So … you want a career where you can stare at a computer screen all day and not be bothered by anyone? A degree in information systems is then probably not for you. Good communication skills are a must for information systems professionals. Information systems (IS) is about solving business problems with computer-based solutions. This involves working closely with other areas of the business to understand the problem and identify an appropriate solution.
An IS major can lead to a career as a business analyst (BA). A BA works to understand a business problem and the requirements of the solution and then determines the solution design and whether existing software should be purchased to address the problem or built to satisfy the design. Analysts may address problems in the areas of business process and marketing as well as many types of operational issues. Other careers for IS majors include project management, quality assurance, database administration, security and more technical areas, including network administration and even software development.
IS professionals often make excellent project managers, so much so that in many businesses, the project management function is housed within the IS department. Project managers are tasked with leading projects from inception to close. They develop plans to make sure the work can be completed on time, on budget and within scope. Project managers are expert communicators and seldom work alone. Many modern project management techniques evolved within the IS discipline, and project management is a critical skill for IS majors.
Information systems are ubiquitous in business and other organizations. There is no indication this will change anytime soon. Employees, regardless of their role, need to be cognizant of how current and future technology will impact organizations’ growth, profitability and even survival.
Technological disruption is constant, creating myriad new opportunities and challenges for individuals and organizations. Those individuals who can best assess the strategic and operational impact of new technologies on their areas of responsibility will be even more valuable to their employers in the future.
Simply put, we live in an information economy. Workers most fluent in the use of IS and technologies will be in highest demand. This suggests current and future students should take up information technology training regardless of the degree or major they pursue. Current employees should also be encouraged to enhance their understanding of current and future technologies and how they will impact strategy and operations within their organizations.
It is fortunate that so many organizations in our area recognize the importance of IT and provide opportunities for individuals to learn about it continually. The NEW IT Alliance, Amplify Oshkosh, Women in Technology, the Project Management Institute and the Association for Information Technology Professionals all provide opportunities to interact with IT professionals and education in northeast Wisconsin. Encouraging employees and students from all backgrounds and industries to start down the path of increased technological literacy is an easy first step and is so important to the future of our organizations and industries.
While no one has a crystal ball, it is easy to see that demand for IT professionals is growing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employment of computer and IT occupations is projected to grow 12 percent over the next decade, much faster than the average for all occupations. IT-related occupations are projected to add about 546,200 new jobs. The median annual wage across computer and IT occupations was $86,320 in 2018. This growth trend is reflected in recent data from the NEW IT Alliance, which predicts there will be more that 3,000 new IT jobs in northeast Wisconsin alone by 2021.
On the Web
Michael A. Eierman, Ph.D., is the Information Systems Department chair, academic director of the bachelor’s degree in Applied Computing and a co-academic director of the master’s degree in Information Technology Management at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. He is also a a professor in the department. He can be reached at [email protected] or (920) 424-0183.
Donald Heath, Ph.D., is a co-academic director of the master’s degree in Information Technology Management and an assistant professor in the Information Systems Department at UW Oshkosh. He can be reached at [email protected] or (920) 424-7196.