MBA Programs Need To Graduate To The Digital Age

The ever-popular MBA degree is like the final sprint of a race most business students strive towards. Even today, an MBA degree holds a lot of weight in the recruiting process for all kinds of companies and also indicates a significant increase in salary brackets. So when companies complain that the MBA graduates they hire require another level of training because what they’ve learnt in business school doesn’t necessarily prepare for hands-on innovations and strategizing in today’s technology-driven, fast-paced meta-universe, there’s a gap somewhere. Here are some ways MBA programs can raise the bar for themselves in a fast-evolving world.  

Corporate financing: With corporate financing, a company understands its capacity and limits, with the help of reviewing physical assets such as land, buildings, warehouses, factories, machines and inventory, and available patents. Once they’ve ascertained what they have, they can gauge the level of risk they can undertake and how much of a return on investment they can expect. While this has been the way for so many years, it is important to modify this model by adding something called ‘soft assets’, which refer to brands, information technology, pioneering benefits, talent and competitive strategizing. This is an essential consideration class but gets overlooked because it isn’t included in financial calculations. Another critical avenue to prioritize is asset pricing.

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Marketing models: Marketing is one of the foundations of product sales in the most prominent companies worldwide. Knowing the four P’s (Product, Placement, Pricing and Promotions) is a given when delving into the world of marketing. But now that we are in the digital age, products are sold instantly over the internet, removing the need for a specific selling location and cutting down the duration of the ‘sell’ considerably. So many services like informational services are instantly accessible to users, sometimes for free. Many aren’t even promoted. So the 4 P Model of marketing ends up being redundant. The new skills required to survive this cutthroat competition are information technology, data sciences, and econometrics. Instead of traditional advertising, we need to focus on social media marketing, influencers, and trends. 

Managing production and operations: Traditionally, production and operations management meant focussing on the efficient use of labour and machinery to produce physical goods, optimizing raw materials, steady inventory planning, and the smooth running of the entire operation from start to finish. But since the line of production has moved onto the internet, many physical processes are now obsolete. So the line of thinking has to move online too. Services like Google Searches, Facebook Posting, Sending Tweets, or OTT Subscriptions do not require the physical operations that companies traditionally relied upon. So companies now focus on hiring minds that are well-versed in back-end data, software and application alignment, and technology-driven sales.

HR: The industrial era was easily identifiable with its hierarchies and discounting of labour as a distinguishable entity in production. Nowadays, what was known as ‘labour’ is considered ‘talent’, with their ingenuity, ideas, and ability to add value to the process of creation. Each individual is distinct, and each picture is treated with importance. To address the challenge of talent rising to the level of partnership versus just being hired, help can be incorporated into the new MBA programs.

Accounting: The accounting department remains challenging in counting everything that matters, leaving that which doesn’t, and finding a proper balance between everything. The most effective form of wealth is knowledge, so companies are making future investments in expertise and the rich people in it. This is considered a significant expense for the company and not just another step up the ladder. Companies want to expand on quality rather than quantity. So to help financial accounting meet the digital age, MBA programs need to include the use of blockchains, for instance, in their training programs.

For an MBA degree to still hold the value it has held in the past generations, like everything else, it must evolve to another level to remain relevant. The digital age is moving at lightning speed, and for a recruit to keep up with companies that hire them, upgraded MBA programs will certainly help cut costs on employee training.

Reference: From “MBA Programs Need an Upgrade for the Digital Era | Vijay Govindarajan & Anup Srivastava, Harvard Business Review | 11 November, 2021

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