Stayinfront puts money where students' mouths are

Software vendors like Stayinfront and Navision remain keen to get their products in front of top university students - but in Stayinfront's case students will benefit financially from the exposure.

Software vendors like Stayinfront and Navision remain keen to get their products in front of top university students – but in Stayinfront’s case students will benefit financially from the exposure.

The customer management specialist is readying a competition to be held on November 21 pitting six teams of two students from various Auckland-based tertiary institutions against each other. Their task will be to build a Unisys-hosted system for the New Zealand Surf Life Saving Association in one eight-hour day using Stayinfront’s software tools, after only an eight-hour training session the day before.

Students will be chosen by the institutions, from engineering, business and computer science at University of Auckland, and from AUT, Unitec and Massey’s Albany campus. The winning team will snare a $5000 prize and gear from Compaq and Unisys.

Stayinfront managing director Tony Bullen says exceptionally promising students could even be offered jobs with the company.

Massey IS department associate professor Scott Overmyer says eight students have volunteered for the competition and he will pick a team from the group. Two of his best students declined the offer as they recently landed jobs. Third-year students are probably most suitable, Overmyer says, as they have C++ object programming and system design experience.

Navision Asia-Pacific head Garth Laird, meanwhile, says the Denmark-headquartered ERP (enterprise resource planning) software vendor is talking to a Queensland university and Singapore National University with a view to getting the software on the curriculum. He says “top-tier” ERP tools have traditionally been used at universities to date, and a mid-market product like Navision may be more suitable for graduates in the Australasian economies, which are dominated by smaller companies. Getting approved is “not easy”, concedes Laird, who was educated at Auckland University, but the plan is “looking promising”. He is keen to look to Auckland, Waikato or other New Zealand universities if he is successful in Australia.

Bullen says the most suitable students for the Stayinfront challenge are likely to have experience in analysis and object orientation, given the nature of the company’s software. The surf life saving association, meanwhile, will be able to input information such as duty reports from around the country using the new system, says Bullen.

Stayinfront, the New Zealand arm of which was previously The Great Elk, offers a range of customer relationship management (CRM) products for various platforms, including Visual Elk and Web Works. It claims 100 local clients.

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