Soumitra Dutta explains why business schools must take the lead in creating managers who can harness the power of business and technology to improve the world and how one school is aiming to do just that.
In July 2013 the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University took a bold step, announcing a new MBA programme that would stand at the intersection of business and technology in a way not done before. It would develop individuals who are more than MBA graduates and savvy business people—but rather leaders for the digital economy.
The digital revolution is changing everything about the way business is conducted today. It is changing existing companies, accelerating entrepreneurship and innovation within them, spawning new enterprises, bringing with it tremendous opportunities and equally stout challenges.
Technology—specifically information and communication technology—drives the digital revolution in business in several key ways.
It has made business much faster than ever before. Computer processing and the internet have created streamlined operations, instant communications and agile responsiveness.
The internet has also opened unprecedented collaboration among workers and companies across the globe. The result is greater productivity and reduced costs to companies through outsourcing, video conferencing and other technology-enabled communications.
Of particular interest are the ways in which technology encourages businesses and individuals to innovate. As technology advances, prices drop and the technological tools used to create innovative solutions become more accessible to everyone. For example, when an employee sees a problem in delivering value to customers, he or she can readily innovate a solution by utilising existing technological tools—and at relatively low cost.
The pace of business, hyper-connectedness to talent and markets, the power for individuals and companies to rapidly innovate all call for a new business professional, a manager who deeply understands the role of technology in commerce and who can work collaboratively with engineers and technology specialists. It also calls for a new technologist—one who understands business well enough to see the path from prototype to market.
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