Leading MBA students face Networked Society tech challenge

Categories: Industry Corporate

MBA students to solve mystery case

Some of the world’s brainiest MBA students will be firmly focused on the Networked Society this weekend when they use their business acumen to solve a technology business case set by Ericsson and Boston University. The 24-hour challenge is unique in the telecoms industry.

This year marks Ericsson’s fourth successive sponsorship of the Annual International Tech Strategy Business Case Competition – hosted by the Boston University School of Management. Teams of four students from 16 of the world’s leading MBA programs across seven countries will compete over a 24-hour period to solve a market challenge focused on technology in business strategy and operations.

While the exact nature of the business case is secret until it is revealed to the students, they already know that the technology challenge will be related to the multiple facets of the Networked Society and its benefits to people, business and society. Readers can follow the competition via Ericsson’s related Boston Business Case Competition 2011 events page, including Twitter feeds and videos from Ericsson’s Technology for Good Facebook page.

The university’s business case author, Professor N Venkatraman, known as Venkat, says: “This is a one-of-a-kind format and good practice for real life. Sometimes you have limited time to make sense of a problem and make recommendations.”

The competition has created so much buzz among business schools that many have set up in-house semi-final competitions to decide which four students will represent their schools in Boston.

Venkat says the influence of Ericsson as a sponsor has also changed the curriculum at business schools, as well as cementing Ericsson’s reputation among MBA program students as a company with expertise, innovation and career opportunities beyond traditional telecoms.

“At business schools, the attention we pay to telecoms is relatively low compared to the importance of the sector,” he says. “The case competition addresses telecoms not only because we can have better communications, but because the industry influences all other sectors like media, government, transportation and more.

“Sometimes the students are required to take a technology strategy course before they can enter their semi-final competitions.”

Previous competition participants say the experience helped educate them about the broad remit of Ericsson’s operations, as Orlando O’Neill, now a second year student at Kellogg School of Management, recalls.

“I came away with a deeper understanding of the implications of a connected world and the challenges of getting there,” he says. “Through the competition and the conversations I had with people there, I gained a far better appreciation for the company.”

An impressive top prize of USD 25,000 awaits the winning team, with further cash prizes of USD 15,000; USD 5,000 and USD 2,500 awaiting the teams placed second, third and fourth respectively.

In a new development for 2011, there will be a bonus 4-hour collaborative competition on March 26 in which the 64 students will be drawn randomly into 12 teams and liaise with executives from Global Perspectives, Ericsson's leadership development program for its next generation of executives.

Venkat says: “The Ericsson participants are not judging, they are guiding and infusing their thought leadership to these 64 students. Then, when they go back to university, they also influence other people and the role of technology and wireless internet in our world.

“Students are working with Ericsson executives, which is the best way we can influence the next generation executives,” he says.

Four of the bonus competition winning teams will receive USD 2,000 each.