Business Schools Losing Relevancy Due to The Digital Revolution

The common perception from Bachelor of Commerce students in Canada is that they learn more than a semester’s worth of information geared towards their concentration at a Queens’ University run conferences.

I know from personal experience when attending three of these over my undergraduate years pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing Management at the University of Guelph the latter was certainly the case.

As the social media revolution began to really materialize by 2008-2009, evidently academia was at risk of falling so far behind that what they were teaching was a crash course in business history rather than the new digitalized concepts that would allow students to succeed in the working world.

At Social Fresh in Tampa Bay, Florida on February 22nd this year, the ninth running of the conference by founder Jason Keath, one asked to be unnamed Public Relations professor could not have said that more clearly: “What I’ve learned here today means that I’ll have to re-write my public relations textbook that I’m teaching to my students”.

I cannot blame academia though because few of the top marketing agencies in the world were able to keep up with the unprecedented rapidly changing pace of digital media at first that would soon flip into mobile media by the present with the rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets. However, According to Ad Age, 28% (8.5 billion) of revenue agencies make is from digital now.

If academia has not already caught up to digital at some business schools, imagine how difficult it will be to make the transition to mobile, tablets and new forms of media.

Never before have all fields of commerce seen so much change, and so quickly. You could easily argue that the human resources industry is more than 50% online-driven as you don’t see much in the newspaper in the way of jobs anymore.

Despite being a year removed from graduation, I struck up conversations with students at the University of Guelph still pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce. As I watched the full realization of the digital media revolution unfold since September I felt sorry for anyone who was stuck in school and missing these incredibly exciting times in the fast-paced media world.

The intersection of technology, marketing and media had come about and students were hardly learning about just that.

That’s why the Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference meets the students’ call to action to learn something about the ever-changing technological world on May 7-8 in Toronto.

That’s not to say some strides have been made- at Queens’ University Media Professor Sidney Eve Matrix teaches about the intersection of media and technology while covering digital for CBC and CTV.

Alexa Vogel of George Washington University in Washington DC also said that she was taking a specialized night class that taught a different technology every lecture and said that she was literally amazed at the amount of innovation at our fingertips.

CUTC Brand Ambassador Jathu Vasantharaja who is doing multiple degrees at two different universities by choice says:

“In today’s world, when pursuing a bachelor of commerce, technology is changing so fast that by the time you are done school many of things you have learned in your degree program are outdated. Attending conferences such as the Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference is an efficient time and money-wise way to keep up to date with the latest advances and innovations. As an Ambassador of the CUTC, I highly stress to fellow students that they will learn more at the CUTC than an entire month’s worth of school. It simply takes too long for Universities to process the latest technological advances, publish them into textbooks and integrate them in the course syllabus. What we are learning in school today is history, why not step outside and learn about the future?”

While strides are beginning to be made in academia with the help of outside associations like CUTC, the mere fact that the conference to be held at the University of Toronto is already sold out is a sign that a multiple number of these conferences will be needed across Canada.

The founder of the very successful social news site Reddit, Alexis Ohanian, will be on hand as a keynote speaker. Reddit ranks as one of the top 150 sites in the world according to Alexa, and has surpassed Digg in the minds of many online experts as the number one general social news site in the world.

Microsoft, Nokia, Deloitte and Accenture are all sponsoring which comes as no surprise as they continue to try to be the barons of the tech world rather than Google, Facebook, Apple and LinkedIn.

Despite that, the conference should be very entertaining and educational for all involved as for many it will be the first time they will experience the power of the digital media revolution. Twelve hundred registered students and delegates will be on hand for the two-day conference.

However, the conference dives into the new media aspect associated with smartphones and tablets.

The Canadian Marketing Association has just recently stepped up to introduce a new Mobile Marketing Council at the recent Mobile Marketing Conference held on April 12th, to be spearheaded by Canada’s Research In Motion.

The CUTC conference will go well beyond anything that a student could learn with a regular set of commerce or media classes, and that’s what really counts in a business academia world that is quickly losing relevancy in a rapidly changing world.

After all, Matthew Broderick once said in the 1986 classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it”.