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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)

Square Inc.: Demystifying the Black Box of Small Business Lending
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 6:23 pm
Square's use of alternate data sources combined with machine learning is transforming access to credit for millions of small businesses.
Drugs – can machine learning cure the world faster and also save Billions?
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 5:35 pm
How machine learning is revolutionizing the drug discovery process and saving $$$
Vojd: filling the Void in Luxury Design with Additive Manufacturing
Sasha Slayton
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 2:51 pm
Additive printing brings new dimensions to luxury fashion.
Underwriters or data scientists: who will help Brian Duperreault make AIG great again?
Last modified on November 15, 2018 at 4:10 pm
Brian Duperreault is focused on refreshing AIG's underwriting talent to execute a turnaround, but should he turn his attention to data science and machine learning instead?
Leveraging Machine Learning at Spotify
Clark Kent
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 3:22 pm
Will Discover Weekly and other sources of differentiation allow Spotify to survive?
John Deere: From Equipment Manufacturer to AgTech Firm
Jane Deere
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 6:08 pm
John Deere invests heavily as machine learning technology offers the next revolution in agricultural production.
Adidas’s Race to be #1 in 3D Printing
Free D
Last modified on November 14, 2018 at 11:52 pm
Adidas is investing heavily in additive manufacturing, partnering with Silicon Valley's Carbon Inc to one day produce 50 million pairs of 3D printed shoes per year.
Using Machine Learning to Combat Deforestation
Ratnika Prasad
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 2:42 pm
How an organization is using old cell phones and machine learning to fight illegal logging
EasyJet: Reducing Delays with Machine Learning
Josep Mele
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 2:48 pm
EasyJet is struggling to keep up its operational performance, and customer satisfaction is decreasing significantly. How can machine learning help?
JP Morgan: Expanding Machine Learning Capabilities in the Financial Services Arena
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 7:59 pm
Brief overview of JP Morgan's adoption of machine learning into its day-to-day operations
Brooks Running: Personalized Running Shoes for the Mass Market?
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 7:59 pm
Beginning in 2019, Brooks Running will offer a personalized running shoe made using 3-D technology. But when will we see true mass-market shoes produced through additive manufacturing?
The Right Peptides Each Day Keep the Doctor Away: Turning Broad Nutrition into a Targeted Solution
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 5:25 pm
Imagine preventing the onset of diabetes, Alzheimer's, or cancer through eating the right foods. Rather than wondering if kale eaten today will truly lead to longevity tomorrow, envision a grocery store shelf that told you exactly which ingredients to eat [...]
Returns – Climbing out of the e-commerce landfill.
Hermione Granger
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 5:05 pm
The intersection of big-box retailers and saving the planet - Optoro uses machine learning to optimize return logistics both for organizations' bottom line and the environment.
Using Open Innovation to Solve the Ocean Plastics Problem
Alex Eidson
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 6:02 pm
The Plastic Bank is using open innovation to expand plastic waste collection in countries with limited traditional waste management. This has the potential to improve livelihoods among the poorest citizens of the world's poorest countries and reduce the flow of [...]
Adding Value In Nike’s Production Line
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 7:12 pm
With Nike pushing Flyprint, Adidas working with Carbon 3D, and New Balance tapping into Formlabs for partnership, why is this seemingly commoditized footwear market looking to 3D printing?
Ant Financial – Pioneering China Fintech with Machine Learning
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 3:59 pm
Ant Financial is using machine learning to transform China's fintech industry.
Symantec: Using Machine Learning to Improve Malware Research
Posted on November 12, 2018 at 7:18 pm
As cybercrime grows, the defenders found a new tool for their arsenal: Machine Learning. Symantec implemented a creative approach that harnesses the power of ML to detect sophisticated actors in cyberspace.
Machine learning in the Chemicals industry: Lyondellbasell
Posted on November 14, 2018 at 10:25 am
Despite limited investments to date, the industrial giant is primed to extract benefits from machine learning across its value chain
IoT and Me: Nest, Machine Learning, and the Smart Device Revolution
Greatest of All TOM
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 12:52 am
Nest, a market leader in the smart devices space, employs machine learning and big data to cater to its customers, push its products forward, and explore new areas of innovation.
The NFL and Machine Learning: A Touchdown for Technology?
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 3:01 pm
In an increasingly competitive industry, professional sports teams are seeking innovative ways to create unparalleled fan experiences. The NFL is now leveraging big data to optimize a nation's tradition.
SEPHORA: Developments in Machine Learning and Augmented Reality towards customer personalization.
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 4:56 pm
Sephora as the leader in technological innovation within the retail industry has made significant advances in using data science to advance product personalization and customization. This essay surveys recent developments and poses questions to the challenges in inventory management and [...]
The Benefits of Additive Manufacturing at BIA
Jane Doe
Posted on November 12, 2018 at 9:25 pm
This paper discusses the benefits of additive manufacturing for a German automobile manufacturing plant, which include reducing manufacturing lead times and increasing percentage of bids won from OEMs.
AI in the Exam Room: Combatting Physician Burnout and Improving Clinical Care
Michael Girouard
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 5:51 pm
Microsoft is entering the exam room to help reduce physician burnout and improve patient outcomes through voice recognition and machine learning. Can it work?
Pinterest Needs to Improve Revenue Per User Ahead of IPO
Karen RR
Last modified on November 13, 2018 at 11:51 pm
Pinterest's userbase is growing faster than its publicly-traded peers, but the company lags in revenue per user. I exam their existing machine learning infrastructure and recommend how to use it improve revenue growth ahead of their 2019 IPO.