Preparing For What’s Next in Business According to IBM’s CEO

From its early days of punch-card machines and calculators, IBM continuously evolves and innovates to develop essential business tools like personal computers, storage media, programming languages, artificial intelligence (AI), and cloud computing.

So, when IBM CEO Ginny Rommetty talks about “what’s next” in tech, the world’s business leaders sit up and listen. Her 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) keynote address paints a vivid picture of how the future of business is changing, and provides powerful examples of leadership that keeps organizations ahead of the curve.

Two MBA Takeaways – and Four Big Trends

While Rommetty’s keynote covers wide-range of topics, in contains two clear takeaways for aspiring business leaders. First, the MBAs of the future need to be more innovative than ever. They must apply creativity to adapt new technologies to previously-unimagined business opportunities. Second,  to succeed in the long term, CEOs need to keep the social impacts of their products and their hiring practices top of mind.

Here are four big, future-focused trends highlighted by Rommetty that tomorrow’s MBAs should think about.

Deep Data: “Big Data” is old news; instead, Rommetty highlights the potential of “deep data” that brings together disparate datasets to generate new analytic insights. For example, IBM is working with its subsidiary The Weather Channel to improve weather forecasting resolution by 200%, in part by utilizing barometer readings from a network of millions of smartphone users that opt-in.

Broad AI: According to Rommetty, even if AI doesn’t replace all jobs, “100 percent of jobs will be different” in the AI era. That’s because the technology is rapidly evolving beyond today’s “narrow” AI (which learns tasks in a single domain) towards “broad AI” that works across many domains.

Blockchain: While the most famous application of blockchain is cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Rommetty and Charles Redfield of Walmart discussed how IBM’s blockchain-enabled Food Trust initiative is helping increase food safety while reducing waste.

Ethics and Inclusivity: Rommetty also emphasized the importance of ethics in the development of technologies like AI, where it’s vital for products to be bias-free as well as “explainable, fair, secure, and with lineage.” She also stressed that companies must ensure that “new collar” (not white- or blue-collar) tech industry opportunities are accessible to people from all walks of life.  IBM is pursuing this goal through public-private education partnerships.

Learning to Lead in the 21st Century

Rommetty’s vision of “what’s next” for business leaders is full of exciting new opportunities, but it also pushes the limits of the traditional MBA education. With emerging technologies and new social concerns transforming the means and ends of business, tomorrow’s leaders need to be more innovative, adaptable, and conscientious than ever before.

With its new Global MBA degree, Macquarie University has stepped up to this challenge with education that’s every bit as innovative as today’s business world demands. In place of the usual program structure and course requirements of a traditional MBA, Macquarie has designed the Global MBA curriculum around six future-focused capabilities that cover analytical skills, creative thinking, and the “soft skills” needed by modern business leaders.

  • Leading: Great CEOs like Rommetty know how to leverage talent as well as technology to transform the way business gets done. Forward-thinking leadership skills are explored by courses like Know Your People, Adapt Your Leadership, and Become a Meaning Maker.
  • Strategising: In the midst of today’s fast-changing challenges and opportunities, leaders need to adapt and respond quickly. Students learn to develop future-focused workplace strategies with courses like Be Global, Be Sustainable, and Be Disruptive.
  • Analysing: Data is more central than ever to business success, and the skills needed to analyse information and generate insights are developed through courses like Know Your Numbers and Know Your Customers.
  • Influencing: Leaders need to be adept at using power and politics to shape the decision-making process and bring about change. Global MBA students hone these crucial “soft skills” with courses like Communicate With Impact and Negotiate and Resolve Conflict.
  • Adapting: Changes to technology and culture (such as those discussed by Rommetty) are transforming the meaning of work. Courses such as Build Personal Resilience and Become a Global Citizen help students navigate this landscape with confidence and purpose.
  • Problem Solving: In this capstone Specialisation, Global MBA students apply their problem-solving skills to real-world projects with guidance from Macquarie’s faculty and industry experts.

An Accessible, World-Class MBA

In addition to the future-focused capabilities  curriculum, the Global MBA fits Rommetty’s vision in another, extremely important way: it provides unprecedented access to a world-class MBA. Based in Sydney, Australia, Macquarie University is one of the Asia-Pacific region’s top business schools and is highly-ranked internationally, providing a global perspective and a diverse student body from all over the world. By offering an affordable, online, and highly interactive business degree, the Global MBA is making the Macquarie experience more accessible than ever.

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