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In my last blog post I mentioned some of the Fun activities the SAP University Alliance participates to make learning enterprise systems more fun. 

Today I want to tell you more about one of these that just occurred over this past weekend in Bloomington, Indiana (where basketball rules and it is always 1976 when IU went undefeated!).

This is an excellent avenue where companies can interact with the Next Generation of enterprise systems employees through the competitions at the Association for Information Systems (AIS) Student Chapter Leadership Conference (SCLC).

The mission statement of AIS is as follows:

“The Association for Information Systems (AIS) serves society through the advancement of knowledge and the promotion of excellence in the practice and study of information systems. AIS is the premier professional association for individuals and organizations who lead the research, teaching, practice, and study of information systems worldwide.”

The conference held several competitions, and as I mentioned in my last blog these are a fun and learning experience to take part in. 

The first competition was the ERPsim competition using a simulation developed by the good folks at HEC Montreal

Using the ERPsim Game for Logistics In this competition, teams of four undergraduates from around the world used the SAP software to run a business in a simulated marketplace against other businesses run by other teams. The students from Georgia College have been introduced to the SAP system in their Introduction to ERP class in the fall of 2015, the first year that SAP has been taught as a formal part of the management information systems (MIS) degree at Georgia College. The SAP software is made available to the students through a technology fee grant used to pay the annual hosting fee in order to have access to the software.

The simulation run in the competition was one the team had never played before, but the students did play a simulation in their class in the fall and they are currently in a 1-credit hour course. In the simulation used in the contest, the students managed a dairy business. They purchased dairy products like milk, yogurt, etc., distributed it using logistical analytics from their main warehouse to three distributed warehouses in simulated Germany and sold it to customers through their distribution channels.  The simulations require the teams to learn the geography and population distribution in Germany in order to compete efficiently. This global aspect to the learning with SAP is vital for the students. The teams are measured on net income to determine the rankings, thus optimization of your company is the goal.

For the first year of the revised undergraduate MIS program using SAP at Georgia College, the first time attending the Student Chapter Leadership Conference and the first ever competition the team exceeded expectations.  Villanova wasn’t the only team to beat Oklahoma on Saturday (at the March Madness Basketball Final Four) so did Georgia College as they placed 5th in this competition, first in the Southeast and Georgia.

ERPsim is a great way to have fun learning about enterprise systems and SAP!

Another competition at the conference was a Security Case Competition.  In the Security Competition

The students were presented with this Case Study:


NOLA Life is a mutual insurance company that began offering insurance over 125 years ago. They currently offer term and whole life insurance, as well as annuities. They have an extensive network of agents around the United States that serve clients’ needs, including assessing and advising new and prospective clients on annuities and life insurance products, and servicing claims. At this point in time the process to service claims and sell life insurance to a client is an expensive, laborious and time consuming, paper-oriented process.

Agents in the field get sales leads from a number of sources. They then call prospective clients and try to set up appointments at the clients’ home or office. In those meetings, if a client is interested in an insurance product or an annuity the agent fills out several paper forms and attempts to verify the identity of the client. When the initial process is complete the agent collects a check as initial payment and sends it and all the completed forms and other information to NOLA Life’s home office through the UPS service. If the insurance product the client wants is over $50,000 the agent makes arrangements for a medical technician to visit the client and perform a medical exam. The medical technician than arranges another visit with the client and performs the exam. This exam typically consists of taking a medical history, getting a heart ECG, documenting the client’s weight, and taking a blood sample. When a claim is made by the family of a client, upon his or her death, the agent works with the family to gather the necessary paper documents to support the claim and submits them in a package to NOLA Life’s home office through the UPS service.

Project plans

In order to give customers a better experience, and to save money and time, NOLA Life wants to drive costs and time out of the process of acquiring new customers and serving existing ones. After several months of planning and conversations with customers, NOLA Life has decided that it wants to provide agents in the field with electronic tools to quickly and accurately process claims, collect all the necessary new client information and initial electronic premium payment during the initial sales meeting. The plan is to provide agents in the field with a tablet computer and other equipment. It will be used to:

Inform agents of prospective clients in their area and will be the primary Customer Relationship Management tool for agents

When collecting client information, software on the tablet will prompt for only the information needed for the insurance or annuity policy or claim, and then error check all the information

Help confirm the client’s identity by collecting photographs of ID documents and performing OCR to extract text from them

Allow for the photographic and electronic collection of the documentation needed for a claim

Eliminate the need for a medical technician visit by equipping agents with a new automated medical device that communicates via Bluetooth with the tablet.

This battery powered medical device contains…

Automated Blood Pressure cuff

Wireless heart monitor pickups (one for each wrist) to collect a heart ECG

Blood test on a chip requiring only a single drop of blood from a finger prick

The agent carries a small digital scale and enters the client’s weight into the tablet

The tablet prompts the agent to ask specific questions to collect a medical history of the client (e.g. smoking, medical problems, exercise, etc.)

Collect initial electronic payment with a credit card reader

Securely transmit the collected information wirelessly back to the NOLA Life office

In the absence of a data connection (WiFi/Cellular) the tablet will hold the collected data and then transmit when a data connection is restored.

Security is a high priority due to the highly sensitive client information that will be collected on each agent’s tablet. Specifically, NOLA Life insists that whatever equipment and software is provided to its agents, it must address these security issues.

Verify through biometrics and strong passwords that only the intended agent has access to the information stored on or accessed through the tablet

Protect the data on the tablet from rooting/jail breaking

Quickly provide agents the information they need to serve their customers while keeping minimal client data on the tablet

Ensure the system is HIPPA compliant

As the project manager for this project, it is your job to…

Select a tablet computer/OS system that meets the high demands of this project

Specify the capabilities/requirements for any security/utility software necessary to meet project demands

Specify the telecommunications security protocols necessary to ensure that client information cannot be intercepted as the tablet communicates with the NOLA Life server.

Specify the data security/data retention policy for the client data collected on the tablet

Specify the data transmission policies necessary to ensure the data is securely and accurately transmitted to the NOLA Life server without compromising HIPPA compliance of any data.

Specify the tablet data wipe policies necessary to prevent the data from being compromised, while maintaining HIPPA compliance.

Specify the data policies necessary to prevent duplication or loss of any data

Your company or organization could present next years Case Study for the students to work through, or you could contact a nearby SAP UA school and host a local Case Study Competition.

IBM also Hosted a Competition (Many of you could do something similar).

As students and future practitioners of Information Systems (IS), you play a significant part in this mission. One of our initiatives to serve society is named the Bright ICT Initiative. This initiative has the goal of making the Internet a safer place for organizations and society in general. The IBM Bluemix Bright ICT contest will allow you to demonstrate the impact that IS can have in making the Internet a safer place by challenging your team of 1-5 individuals to design and implement an innovative IS solution leveraging the power of IBM’s Bluemix platform to prevent undesirable and dangerous activities on the Internet. Examples include (but are not limited to): Cybercrime, Cyberterrorism, Cyberbullying, Internet Extortion, etc. In short, if it’s happening on the Internet and it is causing harm to an individual or an organization, it’s fair game!

And Merck hosted the Merck Analytics Challenge


Student teams choose one of three problems and data sets donated by the participating companies. Create a graphic that addresses one or more of the questions in the problem description, using the data given by the company. Students create a visualization that provides insight into the data, addressing the key issues of the problem. Teams submit their graphic and a one page description highlighting its key features. Students can use any tool to create their entries.

The Data Sets were from Merck, the Pennsylvania Ballet and QVC.  Once again, any company could provide data sets for the competition or you could contact a local SAP UA school and host a local competition that you sponsor and provide the data sets.

At the Student Chapter Leadership Conference in Bloomington, each team made a 10 minute presentation before a panel of industry judges. Winning entries received cash prizes divided among team members and will be featured in a gallery on the AIS Student Chapter Conference site.


Clarity (how well the graphic stands on its own without additional explanation)

Novelty/creativity (originality of thought; surprising way of approaching the data)

Provides meaningful insight into the data

Integration of multiple data sets to yield new insights

Utility of the visualization in aiding decision making

(based on criteria by

For the Data set provided by Merck, here is the information and guidelines presented to the competitors:

Ebola is a devastating disease; as the size of the West Africa outbreak became clear in late 2014, Merck knew it had to engage. Merck has committed to accelerate the continued development, production and, if licensed, distribution of an effective Ebola vaccine. When a corporation decides to make a vaccine, they need a strategy for how to license the product. It is difficult to plan the effective release of a vaccine considering the time it takes to launch products. A number of factors influence effective release including the speed at which the disease spreads, targeting areas where disease incidents are most concentrated, the each with which the vaccine can be licensed in those areas, the ability for patients in those areas to afford new vaccines, and the amount of time required for the viral immunity to take effect on vaccinated individuals.

The 2016 Merck Challenge is to recommend a “Go to Deployment” strategy for an Ebola vaccine that will have the greatest benefit to world health, and to quantify and visualize the impact this strategy will have on the outbreak of the disease over time. Specifically, your analysis should address one or more of the following questions:

     Where and how should the vaccine be deployed to achieve the greatest impact?

     How fast does Ebola spread, and how quickly could the Ebola vaccine begin to lower the spread? What comparable products could be used as a guide to      support your projections?

     Are there any risks in your proposed strategy, i.e., patient income, vaccine licensing, patient access to vaccine? For these risks, recommend possible      courses of action.

As part of this analysis, please feel free to draw conclusions and make inferences from the historical trends seen in comparable products (for example: the meningitis vaccine, penicillin, Crixivan and other HIV treatments).


The following resources provide examples of public data that can be useful in your analysis. You may also use any other reputable sources that are relevant to your analysis.

Outbreak Data – data describing historical trends on outbreaks like # of cases / deaths over time.

Vaccine Map from the Council on Foreign Relations’

Vaccination Rates – historical data on vaccination rate across time, across geographies (countries), etc.

Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals Data Page from the World Health Organization

Immunization Summary, 2013 from the World Health Organization

Reported Estimates of DTP1 Vaccine Coverage from the World Health Organization

Immunization Coverage from the World Health Organization

Medication Impact – data demonstrating reduction or eradication of diseases after a medication is introduced (comparable products in therapeutic categories such as penicillin, HIV, polio, malaria, plague, etc.)

Effectiveness of an oral cholera vaccine in Zanzibar: findings from a mass vaccination campaign and observational cohort study, research article from The Lancet

For the QVC Data set the competitors were given this information:

Analyze QVC’s data to identify new markets that include campaigns, on-air personalities, on-air broadcast, and social networking. Their vision is to re-imagine the customer experience by merging shopping, entertainment, and social media. The company wants to gain insight into how these components drive product sales. Your analysis should address one or more of the following questions:

What are the products and product categories that sell best in the US market?

How effective are QVC’s campaigns in driving product sales?

How effective are QVC’s on-air broadcast and on-air personalities in driving product sales?

What is the impact of QVC’s social networking presence on driving product sales?

Develop a visualization (static or interactive) that reflects your analysis based upon the integration of data on product sales, marketing channel, and customer buying behavior. Your analysis should include – but not be limited to – product sales, product category, product air time, and customer geography.


QVC is a video and ecommerce retailer with a live broadcast that reaches nearly 300 million homes worldwide. The data is a 3 month sampling of QVC data that comprises 20% of the actual volume (consider using a multiplier for better estimation).

QVC Sales and Campaign Data (zip file containing 6 csv files, ~100MB)

QVC Data Dictionary (PDF file, full explanation of tables and fields)

Doesn't your organization have some data sets you could sanitize so students could use them to learn valuable skills before they come to work for you?

The student’s thoroughly enjoyed these competitions and the companies involved received quite a bit back from the students.

Please consider how you want to get involved in these fun competitions with the SAP UA schools and contact me for more information!