As Singapore is one of the major business hubs in the world, it is a fitting site for a recent event that pitted Mays students against some of the best business IT students from across the globe. Their voyage was rewarded with success as they can now be counted among those best business IT students: they returned home with the third place trophy.

Three Mays undergraduate management information systems students traveled to Singapore on April 25 to participate in the 2010 APEX Global IT Case Challenge, a business-IT case competition, hosted by Singapore Management University. Over the course of five days, team “Boa Contractors” worked out a solution to an in—depth, IT case problem as did 24 other teams from a variety of schools from Hong Kong, to Canada, to South Africa.

(Left to right) Dr. 'Jon Jasperson, Nicole Crum '10, Kevin Avila '10, and Heather Hewett '10
(Left to right) Dr. ‘Jon Jasperson, Nicole Crum ’10, Kevin Avila ’10, and Heather Hewett ’10

For the competition, teams acted as consulting firms that bridge the gap between businesses and IT departments. Students were challenged with solving IT problems in terms that business leaders could understand and implement. The competition itself was divided into three rounds of preparation, presentation, and discussion, and the top six teams were invited to compete in the final round.

While the details of the specific case for the competition were confidential prior to the event, the Boa Contractors spent the spring 2010 semester preparing for the event by researching current trends in IT industry best practices, refining their presentation skills, learning tips and tricks for using PowerPoint to its fullest, and discussing strategies for analyzing a business case on a short timeline.

As in business, APEX participants had to think fast to stay ahead of their competition. For the first round, students had 24 hours to study the case, develop an IT solution, and put together a presentation for the judges. Their coaches were not allowed to help. Students spent the majority of their time brainstorming in their hotel rooms. Teams were also prohibited from discussing the competition with other teams, and from using cell phones, social networking sites, and instant messaging.

Another important aspect of the APEX competition was the discussion element that first appeared in round two. After pitching ideas to a panel of judges in round one, advancing teams had to then discuss their proposal with the panel in round two. Students had no prior knowledge of the questions, so each member of the team had to possess a thorough understanding of their proposed technical solution. In addition to the discussion, judges provided students with valuable information for revising their proposals for the final round.

Six teams were selected at the end of round two to advance to the finals round. These teams received a case addendum with pertinent additional information regarding the case. The students then had 17 hours for presentation revision, incorporating the new information. The teams could not, however, change their technical solutions. Thus, each team had to demonstrate that their technical solution was sufficiently flexible and scalable to address the modified business situation.

Overall, the Mays team proved itself, beating out other finalist teams from the University of Hong Kong, Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), and Mahidol University (Thailand) for the third place trophy. The first and second place trophies went to Brigham Young University and Singapore Management University, respectively.

Congratulations to the Mays Boa Contractors:

  • Kevin Avila ’10
  • Nicole Crum ’10
  • Heather Hewett ’10

Congratulations also to team coach `Jon Jasperson, assistant INFO department head and director of the Center for the Management of Information Systems at Mays.