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Continuous Learning

3 Reasons Aspiring Executives Need a Degree in Tech Management

All industries have to leverage technology to survive, not just the Amazons of the world.
3 Reasons Aspiring Executives Need a Degree in Tech Management
Image credit: Westend61 | Getty Images
Guest Writer
Workforce Development Expert and Professor
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You may think digital transformation doesn’t apply to your industry. Think again. According to McKinsey, 70 percent of businesses will attempt a digital transformation, yet only 30 percent will succeed.

Why do so many otherwise successful companies fail to adapt to the tech-driven world? Chief among many factors is the digital skills gap impacting 54 percent of businesses. Most traditional business education programs simply haven’t kept pace with today’s technological demands, causing individuals who already have a MBA to seek out programs to learn more applied and specific digital skills. I’ve seen this trend first-hand. Thirty percent of students in the Executive MS in Technology Management at Columbia University came in with a MBA already on their resume.

In a dynamic marketplace where tech is king, I believe an Executive MS in Technology Management is the new must-have degree for business executives.

This is not to say the MBA is obsolete. The degree still has broad value in the business world, especially if you’re just starting a career. But due to the inseparable nature of technology and business, there is an urgent need to supplement MBAs with education and theories that can be applied to the current digital reality. If you’re an executive seeking continuing education, here are three reasons you should pursue a degree in tech management.

Related: 4 Tech Solutions That Are Also Problems When Managing Employees

It’s not just for tech companies.

All industries have to leverage technology to survive, not just the Amazons of the world. Across 15 industries, ranging from manufacturing to energy, 47 percent of CEOs are challenged to make progress in digital business, according to a study from Gartner. Increasing efficiency – and profit – is the key driver. That same study found 56 percent of executives say digital improvements have already increased their profits.

An Executive MS in Tech Management provides students with the tools to increase a company’s bottom line. Programs emphasize the importance of using technology in business for strategic advantage and improved productivity.

Graduates typically assume such positions as CIOs, CTOs, CAOs, COOs, CEOs, CSOs, or CDOs. Steve Bandrowczak was named President and COO of Xerox while taking our program at Columbia University. Lauren Goodwin earned her Executive MS and was hired as BP’s VP of Digital Transformation.

Related: I Launched a Tech Startup at 28 While Pursuing My MBA and It Was a Great Decision

Programs are specified to your needs.

Executives like Steve and Lauren succeeded because what they learned was specific to their needs. Digital transformation is not a one-size-fits-all process, so programs offer a variety of focus areas, such as C-Level Management, Cybersecurity and Data Management and Analytics. Executives can leverage this expertise to reach the next level in their careers.

Matthew Smith was a student at Columbia University’s program. As a lead architect for a digital transformation initiative at AT&T, he chose a focus in Digital and Business Transformation. Within a month of beginning our program, Matt’s responsibilities at his company increased. He later accepted a position with a leading global consulting firm as a Senior Business and Integration Architect, a job that came with a pay raise of 35 percent.

Related: Reinvent the MBA for the 21st Century by Mastering the Ambiguity in Business

Mentors share real-world experience.

For every Netflix, there’s a Blockbuster that was too slow to adapt to digital trends. Since 2000, over 50 percent of Fortune 500 companies have been acquired, merged, or declared bankruptcy.

Individualized mentoring from an executive who has successfully led a digital transformation can help you lead your company to success instead of becoming another statistic. Unfortunately, legal issues sometimes prevent executives from getting one-on-one advice from CEOs or other leading technology executives.

This is not the case with Executive MS programs, where students benefit from one-on-one mentorships with a top-level executive. The aforementioned Matthew Smith credited mentor David Widup, a former executive and Principal at N. Allen & Associates, LLC, with helping him understand the intersection of business and technology.

I’ve seen growing interest in Columbia’s Executive MS program since its launch, a testament to the demands of digital transformation. With every business needing to integrate technology into its operations and an increasingly large digital skills gap, expert knowledge in technology can help keep you and your business from falling behind. I encourage aspiring C-Suite executives to consider degrees that will make them indispensable leaders for tomorrow.

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