1. Advanc'edge MBA / August 2003
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MBA in Systems
Senior management in organisations know what
information they require and why. But seldom if ever
do they have the time and patience to gather such
- Shishir Nigam information, store and transform it into a presentable
format. They cannot be involved in the nitty-gritty
of this process. For example, a senior marketing
manager in an FMCG company needs some
information about the area-wise sales of the products.
MBA in Systems is a relatively new specialisation
However, he doesn’t have the time to delve into how
in many an MBA program worldwide and is closely
this information will be obtained, transmitted, stored,
related to the growth of the information technology
retrieved and presented. He needs this information
business. Proliferation of the IT sector led to a need
fast so that he can take decisions on strategies to
for persons who remaining generalists in the business
increase sales or retain market share. It is this gap
sense capture business processes while integrating
that the Systems Professional fills with his expertise.
information systems automation.
Skill Expectations from a Systems Professional in
Traditionally the industry had access to a large
pool of programmers, who had the requisite technical
Often called upon to perform the role of a systems
skills but often had to be groomed for niche business
analyst or a systems architect, the very first
fields. Such programmers developed over time to
requirement of the systems professional is awareness
become Subject Matter Experts (SME). But with IT
of the technologies as well as the evolving trends. In
becoming ubiquitous, there was an emergent need
addition to the awareness he should also have the
for professionals who had the capability to
ability to understand the utility of these technologies
understand the business problem at the highest level,
to solve specific business problems. Since business
convert it into specifications for an IT project, do some
problems span multiple domains, this professional
architecting, and then hand it over to the SMEs. The
needs to understand business as well as the functional
professional with an MBA in Systems filled this need.
specifics of an organisation viz., marketing, human
What is MBA Systems?
resource, finance, accounts, operations,
MBA Systems is a specialised program, which
manufacturing etc. To successfully meet the
gives an overall idea about the business
challenges of such a role, the cross-functional
fundamentals, processes, technologies (IT and
expertise and exposure gained during an eclectic
Computer) and applications to solve business
MBA Systems program is best suited. The skills of
communication, processes, planning, presentation,
Role of Systems Professionals in Organisations
cost benefit analysis, budgeting, market research etc
Programmers deal directly with the technologies.
gained during the MBA program help the systems
They are capable of writing code, storing and
person to gel effectively with users from any
retrieving data, and providing it to the users. In
functional specialisation, helping them to clarify the
contrast an MBA Systems professional works on the
business problem. It further helps him co-ordinate
process involved in transforming the data into useful
between departments, a key skill indeed for a systems
information to be presented in a manner, which helps
senior managers understand the state of their
businesses and take decisions.
A systems professional’s role in an organisation
encompasses the management of the Information
Technology and systems to obtain the required
information. Of these management of information is
considered as most important. These roles necessitate
working closely with the operational team of the
organisation and managing the gathering, processing
and dissemination of the right information to the right
person at the right time.
2. Advanc'edge MBA / August 2003
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professional. w Learning environment must be eclectic in terms
of a well-stocked library of books, multimedia
Pre-requisites for taking up MBA Systems
As a prospective aspirant interested in pursuing learning aids and computer laboratories with
an MBA in Systems, you should be aware of the various software and development environments
requirements not just to enter the program but also for a wide exposure.
to do it well, such that the knowledge gained can be w Teachers are vital in any learning process,
applied effectively in your work situation. Some of especially in technology. Experienced faculty with
the skill sets that you would be examined on prior to at least 3 years experience (Post relevant
your entry into an MBA Systems program are: qualifications) in industry. (Beware as it has been
w Interest in Information Technologies found that many institutes use recent graduates
w Interest in understanding all the functions of a with little or no industry exposure as faculty). It
business process is preferable if the faculty possesses relevant
w Mathematical Ability in the context of numerical international certifications (MCSE™, CCNA™ ,
analysis and solutions etc.,) on the technologies they are likely to teach.
w Logical analysis w Sufficient time and faculty support must be given
w Ability to connect technologies to business to lab work for practical orientation to the theories
learnt in the class.
Focus Areas While Doing the program
Having enrolled in an MBA Systems program, it w A significant ratio of the curriculum must cover
is important that you focus on the following to build the business basics of various functions.
a successful career: w The course structure should incorporate industry
w Knowledge of business functions visits, summer training as well as industry-
w Mathematical modeling of business problems in sponsored projects.
any functional domain There are many other things, which may be added
w Business mathematics and statistics to this list, but if an institute meets at least these
w Communication skills criteria for its MBA Systems program, it is worth
w Ability to understand and map business processes considering. Reputed institutes like IIMC, IIMB, IIT
w Software engineering and processes Schools of Management and SITM have an array of
w Quality systems like ISO 9000 and CMM specialised programs. The best systems Consultancy
Expertise in the above areas will give you a and IT firms like PWC, TCS, PCS, Mindtree, Infosys,
definitive head start when you enter your job. Wipro, i2, inautix, Techspan etc. recruit systems
professionals from these institutes.
An Ideal Systems MBA Program
The best MBA systems programs are obviously Epilogue
offered by the top institutes like the IIM’s. However Thus we have assessed what it takes to embark on
with a plethora of institutes offering MBA programs a career path in MBA Systems, starting from
it is not unusual for aspirants to be faced with the understanding the industry requirement for this
dilemma of choosing the right MBA Systems specialisation, what it takes to get into a program,
program. Using the following points as a guideline the focus areas when doing the program, and how to
to assess the structure/design of the MBA Systems go about the right MBA Systems program for
program offered and the institute is helpful in making yourself.
the right choice. Doing an MBA in Systems is just the beginning.
w Computational infrastructure of the institute As a professional you must constantly upgrade
should be state of the art and sufficient to meet yourself, in cutting-edge technologies as well as
the needs of all students. Thus the number of business domains. You must always be equipped
computers and their configuration (Software and with and aware of the latest technology trends lest
Hardware) is important. For instance good you are left groping especially in an age wherein the
institutions must have not just Microsoft rapid forces of technological change can easily render
Windows™ environment, but also Linux™ you obsolete. This will help all you budding systems
operating system in line with current market professionals to continuously plan and align your
trends. career in the right direction.