Your May 12th editorial, “IT Skills for Tomorrow” has ideas that Louis E. Lataif has been thinking about for three years. Lou is the Dean of the School of Management at Boston University. Even more relevant, he and the faculty two years ago implemented a new type of MBA, two degrees: an MS and an MBA. The focus is on training future business leaders by making them fully functional in IT with disciplined training in finance, marketing and/or other traditional MBA disciplines.
Please read the following draft of a 340-word article Lou has written.
Thanks very much.
The Next Generation of MBAs: A Networked Era Demands Different Preparation
By Louis E. Lataif
Dean, Boston University School of Management
Information technology is radically affecting how businesses are structured, how products are developed, how customers are served, how productivity is improved, how quality is strengthened, and how speed-to-market is increased. Given the reality of the changes in how businesses function today, it seems fair to ask—Is an MBA degree still sufficient?
It is incumbent upon all of us in schools of business to seriously re-evaluate our curricula in light of the changed environment. Graduates must have the special competencies required to compete in an electronic and globally networked world.
The post-industrial business world is struggling to realign itself and soak up the progress from technology and the intensified, sometimes overwhelming, flow of real-time communication. Job roles, duties, and business leadership are all evolving to reflect new business needs. Employers are imposing stricter hiring standards with elevated expectations. More and more jobs in todays world demand significant knowledge of digital technology and its power to improve competitiveness. The question about the adequacy of an MBA is being asked in business and academic circles alike. Certainly, the exclusivity of the MBA degree has been diluted over the years. Whereas 40 years ago, about 4500 MBA degrees were awarded in the United States, this year, that number will reach 115,000!
While most MBA programs have added “e” materials in their curricula, it seems clear that a more fundamental transformation of MBA education must evolve. Business school graduates must be able to think in and speak the language of transforming technologies while working within the traditional MBA roles in finance, marketing, and other business disciplines. Ideally graduates will have earned credentials at the masters degree level in both business and information systems, as is the case with the MS·MBA program introduced at Boston University.
In short, business schools much teach information technology – both from an operating and a strategic perspective. Todays graduates need to morph information systems expertise with traditional business knowledge to be fully effective in a networked business world. Those who do will establish themselves as the next generations leaders.
My name is Patrick Hagan, and I have 25 years of mainframe systems and applications experience with extensive non-mainframe knowledge. I would not recommend an IT career to anybody because:
(1) As you mentioned in your article, the ongoing IT technology education requirements are extremely demanding so you have no life outside of work.
(2) Even if you do keep up, thanks to the IT Catch-22 rule: you may be educated but if you do not have the specific level and type of experience you will not get the job.
(3) Thanks to L1 Visa people you have to be a low cost provider at below the cost of living because an unlimited number of $10 an hour people with free room and board can take IT jobs. (Other careers will be next).
(4) Finally, IT is just a staff function where if you have a job you will work long hours and receive very little training to keep up with IT advances because they are not job related. You are a resource to be used and thrown away afterwards.
Things should get very interesting in the next couple of years because according to the computer trade press 50 percent or more of the people in high school and college who were going to major in IT have decided on non-IT careers. Also, many people with IT experience have left IT and are not coming back. I have also noticed that the IT Technical Schools are no longer advertising IT careers. They are now pushing health care and nursing.