Columbia Business School announced two major advances for its recently created Digital Future Initiative, a think tank focused on the global transformation to a digital economy. Columbia Business School launched four new research labs that will bring together leading faculty and practitioners to help organizations, governments, and communities optimize and accelerate the technological advances of the future. Columbia has also named an 11-member advisory board of global business leaders who will guide the initiative.

The four new research labs will be led by Columbia Business School faculty and supported by a comprehensive cross-practice team of research scientists, industry fellows, and student researchers. The labs will also leverage Columbia Business School’s longstanding interdisciplinary partnerships across Columbia University, drawing on expertise in engineering, law, policy, and medicine to amplify the labs and advance ambitious projects. They include:

  • The Briger Family Digital Finance Lab, led by William von Mueffling Professor of Business Ciamac Moallemi, will explore the world of decentralized finance (DeFi), which is changing the core functions of financial markets with novel mechanisms such as automated market makers and collateralized lending pools. Projects will focus on the fundamental economics of blockchains, decentralized market microstructure, and mechanisms for decentralized organization and governance.
  • The Algorithmic Economy Lab, headed by Vikram S. Pandit Professor of Business Omar Besbes, will further the study of data-driven algorithmic decision-making. From personal finance or credit scores to supply chains and employment screening, advanced analytic capabilities are driving important decisions and outcomes in the private and public domains. Projects will explore the various facets of algorithmic decision-making, from the real-world impact they can drive, to the questions of transparency, privacy and fairness that these processes invite.
  • The Humans in the Digital Economy Lab, which will be run by James P. Gorman Professor of Business Stephan Meier, will bring together experts from across fields/disciplines to explore how technology and digitalization affect and interact with humans in organizations. Projects will center on aspects of work, such as automation across industries, the composition of the workforce, and the reimagined workplace.
  • The Media and Technology Program, led by Carson Family Professor of Business Miklos Sarvary and Michael T. Fries Professor of Professional Practice Jonathan Knee, recognizes the fundamental overlap between the evolution of media and entertainment and the technological breakthroughs that continue to shape it. The lab will focus on funding and disseminating advanced research on how technology has transformed the media sector and how new challenges associated with this transformation can be addressed. The program also puts a major emphasis on developing courses and teaching material for the educational programs at CBS.

“Columbia Business School will lead the next technological transformation of business through the curriculum and research of the Digital Future Initiative and its component labs,” said Costis Maglaras, Dean and David and Lyn Silfen Professor of Business at Columbia Business School. “As the digital economy continues to expand – with new products, business practices, and careers in Big Data, digital finance, and algorithmic decision-making – our labs will guide the way with research on technology, ethics, and management.”

In addition, Columbia Business School announced that 11 global business leaders from across industries will serve on the newly formed Digital Future Initiative Advisory Board, bringing integral private sector insight to ensure that students and other business leaders are prepared for an evolving technological landscape.

  • Robert “Bob” Bakish ’89, President and CEO, Paramount Global
  • Heather Bellini ’97, CFO, Deep Instinct
  • Peter Briger, Principal and Co-CEO, Fortress
  • Tim Campos ’11, Vice President and CIO, Apple
  • Mark Dzialga ’90, Managing Partner, Brighton Park Capital
  • Robert “Bob” Hammer ’67, Venture Partner, Lytical Partners
  • Bar Ifrach ’12, Senior Director, Head of Marketplace, Applied Science, and Data Science, Uber Freight
  • Golnar Khosrowshahi ’97, Founder and CEO, Reservoir Media Management
  • Brian Olsavsky, CFO, Amazon
  • Sam Palmisano, Chairman, Center for Global Enterprise
  • Jake Reynolds ’97, General Partner, TCV

The Digital Future Initiative builds on Dean Costis Maglaras’ vision to transform business research and education for the challenges of tomorrow. Over the last several years, Columbia Business School has extended its curriculum – almost half of the electives that MBA students take today were created in the last five years – to help the next generation of business leaders navigate and shape the future of business. The Digital Future Initiative is made possible by a transformational gift from alumnus Jake Reynolds ’97 and additional leadership support from Devon ’99 and Pete Briger.