Master's Thesis

the crowning piece of your academic curriculum

Your Master's Thesis demonstrates your in-depth knowledge of the foundations, structures and methodologies underpinning the Business Economics programme. You'll write a scientific or academic research report independently.


Business and IT alignment at KBC - Tycho De Saeytyd

Digital business engineer Tycho De Saeytyd wanted to round off his studies with practical experience and decided to write a practice-oriented Master's thesis.

"With a major in finance and the 'IT Governance' integration profile, I quickly looked towards the large financial institutions in Belgium and their dependence on IT. After some searching, I ended up at KBC, who were interested in researching business/IT alignment and the link to the information security process. Since I was on exchange in the United States last semester, all communication had to take place via e-mail and Skype, but my contact person within KBC was very understanding and therefore the preparations went smoothly."
In early February, Tycho was invited to KBC for the first time. "My contact person had scheduled a few meetings as part of my research, so that I could start immediately. I was welcomed warmly by my colleagues and noticed that they were all very interested in my added value to this research. I was given the freedom to interview anyone who could help with my research, which allowed me to gather a lot of information very quickly. Staff at operational, tactical and strategic levels were all willing to conduct interviews."
"The alignment between the company's wishes and those of my supervisor was not so easy in the beginning. The research had to be sufficiently academically relevant for UAntwerpen, and at the same time specific enough for KBC to use internally. However, I was able to find a middle ground which allowed me to fully concentrate on carrying out the analysis. First, I mapped out as many IT governance & management mechanisms as possible that impacted the cooperation and alignment between business and IT. Then I made the link to the information security process, to find out how the business/IT aligning affects that security process."
Tycho now has a better idea of the directions he can take after his studies. "It was a very useful experience, as it gave me insight into the daily operations of a bank. I would recommend a practice-oriented Master's thesis to anyone who is looking for more contact with the business world and wants to investigate current challenges within companies."

Shadow IT: Maété Vandekeybus and Annelies Verbruggen

Employees in companies very often resort to shadow IT, meaning the use of IT programmes not foreseen by the IT department. 

Shadow IT is a common phenomenon in the business world. Because the IT department often does not have the time to meet all the needs of the organisation, employees rely on systems they have built themselves, obtained externally or which are publicly available free of charge. This can range from simple Excel sheets to advanced cloud applications.

Currently, there is no consensus on how a company should deal with shadow IT. So HIB students Maété Vandekeybus and Annelies Verbruggen decided to look into it in their Master's thesis . They delved into existing academic literature and conducted several interviews with employees of large Belgian companies and consultants. Maété: "Shadow IT can lead to more efficiency and automation of repetitive tasks, to more innovation and creativity, and it can provide more flexibility.

But there are also disadvantages and risks associated with shadow IT. Annelies: "Think, for example, of the possibility of leaks of confidential or personal data. In addition, shadow IT is not maintained by the IT department and usually no back-ups are made. From a business perspective, shadow IT is less controllable, responsibilities are less clear and it is usually insufficiently documented."

The researchers note that more and more companies are evolving towards a user-oriented policy and also recommend this to organisations themselves. "In such an approach, shadow IT is allowed, but the IT department provides good support. This way, you actually combine the advantages of shadow IT with sufficient coverage of the risks. Since shadow IT is very difficult to avoid completely, this seems the most appropriate option."