Higher Education at a Strategic Inflection Point
By Adam Brandenburger
The arrival of digital technology in higher education does not mean the death of face-to- face education. The picture is much more subtle — and interesting — than that.
Here is a diagram of the notion of a strategic inflection point (which I'll refer to as a SIP). This is Grove's original diagram, embellished to emphasize that the status-quo path is highly unlikely. The business will go either way up or way down.
Today, universities find themselves at about the biggest SIP one could imagine. The increases in tuition in recent years are unsustainable. Even if there is a global moneyed class that can continue to afford these increases, they are inconsistent with a university’s mission to serve the world, not just a small subset of the world. New forms of competition to conventional education are arising at a very fast rate, with a great deal of innovative talent and money behind them. The MOOC (massive open online course) providers Coursera, edX, and Udacity have received enormous media attention. But, many other types of new educational models are springing up, as well. (In business education — the area I know best — new startups targeting education for budding entrepreneurs are announced more or less every day.) As for universities themselves, they do not have a strong track record of innovating and embracing change. They are in many ways highly entrenched institutions. All these factors point to the very real possibility that many universities, if they do not evolve rapidly, face a less-than-bright future. No doubt, different universities are in different positions. Some – those at the top – will certainly fare well in almost any circumstance. But many universities are in a much less protected position.
Read full article as published in The Stern Opportunity
Adam Brandenburger is the J.P. Valles Professor of Business Economics and Strategy and Vice Dean for Graduate Education.