Ryerson launches MBA program in technology and innovation

Ryerson University will offer an MBA program this fall designed to teach high-level business skills to the technologically inclined.

The one-year degree, called Management of Technology and Innovation, is an update of what has become an aphorism in IT circles – technology professionals need business management skills in order to be employable.

The degree will focus on three particular areas: management of information systems, media management – which will examine the relationship between content creation and IT – and supply network management.

The latter will examine supply chain issues, including the affect of incipient technology like RFID and all the privacy implications that arise from its use. The effective management of the supply chain network requires a combination of technology, organizational knowledge and the skills to manage the physical and digital flow of information, said the dean of Ryerson’s faculty of business, Ken Jones.

“You’re not training technologists, per se. You’re saying, ‘How do organizations cope with technological change?’” he added.

The notion that technology is a standalone skill is long gone, said Christopher Drummond, vice-president of marketing at IT recruiting firm CNC Global Ltd. There are more options to fill lower-level technology jobs, he said, like outsourcing them, meaning that those that remain require more complete skillsets.

“What we’re finding is that there is a big change in the role of technology. IT now is a strategic partner,” said Drummond. “More and more of our customers are telling us that. As a result, they’re looking for people with strong IT programs who also have strong business backgrounds and communications backgrounds.”

The degree will start its first session in September with 40 students. By September 2007, Toronto-based Ryerson plans to increase the number of full-time students it accepts to 80 with another 20 spots for part-time students. The course load will include lectures from professors in other departments within Ryerson, including journalism and radio and television arts. Students that come to the degree without a business background will be required to take an extra semester of accounting, marketing and finance courses.

“We’re not just teaching code, we’re not just teaching an understanding of how a certain technology works. We’re saying that technology is an enabler but technology also creates major issues within organizations,” said Jones. “The modern manager has to understand the management of the technology . . . the innovation and of the information flow.”

Ryerson may be training the next generation of CIOs or possibly supply chain managers for major corporations, said Jones. The degree was designed with some career flexibility in mind. Jones added that many of the program’s graduates may opt to remain in Toronto since it’s a hub for IT careers. “These are programs for the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). It’s a GTA market,” he said.

Industries that are most in need of the skills that Ryerson is imparting include financial services, insurance, systems integrators and the public sector, said Drummond. The public sector in particular in facing an staffing crisis, since it may lose up to 40 per cent of its senior IT workforce by 2008 due to the number of people that are close to retirement age.

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