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. Aspiring Minds

    Karim R. Lakhani, Marco Iansiti and Christine Snively

    By 2015, India-based employment assessment and certification provider Aspiring Minds had helped facilitate over 300,000 job matches through its assessment tools. Aspiring Minds' flagship product, the Aspiring Minds Computer Adaptive Test (AMCAT), used machine learning algorithms to evaluate the abilities of job seekers and provide feedback by measuring not only skills and knowledge, but also personality and behavior traits. Since its founding in 2007, the company developed several new assessment products, including SVAR, a spoken-English evaluation, Automata, a programming skills evaluator, a customer service test, and TESLA, a suite of products that assessed and provided certification for vocational skills. The company had recently expanded into parts of Africa, the Middle East, the Philippines, the U.S., and most recently, China. Aspiring Minds had seen success as a business-to-business (B2B) entity, creating and selling technology products geared towards industry verticals. By 2015 the business-to-consumer (B2C) side of the business in India had been quite successful as well, generating revenues equal to that of the B2B side. As Aspiring Minds worked to establish a presence in China, co-founders Himanshu and Varun Aggarwal considered whether a B2B or B2C approach would best help the company achieve scale.

    Keywords: Technology; Strategy; Higher Education; Technological Innovation; Employment; Technology Industry; India; China;


    Lakhani, Karim R., Marco Iansiti, and Christine Snively. "Aspiring Minds." Harvard Business School Case 616-013, November 2015. View Details
  2. How Smart, Connected Products are Transforming Companies

    Michael E. Porter and James E. Heppelmann

    The evolution of products into intelligent, connected devices is revolutionizing business. In a November 2014 article, "How Smart, Connected Products Are Transforming Competition," Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter and PTC president and CEO James Heppelmann looked at how this shift is changing the structure of industries and forcing firms to rethink their strategies. In this companion article, the authors look at the effects inside firms, examining the impact that smart, connected products have on operations and organizational structure. The new capabilities and vast quantities of data that smart, connected products offer are redefining the activities of the core functions of companies—sometimes radically. As software and cloud-based operating systems become integral to products, new product-development principles emerge, manufacturing components and processes change, and IT security becomes the job of every function. Companies need different skills and expertise, which creates new imperatives for HR. In the marketing function, the ability to track a product's condition and use shifts the focus to maximizing the product's value to the customer over time. Customer relationships become continuous and open-ended, service becomes more efficient and proactive, and new business models are enabled. The rich data on location and environment that products provide take logistics to a whole new level. Smart, connected products also alter interactions between functions, in ways that hold major implications for organizational structure. Intense, ongoing coordination becomes necessary across multiple functions, including design, operations, sales, service, and IT. Functional roles overlap and blur. Entirely new functions—unified data organizations, dev-ops, and customer success management—begin to emerge. What is under way is the most substantial change in the manufacturing firm since the Second Industrial Revolution, and the effects are spreading to other industries, like services, as well.

    Keywords: Organizational Change and Adaptation; Technological Innovation; Information Technology; Organizational Structure; Operations; Business Strategy;


    Porter, Michael E., and James E. Heppelmann. "How Smart, Connected Products are Transforming Companies." Harvard Business Review 93, no. 10 (October 2015): 97–114. View Details
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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. (Revised September 2015.) View Details
  6. 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 November 2015.) View Details
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
See all faculty publications on Technology or Innovation »