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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)

Equipping the Revolution: Hardware Wars in the Age of Machine Learning
John Keck
Last modified on November 12, 2018 at 5:11 pm
In the machine learning gold rush, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are competing for cloud computation dominance. Currently second in the market, Microsoft is poised to gain significant market share through its major investment in FPGAs (field-programmable gate arrays) for advanced, [...]
Rio Tinto – Mining Data like Diamond
Posted on November 12, 2018 at 8:16 pm
When surviving competitively afloat the mining industry’s ocean of high and low tides seemed impossible, Rio Tinto leveraged Big Data and Machine Learning to revolutionize the mining industry over the past decade, through its state-of-the-art autonomous operations.
The Unilever Foundry – bringing innovation to 400 brands, under one roof
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 1:08 pm
Can a 90-year old company learn to behave like a start-up? Slow growth, ever-changing consumer tastes and the rise of digitally native upstarts are threatening the traditional consumer-packaged goods industry. Unilever’s significant investment in open innovation intends to challenge this [...]
A Better Brain: Machine Learning in Guided Meditation
Keagan Pang
Posted on November 12, 2018 at 8:34 pm
Meditation, with its many mental benefits, has remained an elusive skill to master. While there has been a surge in the number of guided meditation mobile apps available, none offer any real insight to the most common question that beginner [...]
Siemens Mobility going digital
Posted on November 13, 2018 at 3:19 pm
Additive manufacturing is threatening to change the competitive landscape of the multi-billion dollar spare part market. Will current players be able to embrace 3D printing as a new opportunity, or are new competitors set to outcompete traditional manufacturers?
SenseTime and Public Safety
Toni Campbell
Last modified on November 14, 2018 at 9:38 pm
Cities and countries already have begun to deploy AI and ML technologies for public safety and security. On one hand machine learning applications in image and video recognition can help law enforcement officials in detecting criminal activities and efficiently prevent [...]
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