B-Schools Embrace Digital Tech

Three business schools launch programs to help businesses better understand, employ, and keep up with the latest digital innovations.

As advances in technology come fast and furious, business schools are quickly launching efforts to help both themselves and businesses keep up with the pace of change. Three business schools have recently announced such just-in-time programs, which aim to expand each school’s digital curriculum and partnerships: 

  • The rise of emerging technologies such as data analytics, artificial intelligence, robotics, machine learning, and the Internet of Things has inspired a partnership between IMD Business School of Lausanne, Switzerland, and École Polytechnic Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) to establish TransformTECH, a four-day experiential program for mid- to senior-level managers. 

  • Scheduled to begin January 2018, TransformTECH will ask participants to come to the program with business challenges they’re facing. They will visit different EPFL laboratories to learn more about the possibilities of new technologies, before creating prototype business solutions for products, services, operations, or the customer experience. After the program has ended, they can test their prototypes for viability within their organizations, as they continue to receive feedback from EPFL and IMD faculty.

    This year, IMD also will launch its Digital Business Acceleration Series, a selection of two-and-a-half-day programs held throughout the year. Focused on helping senior managers improve their digital skills, these programs include an introduction to disruptive technologies called Digital Bootcamp, as well as sessions dedicated to digital strategy, execution, and leadership. Next year, the school will offer similar courses on digital analytics and finance. 

    The series is designed for those completely new to the technologies under discussion, as well as those who are experienced but would like to see their challenges and potential solutions with fresh eyes, explains Misiek Piskorski, professor of strategy and innovation and director of the series. “These courses are meant to take executives on a learning journey through the digital landscape,” he says. 

  • Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in Bloomington, Indiana, is collaborating with Microsoft to deliver a new dual-certificate program in cloud-based analytics. The yearlong, 12-credit-hour certificate program uses the Microsoft Professional Program’s curriculum for data science now available via the edX MOOC platform. 

  • In the program, students will learn to use cloud-based tools such as  Microsoft Azure, Apache Hadoop, and R. Upon completing the program, students will receive certificates from the Kelley School and be prepared to complete the Microsoft Professional Program's data science track. 

    Kelley School students will have the option of transferring credits to Kelley’s online education platform Kelley Direct, as well as other online master’s degrees in business analytics and IT management. 

  • Seven professors in the technology operations and innovation management division at Babson College in Babson Park, Massachusetts, launched what they call the Digital Experience Initiative (dXi) earlier this year. Through dXi, the team will focus on topics related to digital innovation, such as the impact of digital technology on team dynamics, as well as emerging technologies such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and virtual reality. 

The initiative’s founding members include Jennifer Bailey, Sinan Erzurumlu, Sebastian Fixson, Steven Gordon, Bala Iyer, Ruban Mancha, and Victor Seidel. “We created dXi as a transdisciplinary initiative to research digital technologies and their impact on business and society,” says Mancha, assistant professor of information systems. “Our goal is to explore how startups and organizations embrace digital technologies, the influence these technologies have on innovation and strategy, and the social challenges and opportunities they generate.” 

The professors also will promote experimentation with digital technologies, as well as digital entrepreneurship. They have partnered with several digital startups, providing them with prototyping equipment and mentorship. Other dXi activities include sponsoring a recent hackathon, where students experimented with wearable technology, and creating the Babson’s Women in Technology Fellows program. The first three WIT Fellows, chosen in March, will work with faculty and industry partners to design new initiatives to support women in technology at Babson. 

To learn about TransformTECH,  visit www.imd.org/tt/technology-business-transformation. For more  about dXi, follow @Babsondxi on Twitter. Those interested in partnering with dXi can email [email protected].

This article originally appeared in BizEd's September/October 2017 print issue. If you have comments or feedback on its content, please contact us at [email protected].