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Students Gain Insight on Future of Business Technology from Top IBM Executive

March 31, 2015
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Pictured: Randy Walker, managing director, IBM Global Business Services.

Business graduates are the key to cracking the code for companies like IBM looking to stay relevant as big shifts occur in the industry, according to Randy Walker, managing partner of IBM Global Business Services.

In a presentation to School of Business in March, the IBM executive elaborated on these industry shifts that are making business graduates more desirable than ever and answered students’ questions.

For starters, IBM has evolved into a company with a more customer-focused mindset. “Now everybody is a consumer,” Walker said. “Now we design a system with customers first and the back office second. Everything is around the client experience: the look, the feel, the brand.”

Not only that, he said, but the company’s customers are no longer the IT guys. “The customers are the business guys. They’re the ones with the budget.”

Secondly, consumers and businesses are driving everything to mobile devices, changing the way people use applications. “You don’t take your old, ugly mainframe application and try to stick it on a mobile device. You design everything for a mobile device first, not last,” said Walker.

And finally, he noted, today’s cloud-based computing means companies are renting computing power rather than buying software. They then decide whether to buy more of this service based on the business outcome.

All of these shifts translate into good news for business school graduates. IBM plans to hire 15,000 university graduates this year, 75 percent of them business graduates. Five years ago, the company hired only experienced tech workers.

“We were missing the point,” Walker said.  “You still need some computer science majors who can build code, but applying technology to business is where the interest and excitement are at.  We are hiring a lot of people who understand business because without a business context, it doesn’t mean anything.”

The company’s biggest area of growth, he predicted, will be in security. IBM has created an entire group focused on just that.

“If you’re looking at hot areas, security is just getting started,” he said. “The technology can do wonderful things, but how do you keep information safe? How do you give access but not be Target? They added all these services but they didn’t have a good security plan, and they got ahead of themselves.”

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