to assess the drivers of new product adoption. In particular, one of the critical tasks in the marketing of new innovations is predicting demand and rates of diffusion for those products. And while one can speculate on the scope and rate of diffusion for any given product, it's helpful to compare and contrast diffusion across products. Doing so allows one to focus on the drivers or product characteristics that influence product diffusion, making one product a star and another a dog. Specifically, looking across products allows one to pick up on things that get lost in discussing a single product.

    Note that this case often gets used with HBS Note #505-075, "Note on Innovation Diffusion: Rogers' Five Factors," which either can be distributed along with the case or after the case has been taught.

    Keywords: Innovation and Invention; Product Launch; Marketing; Demand and Consumers; Technology Adoption;


    Gourville, John. "Four Products: Predicting Diffusion (2014)." Harvard Business School Case 515-023, August 2014. View Details
  10. Taiwan's PC Industry, 1976–2010: The Evolution of Organizational Capabilities

    Howard H. Yu and Willy C. Shih

    The stellar growth of Taiwan's personal computer (PC) industry over the past three decades represents a paradox. Participating in the global production system, local firms in Taiwan grew in association with established firms in the West. Despite their technical know-how, manufacturing prowess, and size, most leading Taiwanese firms did not develop their own capabilities in branding and marketing. A close examination of the historical evolution of the industry reveals that interactions with established companies in the West, in addition to local competition, decisively shaped capability development among latecomer firms. A few firms in Taiwan that eventually joined the ranks of global PC brands had been investing in marketing early, guided by strategic vision rather than near-term economic calculation.

    Keywords: Personal computer; PC; PC Industry; Taiwan PC Industry; Taiwan PC Manufacturers; Innovation and Invention; Innovation and Management; Innovation Strategy; Growth and Development; Growth and Development Strategy; Growth Management; Industry Clusters; Industry Growth; Industry Structures; Information Technology; Technological Innovation; Mobile Technology; Information Technology Industry; Taiwan;


    Yu, Howard H., and Willy C. Shih. "Taiwan's PC Industry, 1976–2010: The Evolution of Organizational Capabilities." Business History Review 88, no. 2 (Summer 2014): 329–357. View Details
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