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From understanding to action: Our top reads from 2018

This collection of some of our most-read articles of the year explores the many ways that organizations must progress to capture value from advanced technologies.

During the past year, one theme has stood out: realizing the promise of analytics, digital, and design is hard, even unnerving, work. Executives must first understand how sophisticated technologies can help solve business problems and how digital competition affects their business. Neither task is easy, but what comes next is even more challenging. Senior leaders must take decisive action, committing to bold strategic moves such as investing in design, transforming operations to become more agile, and fostering a culture of innovation.

With these issues in mind, we invite you to browse our best content on digital, design, and analytics from 2018. We hope these articles will give you insights for how to capitalize on opportunities in the year to come.

An executive’s guide to AI

An executive’s guide to AI
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We built this interactive guide as a primer to help executives understand artificial intelligence techniques and how they can help them make better decisions. It turned into McKinsey’s most-read online piece for 2018.

See the interactive

The business value of design

The business value of design
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What is good design worth? And how do companies deliver exceptional designs time and again? We answered those questions by studying more than two million financial data points and more than 100,000 design actions across 300 public companies.

Learn what works

The cornerstones of large-scale technology transformation

The cornerstones of large-scale technology transformation
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Many executives understand that tech-enabled transformation should create tremendous value—but have yet to see it materialize. Our article shows what transformation success really demands: implementing hundreds of solutions and redesigning processes around them.

Make clear progress

Why data culture matters

Why data culture matters
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Cultural change is essential to embedding analytics and other advanced technologies across a business. In this virtual roundtable, six executives talk about how their companies built institutional cultures that bolster their data and analytics programs.

Step up on analytics

Digital strategy: The four fights you have to win

Digital strategy: The four fights you have to win
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Your most fearsome competitors aren’t making small tweaks to their digital strategies; they’re carrying out bold moves. This popular article looks at how your company can, too.

Make big moves

What it takes to get an edge in the Internet of Things

What it takes to get an edge in the Internet of Things
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Prioritizing and managing IoT applications is so tough, and many companies never move beyond pilot-stage efforts. This article, based on a survey of 300 businesses that are using the IoT at scale, highlights three practices that help IoT leaders break through.

Accelerate your efforts

The five trademarks of agile organizations

The five trademarks of agile organizations
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Agility—the ability to reorient an organization quickly toward opportunities—is strongly associated with improved performance. This widely read article describes the traits that set agile organizations apart from their conventional peers.

Get smart

Ten red flags signaling your analytics program will fail

Ten red flags signaling your analytics program will fail
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All the time and money that companies put into their analytics programs can go to waste if business leaders don’t fend off major threats to their efforts. This article lays out the danger signs that leaders should watch for and what their first responses should be.

Look out

Blockchain beyond the hype: What is the strategic business value?

Blockchain beyond the hype: What is the strategic business value?
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Few technologies are surrounded by as much enthusiasm—or as many misconceptions—as blockchain. In this popular piece, McKinsey experts identify two big needs that blockchain can fill and nail down more than 90 applications with real-world utility.

Focus your approach

Notes from the AI frontier: Applications and value of deep learning

Notes from the AI frontier: Applications and value of deep learning
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Deep learning, a sophisticated AI modeling technique, could generate some 40 percent of the economic value of all analytical techniques. This McKinsey Global Institute paper maps the value of deep learning by sector and business problem so leaders can home in on the best opportunities. To get a personalized view of deep learning opportunities for your company, you can use our new interactive AI playbook.

Harness the value