Important skills for Information technology Students

A student wrote to me: “I am enrolling in the Information System Management program. I select this field of study based on the recommendation from your blog and I want to succeed in this career. What do I need to achieve my career goals? Please give me some advises.”

Answer: I am glad that you have selected a good career choice. There is one important aspect of Information System Management that not many students pay attention to which is the comprehensive knowledge of global business and technology trends. Today most company owners know that technology is the key driver for business in this global economy but many do not understand how technology can help them to be more profitable. There is a need for information technology managers who understand technology well enough and be able to explain it in simple terms so that everybody can understand. This is how graduates from the Information Systems Management (ISM) can play important role in helping business people to understand the advantage of technology.

In today’s competitive economy, companies of all types must change the way they do business by adopting technology to automate their process to increase efficiency and profits. That means company will need to hire more technology managers instead of business managers. As graduates of the ISM program, you will need to know how to review current business processes then identify opportunities for improvement by implement technology such as office automation, or manufacturing robots to increase efficiency for the company. That means you need to learn more about business process, understand automation, and technology trends. The best way to acquire this knowledge is to read more and learn more and be a technology knowledgeable manager.

According to a global industry study in 2014, although most company owners considered implementing information technology was their top priority but they did not know how. Only a small percentage of them have been successfully applied technology in business. By looking into these successful companies, the study found that most have gain higher level of efficiency with increasing revenue and profit. Their success was based on hiring technology managers who can educate business managers on technology trends. By understand technology, business managers were able to make better decisions that helped them to increase revenue. And that is why in the past few years, ISM graduates were most sought after among many businesses. The study attributed the success to the ability to communicate technical terms and explain them using business terms so business people can understand. As ISM students, you will need to focus more on these communication skills.

For many years, information technology (IT) was considered as supporting function so most business managers did not pay attention to them. But today information technology is becoming strategic because adopting technology is the key to survive in this global competitive market. That is why the strategy guiding the adoption of technology needs to be defined and communicated from the beginning to make sure that everybody understands the urgency to change as the first step to a successful implementation. Of course, technology is a broad term and it can mean different things to different people. To succeed, ISM students must understand how to explain clearly on what it means and how useful it is to the business. For example, by using emails instead of written letter via courier can speed up information between company and customers or between departments and it also saves money By having websites, companies can post all information about its products and services instead of using printing brochures or advertising etc.

In this global economy, company must adopt technology to find new ways to grow and change with the flow of the global market. But how does a company identify opportunities and delivering the right products and services? How does a company coordinate workflows through several departments and multiple levels of management? The answer is having the right technology and right strategy to implement the changes to become a true global company. It means the thinking of leadership must change from local market to global market and business must expanding beyond the local market and it needs to have managers who understand technology well enough to lead the change. That means ISM students must understand global issues, and global market trends and the only way to do that is to read more. ISM students must know how to create technology strategy that affect the company as a whole and be able to manage information systems that enable the improvement of business processes, products and services. ISM students must be able to articulate the benefits of technology to company owners and business managers and get them to adopt technology as the new way to do business.

Business changes are difficult because it needs new thinking as it aims to make significant changes to the business. Most companies have many layers of managers, some with their old thinking and do not want to change, it is up to the skills of technology managers to convince them to change their thinking and this is difficult. ISM students must be knowledgeable about both technical and business to explain the needs in a clear manner so everybody will understand and accept the needed changes. If business managers do not change their thinking, other global competitors will move in their local market and they will not be able to fend off these global companies. For example, in China 70% of restaurants closed when fast food companies such as McDonald, KFC, Starbuck, Pizza Hut move in. 85% of small retail shops closed when large retail stores like Wal-Mart or Ikea move in with better products and cheaper prices.

Today technology managers are critical success factors for facilitating changes to make sure company will meet its business goals. There is strong demand for ISM graduates with excellent technical knowledge and strong communication and leadership skills.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University
Don't forget to follow us on Facebook!