Bruce Cleveland | Founding Partner, Wildcat Venture Partners
Prospecting for Digital Oil
The World Economic Forum cites, “[the digital economy] is disrupting almost every industry in every country. And, these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.”
Where land, oil, and capital drove the past three Industrial Ages, this new “4th Industrial Age” is powered by “digital oil” – data. Companies are building and deploying systems of intelligence to prospect, discover, and refine the digital oil of the digital economy. And, the miners of this digital oil are “business scientists”.
Business scientists must understand how to capture, observe, and utilize customer, financial, market, and product data. They do not necessarily have to be technical – as in know how to code – instead, they must learn how to generate and review business data and use their creative skills to operate business application software.
In the US, politicians, academia, and industry leaders are currently placing a tremendous focus on technical training, coding, and other STEM programs. However, the unspoken truth is that many of these positions will eventually be eliminated through advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Additionally, many people are simply not interested or well-suited for these technical programs, degrees, and jobs. However, people who are creative and critical thinkers – products of liberal arts programs – are ideally suited to fill the positions of the digital economy.
All they need is some additional specialized training and knowledge. Micro Education companies and microdegrees are well-designed to provide such training.
Inadequate Education and Training Programs
The current educational system is challenged to provide training for the 4th Industrial Age and digital economy jobs that require skills using business application software.
Traditional Education. Most traditional education programs are not equipped to provide the hands-on and work-related experience students need to master business application software and business science. Industry requirements and business applications change so rapidly that by the time a new curriculum is peer-reviewed and approved, it is already out of date – and few university professors have current industry experience or are skilled in the use of business application software.
Online Education Programs. Typical online programs lack real-time, interactive hands-on application software instruction, business science training, and do not include the real-world work experience companies and government organizations require for even the most basic, entry-level positions.
Application Software Companies. Application software providers are not in a position to easily address the issue as one vendor can seldom provide all the necessary functionality for a specific business or government function. In almost every case, each business function requires a number of application software products from a variety of providers.
Corporate Training. Due to the rapid pace of change and competition, most employers do not have the luxury of time or the resources to internally train new workers how to use business application software; so many current employees are not up to speed with these new applications. Companies are seeking workers already skilled in these operational functions and business applications.
Micro Education and Microdegrees
Microdegrees are relatively low cost and require less than 200 hours to proficiency. That said, they are not an alternative to 2- or 4-year higher-ed degree programs or graduate school, they are complementary and augmentative.
A microdegree provides the following benefits:
• Skills-based training that prepares students for jobs in areas of high demand by industry and government organizations
• Less than 200 hours from zero knowledge to proficiency
• Hands-on, business application software instruction to prepare students to become “business scientists”
• A combination of in-person and online learning delivered in real-time
• Work experience gained through real-world projects mentored by industry experts
• A selective application process to help identify people motivated to learn
• Testing and certification to assure employers that job applicants have achieved basic proficiency levels
The key target audience for microdegrees are:
• Liberal Arts students – Students studying liberal arts may not have specific skills that are immediately relevant to the industry. Industry statistics cite that less than two percent of businesses actively seek liberal arts students.
• Veterans – Many companies have a difficult time translating how military experience correlates to industry-specific skills. Vast numbers of veterans returning to civilian roles directly from active duty are especially challenged in this area.
• Professionals – Many professionals in the current workforce must learn new skills to stay relevant. Examples include workers who are returning to the workforce from significant absences (e.g. post parental leave, sabbaticals) and must refresh their skillsets; displaced workers who must forge a new profession (e.g. laid off workers due to job obsolescence – manufacturing factory workers); and those who are seeking to change lanes mid-career must demonstrate proficiency in areas of high demand.
GreenFig – Designed to Create Business Scientists Ready to Prospect for Digital Oil
GreenFig is a micro education company offering microdegrees in applied business science. While its current course offering is in digital marketing science, it will, over time, develop additional applied business science courses that include: customer success, finance, sales, service, and support.
GreenFig combines experiential learning from industry experts with business application software instruction and provides practical work experience where students can apply their newly acquired skills.
The unique aspect of the GreenFig program and its micr degrees is that students can achieve a microdegree in 200 hours or less and when completed, they can be confident they possess subject matter proficiency and basic work experience to become “business scientists” ready to prospect in careers that are in high demand by industry.
By Bruce Cleveland
With 10 years of experience as a marketer, Brandy Malcolm-Kerr was concerned that a course in Digital Marketing Science might be too pedestrian. Not to mention she already held an MBA. Still, Brandy decided to take the leap. She knew her traditional marketing background needed a 21st century makeover.