A Case for a Relook

The need of the hour is de­sign­ing a cur­ricu­lum for stu­dents op­er­at­ing in in­dus­try 4.0.

Business Today - - THE BUZZ - Col­umn by Atish Chat­topad­hyay The writer is Di­rec­tor, IFIM Busi­ness School

AND THIS IS MY STORY TOO. A stu­dent in a dorm room, con­nect­ing one com­mu­nity at a time, and keep­ing at it un­til one day we can con­nect the whole world, said Face­book Co-founder Mark Zucker­berg who dropped out of Har­vard. Dell founder and CEO, Michael Dell, man­aged to con­vince his par­ents and dropped out of the Univer­sity of Texas, Austin, to pur­sue his busi­ness ideas. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates also dropped out to start their iconic com­pa­nies. All these sto­ries have some com­mon fac­tors – a pow­er­ful vi­sion, strong em­pa­thy to bring a change in some as­pects of hu­man life and the spirit of in­no­va­tion that leads to so­lu­tions with huge im­pact. The B-school agenda must mull over this – what is more im­por­tant in life, get­ting into a school or grad­u­at­ing from it? Are we bring­ing value to B-school stu­dents? A very se­nior of­fi­cial from GMAC told me sev­eral com­pa­nies of­ten ex­plored whether they should re­cruit based on GMAT scores alone. The win­ning B-schools of to­mor­row must sen­si­tise their stu­dents to the chal­lenges in life and so­ci­ety, and in­spire them to come up with in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions to bring about an ex­po­nen­tial trans­for­ma­tion over the tra­di­tional way of think­ing and do­ing. Maybe a drone-driven sup­ply chain or a driver­less au­tonomous ve­hi­cle run on so­lar en­ergy. To­day’s jobs are no longer lin­ear!

While com­par­ing the top 10 global com­pa­nies in terms of mar­ket cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion over the last one decade, one would see the en­try of new dig­i­tal com­pa­nies (Google, Apple, Ama­zon, Face­book) into this elite league. They have grown ex­po­nen­tially on a plat­form mo­men­tum that re­de­fines the dy­nam­ics of com­pe­ti­tion, from com­pe­ti­tion be­tween two com­pa­nies to com­pe­ti­tion be­tween their re­spec­tive ecosys­tems.

B-schools are fac­ing the dan­ger of be­ing left out in such Alibaba mo­ments. The World Eco­nomic Fo­rum, in its re­cent re­port on The Fu­ture of Jobs, states, “…the fourth in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion, which in­cludes de­vel­op­ments in pre­vi­ously dis­jointed fields such as AI and ma­chine learn­ing, robotics, nan­otech­nol­ogy, 3D print­ing, and ge­net­ics and biotech­nol­ogy, will cause wide­spread dis­rup­tion not only to busi­ness mod­els but also to la­bor mar­kets over the next five years, with enor­mous change pre­dicted in the skill sets needed to thrive in the new land­scape.”

NASSCOM has also listed a set of new tech­nol­ogy skills and job roles on a sim­i­lar line. It means each ser­vice and job will need a new skill set every four­five years and new tech­nol­ogy and busi­ness rules will force a stu­dent to change ca­reer five-six times in 30 years. Job losses will hap­pen. Au­to­ma­tion will hap­pen. The need of the hour is de­sign­ing a cur­ricu­lum for stu­dents op­er­at­ing in in­dus­try 4.0.

The fo­cus must shift from an at­trac­tive pay pack­age for a con­ven­tional op­er­a­tions man­age­ment role to a role where one can con­trib­ute to a busi­ness ecosys­tem, chart­ing out in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions to busi­ness prob­lems. Go­ing for­ward, an MBA stu­dent will look at a busi­ness ed­u­ca­tion that pre­pares him to un­der­stand a prob­lem, anal­yse as­so­ci­ated data and build an al­go­rithm-driven model to find an in­no­va­tive so­lu­tion, re­sult­ing in a high-im­pact out­come.

Re­cently, I had mul­ti­ple in­ter­ac­tions with top B-school deans and di­rec­tors in the US and Europe and gained in­ter­est­ing in­sights on cur­ricu­lum re­boot and how they fore­see the shape of busi­ness ed­u­ca­tion go­ing for­ward. An in­ter­est­ing in­sight that struck me is that as­pi­rants world­wide are in­creas­ingly giv­ing more value to glob­ally ac­cepted ac­cred­i­ta­tions like AACSB or EQUIS com­pared to the job op­por­tu­ni­ties on grad­u­a­tion. Is this an out­come of the chang­ing na­ture of ca­reers? Is pro­fes­sional suc­cess in­creas­ingly get­ting in­te­grated with the abil­ity to keep pace with global trends? Both busi­ness schools and as­pi­rants need to un­der­stand this re­al­ity and pre­pare them­selves for new chal­lenges. Even the lead­ing schools of our times will cease to be rel­e­vant if they do not gear up to ad­dress this new phe­nom­e­non.

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