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AI, the Next Big Competence in Business Education

“AI will necessitate a new breed of business leaders who are fluent in both technology and traditional business practices,” says Eric Anderson, an AI expert, author, and professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, who spoke with Eduvantis recently.

The immediate challenge for graduate business schools is ensuring their entering students are sufficiently proficient in AI. Anderson also co-founded and launched the MBAi, a joint degree with the McCormick College of Engineering and Kellogg. “Engineering students enter the program with significant programming and data skills, so moving forward with more advanced AI-involved learning and analysis is easier,” says Anderson.

But this will need to evolve regarding most entering MBA students. Integrating AI education starts with foundational courses like data analytics, but quickly extends into every aspect of a business education.  Anderson says this integration requires a radical transformation in how subjects are taught. For example, accounting might not just involve ledger management but also using AI tools to predict financial trends and anomalies, from the first day of class. “It will allow professors to start at a much higher level of complexity in the classroom,” says Anderson.

The requirements of this new era extend beyond understanding AI technologies. They involve managing data and applying AI tools to solve real-world business problems. This means business students must not only learn about AI but also about its applications in various business domains. Schools must create environments where students can apply AI tools in realistic simulations and real-world projects, thus preparing them for the complexities of the modern business world.

This shift in education and skill development will be mirrored by changes in how faculties are structured and courses are designed. Traditional teaching methods and materials will become less relevant as the demand for new, AI-centric educational content grows.

Schools must redesign their educational offerings quickly, ensuring that AI competence is central to their curricula, giving graduates the necessary skills to leverage AI effectively and responsibly, and ensuring their relevance in an ever-evolving business landscape.

To hear a conversation with Professor Anderson about this topic, listen to our podcast episode “AI Will Transform the Business Education World.”