January 03, 2019 • By Aaron Orlowski
On Jan. 10, the Merage School is hosting Poets&Quants founder John A. Byrne, who will interview Professor Vijay Gurbaxani about the school's digital transformation. Register for the event today.
Silicon Valley startups, social media flare-ups and the latest billion-dollar internet IPO may dominate the headlines, but the digital transformation of the business world goes far deeper. It’s a fundamental shift in how the economy operates.
Every aspect of running every kind of business — from advertising, manufacturing and service operations to distribution and supply chain — is affected by digital technologies. But many business schools haven’t changed their curriculums to match.
“We looked at the landscape of what business schools were doing to educate students on the digital transformation affecting businesses across the spectrum, and we saw that they weren’t,” says Vijay Gurbaxani. “There was an opening where we could build off our current and past strengths to offer a program that was truly different and really prepared students for this fast-changing future.”
While other schools have added courses here or there, the Merage School believes that the change is far more fundamental and every course must reflect the external changes society is experiencing. The school has updated every core class with new, relevant content about the digital transformation happening in the business world, and added new elective courses to deal with more focused topics.
For instance, in the past, marketing was based largely on modest amounts of data and using standardized statistical techniques to analyze them. Now firms rely on big data which, of course, does not displace statistics, but requires the application of machine learning techniques. Merage School students are learning how to capture large amounts of data and analyze it to make optimal business decisions.
Since the economics of the digital world are quite different from those of the physical world, business strategy also changes. Merage School students are learning the economics of digital products and platforms, which might cost significant sums to produce initially but can yield high profit margins since marginal costs are zero. That’s different than physical products.
The Merage School also updated the delivery of courses, moving classes online and expanding digital learning initiatives.
“Since the 1990s, we’ve been focused on tech, so we had a natural advantage in focusing on digital transformation,” says Gurbaxani. “Everybody knows that the future is digital. But business schools as a whole aren’t acting on it. We are. And that sets us apart.”