Nearly every business today has a digital component.
Information technology is key to everything from logistics to marketing. Data analysis is reshaping established fields like banking, transportation, retail, and health care.
“If you’re in business and want to get ahead, you can’t afford NOT to understand the basics of technology,” says Kathy Faggiani, associate academic director for curriculum and programs at Capella University’s School of Business and Technology.
Likewise, if you hope to rise in IT, you’ll need to learn to speak the language of business and grasp the challenges of your particular industry. Increasingly, business and IT are intertwined.
So how do you get the right training to qualify for jobs that bridge the gap? And what opportunities exist? Faggiani provides some answers and advice.
Q. How have business and IT come together?
A. Over the past few decades, technology has become key to executing business strategy. IT professionals began to realize that they had to serve their colleagues in the executive suite like clients. But the challenge was most people in IT didn’t understand the business—they only understood IT.
Likewise, business professionals mistakenly thought you had to be a math wizard to use computers or write code. But in fact, you don’t need to be great at math to do code. People who understand languages—syntax, grammar, etc.—often have a knack for code and the kind of thinking it takes to understand IT architecture.
In addition, as IT has become easier for non-IT experts to use, it has permeated the day-to-day work of business professionals and made it easier to transition from business to IT.
Q. Where are there significant career opportunities in business that benefit from technology skills?
A. There are lots of professional opportunities.
We definitely see it in health care, where people with a background in nursing but an affinity for technology are moving into important positions like informatics.
Cybersecurity is also a place where business and technology come together. It’s not just about changing passwords; there’s also a need to understand organizational policies and procedures. It’s a great place for business people to cross into IT.
Another key area is IT implementation and project management. Business people who understand the organization and business processes make great project managers for the implementation of new technologies and the accompanying management of change.
Q. Within technology, what specializations demand business skills?
A. Big data and analytics require people who understand complex business problems, as well as the nature of tech and data. People coming from the business side and moving into IT have an advantage because they already understand a lot of the business, the data, and the problems.
There will also be growing opportunities for professionals who understand data visualization, the Internet of Things, and cyberanalytics, where you look at the flow of data through routers and networks in the hopes of finding possible security breaches.
Another key area where business skills are essential is in the design and development of application software for use by the business. Software developers who understand how software will support business processes and strategies produce a better product.
Q. What skills and abilities do you need to thrive at the intersection of business and IT?
A. Logical thinking. Analytical skills. An eye for detail, but the ability to maintain a view of the bigger picture.
If you like to create things or solve puzzles, IT is a great field to be in. If you like learning new things, IT is an ideal field because nothing stays stationary in the world of IT.
If you’re coming from IT, you’ll need to look at challenges across the business. What’s the bigger strategy? Also, do you have the people skills to work in teams and across functions? You’ll need to be able to see things from many different perspectives.
Q. What kind of education is helpful?
A. It depends on what you hope to do. Certificates are a great way to explore business and IT. If you’ve completed some college credits and have decided to move into IT, explore bachelor’s programs in business and IT. If you already have a bachelor’s degree and you’re sure of your direction, enrolling in a master’s program is a logical next step. Do enough research and reflection to figure out where your passion lies, then jump in and follow that thread.