Learn More About Karim Lakhani
Organizations that move from a traditional business model to one driven by artificial intelligence (AI) often become dominating forces in their industry. Harvard Business School (HBS) Professor Karim Lakhani reveals why and how in his critically acclaimed book “Competing in the Age of AI: Strategy and Leadership When Algorithms and Networks Run the World” (2020), co-authored with HBS colleague Marco Iansiti. The book was named Best Business Book of 2020 for strategy by Strategy+Business for its clarity in showing how firms with an AI-first business model are uniquely positioned to thrive long into the future.
While researching and conducting case studies with major firms, including Microsoft, Amazon, Ant Financial, Peloton and Airbnb, Lakhani and his team saw how AI-centric companies were able to break from the constraints of traditional business models to massively increase scope, straddle industry boundaries, and drive more accurate, complex and sophisticated predictions.
During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lakhani and Iansiti studied the fast-track development of Moderna’s vaccine. With the help of an AI-first model, the company was able to produce a vaccine candidate in only 41 days—a record 90% reduction compared to the time it took to develop vaccines for SARS and MERS.
“What we’ve seen in the top firms in the world is that AI, analytics and networks are the core of the firm and what they do in terms of their business model and operating model comes from this core,” says Lakhani, who advises organizations on how to transition to an AI-first model. “Our book is not just about platforms or digital transformation, but about a wholesale change in how you define and build or rebuild a company. It’s about how artificial intelligence is changing the landscape of business and the nature of companies.”
Co-founder and co-director of the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH), Lakhani goes beyond teaching firms how to transition for success to showing workers at every level of an organization – from the C-suite to the front lines – how to think about AI and strategy and what it means for their careers and for the future. He has also played a pioneering role in online executive education by designing the first-ever university-wide program (involving the Business and Engineering Schools and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences), that educates leaders on how to leverage data, analytics and platforms to transform their organizations through the Harvard Business Analytics Program. He also specializes in the management of technological innovation in firms and communities, distributed innovation systems, and the movement of innovative activity to the edges of organizations and into communities.
“Some organizations think machine learning is about superhuman powers that are the exclusive domain of companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft,” says Lakhani. “The fact is, the AI-first business model is easily accessible to any company. Once they rethink their processes and organize differently, they will see that superpower is available to them too.”
Karim Lakhani is among the world’s leading authorities on AI-driven business transformation. His research has been published in Harvard Business Review, Management Science, Nature Biotechnology, Nature Human Behavior, Organization Science, RAND Journal of Economics, Research Policy and the Sloan Management Review. His co-authored book “Competing in the Age of AI,” was named Best Business Book of 2020 for strategy by Strategy+Business and received the Gold Medal for Best Artificial Intelligence / Robotics / Algorithms Book in the 2021 Axiom Business Book Awards. He is also the co-editor of two books on Open Innovation published by MIT Press “Perspectives on Free and Open Source Software” & “Revolutionizing Innovation”. He has published teaching cases on leading organizations practicing distributed innovation, including 2u, Aston Martin, Data.gov, Google, Myelin Repair Foundation, SAP, Siemens, Threadless, TopCoder, Wikipedia and “X” among many others. His research has also been featured in a number of news publications, including Business Week, The Boston Globe, The Economist, Fast Company, Inc., The New York Times, The New York Academy of Sciences Magazine, Science, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Wired.
Professor Lakhani is the principal investigator of the NASA Tournament Laboratory at the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science and the faculty co-founder of the Harvard Business School Digital Initiative. Lakhani has extensively studied open source software communities, their unique innovation and product development strategies and how critical knowledge from outside an organization can be accessed through innovation contests. He also investigates incentives and behavior in contests and the mechanisms behind scientific team formation through field experiments. Professor Lakhani is also the co-founder and co-chair of the Harvard Business Analytics Program, a university-wide online executive education program transforming senior executives into data-savvy leaders.
Professor Lakhani has a PhD in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a master’s degree in Technology and Policy from MIT and a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Management from McMaster University in Canada. He was a recipient of the Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship and a four-year doctoral fellowship from Canada’s Social Science and Humanities Research Council.
Before coming to HBS, Professor Lakhani served as a Lecturer in the Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship group at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Prior to his academic roles, he worked in sales, marketing and new product development at GE Healthcare and as a consultant with The Boston Consulting Group. He was also the inaugural recipient of the TUM-Peter Pribilla Innovation Leadership Award.
Karim Lakhani is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.
AI Bootcamp: Transforming Your Business and Operating Model in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
Over the past decade, advances in AI have rapidly moved from university and corporate laboratories to large-scale implementation in a range of industries, from finance to travel to health care. AI and its related technologies have generated new competitors, enabled tech giants to straddle multiple industry sectors, and created new human-machine work and managerial interfaces that move a range of decision-making activities toward automation. It is also putting pressure on executives to drive organizational transformation so they can build a culture of continuous innovation. During this workshop, Professor Karim Lakhani teaches effective strategies for capitalizing on AI technologies, from business models and organizational design to workforce management, competitive strategy and innovation processes. He also shows participants how to leverage advanced computational technologies so their organization can massively increase value, scope and scale, allowing them to better compete with companies who are already leveraging the best of what AI, analytics and networks have to offer.