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How Technology is Changing Business

from "IT for Business" to "Digital Transformation" -
the educational trajectory of the EMBA program in Russian

Modern business is filled with technological solutions, but not always the interaction of Technology-Business is carried out successfully, not all implementations give results.

The educational trajectory of studying how technologies change business in the Executive MBA program in Russian at the Kingston/RANEPA Business School begins with an introduction to the IT for Business course. Igor Mushakov, a course teacher, a top manager with extensive experience in managing IT departments of companies from various business sectors (from leading retailers to the largest Russian and foreign banks, such as Sberbank, Uralsib, Rosbank, X5 Retail Group, VP-Bank Vietnam), offered the author's view on the problem of building effective interaction between business and technology department. "IT for non-IT specialists", "Guidelines for the effective use of IT in your company" – probably, such subheadings could be given to this course.

It is noted that the course receives the highest rating and recognition from IT specialists. Probably, this category of students is able to truly appreciate how important and complex a task this course is designed to solve. Roman Khokhlov, a student of EMBA-2020, the head of an IT company, shares his impressions: "IT for Business is very interesting. Despite the fact that this is my profile, I looked at the problem from the perspective of the customer. I've always been on the side of the IT services contractor, and it was incredibly useful to switch places, it really helps to improve interaction. Colleagues, however, it seemed a little difficult."

The educational trajectory of studying how technology is changing business continues in the second year of study. Here we are talking about the "Digital transformation of business". The course is comprehensive and consists of two parts: a two-day mini-conference with invited speakers-practitioners, which involves a discussion of various technologies and implementation examples, case studies of companies and an additional day devoted to the applied aspects of the implementation of digital solutions.

This format regularly confirms its attractiveness. Alexander Sobol, EMBA-2019 listener, head of a telecommunications company: "I really liked the approach of the mini-conference, although sometimes there was a compressed timing, I wanted to give more time to the speaker. Nevertheless, the mini-conference allows you to get acquainted with a huge number of technologies, ask questions to real practitioners."

From year to year, the school's partner in organizing the mini-conference "Digital Transformation" is MINDSMITH, offering a selection of relevant topics and speakers. Here are some of the topics covered during the mini-conference held in February 2021:
  • Herbert Shopnik, Director of S7 Tech Lab, spoke about examples of using blockchain technology in S7 Airlines;
  • Pavel Krasovsky, Deputy Director of the Center for Strategic Innovations of Rostelecom, shared a methodology for tracking new technologies and trends, similar to the well-known Gartner Hype Cycle, but created in-house according to the company's own developments;
  • The topic of cybersecurity and cyberethics was professionally presented by Ruslan Yusufov, partner of MINDSMITH;
  • Pavel Novikov, Director of the fintech and Blockchain Competence Center of the Skolkovo Foundation, gave practical examples of creating an ecosystem of innovations, working with startups, and shared tips on building relationships with investors;
  • Venture investor Viktor Orlovsky, Director of Fort Ross (California), held an online session from Silicon Valley. The conversation turned out to be dynamic: the discussion shifted imperceptibly from the topic of venture investment to the personal characteristics of entrepreneurs and leadership styles. Of course, there was a comparison of the styles of Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

It is fair to say that the most vivid impression was left by Dmitry Marinichev's performance. The discussion of the topics touched upon by Dmitry did not subside in the group for several days. Dmitry, an Internet ombudsman, futurist and visionary, talked about digital technologies from the position of "50-100 years later", taking the discussion to a completely different level, on topics that we simply do not have time to think about in the flow of daily events.

Thanks to Dmitry, the educational trajectory of the program, designed to study the interaction of Technology and Business, unexpectedly received a new vector and was raised to discuss philosophical, universal and civilizational issues – the participants separately noted and appreciated this. Igor Andreev, EMBA-2019 listener, Director of Security at the retailer: "We really like simple answers to complex questions. Especially about the future. What awaits us ahead? In my distant childhood, when I was reading science fiction, I was struck by the breadth of thought in predicting the directions of development of Civilization and Society. Although now I understand that the forecast of vectors and trends of development on the basis of the known, studied fits into the existing paradigm of thinking. But there are individual sparks in our modern history...individuals who can collect hints, "whiffs" of probabilities into a holistic picture and think not about the current essence of being, in all its ordinariness, but about what awaits or may await our Civilization. Dmitry Marinichev is one of them... And there are few such people."

Education should be comprehensive and multifaceted, as well as adaptive and relevant. And although the general direction of the educational trajectory of Technology-the Business program of the EMBA in Russian is defined, this path is laid out by a dotted line, every year the real embodiment of the trajectory gets a new sound and content - this is how it should be in our rapidly changing world.

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Marina Shermet
Director of the Executive Education Center
Faculty of International MBA Programs ION