How MS MIS majors are making a difference to businesses

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Graduates of the online Master of Science in Management Information Systems program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham can carve out impactful careers within myriad industries. MS MIS degree holders have gone on to earn key IT leadership roles at organizations of all kinds, leveraging their diverse skill sets to enhance internal workflows and bolster the bottom line.

How do these skilled IT professionals go about driving change? It often comes down to designing and coordinating technological initiatives that influence essential operational variables.

Enterprise technology in use.

Change management

IT teams have traditionally managed the backend systems that facilitate work. Most still do. However, as business norms change and advanced new enterprise technologies hit the market, more and more are automating systems administration tasks and reallocating this time-saved to transformational projects aimed at meeting new challenges.

IT’s involvement in the widespread embrace of remote working policies is one example. Last year, more than 40 percent of American employees carried out work tasks from the comfort of their own homes, according to research from Gallup. Why? Younger professionals at all salary grades demand flexibility. Companies have acquiesced to this paradigm shift and now support remote arrangements. Of course, this requires an immense amount of work, as companies must rejigger their core processes to account for off-site employees and, more importantly, adopt the technology needed to support collaboration among workers in different geographical locations. Here, IT teams and the professionals who lead them are essential.

These groups must sort through the endless solutions on the market and select and implement the digital tools that will not only buttress initial remote working arrangements but also scale up or down to account for future shifts. This requires both technical and organizational knowledge, as IT must provide a roadmap for internal collaboration and give employees the resources they need to navigate it.

The crystallization of enterprise cloud technology is another key example. In recent years, companies have swapped legacy on-premise systems for cloud-based technology. Now, an estimated 85 percent of organizations work with multiple vendors in this space to support mission-critical applications, according to data from RightScale. This figure will certainly move upward as the last holdouts trade in servers for cloud stacks. Even then, users will continue to adjust their approaches, trying out new services and scaling up or down to meet internal needs.

IT teams are on the frontline of the enterprise cloud computing revolution, developing usable workflows that capture the promise of the cloud but align with existing operations. For most, this work requires immense ingenuity, along with a little self-awareness, as IT staff implementing new technology must bolster their own knowledge to roll out effective solutions.

The rise of remote working arrangements and the cloud are indicative of the modern business environment, which exists in a permanent state of flux due to ever-changing consumer trends. Disruption is now the norm, it seems. IT teams and the individuals who lead them must meet this uncertainty head on and equip the organization with the tools it needs to survive.

Process oversight

While shifts in the marketplace may necessitate internal change, some processes will remain untouched. IT teams must, of course, monitor these systems to ensure they remain operational. Today, this requires the use of advanced business intelligence platforms.

The worldwide market for these products is expected to grow 7.3 percent to $18.3 billion this year, according to Gartner. By 2020, this figure will top $22 billion. It’s easy to understand this growth, as BI solutions offer never-before-seen transparency into operations of all kinds, from factories to financial firms.

IT teams oversee this software, facilitating the flow of production data and mining this information for key trends that may reveal fixable inefficiencies or new business opportunities. However, many organizations are moving past initial uses, adopting even more advanced BI technology capable of providing real-time insights and supporting data streams. While early BI models were considered set-and-forget-it resources, these newer iterations require more oversight, meaning IT personnel must further embed themselves in the operation. IT leaders who have MS MIS degrees, as well as managerial and technical skills, are well suited for this sort of hands-on work.

BI systems in the hands of capable IT teams can prompt considerable change, as new revenue-building opportunities reveal themselves through carefully designed data collection methods.

Data security leadership

Last year, hackers launched more than 42,000 cyberattacks against businesses here and abroad, according to Verizon Wireless. These penetrations resulted in nearly 2,000 serious data breaches. Such instances of data loss routinely cost companies millions, as customers flee for more seemingly secure competitors and breach mitigation expenses build. In fact, the average enterprise suffers losses of $4 million per breach, according to research from IBM and Ponemon Institute. Why are so many nefarious coders infiltrating company servers?

The proliferation of advanced enterprise technology is to blame. Points of entry multiply constantly as businesses integrate new devices and software into their operations. While most vendors equip their products with substantial digital defenses, hackers can mine the dark web for cutting-edge penetration tools capable of damaging or demolishing these features.

The rise of the Internet of Things has complicated the situation considerably. An estimated 43 percent of companies currently use devices associated with the IoT, according to Gartner. While effective, these fixtures leave users vulnerable to cyber attacks, specifically distributed denial of service strikes.

Unfortunately, most analysts do not expect the state of affairs to improve. As long as technology is in play, so are hackers. Consequently, organizations must make data security a priority.

Internal IT teams are often tasked with acting as the first line of defense against cyber-attackers of all stripes. These groups use advanced data security platforms to monitor network activity and manage device use, and formulate breach mitigation policies to ensure business continuity in the event of a major security lapse. Most importantly, IT teams work with executive stakeholders to develop organizational best practices that protect the organization without hindering employee productivity, a task that requires business knowledge and technical skills.

As more threats materialize, IT leaders and their staff must develop new ways to keep mission-critical applications safe and thereby protect the bottom line.

More room to grow

Organizations are expected to invest $3.5 trillion in IT projects this year, according to research from Gartner. This figure represents a 1.4 percent increase over numbers recorded in 2016. This level of investment is indicative of IT’s place within the business world. Enterprise technology and the individuals who implement and manage it are important, supporting mission-critical processes that can make or break entire companies.

Here at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, we provide burgeoning IT leaders with the managerial and technical expertise they need to spearhead transformative internal technology projects via the online Master of Science in Management Information Systems program. MS MIS degree candidates navigate a carefully-crafted curriculum that features six core courses totaling 18 hours.

Courses such as Information Technology and Business Strategy, and Information Technology Governance and Management equip students with the managerial strategies they need to oversee internal IT efforts. Information Security Management offers insight into central data security issues, while Social Media and Virtual Communities offers information on the role of social sites in the business realm. Introduction to Business Intelligence covers the intensifying enterprise analytics movement. Technology Based Project Management offers MS MIS students actionable methodologies for executing large-scale IT projects and prepares them for the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Professional certification exam.

Those navigating the online Master of Science in Management Information Systems program at UAB are also required to take 12 hours of concentrated coursework. UAB offers data security-centered sessions such as Attack and Penetration and Incident Response and Business Continuity, as well as management-related courses like Leadership in IT and Technology Planning and Capital Budgeting.

MS MIS degree candidates can develop multifaceted IT skills sets, creating new professional opportunities without disrupting their lives. Are you interested in becoming an impactful IT leader with the power to catalyze true organizational change? Connect with an enrollment advisor and discover how an online MS MIS degree from UAB can help you reach new heights.

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