An MBA Specialization in Information Management

An MBA specialization in Information Management main image

Dr Wayne Brookes, University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to explain what MBA students who choose to focus on information management should learn by the time they graduate..

Once upon a time, it was only managers of technology startups and venture capitalists in Silicon Valley that needed to understand how technology could drive business success.

But in today’s connected world, businesses across the globe in every sector depend on effectively managing their technology and information assets – and they need MBAs to do it.

Information management vs technology management

Information is a key asset of modern businesses, and information management is the art of being able to effectively define, store, manage, protect, share and distribute information for relevant stakeholders within a business.

But more than that, the most important aspect of information management is being able to recognize the true value of information, and identify new ways to exploit that information to deliver new services and better value to customers.

In general, technology management focuses more on delivering technology to customers, rather than managing information used by the business.

While every business needs effective information management, specializing in technology management is most relevant for companies in the engineering, science and technology fields where some form of technology is the product.

Technology management may focus more on product development, project management, operations management and logistics.

One thing that is common to both areas is the need to have a good understanding of how technology works, as well as general management principles and an understanding of broader aspects of business operations.

There is a strong demand for business leaders who understand the strategic value of information, technology and the IT systems that underpin them.

MBA career opportunities

In information management, the ultimate job for an MBA is usually seen as the Chief Information Officer (CIO).

The CIO of a company reports directly to the CEO and among other things, will oversee the IT division of the company.

However, the CIO is not just responsible for keeping the servers running, but more importantly for identifying strategic opportunities arising from the company’s IT systems.

For example, to deliver new information-based products and services to customers through the web or mobile phones, or perhaps to reduce operating costs by streamlining business processes to better utilise the company’s information resources.

While in the days of the dotcom boom, it wasn’t unheard of for an MBA graduate to move directly into a CIO role, these days there’s usually a few more steps in the career ladder.

Today, a recent MBA graduate who specialized in information management can expect to look for positions as a senior business analyst, an information systems manager, or perhaps managing the implementation of IT projects.

The key element of all of these roles is being just as comfortable in the boardroom as in the IT department and finding the middle ground between what the business wants and what the company’s IT systems can deliver, within inevitable time and budget constraints.

Information management in MBA programs

In general, MBA programs that specialize in information management will consist of some study in business and some study in IT.

For those who completed their undergraduate studies in computer science or IT, the MBA offers a chance to add a more strategic level of thinking about information and technology and build those all-important connections between information management and business innovation.

For those who come into their MBA without a strong computing or IT background, normally it would mean starting with some of the basics in IT, but usually with more of a focus on business information systems than hardcore computer science.

Much of the value and strength of studying information management or IT within an MBA, lies in the consideration of approaches and perceptions that are extensions of, or built upon broad information technology view points.

Information management MBA specializations are not designed to target only IT specialists, but rather anyone looking towards management positions in companies using contemporary IT systems.

Some programs even give IT graduates a chance to strengthen their technical knowledge whilst gaining management skills, and may include growth areas such as data mining, business intelligence, human centred technology design, interactive multimedia, internetworking and strategic IT management.

The truth is that information management and IT are such broad areas, that the most important consideration is to choose an MBA program that has inbuilt flexibility and a wide range of subject choices in IT, information systems and information management, so you can tailor the program to your individual talents and career goals.

The UTS MBA has once again been ranked fourteenth in the world, and joint first in the Asia-Pacific region for the MBA specialization in information management in the QS Global 200 Top Business Schools Report 2010. This is because it offers flexibility as the structure allows students to choose a major or sub-major and electives, to tailor the course to their requirements.

Dr Wayne Brookes is Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning): Information Technology in the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology at the University of Technology Sydney.

This article was originally published in July 2013 and was updated in October 2019.

Written by Mansoor Iqbal

Mansoor is a contributor to and former editor of TopMBA.com. He is a higher and business education specialist, who has been published in media outlets around the world. He studied English literature at BA and MA level and has a background in consumer journalism.

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