Course to Teach Business Undergrads How to Manage the Cloud

Jindal School of Management Offers First Course to Prepare Students for New IT Trend

Jan. 10, 2012

When business school students return to campus next week, assignments for the new semester won’t be the only thing up in the air for one class.

Hans Joachim Adler

Professor Hans-Joachim Adler

The Naveen Jindal School of Management is offering an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) course, beginning this  spring, to teach students how to use cloud computing technology, a fast-growing field in which data and processes are hosted remotely on the Web.

The course (BA4325) is being offered to provide students with highly sought-after career skills, while addressing market demand for graduates with SAP expertise, says Jindal School of Management Information Systems Professor Hans-Joachim Adler.

Increasingly, organizations around the globe are turning to ERP software systems, which integrates business operations such as human resources, finance, supply chain, customer relationship management and procurement into a single package.  The systems make it possible to handle increasingly complex tasks and processes, reduce costs and improve service.

“Cloud technology has marked a huge shift in the way companies do business. Companies are moving many applications and storage of files from their computers to the Internet – in the cloud.”

Hans Joachim Adler

The Jindal School this year was one of six U.S. institutions chosen to partner with SAP in a pilot program that provides business students practical experience using the latest on-demand technology and incorporates SAP’s new cloud software for ERP in the curricula of selected universities taking part in the software company’s University Alliances program. The course will use the cloud-based SAP Business ByDesign program.

After SAP approved Adler’s proposed curricula this fall, Adler developed coursework for his BA4325 “ERP for Small and Medium Enterprises,” which he will teach once a year. The course – which focuses on such major business processes as procurement, fulfillment, supply chain management, customer relationship management and business intelligence – is designed for undergraduates. A more in-depth course will be developed for graduate students later in the year.

SAP screenshot

By putting software and data on cloud servers, SAP Business ByDemand gives businesses access to enterprise resource planning tools from a Web browser.

“Cloud technology has marked a huge shift in the way companies do business. Companies are moving many applications and storage of files from their computers to the Internet – in the cloud,” Adler said. “The cloud is like a giant data center in space that can be accessed from anywhere by simply using a Web browser.”

The soaring number of companies pushing their operations to the cloud is driving the swelling demand for graduates who are proficient at using, configuring and applying ERP software and can help organizations leverage this new IT trend, says Adler.

“Students will get hands-on training in this class, which will make them more marketable as employees to companies in a wide array of fields that are increasingly moving toward ERP to organize their systems. Graduates with a strong knowledge of ERP software are becoming increasingly sought after,” Adler said.

Business schools are sometimes criticized for placing too much emphasis on business theory at the expense of giving students hands-on training – or teaching them “how to get things done,” Adler says. Offering courses that allow students to become familiar with software such as SAP Business ByDesign, he said, “positions the Jindal School of Management as the school that is not only teaching what theory looks like, but also how theory is applied in business.”

“After attending this class, students will really learn how to do the job,” Adler said.

“If I ask you to cook a nice meal and tell you what the ingredients are, how a good meal should smell and taste, but I don’t tell you anything about how to start with the onions first, then the garlic, you won’t really know how to cook it. You need the recipe for making a good meal. That’s what the business processes are for an organization,” Adler said.

To supplement the class, Adler plans to offer students a one-credit-hour independent study project that will give students the opportunity to learn business processes in a specific area, such as procurement, sales or manufacturing. “When interviewing for an internship or job, the student can say he has already learned what the processes in procurement are, and it really differentiates him from the flung,” Adler said.


Media Contact: Jill Glass, UT Dallas, (972) 883-5989, jglass@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu
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