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UPDATE: UNICON Technology Disruptor Working Group

In October of 2021 a working group was formed following the Annual Workshop that July hosted by St. Gallen. The group was formed in response to an initiative by UNICON board chair Markus Frank, for the purpose of continuing the conversation initiated at the Annual Workshop.

Volunteers representing a cross-section of UNICON schools began meeting to explore how UNICON members could make sense of tech disruption to leverage the many opportunities it creates, and mitigate the risks of being late to deal with important technologies that impact our business models.

Members include: Rayner Canning (GSB Cape Town); Nicholas Hamilton-Archer (Carnegie Mellon); Gene Mage (Michigan Ross); Glen Orsak (Ottawa); Tim Ringrose (Michigan Ross) David Sagen (BI Norway); Patricia Widmer (St. Gallen).

This May, at the recent UNICON Directors’ Conference hosted by Cornell Tech, the working group led an interactive workshop with the attendees to introduce the working group to the directors, provide thought-leadership on tech disruption, and invite feedback and engagement from the participants. Anne Trumbore (Darden) presented on the edtech ecosystem and factors to consider when working with partners who leverage UNICON member brand names. After the Directors’ Conference, new members were added including Mark Dembo (Cornell) and Courtney Link (UT Austin).

Based on the feedback captured from the Directors’ Conference participants, the working group has generated language and visuals to help the broader UNICON membership get to know the working group, and begin engaging with them on this journey of learning. Please find some “FAQ” below. After reviewing, let us know if you would like to get involved with the working group as a member, or as a contributor. All are welcome!


What is the mission of the Technology Disruptor Working Group?

To identify and explore new and emerging digital technologies and assess how they might impact, disrupt, create risk for and add value to the executive education industry and for UNICON members.

What areas of knowledge will the working group focus on?

Two themes have emerged from conversations with UNICON members, which we are describing as “Breadth” and “Depth”.

  • Breadth: “More fully understand the scope and nature of emerging technological innovations – getting a broad view of the landscape.”
  • Depth: “Better understand specific technologies of interest to the members, and how to best leverage existing technologies to generate value in our industry.”

These two themes are quite broad. Can you be more specific?

The working group summarized the Directors’ inputs into five pillars of value creation through which we can view both the broader landscape and deeper areas of application:

  • PILLAR 1: The Customer – What value do our customers get if we implement a technology? How will we use tech to improve the customer experience?
  • PILLAR 2: The Enterprise – What value can we create applying technology to our internal processes as EE providers? How can digital transformation of internal processes reduce cost and activity to free up capacity to better serve our customers? How can we use tech to improve collaboration, innovation, and operational excellence?
  • PILLAR 3: The Landscape – What technologies are emerging? Which should we pay attention to now? How might we utilize these technologies in EE?
  • PILLAR 4: The Business Model – How can we leverage technology to improve our business models? How might we work differently, with or without new partners, to create value with our brands and services? What is the vendor landscape?
  • PILLAR 5: The Mindset – think like a CIO (or CTO) – EE leaders are now required to be technology leaders, making complex decisions with long term implications about what technologies to adopt, and how to link those into the university IT ecosystem. It is not just acquiring a new technology, but having infrastructure to support it long term.

What happens next?

The working group is planning on leading a working session at the 2022 UNICON Team Development Conference on “Breadth and Depth” – to include some information and thought-leadership on the technology landscape, and also going deeper on one selected technology. The team is considering the topic of “applications for personalization of learning,” however the group is open to your ideas and inputs. The team will be seeking feedback from UNICON members in different ways.

How can I get involved?

You may join the working group, which involves committing to meetings 1 or 2 times per month and participating in the guidance of the group. Or you may contribute to specific projects or events as a member of a sub team. Also, we need technology expertise, to help craft the thought leadership we will share with UNICON members.

If you are interested in getting involved in any of these three ways, please email Taryn Streed: tarynstreed@uniconexed.org. We welcome your support!


Gene Mage, Michigan Ross
Chair, UNICON Technology Disruptor Working Group