In Bend, Oregon, the last Blockbuster store in the U.S. stands tall, a reminder of how the power of exponential change can virtually obliterate a business that once dominated the market.
“Exponential change can create great opportunities to those paying attention,” says Simon J. Anderson, whose consulting work often focuses on workforce trends. “However, if ignored long enough, these opportunities can turn into challenges, and, in some cases, existential challenges.”
The lesson: Advancements that seem far away may really be right around the corner. When faced with change, Blockbuster doubled down on its retail stores and even passed on opportunities to buy Netflix.
Many emerging trends are impacting education, such as improved language translation tools, credentialing, adaptive learning platforms such as Knewton, generational perspective changes, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning, and perhaps the most important, the rapid increase in workforce automation, says Anderson.
Applied foresight speaker and consultant with his company Venture Foresight, Anderson coauthored the award-winning book Foresight 2020: A Futurist Explores the Trends Transforming Tomorrow with Jack Uldrich. His new book on automation is due early next year.
Exponential technology will hit EMBA, affecting instruction and learning. “This could take the form of hyper-personalized curriculum and course work based on a student’s individual experience, education, and interest,” he says.
EMBA students already are becoming familiar with emerging technologies, he says, and EMBA Programs will need to find a way to experiment with an ongoing list of new technologies without detracting from the program’s core values.
EMBA Programs, though, are well poised to adapt, because they are directly connected to the needs of the market, he says.
“It’s not just about offering the latest courses and degrees, it’s about knowing what to cut and preparing your students for the emerging jobs of tomorrow,” he says. “EMBA Programs must be in a constant state of adaptation and experimentation to remain relevant.”
EMBA Programs continue on the path of adaptation and experimentation, both in applying technology and innovating the curriculum.
EMBA Programs that participated in the 2018 EMBAC Membership Program Survey use some form of distance learning – including web or video conferencing, webinars, and chats – to deliver more than half of their EMBA course work. In addition, nearly nine of 10 surveyed programs supply course materials electronically.
EMBA Programs also are constantly looking for ways to improve their offering. According to the research, 78 percent of surveyed programs indicating that they had changed their program delivery by revising curriculum, adding courses, adjusting formats, integrating technology, and pursuing other innovations.
The cycle of continual change and experimentation is just the right prescription to succeed in ever-changing times, says Anderson.
“The future is full of promise if we’re not too focused on doing things the way they’ve always been done.”