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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)

Open Innovation in the NFL: Player Safety
Joffrey Baratheon
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 6:55 pm
How the NFL is using Open Innovation to address concussions
Machine Learning: Innovate Your Way to an Unproductive Majority
Jonathan Mason
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 7:57 pm
Back of House USA was founded on November 22, 2017. Rodney McLeod Jr. of the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles tapped Sir Kevin James, designer and owner of ShopCore (4 locations in DC Metropolitan Area) and his best friend Jonathan [...]
HackerOne: Using Open Innovation to Foster a Cyber Secure Environment
Dwayne Johnson
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 6:27 pm
The world of cybersecurity can be a complex place. With the advent of the internet, increasingly more data is ripe for hacking and companies are scrambling to protect it. HackerOne thinks it has a solution to keep information protected for [...]
Burberry: Digitizing Luxury Retail with Machine Learning
Charlotte Chang
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 6:09 pm
Advances in machine learning (ML) are tilting the playing field in consumer retail. On the one hand, tech-savvy pioneers like Amazon and Glossier are leveraging ML to captivate Millennials and Gen Z consumers with ever more engaging and personalized online [...]
Using Machine Learning To Rule – The Chinese Communist Party
Muneeb Ahmed
Last modified on November 15, 2018 at 9:39 pm
A brief overview on Chinese government's vision for AI and its role in governance.
Microsoft’s FarmBeats Uses Machine Learning to Increase Crop Yields
Brett Cantrell
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 5:25 pm
Through weather predictability, soil sensor data, drone imaging, and white space connectivity, Microsoft's FarmBeats seeks to use machine learning to increase crop yields and meet food demand that is projected to double by 2050.
How Will 3D Printing Impact Sonova?
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 3:08 pm
Additive Manufacturing or 3D Printing – frequently thought of as the technology that is going to make traditional manufacturing obsolete. What many individuals fail to recognize is that this technology has been around since the 1980s (1) and is far [...]
From Toys to Your Butt, What’s IKEA going to Print Next?
Posted on November 12, 2018 at 10:36 pm
In a rapid changing retail environment, how is the Swedish retail giant IKEA catching the wave of advanced manufacturing?
Artificial Intelligence Taking Off for Airbus
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 8:01 pm
In an increasingly competitive and innovative landscape, can Airbus use machine learning to improve efficiency while not sacrificing on safety?
Machine Learning at YouTube: Removing Abusive Content
Meaghan Smith
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 6:13 pm
YouTube has become the world's foremost video-sharing website. Recently, it has faced criticism for the proliferation of abusive content on its platform. How can YouTube use machine learning to identify and remove such content to create a safer environment for [...]
Bioprinting – The Future of the Healthcare Industry
Michael Scott
Posted on November 9, 2018 at 5:15 pm
Organovo and other biotech companies are changing the shape of medical research and practice by developing and perfecting bioprinting technology. With the ability to print 3D tissues and organs, what are some of the opportunities and challenges presented by this [...]
Canada: Flexport’s next AI-first office? 
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 1:25 pm
Flexport, a software-powered freight forwarding company, needs to build an AI-first office in Canada in order to improve its product development and global operations.
Major League Baseball and Machine Learning: Can the San Francisco Giants Compete in the Analytics Arms Race?
Omar Little
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 8:17 am
Can a storied franchise recreate itself amid the predictive analytics wave in sports?
Microsoft – Increasing productivity through Smart Buildings
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 4:08 pm
The use of Machine Learning and Internet of Things to increase employee productivity
Additive Manufacturing for The Final Frontier: How 3D Printing Can Take Us to Mars (and Beyond)
Hunter G
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 1:15 pm
A look at how NASA is using additive manufacturing on Earth and in orbit to realize the future of space exploration.
Open Innovation at Amazon Alexa: Crowd-sourcing Its Way to Platform Dominance
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 7:08 pm
Amazon is relying on open source innovation to build the capability of its cloud based voice service platform. The voice service is set to be the next biggest technological innovation that will change the way we control devices, interact with [...]
Additive Manufacturing: Manufacturing Competitive Advantage in MedTech at Stryker
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 4:12 pm
Medical device technology is widely recognized as a competitive industry, with pressure from technological advances and broader cost pressure in healthcare. How can industry leaders such as Stryker leverage new technologies like additive manufacturing to build a long-term competitive advantage?
Nordstrom: How to Leverage the Deluge of Data as a Competitive Advantage
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 7:19 pm
Retailers are facing intensifying challenges including stagnation in brick-and-mortar sales, increase in e-Commerce offerings and sales, and changes in consumer browsing and purchasing behaviors. Realizing that data is one of its most valuable assets, Nordstrom is leveraging machine learning to [...]
Narrative Science, the Automated Journalism Startup
Brian Sykes
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 8:00 pm
Narrative Science's technology can help journalists reach new heights - our replace them altogether.
Disruption in the automotive business: how distributed innovation can change a 100-year-old industry?
Joaquin Romero
Posted on November 12, 2018 at 10:52 am
Local Motors Inc. is using open innovation to efficiently change the product development process of a typical car manufacturing company, quickly delivering low-cost and creative designs to customers.
Can Kialo turn online shouting into enlightened debate?
Sam Wilde
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 5:50 pm
In an era where personal newsfeed, tweets, and entertainment rule the day, Kialo looks to put reason at the heart of debate through its online platform for critical thinking and discussion.
Emotionally Aware Vehicles: The Future of Road Safety?
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 9:17 pm
How Emotion Artificial Intelligence can be used to monitor drivers and increase road safety
Machine Learning and Music: What About the Record Labels?
Posted on November 12, 2018 at 11:50 pm
As digital streaming has become the preferred method of consuming music, machine learning has taken its place at the heart of the music world. Where does that leave Sony Music?
Online Learning in Emerging Markets – Machine Learning as an answer to skill-gaps?
Marius Westhoff
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 9:54 pm
How a Mumbai-based online education company is leveraging machine learning to create more meaningful learning experiences.