12 highlights from our year

Leading in digital transformation

A new graduate program launched in February 2022 will close a critical global leadership gap and help businesses better capitalize on digital transformation opportunities.

The Master of Digital Product Management (MDPM) is designed to train managers to lead digital product management and ensure organizational investments in technology reach their potential.

Organizations spend hundreds of billions of dollars on digital initiatives every year, yet 78 per cent of these investments fail to achieve expected results. The MDPM, a partnership between Smith and the School of Computing in the Faculty of Arts & Science at Queen’s University, brings business and technology together to help create skilled leaders who can lead digital transformation and drive change across the organization.

“Today every business is a digital business. Organizations in all industries need leaders with the business and technological skills to manage digital products and services from ideation to implementation to optimization,” said Kathryn Brohman, Distinguished Faculty Fellow of Digital Technology and program director, MDPM. “Many companies struggle with their digital transformation strategies and execution. Effective digital product management is no longer an asset. It is a competitive imperative.”

Developed in consultation with leaders in academia, business, government and the technology sector, the MDPM will develop cross-functional leaders who can effectively manage the life cycle of digitalization initiatives.

The curriculum combines a knowledge stream that includes courses in digital strategy and innovation, gamification and usability, ethics and more, with an application stream including design and systems thinking, cybersecurity, product analytics, systems architecture, optimizing the user experience and more. An in-depth practicum enables student teams to digitalize a business process for a real business using low-code, no-code tools.

“The best product managers are able to think strategically about business and market direction while holding technical credibility on details with engineering and development teams. Investing in developing product managers into cross-functional leaders is important since it’s unusual for individuals to inherently have these broad skill sets and experience,” said Jessica Creces, senior executive, Cineplex Digital Media, and chair of the MDPM advisory board.

The 12-month program starting in September 2022 is delivered virtually using Smith’s dedicated, interactive teaching studio and trusted virtual learning platform, with one residential session at Queen’s University in Kingston. Courses will be taught by instructors from both Smith and Queen’s School of Computing.

“Today’s digital technologies can be extraordinarily powerful—but only when businesses deploy them effectively. We have all seen businesses with clumsy websites and arcane processes that make it difficult for customers to find out information about their products, use their services or get help after purchase. Such companies are being swept away by businesses that have embraced digital technologies to provide delightful interaction with their customers and in their own operations,” said Nicholas Graham, academic co-director, MDPM, and professor at Queen’s School of Computing.

The MDPM is the latest Smith graduate program that addresses business’ high-tech, big-data needs. The Master of Management Analytics (MMA) program was created in 2013, followed by the Master of Management in Artificial Intelligence (MMAI) in 2018 and the Master of Financial Innovation & Technology (MFIT) in 2020.