Why business schools are ideally positioned to address the convergence of business and technology


Vittorio Chiesa, Chairman at POLIMI Graduate School of Management, tells Stephanie Mullins and EFMD Global why business schools are so well placed at the intersection of business and technology. Here’s what he said:

Technology is a major engine of change, and digitalisation infiltrates across all sectors – sustainability, healthcare, finance, the list goes on. In fact, business and technology has converged to a point that they have become one. This is why future managers must understand how technology permeates all systems, processes, and functions of business, and is exactly why business schools founded by technical universities are the knowledge hubs to provide this necessary education.

But first, how has tech changed the way business is run? Well, at a very broad level, technology has changed all processes within business, predominantly affecting the way information is shared. As such, it has become essential that organisations embrace digitalisation so that it is easier for professionals to access key material and to communicate with each other effectively.

Over the past few years, and especially since the pandemic, digital platforms have enabled people from anywhere in the world to interact and participate in meetings, conferences, and work environments through their computer screen, rather than having to meet face-to-face. In most instances, technology can replicate the same experiences and offer the same takeaways that an individual would get from physically attending a meeting or a seminar, and this has been ground-breaking for business in modern times.

Of course, while technology can help established businesses to grow year on year, it is also worth noting that technology also offers endless opportunities for the development of new businesses and start-ups. There are various reasons why, but in the main this is because technology has made it possible for companies to reach more people in different parts of the world through social media platforms, websites, and marketing software – which is particularly helpful in the early days of a new business when they are trying to increase their client base.

So, why are business schools at the forefront of providing business professionals with the tools to succeed in this ever-more digital environment? Well, many have already been ahead of the game for some time, and therefore have accumulated an immense amount of material, resources, and knowledge within their institutions.

This is certainly true at POLIMI Graduate School of Management, as we have recognised the increased demand for digital-related programmes, and have expanded our educational offerings considerably as a result in recent years. We now offer an impressive range of courses including the “Master in International Business and Digital Transformation”, the “Master in Big Data”, and the “International Master in Smart Operations and Industry 4.0” – to name a few. These are in addition, of course, to our world-renowned “New generation MBA”, which is continuously being adapted to coincide with the rapid changes in technology and business. All of our programmes are strongly geared towards educating future managers about the role and the impact of technology in business, and allows participants to develop their entrepreneurial spirit and their attitudes towards digital innovation.

As well as our programmes and teaching, we also spotted the growing demand for technology-based resources and tools some years ago now. For example, our business school has been using innovative AI technology to educate and communicate with our students through a platform called FLEXA – an AI-infused career coaching digital tool that POLIMI Graduate School of Management has been offering to students and alumni. Since 2020, FLEXA was also made available to professionals in the business world – a key development for those who are seeking to upskill during times of technological innovation within their organisations.

But how does it work? Well, developed in partnership with Microsoft, FLEXA is a platform that allows participants to decide where and how to access their personalized learning path from anywhere in the world and with any device. Starting with an assessment phase which evaluates where individuals need to improve their skills, FLEXA then uses artificial intelligence to create and suggest personalised training courses for each user. Participants then have access to an ecosystem of about 800,000 pieces of learning material, including self-paced digital courses, webinars, podcasts, articles and case studies. Through this tool, professionals can now ensure that they stay up to date and develop their technical skills over time, ensuring their education continues long after graduation.

Therefore, business schools of technical universities are ideally positioned to address the convergence of business and technology because they offer the best of both worlds – exceptional programmes delivered on advanced digital platforms, and also face-to-face learning from leading experts around the world. With this in mind, it is important to understand that platforms such as FLEXA are not substitutes for traditional education programmes, but a complement to it. This is how businesses should also view technology within their organisations – digital tools are there to enhance their companies and to broaden their horizons, and if used effectively, technology will be the key component to a business’ success.

See more articles by Stephanie Mullins.