Professor Karim Lakhani

Harvard Business School

8 December 2020

11 am – 12.30 pm (via Zoom)


 How Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation

creating new winners and losers in industries around the world.


The Covid-19 crisis is an apt illustration of what happens when a system driven by exponential growth collides with a traditional system. Ignoring an exponential system until it reaches critical mass is a recipe for catastrophe. Just as we see in collisions between traditional and digital firms, the only life saving strategies involve a clear recognition of the threat, an immediate response, and thoughtful planning for long-term transformation.  This is precisely the effort that has happened at companies that are now thriving in Covid-19 era and are positioned to succeed at the end of the pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic has overturned deeply held assumptions about how fast and deep digital transformation needs to occur and indeed can occur in most organizations.  In the depth of the crisis and even today many companies learned that the only way to survive and thrive in the new normal was to break down the artificial barriers between online and offline interactions across their entire business and operating models and embrace digital processes as the beating heart of their companies.  In industry after industry, many companies have learned and have experienced that driving digital transformation actually is not that difficult.  It requires effort and commitment from the leadership to make it happen and then existing organizations, surprisingly respond with gusto and commitment.  Examples abound in health care, retail, transportation, manufacturing, consumer goods, telecommunications and finance. 

The lessons of Covid-19 are both immediate and long-term for companies to embrace digital transformation and to empower their employees to take action and embrace the change.

Professor Lakhani has recently published a book with Prof Marco Iansiti: 

Competing in the Age of AI: Strategy & Leadership When Algorithms and Networks Run the World

Registration Fee (includes a copy of the book) = $75 per person

Click here to buy tickets!!!

Karim R. Lakhani is the Charles E. Wilson Professor of Business Administration and the Dorothy and Michael Hintze Fellow at the Harvard Business School. He specializes in technology management, innovation, digital transformation and artificial intelligence (AI). His innovation-related research is centered around his role as the founder and co-director of the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard and as the principal investigator of the NASA Tournament Laboratory. Karim is known for his original scholarship on open source communities and innovation contests and has pioneered the use of field experiments to help solve innovation-related challenges while simultaneously generating rigorous research in partnership with organizations like NASA, Harvard Medical School, The Broad Institute, TopCoder, The Linux Foundation and various private organizations. His digital transformation research investigates the role of analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) in reshaping business and operating models. This research is complemented through his leadership as co-founder of the Harvard Business School Digital Initiative and as co-founder and co-chair of the Harvard Business Analytics Program, a university-wide online program transforming for mid-career executives into data-savvy leaders.

Karim has published over 150 peer-reviewed papers in leading management, economics and natural science journals, executive-oriented articles in Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan Management Review, and Harvard Business School case studies. He is the co-editor of two books from MIT Press on open and distributed innovation models including Revolutionizing Innovation: Users, Communities and Open Innovation (2016) and Perspectives on Free and Open Source Software (2005). He is the co-author of Competing in the Age of AI (2020) a book published by the Harvard Business Review Press. His research has been featured in BusinessWeek, The Boston Globe, The Economist, Fast Company, Inc., MarketWatch, The New York Times, National Public Radio, Science, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, WBUR, WGBH, and Wired.

Karim has taught extensively in Harvard Business School’s MBA, executive, doctoral and online programs. He has co-developed new courses on Digital Innovation & Transformation, Digital Strategy and Innovation, and Laboratory to Market. He co-chairs the HBS executive program on Competing with Big Data and Business Analytics, various custom executive education offerings and developed the HarvardX online course on Technology Entrepreneurship.

Karim was awarded his Ph.D. in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also holds an SM 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 doctoral fellowship from Canada's Social Science and Humanities Research Council. Prior to coming to HBS he served as a Lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Karim has also worked in sales, marketing and new product development roles at GE Healthcare and was a consultant with The Boston Consulting Group.