AI's Impact on the World of IT

MSIT Industry Advisory Board members give their thoughts on how artificial intelligence is changing the IT landscape.

One of the primary goals for Northwestern Engineering's Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) program's Industry Advisory Board (IAB) is to make sure the curriculum reflects the latest industry trends. For the past 18 months, there's been no trend bigger in perhaps any industry, but particularly within IT, than artificial intelligence (AI). 

With that in mind, three IAB members took time to share their thoughts on the recent AI boom, how they're leveraging the technology in their own work, and how MSIT students should prepare themselves to leverage AI now and in the future. 

What's been your reaction to the boom in AI usage and discussion in the past 18 months? 

Sausan Yazji, executive adviser and head of data transformation practice at Amazon Web Services: AI is not a new concept. It has been around for a long time, and it has been used in fraud detection and analysis for decades. The new boom is similar to the time the internet became available to the public. It is a new era, and soon enough, AI will be an essential part of everyone’s life.

Naveed Asem, head of data, analytics, and AI at WEX: We have been embracing it full force and using generative AI to drive productivity, create revenue for the company, and simplify the lives of our customers through automated and intelligent customer interactions.

Kevin Glynn, managing principal at The Laminar Group: It's not unexpected, and new use cases keep coming.

How are you leveraging AI in your professional work? 

Glynn: Customers are asking how to write code with AI.

Yazji: AI has become part of every discussion with customers. Whether it is a retail industry that requires a proactive approach to their consumers, or an educational institution that needs to provide new curriculum based on the market needs, AI can answer these questions. 

One interesting fact I am noticing is that the education around what AI is still is not present. Many executives are still mixing up data analytics with AI. 

How will AI models like ChatGPT change how IT workers go about their day? 

Asem: It will completely transform every aspect of it. 

Glynn: The change will be profound.  The generative AI tools to write software are maturing rapidly and will totally change the makeup of a development team. 

Yazji: They will increase efficiency, reduce human errors, reduce cost of production, and generate new revenue streams that were not previously feasible. 

How will AI models like ChatGPT change hiring in the IT industry? 

Asem: It will transform this as well.

Glynn: The key skill will become the ability to define and describe the problem.

Yazji: More data and AI experts will be required. The whole job market will be innovation focused. 

What should MSIT students be thinking about right now related to AI, cybersecurity, and risk — for themselves or for their organization? 

Glynn: Keep developing your critical thinking skills. MSIT encourages this, and it will help throughout your career.

Yazji: Focus on how AI can help each industry, specialize in a specific work stream, and understand the impact of the emerging technologies in these industries and these work streams. 

With how quickly technology is evolving, how do you think MSIT students should prepare themselves to lead and remain competitive in the IT industry? 

Yazji: Be alert to what is going on around you. Change is always good. Be innovative. Continuous education is a must. 

Glynn: You have to stay curious, be a constant learner, and also recognize you can't learn everything. Do your best.  

What advice would you give to future MSIT students? 

Asem: Invest in learning how generative AI will transform your work and lives. 

Glynn: It's a great time to be in IT. There is so much happening, and MSIT will help you stay in the middle of all the change. MSIT is an excellent preparation for a career in IT.  It gives you the key skills you will need to stay competitive and to learn how to stay competitive in the future.

Yazji: We are going into new, but wonderful challenges. Be prepared!

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