If e-business had an oracle, Erik Brynjolfsson would be the anointed. Companies from Dell Computer to General Motors look to the economist and his team of researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology for answers on how to reap big productivity payoffs by combining e-business technology with organization changes. In 1998, he even got his own research outpost, the MIT Center for eBusiness, which is backed by 19 companies.
Brynjolfsson, 41, earned his reputation as an expert on tech's productivity boost by sifting through data from 800 companies. In the past 10 years, he has published groundbreaking research, often working closely with Wharton School economist Lorin Hitt. A key finding: Corporations can log productivity gains of 30% or more in a single year through smart use of technology. Who says economics is a dismal science?