MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS)


“The mission of IDSS is to advance education and research in state-of-the-art, analytical methods in information and decision systems; statistics and data science; and the social sciences, and to apply these methods to address complex societal challenges in a diverse set of areas such as finance, energy systems, urbanization, social networks, and health.”  – MIT IDSS.


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I just came back from IDSS’ last Advisory Board workshop and would first like to thank Prof. Munther Dahleh, IDSS Director, for his leadership and all of the information shared and exchanged this week. I would also like to thank Elizabeth Sikorovsky, Executive Director, and Jackie Willburg, External Relations Officer, for all the help and a welcoming and productive atmosphere, which one gets easily accustomed to and can, therefore, inadvertently take for granted. Admittedly, I need to state my apologies for missing quite a few of the names of good people involved in the planning and support activities.

During the workshop, I couldn’t help thinking about the similarities between MIT IDSS and the charter of Solutions & Partners, the business unit that I am part of at Nokia’s Applications & Analytics Group. Both happen to be tasked with creating new offerings by working across different university departments and product portfolios respectively. Both are expected to make a difference by enabling the greater value of the whole. That entails a silo bursting approach and figuring out how to best innovate at the intersection of, otherwise, disparate domains.

These two organizations’ ability to (a) remove barriers, (b) pave a common ground, (c) enable integration speed and (d) achieve critical mass happen to be critical success factors. Whether we call it cross-pollination or cross-fertilization, the goal is to set up an interdisciplinary environment and, most importantly, an organizational mindset and workstyle leading to breakthroughs otherwise hard to attain. There are two kinds of professional profiles involved: domain experts with deep know-how in their specific areas and creative technologists who can define vantage points, connect dots and work across domains.

There is one more thing worth highlighting: MIT’s IDSS seeks to address humankind’s societal challenges and Nokia’s S&P leverages Human Factors Engineering, both happen to be “people centered,” focus on complex environments and strive to humanize technology in the process. So, I am proud to be involved with both.


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MIT IDSS Advisory Board


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