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Can emerging technologies help conduct better business globally?

Steven KingTechnology has become a crucial part of our everyday lives and predicting the future impact of new technology on our lives is exciting.

The real question is how can new technologies help us conduct business better?

At UNC Kenan-Flagler’s EPIC Global Leadership Forum, Stephen King introduced four emerging technologies during a session called, “Robots to the Rescue! Developing Global Competence through Emerging Technologies.” King, an assistant professor at the UNC School of Media and Journalism and UNC Kenan-Flagler, talked about virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence or cognitive computing, and robots and drones.

This interactive workshop took a twist from show-and-tell by tasking students with designing ways to leverage these different types of technologies for improving cultural awareness in the business world. The goal of the School’s Global Education Initiative is for all students to learn and excel at a set of defined global competencies.

Can these technologies be used to help reach that goal?

You might be wondering how emerging technology can possibly help people learn cultural nuances to conduct better business. Well, because virtual reality is immersive and can essentially take you to a different place, it could allow people to practice making business deals or having meetings in different global scenarios.

Students at EpicA group of students attending the EPIC interactive workshop came up with the idea that business people could use virtual reality and avatars to practice conducting business with people in other countries.

Through exercises using a virtual reality program, people could learn about different cultural customs and communication practices of other countries. The student group, for example, talked about how it could help Americans conduct business with someone in Japan.

For instance, in Japan business cards are valued and treated with a high level of respect, unlike in the U.S. An American could use the virtual reality program to learn the proper business card presentation etiquette and practice the motions before attempting to conduct business in Japan. Such exercises could help with preparation for important events and assist with preventing detrimental mistakes.

The possibilities of technology are endless and it’s exciting to think about how to use them to educate on cultural competencies crucial for conducting business globally. This EPIC Global Leadership Forum took a crack at design thinking to put those technologies to use.

By Shawna McIntosh (BA ’10)