About Us

We examine one of the most pressing questions of our time: How do we thrive in a period of profound digital transformation?

The MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) is a team of visionary, internationally recognized thought leaders and researchers examining how people and businesses work, interact, and will ultimately prosper in a time of rapid digital transformation. 

Technology advances quickly, yet organizations and skills tend to move at a slower pace. In the coming decades, the divide between swiftly evolving technology and the slower pace of human development will grow wider as exponential improvements in artificial intelligence, robotics, networks, analytics, and digitization affect more and more of the economy and society. 

Inventing effective organizations and institutions suited for the digital economy is the grand challenge of our time, and for MIT in particular. Our research helps companies adapt to new ways of doing business in the digital economy. It helps NGOs and other organizations understand how the digital transformation is affecting society and everyday life. And it helps people become more productive and thrive in a time of great and uncertain change.

The IDE is part of the MIT Sloan School of Management. With its core strengths in technology and innovation, no institution is better equipped to examine the digital economy. No other initiative or center in the world is exploring the effects of the digital economy with the same determination, focus, perspective or purpose as the IDE.  We are also closely aligned with MIT’s Innovation Initiative, working together to enable inclusive innovation.

Our team is led by MIT Sloan’s Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, who have co-authored several highly respected publications detailing the interaction of digital technology and employment. These include Race Against the Machine and The Second Machine Age.

The IDE conducts five types of activities focused on the digital economy:

The IDE conducts groundbreaking research performed by world-class thought leaders, and in collaboration with our stakeholders.

The IDE hosts conferences, roundtables, Jeffersonian dinners, and other events throughout the year that assemble thought leaders to discuss, debate, and take informed action on issues related to the digital economy.  

The IDE offers two distinct learning opportunities: an Action Learning course on analytics (A-Lab) for MIT graduate students and digitally delivered Executive Education programs.

This year marks our first-ever challenge event, the MIT IDE Inclusive Innovation Competition (IIC).  We identify and celebrate organizations that are inventing a more sustainable, productive, and inclusive future for all. The IIC grants $1 million in prizes to organizations that strive on behalf of working people at the middle and base of our economy.

The IDE invites bright minds to spend a day, a week, a semester, or a year with our research teams to collaborate on research, publications, and events.

Cutting-edge research, singular focus

The IDE is singularly focused on examining the pressing issues posed by the digital economy. We conduct groundbreaking research — often in partnership with business, government, and other institutions — in four key areas: 

  • Productivity, employment, and inequality
  • Big data and information privacy
  • New digital business models
  • Social analytics and digital experimentation

Support the IDE

The IDE can only achieve its goals through the generous support of our stakeholders, including corporations, foundations, and individuals.

If you would like to support the IDE, please contact David Verrill (T 617-452-3216, E dverrill@mit.edu).
Learn more about supporting the IDE