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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)

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 [...]
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 [...]
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.
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 [...]