MBA Research

Action Briefs

We learn a lot from the business community and want to share that with you in our Action Briefs that highlight business trends and their impact on the workplace and curriculum.

Business Trend

In our ongoing conversations with the business community, we asked them to identify business trends impacting the workplace. One of the most frequently identified trends: social media.  


Workplace Implications

The explosion of LinkedIn (founded 2003) and Facebook (founded in 2004) into major social networks spawned an entire new “social media market.” Social media sites have become a part of mainstream society, thereby impacting every aspect of business. According to Deloitte’s research:

“Executives predict social media to be among the most important risk sources over the next three years – ranked up there with the global economic environment, government spending, and regulatory environment.” (Amato and Hagel, 2013)

Businesses are using social media for networking, relationship building, branding, recruiting, etc. All of these represent potential areas of risk for businesses.

They need to have strategies and procedures in place to deal with negative publicity and comments that appear in social media since those can quickly harm a business’s community standing, market share, and sales. Since negative comments can spread like wild fire, businesses need to monitor all comments about their companies and products that appear on the Internet. They must be vigilant to protect the business’s reputation and brands.

Social media have increased the power of consumers over brand, price, reputation, etc., by giving them a voice in what others learn about products, companies, and their experiences—a voice with global, instantaneous reach. Businesses must determine the best strategies for incorporating the customers’ voice into their communications and responding to it.

Businesses need to make decisions as to who “owns” social-media responsibility within an organization, who contributes to social media, how often postings should occur, what messages to post, and how to maintain a common voice to represent the company’s brand. They need to determine what metrics they will monitor and what level of participation is desired.

In the future, businesses will use social media to track an increasing number of customer behaviors and to interact with customers through more channels. This will encourage customers to share businesses’ messages with others, thereby amplifying a business’s communications’ investment.

Videos are commonplace on businesses’ websites and on dedicated video websites such as YouTube. More than four billion online videos are watched every day, and almost 70% of the people who watch videos share those links with others. Interestingly, video viewers retain about 95% of what they see, and entire sites and apps center around visual delivery (e.g., Pinterest, Vine, Instagram). Businesses have to be able to use these tools to build customer interest in and excitement about new product releases and existing products and services.


Classroom Implications

Although many students discuss their personal lives in social media, they need to understand that not everything that occurs in the business environment is appropriate to discuss on their Facebook page. Therefore, educators need to help students to develop visualization and social-media communication skills for use in the business world. Students need to understand the potential impact of their personal social-media brand on that of their employers. They need to be able to discern when, what, and how to tweet, post, email, feed, etc., for business and when to use other channels of communication (phone, f2f, Skype). Marketing students should also receive additional instruction around brand management, digital marketing, and content marketing.

Business Trend

In our ongoing conversations with the business community*, we asked them to identify business trends impacting the workplace. One trend garnering lots of discussion is the emphasis on sustainability (green, climate change, etc.)


Workplace Implications

The increased focus on sustainability is driven by many factors. This includes the strain on food, water, and energy from the increased population; the growing worldwide middle class’s demand for more goods; and concerns over natural disasters and disruptions to supply chains.

The focus on sustainability is creating the need for expertise in many fields and is impacting competition. A company’s ability to do business with another company or entity may depend on its sustainability position. Major retailers and consumer product companies such as Walmart, Apple, and Microsoft are building sustainability requirements into their supplier contracts. These companies have also established sustainability hubs to spark innovation and collaboration. U.S. companies in retail, transportation and logistics, public services, manufacturing, agriculture, architecture, and energy sectors are forming corporate social responsibility (CSR) committees to govern “green” activities and have increased participation in publicly available sustainability-disclosure reports.

Natural disasters and extended supply chains create additional strain on resources and threaten the provision of goods and services. The ability to withstand evolving threats and hazards and rapidly recover from disruptions has been elevated to a presidential mandate. The federal government is establishing sustainability requirements as part of the General Services Administration (GSA) process. This national initiative has further heightened the need to not only reduce and reuse resources, but to also identify alternative sources.


Classroom Implications

The business functions most impacted by sustainability are purchasing, production, product development, facilities management, supply-chain management/logistics, and marketing. Students need to understand how sustainability impacts each function and the complexities that are likely to emerge as consumers and major buyers focus more on sustainability as part of their buying habits. Students should explore the trade-offs associated with pursuing a particular sustainability path. One such trade-off, for example, involves using hybrid/electric cars. As oil usage decreases electricity usage increases, both are limited resources that impact the environment in different ways. Product pricing and the ability to recover costs associated with sustainability efforts should also be examined.

 

*Finance Executive Advisory Panel, Columbus, OH, May 21, 2013
*Marketing Executive Advisory Panel, Dublin, OH, May 22, 2013
*Management and Administration Executive Panel, Dublin, OH, May 23, 2013

Business Trend

In our ongoing conversations with the business community*, we asked business executives to identify business trends impacting the workplace. Next up is increased government regulation


Workplace Implications

Government expansion has led to rising costs of doing business, accelerating velocity of change, and increasing levels of conflict between competing states and the national government. Businesses are concerned about the risk of loss from a more polarized, more heavily regulated environment.

Domain-specific rules (e.g., Dodd Frank and BASEL III for banking) have increased. So, too, have the more general rules that impact all businesses. In the finance industry, the trend is driving an increase in compliance resources, training, and process-improvement initiatives.

Increased government regulation is impacting multinational businesses as prosecution of both U.S. and foreign-based multinationals increases. This is due to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), Anti-Money Laundering (AML), and Office of Foreign Asset and Control (OFAC). In coordination with the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission Enforcement Division has created a specialized unit to further enhance its enforcement of the FCPA. Cases are expected to increase even more based on the whistleblower provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. A similar level of prosecution has begun to emerge around privacy and data protection.


Classroom Implications

The major takeaway is that compliance is a risk for every company. Students need to understand the specific requirements of their desired career pathway and industry. They also need to understand how both of these (industry and career) impact job expectations and responsibilities. Students need to understand regulations from a global perspective, not just from a U.S. perspective (e.g. global quality standards, global chemical standards, global tax laws, etc.).

 

*Finance Executive Advisory Panel, Columbus, OH, May 21, 2013
*Marketing Executive Advisory Panel, Dublin, OH, May 22, 2013
*Management and Administration Executive Panel, Dublin, OH, May 23, 2013

Business Trend

In our ongoing conversations with the business community*, we asked them to identify business trends impacting the workplace. Third on their list of most frequently identified trends is the global economy.


Workplace Implications

No product, brand, idea, or company is truly "local" anymore as events, opinions, and experiences can be shared around the world in an instant. Domestically-located companies export more products and services each year, supply chains have extended to include international companies and many emerging economies, and foreign companies locate operations in the United States. The global economy creates additional needs including language translation (written and spoken), cultural sensitivity, and adaptability. Businesses also have to deal with more complicated business operations, including logistics. Organizations face more complicated regulatory environments as the need to comply with other countries’ mandates builds.

This flatter world is more cost competitive, has an expanded workforce with increasing specialization, and involves changing demographics. For the first time in history, a global middle class is emerging that is two billion strong. That number is expected to double by 2030 as the global population surpasses the eight billion mark. With the growth of the middle class comes increasing buying power for goods and services and increasing influence in all arenas.

In response, many global companies operate in a local fashion through increased customization and service. This requires a deeper understanding of the region’s culture, history, and customs. Additionally, businesses increasingly form joint ventures in emerging markets, requiring a deeper understanding of international law, foreign business practices, and international accounting standards. 


Classroom Implications

Students need to understand how to operate successfully in a global economy. They need to realize that the global economy has implications for every business and not just large multi-national corporations. They need to understand how all the key functions of business (e.g., operations, human resources, marketing) are impacted by the world economy. This could include such topics as:

  • Operational impact
  • World geography and culture                   
  • Impact on marketing                       
  • Impact on websites/social media communications       
  • International law and regulations              
  • Cultural impact
  • Impact on conflict management
  • Awareness of ethnocentrism
  • Business etiquette
  • Global supply chains

 

*Finance Executive Advisory Panel, Columbus, OH, May 21, 2013
*Marketing Executive Advisory Panel, Dublin, OH, May 22, 2013
*Management and Administration Executive Panel, Dublin, OH, May 23, 2013

Business Trend

In our ongoing conversations with the business community*, we asked them to identify business trends impacting the workplace. Second on their list of most frequently identified trends is mobile technology.


Workplace Implications

The proliferation of mobile technology impacts how and where work is done, increases security risks and concerns, and creates work/life balance challenges as a 24/7 access and availability mindset begins to characterize business. It necessitates constantly changing IT systems and the redistribution of work between internal and outsourced personnel. The technology positively impacts environmental concerns through reduced commutes and decreased business travel (teleconferences, virtual meetings, etc.). Mobile modifies customer routines and disrupts traditional business models. Customers use their mobile devices to replace and/or enhance activities that they previously carried out in brick and mortar stores and on their PCs. Consumers expect on-demand purchase and viewing capabilities for entertainment and news instead of the more programmatic consumption that occurs through traditional television sets, stereos, and newspapers.


Classroom Implications

All business administration students need to recognize the security risks associated with mobile technology and how to minimize those risks. They should consider the amount of data available and how it can be used for positive and negative purposes. Teachers should encourage them to look for innovative ways of using mobile technology to facilitate work assignments. They need to stay current on new and emerging technologies so that they know the capabilities and limitations of mobile tools. All of these students need to understand that businesses cannot compete on the basis of price alone. They need to identify factors beyond price that businesses can leverage to compete successfully in today’s marketplace.

Marketing students need to learn how to amplify promotional investments through the use of mobile technology. They need to be able to make their marketing communications easy to read and attractive to view on mobile devices. These students need to determine how to make all customer touch points mobile friendly. They need to learn how to integrate designs across multiple channels. Some marketing students need to use web analytics and work with unstructured data.

 

*Finance Executive Advisory Panel, Columbus, OH, May 21, 2013
*Marketing Executive Advisory Panel, Dublin, OH, May 22, 2013
*Management and Administration Executive Panel, Dublin, OH, May 23, 2013

Business Trend

In our ongoing conversations with the business community*, we asked them to identify business trends impacting the workplace. The most frequently identified trend: expanding workplace and societal diversity.  


Workplace Implications

Clashes in the workplace and in society are increasing as diversity expands across a variety of factors especially generationally and religiously, as gender/sexuality issues arise, and as expectations of accommodations in policies, benefits, and other operational processes increase. By 2020, there will be five generations of employees in the workplace. These generations have different values, work ethics, and benefit expectations.

Employees need to understand international customers, cultures, and trends to be effective. Leaders have to consider the legal implications associated with accommodations. Human Resources Management is expected to take a lead role in dealing with the talent management changes created by globalization

As baby-boomers retire, there are fewer replacement employees resulting in less experienced, lower cost employees advancing more quickly. These employees have less time to acquire a deep understanding of job responsibilities as they move up the career ladder, so Human Resources Management must be prepared to coach these individuals.


Classroom Implications

All business administration students need an awareness of the global economy. They need to understand how all the key business functions (e.g., marketing, finance, operations, human resources management) are impacted by the world economy. The curriculum needs to emphasize globalization, cultural diversity and intelligence, and international business.

 

*Finance Executive Advisory Panel, Columbus, OH, May 21, 2013
*Marketing Executive Advisory Panel, Dublin, OH, May 22, 2013
*Management and Administration Executive Panel, Dublin, OH, May 23, 2013

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