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Disruptive technology: Business leaders of the future will need a new skillset

27th November 2017 Posted by: Duncan Chisholm - Editor

THE multifaceted potential of disruptive technology cannot be overstated – these are new technological innovations which will affect not only the bottom line of every business but whole societies and the health, wealth and interactions of their citizens.

A tough race

With so much to consider when conceiving how much change could be rooted in the creation of disruptive technologies, it’s perhaps inevitable that we (even those who run tech companies) might try to simplify. In an interview with global consultancy firm McKinsey, Google executive Eric Schmidt almost makes neat work of paring down the huge, multifaceted revolution currently in motion all around us and driven by technological innovation, “The race that’s not being followed in the media is the race between humans and automation. And this race is run every day, and it’s a very tough race.”

It’s bigger than that: Schmidt refers to only one ongoing concern regarding disruptive technology – the effects on employment which could result from automation. There’s more, much more: in 2013 that same prestigious consultancy firm McKinsey counted twelve areas of innovation where they could foresee fundamental changes in society as being likely results of innovation.

The areas which McKinsey highlighted included the developing tech for mobile internet, the automation of knowledge work, the Internet of Things, cloud computing, autonomous vehicles, advanced genomics and advanced robotics. Their estimations, when stripped of the technical terms, are extraordinary: disruptive technology will alter the way we communicate, the way we work, the tools we use, the way we use our memories, how we travel, how we relate to machines which copy our behaviour and our very genetic makeups.  

Great power means great responsibility

The reality for students who are looking forward to building successful management careers is that disruptive technology does not arrive with a simple guarantee of good fortune for the many whose lives are changed forever as a result of huge changes in the ways societies fundamentally operate. Authoritative observers such as The Economist have pointed out that many stakeholders in wider society are wary of blanket promises of previously unknown wealth and happiness: “There was a time when people expected to be congratulated by society for promising to deliver disruptive innovations. That time is over.”

The way businesses harnessing disruptive technology manage their power and direct its effects are therefore becoming ever more crucial to the overall health of their goodwill among the wider economies they serve. Those looking to take charge of businesses will serve customers and clients in future who Deloitte characterise as being concerned not only with the discreet product on offer but its social impact, for example.

No more lip-service

According to Deloitte, who have coined the mantra ‘Social Good is Good Business’, “Millennials’ decision-making processes are often influenced by a desire to have a larger purpose in life. This has made corporate social responsibility (CSR) an imperative and not an option.” Millenials' preferences, whether we might personally believe them to be too fussy or over-politicised, have to be accepted by businesses who after all want to serve their customers and clients.

So it's the managers of those businesses who will need to factor corporate social responsibility into their business decisions and the production of their goods and services. The idea of businesses as citizens with a huge influence on, and responsibility for, the societies they exist within has taken root as experts Deloitte have observed. Lip-service and 'PR plays' to meet corporate responsibility demands simply won't cut it in future. 

Future-proof your business training

When we then take into account that disruptive technology by its very nature will alter wider society, the demand on those who wish to be future business leaders is clear. So where can students seek out the training which will allow them the best prospects in the future? The answer lies in the shape of the business management training you opt for. 

Global organisations such as the PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education), which is supported by the United Nations, aim to ensure that the business managers of the future take their business decisions with potentially wider social impacts in mind.

Laid out as six principles, the organisation looks to promote inclusion of the societal context for business decision-makers. PRME partners such as the University of Lincoln aim to instil good practice principles in their business students, such as those enrolled in their MSc Management course

The Lincoln International Business School aims to produce leaders who make responsible decisions in a complex business world, a world which requires genuine considerations corporate responsibility beyond PR. Due to the potentially transformative power of disruptive technology, these expanding areas of innovation are central to the wider conversation about how businesses should respond responsibly. 

The business school offer a range of study modules such as Community Organisation, Sustainability and Development which expose students to considerations of business practice in wider societal contexts and focus on the roles of businesses beyond profit-maximisation. 

So for those prospective business leaders who are currently considering adding to their skills through postgraduate study, there are institutions, such as Lincoln International Business School, where the importance of corporate social responsibility is taken into account. Considering just how much disruption new innovation could give rise to in future, it's these business leaders who will be best equipped. 


This editorial was sponsored by the University of Lincoln, to find out more about their courses take a look at their profile.




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