In recent years, business schools have added tech skills and analytics courses to their programs, by offering online analytics MBA specializations or providing coding classes. In fact, Poets & Quants reports that tech-focused subjects like data analytics are quickly becoming some of the most popular business majors.
Tech Skills In Demand
This may lead some students to question whether, as MBAs, they need cutting-edge tech skills. While “soft skills” like communication, leadership, and team-building are still crucial, research shows that in a technology-dominated society, MBAs can only benefit from bolstering their knowledge of data analytics.
More Job Opportunities
In a digital economy, strong technological and analytical skills are crucial. For this reason, students who possess these skills are in very high demand. A 2016 report from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) shows that 72 percent of employers plan to hire recent business school graduates to fill data analytics positions. Specifically, employers want MBA graduates with strong analytical and programming skills, and preferably a knowledge of programs like Excel, SAS, R, SQL, Tableau, and SPSS.
“What companies are saying is that many of their current employees, who graduated a decade ago or more, don’t necessarily have these skills, and they’re looking to a new generation of business school graduates who do,” said Brian Carlidge, executive director of pre-business and pre-graduate programs for Kaplan Test Prep. “Employees who both understand a company’s business goals and understand the data to help them reach those goals will be highly desirable to recruit and hire in the technology-driven workforce.”
A Higher Salary
When it comes to hiring MBAs, many employers said they prefer applicants who show strong expertise in a specific area. In other words, they want applicants with specialized MBAs—and they are willing to pay more for them. According to a 2017 GMAC survey, 25 percent of employers will pay a premium salary for graduates with a specialized MBA degree. When looking at tech specifically, GMAC found that 26 percent of employers are willing to offer a higher salary to MBA graduates who specialized in technology.
A Combination Of Skills
While it’s clear that many companies are craving recruits with strong technological and analytical skills, one might question why they still want MBAs, rather than traditional mathematics or statistics students. GMAC found that, on top of traditional tech skills, most companies want employees who have communication, interpersonal, and team-building abilities. In other words, they want employees who can not only analyze data, but who can also understand business problems, work with clients, and communicate their analyses to broader audiences.
“We have no interest in individuals who focus solely on data analytics,” one recruiter told the GMAC. “We want influencers, not statisticians.”
In order to launch fast-growing, high-paying careers, many students specialize their MBA in a topic like business analytics. This allows them to gain the traditional leadership and communication skills an MBA program offers, on top of the knowledge to use analytics to solve complex problems. As the research shows, in a tech-dominated society, this is the ideal way to stand out from the competition.