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MIS Course Features New IT Intervention Competition Sponsored by Accenture

Jan. 9, 2012

by Nina McAlister

The syllabus of two of the 12 class sections of the upper level Management Information Systems (MIS) 3305 course looked a little different in the fall 2011 semester. These two sections, taught by Hope Koch, associate professor of Information Systems, were sponsored by information systems consulting firm Accenture and featured a semester long, interactive project competition called the IT Intervention Competition.

The IT Intervention Competition was designed to give students the opportunity to take the key strategies and tactics taught by Koch and apply them to a real-world scenario. Koch and Baylor Business School alumnus and Accenture consultant Russell Bertwell (BBA '04) began working on the structure of the project and the course during the summer of 2011.

For Koch, it was important to structure her course in a way that would teach business majors about the "critical role of information technology in business. I also want them to be able to see a business problem and to build a business case to use technology to address the problem." She also believed it to be important for Accenture to take an active role in the course from the beginning, mirroring a true business partnership.

Accenture consultants, who were Baylor alumni, visited with Koch's students on three different occasions throughout the semester. First, Accenture consultants held a videoconference to meet with the students and explain the project. Midway through the semester, the consultants travelled to Waco and worked with each student team individually. Consultant Russ Bertwell explained that "these meetings gave students the opportunity to receive feedback from Accenture and interact with consultants." The project culminated on December 1 when Accenture hosted the IT Intervention Competition and reception. Led by Russ Bertwell, the Accenture team included Catherine Zaruba, Margaret Moul, Rory McKenna and Shay Smith.

The thrill of competition and importance of working closely with Accenture consultants inspired most of the student groups to put ample thought and effort into the project. At the beginning of the semester, both Koch and Bertwell assumed that a select few projects would be of high enough quality to be considered for the top prize. By the time Bertwell and the other Accenture consultants finished the individual team meetings with students, Koch knew that most of the groups would produce high-quality projects and presentations.

The two winning projects were a mobile phone application to navigate Baylor's campus and In-seat, an application that allows sports fans to order concessions and have those concessions delivered to their seats. The mobile application team consisted of Brooke Biddle, Grant Gandy, Chelsey Kothran and Kenny Littlefield. In-seat team members were Patrick Campbell, Kayla Zollinger, Tara Akunna and Yue Xi.

Kenny Littlefield, junior Marketing major and part of the winning team for the competition, said he enjoyed the experience and Koch's approach to the course.

"We decided to build an iPhone app because the smartphone application market is rapidly growing and new useful applications are in high demand," he said. "Dr. Koch is a great teacher because she finds ways to relate the material to relevant things in our lives."

Junior Finance major Hunter Goforth, one of Littlefield's classmates, agreed. Goforth and his team proposed combining Logitech services with Time Warner Cable services. Goforth felt like he walked away from the experience as a winner.

"The experience that I gained from working on a project with (and for) Accenture is incredibly valuable," Goforth said. "Getting to present in front of working professionals in a high-pressure, high-stakes situation is a prime example of what a situation in the real world will be like."

Littlefield and Goforth's shared excitement about the project and competition is not unique. In fact, several business students who took MIS 3305 in previous semesters wished they could have participated in the competition.

Recent alumna Jazzy Matzdorff (BBA '11) was envious of the students that participated in the competition. Matzdorff, who majored in Accounting, said, "I always enjoyed the accounting projects, case students and competitions I got to be a part of. I think I would have learned a lot more and gained a better sense of appreciation for MIS if I was engaged in an exciting competition like the Accenture one."

Bertwell was pleased with the success of the Accenture partnership and IT Intervention competition during the fall semester. He and Koch look forward to continuing this partnership and are exploring possibilities for expanding the partnership to other MIS 3305 sections.

IT Intervention Competition

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