An online marketing chatbot and a cloud-based cyber security advisor are two of the ideas developed by Auckland tertiary students to make life easier for small to medium sized businesses.
The innovations formed part of the Auckland-leg of the National MYOB IT Challenge that gives teams of students five days to develop a technology solution to a real-world business problem.
MYOB New Zealand General Manager Carolyn Luey says the challenge helps students turn theory into practice.
“Business is all about people working together to innovate and create great solutions for customers, often in very short time frames. The MYOB IT Challenge offers students the opportunity to experience exactly that – to collaborate in a team and create a solution to address a real business issue,” says Ms Luey.
At the two local competitions in Auckland, student teams from AUT and The University of Auckland presented solutions and business plans to a panel of expert judges from leading accounting software provider MYOB and other large enterprises such as banking group ANZ.
AUT co-winners ChatGrow pitched a virtual reality marketing portal that saves costs by assisting with some aspects of advertising, while University of Auckland Nexus designed an online cyber security advisor to enhance cloud-based accounting.
ChatGrow team member Amrit Kaur is studying toward a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours at AUT and says the MYOB IT Challenge is an exciting way to apply what they have learned in class to a real-life situation.
"It was great to learn how to work as a team and think of new ideas.
“Competing with other young innovators is thrilling, especially with such a short timeframe on offer.”
She says what makes the challenge stand alone is that it seeks out technical yet tangible solutions.
Amrit and her teammate Michelle Extross designed an application that allows users of cloud-based accounting software to interact with a virtual assistant. Through a trained chatbot, users can ask questions while the application provides a suggested course of marketing action.
The MYOB IT Challenge is run in conjunction with the University of Auckland’s Management Consulting Club.
Tertiary student and club member Mildred Wong says the competition reveals students who understand the issues employees face and can use today’s technologies to create innovative solutions.
“It’s essential that we continue to encourage the fresh thinking of tomorrow.
“The IT Challenge encourages the kind of entrepreneurial mindset that will have a key role in shaping how Kiwis do business in the future.”
Ms Luey says the criteria for the competition was deliberately left open to allow the students the freedom to explore new concepts. Any programming language and operating system could be used, and the final product could either standalone or integrate with an existing MYOB solution.
“We were looking for creative ideas that demonstrated innovative and disruptive thinking,” says Ms Luey.
“We wanted to see the trends ideas in design and development come through in the entries, with products that are intuitively easy to use and deliver real value to business owners.
“The IT Challenge encourages young minds in their technology studies and it’s great to see how smart these students are. It bodes well for New Zealand’s tech future.”
Ms Luey says MYOB is a big employer of local developers and is always looking for ways to grow the talent pipeline through schools and universities.
The MYOB IT Challenge culminates in a national final in Auckland at the beginning of July where the top teams from each university will go head-to-head for a share in the $5,000 prize pool and a leg-up in the IT world.
For more information visit www.myobitchallenge.co.nz
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MYOB Group Ltd (ASX: MYO) is a leading cloud based business management solutions provider. It makes business life easier for approximately 1.2 million businesses across Australia and New Zealand by simplifying accounting, payroll, tax, practice management, CRM, job costing, inventory and more. MYOB provides ongoing support via many client service channels including a network of over 40,000 accountants, bookkeepers and other consultants. It is committed to ongoing innovation, particularly in cloud computing solutions, and in 2015 was awarded the BRW award for the most innovative large company for 500+ employees and placed 2nd in BRW’s Most Innovative Companies Award list across all categories nationally. For more information, visit http://investors.myob.com.au/Investors or follow @MYOB on Twitter.