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Learning Rebooted in Higher Management Education

By Winnie Ranjan who is a Second Year PGDM Student at IILM Lodhi Road

Higher management education has witnessed a radical transformation in a matter of months due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Technology in the education sector has become an integral part of the new normal. This paradigm shift in the education sector has boosted the overall learning process. As a management student, online learning has made me wonder about the different trends and opportunities evolving in the field of education in the coming years.

As a response to the COVID 19 challenge, colleges and universities have revised the courses and subjects offered to students in order to facilitate learning that aligns with the skills required in the upcoming job market. The digital market space has taken another sharp upward turn and has evolved faster than ever before with new powerful sectors leading the pack. Different fields like data analytics, remote management, digital business, technology advancements among others have created even more demand for jobs. IILM has started offering subjects which foster alignment with the required skill sets in the job market.

In the current business world where everything is heavily dependent on data, analytics has become one of the powerful tools for the success of any organization. Considering this scenario, IILM has started offering different analytics-based courses to its students like Marketing Analytics, HR Analytics, Business Analytics, etc. which are in high demand in today’s job market. We also have a course on Python as technology is rapidly changing and learning programming has become crucial for future managers, so that they can provide innovative solutions for problems in the business world.

The lockdown has highlighted the importance of  E-commerce due to the changing behaviour of the consumers. It is very important for management students to learn about E-Commerce for both job opportunities as well as self-employment. Industry experts are delivering guest lectures so that students can gain insights into the practical application and challenges of e-commerce in various sectors.

IILM revamped its courses based on the current scenario and future forecast. It is also offering a course in Logistics Management. Apart from the digitalization in this industry, there has been a lot of changes in the global logistics management and supply chains due to the disruptions brought by the pandemic. Understanding these interactions is very important for managers to manage inventories and plan ahead.

There has always been a concern with remote learning with respect to imbibing social skills. Management students as “future managers” need to work in teams and manage people effectively. To help students incorporate these skill sets, IILM has offered a course on “Managing Virtual Teams” where international faculty have collaborated with IILM faculty members. This has enabled the mutual benefits of global learning for both students and faculty.

It is very important in these high times to interact and engage with students so that they don’t feel isolated and miss out on the personal touch. Business schools are planning sessions where they engage the students through different fun activities, games and other medium. At IILM, we have an interesting career course on “Management Through Movies” where students participate enthusiastically and discuss different movies keeping in mind the management approach.

The past few months have led to the digitization of education which has given rise to many online education platforms like Coursera, Udemy, Byju, etc., which in turn has widened the scope of learning for both students and professionals. In fact, many business schools have made it compulsory for students to take some courses on these platforms so that they can upscale their existing skills. IILM also took a similar kind of initiative and has tied-up with Coursera for providing free certificate courses to its students. Each student has her own strengths, weaknesses, interest area and pace of learning so based on choosing their own courses from a wide variety offered on this platform has been very helpful in providing personalized learning to students.

Looking into the future:

Looking ahead to a time when colleges and universities would re-open, there are higher chances of integration of analytics and technology into the course curriculum. As management students, it is important that we think through and analyze what is happening around us and how we can create opportunities for ourselves and harness these changes to the best for our learnings for a better future.

To learn more about how the new courses at IILM, please visit us at www.iilm.edu

The Virtual Team Revolution – It’s here to stay!

With the current pandemic situation across the globe, every organization is affected. But has the work stopped? The answer is – No! For the majority of organizations who have successfully established a strong digital culture, it is ‘Business as Usual’. Virtual teams are no more the future. They are here to stay.

Remote Teams – An Old or New Phenomenon?   

A virtual team is one whose members are geographically scattered in different locations communicating and collaborating through technology. Are geographically scattered remote teams a recent concept? If you think it is a new phenomenon, you are right but only partly. While technological advances, the Internet and the global workforce have created better conditions for remote teams in recent times, but they have been around for centuries. All kings and emperors such as Ashoka and Akbar and many others in the western world whose empires spread over large areas managed geographically dispersed remote teams. They created efficient and effective processes for communication and implementation to manage their empires through these remote teams, however, some teams worked efficiently while others struggled.

‘Work From Home’ (WFH) has become a buzz work in recent times. But the fact is that even the concept of working from home is not new. Historically speaking, for most of the trades, work from home was the common way of working. If we look at traditional occupations such as farmers, bakers, tailors, shoemakers, potters, weavers and blacksmiths etc., – they have always worked from homes.

The first Industrial Revolution extricated workers from their homes and pushed them into factories. With the introduction of electricity and public transport systems in the early 20th century, workers were further separated from their home as they began working in offices equipped with telephones, telegraphs, and the typewriter. But this concept soon faced a reverse wave in the 1970s because of the OPEC oil crisis that resulted in very high fuel costs and made commuting exorbitantly expensive.

People began looking for solutions for work to go on without workers having to commute. Jack Nilles, sometimes called “The Father of Teleworking” conducted the first formal tests of telecommuting and it soon saw rapid growth. In the 1980s, J.C. Penney began hiring home-based call center agents with the Clean Air Act leading many large businesses to offer telecommuting. The National Telecommuting Initiative created in 1996 in the US, soon flowed to other parts of the world.

20th century was the era of great technological advances that resulted in increase in telework and virtual teams. Personal Computers, cellular phones, voicemail, and then the internet explosion were factors that paved the way for the virtual workplace as we understand it today. In the year 2020, when organizations are globally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, working virtually has come to the rescue of many organizations and businesses because they were able to continue their businesses and curtail losses.

The Bright and Dark Sides of Virtual Teams

Several studies have found that virtual collaboration is more difficult than in a collocated environment. The disadvantages include difficulties in communication and coordination, reduced trust, and an increased inability to establish a common ground. Physical teams, on the other hand, have proximity that promotes frequent communication and the development of closer and more positive interpersonal relationships. Regular physical presence of team members helps in strengthening social ties that helps to reduce conflict while the distance in virtual teams decreases closeness and affinity, which can result in increased incidence of conflict. Some other issues of remote teams spread across different geographical locations can be that they have to negotiate multiple time zones that require them to reorganize their workdays to accommodate others’ schedules which may lead to frustration and confusion, especially if coworkers are regularly unavailable for discussion or clarification of task-related issues.

Do Virtual teams have any advantages? Yes, Virtual teams have many advantages too.   Remote teams are attractive for companies looking to hire for roles that are hard to fill. They can use remote working as a perk to attract applications for “location independent” positions. These organizations have the added advantage of being able to hire from a larger, more diverse pool of applicants. Then there is cost effective in terms of salaries as they ca hire people at lower salaries when compensation is not connected to living in a big, expensive city.

Other positives of remote virtual teams are that they are less career restrictive for employers and employees with many companies adopting remote as part of their company culture with a work from home option.

Uberization of Jobs

With the pandemic situation looming large across the world and in India, many organizations are actively adopting the work-from-home (WFH) model, and it can be predicted that many jobs could go the Uber way. Uberization of work means that employees can decide which hours of the day they will log in. This is more applicable for tasks that are homogeneous, like that of call centre employees where technological developments are making it easier to monitor remotely.

In India, Axis Bank had been preparing for a WFH model even before the pandemic struck, which made it possible to keep 700 of its call centre executives active even after the lockdown was announced. SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar said in a recent interview that the bank was planning to move to a Work-From-Anywhere model rather than just work-from-home. In the early weeks of the lockdown, HDFC Bank MD and CEO Aditya Puri had said that the bank was going to shift permanently to a WFH model for a third of its employees.

Tech companies, financial services and many other industries are moving towards virtual teams where they will play a large part in the new normal making it imperative for current and aspiring managers and leaders to equip themselves with a  new skill  –  the skill of Managing Virtual Teams. IILM, in step with the current trend, is offering a specially designed course called ‘Managing Virtual Teams’ for its management students and working executives who would like to upgrade their skill. This course discusses how to manage virtual teams so that they can outperform physical or collocated teams. Learning this skill is not an option but a necessity for managers and business leaders today to keep pace with the current world scenario.

To know more about the innovative and industry benchmarked courses, please write to me at atima.mankotia@iilm.edu.