How a Master’s in Information Systems degree can prepare you to face 2018’s IT challenges

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Technology and consumer expectations are two things most companies can count on to change over time. As such, company leaders should always be tuned in to new developments in their industries.

A company’s chief information officer plays a crucial role in understanding evolving market and audience expectations while also maintaining the integrity of a business’s information security management structure.

Professionals aspiring to become an innovative, forward-thinking CIO would benefit from an education that focuses on the advancement of information and data security efforts, as well as utilizing their technology expertise for business growth. Pursuing an online Master of Science in Information Systems degree is an excellent first step in becoming an effective CIO.

The following four goals should be top of mind for today’s CIOs. By earning an MS in Information Systems, students can gain a greater understanding of the challenges facing current CIOs.

MIS professional looking at databases

1. Improve security efforts

By 2017, data leaks were nothing new for Americans, but that didn’t mean the major breaches that occurred that year didn’t shake consumers’ confidence. Cyber criminals aren’t going away, which means today’s CIO must be one step ahead of hackers. A simple oversight or unpatched system addressed too late can make a huge difference to customers.

Because of the pressing need to keep information as secure as possible, students earning a Master of Science in Management Information Systems degree at the University of Alabama at Birmingham focus on cyber security in numerous courses. Beginning with IS 607: Introduction to Cyber Security, students can learn the basics of cyber security and explore the legal and moral challenges that go along with it. They can also gain an understanding of what security planning looks like and how it relates to risk management.

Next, for students who choose the cyber security management concentration, IS 613: Information Security Management will dive deeper into issues concerning information security and resource management. IS 644: Digital Forensics takes this one step further by teaching students about the process of a digital forensics investigation and explores concepts like intellectual property and how it relates to cybercrime.

IS 621: Incident Response & Business Continuity prepares future CIOs for what to do when their business gets hacked. It’ll help them plan out their worst-case scenarios and how they’ll get their business back on track in the aftermath of a breach.

Finally, IS 620: Cyber Attacks & Threat Management discusses network vulnerabilities and gives students the opportunity to view networks from a hacker’s viewpoint. Understanding the latest threats and attack styles give students unique insight into data breaches. Then, they’ll learn how to design, build and operate strong network systems.

2. Harness the business value of information technology

Protecting a business against criminals is an important component of a CIO’s role, but it’s not the only one. Company leadership is increasingly turning to CIO expertise to find new areas of business value. Every company must take a close look at its technology and digital capabilities and realize how they can be leveraged for business growth.

More companies are seeing the close connection between a strong information technology leader and business value. This trend may be one reason contributing to just under one-quarter of CIOs having a background outside IT, according to a 2017 survey by the Society for Information Management.

Students working toward their master’s degree in information systems within a business school can receive a healthy balance of business and IT education. IS 611: Information Technology & Business Strategy marries these concepts, giving students a foundation for connecting IT goals with business objectives. This includes thinking critically about the role of innovation and uncovering a company’s competitive advantage.

3. Capture data and use it to its full potential

Big data is more than a buzzword. Companies that collect data have seemingly endless information about their current and potential customers’ preferences, behaviors, demographics, and more. However, there’s a fine line between helpful data and information overload. A company can collect all the data it wants, but if it doesn’t have the ability to sift through it and gain insight into its audience base, it might as well have not collected data at all.

CIOs need to make the transition from data collection and valuable analysis. Many businesses view a wealth of consumer information as a good starting point for a marketing campaign, but these types of efforts aren’t the only way data can be leveraged for business gain. Data can also draw conclusions about customer pain points, how and where a company can improve, and gaps in product or service offerings.

Earning a Master of Science in Information Systems can be a helpful stepping stone on the way to informed data analysis. At the Collat School of Business, IS 617: Data Science for Business offers a look into the power of strategic knowledge management. Students will discuss how to collect, discover, and generate new knowledge; how to transfer and share it; and how to apply it for the business’s advantage.

4. Push digital efforts further

For a while, many data companies looking to the future thought the role of the CIO would fade into obsolescence in favor of a chief digital officer. One 2014 report from International Data Corporation forecast that by 2020, 60 percent of CIOs would be replaced by CDOs who would focus on digital strategies and offerings with IT-enabled products.

Time has showed that this prediction is not coming to fruition; the CIO remains a critical leadership position in many big companies. But that doesn’t mean the role hasn’t evolved alongside the changing nature of business functions. Forrester predicted that in 2018, the CIO will make the digital officer role obsolete — but only because CEOs are turning to their information officers for more digital expertise than they were previously.
Today’s CIO remains an important pillar for a company when he or she incorporates digital concepts that a CDO might bring to the table. Students working toward an MS in Information Systems can receive a well-rounded education that ties together business goals with digital expertise and IT management.

Online MS MIS degree prepares future CIOs for changing roles

People in leadership positions should be prepared to change according to the needs of the business and the evolution of their industries. CIOs may be more prone to changing expectations and requirements. Fortunately, receiving a well-rounded education from a dedicated Master of Science in Management Information Systems program can put future CIOs one step ahead of the game. To learn more about earning your MS MIS degree online from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, contact an enrollment advisor today.

Recommended Readings:
Career path: How to become an information systems manager
Master of Accounting or Management Information Systems degree?

The Society for Information Management
UAB MS MIS Course Descriptions
International Data Corporation