Talents and the challenges for education: published the new issue of SOMe Magazine

The world of education is evolving very quickly: thanks also to the innovations offered by digital tools, we are experiencing new platforms, new dynamics between trainers and students, a whole new experience in classrooms, both online and physical.

We investigate what we can expect for the future of education in the new issue of SOMe: from the evolution of teaching in undergraduate courses but also in open programs, to its effectiveness, to the need for new skills for trainers, the challenges are presented by Marika Arena, Antonella Moretto, Tommaso Buganza, Mara Soncin and Tommaso Agasisti.

In “Stories” we tell about two research projects aimed respectively at improving the living conditions of people with visual impairments and at monitoring the well-being of young people during sport activities. Finally we share an international networking experience between young European researchers.

To read SOMe #9 click here.

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Here are the previous issues:

  • #8 “The challenge of pursuing impact in research”
  • #7 “From data science to data culture: the emergence of analytics-powered managers”
  • #6 “Innovation with a human touch”
  • #5 “Inclusion: shaping a better society for all”
  • #4 “Multidisciplinarity: a new discipline”
  • #3 “New connections in the post-covid era”
  • #2 “Being entrepreneurial in a high-tech world”
  • Special Issue Covid-19 – “Global transformation, ubiquitous responses”
  • # 1 “Sustainability – Beyond good deeds, a good deal?”

Train the trainers

Digital technologies are deeply changing the dynamics of teaching and learning: a re-design of the whole educational experience is needed, requiring trainers to develop both digital and pedagogical new skills.

Tommaso Buganza, Full Professor of Leadership & Innovation, School of Management Politecnico di Milano


The pandemic has made us all blackbelts in Teams, Zoom, Webex, etc.
It has catapulted us into a digital world and forced us to develop digital skills quickly, with no opportunity to back out. In some cases this has worked very well (as students are telling us), while in other cases it has not.

We are still not sure if the pandemic is only a memory of the past, but at least we can be sure that many aspects of our lives will never go back to how they were, and training is certainly one of these. These digital skills required much effort on our part and we will now keep them with us.

Perhaps a moment has arrived in which we have the maturity to start asking ourselves how our skillset as educators has changed (and whether it still needs to change).

We can start with a simple consideration on the concept of digital: the equation

digital = online remote

It has shown to be false.

In fact, we must distinguish between the nature and functionalities of the many tools that we have learnt to use. On the one hand, as stated, Zoom, Teams, Webex and so on are tools that allow us to interact remotely. But the pandemic has also brought us tools for interaction which facilitate innovative activities and can also be used easily in the physical classroom.

Think of instant polling software like Socrative, Kahoot! or Poll Everywhere. We can now also extend the interaction to hundreds of students in a few seconds, obtaining an accurate idea of emotions with tag clouds or the extent to which they have understood a concept with multiple responses in real time.

But we can also do more; we can activate interactive dynamics within the classroom. For example, by asking for opinions to be written and then voted on by others in a sort of simple but quick and interesting brainstorming exercise.

Then there are other tools like MIRO, Mural or Jamboard, which make it possible to create a shared space to allow teams of students to interact in a deeper way, operating a virtual artefact in a coordinated and simultaneous manner, also keeping track of what has been done in previous lessons, if necessary, and guiding them with templates and procedural steps that would have once required paper, printing, logistical management, a loss of information, etc.

However, we must recognise that all these tools, and our ability to use them, intersects with a change in the way in which society interacts with the concept of learning. Major digital platforms such as YouTube or Instagram have revolutionised the way in which we interact with knowledge. They have made it quicker, more divided, more interactive and on-demand. Micro-learning, the parcelling of the practical part into small pieces that are easier to digest and the multi-media nature of communication (slides, speaking, film, etc.) are how many of us experience this, both as users and as educators. Above all, the dynamics of training activities have changed. We can no longer consider having long periods of lecture-based knowledge transfer and then long periods of application. The paradigm of the 20-page case study to be read and then discussed has not (yet) disappeared, but in some case it is starting to seem slow and a little dated.

In this scenario it is irrelevant whether the training takes place in person or online through a communication platform; what we need to do is change the logical and experiential flow of our lessons.

But what skills do we need to develop in order for this to happen?
To change what we do in the classroom, how should we change what we do before going into the classroom?

I believe that there are three fundamental things that we always need to learn better.

The first is conceiving (and therefore designing) a lesson as a service to be provided. We must design not only the content (which obviously is and remains the central point), but also how it will be used. Where we want to place a repetition, where we want to have a test, where we want to place a group activity to reinforce a concept. All of this requires planning, and it cannot be improvised once we are already in the classroom. Designing a group activity in 4 steps means designing a specific MIRO board, doing a brainstorming activity means preparing the interactive slide, etc. In many cases we will discover that the scarce resource will be time and we will need to choose what to do and how to do it to maximise the effectiveness of the training. The content is a necessary condition, but it is no longer enough; we need to imagine ourselves as designers of educational processes.

There is obviously a dark side to this approach, when the emphasis is placed on so-called infotainment, and the centrality of the content is overlooked. A meaningful and fulfilling educational experience is a means and not the end. However, we must accept that not paying due attention to the design of the learning process today risks drastically reducing the effectiveness of education.

The second thing that we must learn to do more, and better, is exploring the digital space. New functionalities and details are continuously added to all the tools that we named above. Each one of them enables new interactions or activities. We will never be able to use them unless we are familiar with them; we need to be curious in order to have new ideas. For example, when Miro introduced the possibility of hiding some content and only showing it at the opportune moment it led to ideas on how to structure complex processes with several steps; or when Poll Everywhere added the possibility of voting on other people’s ideas it led to the opening of open spaces for collective brainstorming which would have previously been impossible (or required too much time).

There is also a possible dark side in this case, when we fall in love with the tool and add activities just so we can use it, and not for their real impact on the educational process. In this case, we must also remember that the tool is a means and not an end.

Lastly, personally, I have added and activity that I never used to do. When designing new lessons with digital interactions of varying nature and duration and mixing various tools, I had to start adding a test phase. I used to create the slides, think about how to narrate them and go into the classroom. Now I test all of the tools and interactions as if I were a participant. In fact, our ability to creatively manage the situation in the moment has drastically reduced due to the use of rich but rigid systems. If a link is missing, if the page does not refresh, if I can’t log into Mural… it takes a long time to deal with the problem and the amount of time lost without anything happening drastically reduces the educational experience, at the risk of jeopardising all the work that has been done.

Designing the educational experience, constantly exploring the potential of digital spaces and adding a test phase are new skills and activities that we must add to what we already do. Old activities are not replaced or eliminated. They are simple and also added. Like all jobs, ours is becoming more complicated and requires increasing levels of specialisation. Personally, I do not believe that this was triggered by the pandemic. This change was already underway; the pandemic acted as a catalyst and only made it quicker, giving us less time to react.

WeAre 4 Children: digital technologies for sport and youth wellbeing

The Politecnico di Milano E⁴SPORT Laboratory has designed a T-shirt fitted with sensors – “smart garment” – to collect data on the wellbeing of children aged 11 to 12 during sport activities.


Physical activity during childhood is of the utmost importance because it builds muscle strength, develops bone structure, improves blood circulation, strengthens the immune system and teaches children how to share and socialise with their peers. However, the recent pandemic has led many children to give up doing physical activity to embrace more sedentary lifestyles.

Amateur sport clubs have always been important actors in helping children grow through sport, supporting them in the creation of a mind-body equilibrium.
Today, this task can also be carried out with the use of new tools: thanks to digital technologies, this objective can be achieved using methods that were inconceivable in the past. In particular, technologies related to the Internet of Things (IoT) – such as smart garments, smart watches, smart bracelets, movement and posture sensors, etc. – once only available to the most prestigious sport clubs, could also be adopted by amateur sport clubs to gather relevant data “from the field” related to the quality of training, sporting performance, and the physical and mental wellbeing of children.

In this context, the Politecnico di Milano Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering and Department of Design, in collaboration with the U.S. Bosto Sport Centre in Varese, have developed an innovative project to understand how digital technologies can contribute to the wellbeing of young footballers, and improve their sporting performance.
The “WeAre 4 Children” research project has been approved by Politecnico di Milano Ethics Committee and will involve 20 young footballers from U.S. Bosto who, during their weekly training sessions in Capolago and friendly matches, will wear a sensor-fitted T-shirt capable of collecting data on their sporting performance and physical wellbeing. The monitoring will take place through biometric sensors installed in the T-shirts themselves, including accelerometers, heart-rate monitors and specific motion capture sensors that can detect real-time information on parameters such as cardiac activity, posture, breathing, energy consumption and mood.

Politecnico di Milano and U.S. Bosto have engaged with partners in the Varese area. In particular, TK Soluzioni (an ICT company from Saronno) will provide support in creating the platform that will be used to integrate the data collected, Alfredo Grassi (a textiles company from Lonate Pozzolo) will offer its expertise for the design and production of the T-shirt, and the Centro Polispecialistico Beccaria health centre’s Sports Medicine Unit in Varese will monitor the physical and postural data.

The project is conceived as a feasibility study, aimed at establishing whether the digital solution developed ad hoc is appreciated by young footballers, their families and their trainers, and whether the data collected are reliable and the system works correctly in different scenarios of usability (training, matches, etc.).

The Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering research group, headed by Professor Emanuele Lettieri and Dr Andrea Di Francesco, Engineer, project manager and researcher at Politecnico di Milano “E4Sport” interdepartmental Laboratory, will assess the impact that the project could have on U.S. Bosto’s extended community, as well as its economic-financial sustainability, with contributions from all of the project’s partners.
The ambition is to be able to extend the tested solution to other amateur sport clubs, including other sports in addition to football.



For further information: https://www.e4sport.polimi.it/weare4children/

Space Economy: towards a new frontier for innovation and sustainability

Space and digital technologies combined represent a powerful force enabling cross-sector innovation towards making our world more sustainable. However, technological opportunities are mere fertile ground, which to yield fruit needs managerial and enterprising strategies for the strategic renewal of established organisations and for the creation and growth of innovative startups


Angelo Cavallo, Assistant Professor in Strategy & Entrepreneurship at School of Management, Politecnico di Milano

Space Economy is a phenomenon at the frontier of innovation and sustainability which materialises in the combination of spatial and digital technologies for developing business opportunities that give many businesses, in different sectors, the possibility to increase their competitiveness on a global scale through innovation on all levels – from product/service, to processes, right down the overall business model.

The economic value generated by the combined use of space and digital technologies was estimated at about 371 billion dollars in 2021 (Satellite Industry Association). However, the value of the Space Economy goes beyond market estimates and stands out for the opportunity to innovate in many fields and at the same time help make our planet more sustainable through the integration of terrestrial and satellite data, at the foundation of new space-based services. Using high resolution global maps of land coverage, climatologists can develop climate models and understand how the climate is evolving on the earth’s surface. Multispectral images and radar, combined with machine learning and deep learning techniques, means it is possible today to create predictive deforestation models. Timely and constant monitoring of forests is essential to the implementation of conservation policies. Another field of application for satellite data is the monitoring of pollution.  A now well-known case regards the monitoring of pollution levels during the lockdown period resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. To date, a large number of these analyses are conducted using data from terrestrial sensors, spread right throughout Europe. Satellite technologies are complementary and useful in areas where there are no terrestrial sensors.

An increasing number of academics include the combination of digital–space technologies among the drivers that can help to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a tool adopted globally to steer economic and social activities towards the attainment of sustainability goals.
For example, space-based services contribute to the SDG 7 “Affordable and Clean Energy” which sets out to guarantee access to energy for a much vaster pool of users and can be promoted through the remote monitoring systems of plants in places where weather conditions and other natural phenomena can cause major damage to infrastructure and where maintenance can be difficult.

The development of a space economy market and of space-based solutions depends however on the structuring and exploration of new business models, retracing the entire value chain, from which services can be developed for those who create new infrastructures right down to the end-users of those services, making their operations more efficient and/or create new products. Innovating traditional business models and moving towards a platformization, servitization and open innovation model is fundamental to make sure new space-based services have a large-scale economic, environmental and social impact.

Machine Learning & Big Data Analytics

Digital technologies and algorithms to analyse data represent the most recent evolution of intellectual technologies. They have transformed us into what we are today, into what we know, and into our ways of thinking. We live in close symbiosis with intellectual technologies and this will be increasingly the case with artificial intelligence algorithms


Carlo Vercellis, Full Professor of Machine Learning at School of Management, Politecnico di Milano

Most of our daily actions, purchases, movements, and personal or professional decisions are guided by a Machine Learning algorithm: it is convenient to receive suggestions about products to buy, hotels and means of transport for travel, and films or music we might like.

Many companies have been collecting large amounts of data in their information systems for decades. Credit card operators, who record almost two billion transactions over the course of a weekend, large retailers, Telco and utility providers.

However, the real revolution that has led to Big Data coincides with the advent of social networks, a phenomenon called the Internet of People. Each of us has gone from being a reader of information into an author of content. The need to store this immense and rapidly growing amount of data has led the large web companies to create a new type of database based on distributed network architectures and, in practice, to bring about the birth of the cloud.

In addition to people, there are now also ‘things’ on the Internet and this Internet of Things consists of countless objects equipped with sensors and often capable of intelligent and autonomous behaviour. We can turn on the lights in our homes from miles away, adjust our thermostats and watch through our video surveillance systems. Cars can drive autonomously without our intervention. This is a universe made up of almost 30 trillion sensors that record numerical values with a very high temporal frequency (one trillion is equal to ‘one’ followed by 18 ‘zeros’!). We also have digital meters for gas and power, capable of accurately recording how much we consume and suggesting behaviours to for more efficient sustainable use of energy. We wear fitness devices and smartwatches on our wrists, which record our physical activity, main vital parameters, eating habits, and the quality of our sleep, and provide us with useful suggestions to improve our physical condition. Smart objects that will help make our lives more and more comfortable.

From what we have said so far, it is clear that predictive value and applicative value help to generate great economic value, for businesses, for public administration, for citizens in general.

However, data in themselves are of no use if they are not automatically analysed by intelligent algorithms. In particular, machine learning algorithms in the field of artificial intelligence are applied to large volumes of data to recognise recurring regularities and to extract useful knowledge that makes it possible to predict future events with considerable accuracy. This is inductive logic, a bit like the learning mechanism of a child, to whom the mother points out a few examples of letters of the alphabet, enabling him in a short time to identify them independently and thus learn to read.

For example, algorithms are able to interpret the mood, the so-called ‘sentiment’, of text posts on social networks with 95-98% accuracy, which is higher than what a human reader could achieve. Similarly, algorithms are now able to perform automatic content and context recognition of analysed images with great precision.

Digital technologies and algorithms for analysing data represent the latest evolution of intellectual technologies and will help us live better. Suffice to think that throughout history, from the first prehistoric tools to the invention of writing, from the invention of printing to the conception of computers, intellectual technologies have been the driver behind human evolution. They have transformed us into what we are today, into what we know, and into our ways of thinking. We live in close symbiosis with intellectual technologies and this will be increasingly the case with artificial intelligence algorithms.

On the economic side, we observe that companies that are more mature in data analysis have a greater ability to compete and continue to strengthen compared companies that are less evolved and not as prompt in their adoption of digital innovation strategies. For years we have been used the term digital divide to refer to the gap between citizens with access to digital resources and those without. As part of the Big Data Analytics Observatory that we started up at Politecnico di Milano in 2008, last year we introduced the term Analytics Divide to indicate the gap that has been created and is unfortunately widening between companies that are virtuous in their use of big data and artificial intelligence and those that are less innovative, which will find it harder to get out of the swamp into which the virus has pushed us.

In order to progress as a data-driven company, it is however necessary to have adequate talent and skills, which can be obtained through the acquisition of new resources or the reskilling of resources already available in the company. With this in mind, at MIP-Politecnico di Milano we have launched several courses on Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Analytics, and Data Science, such as the international Master in Business Analytics & Big Data and the executive course in Data Science & Business Analytics.

Technology and innovation, on a human scale

Scientific progress, the availability of technical facilities, cross-fertilisation between different research communities and combined innovation are giving us an unstoppable progression of human capabilities. But how much, and more importantly, which innovation is really on a human scale?


Giovanni Miragliotta, Professor of Advanced Planning, Co-Director of the Industry 4.0 Observatory, Politecnico di Milano


Everywhere we look, as citizens and as researchers, we read about the “magnifiche sorti e progressive[1]” that, by means of new technologies, are changing our society and our lives. From the more familiar ones, such as broadband communication networks, to the more advanced, such as bioengineering, to those operating behind the scenes, such as cryptography, it all comes together to the point where it is almost difficult to realise the potential for change in the research and innovation system we have built up in developed countries. This potential is realised from time to time by some unexpected  discontinuities, such as the pandemic we are currently experiencing, which, by combining the various existing innovations, show us how the way we work, teach, plan and treat can be overturned in just a few months. A very powerful reflection in this sense, also and above all because it comes from a man of letters and not from a scientist, is the one recently published by Alessandro Baricco[2].

This occasion, which has shown us the extent and speed of possible change, can be used to elaborate on what innovation is at a human scale; it more important than ever to do so right now, in view of what is being developed in universities and laboratories all over the world, since the forthcoming technological breakthroughs could materialise a change, which many believe (and I am one of them) could be disruptive to the very core of our society.

If we consider western democratic states as the main scope, our society rests on a set of pillars, a mix of worldview ideology, morals and common sense, which form the glue. Some technological innovations (first and foremost bioengineering and artificial intelligence) are, so to speak, on a collision course with these pillars, and could lead to new societies, the extent to which they will be on a human scale is difficult to predict, at least as we currently interpret that scale.

Let’s us consider the central role that the work plays in the structure of society, even just focusing on its economic value and disregard the psychological aspects or that of personal fulfilment; for the first time in history we are beginning to glimpse a possible future in which not only we can no longer predict what our children’s jobs will be in 30 years’ time, but we are beginning to doubt that there may even be any jobs left. In an increasing number of specific fields of work (=Narrow AI), in fact, machines have already achieved superhuman abilities and, as you probably know, there is a huge debate about the balance between jobs created and lost. The analyses carried out in the Artificial Intelligence Observatory, at least for the next decade, seem to indicate a positive scenario[3], but if we extend the horizon of analysis, we cannot exclude a situation in which the demand for human labour will be much lower, made unprofitable or useless by the new skills of machines[4].  In the context of fragile monetary and fiscal equilibrium of nations, a significant alteration in the labour market could represent a strong element of instability.

Changing the technology of choice, the advent of biotechnology could in the near future bring about such major changes that the very foundations of society will be shaken: how will the concept of the family evolve if it were normal for human beings to live to be 120 years old, with youth lasting over 40 years?  What will happen when the wealthier classes, in addition to being able to afford better traditional health care, can also afford to take steps to improve their genetic set-up in a way that cannot be matched by most people? Will we, for the first time in history, observe a divergence in our species, with a (small) fraction of the population having more capable, durable and long-lasting “hardware” (body + brain) than the majority of the population?

These examples make us think about the extent of possible economic and social change, but they do not yet seem to affect the ideological foundations of the society we have built in the West since the American and French revolutions, namely the profound belief in the value of freedom and the uniqueness and individuality of the person. But what if, in principle, by observing all the interactions of a person with their environment and their fellow human beings, it were possible to predict exactly what their feelings and needs would be? What would happen if Google or Facebook or others, on the strength of the immense amount of data they collect about us, knew how to advise us on the right book, the right job, the right investment, the right wife, the right preventive surgery, much better than we would know how to do on our own, confused and lost in an endless number of important decisions to be taken dozens of times in our (very long) lives? Would we then still be “free”? And if there is any freedom left, should we make use of it, or would it not be more convenient to delegate our decisions to a “life advisor” technology that would achieve to us a much higher probability of success and happiness than we could do with our own hands?

This last scenario, envisaged by many thinkers, opens up a radical rethinking of the founding principles of our society, first and foremost the liberal principle, leading to outcomes that could range from a further loosening of existing points of reference (in the wake of Bauman’s liquidity) to its total opposite, a very rigid technocracy.

The point is always the same: it is not possible to make predictions of any kind and, after all, the little that needs to be known, of pure speculation on the future, has already been written. These reflections, on the contrary, bring us to a very great responsibility, that of remaining very vigilant over the changes, even the slight ones, that technological innovation is imprinting on our society.

A future awaits us which can only be on a human scale if we will care about building it.



Reading notes

This reflection arises, and can be further developed, by drawing on the insights of the following authors:

  • Yuval Harari: I recommend the whole trilogy on man’s past, future and present;
  • Mark Tegmar, “Life 3.0”, and the debate at the Future of life Institute;
  • Zygmunt Bauman, in particular his key text “Liquid Modernity”.



[1] Citation of the Italian romantic poet Giacomo Leopardi, “magnificent destiny and progressions”

[2] Alessandro Baricco, “Five years in one”, https://www.ilpost.it/2021/05/28/baricco-2025/

[3] See report Artificial Intelligence Observatory, “On your marks”, ed. 2019.

[4] Consider, for example, “A 3D printed car which is designed by AI”, www.thereviewstories.com/czinger-21c-ai-3d-printed-car/


Designing for the digital society: unveiling the opportunities embedded in digital technologies through Design Thinking

Nowadays, digital technologies are providing incredible options; we live in a world where technological opportunities are cascading over society at an unprecedented speed. Humans are central to understanding how the technology can be better aligned with end-user needs and their willingness to adopt it. Design Thinking is an approach that looks at value and change from the perspective of people


Claudio Dell’Era, Associate Professor of Design Strategy at School of Management, Politecnico di Milano
Stefano Magistretti, Assistant Professor of Innovation and Design Management at School of Management, Politecnico di Milano

We live in a digital society where digital technologies are all being used for work, monitoring health and habits, staying connected, seeking information and getting the news, shopping for groceries, travelling, managing finances and more. Digital technologies are widespread throughout the world, and their presence in our daily life is booming. In the last few decades, several different digital technologies have reshaped the way people live and the way companies develop new products and services. Nowadays, digital technologies are providing incredible options; we live in a world where technological opportunities are cascading over society at an unprecedented speed.

A world awash with technologies and information. But humans do not use digital technologies or data; they need products and services. Artificial Intelligence (AI), in particular, has the potential to transform our world for the better: it can improve healthcare, reduce energy consumption, make cars safer and enable farmers to use water and natural resources more efficiently. AI can be used to predict environmental and climate change, improve financial risk management and provides the tools to manufacture  products tailored to our needs with less waste. AI can also help to detect fraud and cybersecurity threats, and enables law enforcement agencies to fight crime more efficiently. AI can benefit the whole of society and the economy. It is a strategic technology that is now being developed and used at a rapid pace across the world.

Nevertheless, AI also brings new challenges for the future of work, and raises legal and ethical questions. To address these challenges and make the most of the opportunities which AI offers, the Commission published a European strategy in April 2018. The strategy places people at the centre of the development of AI — human-centric AI. According to the report “Tech for Good – Smoothing disruption, improving well-being” developed by McKinsey, the development and adoption of AI-driven solutions has the potential not only to raise productivity and GDP growth, but also to improve wellbeing more broadly, including through healthier living and longevity and more leisure.

Technology has for centuries both excited the human imagination and prompted fears about its effects. In this changing context, the challenge is to build AI solutions to improve and not damage wellbeing. Researchers and practitioners are acknowledging that this is a problem of design, which acts as a driver of innovation and change and which is able to keep humans at the centre when building solutions. Humans are central to understanding how the technology can be better aligned with end-user needs and their willingness to adopt it.

Design Thinking is an approach that looks at value and change from the perspective of people. Or, even better, from the perspective of what is meaningful to people. Similar to many other approaches, Design Thinking also combines three factors: (i) technologies, how things are made and their improved performance; (ii) people, how these things are valuable for customers; (iii) business, how organisations can profit from offering them.
The perspective embedded in Design Thinking makes it unique: Design Thinking starts with people. This approach allows leaders to look at value created for individuals and assume their perspective, conceiving innovation not primarily as a source of competitive advantage and profit, but as a means to generate value for end-users.

Design Thinking is usually characterised by three traits: a human-centred perspective, where innovators build empathy with users; the leverage of creativity as a driver of innovation (sometimes even in contrast to assets as knowledge, technology and competitive positioning); and an intense use of prototyping as a rapid and effective source of communication and learning among stakeholders.

Human centeredness in Design Thinking means that what drives the entire innovation process is the identification and satisfaction of user needs. The success of any innovation depends on simultaneously achieving user desirability, technology feasibility and financial viability, yet Design Thinking almost prescriptively instructs innovators to address desirability first.
By continuously involving end users in the iterative co-creation and testing of ideas and prototypes, design thinkers ensure that the outcomes of their innovation effort add value to the human experience and are meaningful and affordable. In so doing, Design Thinking overturns the traditional business perspective that is technology driven: companies first determine what is feasible for them to develop and then push their new products and services through marketing campaigns hoping that they address people’s search for value and meaning.

The need for a human-centred approach also stems from the wicked nature of the problems addressed in Design Thinking projects. Wicked problems are defined as a class of social system problems that are ill-formulated, where the information is confusing, and where many customers and decision-makers have conflicting values. These types of problems should be addressed with a human perspective to grasp their complexity, make sense of them and make them tractable.

Human centredness in Design Thinking is achieved through the innovator’s empathy with users. Empathy consists of perspective taking, namely the ability to adopt the perspective of another person or recognise their perspective as their truth, be open to various inputs, suspend judgement, recognise other people’s emotions and communicate by mirroring back.


Symplatform 2021: an international symposium on digital platforms


Over the last years, the relevance of digital-based business model increased significantly. AirBnb, Uber or BlaBlaCar showed the great potentialities of companies that aim to get together different groups of customers – like travelers and hosts – through the opportunities provided by digital technologies.

We are pleased to launch the second edition of Symplatform, a symposium on digital platforms that aims to get together both scholars and practitioners.

Symplatform is a joint project developed by Trinity College Dublin, Politecnico di Milano School of Management and Audencia Business School. 

The second edition will take place digitally through 4 sessions between May 17th and May 20th from 2 pm. To 3.30 pm (CET).

The symposium is going to be based on various formats: parallel sessions with academic papers, “Pitch your challenge” sessions led by practitioners and collaborative workshops to help the platform field to move forward.

Further information can be found at Symplatform.com.

A day at the Accenture Customer Innovation Network


In addition to traditional lessons, the International Part-time MBA training program includes in-company classes held at the most advanced and innovative companies. Thanks to this format, we have the extraordinary opportunity to get in touch directly with managers and executives of leading multinational companies and learn from their experience.

On Friday the 17th of May, we attended an interesting in-company class at the Accenture Customer Innovation Network, an interactive environment where it is possible to imagine, explore, discover and develop the frontier of new digital services.

Luigi Solbiati, Accenture’s Managing Director, welcomed us students, and – together with Alessandro Cisco, Technology Strategy Managing Director – introduced us to the innovative concepts of the platform economy and market dynamics. The platform economy is a new business model that uses technology to connect people, organizations and resources in an interactive ecosystem, in which incredible amounts of value can be created and exchanged.

Subsequently, Alessio Oriolo, Management Consultant, explained the role of innovation in global business and the relationship between innovation and competition.
Finally, we were able to understand how companies use the famous new design thinking approach, agile methods and data analytics, to drive innovation in projects and value for customers.

After the preliminary presentations, we had the opportunity – taking both the consultant’s and the client’s point of view – to explore the spaces of the new innovation center, where the great challenges awaiting companies are solved, and where current business models and the consumer experience are reinvented.

In the Connected Home, we were free to interact with an environment that reproduces a typical day in the life of a consumer. The smart mirror recognizes facial traits and gathers a series of information on our state of health, so as to enable the virtual assistant to elaborate ad hoc personal care suggestions.
The fridge is equipped with a digital wall that reminds you of which products to buy and suggests meals depending on the food it contains, while the oven, through a screen, provides cooking suggestions.
All the functionalities of the house are linked together and managed by artificial intelligence, with the scope to provide personalized services and satisfy our needs in advance.

In the Smart Boutique, we understood how the shopping experience is personalized around the consumer, through the systematic collection of information. Data and information processing of consumer information takes the lead role in the purchasing experience, administered by Customer Relationship Management systems.

The Envision Room is dedicated to the automotive sector and to the personalization of the treatment reserved for the customer when visiting a vehicle manufacturer’s website or a physical dealer.

In the White Room, we immersed ourselves in an experience in the world of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality. Some of us even had the chance to wear a headset and enjoy the experience of a virtual supermarket.
Finally, Alessandra Solazzi, Accenture’s Talent Acquisition Director, introduced us to the recruiting strategy, and the way in which Accenture connects talents to great innovation opportunities. If you think about it, this may also be a way for – why not? – being noticed by a potential employer. So my personal suggestion is to keep your resume constantly updated with the advanced tools offered by MIP and to be fully prepared for these events!




About the author
Andrea De Donatis

I am Andrea De Donatis, a student of the international part-time MBA at MIP Politecnico di Milano. I Graduated in energy engineering and I am currently working in technical sales for a leading multinational electronics company based in Milan.
I am very passionate about technology, IT and digital marketing. I strongly believe that disruptive innovation is vital to create new value.



Gabriela Galati: a manager in the art world

As I’m about to finish my MBA journey at MIP soon, I wanted to share an interview focused on the Italian cultural scene, where I would like to continue working after graduating. I would like to introduce Gabriela Galati, a very special friend and colleague who came to Italy from Argentina twelve years ago and is currently Director of the Milanese art gallery aA29 Project Room. We had the opportunity to discuss the role of the curator as a manager, the art market in Milan, as well as the impact of digital technologies on the commercialization of artworks.

What is the job of a curator?

The job of the curator varies, depending on where you work. In a contemporary art gallery, the director is usually the one who curates the shows. This means looking for artists for the gallery, as well as working with the artists who already collaborate with the gallery. Curating a solo show means accompanying the artist in the process, deciding which works will be featured and defining the central topic of the exhibition. For a group show, on the other hand, you pick the artists and the works that are most coherent with your idea. In smaller shows and commercial galleries, the independent or invited curator often acts more as an advisor or PR. Being a curator in a museum is very different, as you have to deal a bit more with bureaucracy. Exhibitions usually have bigger budgets and spaces and, in general, more research is involved. A curator in a museum is probably a scholar, who researches and works on a show for a year or even two, depending on the complexity of the exhibition. When you are bringing works from abroad you also deal with permits and shipping. You also write texts, curate catalogues and liaise with other institutions, as well as the press.

What does Milan mean to you?

Now it’s home for me. I really like living and working here and how things work. It’s a great place for managing a gallery and teaching as well. Even though it is a small city, a great share of the main cultural manifestations in Europe and around the world arrive here and it has evolved a lot in the last couple of years. There are many private institutions and patrons like Fondazione Prada and Hangar Bicocca bringing first class international art shows to Milan. However, the main complaint from the galleries since I’ve been here is the fact that there is no real Contemporary Art Museum in Milan. This means that there is no institutional commissioning for buying works of art from a museum, compared to other European capitals. Hopefully, this will change in the future.

Tell me about your work at aA29 Project Room and the role of this gallery in the Italian art scene?

This gallery is relatively new, having been open for only three years. Its role is to promote young and mid-career artists. This is a very good niche to avoid competing with large established galleries, to present young, emerging and experimental talents. Our roster of artists deals with different media and aesthetics. The central topic of their work is socially relevant issues like the environment, biocentric matters or antispecism, for example, according to which the gallery works. Most of our collectors are from the Italian market and some are quite young, actually. We also have medium-specific clients from the Americas who collect photography. Regarding our exhibitions, we are ending this summer season with an exhibition by the Italian artist, Matilde Sambo. In the fall we will have an exhibition by Kyle Thompson from the USA, in January Liu Yi from China and for spring 2020, Ivan Grubanov from Serbia.

What do you think has been the impact of social media and e-commerce on the art market?

Many small galleries that are struggling economically have decided to go virtual. I don’t think it is a bad model, depending on the price range for the commercialized artworks. Personally, I don´t look for artists on Instagram, but I have heard social media channels are becoming popular, especially for younger artists to promote and sell their work. For high price ranges, however, I don’t think it works, as you don’t buy expensive art online. In the visual art market, for example, what happened with music has never transpired. Platforms like Amazon and Yoox have tried selling art but for limited editions or low-priced works. Selling online has not even turned out well for Artsy, which showcases works of art from very important galleries. Nobody spends a million Euros to buy a work of art online unless they already know the work of an artist who is probably on the other side of the world. No-one who really knows how the contemporary art world works is going to put a tag with a price in the gallery or buy a piece of art with a price tag on Instagram. Most people need to see what they want to buy in real life, as they are making an important investment. Shopping for art in a physical space will still be a unique and relevant experience in the future.

Stay tuned for my next chapter, where I will tell you all about my Project Work experience.


About the author
Roberto Niño Betancourt

Roberto is a student of the International full time MBA. He is a Colombian filmmaker and new media artist based in Milan.
He has collaborated as a post producer for MTV Latin America, as well as many European production companies. He is very passionate about international cross-cultural collaborations, craftsmanship and the sustainable conservation of natural resources.