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​Business NOT as usual

Published on: 07-Oct-2019

A great variety of technologies are constantly cropping up these days: The push of social media, the power of data analytics and the universe that is the Internet of Things, just to name a few. These emerging technologies have different functions and market penetration, but they all have wide-ranging implications for businesses. Being a university with a strong foundation in innovations, Nanyang Technological University is at the forefront of these technologies. 

"These technologies present new opportunities to optimise operational cost, improve customer engagement, and grow business revenue through product or service innovation," says Associate Professor Sia Siew Kien, the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies at Nanyang Business School.

"In some situations, technologies have the potential to disrupt old incumbents with new business model innovation and radically shift the competitive dynamics of an industry. Under such a scenario, the business which can innovate their business model would stand to gain immensely with the advantage," he adds.

These developments, which are unfolding at a rapid speed, pose a need for business professionals, especially the ones who are leading business units, to stay up to date with the latest technologies so that they can make the most of new technologies (eg, face recognition artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, forensic analytics) in their organisations. 

The need to reskill, upskill

With the pervasiveness of new technologies and rising customer expectations, doing nothing and staying stagnant is increasingly not an option. According to Prof Sia, it is crucial to develop an agile mindset and a culture of innovation.

Business professionals must keep abreast of developments because fundamental business assumptions have changed; yet at the same time, they have to know which guiding business principles remain critical. There is a need to accelerate the pace of innovation in organisations so that they can compete effectively with entrepreneurial tech startups. An example is how a tech startup like Ant Financial Services has shaken the financial industry in China. 

To develop such dexterity, it pays to invest in future-proofing one’s career, says Prof Sia.

While there are many modular online courses available, an EMBA (Executive MBA) serves a different purpose. It takes a more holistic approach towards professional development. Learning is not just about just-in-time content delivery, but it is immersive through case discussion, simulation, peer sharing, and real-life consulting projects. Deep learning is inherently a highly social process, not just in interacting with the professors, but also with an equally competent and ambitious cohort of peers from diverse backgrounds. Moreover, through leadership coaches, executives are also given the opportunities to reflect upon their personal journeys and aspirations. Many of them are already successful and they are asking the "what's next" questions about significance and impact. 

The future of management education

Responding to the question about whether EMBA would still be relevant in the digital age, Prof Sia noted, "The future of management will need to adapt to the future of work. Likewise, the delivery mode of management education will also change. In the digital age, an executive must not only be savvier digitally but also be more purposeful in developing his or her 'human' qualities that cannot be easily replaced by machines. Some of these qualities are strategic thinking, creativity and empathy. It is therefore crucial that he or she is plugged into a collective network of peers and resources to learn continuously, even after graduation. An EMBA is one vehicle that helps business executives get there, and hence, stay relevant for the future."

The EMBA programme at NTU is designed for senior business executives – with more than 10 years of work experience – who want to expand their strategic thinking and leadership skills, and at the same time, deepen their understanding on cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain. It follows an intensive curriculum structure where classes are divided into five segments, each running for approximately two weeks. 

Data analytics is now included as a core management module. The other EMBA modules are organised along three key themes on developing global leadership, understanding dynamic Asia and leveraging disruptive technologies. For example, a module on Future Technologies is jointly taught by professors from both the business school and the computer engineering school. It is intended to showcase some of the best technologies in NTU to the EMBA participants. Another module on Digital Transformation seeks to unpack the notion of Enterprise 4.0 and discusses how incumbents can embark on their transformation journeys. 
Prof Sia says: "Tapping on the strong technological research and industry ecosystems of NTU, we help to equip the participants to steer the challenging business landscape disrupted by emerging technologies, better preparing them to become business leaders of tomorrow."

The Nanyang Business School's EMBA programme has two upcoming intakes in 2020, in January 2020 and April 2020. Find out more about what the programme has to offer and hear the experience of alumni members at the Nanyang EMBA Perspectives Thought Leadership Series at Pan Pacific Hotel on Oct 18.

Source: The Business Times, 7 October 2019

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