A Letter From the Editor
- A look back at a year of DI editions.
It seems trite to start this letter with so obvious a phrase as “it’s hard to believe it’s been a year since we launched the new DI website,” but it’s true! Here I sit, amazed at where the last year has taken us and yet simultaneously certain that it must have been just last week that we sat down with our Superfriendly friends to dream up what the DI site could be.
A website redesign is a funny thing, and it can be as big or small as you make it; we came to ours in pursuit of a few truths:
We knew we wanted to tell the story of the incredible work already taking place at the intersection of business and technology in the HBS and Harvard community. As a team we have an intimate view into the breadth of research, depth of questioning, and strength of conversations happening every day by dedicated individuals across Harvard and beyond.
To tell this story, we looked to our roots within the HBS Initiatives ecosystem. The HBS Initiatives are research-fueled “communities of engagement” where faculty and students connect with practitioners in the field to develop insights that drive impact. They provide powerful platforms to address complex, multi-dimensional topics that demand a new managerial mindset.
We knew our work at the DI was to cover as wide a range of topics as the Initiatives themselves, addressing the digital transformation issues that businesses must address in an ever-changing global marketplace. We saw, also, a growing demand from our MBA students, who increasingly ask the question, “How can I navigate the tech landscape at HBS? Where in the tech industry can my HBS degree take me?” To this end, we hoped to serve as a bridge between HBS and the larger tech community. We believed (and still do!) that HBS’s position as the premier destination for business education lends us a unique perspective to add to conversations around technology.
Above all, we were certain of the importance and timeliness of this work. Digital transformation is here to stay, and the questions that are at the heart of our work here at the DI are central to the daily lives of people all over the globe. Don’t many of us occasionally find ourselves wondering how AI might impact our livelihood or whether some seemingly irrevocable aspect of our day-to-day existence will be replaced in 5 years by the continuing Uberfication of society?
What we have seen emerge over this past year has been in a word: incredible. Far beyond the scope of a simple website redesign, I have watched amazed and humbled as a real sense of community has taken root and flourished around this topic of the digital transformation, both through our engaging on-campus events and curated discussion here online.
This past year we’ve made new friends and sparked thrilling conversations. We’ve learned about the precarious state of cybersecurity and how to play to win at digital strategy. We’ve explored how technology is impacting retail, finance, athletics, health care to name a few. We asked ourselves, “What skills does the modern worker need to succeed and lead in the digital economy?”
Of one thing I’m certain: even as technology contributes many great advances to our world, we are just getting started. As we look around us and see examples of technology gone awry — of platforms being used to corrupt public elections, of CEOs struggling to lead technology ventures at scale, of unseen ramifications creeping forth from exciting innovations — it is clear that now, more than ever, we are in need of great leaders who can make a difference in the world. On this score, HBS has always been uniquely and centrally positioned to take up that mantle.
I hope you enjoy this look back at some of our highlights from this past year, and moreover share in my excitement for the things to come. Here’s to many winding conversations to be had and, perhaps, even a few answers to be found.
With gratitude and enthusiasm, onward,