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Deloitte CEO Says B-Schools Must Make Tech A Focus Amid Disruptive Innovation

Chief's comments highlight concern programs lack digital focus

David Sproul, chief executive of Deloitte UK, has called on business schools to do more to push technology into the heart of the curriculum, as boards face the ever-evolving threat of cyber-attacks and the risk of disruptive innovation.

The executive’s comments add to the growing chorus of opinion that business schools should do more to prepare future business leaders to understand digital technology and its impact.

“Business schools should make technology a more central part of the curriculum, creating programs to educate current and future business leaders in the latest developments,” David said in a comment piece published in The Telegraph over the weekend.

“Training in management skills alone is no longer sufficient.”

Last week, Pat Chapman-Pincher, who has built, run and chaired a number of tech companies, and who mentors FTSE chief executives, wrote in the Financial Times that b-schools were “no longer fit for purpose” in an age of digital disruption.

Businesses face a shortage of executive talent to lead digital transformations, as they come under threat from rivals who are more tech savvy, such as Uber, Airbnb or Google.

This development — and student and company demand — has led to a surge in courses at business schools focused on areas like big data and cyber security.

The UK’s Cambridge Judge Business School for example launched the Digital Business Academy.

“There already is a move afoot to start programs and courses in this area,” Mark Kennedy, director of the KPMG Centre for Business Analytics at Imperial College Business School, told BusinessBecause.

HEC Paris, Warwick Business School in the UK and NYU Stern in US have all offered classes on data analytics.

Entire degree programs have been launched in digital, such as the EMBA in Digital Transformation at DeGroote School in Canada.

But some warn that the pace of change has been too slow. “Business schools have to transform — and quickly,” said Jim Hamill, director of digital leadership at Strathclyde Business School.

Meanwhile in The Telegraph article, David said that businesses need to do more to collaborate with universities, highlighting Deloitte’s partnership with London Business School, through which the pair launched the Deloitte Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Similar tie-ups exist at schools like Imperial College, which KPMG pledged £20 million to.

Accenture last year revealed a partnership with California’s Haas School of Business focused on data science. Dixons Carphone recently teamed up with University of Edinburgh Business School to fund teaching and research in the field. IBM and Telfer School of Management have invested around $5 million into a similar initiative.

“There is a demand for big data expertise,” said Juan José Casado Quintero, academic director of the Master in Business Analytics & Big Data at IE Business School.

Highlighting the need for tech-savvy managers, Deloitte’s David added: “Businesses will need to embrace disruptive thinking, develop a deeper understanding of emerging technologies and find a way to bring the ideas of younger generations into the boardroom.”

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