“Ughhhh social media” I groaned, rolling my eyes, as I perused the Digital Transformation course requirements prior to the start of the semester and caught sight of the words “blog posts” and “twitter.” I immediately began searching for other classes to transfer to. It’s not that I have anything against blogs – in fact, as a secretly aspiring writer, I had tried for years to work up the courage to start a blog but self-doubting questions always surfaced to hinder my efforts (what would I even write about? who would even read it? And how could I keep my privacy and anonymity once everything was out in the open?). Those same questions immediately clouded my mind, preventing me from thoroughly reading the rest of the information posted on Canvas about the course. Yet a nagging voice in the back of my head whispered ‘this will probably wind up being your favorite class.’
I had just spent the summer interning with Verizon, where I worked on mapping out the competitive landscape of the burgeoning multi-access edge computing (MEC) market, and was envisioning the class as a continuation of that work and providing broader context around enterprise digitization (shift to cloud, integration of automation/systems/AI, etc). Having spent 12+ years in hospitality and considering myself technologically illiterate, my affinity for Verizon and the telecom/tech world had taken me by surprise; I was excited to share my newfound knowledge with my peers while continuing to build my acumen, and was worried I had misunderstood the focus.
In the first class when Professor Kane stated “technology alone doesn’t do anything – it’s how technology allows you to do business differently,” I was reminded of a quote that had really resonated with me during my internship by the CEO of Verizon Consumer Group, Ronan Dunne: “customers don’t buy what tech offers; they buy the experience tech enables.” Hearing this had been a true paradigm shift in the course of my summer and my view/understanding of technology and its importance in life and in business; I had thought back on the various systems that Marriott had adopted throughout the course of my tenure with the company and how they had radically improved operating efficiencies, reaching new customer bases or enhancing customer experience to name a few. My concerns about Digital Transformation being a “social media” class began to fade and I perked up as Professor Kane laid out the endless possibilities for the semester.
As I enter into the final year of the MBA program and begin to narrow my job search, I am especially excited to be able to tailor the course and my research around particular areas of interest that likely won’t be covered in other classes or that I would have the ability to explore through another job/internship opportunity. Part of the impetus for my seeking an MBA was to be able to combine my passion for conservation and sustainability with my love of travel and tourism, and possibly re-enter the sector in a consultative capacity working on sustainable tourism. Unsurprisingly, there aren’t many classes that address this niche segment so I have sought to round out my coursework with classes that support a broader and highly transferrable knowledge base. I hope to use this course to hone in on how technology, and AI in particular, can help reduce the carbon footprint in tourism and hospitality. I’d also like to continue exploring MEC and how this, and other, technologies can support use cases that will improve sustainability and humanitarian work.
In addition to fulfilling these particular curiosities, I am excited to learn from my peers as they explore other topics that I perhaps would not know about or seek out on my own. I’m also looking forward to reading Professor Kane’s book and tapping in to his expertise to gain a better grounding in technology, information systems and, yes, even social media.