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The Intersection of Business and Technology


Hoit asks the obvious question: “How do you prepare students for business careers that encompass scientific and technical knowledge? For instance, logistics is a hugely mathematical problem, one that civil engineers have been solving for years. Is the answer to make sure every student earns an engineering degree before going to business school?”

Maybe not, but experts believe business students need to learn the technology alongside the functional disciplines to understand how the two relate. One approach is to develop special classes and full programs that integrate business and technology (see “Education at the Intersection,” facing page). But there are other ways that schools can make sure business students understand technology’s vital importance to the organization:

    • Expose students to real-world expertise. INSEAD’s Fonstad recommends three strategies: inviting practitioners into the classroom, sending students out to conduct projects for actual organizations, and launching research centers on campus. All three approaches enable students to interact with executives and see how academic theory can be applied to practical challenges.
    • Encourage business students to acquire specialized skills. Hoit advises his students to develop expertise in a functional business discipline—and a technical skill to back it up. He suggests they acquire this specialized knowledge through minors, dual master’s degree programs, or second degrees.

He adds, “If I’d wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon, I would have started with a mechanical engineering degree to learn about joints before I learned about medicine. Today, if I want to run a business based on logistics, I’d learn the math behind it before I studied how companies like FedEx and Walmart have optimized that math to run better businesses.”

    • Develop partnerships with other schools and universities.  Teaming is a good strategy for business schools that want to add technological depth to their pro-grams but don’t have the resources on hand. In fact, EuroCIO has sponsored this strategy among several European schools that are starting to offer a range of pro-grams in IT and business.

The first EuroCIO MBA for Corporate Information Management was launched by Nyenrode Business School in conjunction with Delft University of Technology, both of the Netherlands. This EMBA in business and IT has been so successful that it is being expanded into additional European universities. EuroCIO’s first Professional Programme in Business and Enterprise Architecture, which focuses on business and management elements more than technical design, launched in September 2012 as a collaboration between Henley Business School in the U.K., Ecole Central Paris in France, Technical University of Munich in Germany, and TiasNimbas Business School of the Netherlands.

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