A degree in MBA is the predominant choice among the youth of today. With business schools mushrooming in every corner of the land, there is quite a buzz about the popular course of study. From engineering freshers to experienced professionals, it is the most coveted degree to make one’s mark in the world. However, the current business sphere is far from being stable. With political shifts, technological advancements, industrial innovations flocking the market, one word that truly describes the scenario is uncertainty. Reshaping academia according to the needs of the current Industry 4.0 era is thus critical to ensure that individuals are prepared for the complexities in the future of business.
Historically, MBA schools focussed on teaching students the fundamentals and core concepts of business education in a theoretical manner. Putting that knowledge to test was, however, left to be learnt while on the job. With rapid technological advancement in the machine first era, the two aspects of learning are being blended. Not only are students being taught course material through real-life examples and case studies, but are also being exposed to hands-on experience. By putting the theoretical understanding of fundamentals to test and providing accurate guidance and feedback for improvement, business schools are accelerating their learning and growth trajectory to meet the current day demands, within the campus itself.
As there is tremendous potential in the digital space, business schools are using virtual reality as well as augmented reality to give students the experience of a virtual field case study. They are being presented with innovative scenarios such as one that requires them to take the accurate business decisions for the market based on their understanding of the economy of a particular country. Also, with the growing popularity of digital learning, online MBA courses are becoming popular to improve experiences. Students are getting exposure to industry experts as well as peers on a collaborative platform. Through debate and discussion under expert guidance, they are able to learn at par with the standards of the industry.
Bringing Business to School
MBA schools are bringing companies, students, and faculty to the same platform in order to bridge the gap between academia and industry. The global network presents students of business education programs the opportunity to interact, learn, understand the diversity in the nature of problems and prepare accordingly. They can take up courses in business schools all around the world and have their credits transferred. They can also get access to multiple degrees. Students can embed themselves in working for the companies listed on the platform. From supply chain management to operations, marketing, digital e-commerce, and even revenue management, students get hands-on experience in dealing with real-life situations, working in teams as well as managing and leading the business.
Prioritizing Soft Skills
The nature of hiring is undergoing a change. Companies, irrespective of their domain, are looking for talent beyond the fundamental knowledge of business education. Today as the content is readily available and accessible; the soft skills are being focussed on. The emphasis is shifting towards understanding how individuals deal with ambiguous or complex situations, how he form teams, how he collaborates and works with them across geographies. Honesty, fairness, as well as awareness, are being tested. In simple words, they are looking for people who can handle the technological changes and advances and not be overwhelmed by them. Thus preparing oneself accordingly helps in maximizing the ROI but also ensures that students develop the mindset and skill set to make it through the fast evolving world not just in the near future by even ten years later.
Learning never stops, it is a lifelong process. Thinking a two-year course in business management prepares oneself for the rest of their life is a myth. As changes are transforming the market, it is imperative that individual pause to update and sharpen their skills. To address this critical issue, some business schools around the world are opting for lifelong partnerships with their students. By presenting them with open loop universities or tuition-free access to content, MBA schools are looking to engage students and are encouraging them to come back again and again to reboot themselves.
I believe that equipping students with the necessary skill set that adequately prepares them to emerge as future breakthrough innovators requires a different approach in the changing times. Adapting theories to specific contexts or problems and focussing on strengthening critical, innovative and integrative thinking as well as acquiring knowledge of organizational realities and teamwork is pivotal. Thus, by mixing the worlds of theory and experiential learning and presenting students with an exposure to a business model inside the business school, educational institutes are moulding and reshaping business management education and making it fit for the Machine First Era.