Innovating for success in business education

How should Business Schools harness learnings from the Covid-19 pandemic and position themselves in a digital landscape?

The world of business education looks very different to the way it looked at the beginning of the pandemic, with remote learning becoming a new normal.

Just like businesses, educational institutions have had to adapt in order to comply with lockdown restrictions, while maintaining a quality service. Although this has been challenging, Covid-19 has created opportunities for digital innovations within Business Schools and wider education.

Digital technology has played a vital role for faculty and students alike. Platforms such as Zoom and Teams have replaced the traditional classroom, and the tech industry has been quick to come up with solutions. From startups to multinationals, these companies are working to improve the world of online learning, developing education technology at a rapid pace. 

This gives Business Schools an opportunity to reflect on how innovations will affect the day-to-day delivery of teaching going into the future. It falls on Schools to continue to be flexible and to adapt to the post-Covid-19 world, taking the valuable skills and lessons learned and developing them further.

Adapting to the digital landscape

In a session at the AMBA & BGA Business School Summit 2022, a panel of experts pondered the future of Business Schools in the digital landscape, and discussed how leading Schools should position themselves in a changing environment.

Kicking off the conversation, Simone Hammer, Head of Marketing for Learning Experiences at Barco, commented that although ‘lots of organisations tried to “run faster” during the pandemic’ others took the opportunity ‘to step back and analyse, without getting exhausted. In saying that, innovation and creativity come out of urgency’, she pointed out.

Tiffany Monaco, Global Business Development and Innovation Leader at IKEA Retail (Ingka Group) highlighted the move to partnership working. ‘The world changed very quickly last year, but if we want to change the way we work by 2030, we need to take action now,’ she said. ‘This pandemic has also sparked a lot of collaboration. Boredom demands creativity, so in the past two years, I’ve had more collaboration and more creativity with my colleagues.’

Meanwhile, Miika Makitalo CEO of HappyOrNot, explained that, in his opinion, the pandemic has revolutionised the behaviours of consumers. ‘The pandemic gave us the opportunity to stop asking “what is the winning strategy?” We’ve been building a clear focus on what we’ve been doing and asking how we can add more value,’ Makitalo added.

‘By combining data and partnering with other organisations, we’ve explored things we’ve never experienced before. We had more time to think, more time to focus and more time to collaborate. In the marketplace, the ones that are innovating are winning.’

But Makitalo stressed that ‘there is great value in failure. Success is a terrible teacher. We have always had an upward trajectory of profit, which started to plateau, so we began to shift our way of thinking and boost innovation. I would say there’s always room for improvement in terms of how organisations approach failure, but having psychological safety and empowering people to be humble is really key. That mitigates risk. 

‘If you’re afraid to embrace your failure, you’re more inclined to hide it and this leads to a snowball effect. Instead leaders can create a culture of accountability; embracing failure; and moving on.’

Hammer advocates asking for help and nurturing a culture of trust. ‘Looking out for collaboration – next to failure – is really important’, she said. 

Maria Luciana Axente, Responsible AI & AI for Good Lead at PwC, concluded: ‘Finally something has happened that we’ve been predicting for a long time. For years, we’ve been preaching to our clients that they will have to digitise. Before the pandemic organisations could cover their lack of digitisation with people skills, but now there is a huge opportunity to develop digital infrastructure. 

‘In the uncertainty that will follow the pandemic we have an opportunity to optimise our processes. Digitisation can replace repetition and empower innovation. No innovation can be realised without infrastructure, and this allows us to make a sustained and profound impact.’ 

Chair
Simone Hammer, Head of Marketing, Learning Experiences, Barco

Panellists
Maria Luciana Axente, Responsible AI & AI for Good Lead, PwC
Tiffany Monaco, Global Business Development and Innovation Leader, IKEA Retail (Ingka Group)
Miika Makitalo CEO, HappyOrNot

This article is adapted from one which originally appeared in Ambition – the magazine of the Association of MBAs.

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