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  • Writer's pictureThothathri Raman

Business schools of future

How do you think visualise business education of the future when the businesses themselves are transforming at breakneck speed with tectonic changes taking place in technology and business processes?

Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX famously said the generational shift is swift with the time period dropping from 30 years to five years as of now. The domain knowledge you have could last for just about five years and as such the future managers in industry will have to continuously update their knowledge on a mindboggling timescale. This means opportunity for the business schools as almost their entire alumni network could be expected to hark back to the campuses in quick time provided the campuses have to offer fresh knowledge matching with that is happening on the ground.

The future business schools need to keep continuous learning in mind and also their relationship with industry should become ever stronger so that the offering they may have for regular MBAs and also those who return to refill their knowledge gap is relevant.

All the top rated business schools in business are keenly aware of this challenge and as such are willing and are able to offer courses that reflect the changing ways of business and the requirement students enrolling both from undergraduate streams and also from industry.

Executive MBA may become a stronger offering at the business schools of the future rather than regular one or two year MBA programme as the learning form industry becomes much easier when the cohort is form industry and not from campuses which typically teach stuff that is quite dated.

Faculty need to learn on their job which is not possible in the casual setting of the campuses without them having any recourse to taking up short term assignment or consultancy options with the industry. The best way forward is to launch stronger executive MBA progammes where the students themselves would become teachers and the faculty become facilitators which is the real role they should be playing in any business school campuses of present or future.

will there be new form of MBA? Are the present options available for in terms of the course content or pedagogy sufficient to cater to the changing needs of the industry.?

The answer to this question is not very complex because MBA itself is not a skill based course or domain specific one. MBA is supposed to build an attitude and personality and a fair understanding of the challenges in the industry. The courses are structed in such a way the framework of understanding any business is already there. Marketing, finance, HR, Organisational Business, Strategy, Business Economics and other major heads along with sub- domain knowledge is already built into the MBA system which simply needs to be tweaked to reflect the changing industry needs without having to change any thing drastically.

Of course the content under each of the different heads need to be different and reflective of the outside challenge. For example the sales and marketing courses have become Digital Marketing courses where e-commerce challenges are the grist of the new MBA curriculum.

What are the challenges for the new business? Apart from the sea change in technology with the adoption of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning and the use of cloud based computing and analytics, all other areas of the business which is taught in a typical MBA classroom has changed fundamentally. For example, what is the market for the new products today? What is the market segmentation, product pricing, product promotion, distribution supply chain? Almost all these have changed with ecommerce where the market segmentation is decided by the quality of the product and its actual use rather than the brands, the glitzy advertisement based demand push. The consumer rather than the sales person is the one who decides which product would sell and which wont. Likewise, the understanding of what is finance is changing with block chain technologies and payment banks. The entire banking and credit card based sales is under threat with the blockchain based crypto currency backed by digital payment gateways having made decisive inroads.

The bottom line is simple, the future MBA programme would hinge on the understanding of the faculty and the students about the changing business landscape and the learning from the industry which needs to be constant. The future MBA would decisively shift from classroom mode to online mode for starters and then from one or two years to life long MBA mode. The changes are hard to make as the faculty need to be retrained or replaced completely which is the biggest challenge of the MBA school today and the biggest opportunity for the future.

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