How B Schools Can Teach the Digital Business Perspective
By Gaurav Nagpal
We have observed that technology is becoming pervasive in all areas of life, and the pace of this digital push has increased further after the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic. Consequently, traditional companies have redefined business models to better meet consumer needs through digital interventions in their processes at all levels, and new digital companies have also emerged in recent decades, whose main strengths are intellectual capital, innovation and network. , rather than durable assets. However, the programs of B schools are mainly based on the principle that physical products are made using the physical infrastructure. Let us look briefly at how the advent of digital businesses signals the need to update course content in existing MBA programs.
From the business analytics course, the digitization of business processes has resulted in the accumulation of vast amounts of data in both structured and unstructured formats, making it imperative to teach students how to analyze these data sets in relevant context and generate ideas. for solid decision making. Also, students must learn how to deal with data pollution or data waste, which is the by-product of large-scale digitization.
Product management is another course that needs to be revisited with the dominance of digital products such as software or applications over conventional hardware products. Many products today are also a mixture of hard and soft elements, the management of which is quite different from the management of a pure hard product. Whether it’s an investment app, home rental app, or travel booking app, the product design and management elements are quite different from a hard and , therefore, important to teach students.
Additionally, technology management is an area that is missing from most MBA programs. Since today’s managers need to be able to appreciate the role of emerging technologies and the promise they hold for business improvement, business schools need to expose students to the basics of emerging technologies such as as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning. (ML), deep learning, fintech, Internet of Things (IoT), etc. Students must also learn to use technology wisely and conscientiously.
The Operations Management course also has the potential for realignment to be able to reflect the operational challenges of digital businesses. The production dynamics of digital products, such as software and applications, are very different from those of conventional products. Also, the concept of digital manufacturing and digital business processes should be well covered in the business school classroom.
Supply Chain Management is another course that can benefit from the digital makeover by covering digitized supply chain processes and the nuances of digital products, for example, knowing that capacity must be purchased in real time on clouds, and that supply chain managers need to be familiar with the architecture of the systems.
Entrepreneurship courses should also reflect the fact that digital businesses operate and evolve in a different way than conventional businesses. People management courses must also incorporate the nuances of work-from-home environments and the need to recruit a tech-savvy workforce that can at least appreciate technology in any role.
Let us then take an example drawn from managerial economics. The theory that a company cannot make supernormal profits for a long time does not apply to digital companies because digital products can be distributed instantly around the world without much transportation cost and it further generates cost savings of scale, allowing these companies to continue to grow.
Now let’s talk about marketing and related courses. Today’s marketer must not only leverage digital marketing to create and convert leads, but also act as a data scientist capable of generating consumer insights from digitized data and as a technological master able to appreciate the impact of evolution. technology on consumer decision making.
If one thinks of Finance subject courses, one would realize that the concept of fixed and variable costs has also lost its luster in the context of digital businesses that largely operate on a fixed cost structure with very few variable costs. Students should also learn how accounting processes will now shift from quarterly or monthly reporting to instant reporting through the use of predictive analytics and blockchain.
The scope of strategy courses should also be expanded to cover the conception, design and launch of digital products. For example, students should know how different platforms can derive synergies from each other and create customer value through collaboration.
A few of the possible new electives that are required in the program are Digital Transformation Strategies, Design Thinking, Mastering Digital Disruption, among others. Change management and dynamic decision making in the VUCA digital world should also be imbued by students.
The author is assistant professor at BITS Pilani Work Integrated Learning Programs
Also read: SBI Foundation partners with Khan Academy and launches UpSchool, a digital learning platform