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Wellington tech students tackle business challenges


26 June 2017

Wellington tech students tackle business challenges

A virtual reality accounting assistant and a way to test new job applicants are two of the ideas developed by Victoria University students to make life easier for small to medium sized businesses.

The innovations formed part of the Wellington-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 local competition in Wellington, student teams from Victoria University presented solutions and business plans to a panel of expert judges from leading accounting software provider MYOB and international professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Wellington regional co-winners Mind Me pitched a virtual reality assistant to further enhance cloud-based accounting, while MYOB Recruit designed an online recruitment portal that saves costs by automating some parts of the hiring process.

Mind Me team member Liam Dennis is studying toward a Bachelor of Engineering and a Bachelor of Commerce conjoint degree at Victoria University 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 explore all facets of business and see first-hand how my studies can be used.”

Liam’s team won last year’s National MYOB IT Challenge and he says it was so useful that he had to make a return.

“What makes the challenge stand alone is that it seeks out technical yet tangible solutions.

“Every time I’m amazed at what can be achieved in a short timeframe when you work together.”

This year, Liam and his three university friends designed an application that allows users of cloud-based accounting software to interact with a virtual assistant. Through voice controls, users can ask questions while the application provides a suggested course of action.

Ms Luey says the criteria for the challenge 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 in design and development come through in the entries, with products that are intuitively easy to use and deliver real value to business owners. Teams Mind Me and MYOB Recruit ticked all those boxes.

“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.

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