MBA at Work: MBAs for the Technology Industry

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000049 foto4_imgHBlah...blah...blah...statistics! Still, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), careers in computer science and management information systems are expected to grow 18%-19% through the year 2020. You already know that technology reaches into most other fields and is not limited to just creating and using technology or to collecting and handling data. Studies in computer science prepare you for innovation and research roles in the information technology (IT) industry. But technology careers that pay upwards of $100,000 per year are greatly enhanced by business knowledge and experience. And that's where your MBA becomes important – across the board. So, let's look at MBA degrees to help you get ahead in the technology industry.

Back To Basics: Management MBAs

If technology "takes a powder" or we have yet another worldwide "economic downturn" (as history has proven we will), we still have to run our businesses. Mistakes companies made in the 1980s and the wee 1990s were promoting people into management based on tenure with the company and/or technical know-how. Suddenly employees and managers were leaving companies in droves – and it wasn't all because of the economy. Some were terminated for lack of performance, but many decamped for the age-old #1 reason people leave a great company: a "bad" boss. Bottom line: If you don't know how to run a business, all the techno-skill in the world won't make you worth a big salary and decision-making authority to your employer - even if your employer is YOU!

So do consider that if your career goals include being the boss, getting your MBA in Management can be critical. If you already have a technology background, the training in finance, accounting and operations is what you need to advance into high-level management or executive positions with major companies. You will learn how to understand the proverbial "big picture", speak the language of business, and how economic and marketing principles apply in the real world.

Careers for those with MBAs in Management include management analysts and high-end management consultants for companies like IBM and Deloitte. These are the folks who provide focus and direction for companies to stay competitive and relevant. You'll generally have a better chance at achieving this positioning if you can deliver several years of industry-specific experience, as well as your academic credentials. Then C-level top executives will trust you to help their companies and government agencies solve management problems, increase worker productivity and efficiency, adjust to new business regulations, establish an online business, control costs, and of course - maximize profitability. Besides, these $100,000+-per-year careers are projected to increase by about 24% through 2018.

Forging Ahead: E-Commerce

Whether buying or selling, people do business electronically and globally now. Regardless of the problems of the "dot.com bust" era, the world has become comfortable with doing business online. It's convenient, cost-effective and more secure than ever. It also reduces human error so orders are more accurate and shipping can be tracked. So if your interest is in managing a business involved in purchasing or sales - get thee to a school offering the MBA with a concentration in e-Commerce or, as it may be termed, e-Business.

Some of the areas of study in an e-business or e-Commerce MBA program are various internet business models, managing research-and-development, sniffing out business intelligence, and customer relationship management technologies. However, if a school you are considering doesn't provide core studies in the purely business aspects of commerce (i.e., statistics, finance, microeconomics, analysis, and how to make decisions and apply them to your operations) – run! You want your MBA School to promote the philosophy that technology serves the business, not the other way around.

Careers for people with MBAs in e-Business can span local to global marketing to international sales to governmental business positions between countries. The careers most interesting to MBAs can be in business development, product development, or even logistics. Businesses want to make money. Customers want to get stuff. Developing innovations that make those processes more reliable are where future growth will be seen.

Making the World Go 'Round: IT Management

If you're a tech-type with eyes for the big picture, technology-driven MBA programs aren't just for techs looking to move into management. Many students hope to spur their IT careers by entering corporate ranks from the management level. Bringing your MBA with a specialization in IT Management to corporate and enterprise opportunities gives you an edge.

Specialty courses for an MBA in IT Management include developing a vision for IT, planning and oversight of IT strategies, and execution of IT and its infrastructure to assure continuity and security. You'll look organization-wide at computer-related activities, R&D, implementation of internet and intranet sites, large installation and software and hardware upgrades, development of computer networks, special projects, establishing standards and procedures, and managing cross-functional technology teams.

Jump-off careers that prefer IT Management MBA grads include computer and information systems managers to IT directors. These positions are projected to grow faster than others in the next 10 years and if you have experience and pursue a larger company, pay can be in the high $100,000 range. The fastest job growth is being seen in companies that do computer systems design, data processing and hosting, software publishing, healthcare, and scientific and technical consulting services. In the right company, with your MBA in IT management, the proper amount of work experience, and relationship skills, you'll find paths that lead to executive spots like Chief Innovations Officer or Chief Technology Officer.

Passion for Technology + Head for Business + Leadership Talent = A Techno-MBA

Most MBA programs that offer a technology concentration, track, or major are different than graduate programs focused on technology. Instead, these programs promote achieving business goals that involve technology, so the emphasis is on analytical skills, business operations and financial mandates. We are talking about how firms:

• Analyze and anticipate market opportunity for new technologies,

• Derive bottom-line value from innovation and various intellectual property, and

• Manage existing technologies and bring new technologies to the market.

A techno-MBA is different from a Master's degree in a technology because of its perspective. In the business world, the ability to make a distinction between what's technologically possible and what's economically feasible is the difference between life and death of a business. Career candidates who can determine whether technology initiatives are marketable, affordable and profitable are those who will lead the pack.

Are you interested in a career in strategy, business development, or consulting rather than in hands-on, hard-core technology? A techno-MBA should be considered part of your toolkit.

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