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. From mHealth Hackathon to Reality: Diabetes Care

    Kevin Schulman and Curry Cheek

    This case explores the development of a business plan for a mobile health application for diabetes care. The case depicts a student team excited about the opportunity to improve the care of patients with diabetes by contracting an app. They go through a rigorous evaluation of the FDA regulations, the existing market, and potential commercial competitors to try and identify a market opportunity. Since diabetes care involves behavior change, the case then moves to an exploration to concepts from behavioral economics that could help build a sustainable platform for the app. In the end, the case questions ask the team to decide on a basic business and financing strategy if they want to go forward, or offers them the opportunity to “fail-fast” by quitting at this stage.

    Keywords: innovation; mobile health technologies; health care; health care industry; Behavioral economics; Software; Health Care and Treatment; Mobile Technology; Innovation and Invention; Health Industry; Telecommunications Industry;

    Citation:

    Schulman, Kevin, and Curry Cheek. "From mHealth Hackathon to Reality: Diabetes Care." Harvard Business School Case 317-105, March 2017. View Details
  2. IBM Transforming, 2012-2016: Ginni Rometty Steers Watson

    Rosabeth Moss Kanter and Jonathan Cohen

    In 2016, CEO Ginni Rometty continued to lead the transformation at technology giant IBM. Her strategy focused on cognitive computing in the digital era, and using data to better inform business decisions. This case details her tenure as CEO of the company, and discusses her efforts to help IBM change and reorient itself to respond to increased challenges from traditional competitors and new, innovative startups.

    Keywords: digital; technological innovation; technological change; artificial intelligence; data; IBM; Watson; Internet of Things; Innovation and Invention; Management; Sales; Technology; Technological Innovation; Transformation;

    Citation:

    Kanter, Rosabeth Moss, and Jonathan Cohen. "IBM Transforming, 2012-2016: Ginni Rometty Steers Watson." Harvard Business School Case 317-046, January 2017. (Revised March 2017.) View Details
  3. The Truth about Blockchain

    Marco Iansiti and Karim R. Lakhani

    Contracts, transactions, and records of them provide critical structure in our economic system, but they haven’t kept up with the world’s digital transformation. They’re like rush-hour gridlock trapping a Formula 1 race car. Blockchain promises to solve this problem. The technology behind bitcoin, blockchain is an open, distributed ledger that records transactions safely, permanently and very efficiently. For instance, while the transfer of a share of stock can now take up to a week, with blockchain it could happen in seconds. Blockchain could slash the cost of transactions and eliminate intermediaries like lawyers and bankers, and that could transform the economy. But, like the adoption of more Internet technologies, blockchain’s adoption will require broad coordination and will take years. The authors describe the path that blockchain is likely to follow and explain how firms should think about investments in it.

    Keywords: Technological Innovation; Technology Adoption; Information Management; Information Technology Industry;

    Citation:

    Iansiti, Marco, and Karim R. Lakhani. "The Truth about Blockchain." Harvard Business Review 95, no. 1 (January–February 2017): 118–127. View Details
  4. reMarkable: e-Writing the Future

    Elie Ofek and Curtis Hsu

    Magnus Wanberg is the creator of reMarkable, a breakthrough e-writer device set apart from similar products on the market by having solved the frustrating “slow ink” problem typically experienced on pen-based electronic devices, thus providing a “pen and paper” like experience. Moreover, the device allowed for the convenient and non-eye-straining reading of typical documents. Though enthusiastically received by several investors, there was still a long way to go before the prototype could reach a final commercial product. Wanberg and his team narrowed down the relevant market to three main segments: creative professionals, working professionals and students. However, these segments were seemingly at odds with each other in terms of which product attributes would most appeal to each. The young company therefore had to choose which group to target as this would dictate future product development efforts. With the planned launch date quickly approaching, the target market selected also impacted communication, channels, and pricing decisions. reMarkable had to resolve these matters while juggling limited time, effort and funds.

    Keywords: entrepreneurial marketing; innovation management; go to market strategy; marketing strategy; marketing plan; target market; product development; digital devices; consumer electronics; Forecasting; Technology; Marketing Strategy; Innovation and Management; Marketing Channels; Entrepreneurship; Forecasting and Prediction; Product Marketing; Product Development; Electronics Industry;

    Citation:

    Ofek, Elie, and Curtis Hsu. "reMarkable: e-Writing the Future." Harvard Business School Case 517-018, November 2016. (Revised December 2016.) View Details
  5. Anthology: Pivoting the Business Model

    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;

    Citation:

    Ghosh, Shikhar, and Christopher Payton. "Anthology: Pivoting the Business Model." Harvard Business School Case 817-066, November 2016. (Revised December 2016.) View Details
  6. Formlabs: Selling a New 3D Printer

    Frank V. Cespedes, Olivia Hull and Amram Migdal

    Headquartered in Somerville, Massachusetts, Formlabs manufactures 3D printers used to print everything from prototypes and models to jewelry, dental, and sculpture molds. As Formlabs prepares to ship its latest model, the Form 2, Head of Customer Development and Services Luke Winston wonders which strategy will double sales. Should he focus on direct sales or add more channel partners?

    Keywords: 3D printing and manufacturing; sales channel development; Sales strategy; entrepreneurial management; product engineering; prototype; prototyping; Entrepreneurship; Product Launch; Hardware; Business Startups; Customers; Technological Innovation; Growth and Development Strategy; Technology Adoption; Marketing Channels; Marketing Strategy; Product Positioning; Demand and Consumers; Sales; Salesforce Management; Technology Industry; Computer Industry; Manufacturing Industry; United States; Massachusetts; Europe; Asia;

    Citation:

    Cespedes, Frank V., Olivia Hull, and Amram Migdal. "Formlabs: Selling a New 3D Printer." Harvard Business School Case 817-001, November 2016. (Revised January 2017.) View Details
  7. uberPOOL

    Marco Iansiti, Michael W. Toffel and Amram Migdal

    This case describes Uber's uberPOOL service, which let multiple Uber users who were headed in the same direction share a ride and pay substantially lower fares.

    Keywords: Uber; uberPOOL; Innovation and Invention; Disruptive Innovation; Innovation Strategy; Technological Innovation; Technology Platform; Transportation; Transportation Networks; Information Technology Industry; Technology Industry; Transportation Industry;

    Citation:

    Iansiti, Marco, Michael W. Toffel, and Amram Migdal. "uberPOOL." Harvard Business School Case 617-009, October 2016. (Revised March 2017.) View Details
  8. Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson

    Anita Elberse

    In June 2016, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is planning for the upcoming launch of an endeavor that is a first for a Hollywood actor with superstar status—a digital channel. The channel (named “Seven Bucks Digital Studios”) will be a new part of film and television production company Seven Bucks Productions, which Johnson co-owns with his business partner and former wife, Dany Garcia. Under Garcia’s guidance, Johnson has made a successful transition from being a top wrestler with World Wrestling Entertainment to also climbing the ranks in Hollywood, becoming one of its most bankable and highest-paid actors. The two stand out for pursuing an ambitious slate of projects as producers as well, making Seven Bucks Productions a force to be reckoned with in the world of entertainment. Are Johnson and Garcia right to bet on a new digital channel, which is scheduled to make its debut on YouTube in the next month, and do they have the best approach to making that channel a success?

    Keywords: entertainment; film; motion picutres; digital strategy; superstar; innovation; Creative Industries; Talent; marketing; general management; strategy; celebrities; Management; Technology; Strategy; Talent and Talent Management; Creativity; Marketing; Personal Development and Career; Film Entertainment; Innovation and Invention; Entertainment and Recreation Industry;

    Citation:

    Elberse, Anita. "Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson." Harvard Business School Case 517-059, October 2016. (Revised December 2016.) View Details
  9. Pivoting Isn't Enough: Principled Pragmatism and Strategic Reorientation in New Ventures

    Rory McDonald and Cheng Gao

    New technology ventures often experience deviations from their original plans that oblige them to reorient in pursuit of better fit between their evolving products and target customers. Yet research is largely silent on how entrepreneurs explain and justify their ventures in the wake of fundamental redirections in strategy. Since ventures attain legitimacy and resources based on original aims that constituencies find compelling, entrepreneurs’ initial claims are likely to complicate subsequent course corrections. To shed light on how ventures effectively manage strategic reorientations, we conducted an inductive, longitudinal field study of two startups in the “robo-advisor” sector. Despite similar initial profiles, parallel reorientations, and comparable end products, the startups’ fortunes diverged in a conspicuous way that is difficult to reconcile with prior research. We develop a theoretical model introducing principled pragmatism—a novel strategy process that enables entrepreneurs to make changes to their fledgling businesses while portraying faithfulness to enduring aims. Our framework suggests that technology ventures’ success depends not only on sensible redirections, but also on how entrepreneurs anticipate, communicate, and pace these changes to various external supporters. In other words, how they explain strategic reorientations may matter as much or more than the changes themselves. Successful entrepreneurs do not merely generate and test hypotheses, like scientists, to find viable product solutions; they also resemble adept politicians—convincingly justifying deviations from plan to diverse constituencies.

    Keywords: strategic reorientation; technology entrepreneurship; innovation; product development processes; organizational adaptation; qualitative methods (general); Technology; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Communication; Entrepreneurship; Alignment; Innovation and Invention; Product Development;

    Citation:

    McDonald, Rory, and Cheng Gao. "Pivoting Isn't Enough: Principled Pragmatism and Strategic Reorientation in New Ventures." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 17-031, October 2016. View Details
  10. Pebble: Wearables Pioneer

    David Yoffie and Allison Ciechanover

    In the summer of 2016, wearables ‘wunderkind’ and Pebble founder and CEO, Eric Migicovsky, was pleased with the young startup’s success in the five years since its founding. The Silicon Valley-based company had recently shipped its two millionth smartwatch; held the record for three of the four highest Kickstarter campaigns ever (raising cumulatively over $40 million on the site); launched its first non-watch product dubbed a “wearables game changer;” and enjoyed a loyal customer base, particularly among technology early adopters and the community of software developers that created applications and watch faces for its products. Nonetheless, the young company faced a variety of challenges. The nascent smartwatch industry recently saw a dramatic uptick in competition. Apple had introduced its smartwatch the prior year; other established technology companies such as Samsung and Motorola offered smartwatches; U.S.-based fitness tracker Fitbit had recently launched its first smartwatch; and Chinese firm, Xiaomi, was soon to release a low-priced smartwatch. Migicovsky considers an array of strategic options as he looks ahead.

    Keywords: competition; strategy; Innovation Strategy; Product; technology; technological innovation; Business Startups; Competition; Strategy; Innovation Strategy; Product; Technology; Technological Innovation; Business Startups; Technology Industry; United States; California;

    Citation:

    Yoffie, David, and Allison Ciechanover. "Pebble: Wearables Pioneer." Harvard Business School Case 717-414, September 2016. View Details
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