We have demonstrated in this blog that we live in the digital economy, and that the ways we live and do business are changing dramatically. The field of IT is growing rapidly, especially with the introduction of the Internet and e-commerce, so the organizational impacts keep increasing. We are becoming more and more dependent on information systems. For example, on March 1, 2003, a computer glitch disturbed hundreds of flights in Japan.
Benefits from Studying Information Technology
A major role of IT is being a facilitator of organizational activities and processes. That role will become more important as time passes. Therefore, it is necessary that every manager and professional staff member learn about IT not only in his or her specialized field, but also in the entire organization and in interorganizational settings as well.
Obviously, you will be more effective in your chosen career if you understand how successful information systems are built, used, and managed. You also will be more effective if you know how to recognize and avoid unsuccessful systems and failures. Also, in many ways, having a comfort level with information technology will enable you, off the job and in your private life, to take advantage of new IT products and systems as they are developed. (Wouldn’t you rather be the one explaining to friends how some new product works, than the one asking about it? For help in that role, by the way, see howthingswork.com.) Finally, you should learn about IT because being knowledgeable about information technology can also increase employment opportunities. Even though computerization eliminates some jobs, it also creates many more.
The demand for traditional information technology staff—such as programmers, systems analysts, and designers—is substantial. In addition, many well-paid opportunities are appearing in emerging areas such as the Internet and e-commerce, m-commerce, network security, object-oriented programming, telecommunications, multimedia design, and document management. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that among the 12 fastest-growing employment areas, four are IT-related. These four accounted in 2000 for about 50 percent of all additional jobs in the 12 areas. (In 2002, this declined to 35 percent, due to a technology slowdown related to the slow economy.) At about $60,000 per year, workers in the software and information services industries were the highest-paid U.S. wage earners in 2000, about twice that of the average worker in the private sector. Furthermore, earnings of IT employees were growing twice as fast as those in the entire private sector. Thus, salaries for IT employees are very high.
To exploit the high-paying opportunities in IT, a college degree in any of the following fields, or combination of them, is advisable: computer science, computer information systems (CIS), management information systems (MIS), electronic commerce, and e-business. Within the last few years, many universities have started e-commerce or e-business degrees (e.g., see is.cityu.edu.hk and cgu.edu). Many schools offer graduate degrees with specialization in information technology.
Majoring in an IT-related field can be very rewarding. For example, students graduating with baccalaureate degrees in MIS usually earn the highest starting salaries of all undergraduate business majors (more than $45,000 per year). MBAs with experience in Web technologies and e-commerce are getting starting salaries of over $100,000/year, plus bonuses. Many students prefer a double major, one of which is MIS. Similarly, MBAs with an undergraduate degree in computer science have no difficulty getting well-paying jobs, even during recessionary times. Many MBA students select IS as a major, a second major, or an area of specialization. Finally, nondegree programs are also available on hundreds of topics. For details about careers in IT, see techjourney.com and also “Career
resources” and “Technology careers” at wageweb.com.
Finally, another benefit from studying IT is that it may contribute to future organizational leadership. In the past, most CEOs came from the areas of finance and marketing. Lately, however, we see a trend to appoint CEOs who have strong IT knowledge and who emerge from the technology area. Because of the impact that IT is having on business, this trend is likely to continue. Therefore, IT education is necessary for anyone who aspires to lead a firm in the future.