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Business Innovations From B-School Innovators

Three examples from AACSB's Innovations That Inspire challenge highlight new ways business schools globally are developing products and services to improve businesses.

Business schools are a hub of savvy business professionals and well-educated scholars with expertise in business operations. So it should come as no surprise that a lot of good ideas for business strategy stem from business schools. Following are three innovations that have recently been developed by or in close partnership with business schools that are helping people in their local communities do their jobs better—right now.

Paper EMR

Strathmore University, Strathmore Business School (Kenya)

A paper-first approach to electronic medical records, PaperEMR combines the rubber stamp apparatus with modern smartphone algorithms to generate digital data for quality improvement, while preserving paper-based workflows in low-to-middle-income countries.

In healthcare, electronic medical records (EMR) systems are the norm that hospitals and health systems strive to implement. However, most EMR systems used in high-income countries are complex computer-based systems that require extensive investment in infrastructure and human capacity. Most clinical documentation in primary healthcare clinics (PHCs) in low-income countries is done on paper, and replacing paper-based documentation with electronic systems across thousands of PHCs in these countries is particularly challenging. PaperEMR addresses this need for digital data through an innovative combination of two very different, but locally available, technologies: rubber stamps and smartphones. Rubber stamps are used to “print on-demand” templates for documentation and management of commonly encountered clinical conditions. Smartphones, with the computer vision application, can extract data entered in the templates. Using PaperEMR, it is now possible to access digital data on healthcare delivery from PHCs without reliable power supply or internet access.

Revolutionizing Forecasting

Monash Business School - Monash University (Australia)

How does Walmart decide how much shampoo to stock in its stores in a year’s time? Do a store’s customers prefer one brand over another? Enter the murky predictive world of sales forecasting. Knowing what the future holds is reasonably simple if a business just sells one kind of product in one region. But that forecast becomes much more difficult to estimate once you add more layers. Taking account of different products, time periods, stores, cities, regions, and countries, the challenge of forecasting becomes exponentially more difficult. Recognizing this problem, faculty from Monash Business School’s Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics developed an algorithm to help.

The algorithm provides a solution that is fast and accurately reconciles millions of forecasts in seconds. The research team’s ethos is to ensure the outcomes of their work are freely available. Accordingly, the code that implements the methodology is freely available on CRAN (the repository for R packages). By making the tool available through open-source software, the approach can be implemented rapidly by anyone around the world, including businesses in developing countries. In a period of 12 months, the packages had been downloaded about 20,000 times.

For the full details regarding the algorithm developed by Monash, visit the Innovations That Inspire collection within DataDirect.

Recruitment Confidence Index (RCI)

Alba Graduate Business School (Greece)

Based on an annual survey of HR executives, the Recruitment Confidence Index (RCI) measures anticipated changes in attracting and recruiting personnel and provides a think tank for HR executives in Greece.

The RCI measures expected changes in recruitment activity and business conditions during the previous and the next six months, and is considered the “barometer” of the labor market in Greece. The study runs on an annual basis, with a twofold purpose: monitoring the trends in personnel attraction and selection activities, and detecting labor market “expectations” for the forthcoming period in Greece. It also looks at recruitment methods, skills shortages, staff turnover, and pay rates. This index serves as an indication of the overarching current and future conditions in the employment market in Greece.

It is estimated that the RCI has collected more than 2,000 unique answers during the 11 years of its existence in Greece, involving HR executives from all business sectors, private and public. It also receives important publicity in specialized and general press (political and financial national newspapers, labor market and HR community magazines, websites, and more). The results are constantly used by national institutions (ministries and general secretariats, research centers, consultants) and international bodies (delegations of international institutions to Greece) for the production of national reports related to the condition of the Greek labor market. Furthermore, the HR executives deeply appreciate participating in the annual RCI event, where they have the chance to network, exchange opinions on current market trends, and gain exposure to the most recent research on HR and related issues.

This innovation was highlighted in AACSB’s 2019 Innovations That Inspire challenge.

About Innovations That Inspire

Since its launch in 2016, Innovations That Inspire has collected 840 innovative practices across a variety of themes and areas within business education. For each challenge year, a selection of innovations is featured at the International Conference and Annual Meeting (ICAM). Further, current members of AACSB’s Business Education Alliance have the ability to browse through all innovations using DataDirect. AACSB continuously highlights submitted examples in publications, events, presentations, and in other media as examples of business schools doing innovative things that push the boundaries of business education.


Elliot DavisElliot Davis is manager of research at AACSB International, located in the Tampa, Florida, office.