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2020 Vision: Forging a Clear Path to the Future

The future is closer than we think. We don’t need a crystal ball to peer into the year 2020 to see the possibilities that will impact the way we live, learn and work. 

February 04,  2016

By Elaine Cole

[Excerpt from Neeley Magazine Fall/Winter 2015-16] – “Five years is like next week,” Joe Jordan BBA ’87, owner of Jordan Group, said when asked what he thinks business will be like in five years. “According to current product lifecycle models, that is only 3.3 iPhone versions from now.”

If 2020 seems a long way off, just think of the changes you’ve made in your life and work over the last five years. Everything is changing. Social media is driving sales, customers are engaging in relationships with brands, companies are adopting purpose into their profits, and data is helping people find products and services, sometimes before they even know they need it.

To meet the future, professionals of all ages must be able to utilize the latest technology, think critically and creatively, communicate clearly, motivate across cultures and generations, and adapt to complex environments.

The Future of Business

When we asked our alumni for their vision of business over the next five years, their answers included predictive analytics, a need for increased cultural understanding, customer engagement through social media, the Internet of Things and the end of silos and hierarchies.

Tony Scanio MBA ’12, manager of international operations and logistics for Christus Health, envisions that the world will continue to embrace on-demand businesses and services such as Uber, but he also points to one innovation that everyone agrees will impact every business, everywhere: big data.

“Predictive analytics will become even more advanced in offering targeted marketing messages to consumers, often before the consumer realizes he or she needs something,” Scanio said.

Kirby Thornton MBA ’90, senior manager of analytics and insights for Pier 1, foresees new ideas surrounding big data over the next five years, especially “managing complex infrastructure and drawing insights through a variety of new statistical and visualization tools.”

But the future isn’t entirely about technology. People – and the products and services they can provide or need – are still at the heart of business.

Bill Miller BBA ’71, CEO of Houston Installation Services, believes the “customer engagement experience will be as important as the product or service. People will rely less on internet search and more on their social networks.”

Perhaps the most reassuring prediction about the future of business is that it won’t be entirely about making a profit.

“We're seeing the emergence of a purpose-driven economy,” Andrew Ripley BBA ’99, co-founder of PurposeMatch.com, said. “Millennials will be 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025, and studies show that they're passionate about finding meaningful careers that make a positive impact.”

The Future of Business Education

The best way to face an uncertain future is to develop an adaptive mindset. TCU Neeley faculty members research and teach the latest advances in leadership, new ways of thinking and different approaches to problems.

“Critical thinkers acknowledge the complexity of decisions. They are motivated by facts, observations and reasoning rather than emotion, old habits or heuristics,” said Management Professor Abbie Shipp, who leads the FROG Model of Critical Thinking for TCU MBA students.Critical thinking is vital in a complex working environment.”

“What professionals need to know now and for the future is how to enable their organizations for adaptability, and that means we have to start with a different set of assumptions,” said Mary Uhl-Bien, the BNSF Endowed Professor of Leadership. “At TCU Neeley we are pioneering ways to think about leadership that take the best of what we know about leading people and combine it with cutting-edge research to design organizations for agility.”

Future business leaders also need to address a wider range of problems, not just business problems. TCU Neeley is broadening business education to connect society with business.

“We are changing business from being perceived as a necessary evil to being a necessary force for good,” said O. Homer Erekson, the John V. Roach Dean of the TCU Neeley School.

Ray Pfeiffer, associate dean of undergraduate programs, added: “Business education has become too narrow. We want to make a global mindset a requirement.”

Students aren’t the only ones learning new ways of approaching business. Executives turn to TCU Neeley Executive Education to hone their skills for the future.

“As organizations become more complex, executives must adapt. Do the old paradigms fit? Some do and many do not,” Jim Roach, executive director of TCU Neeley Executive Education, said. “We help executives look at what it means to lead today. Are they looking at context? Can they think creatively? Are they providing purpose and high-level direction to inspire and focus their team? Our TCU Neeley faculty members are experts in these areas. We are positioned to help leaders be ready for what is to come.” 

To read the entire article, plus the latest news, research and alumni profiles, download the latest Neeley Magazine here, or pick up a copy on campus.

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