Another central goal to the development of ITP was to train business students in technology skills. Throughout the early 1990’s, such skills had become high in demand from IT companies, particularly in the field of mobile communications. At the time of the creation of the program, opportunities for students to develop technical competences were not yet included in the Business School’s curricula.
The year of the first edition of the program turned out to be in itself quite symbolic: ‘1995 was a milestone in many ways, but most of all World Wide Web and the first generation of browsers had just appeared to the school's premises’ recalls Antti Leino, Marketing Architect and ITP Faculty since 2001, who participated in ITP’s very first edition. ‘ITP´95 had great timing to support the first wave of the internet and multimedia communication. Simple guidebooks to "program" HTML where available, and with a little help from the IT Department students created their first home pages. Very very simple ones.’ Currently Leino teaches digital marketing strategies in Digital and Interactive Ecosystems (DIE) track.
Over the past 25 years, the projects have grown in complexity, and the tools available to students have diversified, as ITP responded to new trends and challenges in the field, as Leino points out. ‘In the very early stage, multimedia was dropped, and the program focused first towards networking- and content-related topics. Over the years we (me and Nordkapp´s Sami Niemelä) realized that there was an opportunity to push further, and Content & Media was replaced with Strategic Experience Design. Then when Laura jumped on board she understood to add a third track about Digital and Interactive Entertainment which added a nice piece of marketing, gaming and platform-thinking to the program.’
The development of students’ tech skills has remained central to ITP’s philosophy. Prof. Matti Rossi, ITP’s Academic Director, believes that ‘all business students should gain a basic understanding of digital technologies and their possibilities’. This is explained by digital technologies’ ubiquity: ‘most of our students will end in jobs where software and artificial intelligence are part of everyday routines and much of the information needed for decision making and work flows comes from different systems.’
Rossi therefore deems it essential for current students to understand how things work. ‘Many of the accounting, management and marketing students will be dealing with implementing digital information systems in their workplaces and again it is very useful to know what is realistic and what is not. A business student who does not understand the basic ideas of for example programming and databases has a very hard time grasping what is going on in an organization.’
And so, according to Rossi, what ITP offers to students is more than general theoretical understanding, it is the chance to apply that knowledge. ‘ITP projects immerse the students in real world problems and give them insights into the organizational life of information systems. This is very valuable for both the students and teachers.’