Last week was intense for EADA’s MBAs. MBA participants spent time getting first-hand experience of the disruptive technologies transforming a wide variety of sectors at 4YFN (4 Years From Now), the leading fair for startups in Europe, as well as attending the Barcelona Mobile World Congress (MWC). This is the world’s largest exhibition for the telecommunications industry, with prominent executives representing mobile operations, device manufacturers, technology providers, vendors and content owners on a global level.
Attending both events is a fundamental part of the MBA module Exploring the future at 4YFN and MWC. The module challenges students to analyse the impact that these technologies have had on specific sectors before presenting their findings in March.
One MBA group focused on smart cities used the event to connect with several start-ups developing sensors for heavily trafficked areas. Another group working on social development projects was able to speak with CEOs that had developed sustainable initiatives with significant impact in the Third World.
A third group of MBA participants analysing disruptive innovation in the hotel sector experienced the latest advance in customer service, Pepper, that uses facial recognition to identify the user and provide immediate information about services, opening hours, and Wi-Fi.
To complete their analysis, participants interviewed CEOs from startups, attended presentations on disruptive innovation and networked with stakeholders with diverse backgrounds from around the world.
Module director Bart Huisken was on hand at the events, frequently meeting up with participants to hear feedback about their research and experience with CEOs and experts. According to Huisken, “This module is a unique opportunity to create a high performance team to carry out a tough challenge under tight time restraints.” He continued, “A project like this helps students make sense of the ambiguity in today’s explosion of new technologies and also offers the chance to network with leading executives in the field.”
For Huisken, the Exploring the future at 4YFN and MWC module gives MBA participants a first-hand look at how important innovation will be in their future careers. “It is about becoming aware of the role that these innovations play in the business world of today and tomorrow, and recognizing the absolute need for directors to be up-to-date about the latest developments,” he says.
MBA students recognised the value of the module –and the events– immediately. For Peruvian student Fiorella Díaz, FYFN and the MWC provide a sneak peek at the disruptive technologies that will transform the business world across all sectors over the next 5-10 years, technologies that are typically inaccessible until launched on the open market.
For Ji Une Kim from South Korea, the transversal nature of many of the businesses was the most surprising aspect of 4YFN. “We found incredible, unexpected connections between a wide range of industries,” she says. “Our group actually learned a lot by knocking on the doors of companies from seemingly ‘unrelated’ industries.”
MBA participant Kevin Schvartzman was especially impressed with the interviews. “The CEOs that we spoke with were very receptive, answering all of our questions patiently, showing us their products and explaining how they are transforming different sectors.” Classmate Adam Weiss agrees: “It was rewarding meeting with the Head of Innovation at Vueling to present The Revolver Life, our group’s platform that uses A.I. to improve travel, healthcare and sports experiences.” Adam continued, “She invited us to present the Beta version of our platform in the Barcelona Activa UX Lab and said that she would like to see it tested in the airport with customers in real time.”
MBA participants agreed that the Exploring the future at 4YFN and MWC module provided a valuable lens through which to view the Mobile World Congress and 4YFN events. The module helped them make sense of the often interconnected companies and industries represented at the events, while providing a framework to focus their learning on a single area of interest.