Technology, like education, has become an ever-evolving and integral part of our lives. Interestingly, technological advancements impact nearly every industry and have an effect on the processes, executions and decisions made by a variety of businesses, leaders and companies. As executives from an array of companies face the challenge of understanding how to leverage technology in their businesses, Executive MBA (EMBA) programs, which serve as a reputable training ground for leaders, are also tapping the power and advancements of technology.
EMBA programs, which appeal to the business professional, have been strategically integrating technology into the learning environment, not as a way of supplanting the face-to-face element of EMBA programs, which is consistently cited as invaluable by current students and alumni, but as a way of extending the classroom. In the annual Executive MBA Membership Program Survey, in which the Executive MBA Council surveys EMBA programs throughout the globe, findings reveal that technology changes are being implemented in a variety of ways. For example, there is a continued rise in the use of business simulations as a way of creating an interactive experience to deal with business cases. Classroom video recording continues to increase as a way of allowing students to study and review certain topics on their own time, effectively allowing them to take more control of their schedule for learning certain items. The continued adoption of electronic course materials hasn’t yet eliminated the need for traditional textbooks, but it clearly has reduced the need for full reliance on paper; students can access much of the class material remotely or take it with them, further increasing the flexibility of learning. EMBA programs are a sampling of how technology is being embraced in the learning environment, not for the sake of technology alone but as a way of enhancing the overall experience.
Technology in the learning environment, such as EMBA programs, exposes managers and business owners to scenarios in which they might consider and adopt to enhance practices, policies or procedures within their own business enterprises.
Given the rapid advancements with technology, it’s impossible for every business professional to turn into a “technology guru.” However, successful businesses run because of a diverse set of expertise that spreads among a group of leaders. For the fortune 500 executive, the emerging entrepreneur, the EMBA student or for the small business owner, there’s no question that exposure to technology advancements will help them stay current as well as become more comfortable with integrating technological best practices into their business enterprise.
How then are EMBA programs exposing leaders to technology beyond just the straight use of technology to deliver learning? EMBA programs in general address technology and innovation as business cases are reviewed and analyzed. This allows business professionals to work through implications for their own businesses, and for them as leaders. Having a peer group of individuals with on average 14 years of work experience debate, discuss and analyze the impact of technology, and how to tap innovation in their respective organization, is invaluable. This can be of particular value to small business owners as they may not have an intact peer group to interact with regularly. Because of the very nature of a home-based business, individual leaders may thirst for access to others to bounce ideas off of, learn from the success and failures of others, and do it in a setting that increases their network while increasing their business acumen. The environment that an EMBA program provides is a unique and dynamic one for each student to learn from the other, resulting in a transformative experience that forces participants to think about the business enterprise through a whole new frame of reference – this is where real learning happens.
The wonderful thing about the immersive learning experience of EMBA programs is that it’s a safe way for leaders to think through the implications of technology or other innovations in their business, the risks, the benefits, and the potential shortcomings, before implementing it for their own enterprise. This is something every small business owner wishes for as they unfold their respective business dreams.