Businesses in Britain and across the world are only just beginning to touch on the impact technology is having on operations, routes to market, and how leaders behave. This year’s Global Leadership Summit focused on “Generation Tech”; a broad and deep subject matter that touched upon the multi-faceted way technology is impacting businesses, societies and individuals.
One of the key takeaways I got was that business needs to be agile in adopting the latest shifts in technology in order to be more responsive to consumers. Technology can often be seen as a disruptor to the established order of things and this can breed a resistance to change. Companies that fail to change are doomed to failure. Paraphrasing LBS Professor Gary Hamel, “CEOs who are personally resistant to change fail their employees, shareholders and customers”.
Therefore, it is imperative that companies from various sectors be agile in adopting the shifting sands of technology. This does not mean a “technology first” approach but rather using technological gains as part of a business leader’s toolkit. As Royston Seaward, Partner at Deloitte said, “organisations think too much about their product and not enough about how their customers want to use that product”. So beware: don’t put the cart before the horse!
Business leaders who are in service industries are only now waking up to the immense power big data and the analysis that comes from that can be used in providing personalised services for their customers. Those who are at the vanguard of this create a competitive advantage for their businesses. What it takes is for the combination of available technology and old-fashioned intuition and risk-taking.
The businesses that will be successful in the future are those who are agile enough to see where the power rests in their sectors and then utilising the right “toolkit” to take advantage of this. Professor Julian Birkinshaw was particularly persuasive in identifying the changes in the computing and car manufacturing sectors over the last few decades and how easily it can be for today’s established companies to be tomorrow’s minnows. Business leaders need to take a macro view of their sector and identify where the particular points are in the value chain that control the most power: influence, bargaining etc, and how they can bring the resources at their disposable to take advantage of these areas.
The final point I want to bring up is the impact GenY will have on businesses. This generation is the first that has been brought up with emerging technology and a globalised marketplace where the tyranny of distance has been defeated by the ease of the internet. GenY employees (and future leaders) are more flexible and place greater emphasis on corporate missions than Baby Boomers or GenX. The challenge for GenY is how to take this inherent risk-tolerance and combine it with the steely resolve needed to be successful business leaders. The future of business will be ‘mission-first’ with a greater emphasis on their purpose and product generation than quarterly results. This means how we picture business leaders will need to shift: if you are an existing business leader you must recognise than a GenY rival is more prepared to use (social) media to promote their mission and to quickly build up brand awareness. So don’t be complacent!
London Business School’s Global Leadership Summit was an outstanding success and demonstrates the power of having in one room academic, business and social leaders bouncing around ideas and views with each other. Businesses are facing increasing strains from diverging social, technological and demographic trends so this year’s summit was particularly important to creating the right framework to approach “Generation Tech”. I am certain that next year’s summit will be just as interesting as this one!
It is difficult to believe that it is December already and I have completed my first LBS exam. It felt like only yesterday when the Masters in Finance Full Time and Part Time students met for the first time in our week-long introduction course for London Business School (for the Part-Timers anyway) and we were all struggling to adapt to the life of a student!
Now I can reflect on the past few months of this journey and I have come away extremely impressed with the quality of this business school. LBS prides itself on the quality of the faculty, the quality of the students and the quality of the curriculum. This is why LBS is the premier business school in Europe and is one of the “global elite” business schools.
The first semester tackled Financial Accounting and Analysis. Some people would think that this is a boring topic, suitable for those who are accountants by nature and remote from the reality of business. They are wrong! It is a class that combines theory and reality and provides the tools to critically analyse corporate performance. The practicality and applicability means that people can employ these skills whether they work in corporate finance, equity analysis or investing (both professionally and personally).
Group work is one of the most rewarding experiences over the past few months. The MiF student body is extraordinarily international and working in groups makes us appreciate different cultures and ideas and helps break through any “silo mentality”. The student group is diverse but universally clever, hard-working and are definitely the “future leaders” of the financial and business community globally.
One of the better aspects of LBS, and one that if you are thinking of applying you must consider, is the optional courses and clubs. For instance, I have just finished an optional course on “Advanced Financial Modelling” that has taught me how I can quickly and accurately build a model for a variety of purposes from operational performance to M&A. These skills are applicable from Day 1 and builds out your CV and skillset for current and potential employers (as well as if you want to use modelling for personal investment purposes). The clubs are similarly useful with alumni from across industries coming in for panel discussions and networking. There is so much variety to choose from that it is difficult to manage your diary!
I know that this sounds a bit “full on” and maybe a tad too serious but there is a ‘work hard, play hard’ aspect to LBS as well. Whether it is drinks, dinner, Thames River cruises or ski trips, LBS students know how to enjoy themselves when away from the textbooks!
The past few months has been an exciting journey for many of the MiF students. LBS offers such breadth and depth of opportunity that I have barely begun scratching the surface. No one should be in doubt that this school gives you the opportunity to develop those soft and hard skills to achieve your potential.