Communication and Information Technology: What else is there?

Submitted by: Lauren Hanat (US), Lehigh University

Summary: Given that the world is changing at a faster rate than education, students need to go back to basics and have a strong foundation in communication in order to handle the challenges presented by the unknown that is the future. In today's world, there is nothing more important than effective communication and implementation of information technology in business. Students who excel in using information technology will be great leaders because they demonstrate the ability to learn and change.

Full Description: If one word could represent the foundation of successful business management, that one word would be communication. Today’s business leaders above all need to be able to communicate well, work efficiently in teams and be comfortable with change. In order to produce these types of managers, graduate management programs need to first offer a rigorous study in business writing and Standard English editing according to the Associated Press.  Better writers are often better communicators both orally and in writing. In today’s world, managers need to effectively communicate in person, on the phone, through e-mail, through Google Wave, through Skype, in meetings and so on.  This first step towards improving communication skills in students is through writing. The next step is to promote agile practices. Agile practices develop the individual to perfection which in turn builds a strong team unit. The final step is to teach students about information technology. Students who understand today's technology will be better learners of tomorrow. Ultimately, graduate management programs need to prepare students for the unknown that is to come in the future, and these three implementations towards improving communication skills will transform students into business professionals who are prepared to gracefully take on challenges in the future.

Essentially, this idea would have a global impact on the business world. This restructuring of graduate management education, with a central focus on communication, will develop students into strong leaders, efficient and effective members of a team, and individuals who know how to portray themselves and the company as a whole in a positive manner.  Cell phones are in the fourth generation; laptops, cameras, music, books and the internet have been transferred over to the iPad; Salesforce and Google Wave are revolutionizing e-mail and instant messaging; and many of the top jobs today were not in existence seven years ago. So what does this mean for graduate management education and how we communicate? Essentially, people are being called upon today to be more versatile than ever.

Overall, this focus on communication skills will produce leaders who are capable of taking on unknown challenges in the future. Students who understand how to communicate knowledge work well with others and express ideas in a succinct and intelligent manner will revolutionize the business world. Additionally, students who understand information technology today will be better users of information technology tomorrow, and overall will be able to adapt to the changes to come in the future. This idea will have a global impact and the costs will be quite low. Universities can decide the extent to which they would like to utilize this idea.

The implementation of these three steps is simple and would not take more than a year. Management programs should offer business writing and editing courses to students. Not only will writing skills improve, but paying attention to minute details will be especially emphasized through editing courses. Next, agile practices should be taught in the classroom and graduate management programs should invite companies that flourish through the use of agile practices to speak to students about their experiences. Graduate management programs should hold an annual competition for each year’s class that would use agile practices in a simulated engagement. Universities should construct agile environments with circular tables, monitors, computers, projectors, financial calculators and so on for the best results.

Agile practices reminds us that as the world becomes more and more technologically integrated, it is crucial that people still have face-time with their colleagues. The third implementation would involve information technology courses that teach the latest tools to students. If the funds were available, universities should give students the iPad. All in all, information technology is the driving force behind all of the changes the world is currently experiencing. The three most valuable tools graduate management programs can instill in students is how to be good learners, how to be effective communicators and how to adapt to change.