This is an old classic question frequently discussed in engineering communities. It also touched me on several occasions. I have spend a decade on developing software products and I still love designing and developing great software products. These products influenced millions of lives. I had opportunities to work on great products from their first initial idea to release of several versions. These products ranged from version of .net frameworks to first developer platform for Microsoft Unified Communications.
During the experience of developing these products, one thing I learned is that the success of a product is more than the implementation of coolest technology. Product success is also not just about creating another shiny marketing campaign. Instead it depends on identifying right strategy and vision that addresses right requirement at the right time and at right price. Technology is an integral component of innovation, but identifying the right opportunity and understanding the echo system around your product plays a major role in product’s success in market.
Engineering provides you essential tools to innovate, design, and develop great product, but some other questions like “What to develop?”, “When to develop?”, “Where to develop?”, and “Why to develop?” require understanding of fundamental business practices and strategies. Here formal business education could be a great help. It provide you tools and knowledge which is essential for finding the answers for these questions. Of course the management degree is not the only way to find answers for those questions, neither it is sufficient to find those answers. Some people can have opportunity to gain this knowledge from their own practical experiences, but the formal MBA education plays a strong positive role in in terms of learning fundamentals and expedite the overall learning process.
If you are an engineer like me, who is looking for creating a broader impact in business and willing to make an impact in society through technical innovations. Then having engineering skills complementing with knowledge of business fundamentals is a killer combination for your next success.