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RC TOM Challenge 2018

November 13, 2018

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The TOM Challenge provides an opportunity for you to continue exploring organizational learning and innovation through the lens of process improvement and/or product development, the focus of RC TOM’s second module. In this challenge, you will investigate how an organization is grappling with machine learning, additive manufacturing, or open innovation. These megatrends are likely to significantly affect how organizations manage process improvement and product development in the coming years of your career. The TOM Challenge requires you to (1) conduct research and write an essay that examines how one organization is facing a particular aspect of one of these megatrends, and (2) write six comments that share your reflections on some of your section mates’ essays.

Your essay should address four questions in the context of the organization you choose:

  1. Why do you think the megatrend you selected is important to your organization’s management of process improvement and/or product development?
  2. What is the organization’s management doing to address this issue in the short term (the next two years) and the medium term (two to ten years out)?
  3. What other steps do you recommend the organization’s management take to address this issue in the short and medium terms?
  4. In the context of this organization, what are one or two important open questions related to this issue that you are unsure about that merit comments from your classmates?

Your essay should convey facts, analysis, and your recommendations. It should focus on a single organization (e.g., a single company, non-profit organization, or government agency) and a concern related to one megatrend. It is fine if the concern you choose relates to other megatrends that the organization is facing, but that’s not required. Roughly a third of your essay should be dedicated to each of the first three questions, with just a few sentences dedicated to the fourth question. Your essay should be at least 700 words but no more than 800 words, and must conclude with a word count in parentheses (such as 778 words).

When posting your essay to Open Knowledge, be sure to enter “Machine Learning”, “Additive Manufacturing”, or “Isolationism” in the Topics field.

More details on research, sourcing, deadlines, and other matters are provided in the RC TOM Challenge: 2018 noteFor assistance with the Open Knowledge platform during business hours (9:00 am – 5:00 pm M-F), email A short video with instructions on how to post an essay to this platform is available at

Submitted (926)

Size You: Can Adidas use 3-D Printing to Deliver Custom Sized Shoes to the Masses?
Team Mongeese
Posted on November 12, 2018 at 6:14 pm
Adidas wants to make 3-D printed shoes to give you the perfect fit with your perfect look. Is this the beginning of an industry revolution or a niche product for those who can afford it?
Machine Learning: The engine inside Tesla’s automated driving technology
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 6:08 pm
Tesla is using machine learning to enhance its Autopilot software and usher in the future of autonomous driving.
Listen Up: Spotify, Machine Learning, and the Podcast Opportunity
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 12:50 pm
Spotify is known for its personalized playlists, which are powered by machine learning. As the company tackles other forms of media, particularly podcasts, how will it need to adapt its approach?
Collaborative autonomy in the Operating Room: Verb Surgical and Democratized Surgery
Santosh Iyer
Last modified on November 15, 2018 at 8:42 am
Can Verb Surgical use advanced robotics and machine learning to deliver high quality surgical care to the 5 billion [16] people around the world who desparately need it?
3D Printing…we should ‘Just Do It’!
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 7:59 pm
Feet wide apart, arms down by his side, he stares at the precise location where he will place the ball with his right foot. Before the run-up, there is an empathic sigh, with his lips pursed, as his shoulders go [...]
Can Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence Kill Fake News?
Spencer Penn
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 5:53 pm
A exploration of the arms race to use Machine Learning by both those creating and stopping fake news.
I’m A Barbie Girl in a Digital World
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 4:37 pm
Mattel turning around their business using digital innovation, focusing on machine learning for their unique product development
Overcoming Information Asymmetries in Credit Markets: Machine Learning at LendingClub
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 7:58 pm
Machine learning techniques are starting to break down inefficiencies in lending markets, enabling wider access to credit and putting downwards pressure on borrowing rates. This post explores how LendingClub uses machine learning to reach its strategic goals, and where the [...]
At JetBlue, machine learning may help you book your next vacation
William Wallace
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 5:12 pm
In a world of abundant travel possibilities, JetBlue is leveraging machine learning to personalize and simplify the itinerary planning process for customers.
Intel’s move towards self-driving cars
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 3:50 pm
As PC sales have declined, Intel has struggled. Will self-driving cars bring Intel back to the top?
Artificial Intelligence at Berg: Just another biotech or industry changing company?
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 1:41 pm
Assessment of Berg's (Boston based biotech) strategy in the short and medium term with respect to its AI, Interrogative Biology and drug development.
Predix at GE: Machine Learning in Industrial IoT
Last modified on November 12, 2018 at 4:08 pm
Predix is GE's attempt to harvest data from the industrial 'internet of things' and employ machine learning algorithms to optimize industrial systems.
Combatting Food Shortages—Have No Fear, Machine Learning Is Here
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 8:10 pm
What do you do when you have access to satellite imagery of the entire world and a mission to better understand the planet? You have the information needed to answer many important questions, but need a path to unlock those [...]
Under Armour: Can it Continue to Customize and Expand its Line of 3D-Printed Midsole Performance Footwear?
Posted on November 11, 2018 at 9:42 pm
Under Armour has created 3D-printed midsoles for peak athlete performance, and continues to innovate to differentiate itself within the extremely competitive apparel industry.
Risk management on the path to the machine learning prize at Workday
1,2, (or 3?) & me
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 7:58 pm
While machine learning creates a large opportunity for cloud software-as-a-service provider Workday to build solutions beyond their core enterprise human capital management and financial forecasting software, the prospect of designing and implementing complex algorithms presents significant risks that must be [...]
Machine Learning at Yelp
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 3:23 pm
Machine learning has been integral to Yelp's business model over the last several years and can be leveraged to help improve their declining stock price.
Can Machine Learning Help Save the Oil & Gas Industry?
Riju Agrawal
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 5:26 pm
Companies like DrillingInfo are helping develop new machine-learning applications for the oil and gas industry
Can machines replace lawyers?
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 5:09 pm
With industry experts claiming that AI is a game-changer in the legal industry, what are law firms doing to take advantage of faster document processing provided by machine learning softwares?
Get Em While They’re Hot: Dynamic Ticket Pricing in Major League Baseball
Dwight K Schrute
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 2:37 pm
How professional baseball teams borrowed a strategy from airlines and musicians to strike back against secondary ticket brokers like StubHub.
Amazon Go: The Future of Grocery Stores
Jimmy Dimon
Posted on November 9, 2018 at 1:58 pm
Analyzing the operational benefits of Amazon Go grocery stores.
Machine Learning at Emirates Airlines
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 7:36 pm
Emirates Airlines brings innovative machine learning and data science techniques to the airline industry.
Cornershop: how machine learning can improve customer satisfaction and increase accuracy in operations
Andres Perez
Posted on November 12, 2018 at 8:50 pm
Through neural networks Cornershop has improved the accuracy of the estimations of delivery time of products.
Medtronic Must Continue to Invest in Additive Manufacturing
Jeffrey J Jefferson
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 3:13 pm
Medical device manufacturers such as Medtronic are uniquely positioned to benefit from advances in additive manufacturing - both for prototyping as well as the product attributes possible with this technique. Medtronic must continue to invest aggressively in this technology in [...]
Do we even need humans in asset management anymore?
Heidi Roizen
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 7:18 pm
On March 28, 2017, BlackRock fired 7 fund managers and replaced them with algorithms, leading many to question: are machines taking over?
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