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Wellington students win IT award by pushing boundaries


Four Victoria University students plan to make life easier for business owners with a digital assistant that helps with the day-to-day tasks of running their operations. The idea formed part of the winning entry for the national MYOB IT Challenge.

Their idea is to develop 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, Mind Me, provides a suggested course of action to deal with the business challenge. For example, following up a request for a quote can be seamlessly done by talking to a chatbot.

Victoria University’s team included engineering and commerce students Liam Dennis, Nanda Hibatullah, Adiraj Gupta and Mona Ruan. This was Mr Dennis and Mr Gupta’s second attempt at winning the award and both say it is valuable to consider how to turn ideas into workable business propositions.

“What makes this competition stand alone is that it seeks out technical yet tangible ideas,” says Mr Dennis of the challenge which helps students turn theory into practice.

“It’s interesting learning what people in the industry are looking for, and to take what we’re studying and turn it into a real-life prospect.”

At the national competition in Auckland, regional winners from universities across the country presented business plans to a panel of expert judges from SheSharp, software service Augen and accounting software provider MYOB.

“Business is all about people working together to innovate and create great solutions for customers. 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 MYOB New Zealand General Manager, Carolyn Luey.

‘‘It’s exciting seeing the next generation breaking out from existing trends and pushing boundaries. Team Mind Me did a great job and Wellington should be proud,” says Ms Luey.
The competition is run in conjunction with the University of Auckland’s Management Consulting Club.

“It’s essential we continue to encourage the fresh thinking of tomorrow. The MYOB IT Challenge encourages the kind of entrepreneurial mindset that will play a key role in shaping how Kiwis do business in the future,” says student and club member Mildred Wong.

Criteria for the challenge was left open to allow the students 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 Wong.

Each of the teams were judged on their business and marketing plans, prototype, design, and overall presentation, as well as a product that is intuitively easy to use and delivers real value to business owners. Team Mind Me’s solution exceeded all criteria.

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