Rapid Technological Change Is The Biggest Threat To Global Business

It may seem as though the world is in meltdown, but it’s not Donald Trump that’s the biggest threat to business, or Brexit, or even global warming.

Instead, changes in technology represent the main challenge facing tomorrow’s business leaders, according to a new survey.

Despite the uncertainty following Trumps election, and the U.K.’s decision to leave the EU, graduates ranked technological advancement as the biggest challenge facing global business leaders.

The findings emphasize the key role that technological and digital change should play in a business school education, equipping students with the skills they will need in the global marketplace.

And the belief in the importance of technological mastery saw Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk ranked as the world’s most effective business leader.

The rapid rate of technological and digital advance was the biggest challenge for global business leaders according to the survey, which questioned recent graduates from the CEMS Masters in International Management program.

It was chosen as a major challenge by 68% of respondents, compared with 60% who cited shifts in economic and political power and 59% who named climate change as among the biggest threats.

The graduates are all alumni from one of 30 top international business schools, members of the CEMS alliance between academic institutions and multinational corporations (formerly the Community of European Management Schools and International Companies).

“It’s clear that keeping up with the rate of digital advancement – for example automation, harnessing big data, emerging technologies and cyber security – will pose significant challenges for future leaders, including our own graduates, and will add a whole new layer of complexity as they try to stay ahead of competitors and innovate,” said Roland Siegers, CEMS executive director.

The challenge for business schools is to ensure that their programs prepare graduates to deal with these challenges, he said.

“The focus for our international education is to ensure that future leaders can use technological, economic and political change to their advantage, to lead effectively, and importantly look beyond profit maximisation towards creating long-term value for an inter-connected society,” he added.

The approach to technological change among future business leaders was also evident in the selection of Elon Musk as the world’s most effective business leader, attracting 24% of the vote, ahead of Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson on 10%, in the survey of 348 CEMS graduates, most aged 24-27.

“Our graduates regard the most effective business leaders in the world to be technology innovators – figures who are successful because they are able to harness rapid technological change and use it for social good, rather than seeing it as a hurdle,” Siegers added.

Frederic Fernandez, senior manager at consumer goods firm A.T. Kearney, a CEMS corporate partner, said digital enhancement should be at the core of any business model.

“If everybody agrees that the digital revolution is changing the way we are doing business, very few leaders today understand fully the scale of this change,” he said.

“The consumer and retail industry will change more over the next 20 years than over the last 200 years. We have never lived in such exciting times. It is at times like these that we will recognize the true leaders and innovators.”

From: Forbes.com on February 9, 2017

Written by: Nick Morrison

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