Just what is the role of information technology (IT) and information systems (IS) in modern organizations? According to two of our faculty members, these areas are integral to every business in every industry.
From Competitive Advantage to Necessity
Jason Crittenden entered college focused on business, but soon something else caught his attention, a new development called the Internet. He was hooked. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Information Systems, he continued on to earn a master’s degree in Information Systems and a PhD in Instructional Systems and Workforce Development.
Dr. Crittenden started his career in web development before transitioning to database development, building robust, scalable systems for his department, which he then linked to the enterprise systems. Following that role, he spent several years as a research professor studying educational technology. In 2011, he joined South University, Richmond as the Department Chair of Information Systems and Technology.
Today, he sees the dynamism of technology and the way it influences businesses as the most exciting element of the field. “Business happens now in nanoseconds. It doesn't happen in days or in weeks, and having IT and IS solutions has become a must in all organizations,” observes Dr. Crittenden, adding, “We wake up every day to new technology wonders.” Such changes, he says, can drive everything from the formation, evolution and eventually obsolescence of a business.
“If a market in Asia has a glitch, it is felt all over the world within the hour,” says Dr. Crittenden. “Once IT was purely for competitive advantage reasons, but it has evolved so that, yes there are companies that can and still utilize it as a competitive advantage, but IT is now a necessity. There is no business without IT or IS anymore.”
Finding Answers to Business Questions
Angelo Thalassinidis started his career in computer science, and over time he discovered his knowledge could inform business decisions. His interest in the field, however, was sparked long before beginning his career. “At about 12 years old, I started dating a girl whose mom didn't like me. The only way we could communicate was if I would write her letters and code the letters,” he recalls.
After learning to write in code, he became interested in breaking codes, which eventually led him to study mathematics and computer science in college. When he finished school, however, he was surprised to realize that he preferred working with databases over cryptology. Before long, he found work in business intelligence, monitoring and analyzing information published around the world to forecast business performance.
Following roles in management, consulting, and data warehousing and information support systems, he moved to Greece, where he co-founded a company that collected real estate data and produced market indexes. In 2011, he returned to the US and began working at South University, Tampa as the Director of the Department of Information Systems and Technology.
Over the last 20+ years, Dr. Thalassinidis has seen information systems and technology professionals become increasingly important for businesses. “The business comes to us with an issue or a concern and we are the solution,” he says. “The question used to be ‘Can you do this?’ and now it has become, ‘We have this general problem and we have no idea how to address it. Can you help us?’”
When faced with these questions, finding a solution quickly is crucial. “In the business environment, because of the complexity, because of a number of things, you cannot afford to not do it right the first time. You cannot afford to not have a reliable infrastructure. You cannot afford down time on your network or your website,” he says.
A Graduate Program Joining Business with Information Systems and Technology
According to Dr. Crittenden and Dr. Thalassinidis, South University's Master of Science in Information Systems program is not only accessible to business professionals, but also teaches skills very relevant to today’s organizations. “This is not a heavily technical program,” explains Jason. “It is a program that bridges the business world with the IT world.”
For starters, students are not required have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, and those from a business background are welcomed, even encouraged, to apply.
“This degree will help someone get a very, very good hands on experience with what technologies and what governance methodologies are out there and how to use them from a business perspective,” says Dr. Thalassinidis. “This program is designed for people who want to incorporate Information Systems into their organizations and to gain a competitive advantage in the workplace by understanding what these technologies can do.”
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