Whitman Voices

Introduction

Business: An Essential Part of the Technology Industry

Business: An Essential Part of the Technology Industry

What comes to mind when thinking of the ever-growing technology industry? Many times, topics include coding, computer science, software engineering, information technology (IT) and other traditionally “techy” areas. However, what may go unnoticed is that every successful, innovative tech firm also has employees in marketing, accounting, finance and other business areas. 

There are many jobs in the tech industry that aren’t technical in the traditional sense. Beyond essential availability, employment in this industry is among the fastest-growing globally, often has generous salaries and benefits, and allows employees to be a part of an engaging and innovative field that is continuously changing and evolving. 

“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and IT-related occupations are expected to grow about 11% between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than most other occupations. Moreover, the median wage is much higher,” says Cameron Miller, assistant professor of management at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. 

He explains that much of the tech-related field’s growth is in the high technology industry, which includes e-commerce, software, computers and electronic devices. “I suspect that high tech will fare better than most,” Miller comments. “This was already the case prior to the pandemic, and the gap has only grown wider since.”

Bruce Kingma, director of undergraduate programs at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool) and professor of entrepreneurship at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, says that the answer to whether or not tech will always be a good option for a student to pursue has changed from “yes” to “YES!” 

“The new normal requires an accelerated increase in technology skills — video conferencing, data analytics, digital commerce and information security,” he explains. “It also requires a nimbleness in technology employees to confront future changes in the industry. It requires what Google calls ‘smart creatives.’ The job placement and salary statistics for students with these skills prove this.”

For those with a business degree, job possibilities include, but are not limited to, operations manager, account manager, marketing manager and sales developer. These roles can be found at nearly every tech firm, though the titles may differ slightly. (Details about job descriptions and qualities of those who excel in these roles can be found here.) 

Working in the tech industry does require a certain level of competence in multiple areas. Kingma shares, “The future of work requires an understanding of management to work with people, of technology to understand the data and tools, and of people to understand how all of this impacts lives. I don’t think anyone can study just one of these three — business, technology and society — and be successful in the workforce of the future.”

However, a range of skills in these areas is advantageous if looking for work in the tech industry and popular business-focused industries like finance. “Tech jobs or jobs that use some tech skills are going to continue to grow in other industries,” Miller says. “Take the finance industry, the target for many Whitman students. Demand for tech-related skills has increased substantially. For instance, computer engineers now represent 25% of Goldman Sachs’s workforce.”

As for what is driving the increase in demand for tech skills, Miller notes two key areas. He says, “First, the ability to collect, manage and analyze big data is an increasingly important part of many jobs. Second, most areas of finance are striving to increase operating leverage by investing in technology platforms.” 

Miller explains the commercial banking sector can be used as an example of financial firms investing in tech platforms. “Historically, you see a fragmented industry with lots of banks, each with lots of bankers making loans, and so on,” he says. “The industry is consolidating, and banks are moving towards large tech platforms. So, we should see in the future larger banks running large platforms that require fewer bankers but more tech folks.”

While tech encompasses a lot of different areas and specializations, narrowing down areas of interest might help students determine which skills to work on. When it comes to learning about data and tools, students have access to a seemingly endless list of resources online, some of them at no cost.

“I would suggest that students look at roles in the companies they would desire and find out what technology they are using and how they are analyzing data, then see what skills they need or classes they might take to make them competitive,” Miller explains.

For example, Salesforce, the number one customer relationship management (CRM) platform globally, offers a variety of training resources that can be found on its website. Perhaps most applicable is Trailhead, a site on which users can practice using Salesforce to complete challenges and apply the technology to different scenarios that mimic real-world problems. 

Fortunately, students can pursue these interests within Syracuse University. At the Whitman School, students interested in adding some tech-related skills to their studies can choose from various paths. First, the University has a dual program with the Whitman School and the iSchool, so that students can pair a business program with information management and technology. The iSchool also offers a variety of minors, including information technology, design, startups, data analytics, and information management and technology.

Sal Pepe ’22, a triple major in entrepreneurship and emerging enterprise and supply chain management at the Whitman School and information management and technology at the iSchool, says that combining these areas in his course of study has allowed him to experience the intersection of technology and business.

“As a multi-program student, learning about the intersection of business and technology has allowed me to gain a further understanding of the digitalization of the business world. It has also taught me how data is fueling many managerial decisions, as well as how businesses are integrating and making the most of technical capabilities,” he explains. “One of the things that makes this pairing so impactful is the interdisciplinary course offerings taking place between both schools that link the future of businesses to technology and vice versa.”

Within Whitman, beginning this semester, undergraduate students are also able to major in business analytics. Pursuing a degree in business analytics allows students to acquire the skills needed to collate and manage data from disparate sources, draw insights from data and effectively communicate them to inform business decisions across a wide range of contexts. 

“Knowing how to analyze data and information is going to continue to be important, especially with the growth in big data,” Miller notes.

Learn more about the dual major between the Martin J. Whitman School of Management and the School of Information Technology at Syracuse University.

Mallory Carlson