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As more businesses outsource key parts of their IT operations to external services companies, they're becoming hard pressed to find managers with the mix of business and technological savvy needed to manage those engagements. At the same time, vendors themselves say they're having a tough time finding applicants that can effectively manage and market IT-driven business-services offerings.
IBM on Tuesday disclosed that it's working with a number of leading business and technology schools, including the University of California at Berkeley and MIT, to address the problem. IBM has developed an extensive IT and business-services curriculum based on its own internal knowledge and experience and is making it available to the schools free of charge.
The initiative will help ensure that the company has access to a steady supply of high-level IT and business graduates in the years ahead, an IBM spokesman says. "It's like the weather; everybody talks about it but nobody does anything about it, until now," says the spokesman, citing reports that the country could soon face a shortage of computer-industry professionals.
Berkeley's Haas Business School has already introduced a course based on the curriculum. MIT, Stanford University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Northwestern University, and several other top-drawer institutions also have committed to do so. IBM says it's also in talks with leading international universities, including Oxford and the University of Warwick.
The course work, called Services Sciences, Management, and Engineering, covers topics ranging from the management of open-source, highly automated business-computing architectures to the legal aspects of offshoring. IBM's spokesman didn't deny that the material could instill in students a bias toward IBM methodologies and technologies, but he noted that "we're not at liberty to donate knowledge or equipment from our competitors."
Linda Cohen, an analyst at research firm Gartner, says the curriculum is a sorely needed offering in today's services-driven economy: "With a lot of commodity work going offshore, the U.S. needs to be a leader in developing high-level technology-management skills."