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. Yabbly and the Anthology MVP (A)

    Shikhar Ghosh and Christopher Payton

    In July 2014, after 18 months and eight unsuccessful product launches, the CEO of Yabbly has agreed to sell his company to a larger, well-funded startup, providing a return of capital for his investors and a home for his team. Two weeks prior to the scheduled closing, the team launches a final experiment based on the results of a customer interview. After creating a quick landing page and announcing the product launch through social media channels, the company finds significant customer interest. With only two weeks of promising data, the CEO must decide whether or not to abandon the planned sale to pursue the new product, and if so, what terms he should offer new and existing investors to finance the next phase of product development.

    Keywords: Mergers & Acquisitions; Business Startups; business model; entrepreneurship; Business Model; Business Plan; Business Startups; Entrepreneurship; Innovation Strategy; Mobile Technology; Online Technology; Mergers and Acquisitions; Business Exit or Shutdown; Fairness; Valuation; Technology Industry; Consumer Products Industry; North America; United States; Seattle;


    Ghosh, Shikhar, and Christopher Payton. "Yabbly and the Anthology MVP (A)." Harvard Business School Case 816-032, August 2015. View Details
  2. Yabbly (A)

    Shikhar Ghosh and Christopher Payton

    In November 2013, with less than 10 months of cash on hand, Tom Leung, the founder and CEO of Yabbly, must decide where to focus his resources. His startup, a question and answer application for shopping decisions, had benefited from a strong showing at the SXSW Accelerator competition and had a dedicated and engaged user base. However, Leung knew that the current growth trajectory would not lead them to the milestones needed to receive an additional round of financing. Leung must decide whether to continue pursuing user acquisition experiments, explore other product ideas, or begin searching for a potential acquirer to achieve a "soft landing" for his team and his investors.

    Keywords: Business Plan; Startup; mobile; online product reviews; consumer products; Business Model; Business Plan; Business Startups; Entrepreneurship; Innovation Strategy; Mobile Technology; Online Technology; North America; United States; Washington (state, US); Seattle;


    Ghosh, Shikhar, and Christopher Payton. "Yabbly (A)." Harvard Business School Case 816-030, August 2015. View Details
  3. 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
  4. 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. (Revised September 2015.) View Details
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
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