Why Companies Need to Acquire MIS Graduates

This is a guest post.

Most companies recognize that technology will play an increasing role in future success. That realization doesn’t necessarily mean that businesses know what type of professionals to hire. These four benefits should convince companies that they need to acquire MIS graduates.

To Reach More Customers

The Internet has radically changed the way that people shop. Consumers spent about $210.6 billion buying products from online retailers. At $4,778.24 billion, the business-to-business e-commerce volume is even greater. The trend is quite clear: businesses that want to increase sales need to offer their clients online options.

Despite its popularity, e-commerce is still an evolving industry that presents several unanswered questions to businesses that want to take advantage of it. Adding an information systems manager to a technology development team makes it easier to find solutions as businesses encounter new problems.

To Protect Customer Information

Image via Flickr by Alan Cleaver

Image via Flickr by Alan Cleaver

In January 2014, hackers stole information about 110 million Target customers. In September of the same year, hackers stole information from Kmart. When companies suffer security breaches, media outlets pick up the stories and spread them across the Internet. This creates terrible public relations scenarios that can make consumers cautious of using credit cards when shopping online or at stores.

A strong computer security team is the only way businesses can stop hackers from stealing customer information. That team needs to include several types of professionals who specialize in specific areas of computer technology. Someone with an Information Systems Management degree can bring those professionals together to create a security program that outwits even the best hackers.

To Become More Efficient

Companies need to cut spending and increase profits to remain competitive. Computer technology that focuses on efficiency accomplishes both of those goals. Without someone trained to build and maintain computer systems, businesses can’t keep up with competitors who understand that spending a little more money today on the right team members can lead to long-term benefits.

Businesses that don’t use computer technology to improve efficiency will likely fail to meet the needs of their customers. Either their services will suffer or their prices will go up. Either way, refusing to adopt new technology puts businesses at a significant disadvantage.

To Improve Communications

Communications plays a key role in helping businesses meet their goals. Today’s latest technology helps companies stay in contact with customers, transfer large amounts of information between offices, and develop database systems so employees and managers can access information instantly.

Improved communication technology doesn’t just happen on its own. It takes a commitment to building reliable computer networks that can transmit information securely. MIS graduates who enjoy traveling can use this as an opportunity to help businesses while exploring the world. While small businesses probably don’t need to hire a staff member dedicated to building computer networks, medium and large companies can benefit from hiring their own information technology staff members.

As technology continues to evolve, companies will need to rely on more IT professionals. What advantages do you think an MIS graduate could offer businesses in your community?

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Transparency

A friend–let’s call him me–recently had a bit of a hangup with a business relationship.

On a long-term project, there were some unavoidable setbacks. ¬† My friend decided to work through them, hoping to get everything back up to speed…before the customer noticed.

It’s a funny thing, but customers like to look at status reports on long-term projects. ¬† A couple of months after the biggest problem, the customer called my friend wanting an in-person status update. ¬† They told him to be prepared for an uncomfortable conversation.

Crap.

Now, the setbacks were truly unavoidable. ¬† Things came up that were entirely outside the realm of my friend’s control, but he had to deal with them anyway. ¬† ¬†When the problems were laid out in front of the customer, it went from uncomfortable to a discussion on how to expand the business relationship.

Transparency for the win.

Bad things happen. ¬†Anybody who doubts this is clearly not equipped to deal in the adult (that’s adult in the “grown-up” sense, not adult in the “porn” sense) world. ¬†Companies know that bad things can happen to derail a project. ¬†They are going to be more interested in how you get the project back on track than anything else.

When things go wrong, be open about it. ¬† Your customers/family/friends/one-night-stands will appreciate not having to wonder what’s going on.

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How to Complain – The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease

A U.S. riverboat deploying napalm during the V...
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Have you ever been screwed by a company?¬† Have they sent you the wrong item, or an empty box, or left your order backordered for so long that you can’t even dispute it with your credit card company any more?

What can you do?

I know you’ve heard the phrase, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”¬† That means, he whines loudest, gets the most.¬† The thing is, you have to whine effectively, or you’ll just get round-filed.

Targeting Subsystems On

Who you complain to matters more than what you complain about.¬† The clerk at your local big-box retailer isn’t going to refund your online purchase.¬† You need to complain to someone who can make a decision to help you.¬†¬† First, find the customer service email address.¬†¬† Next, if you are complaining about a recurring service, find the retention department’s email address.¬† Finally, find the email address for absolutely everybody Vice-President or above for that company, including the board of directors.¬†¬† Go to their website, find the email for some PR drone and figure out the format.¬† First.Last@Company.com or FirstInitial.LastName@Company.com or whatever.¬†¬† Look up the company in Google Finance and translate everyone’s name into the email format.¬†¬† You might not have the perfect list, but it should be close.

Target Locked On

Now that you know who you are about to blast, what are you going to say?   A few things to include are:

  • Your contact information.¬†¬† If they can’t get back to you, they can’t make it up to you.
  • Details of the problem.¬† Include the date of purchase, date of delivery, and a detailed description of what actually went wrong.
  • Scanned copies of receipts.
  • Any names of anybody you’ve had to deal with, either in the original transaction or when the problem occurred, if you have the names.

Engage!

What to say, what to say?

  • Don’t be abusive.¬† It’s okay to be angry, and it’s okay to let them know your are angry, but swearing or threatening their lives will–at best–only get you ignored.¬† Worst case, threats are illegal and they can pass your email along to the police.
  • Stay brief.¬†¬† It doesn’t matter that your daddy took you to Starbucks to use their free wi-fi when you were just three years old.¬†¬† Don’t talk about that time the aliens abducted you or how sad you are that they never call like they promised they would.¬†¬† Keep to the point.¬†¬† “This is who I am.¬† This is what happened.¬† This is what I want you to do about it.”

Send that sucker out.¬†¬† If you feeling particularly perturbed, send a CC to your state’s Attorney General and any possibly related regulatory agencies.¬†¬† I tend to save this step for round 2.

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Priorities

I once saw a sign on the wall in a junkyard that said, “Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”

Another good one: “If everything is top priority, nothing is top priority.”

Once a week, I meet with my boss to discuss my progress for the previous week and my priorities for the coming week. ¬† This is supposed to make sure that my productivity stays in line with the company’s goals.

Great.

Once a day, my boss comes into my office to change my top priority based on whichever account manager has most recently asked for a status update for their customer.

Not so great.

At least twice a week, he asks for a status update on my highest priority items. ¬† Each time, he could mean the items we prioritized in the weekly meeting, or the items he chose to escalate later. ¬† Somehow, getting a new task escalated doesn’t deescalate an existing task.

Everything is a top priority.

To compensate, I’ve been working a few 12 hour days each week, and occasionally coming in on the weekends.

I’m dedicated and still behind.

Prioritizing is treated as an art, or in the case I just mentioned, a juggling act. ¬†It should be considered a science. ¬†It’s usually pretty simple.

  • Is the problem costing you money? +1
  • Is the problem costing your customer money? +2
  • Is the problem going to hurt your reputation? +1
  • Is there a deadline? +1
  • Is it soon? +2
  • Is it urgent? +1
  • Is it important? +2
  • Are there absolutely no real consequences for anyone if it doesn’t get completed? -500

That’s it. ¬† ¬†Too many times, we get hung up on urgent-but-not-important items and neglect the important things.

The hard part comes when it’s someone else setting your priorities, particularly when that person doesn’t rate things on urgency, importance, and cost but rather “Who has bitched the loudest recently?”

Can I tell my boss that I’m not going to do things the way he told me too? ¬†No. ¬†A former coworker very recently found out what happens when you do this.

Can I remind him that I’m busting my butt as hard as I can? ¬†Yes, but it will just earn me a request to come in on the weekend, too.

Can I ignore the official priorities part of the time, and work on what I feel is most important to keeping our customers happy? ¬†Yes, but it’s easy to go too far. ¬†“Boss, I ignored what you said, but this customer is happy, now!” won’t score me any points if it happens every week.

Priorities are simple, but not always easy.  How do you balance your priorities?

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