Best Business Management Courses Online: Practical Insights for Almost Anyone

Woman Working on the ComputerIn business management, the keyword really is management. Management, on its most basic level, is planning. It is one thing to say you are going to start something, work hard, stay positive, and anticipate a positive outcome. However, to have all of this really happen the way you want it to, you have to be more specific – you have to make a point of asking (and answering) specific questions about what you want to achieve and how you are going to achieve it. Furthermore, those helping you will struggle if instructions and goals are not clearly laid out. To get a sense of what management really means and how to do it effectively, look to the best business management courses online. These courses make developing instincts for business management more possible than ever.

Risk management, reputation management, and knowledge (or data) management are three broad management areas that are valuable to almost any business or business-like project.

edX is a website that compiles online courses and programs offered by excellent universities all over the world. On edX, all courses can be taken for free, but generally you must pay to get a verified certificate for a given course or to get a MicroMaster’s, Professional Certificate, or other online degree. The verified certificate ensures that your coursework will be recognized by a school or employer. There are groups of specific courses that compose MicroMaster’s, master’s, and Professional Certificates. To get an online degree, you must pay, but usually the price is somewhat less than that of all of the included courses. All courses in this article (and most courses on edX) are in English, but edX does offer some courses in other languages.

Businesswoman in Front of a LaptopManagement of Projects, Risk Management

Risk management is, as its name suggests, the development of procedures to minimize undesirable outcomes and maximize desirable outcomes. To do this, one has to assess cause and effect and take into account the probability of certain events occurring. While risk management has a top-down nature to it, everybody working on a project needs to be executing the risk management procedure for the policy to be realized. Therefore the risk management framework for a project or business has to be clearly communicated to workers. Only when the procedure is effectively implemented can managers assess whether the framework is appropriate; in this way, risk management is an iterative (or repetitive) feedback loop—it is not a one-time choice, but rather an act of development over time.

An excellent risk management course for the business beginner is Risk Management for Projects from the University of Adelaide. The University of Adelaide is one of Australia’s (and the world’s) top universities. In fact, its alumni include 5 Nobel Laureates. This particular course is introductory-level and has no prerequisites, so anyone can take it; it takes about 5 weeks, with up to 3 hours of work per week.

Incidentally, another really great introductory course from Adelaide is the more general Introduction to Project Management. Since the kinds of management procedures outlined in both of these can be applied to almost any project, both courses ask the student to apply the concepts to their own life. In this way, these courses are instantly practical. So, if you are just getting started in business or in any business-like project, both of these courses are right for you, while also being among the best business management courses online.

Man Explaining Something During a BrainstormingDigital Marketing and Public Relations

Digital marketing is already a huge area of public relations, but the number of people becoming active and proficient on social media is only increasing. There are both defensive and offensive aspects of digital marketing. Sometimes, bad news (that may or may not be accurate) gets rapidly passed on social media; somehow, the targeted organization must address the negative media buzz or face having its reputation wrecked.

On the other hand, media buzz is generally good for business: A company’s name and purpose is passed quickly among social media users. Users are likely to share information about exactly what in their experience was good or bad and how so. This is free, persuasive advertising. It is also input that the company can use to assess its current reputation and determine whether procedural changes or digital advertising changes are needed. To the extent that an organization can shape online conversation about itself, the organization can impact public perception for marketing purposes. That said, marketers also need to be ethical – there have to be standards of honesty and good intent. Also, more than ever, organizations need to have a personality that transmits in an engaging way over social media.

Reputation Management in a Digital World from Curtin University is a course that is on-point concerning these issues. Curtin University is one of Australia’s (and the world’s) top universities. The course is self-paced but is divided into 6 units that are each ideally covered within a week (making the total duration of 6 weeks). Generally, though, no more than 4 hours per week are required. This course is part of Curtin University’s MicroMaster’s Marketing in a Digital World. While the course has no formal prerequisites, it is important that the student enter into the course familiar with the basics of public relations, marketing, and social media use. However, this is reasonable considering that it is an intermediate-level course. Like other of the best business management courses online, this one is immediately hands-on and practical: The student becomes communications manager for a pretend company and must apply the course content to decision-making.

The Application of Big Data to Business

Knowledge management is an area that is closely aligned with data science. Knowledge management is, as its name suggests, the selection, processing, and utilization of data available to a business or organization. The term knowledge actually refers more to the processing and drawing conclusions phase than to the data acquisition phase. However, ultimately, these processes can become very much intertwined. With the growing use of cloud computing, the world economy is becoming increasingly unified by networks, and there is more and more data available.

In fact, the International Data Corporation (IDC) projects that the total amount of network data available will be 40 zettabytes (a zettabyte is 1021 bytes) by the year 2020. Increased networking and data will impact everybody – large corporations, small businesses, and even individuals – the efficiency with which they work, how they work, and what problems they face. Through knowledge management, completely novel insights can arise from what could otherwise look like a huge mass of meaningless data.

Many of the best business management courses online are in some way related to knowledge management, but one particular course that gives an excellent, engaging overview of this vast topic is Knowledge Management and Big Data in Business from the Knowledge Management and Innovation Research Center (KMIRC) of Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The KMIRC is industry-based rather than purely academic; to support this, the center is allied with leading knowledge managers around the world. Accordingly, this course is practical, despite its introductory nature; the student must apply the concepts to real business management issues. This introductory course has absolutely no prerequisites. Unlike the other courses mentioned in this article, this one is not part of any online degree program. Even though Big Data, a computer science topic, is addressed, the student does not need a computer science background to understand the ideas.

Therefore, it is ideal for the true beginner who wants to get the big picture and is not yet sure what areas of computer science, data analysis, or business he/she wishes to focus on. Despite the fact that this is a Hong Kong university, all of this course’s content is in English. It is self-paced but estimated to take about 8 weeks, with a maximum of 8 hours of work per week.

Business management is actually a very broad category, and as you make progress, you may find that a certain area of the field is ideal for you and/or you may be advancing your career in that area. However, the ease of taking courses online gives you the opportunity to branch out, even after you think you have chosen your specialty. The careers of the near future may be quite different from the traditional ones, and online courses can help you to keep up.

Choosing introductory courses (or more advanced courses, if you are ready) from the best business management courses online is an excellent start to any career. In fact, such courses might even enhance your decision-making and planning abilities in everyday situations. Business management is not just for making money; the same skills can help non-profit organizations and community or charity projects. So, even if you do not consider yourself a hardcore businessperson, these are still relevant and practical courses for anyone with an ambitious heart and a curious mind.

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