Some things won’t change so much in 2018, says Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business Dean Matthew Slaughter. Among them: Experience-driven learning and application “will continue to be a priority for students and recruiters alike.” And Tuck, for one, will stay the course in response. “We at Tuck will continue to refine and expand how our students learn through application,” Slaughter says, “in courses like First Year Project, TuckGO, and our brand new TuckINTEL, a course where teams of Tuck students draw on the entirety of their rigorous first-year curriculum in a many-day simulation in which they run a clean-tech company that competes against other Tuck teams.”
Slaughter says he hopes the new year will provide leaders in the U.S. and global economies more opportunities to “craft practices and policies that build ladders of opportunity for the many workers and citizens keen to enjoy a better tomorrow. The new year starts with widespread strength in the global economy: every one of the OECD economies is currently growing, with many enjoying accelerating growth. Such times of growth are ideal for embracing the dynamism of globalization along with a constellation of related policies that can allay the legitimate labor-market concerns people have.
“Deep in human nature,” Slaughter adds, “is optimism and hope, not pessimism and anger. Here is hoping the new year brings creative new policies that spring from that optimism and build on the current growth.”
Sarah Miller, assistant professor of business economics and public policy at Michigan Ross, has optimism about one key area of the economy: health care. Despite the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act being cut in half in 2017, signups were robust, and she expects the law to survive efforts by the current administration to kill it. “The repeal and replace debate has helped throw into light some of the more popular aspects of the law, such as the Medicaid expansion and the dependent coverage provisions, that enjoy bipartisan support,” Miller says. “Although the law may see additional changes around the edges, I suspect the core elements of the law will survive the Trump administration.”
THE ‘EBB AND FLOW’ OF SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
Miller’s colleague at Ross, lecturer Marcus Collins, sees 2018 as a year of continued — and in many ways increased — reliance on social media, both in business and society as a whole. This, of course, will impact businesss education in many ways.
“Social media platforms are certain to ebb and flow,” Collins tells P&Q. “Much like any social environment — bar, club, etc. — people populate them and move on to the next one. It’s not until a platform transitions into a utility that it has real staying power. The winning platforms will be the ones that enable the best and easiest ways to tell stories.”
He points to Facebook as a platform that has “transcended novelty and now provides immense utility by both being one of the greatest distributors of news and decreasing the natural decay of network ties.” Instagram helps novice photographers “take aesthetically pleasing pictures, which provides a wealth of utility.” In the case of Snapchat, “its ephemerality and filters provided the platform great novelty, but once that novelty was exhausted and then copied, the luster started to fade. The platform has also suffered from its inability to seize the momentum it generated early on and convert it to sustainable revenue through ad products.”
Twitter, meanwhile, is an interesting case, Collins says, one that “oscillates between utility and novelty, which creates both opportunities and challenges for the platform beyond its business model woes.”
In the social media realm in 2018, he says, “There will be evolutions, even if they’re marginal. We’ll likely see more platforms integrating virtual reality and augmented reality features as mobile devices continue to adopt the technology. Companies like Facebook and Apple, for instance, are making huge strides in augmented reality so that it’s easier to access and far more applicable to our everyday lives. We’ve seen retail brands like IKEA venture into the space early, integrating the technology in their marketing efforts. And who can forget the Pokemon Go frenzy?”
LIKE THE MUSIC INDUSTRY, BIZ ED MUST PREPARE FOR DISRUPTION
While social media is sure to experience changes big and small that echo across the business education landscape, Michigan Ross Dean Scott DeRue sees a corollary to the music industry. B-schools, he says, are undergoing a significant market disruption not unlike that occurred when streaming music services first began to cut into the record companies’ bottom lines.
“For decades in music we purchased a bundle of songs, and artists toured in order to drive demand for their albums. Consumers happily paid $15 for the two or three songs they really wanted,” DeRue says. “Then iTunes came along and disaggregated the bundle, such that we could pay a small amount and only for the songs we wanted. Then Pandora and Spotify came along and now many of us consume music content for free or at a very low cost. In effect, the content has become commoditized, modularized, and widely accessible at a low cost. For the artist, much of the value has shifted from content production (the album) to the live experience (the concert).
“In education, for centuries, we have been the exclusive holders of content, and we bundled that content into degrees such as the MBA. Now, as in music, the content is becoming commoditized and modularized. Whether it’s Wharton’s business fundamentals course or Michigan Ross’s leading people and teams course — or the thousands of other options available online — you can now consume high-quality content for free or low cost from anywhere in the world (our Pandora). Every school has some form of streaming educational content and, just like in music, some will thrive and others will not. In parallel, the bundle — the degree — is being disaggregated, and we are seeing an increase in business degrees and certificates on specialized topics that are modularized (our iTunes). And now every business school in the country is having to answer a fundamental question: What is your school’s concert?”
‘UNIQUE AND VALUED EXPERIENCES’ TO BE ESSENTIAL TO BIZ ED IN 2018
In 2018 and beyond, DeRue says, schools that offer a “unique and valued experience — the educational concert — will thrive, and schools that offer marginal value above and beyond the basic content will not.” He aims to make Michigan Ross one of the schools that offer a unique experience, pointing to “an unparalleled commitment to hands-on education,” wherein every Ross student is given wide array of experiences such as starting real companies, investing in real assets, and advising real companies.
“The results thus far are remarkable,” DeRue says. “Our students have launched more than 170 companies in the past five years, and we now have seven student-run investment funds with more than $10 million under management. Furthermore, our students will engage in more than 180 consulting projects (in 2018) with leading companies across the globe. (In 2018) we also launch our seventh ‘living business’ where student teams lead actual business units within startups, Fortune 50 enterprises, fast-growing luxury retail brands, among others.
All that will continue in the new year and its importance going forward won’t be diminished, DeRue says. “As a result of these unique, hands-on experiences, students learn to think critically to solve problems, build and lead teams, thrive in ambiguity, make sense of complexity, and work across boundaries. These are all skills in high demand from employers and help students hit the ground running on day one!”