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A Curriculum for a New Kind of IT Professional

Changes in technology have expanded the reach of IT, while increasing the need for a new kind of IT professional. The Master of Science in Digital Innovation (MSDI) at Bentley was designed to be suitable for a wide variety of professionals, from those with traditional tech backgrounds to those in other fields.

The MSDI delivers the skills that encompass the entire scope of business and technology, from analytics and artificial intelligence to cybersecurity. It’s a modern, market-driven degree program for today’s rapidly changing high-tech world.

“For students with no technical background, the program provides the foundational knowledge to move into a career in IT, along with more advanced issues related to technology and its ability to impact business,” says Professor Bill Schiano. “For students with more knowledge or experience, the program can help them build current knowledge in leading practice.”

Today, organizations are able to collect or access very large amounts of detailed data about their business processes, behavior and attitudes of their customers and actions of their competitors. This data can be used as a source of highly sophisticated information that guides business decisions. But, more and more, artificial intelligence–based technologies are being used to automate many of these decisions, and Internet of Things (IoT)–based systems allow an unprecedented level of accuracy in modeling how physical systems work and are integrated with the rest of the organization.

“Increasingly, many organizations — from the smallest to the largest — are entirely dependent on IT-based solutions, some primarily operationally but many also in ways that have an impact on their entire identity and core ways of doing business,” says Professor Heikki Topi.

The Bentley MSDI provides students with an in-depth understanding of how the most advanced technical capabilities can be integrated into organizational systems in a way that best supports an organization’s goals.

“The program recognizes that digital innovation is a foundational capability for all organizations,” says Topi. “But any new technologies become truly transformative only once they are built into organizational systems and used to enable continuous improvement.”

MSDI graduates will get a long-term foundation for being effective members and leaders of organizational transformation processes based on meaningful, productive, and ethical use of IT capabilities.

Analytics will also play a key role in the new Bentley program.

“Analytics was included because it is increasingly becoming a core competency for IT professionals,” says Professor Wendy Lucas. “There has been a growing focus on the future of work, and that future is being driven by technology hand-in-hand with analytics. To be leaders of digital innovation, our graduates have to know how to integrate analytical capabilities into organizational systems that enable innovative solutions to business problems. The MSDI curriculum has been designed with this goal in mind.

The program teaches a broad range of integrated business and technical skills that will allow students to identify business opportunities enabled by technology and be part of the process of bringing these opportunities to life. Experiential learning opportunities will further prepare students to be able to derive directly applicable value from the program.

As the IT field grows, so too will the MSDI program.

“We deliberately designed the program to be able to evolve with technology and business practice,” says Schiano. “Each of the courses will be refreshed regularly, and our Looking Into the Future course will be an annual offering exploring the best thinking about the long term changes coming to theory and practice.”

To best serve its students, Topi says faculty have an obligation to stay on top of existing and emerging technologies.

“The program will always integrate business and technology, recognizing that the technical landscape changes all the time,” he says. “It is our responsibility as faculty members to guide our students to separate truly important developments from noise and apply them at the right time.”