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Learn More About Tom Davenport

The far-reaching implications and everyday use-cases of artificial intelligence (AI) systems are becoming more visible by the day, from data management to manufacturing processes. According to Babson College Professor Tom Davenport, renowned management authority whose expertise intersects company culture and information technology (IT), AI is the most prominent technology on the scene today. It’s also the most transformational technology organizations say they’re working with.

“When it comes to the future of AI, I’m generally an optimist,” says Davenport, who was named one of the 100 most influential people in the IT industry. “It’s about augmentation, not large-scale automation. Workers should ask themselves, ‘How can I add value to these systems?’ We all need to upskill and rethink what we can do to work alongside these systems and use the technology to unlock new avenues of value creation.”

Data Drives The Organizations of Tomorrow

A trailblazer at the forefront of the innovation, analytics and Big Data movements, Davenport is a pragmatic, grounded-in-data consultant, educator and futurist. The President’s Distinguished Professor of Information Technology and Management at Babson with affiliations at MIT and Oxford University, he specializes in helping companies understand the value of AI and the increasing amount of data available to them. More consequentially, he helps leaders leverage emerging technologies and translate them into competitive advantages.

Named among the top three business/technology analysts in the world, one of the top 25 consultants by Consulting Magazine, and one of 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. His groundbreaking 2006 Harvard Business Review article, “Competing on Analytics,” which was named to HBR’s list of the most influential management ideas of the decade, outlines game-changing ways organizations can make data and analytics central to their strategy, allowing them to make better decisions and unlocking a greater ability to compete quantitatively.

Author of 23 works on technology, including five on AI, Davenport’s 2022 book, “Working with AI: Real Stories of Human-Machine Collaboration” (MIT Press), includes 29 case studies of organizations and individuals who are already working with AI on a daily basis. His newest publication, “All-in On AI: How Smart Companies Win Big with Artificial Intelligence” (Harvard Business Review Press, January 2023), takes a deep dive into 30 worldwide companies that have aggressively adopted the technology, using it to update their strategies and processes by building new ecosystems driven by AI. By helping leaders across sectors use data to respond to what’s happening now and prepare for what’s ahead, he continues to be the go-to authority for expert insight into the evolving world of AI.  

A Future of Working With, Not Against, AI

Focusing on the human side of information and technology in business, Davenport firmly believes that we are not on the cusp of AI replacing humans. In addition to highlighting examples of AI-assisted work and detailing how companies can redesign work and upskill employees, he emphasizes the importance of Chief Data Officers to ensure organizations are extracting the most value from their data. He points out that the role is still a relatively new one, but it’s changing organizational cultures – fast.

“Companies and organizations around the world have spent trillions on hardware, software and data science talent in order to advance analytics and AI,” says Davenport, a regular Forbes contributor and co-founder of the International Institute for Analytics. “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 that’s changing at an increasing pace as more organizations integrate emerging technologies into company cultures.

Generative AI: Creating New Opportunities and New Concerns

With the recent viral popularity of generative AI systems like DALL-E2 for images and GPT-3 for text, Davenport says the future of content creation, interpersonal communication, and even art will be forever changed. In a 2022 Harvard Business Review article—the first in HBR on the technology–he explains that while generative AI can be leveraged to open new avenues of creating advertising copy, entertainment and even software design, there is a growing need for policies and governance around it, with questions about legal considerations such as content ownership and ethical concerns like misuse in academics still unanswered.

“Generative AI is going to have a pretty big impact,” he points out. “How we’re going to deal with the intellectual property issues will be complicated, and academic institutions will need policies about student use.” Davenport acknowledges that generative AI offers new challenges to human workers from an automation standpoint, but he still believes that augmentation is the most likely and best outcome over the next decade.

Maintaining his position as an AI pioneer and esteemed futurist, Davenport continues to be a top resource for organizational guidance. As data, analytics and AI become progressively indispensable in both business and society, the leaders who prioritize their use, governance and wide-scale deployment will increasingly open new avenues of value creation and widen the gap with competitors. 

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Tom Davenport is the President’s Distinguished Professor of Information Technology and Management at Babson College. He has written or edited 23 books and more than 300 articles for publications such as Sloan Management Review, Financial Times and Harvard Business Review. He’s been named a top three business/technology analyst in the world, one of the top 25 consultants by Consulting Magazine, and one of the world’s top 50 business school professors by Fortune magazine. 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 Davenport’s transformative 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 100+ 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: February 6th, 2024 by Justin Louis

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The Promise and Concerns of Generative AI

With the recent viral popularity of generative AI systems like DALL-E2 for images and GPT-3 for text, Tom Davenport – Distinguished Professor of Information Technology and Management at Babson College, visiting professor at MIT and Oxford Saïd Business School, and co-founder of the International Institute for Analytics – interpersonal communication and even art will be impacted. In this informative session, he draws on his 2022 Harvard Business Review article, “How Generative AI is Changing Creative Work,” to illustrate how the emerging technology can be leveraged to open new avenues of value creation for everything from advertising copy to software design. He also points out that there are concerns as well, with a growing need for policies and governance to address factors like intellectual property ownership and ethical use. Attendees will gain a deeper understanding of what generative AI is, why it’s suddenly so popular, and how it can be used to enhance business processes.

Making Smarter Data-Driven Decisions Through an Analytics-First Culture

According to Tom Davenport – Distinguished Professor of Information Technology and Management at Babson College, visiting professor at MIT and Oxford Saïd Business School, and co-founder of the International Institute for Analytics – many organizations are missing opportunities to harness data to make smarter decisions. In this eye-opening presentation, Davenport will explain why it’s more important than ever for organizations to not only have Chief Data Officers, but to make the role central to strategy and growth. Describing the common absence of a culture that emphasizes data, analytics and evidence-based decision making, he’ll use real-world examples of organizations that are shifting culture toward data-driven decision making. Attendees will be equipped with actionable takeaways for using data, statistics and analytics to improve reliability and effectiveness of strategic decisions.

The All-In-On-AI Organization

Tom Davenport – Distinguished Professor of Information Technology and Management at Babson College, visiting professor at MIT and Oxford Saïd Business School, and co-founder of the International Institute for Analytics – revolutionized the world of analytics with his groundbreaking 2006 Harvard Business Review article, “Competing on Analytics.” Now, he applies a sociologist’s eye to describe companies that have taken the same bold approach to artificial intelligence. In this presentation, he draws from his newest book, “All in on AI: How Smart Companies Win Big with Artificial Intelligence” (2023), to share examples of organizations that have aggressively adopted AI technology, using it to update their strategies and processes by building new ecosystems driven by AI. From empowering employees through AI-assisted coding to realizing the advantages of humans and AI augmentation processes, audiences will gain a window into the steps required to build thriving AI-fueled companies and the management, strategy, and cultural traits that have already proven successful to others.

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 Information Technology and Management at Babson College, visiting professor at MIT and Oxford Saïd Business School, and co-founder of the International Institute for Analytics – reveals that many workers are already close colleagues with AI systems when achieving their daily work objectives. Drawing from his 2022 book, “Working with AI: Real Stories of Human-Machine Collaboration,” he’ll provide real-world examples of organizations that have already implemented successful programs that have humans and AI systems augmenting one another. By encouraging audiences to ask themselves how they can add value to AI systems, Davenport empowers attendees to rethink what they can do to work in concert with AI, allowing organizations to unlock greater value creation opportunities.

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 Information Technology and Management at Babson College, visiting professor at MIT and Oxford Saïd Business School, and co-founder of the International Institute for Analytics – draws from his 2022 book, “Advanced Introduction to Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare,” to review the potential for more intelligent healthcare, and the structural barriers preventing a full health care AI 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 about full data integration and AI implementation.

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.

HBR Harvard Business Review 2022

We're All Programmers Now

September-October 2023

Strategic Decision-Making Through Data Analytics Simulations

In a world where success over the competition can hinge on the slightest details, it’s more important than ever to harness data and analytics as part of the strategic process. In this workshop, which requires at least a 2-hour engagement, Tom Davenport, pioneering authority on AI strategies that drive competitive advantage, presents a simulation that teaches participants the power of analytics in decision-making. Acting as brand managers, attendees are tasked with turning around a brand’s performance by using sophisticated analytic techniques to understand current issues and determine the best strategy for improving performance. Participants will be asked to predict market demand, set the channel price, make formulation decisions, determine promotional spending strategy, and communicate their strategy effectively to their managers. The simulation makes use of actual consumer data informed by a multinational consumer goods company.

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