IBM Watson and Ed-tech: Utilizing AI to Nurture Future Leaders

How are management education and AI tied together, and how should we go about making use of AI to nurture workplace talent? Kenichi Suzuki, faculty of GLOBIS and director of GAiMERi (GLOBIS AI Management Education Research Institute) joined Kazushi Kuse, CTO of IBM Japan to discuss this subject.

Kuse: Our discussion today is on How to apply AI to train the next generation of leaders. What kind of issues does GLOBIS try to solve by using AI?

Suzuki: At GLOBIS University, we nurture future generations of managers and business leaders. We are interested in improving the efficiency and sophistication of our teaching by using AI, and in fostering leaders capable of utilizing AI.

Our trigger - which is a problem faced throughout the education sector, not just at GLOBIS – was that we found we needed to improve the efficiency of our work on reporting and testing.

GLOBIS classes are about active learning. Students interact with one another, making comments during class discussions and group work, and giving each other feedback during class. In management education, it is often the case that there is no single right answer. Usually the problems and questions we face require thinking through discussion.

Kuse: So, we could say that GLOBIS classes are based on conversations and collaborations among the students, namely, natural languages-related matters, in terms of AI.

Suzuki: That's right. In the grand scheme of things, I feel it is necessary to personalize education, so each student can reach their own answer.

Education is currently carried out mainly in groups, but I think that there are some skills that can be honed through individualized instruction, much in the way that in ancient times, Alexander the Great was taught by his teacher, Aristotle.

It might be possible to apply technology such as natural language analysis, which I know IBM's Watson is good at, to provide individualized education without increasing the burden on the school.

Kuse: You are now attacking a very important problem. We are using Watson to support a part of a teaching assistant job at Georgia Tech. It still includes some challenging tasks such as answering questions which do not have a single answer. 

The big data of natural languages is one of the most important knowledge sources which enterprises are not fully utilizing now. GLOBIS' data of classes and communications will be able to support the development of strong future leaders.

Suzuki: We also expect to apply AI to measure the learning effect. Amongst this enormous data, I want to use the technology to visualize exactly where the learning effect that we aim for is created, and where the students’ "Aha! moment" is found.

For example, if we can transcribe students' remarks by using text mining or use IoT-like technology to turn their ways of working together into data, we will be able to objectively analyze engagement in the classroom. By doing this, I think we will see a new form of effective management education.

Nurturing managers who can use AI

Kuse: Another pertinent issue is on developing managers who can fully use AI for their business management.

Suzuki: That's right. At GLOBIS, we seek to nurture visionary leaders who create and innovate societies. We live in an intense period of change. It is becoming more and more impossible to revolutionize and create new business without ICT.

Our aim is to create leaders who can innovate in this new era of business management. So, we have been moving our curriculum towards building talent who understand and can employ the latest technology. We call this concept “Technovate,” which is our own portmanteau of “technology” and “innovate.” We use it in course names, too. For example, Technovate Thinking.

Kuse: I believe that even managers should have some experiences of using AI rather than just a basic knowledge of AI. 

Japanese management has high-quality standards of products and services, but do not pay much attention to IT and digital. I think that this situation around IT and digital is a risk in Japan.

Technovate Thinking could be the essential skill for management to effectively use IT as a business tool.

Suzuki: That’s our aim. We want to give our students hands-on experience of programming, so they can draw on the essence of understanding technology.

We hope that through a correct understanding of technology, we will nurture managers who aim to realistically apply the technology, not just merely love it for its own sake.

Towards a new concept of management education

Kuse: You mentioned earlier the personalized management education is getting more important. At TERAKOYA in the Edo Era, a kind of diversity was realized through different ages, backgrounds, personalities, etc. All of the students learned through collaboration and personalized ways. I think GLOBIS is leading the next generation of management education by introducing full collaboration and diversities as a super advanced TERAKOYA.

Suzuki: In today’s highly uncertain world, where we don’t always know our goal beforehand, I think it is important to open ourselves up to new experiences by learning with people of different ages, experiences and backgrounds. In that sense, GLOBIS is a modern version of those schools.

Kuse: There might not be so many places for us to get those kinds of special experiences. IBM describes AI as Augmented Intelligence not as Artificial Intelligence, for supporting humans. AI will not exceed humans or not replace humans. AI will collaborate with us in the area of technology as well as management.

Suzuki: AI stimulates us in much the same way as going to a new place or meeting new people. People often say that diversity within an organization is necessary, but I think it is equally important to create diversity within ourselves as individuals. It's the same story, I think.

AI is good at optimizing towards a purpose, but we humans are better at “noticing" based on that information. We tend to work better incrementally by forming and testing hypotheses. Augmented management education might help us build upon “wild ideas” with enormous amounts of information. This will free us up to gain a better understanding of problems before we solve them.

Like AI, we face a similar requirement to make a leap forward in management education. Our goal is to know what makes people grow. With a new awareness enabled by AI, we harbor great expectations for education, where we can connect the dots between various skills and turn them into one big picture of how we all grow.

This article is based on an interview originally appearing in Japanese. Translated by Karl O'Callaghan (GLOBIS Faculty; Founder and CEO, kaigai.world; GLOBIS Graduate).

Kazushi Kuse joined IBM in 1987 as a Senior Researcher in the IBM Tokyo Research Lab. He was leading research projects on Software Engineering, Programming Languages, Pervasive Computing and Software Technology at the Tokyo Research Lab. He became Director of Tokyo Research Lab. in 2004. He joined the Management Committee on the IBM Japan Board of Directors in 2005. He took an oversea assignment to IBM HQ in New York in 2006. He was appointed to Director of Systems Development Lab., Director of Services Innovation Lab., and VP of Strategic Value Creation Team after the assignment. He became VP of IBM Research & Development - Japan in 2009. He became VP, CTO of IBM Japan in 2017. He received a Doctor of Computer Science from the University of Tsukuba in 1987.

Since February 2017, Kenichi Suzuki has been the director of GAiMERi, the GLOBIS AI Management Education Research Institute, which conducts research into the applications of artificial intelligence and related technologies toward management education. Mr. Suzuki is also an active member of GLOBIS University’s faculty, teaching analytical skill-related subjects such as critical thinking and quantitative analysis for business in the school's MBA programs. In addition, he conducts corporate training programs for prominent Japanese corporations.
Mr. Suzuki was previously the Secretary-General of the Graduate School of Management, GLOBIS University. Thanks in part to his efforts, GLOBIS University was founded as one of the first corporate-owned graduate business schools in Japan in April 2006, and officially became an educational corporation in April 2008.
Before joining GLOBIS, Mr. Suzuki worked at the Nomura Research Institute, and then joined A.T. Kearney as a manager, where he worked as a management consultant in the manufacturing and telecommunication industries.

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