The potential of artificial intelligence could start to be truly realized thanks to MBA students taking courses on it.
A technology's success or failure in financial services is, in many cases, highly dependent upon approval from the business side of the firm.
It doesn't matter how innovative or amazing a technology is. If the business folks don't have at least some understanding of it, however elementary, they aren't going to be willing to adopt it.
That's why I found a recent story in The Wall Street Journal so fascinating. The piece, which can be found here, detailed how many of the world's most prestigious business schools—Harvard Business School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management, and Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management were among those mentioned—are adding MBA courses focused on artificial intelligence (AI).
This is a big step for AI, which has been lauded by technology folks for a long time but isn't truly understood by those on the business side. These courses mean many people who will end up stationed in banks' front offices will have a deeper understanding of artificial intelligence, which can only spell good things for the further growth of the innovative technology.
AI's introduction to the future executives of financial firms will have a big impact for a number of reasons, but there is one effect that stands out to me specifically. As these students' knowledge of AI increases, so too will their comfort level. A person is more likely to use something as they grow increasingly comfortable with it.
Let's take a look at another innovative technology as a comparison. Distributed-ledger technology (DLT) has received more press than arguably any other technology in financial services over the past year. However, for all the hoopla surrounding it, there hasn't been a true implementation of the technology at big banks yet.
Part of this, I believe, is that the technology is not properly understood by those in the front office. If you asked a random portfolio manager to explain DLT, how many could give you a legitimate answer? Sure, some might throw out the word blockchain, or even have a very small semblance of what it is, but the vast majority would not likely know much about it beyond the fact it's a technology some of their back-office employees are looking at.
With that in mind, are C-level executives really going to green-light a project they don't understand? Granted, I don't expect these people to get into the detailed nuances of every technology their firm is running, but they'll at least want to know the general concept before they push forward with a new project. The fact that more MBA graduates will have an understanding of AI and, more importantly, how to successfully work with it, is a huge win for the AI community.
People aren't necessarily afraid of the dark. It's the unknown that really bothers them. These MBA classes will serve as the night light the financial industry needs, allowing it to sleep easy when it comes to AI.