Business Education Is More Necessary Than Ever in a Technology-Driven World
Posted August 08, 2018 by Neil Braun
- Dean - Lubin School of Business, Pace University
In a technology-driven world the critical thinking skills and foundational knowledge of finance, marketing, management, and accounting are more relevant and necessary than ever. No matter what you want to do in life and no matter what technology is created to disrupt the conventional, it is necessary to follow certain steps:
1. Identify and define a need or opportunity
2. Develop a plan to address it
3. Create a budget for implementation
4. Fund the budget
5. Attract and retain complementary human resources
6. Develop messaging for all stakeholders
7. Define metrics to measure progress
That is what an undergraduate business education is all about.
As technology continues to evolve and disrupt, and with innovation ever present, it takes fundamental business understanding to create value and build a sustainable model for the long term in order for companies to succeed and thrive. Founder after founder of startups reach the point where their idea takes on a life of its own, and experienced businesspeople are brought in to manage and grow that great idea into a big business.
Today, with all the talk about the importance of developing STEM disciplines, it's easy to lose perspective about the importance of business acumen and skills to create value in a technology-driven world and to manage growth while retaining the essence of the idea that led to initial success. That takes a breadth of understanding and the ability to interact with professionals across all kinds of expertise. Leading and managing are not birthrights; they are skills that can be taught and must be learned. A business education is the most direct and fastest way to lay the groundwork necessary to obtain these skills.
Not all technology is disruptive; much of it aids productivity in traditional business models. In this context, it's a tool to help executives be more effective and efficient; the fundamental rules of finance, competitive strategy, marketing, and accounting still apply. Business schools are adapting to make sure their graduates not only understand the principles of the core business disciplines but also have experience working with today's tools so they are ready to add value quickly after they are hired.
In fact, many business programs have significant STEM qualifications in and of themselves because more and more technology and financial engineering has been built into the curricula. From customer analytics to financial risk management and beyond, business programs are increasingly including the software and skills necessary to be effective in the modern work environment. As a prospective undergraduate student looking for the “right fit” for university studies, you should ask questions about cross-discipline learning opportunities that include fundamental business principles with current technological applications and tools.
Finally, critical thinking can be taught in a wide variety of contexts. For those who want to sharpen their critical-thinking and problem-solving skills in a context where the content is as relevant as the thought process, undergraduate business education is the most efficient and effective way to graduate with the vocabulary, knowledge, and practical experience most useful in commerce, industry, and many professions.
Neil Braun is dean of Pace University's Lubin School of Business in New York, New York, USA.