4 keys to effectively using technology to inform strategy in your enterprise

  • April 24, 2023
  • By WashU Olin Business School
  • 4 minute read

We’re living in a world where economic progress is coming principally from technology. According to an estimation by economist Robert Solow, technological change accounts for about two-thirds of US growth. At Olin, we are fired up by technology’s potential to fuel business growth for our MBA students.

What is the impact of technology on business? If handled carefully and thoughtfully, technology can inform strategy and identify where opportunity exists, as well as where challenges are emerging. With the right tools, it also allows managers to simulate strategic courses of action and test their effectiveness before implementation. That’s why we believe online MBA programs that put technology at the forefront are the best options for students to gain a greater understanding of advanced tools and platforms.

What challenges accompany strategic technology?

Technology has always transformed business, but what is being transformed has changed. During the Industrial Revolution, most technologies pertained to blue-collar manufacturing jobs. As work shifted to offices, technology moved to power white-collar jobs, starting with typewriters and quickly evolving to the personal computers many employees now use to work exclusively from home.

Throughout this evolution, the work of managers remained largely technology-free, but this has drastically changed in the 21st century. With the cost of data collection, storage, and processing at a fraction of what it once was, technology has entered the C-suite. This has caused the importance of technology skills to skyrocket, and C-suite members now have to learn a host of technology and leadership skills they weren’t exposed to as they rose the managerial ranks.

Data itself also presents many challenges. We rely on data to realize technology’s potential opportunities. In the past, lack of data was the principal challenge in making decisions. Now, the challenge has shifted to a flood of data. Companies are often sitting on data silos that need to go through extra stages of evolution to break down barriers between silos.

And even within a silo, there is often far more data than managers have knowledge of what to do with. While marketing managers have all the data they need to identify which promotions are effective, for example, they won’t know how to tease apart where sales are increasing from a promotion, from a packaging change, from a competitor’s misstep, or from some other external factor without sophisticated training.

How does the Online MBA set students up for success with technology?

Knowing how to use available data is only the first hurdle. Whether or when to use the incredible amounts of personal data on employees or customers is becoming increasingly important. As part of our values-based, data-driven philosophy, Olin’s digital MBA programs focus on the importance of technology skills while teaching students how to make data-driven decisions that align with their (and their employer’s) values. Here are four ways Olin sets students up for success when it comes to technology:

1. The cloud becomes knowable

The cloud has transformed the way people work: access to documents and information has become democratized, global team members and clients can participate remotely and many business problems that were previously confounding can finally be tackled. The cloud is a new way of thinking, and Olin’s Online MBA provides students with an environment in which to become masters of this technology through experiential learning techniques.

2. Values-based, data-driven decision-making

Olin’s Online MBA program teaches students to make decisions, which is a fundamental element of a business school education. But we also teach students the skills to support their decisions and to identify what data is needed, what data exists, where to find it, and how to collect and analyze it in a meaningful way. From there, we teach students how to use the available data to make decisions that align with the values of themselves, their employer and even society at-large. All of these activities require technology and a sophisticated understanding of how to leverage it.

3. Students learn how to stay safe

Technology may have introduced our businesses to new risks (like cyberattacks), but it is also the thing keeping us protected. Staying up to date with cybersecurity technology will be a vital part of any leader’s education. At Olin, students can practice building solutions that invite different levels of cyber risk. They can then practice troubleshooting and managing risk as they create projects with a real team but without the true risk of an unprotected environment.

4. Learn in your own sandbox

Olin’s MBA program is essentially a training ground — a lab environment where lessons can be learned in a safe space and ideas can be tested. Because our Online MBA has a digital emphasis, it gives students the opportunity to create their own approaches to digitalization and work with others to develop innovative solutions to problems. With access to state-of-the-art tools, students can gain an advanced fluency with technology before heading out on their own.

A bright future with Olin

Olin’s Online MBA helps prepare leaders to effectively utilize technology as a strategy within their enterprise-level companies and organizations. From developing a technology-first mindset to learning how to overcome cybersecurity risks, the benefits of online MBA programs for leaders of the future should not be underestimated.

About the Author

Washington University in Saint Louis

WashU Olin Business School

Firmly established at the Gateway to the West, Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis stands as the gateway to something far grander in scale. The education we deliver prepares our students to thoughtfully make difficult decisions—the kind that can change the world.

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