Bhushan Kapoor, the outgoing department chair of the Cal State Fullerton Mihaylo College Department of Information Systems and Decision Sciences (ISDS), has taught information technology for nearly four decades, impacting several generations of industry leaders.
The instructor and researcher, who is retiring from his position, looks at the integration of technology in higher education over the past 40 years, his recent and forthcoming research, the growth of the information systems field, and how young professionals can position themselves for growth in this sector.
You have been a part of the Cal State Fullerton ISDS program since 1982. How has the department and technology in higher education changed over this time?
Cal State Fullerton and the ISDS department have changed tremendously. When I started, there was limited use of computers and technology in classrooms and delivery of course material. Even routine student registration and fee deposit were done manually using paper and pen.
At the beginning of every semester, faculty would gather in the university student center to help with student registration. It may seem strange now, but faculty computed grades manually at the end of each term and posted them outside their offices for students to see.
Over time, technology has advanced and it has been integrated in every aspect for learning and education. The modes of instruction have changed, and thanks to the user-friendly technology, we now offer several online hybrid classes and an online master’s program.
The department has seen a steady increase in students and faculty, along with growth in the number of programs and courses offered in the department. We have created several new undergraduate and graduate programs.
The undergraduate programs include concentrations in information systems, decision sciences and business analytics. Recently, we have also created a few more undergraduate programs in collaboration with other departments, such as marketing, accounting and economics.
When we create joint programs, we do not simply teach a few courses from each department. We have created cross-listed courses, such as marketing analytics and social media analytics. In these courses, two professors, one from each department, teach the course, and students get a better perspective on the subject.
We also have two strong master’s programs, an M.S. in information systems, a program with about 200 students offering concentrations in information systems management, decision sciences and business analytics, and an M.S. in information technology, an online program that debuted in 2006. Recently, we added a new concentration – data science.
How does a Cal State Fullerton information systems education compare with other universities?
Based on the 2019 U.S. News and World Report rankings, the M.S. IT program is ranked second in California and 15th in the country.
The department faculty excel in research and scholarly activities. Based on Association for Information Systems (AIS) rankings, our department is now ranked third in California and 60th in the U.S. in information systems research in top journals. This was a moment of pride for me and for my colleagues to see our programs and department are ranked high nationally, and that our students are sought after for excellent jobs and internships in the industry.
What are some of your recent research studies and how are they relevant?
My interests are in data warehousing and business analytics. A data warehouse combines information so employees can apply analytics on the aggregated data and make useful decisions based on the results. In a recent co-authored article, I developed a stochastic update propagation method for an operational data store in data warehousing environments where data storage is required as a sum of data at distributed source nodes. The paper, “An Efficient Stochastic Update Propagation Method in Data Warehousing,” was published last year in the Journal of Database Management.
Business analytics is a fast-growing market for business school graduates. Researchers have made many calls to enhance business analytics training in business schools to meet the growing market demand for analytics-savvy employees.
In a recent article, “A Business Analytics Maturity Perspective on the Gap between Business Schools and Presumed Industry Needs,” my co-author, Mihaylo College ISDS Professor Ofir Turel, and I examined the maturity of business analytics offerings in business schools by analyzing current business analytics-related course offerings in U.S. business schools. Our findings indicate that to the extent that these schools reflect what is happening across the nation, business schools still have a long way to go before they reach higher levels of business maturity and that they are not yet in an ideal position to serve the presumed industry needs.
In a subsequent project, we worked on the impact of MBA programs business analytics breadth on salary and job placement.
Although many business schools have started to offer business analytics programs and courses for their MBA students, there is a lack of understanding of how these efforts translate into job market gains for their graduates, and whether the playing field is level for all business schools.
To bridge this gap, we used signaling theory to investigate the impacts of the business analytics breadth (BAB) level and university ranking of MBA programs on graduates’ future employment success in terms of salary and job placement. Findings revealed the vital role of university ranking in determining the efficacy of BAB to produce job market gains for students; university ranking moderated the effect of business analytics offerings on post-graduation salary and job placement. These findings provide interesting insights for researchers and business schools in understanding the return on investment in business analytics programs.
Currently, I am working on the predictors of choosing a business analytics concentration and consequent academic performance. Choosing a major field of study is important, and so is the selection of a specialized concentration that is aligned with an individual’s career aspirations. The goal of this study is to understand the primary reasons that influence a student’s decision to self-select a concentration of business analytics at a large public university.
Moreover, we determine which factors are likely to have a significant effect on performance for students enrolled in this concentration. The primary factors considered are individuals’ bright and dark personality traits and self-perceived satisfaction in related courses, along with several background control factors. The major insights obtained from analyzing our data revealed a significant effect of certain personality characteristics on both students’ concentration choice (openness and psychopathy) and on performance (conscientiousness, emotional stability and narcissism). On the other hand, students’ performance in foundational courses in the concentration and self-perceived satisfaction had no statistically significant effect on their performance.
What are some of the opportunities opening in the next five to 10 years in the ISDS field that students should be aware of? How can young professionals prepare themselves for these roles?
Business analytics and data science is a broad field, consisting of four major components – databases, data warehouses, data transformation and data engineering, programming and systems analysis and design, and statistics and operations research.
To be successful, you need to be exposed to all components and have in-depth knowledge in one or more of these areas.
Applying business analytics to health care differs from applying analytics to finance or marketing. It’s not actually enough to know analytics. You have to have some domain knowledge. I think it’s a really great opportunity for those who want to get into this field because we are collecting so much data every day in a variety of fields.
Business analytics and data science is a fast-changing field and therefore requires your commitment in keeping up with the new developments. Be curious, learn as much as you can, practice as much as possible and enjoy yourself as you grow!
What motivates you to teach at Cal State Fullerton? What do you like most about it?
My motivation and joy comes from my students. They bring energy and freshness whenever I interact with them. We have a very diverse and interesting body of students, coming from different cultural backgrounds and experiences. Many of our graduate students are international students. Each student has some special qualities that I notice and adore.
Many of our students are underprivileged and they need our special attention and help. Some students are first in their families to go to college. Some tell me that they are homeless and cannot even afford to have full meals, yet they are determined to graduate and fulfill their dreams. I like the teaching profession because we get the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.
Finally, what is an interesting fact about yourself?
I like to help Learn TO BE, a nonprofit that brings online tutoring and academic resources to underserved youth nationwide. After I retire, I hope to have more time to devote to this organization.
For More on Information Systems
Seeking a future in information systems? Mihaylo College offers undergraduate and graduate programs that prepare students for careers in such in-demand fields as data analytics, decision sciences and information technology. For more information, visit the Mihaylo College ISDS department website.
Read more articles about Information Systems and Decisions Sciences.