Digitalization: The role of academia

Alfonso Bolio Arciniega - Rector UP-IPADE

At Accenture, we have a very solid agenda for driving digitalization, and we can see that the challenge of the future will lie in the talent that companies hire. How is academia preparing Mexican talent to face this digital transformation?

First of all, I would like to mention an important fact: how much has Internet use increased in the last 10 years according to the World Bank? It’s risen from 14% to 40%, which is a huge number. This has brought about a radical transformation in the way we live, and, of course, it has its positive and negative implications. Now, the digital phenomenon will never be able to substitute human freedom. Computers provide the data; they’re the tools. But we are the ones who need to know how to use our freedom.

Universities must cater to the individual, to people. What do people do? We make decisions. And those decisions are not going to be made by a computer. We must make decisions in a world that presents us with these challenges, and among the alternatives, there are two that provide us with anchorage in the human: family and academic institutions.

Thus, we should continue with digitalization, but become complete human beings at the same time...

And we should take full advantage of digitalization. For example, being able to see a person who is 10,000 kilometers away and having the possibility of direct dialog with them. That’s something very beneficial and provides great support to corporations. Being able to see people’s faces even though they’re very far away makes decision-making much easier.

Speaking of which, before, with traditional management, certain decisions were made with deeper levels of information, but when all that information is digital and online, how can one distinguish who is the true leader?

The leader has followers, and needs to have a number of very important characteristics. I’ll only mention human characteristics: honesty, sincerity, loyalty, strength, justice, temperance. If we break them down, we see that prudence, for example, is nothing more than obtaining information and analyzing it. That’s a fundamental characteristic in a leader. One admires a fair leader, but what does this mean? It means giving to each person according to their right. When we see someone doing this, we end up admiring them, and that is where adhesion arises from. Strength is resisting, but also tackling things: doing something to change things, having a positive influence. And temperance is the moderate use of goods.

Nothing more. Money should be a driver or a means, for example, but never an end. The economic growth of a country is not enough: wealth is generated, but what is missing is distribution.

It’s worth thinking about that. What is the right balance between protecting the DNA of human behavior and maximizing digital capabilities?

Good education will allow for the appropriate use of these tools in the future. Everything must stem from responsibility, which means having the ability to answer for one’s actions. The essence of human behavior is values. Everything stems from this.

How are academic curricula evolving with these new digital needs?

I’d say it’s present in all degree programs; there isn’t one where it isn’t. Medicine, Law, Psychology: they all have to be given that value. If you don’t give it to them, you’re left out. Even Philosophy, the discipline which we might say is the most speculative, needs digitalization, but always as a tool that doesn’t substitute human freedom. There is always someone who is designing what the machine will do.

How have you seen the transformation of the IPADE model in the last few decades?

I’ve been at the IPADE for 37 years. The first generation of the full-time Master's program graduated 40 years ago and there was only one woman. Now more than 30% are women. That's a great transformation. It means that society has been changing in terms of gender. And from a business point of view as well, since women have been increasingly occupying greater and better positions.

Digitalization has also brought free exercise in which one can lose respect. We must put rules on the quality of what is shared in the digital world in place, which should lead us to having exactly the same pattern of behavior as in social interaction.

It shouldn’t be any different. Sometimes digitalization doesn’t impose rules on respect, and what that reinforces is the need for human beings to continue interacting, because otherwise you lose that respect. There’s also an issue of disloyalty, which can show itself on many occasions. That’s to do with the level of commitment, which has been increasingly diluted. You see the commitments that people make; they don’t have the support they used to. The tool of digitalization must never dehumanize. We must always go back to basics, and the basics are found in values. That’s where universities have great influence, and we professors have a great responsibility.


Stay In The Know

Receive e-mails from Accenture featuring new content that matches your interests.

Visit the subscription center to make your selections and subscribe to New from Accenture.