With systems integration issues consistently making CIOs’ top 10 lists of Important Things to Do This Year, colleges are taking the hint and awarding specialized degrees in the field. First off the mark is Marlboro College in Brattleboro, Vt., which just announced plans to launch a master’s program in systems integration management in September 2002.
The degree isn’t as geeky as it may sound. The program will include courses on project management, business systems analysis, legal and ethical issues, and standard technical topics. It’s meant to be as much about people and processes as it is about routers and CPUs. "The huge issue about integration is not technology, where the solutions are reasonably well-defined. The huge issue is governance. The messy change management side of integration is where things are falling down," says Paul LeBlanc, founder of The Graduate Center and president of Marlboro College.
He adds that when companies have spent millions of dollars on systems that don’t yield business payback because the systems can’t exchange information, senior executives sit up and take notice. "They are increasingly seeing it as a business issue," he says. Funny how a direct hit to the bottom line will do that. Learn more about Marlboro College’s systems integration management program at www.gradcenter.marlboro.edu.