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Two courses at the University of Notre Dame concluded this past week with student presentations to faculty and key stakeholders. SAP contributed to both with Design Thinking curriculum or real world business problems together with a customer. Both are great examples of the potential of Next-Gen projects with top students.

I had the pleasure of reviewing and evaluating the final presentations of four student teams in the New Venture Creation course where I am serving as a coach and mentor to the students as they work with Design Thinking applied to entrepreneurial start up ideas this semester. The students are mostly senior undergraduates majoring in Entrepreneurship. Four teams presented fully formed startup business ideas all of which had a significant technology component. The course description is a follows.

  • Alright, so you think you have an idea for a new venture and are looking to explore the path towards launch. This course will give aspiring founders a first-hand experience in building from an idea into a viable business venture, using the proven best practices used by some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. We’ll learn the first steps one should take that will lead to a successful launch rather than frustration and failure. In this course you will work as a team to define an idea for serving an emerging or unmet market need, work to create and validate a solution to serve this opportunity, and create a business model to justify the investment of resources necessary to launch the venture. Teams will pitch their progress at regular intervals to seasoned professional entrepreneurs and receive direct feedback on the business model fit and viability of the venture. When you finish the course you’ll better understand the discovery and validation steps that can lead to successful venture launch.

The other final presentation was prepared by Notre Dame MSBA students for the project sponsor Textron Greenlee, a valued SAP customer and business partner. The Greenlee team accepted my invitation to propose several capstone projects to the Notre Dame faculty earlier this semester. This particular project focused on Sales Demand Forecasting and relied on a big data set extracted from Greenlee’s SAP operational systems. For more than 140 years, Greenlee has been a provider of quality tools to the woodworking industry and, for over 70 years, to the electrical industry as well. Innovative product design, manufacturing excellence, and customer response will keep Greenlee at the top of its industry, now, and well into the 21st century.

The Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) is a one-year, 30-credit hour program designed to fit into the life of an actively employed working business professional, with courses taking place on alternating weekends at the downtown Chicago Notre Dame campus. Students master analytics techniques for “big data” including data mining, data storage and manipulation, data visualization, statistics, modeling, optimization, and simulation. Learning to apply these techniques in a variety of business areas such as finance, operations, and marketing, helps students to use data in complex business decision environments. After graduating, students will approach business decision-making more rigorously and confidently while effectively communicating data findings to inform strategic business decisions.This particular class, Analytics Capstone Project is described as follows:

  • This course is the capstone for the program and provides an intensive integrative experience while students work with one or more industry partners. Students will be presented with a real business problem and access to relevant data, and will need to develop a thorough understanding of the problem and the associated data, then develop and execute a project work plan that analyzes the data available, develops actionable recommendations, and provides insight into the basis for those recommendations. Skills developed include the ability to provide effective communication of analytics results, and an understanding of key aspects of analytics solution deployment.

It was a pleasure to help create these learning opportunities for students and participate in the final presentations for both classes.

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