Meet the beekeepers of business

Meet the beekeepers of business

Surrey Business School’s new Business Insights Lab brings academic research together with business and industry to put the latest ideas into practice. Here, Lakshmi Mohindra, of the university’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences sets out its strategy.

At Surrey Business School, we’re at the forefront of technology and innovation, creating business models fit for a digital economy. Our newly launched Business Insights Lab on campus is further cementing us as the gateway for business innovation, opening new channels of communication across sectors.

Designed to teach business skills for the Digital Age, the Business Insights Lab draws together research, teaching, brokering and problem solving, to foster new business innovation strategies.

In the Lab we shape and develop new practice through collaboration and experimentation. Our lab participants problem-solve creatively, with unexpected partners, whilst learning interactive skills and methods around innovation and entrepreneurship. We are the ‘Beekeepers of Business’. There is a direct parallel between our work in the Lab, and the nature of bees both collectively and individually.

By drawing together expertise from across disciplines, we are able to transfer and share knowledge between sectors, in effect cross-pollinating and brokering ideas that would not be fertilised in isolation. We are then able to foster a ‘swarm intelligence’ when experts in one area are able to let go of what they think they know as individuals, and pool their knowledge into an understanding much greater than the sum of its parts.

Communicating the location of fertile sources of knowledge and information in a way that renders them usable by all, is expressed in the bee ‘dance’, whereby the individual bee conveys what they have discovered to the hive as a whole. In this way, we are educating across business and society, for maximum impact in both.

We are investigating emerging trends, drawing conclusions, assessing activity, and spotting patterns whilst remaining ‘bee-centric’. By this we mean that we are acting for the wider health of the community and economy. In exploring the challenges for people and businesses when it comes to understanding and utilising the digital landscape, Prof Alan Brown, director of the Centre for Digital Economy, said: ‘‘Ultimately technology and business innovation are intimately linked.

“Businesses today are dealing with a fast speed of change and an uncertain digital landscape, so I focus not just on the theoretical features of business, but work directly with businesses and organisations, trialling new practises to cope with technological advancements.

“Areas I’m looking at are the future of mobile technology and its impact on business innovation, personal data management and privacy.

“Having spent a number of years in industry, I see a demand by businesses today, for a solid foundation around decision making processes. The Surrey Business School and wider University setting gives a chance for important business directions to be substantiated with academic theory, driven by problem solving and research.

“Every business facing rapid and unpredictable change will benefit from a set of techniques to cope with that change. Our modules question the fundamentals of business, building skills for the next generation of business leaders.’’

Prof Brown has recently led our Executive Education Course, delivered in the Business Insights Lab: Strategy, Management and Service Delivery in a Digital Economy, which addressed the changing landscape, equipping delegates  to adapt their ways of working and develop practical solutions to effectively lead their organisations in the digital age.