Knowledge ∞ Continuum in Northern Virginia

January 12, 2024

Starting in the winter of 2022-2023, the Center for the Management of IT (CMIT) introduced a winter edition of the Knowledge ∞ Continuum to be held in Northern Virginia, where many patrons of the Center and alumni of the MS MIT program live and work.  The event enables alumni and friends of the Center to join the current cohort of the McIntire School’s M.S. in the Management of IT (MS MIT) students during their residency at Valo Park in Tysons Corner for an afternoon and evening of learning and networking.

On Friday, January 12, 2024, more than 50 Knowledge ∞ Continuum participants joined the MS MIT class of 2024 to hear from Melissa Perri, CEO of the Product Institute and Barb Wixom, Principal Research Scientist at MIT CISR. The program concluded with a networking reception in the Valo Park lobby to celebrate the start of 2024.

After an introduction from CMIT Director Ryan Nelson, Melissa Perri delivered a one-hour virtual talk with Q&A on her book Escaping the Build Trap: How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value.  Perri stressed that as product managers one must focus on delivering high value products for users.  She describes the “build trap” as a common pitfall for organizations: becoming trapped in a cycle of producing features without considering their true impact on customer satisfaction and market demands.  Perri reminds product managers to continuously ask “Are we shipping and creating the products that customers really need?” Perri’s book outlines how organizations can escape this build trap by aligning strategic planning, product development, and company goals. Key principles include:

  • Prioritize outcomes that drive real value for customers, rather than just emphasizing quantifiable output;
  • Recognize the pivotal role of product managers and adopt effective management tactics;
  • Build a culture of transparency, continuous improvement, and customer-centricity.

By following these principles, organizations can foster innovation, stay relevant, and achieve their business goals.

Following Perri’s virtual engagement, Professor Nelson turned over the stage to Barb Wixom, Principal Research Scientist at MIT CISR and co-author of Data Is Everybody’s Business: The Fundamentals of Data Monetization, an evidence-based guide to unlocking the value of data within organizations.  The book is filled with detailed case-studies and includes definitions of key terms, questions aimed at self-reflection, and easy-to-use frameworks.  Wixom outlined why and how data is transforming industries and driving new business models, and explained why understanding data monetization is essential for creating shareholder value and staying competitive. Many organizations narrowly view data monetization as merely selling data sets. However, data monetization is a critical business activity that extends beyond selling raw data.  The authors propose an “Improve-Wrap-Sell” framework, which provides three viable ways to convert data into value:

  • Improving Work with Data: Organizations can enhance their internal processes and decision-making by leveraging data effectively.
  • Wrapping Products with Data: Integrating data into products and services can enhance customer experiences and create new revenue streams.
  • Selling Information Offerings: Organizations can package and sell valuable insights derived from data.

Participants received copies of both featured books during the program. The Center for the Management of IT (CMIT) is grateful to the speakers and the MS MIT program for collaborating to host this program.

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