The Digital Frontier in a Networked World KTN

From BEING digital to PERFORMING digital

Companies need to rethink everything from culture to tools and operating environments

Emerging Technologies Innovation

Today, business and technology innovation are linked.

Emerging technologies including augmented intelligence, artificial intelligence, robotics, and advanced manufacturing impact business in new dynamic ways wide-open to competitive risks and opportunities.

And technology innovation is a key driver for digital transformation efforts to adapt to both internal and external challenges. The Internet of Things that enables objects to communicate with each other and function in new ways puts interconnected systems to work for a range of predictive analytics, and augmented reality applications.

The key issue is the system integration of the portfolio of technology assets to drive value.

   In today’s world, innovation is more important than ever. Digitisation is spawning disruptive innovations, which is resulting not only in much lower costs but in entirely new business models: ideas are realised in cooperation with customers, business partners and freelance inventors with whom the companies communicate in virtual networks.

Sigmar Gabriel, Vice-Chancellor and Federal Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy for Germany

Connected digital technology opens the way to new, more efficient ways of accessing resources and interacting with others to achieve better, faster, more profitable outcomes. The dynamics and interactions are opening up new horizons, but at the same time are redefining old ways of working, rebalancing workforce demands, and how the enterprise is organised.

The MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte Digital Business Study, examined the question of how far along are organisations in their digital journey, and concluded that companies must align their people, processes, and culture to achieve digital success.

As part of this special feature we research the challenges and opportunities of Digital Transformation, and what it takes in creating effective digital cultures and putting digital talent to work, while paying due attention to the Digital overwhelmed employee.

   To make the shift from the incremental to exponential, you first have to change how you think.

Dr. Mark Bonchek, founder of thinkORBIT and the Shift Thinking™ Framework and Academy

Shifts in thinking challenge the prevailing mental model

Shift Thinking™ is a mindset for success in the digital age. Is a framework of transformative change and exponential growth is relevant for leaders at every level and for organisations in every industry.

Created by Mark Bonchek, this new language for business reflects the new logic of value creation in a networked world.

According to Dr. Mark Bonchek, living in times of fast-paced change and uncertainty has made our mental models of business and society obsolete.

   We have mental models that were designed for a different time. How do we unlearn what we’ve already learned?


Mental models are how the brain filters and makes sense of diverse strands of information to be processed, attributing cause and effect.

Organisations want to empower their people to innovate and adapt, but fear that too much autonomy may cause disarray. A set of principles that guide decision-making under changing circumstances is the key to orderly creation of value, through collaboration and engagement by network communication.

Dr. Mark Bonchek
Founder and CEO (Chief Epiphany Officer) of Shift Thinking.

He works with leaders and organisations to update their thinking for a digital age. He holds Harvard University’s first doctorate on the topic of social media, since 1997. Since then, Bonchek has launched new businesses, created award-winning programs, and advised global leaders for such organisations as McKinsey & Company.

In the early 2000’s, he left Strategos to lead the strategy practice in Boston for iXL, and then served as COO of TomorrowLab for McKinsey & Company. At McKinsey, he advised global leaders, The Economist, IBM and the American Heart Association, designed a new offering using digital media and collaborative community to help leaders build disruptive business models.  

His thinkORBIT concept, dealing with leadership, strategy, and learning, is focused on helping organisations shift their thinking beyond channels to “orbits,” and to design strategies that engage stakeholders — including employees and customers — in new ways. Through the framework of Shift Thinking and the thinkORBIT concept, he delivers insights on how to organise, engage, transform cultures and compete in the digital age.

To change how you work, first change how you think

    We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

Albert Einstein

How to get from where you are to where you want to go

Key questions of interest both to academics and business leaders: 

   Do people fail to see a problem that seems obvious to you?

   Do people recognise the problem, but fail to see how your solution could solve their problem?

   Do people recognise the problem, and the value of your solution, but fail to make the change?

A Roadmap to get from where you are to where you want to go


Generating gravity to pull in customers, employees, and partners

The essence of innovation is as much about unlearning as learning.

As a consequence, business leaders need to shift their thinking: from product to platform, hierarchy to network, audience to community, and push to pull.

Marketers rethink brand relationships and reinvent customer engagement.

They are trying to chart a new mental map to navigate a changing landscape, that doesn’t just focus on promoting and persuading, but also shifting the orbit, relationship, and experience.

Steve Jobs’ “think different” foundation for Apple, shifted the way people thought about technology to be more personal and human.

Market leaders like Apple, Nike, Sephora and Adobe, are making a shift from push to pull, creating gravity fields that pull customers, employees and partners into orbit around their brands.

Companies that help customers shift their thinking will be more effective at solving problems and ultimately selling products

Salesforce disrupted the enterprise software market, by shifting their model from packaged, installed software to cloud computing and software-as-a-service. This happened only after buyers understood the mental model of cloud computing, and the associated benefits of their software-as-a-service offering.

Professor Marshall Van Alstyne
Chair of Information Systems / Everett W. Lord Distinguished Faculty Scholar. BOSTON UNIVERSITY – Questrom School of Business

   The nature of industry and business models is changing. The product model is broken.  The top companies in the world are platforms with ecosystems.

Professor Van Alstyne is one of the leading experts in network business models. He conducts research on information economics, covering such topics as communications markets, the economics of networks, intellectual property, social effects of technology, and productivity effects of information.


Online Publications: Journal Articles & Books


The Cognitive

The cognitive era is changing change the way companies operate and innovate.

Cognitive technologies add a predictive dimension to information technology, as manifested in speed, cost, and quality advantages.

Companies are leveraging cognitive technology capabilities in industries as healthcare, banking, insurance, retail and manufacturing are using cognitive technologies to do things faster and more efficiently than ever before.

The cognitive advantage for enhancing and scaling human expertise

Cognitive businesses are continuously learning and adapting to the ever-changing markets. With cognitive solutions business leaders are accelerating productivity and efficiency through superior search capabilities, customer care and workflow processing.

Dr. John Kelly; PhD

Dr. Kelly holds a Ph.D. from RPI, and he has received three honorary doctorate degrees. During his seven year tenure as Director of IBM Research, Dr. John Kelly focused on the company’s exponential growth into the information technology market, which expanded its global footprint under his leadership by adding four new labs, including IBM Watson. He recently published the book Smart Machines: IBM’s Watson and the Era

The Price of Not Knowing that the Future is Cognitive

Cognitive businesses put customer in the center offering more intuitive customer interactions

The Cognitive Business & The Digital Customer

Analytics & Big Data, enable more effective and predictive decision making and offer opportunities for improving efficiency in operations, and stay ahead of consumer preferences.

Cognitive businesses can analyse real-time almost everything, from news articles to social sentiment in developing cognitive products and services to offer more intuitive customer interactions that create competitive differentiation and value.

Cognitive solutions are increasing customer engagement by identifying patterns to reach customers in the right ways and over the most responsive channels

Cognitive technology is used to gain insights into customer thinking and provide experiences that adapt to customer needs. Satisfied customers exhibit superior engagement and loyalty that foster sustainable growth. IBM research reveals that half of cognitive early adopters personalise the customer experience through cognitive insights, and nearly half are also increasing customer engagement and rapidly responding to customer and market needs.

   Cognitive technology allows to better identify customer wants and needs, and to serve them in a superior manner.

 Both the sales team and customers benefit from the improved insights enabled by cognitive insights

Synthesising and Extending Best-of-Breed Human Behaviour Models

This line of research of the Ackoff Collaboratory for Advancement of the Systems Approach (ACASA) led by Professor Barry G. Silverman, focuses on human behaviour modeling with particular attention to the impact of personality/cultural values and affect socially intelligent agents, as well as biology/stress upon individual and group decision-making.

Dissemination & Decision Support Systems

This line of research deals with the proactive dissemination of knowledge to help decision makers with Just-In-Time information as they go about their daily routines. Particular focus is on human-to-human collaboration and the mediation and support from software agents.

Buyer Decision Support Systems and Search Agents for Online Shopping

This line of research revolves around consumer decision making models to drive better shopping experiences,  and to develop new classes of search technology and the development of a dynamic programming solution to the natural language query problem that are consistent with the cognitive needs of consumers.

IBM Cognitive Business Ops drives innovation and customer loyalty for banking industry

Professor Barry G. Silverman
Systems Engineering University of Pennsylvania

His research expertise is in Intelligent Software Agents, Computer Games and Computer Simulations, largely on socio-cognitive agent models that can help humans improve their learning, performance, and systems thinking in simulated worlds.

Professor Barry G. Silverman merges best-of-breed models such as human physiology, stress, emotion, personality, and relations, as well as cultural, political, and economic factors, into a unified framework for agent-based simulations of health care, well-being and ethno-political situations around the world.

He is the author of over 140 articles, 1 board game, and 6 fielded game worlds for training and analysis (Athena, Black Hawk Down, GeriCase, HeartSense, NonKin Village, and StateSim). He is a Fellow of IEEE and AAAS and recipient of several research and teaching excellence awards, including a 1st place for AI/Pattern of Life in the 2011 Federal Virtual World Competition.

Director, Ackoff Collaboratory for the Advancement of the Systems Approach (ACASA)
Core Faculty Member, Institute for Research in Cognitive Science
Senior Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics
Core Faculty Member, Center for Human Modeling and Simulation

Member of:

Recent Publications


Transitioning to digital


We aim to better understand how digital technologies are changing the industry landscape, blurring the lines between industries, and provide actionable insights and fertile ground for rethinking business models, by taking into account the impact they have on the way we work and live, in identifying new market opportunities and competitive advantages enabled by crossing the digital frontier.


Navigating the Digital Frontier

  • He holds a BA, Yale University in Computer Science, MS and Ph D from MIT Sloan School, Management.

    As co-developer of the concept of “two sided networks” he has been a major contributor to the theory of network effects, a set of ideas now taught in more than 50 business schools worldwide.

    Awards include two patents, National Science Foundation IOC, SGER, SBIR, iCorp and Career Awards, and six best paper awards. Articles or commentary have appeared in Science, Nature, Management Science, Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

  • Van Alstyne, M., Parker, G., & Choudary, S. (2016). Pipelines, Platforms & The New Rules of Strategy. Harvard Business Review,
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    Chesbrough, H., & Van Alstyne, M. (2015). Permissionless Innovation. Communications of the ACM, 58(8), 24-26.
    See Publication on Line

    Schrage, M., & Van Alstyne, M. (2015). Life of IP. Communications of the ACM, 58(5), 20-23.
    See Publication on Line

    Van Alstyne, M., & Parker, G. (2015). Platform Strategy, in The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Strategic Management, David Teece, New York.
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    • Artificial Intelligence and Human Behavior Modeling and Simulation for Mental Health Conditions, Silverman, B.G. | Hanrahan, N. | Huang, L. | Rabinowitz, E.F. | Lim, S., Artificial Intelligence in Behavioral and Mental Health Care, 2015
    • A systems approach to healthcare: Agent-based modeling, community mental health, and population well-being, Silverman, B.G. | Hanrahan, N. | Bharathy, G. | Gordon, K. | Johnson, D., Artificial Intelligence in Medicine, 2015
    • Social learning and adoption of new behavior in a virtual agent society, Nye, B.D. | Silverman, B.G., Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, 2013
    • Holistically evaluating agent-based social systems models: A case study, Bharathy, G.K. | Silverman, B., SIMULATION, 2013
    • Applications of Social Systems Modeling to Political Risk Management, Bharathy, G.K. | Silverman, B., Intelligent Systems Reference Library, 2012

    The repository holding Barry Silverman’s latest publications