The data and information ecosystem has been evolving at a rapid pace. To keep its students abreast with the trend, B-schools are foraying into domains of new-age technologies.
Recently, IIM Ahmedabad established a dedicated Centre for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (CDSAI) intending to provide a platform for scholars and practitioners to come together to undertake research in the field.
Increased focus on AI, data science
“Businesses have started recognising that it is important for managers to closely engage with the tech-centres to be able to generate significant competitive advantage and business value. Recent years have seen a shift in curriculum towards more integrated inputs in tech areas through data science and AI. Curriculums in business schools are aiming to produce managers with the right blend of competencies to address the growing demand of individuals in emerging roles,” said Ankur Sinha, co-chair, CDSAI.
Sinha added that new-age tech, such as data science and AI, are increasingly impacting society, economies and businesses across the world. It is important to have an in-depth understanding of the potential of these new technologies and the best ways to apply them.
Companies have been harnessing data for decision-making and generating business value for decades. However, with the increase in the size of the digital universe and higher computational power, firms are in the process of an organic transformation to capitalise on opportunities that the upcoming data technologies offer.
Ranjan Banerjee, dean, Birla Institute of Technology School of Management (BITSoM), said, “Management curriculum was originally developed in the 70s when manufacturing was the prime focus. Today, technology is a part of how we work – from booking your cab to shopping online – there is a transition from manufacturing to digitalisation. The higher management officials are most often not from the tech-savvy generation. Hence, the newer managers are expected to be up-to-date with the emerging tech.”
Banerjee added that managers need not be tech experts but they should be able to understand new-age tech. BITSom is also in the process of establishing a design thinking lab in collaboration with US universities along with a dedicated centre for data analytics.
Management courses with tech specialisation
Along with dedicated centres focussing on new-age technologies, management institutes are also offering specialised courses in AI, data science and business analytics among many others.
IIM Bangalore offers a two-year MBA programme in business analytics. Chairperson of the programme, R Srinivasan said that data analytics and artificial intelligence/ machine learning are no longer sources of competitive advantage for firms, but are fast becoming core technologies across industries. “Therefore, managers of the future cannot be effective without a deep understanding of these disciplines. It is not just sufficient to understand these as tools but as business enablers. Therefore, MBA programmes must integrate these into the curriculum,” he said.
He added that beyond just tools and technologies, there are a few skills that an astute manager should possess – storytelling through effective data visualisation (given the volume, variety, and velocity of data), natural language processing (given the emergence of voice-based technologies and products/ services), and deep learning (over and above machine learning and statistical learning).
Emerging branches in traditional businesses
The business domain in the recent past has accommodated many different branches in the core functions such as design thinking, innovation, financial technology. IIM Kashipur has a Design Innovation Centre while IIM Raipur has a dedicated Centre for Digital Economy.
Sumeet Gupta, head, Centre of Digital Economy, IIM Raipur, said that tech companies are taking the top of all domains, be it finance or production. “From e-governance to fintech, all firms are stepping into some of the other technological aspects. Traditionally, management had four basic functions — HR, marketing, production and finance — but now every domain has an added technology function.
As part of the centre’s activities, the institute conducts conferences and seminars on the digital economy for future managers. The centre will be organising its fourth conference on ‘Creating a responsible and responsive digital society’ on December 3-4, 2021.