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Learn More About Tom Davenport

Data is the gold of the 21st century and Tom Davenport – the President’s Distinguished Professor of Information Technology and Management at Babson College with affiliations at MIT and Oxford – is a master at helping companies mine it and leverage it.

Named among the top three business/technology analysts in the world, the 100 most influential people in the IT industry, one of top 25 consultants by Consulting Magazine, and the world’s top 50 business school professors by Fortune magazine, Davenport is the preeminent expert on how organizations can extract value from information and technology. A fellow of the MIT Initiative for the Digital Economy and a senior advisor to Deloitte’s AI practice, he introduced the widely influential concept of “competing on analytics” in his 2006 Harvard Business Review (HBR) article and its related 2007 book (updated in 2017). And in 2016, he was ahead of his time when he wrote about the human + AI future of work in his prescient book “Only Humans Need Apply,” followed in 2018 by “The AI Advantage: How to Put the Artificial Intelligence Revolution to Work,” which was among the first books to provide practical recommendations for using AI in business. He’s written over 300 articles for Harvard Business Review, and many were the first published on the topic.

“AI technologies won’t replace human workers but augment their capabilities with smart machines working alongside smart people,” he predicted at the time. “AI can automate structured and repetitive work, provide extensive analysis of data through machine learning, and engage with customers and employees via chatbots and intelligent agents.”

A prolific researcher and author of 20 books – including five on analytics and AI – Davenport’s work is relevant to any company that is trying to harness data, analytics, and AI for competitive advantage and organizational/cultural transformation. His latest focus is on “the future of work now” with examples of human/AI collaboration, on aggressive, “AI fueled” adopters of that technology, and on AI in health care. He’s currently writing books on all three topics.

“Every company has big data in its future and every company will eventually be in the data business,” says Davenport, whose seminal co-authored 2012 HBR article, “Data Scientist: The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century,” helped usher in a new generation of data scientists. “Companies and organizations around the world have spent trillions on hardware, software, and data science talent in order to advance analytics and AI. Yet a substantial number of firms still lack strong capabilities in these areas. The primary culprit is the absence of a culture that emphasizes data, analytics, and evidence-based decision making. But a few companies are now embarking on initiatives specifically designed to create data-driven cultures.”

Always operating at the forefront of innovation, analytics and big data movements, Davenport is a pragmatic, grounded-in-data consultant, educator and futurist. His invaluable expertise continues to help leaders across sectors use data to respond to what’s happening now and prepare for what’s ahead.

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Tom Davenport has written or edited 20 books and more than 300 articles for publications such as Sloan Management Review, Financial Times and Harvard Business Review. His 2016 book, “Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines,” offers guidance to individuals working with cognitive technologies. Harvard Business Review editors highlighted his latest ideas in the 10 Must Reads 2017: The Definitive Management Ideas of the Year and again in the 2019 issue. One of his articles, “Competing on Analytics,” is also in HBR’s 10 Must Reads: The Essentials collection across HBR’s 95-year history. Davenport was named one of ten “Top Voices” by LinkedIn – in 2016 for Education and in 2018 for Technology.

Davenport earned his doctorate from Harvard University and has taught at Harvard Business School, University of Chicago, Tuck School of Business, Boston University and University of Texas at Austin.

Tom Davenport 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®.

Tom Davenport was last modified: November 30th, 2022 by Meg Virag

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Designing the Post-COVID Workplace

Longtime Harvard, MIT, and Babson professor Tom Davenport – one of the world’s foremost authorities on analytics, big data and AI strategies that drive competitive advantage – has been an objective advocate for virtual offices since the 1990s when he wrote “Two Cheers for the Virtual Office.” COVID presents a once-in-a-lifetime (we hope) opportunity to redesign work to improve employee satisfaction, productivity, and the environment all at once. In this presentation, he outlines what today’s workers want from their work environments, the various factors that constrain work design, and the importance of segmentation and choice as design elements. He also reveals the outcomes of multiple experiments and data analyses that have been performed by leading firms’ HR analytics groups, and other research that could further guide post-COVID arrangements. “Employers today need workforce policies that are guided by data and enlightened experimentation,” says Davenport, “not opinion and tradition.”

Making Smarter Data-Driven Decisions

According to Tom Davenport – distinguished professor of IT management at Babson College and co-founder of the International Institute for Analytics – the COVID-19 pandemic taught us that America’s data management system is lagging behind those of other countries. Here, he examines how decisions made during the pandemic became more important and more challenging, and that without a cohesive framework, the fractured, sometimes “alternative,” data often led to worse decisions than those made with no data at all. Bad sources and models resulted in cherry-picked facts, emotional decision making and cognitive biases. Now, with systematic methods for identifying these faulty impulses, Davenport teaches organizations how to avoid similar perils by course-correcting away from biased data to find reliable solutions. In this presentation, he discusses the role of statistics and heuristics and how much of our decision making should be offloaded to machines.

The AI-Fueled Organization

Tom Davenport revolutionized the world of analytics with his 2007 book Competing on Analytics. Now he’s describing companies that take the same aggressive approach to artificial intelligence. In this presentation, he discusses the attributes of AI-fueled companies, and details the leadership, strategy, and cultural traits that make companies highly successful with AI. From Kroger in Cincinnati to Ping An in China, he illustrates how AI-driven organizations will power the future of business.

The Promise of Health Care AI

In most industries, data, analytics, and artificial intelligence have taken the guesswork out of business strategy. So why haven’t these tools revolutionized health care? In this presentation, Tom Davenport – distinguished professor of IT management at Babson College and cofounder of the International Institute for Analytics – reviews the potential for more intelligent health care, and the structural barriers preventing a full health care makeover. He describes the silos that prevent data sharing, the slow progress of AI adoption, and the differences in objectives among stakeholders. With optimism about new AI capabilities and information management roles – like Chief Information Officer, Chief Data Officer, and Chief Analytics and AI Officer – and a keen understanding of internal change management issues, he offers health care leaders practical solutions for making more informed decisions through full data integration.

The Future of Work is Now: AI, Skills, and Job Redesign

For years, experts have predicted AI will fundamentally change the future of work. But Tom Davenport – distinguished professor of IT management at Babson College and visiting professor at Oxford’s business school – reveals that many workers are already close colleagues with AI systems in achieving their daily work objectives. Drawing on more than 30 cases, he highlights examples of AI-assisted work, discusses what leads to success, and details how companies can redesign work and upskill workers. As Davenport predicted in his 2016 book “Only Humans Need Apply,” augmentation of human work is both far more likely to succeed and offers far more value than replacement of humans through automation.

Competing on the Three A’s: Getting Up to Speed with Analytics, Automation, and AI

Companies around the world have spent trillions of dollars on talent, software and devices to advance their analytics and AI capabilities, yet a substantial number still lack strong data-driven insights. In this talk, Tom Davenport – distinguished professor of IT management at Babson College and cofounder of the International Institute for Analytics – outlines the issues impeding analytics and AI adoption and cultural change. With statistics showing that only a small percentage of analytics and AI models ever reach production deployment, Davenport teaches leaders how to use data to reach more customers, optimize supply chains, improve HR, build enterprise-level intelligence, and significantly exceed business goals by structuring analytics and AI to achieve greater ROI.

Advance Praise for "All-in on AI"

"Most organizations only scratch the surface of what is possible with AI. If you want to learn what it means to commit to AI as a transformational business resource, read this book and follow its prescriptions."

Marco Iansiti, David Sarnoff Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School; coauthor, "Competing in the Age of AI"

"AI is the most transformational technology available today, and its primary benefits will go to those companies that exploit it aggressively. 'All-In on AI' is an excellent guide to extracting the maximum value from AI."

Piyush Gupta, CEO, DBS

"AI is most easily incorporated in the strategies and practices of startups that have embraced its promise as essential to differentiation and performance. Davenport and Mittal identify the multifaceted organizational capabilities necessary for legacy companies to capture the benefits of AI, which will be essential to their competitive success."

Gary Loveman, Chairman and CEO, Well

"'All-In on AI' describes the leadership, technology, and organizational change strategies that deliver the inherent value to make AI-fueled businesses possible."

Rajeev Ronanki, Senior Vice President, Elevance Health; author, "You and AI"

Praise for "Working with AI"

"The book is aimed at managers, consultants and students planning their careers...I appreciated the accessible narratives as a diverse survey of how current technologies can expand the range of human capabilities."

The Wall Street Journal

"When pictures are painted in such extremes of light and shade it’s time to call in the experts, and in 'Working with AI: Real Stories of Human-Machine Collaboration', we benefit not just from the hard-won wisdom of two leaders in the field – Thomas H Davenport and Steven M Miller – but also of the people involved in the dozens of case studies presented that detail real-world applications of AI in the commercial, research and administrative space. What the authors call ‘real stories of human-machine collaboration’ come together over nearly 300 pages of analysis and insight to produce one of the most balanced narratives of AI in the workplace produced to date.”

E&T Magazine

“'Working with AI' is by and large a hopeful work about human-machine collaboration, emphasizing that there are still many things that machines simply cannot do — from understanding context to managing organizational change to understanding emotional situations — and thus they will still depend on humans as much as we rely on them. That will likely remain true for us, our children, and our grandchildren.”

Civil Engineering

“What work can AI accomplish—and what can workers accomplish with AI? Setting aside hype, Davenport and Miller probe the beating heart of dozens of real-world AI implementations to find out. The lessons are subtle, eye-opening, and occasionally comical. No matter what you thought you knew about AI in the workplace, this book will change your mind.”

David Autor, Ford Professor of Economics, MIT

“AI is already changing the world and for the first time we have a collection of case studies written in a way that everyone can understand. This is an essential read for anyone trying to understand the breadth of change that is coming.”

DJ Patil, Former U.S. Chief Data Scientist

“This book brings AI to life and gives practical, grounded examples of what AI can do now, and how it is augmenting human roles in the workplace. This is a fantastic guide for any organization attempting to unleash the power of AI at scale.”

Dave Gledhill, former CIO, DBS bank; Director, Singapore Airlines

“With rich description Davenport and Miller take us through AI applications shaping the future of work. What work should be standardized? What work could be better informated? How can AI promote meaningful human work? Read this and learn.”

Denise M Rousseau, H.J. Heinz II University Professor, Carnegie Mellon University and Academic President, Center for Evidence-based Management

“Getting AI to work requires human learning and adaptation, job redesign, and enterprise transformation. It takes a good book to make such common sense compelling and actionable, and this is a very good book.”

Tam Kok Yam, Chief Executive, SkillsFuture Singapore; former Deputy Secretary of Smart Nation and Digital Government Office

Praise for "The AI Advantage"

"An essential guide to business."

Forbes

"Davenport reports on what AI has accomplished so far, where it has failed, and where it might soon spectacularly succeed...He explains the different types of tech that commonly fall under the AI umbrella, explores the ways businesses are incorporating AI into their processes, and examines the ethical considerations of this powerful new technology."

BizEd

"Thomas Davenport explains how almost any organization ― whatever its size and nature may be ― can become productively and profitably involved in the artificial intelligence 'revolution'.”

Bob Morris, Blogging on Business

"Fascinating insight into the practical business value and the return on investment generated by AI technologies.... Thoroughly grounded in business management literature, the book will appeal mainly to managers and leaders interested in broadening their view of artificial intelligence. Recommended."

Choice

"The promise of AI technology is to transform us. But things get in the way: hype, denial, and just simple misunderstanding. Once again, Tom Davenport has taken on the role of the business sherpa, guiding decision makers through the maze of technology to the business transformation we all want."

Kristian J. Hammond, Professor of Computer Science, Northwestern University; and Chief Scientist, Narrative Science