Are Business Schools Prepared for The Rise of The Robots?

Discover why humans are becoming more of a necessity, not less of one

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to intelligence displayed by machines, and is revolutionizing the way we conduct business. In addition, machine learning is an application of AI that refers to machines being able to learn and improve with experience, without being programmed to do so. This is the future of business, the future of society.

Business schools, with good reason, are keen to get in on the act. As the nurturers of tomorrow’s leaders, educators have to move quickly to help students catch up to rapidly-evolving technology and respond to employer needs.

“I think we have the opportunity to make huge inroads into helping to cure diseases, drug delivery that doesn’t cause side effects, cars that are autonomous,” says Nigel Toon, CEO of Graphcore, Ltd., speaking at the annual Goldman Sachs Research Innovation Symposium. “We’re just really at the very beginning of this whole journey.”

Certainly, the possibilities of applying this technology are endless. One of the expectations is that it will innovate customer relationship management (CRM). In fact, Salesforce recently reported the results of a report it commissioned from International Data Corporation (IDC).

AI related to CRM activities will boost global business revenue from the beginning of 2017 to the end of 2021 by $1.1 trillion, according to the report. By 2021, if the opinions of respondents end up being true, the number of new direct jobs could reach 800,000. If you count indirect jobs, the number could rise to two million.

Companies are determining how to use AI and machine learning to make their businesses run more efficiently in all sorts of sectors and departments right now. Specifically, they are trying to have robots or machines handle grunt work, so humans can focus on more creative and thoughtful endeavors. It also makes human error less possible, thus increasing accuracy. A way to work smarter, not harder.

The fear on the part of humans is that robots, which don’t require salaries or benefits, will replace them. But what business schools and executives recognize is businesses still need people to effectively apply these new technologies. They also need people to develop long-term strategies. Most importantly, people possess imagination, which can take businesses and society beyond limits.

As a result, students of business are hoping to boost their resumes with digital skills to help them adapt to this new world. Once again business schools have the opportunity and obligation to provide supply where there is so much demand.

Some schools are already making inroads. In the United States, a couple of programs have paired AI and machine learning with data analytics degree programs. The reason is AI and machine learning are better equipped to collect and analyze the overwhelming amount of data available. And it can do it all with precision at lightning speed.

For example, at MIT Sloan School of Management, students in the relatively new Master of Business Analytics program immerse themselves in AI and machine learning. We’ve already established the explosion of jobs available to those with data analytics skills. AI and machine learning are the next logical step in developing new coursework for the new world of business.

ESCP Europe offers an elective course on AI that includes discussion of coding and data analysis. INSEAD, on the other hand, is offering a course on AI that puts emphasis on soft skills. You can learn more about these programs in “Business Schools Prepare MBAs for the Machine Age.”

Yet there is more educators can do to prepare for this soon-to-come future.

What business schools see is what I see. With a proliferation of machines, humans become more of a necessity, not less of one. Businesses will need great communicators and strategists who can see new applications of all these machines. They need those who will keep up the morale of the humans on staff and can build in-depth understanding of the technology. They need other people to better connect the dots and better connect with consumers. In other words, no matter what the future brings, humans will remain irreplaceable.

*This article was originally published on LinkedIn. Please feel free to follow me to share your thoughts and comments.

Nunzio Quacquarelli

Nunzio is the founder and CEO of QS. Following completion of his own MBA from the Wharton School, he has gone on to become a leader in education management with over 25 years of experience in the industry. He is truly passionate about education and firmly believes in the QS mission to help young people to fulfill their potential through educational achievement, international mobility and career development. 

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