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Without hesitation, this was Petra Trafela’s and Breda Lever’s response after inviting them to take part in Students InnoJam. Both students from Slovenia were excited to take the next step. After their great success and very positive feedback, from the finals of the SAP University Alliances Dashboard Design Competition during SAPPHIRE+TechEd in Madrid last year, I invited Petra and Breda to articipate in the UA Students InnoJam@CeBIT. It has been written a lot about the event itself already, here you can read in particular about the experiences which have been acquired during this great event by two Slovenian students. You will be able to read how much enthusiasm about SAP solutions and technologies is rising in young talents…and this is what SAP University Alliances program is all about.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Petra: I am a student of Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Maribor, course IT Management and E -commerce. I really found myself in this career path, I regularly follow the development of new technologies, and I really like when it is used for improving any type of business. I also attend extra-curricular activities, volunteering and working on various projects. I like to travel a lot, but every time I am also glad to come home and do the things I love: going to school, to work, hanging out with my friends and exploring the world through internet.

Breda: I am a student of E-business on Faculty of Economics and business Maribor. I’m very interested in web technology and business informatics, and that is the reason why I love my field of study. I also adore animals, especially dogs, and in my free time I like to play and watch tennis. I enjoy hanging out with my friends.  I am also one of those people who are really passionate about the work they are doing, and that is why I never rest. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and because of that I always try to see the best in every situation.

2. What are your previous experiences with SAP?

Petra: I have met SAP and SAP ERP solution during the study, when we also practiced business processes through different modules of the solution. In 2012, I and my fellow colleagues compete in both of two editions of SAP University Alliances Dashboard Design Competition 2012, where I also learned to work with SAP BI solutions.

Breda: I also got familiar with SAP at my faculty where we learn how to use SAP ERP. With Petra and another colleague I also attended both SAP University Alliances Dashboard Design Competitions last year, where we used SAP Crystal reports and SAP Visual Intelligence.

3. And what encouraged you to take part also in Student InnoJam@CeBIT?

Petra: In the second edition of the Dashboard Design Competition we came to the finals, which took place at the SAP SAPPHIRE and TechEd conference in Madrid in November 2012. This experience was really amazing, the whole event was organized at a very high level, and I also learned a lot from this experience. I am astonished by visibility and recognition of SAP events. Since we had the chance to participate in InnoJam event, me and Breda of course grabbed the opportunity.

Breda: I watched motivational video from SAP InnoJam in Madrid and I was immediately impressed. I saw a great opportunity in this event, because I adore SAP technologies, actually all new technologies and I love SAP.

4. How did the whole competition look like and which task did you and other students get?

Petra: The aim of the competition was to make business application in 30 hours. We were in teams of 9 students, a total of 99 students. We didn’t know each other and we were unable to prepare for the problem because we have learned about it just before the competition. So in 30 hours we had to work together like a team, to create a business application with which we would satisfy the objective of the assigned project. We developed our solution using Design Thinking methodology. The 4 challenges were:

  • Redesign the volunteer matching experience for betterplace.org, organizations and the volunteers in order to be able to track successful matches with special emphasis on mobile technology.
  • Redesign the meat consumption experience for MeinekleineFarm.org customers in order to foster conscious consumption of meat.
  • Redesign the network experience for members of BMW Stiftung Herbert Quandt “Young Leaders Network” during and after our non-profit forums in order to maximize the value they get out of the conferences and their network.
  • Redesign the visibility of IT donations and their impact within non-profit organizations, through organization Stifter Helfen.

Challenges were therefore considered eligible for this diverse set of participants, which were composed of students of technical and business studies, men and women, from14 countries. My team, named IT Pandas, worked on the project for visibility of IT donations. We were given laptops, loads of paper, sticky notes, pens and markers, and creative working environment. Then we did our magic. 

Breda: We were divided in nine groups and in every group there were nine students. There were four projects and every team got one project, so that two or three teams worked on the same one. Our team had to do an app which would encourage activity between participants of BMW foundation forums, who would also cooperate with each other also after the forum is over. This project was given from BMW Stiftung Herbert Quandt. After we got introduced by our project, we had ten hours of Design Thinking that led us to our final solution in theory and it ended with the presentation of our prototype. After this we had twenty hours to build an actual app based on our prototype. We used all technologies available, so everyone in our team used the one which he or she was familiar with. The result of our team work and cooperation was useful app that representative of our project was very happy with it.

5.  Which technologies could you use during the competition?

Petra: All the latest technologies as SAP NetWeaver Cloud, SAP HANA, SAP Netweaver Gateway, SAP Business ByDesign and SAP Workforce Performance Builder were available. But the use of technologies was not limited only to SAP solutions. We could also use other solutions, those which we know how to use the best, particularly different development environments. In our team, we also used a solution from SAP the Business Objects portfolio – Dashboards.

Breda: Our team used HTML, jQuery, Java tools: Eclipse, UltraEdit, SAP Netweaver Cloud, SAP HANA, SAP Crystal and Adobe Photoshop.

6. What kind of obstacles did your teams met, how did you overcome them, and where were your teams most successful at?

Petra: Not knowing each other was the first obstacle to start with. We were a bit reluctant and did not know exactly how to allocate work within the group and through Design Thinking methodology, as it has been unknown to us until then. But we had a great mentor who helped us through the steps quickly and we also got to know each other better while hours were passing by. The funny thing was that in the first steps of the process, we need to explore and think about

our problem, but not yet on the application itself. You realize how easy you can limit yourself with thinking in advance what could be or could not be implemented. The aim here was to mainly brainstorm as many ideas and to come up with the best one. We had a lot of innovative ideas and with creative design thinking we came up together with the best idea. Only after this we could consider how this idea would actually be realized. We also had a problem with connecting SAP HANA and Dashboards solution. We really wanted to do that, but overall we did not manage, so of course, we mentioned it in the presentation, that this is feasible and could be another plus of our application. We have been the most successful at the teamwork, while we were organized and well-tuned, which is surprising, because e knew each other only for couple of hours. Each had a specific job, we had regular meetings, and I especially like, that we had listened to each other and also consider each idea or critic.

Breda: We didn’t know how to get maps working with our app effectively, than one of the SAP experts helped us and we resolved this problem. I think we were very successful at making app practical for business people, who were our target audience.

7. Did the knowledge gained at university, and experiences from previous event become useful also during this competition, and how?

Petra: On faculty we worked with SAP ERP solution and its modules. The solution wasnot in use here, but it was very helpful to already know a lot about the
company SAP and all of their products. It was easier while we found ourselves in the circle of students who had contact with the SAP technology before, because many of them are working in SAP companies or its partners. Personally, knowing some of SAP solutions gave me more confidence, but I was also more excited because I knew that we would have an opportunity to work with technologies of that kind of quality. It was great that I have learned to work with Dashboards tool during previous competitions, so I could contribute to our application also with the dashboard, showing statistics of IT donations. With this IT
companies could have better control over their donations to non-profit organizations.

Breda:  Yes, definitely.  At our faculty we have really useful courses where we learn how to think in IT business, about new technologies, IT systems, and
much more. All this was very helpful for me during this competition, because after ten hours of design thinking we were able to get our hands on SAP technologies, that in theory we met at our faculty. Previous events in organization of SAP University Alliances also helped me to work better in SAP InnoJam, because I already used SAP Crystal Dashboard Design.

8. How would you describe the whole experience, and what is the most important outcome of this event for you personally?

Petra: I wanted a new additional experience, where I would meet new faces, looking for the same as I do: developing ourselves and always trying something new. This is also the essence of such competitions: to learn something new about different solutions and build up successful teamwork. I was wondering also, what kind of projects will be given to us, and I was very happy that I could, along with the rest of the team, contribute at least a new idea for a solution to Stifter helfen’s problem. I had a great team- IT pandas mastered that stage! I liked our mutual cooperation and severity of team members. I met the process of Design Thinking for the first time, and it opened new dimensions of thinking for me. All nine members of our team contributed in the process and we worked together, which resulted in a complete solution. We did great and we won second place. This was one of the best study experiences!

Breda: I was a part of an excellent multicultural team. I think that we connected from the first moment that we saw each other, so we combined fun and creative thinking. I can’t really describe all the knowledge and contacts that I got in this competition, because it was really indescribable experience. I can highlight that now I can use SAP technologies, Java and JQuery more confident that before. I also become more experienced in team work, because I did not know anyone in my team before, and our cooperation was really great. As I mentioned before, I met a lot of wonderful people with similar interests, with which we are still in touch, and I hope we will see each other soon again, or even work together one day. I am also very pleased that I was on CeBit conference, which was also a great experience. There were all the newest IT technologies and I can say it was like a technology heaven for me. In conclusion I must say that this event was spectacular like all SAP events, they always do their best in all areas, and you can be impressed every time. This was really an astonishing experience for me and I am very happy that I was a part of it.

9. Would you like to participate at similar events in future and do you attend to stay in »SAP world« after finishing studies at university?

Petra: Yes, I would really like to participate in similar events and competitions, and gain even more knowledge, experiences and of course meet new people. I really like SAP as an organization, how it represents itself and how the people from the SAP world are connected. Surely I would like to be a part of that even when I finish my studies. I like that SAP as a company, it is innovative, and it is always looking towards new technologies and business models, knowing how important it is to deliver this new knowledge to young people.

Breda: Yes, unquestionably. As I said it before, I love all SAP events, because all of them are indescribable amazing, and I always learn something new, I always meet new brilliant people. Yes, I certainly want to stay in “SAP World”, because SAP is my number one company where I would like to work, it is my “dream company” and I definitely see myself working with SAP solutions in my career.

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     From left: Rada Masic (UA Student InnoJam participant from Singidunum Univeristy, Serbia), Breda Lever, Pretra Trafela

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