EU's 'Intelligent Enterprise' concentration aims to give business students critical SAP skills

Category:  News
Tuesday, December 15th, 2020 at 3:28 PM

Business majors at Edinboro University have a new option: a concentration in “Intelligent Enterprise.” The Spectator spoke with business school dean, Dr. Scott Miller, and Associate Professor Douglas Battleson, who explained more about the addition and how it will shape business majors’ careers and futures.

According to Miller, Intelligent Enterprise was “really the brainchild of Doug Battleson.” In fact, Battleson is an expert when it comes to working with SAP systems. “He has substantial experience working with SAP corporate in various capacities, and he has a lot of experience in information systems and businesses, and working with organizations to optimize their performance using enterprise systems,” said Miller.

SAP (Systems, Applications & Products in Data Processing) describes itself as “The world’s #1 cloud business software company,” with the Intelligent Enterprise portion of the company described as follows: “Intelligent enterprises apply advanced technologies and best practices within agile, integrated business processes. This helps them to be more resilient, profitable and sustainable, and become best-run businesses.”

In the 1990s and 2000s, businesses transitioned from “siloed IT structures” to enterprise systems, specifically SAP-ERP. SAP Enterprise Resource Planning is used as a groundwork by businesses in order to run their main processes like HR, sales and distribution, manufacturing, procurement, inventory management, and more. They’ve since advanced to machine learning, artificial intelligence, block chain, cloud computing and more. These later technologies are what gives modern intelligence to the platform.

Battleson wanted to use his expertise with Edinboro’s business department. “So, he had this idea to integrate that into a broader program, broader than any of your traditional IMS programs,” said Miller.

Battleson had worked for SAP Consulting Services for 16 years, helping to implement SAP solutions. During the first three years of the job, he worked as an applications consultant, where he was both on the technological side and with the client “for order to cash business process.” Battleson was also a part of project, program and delivery management for 13 years. Battleson added that the transition from “legacy systems” to the newer technologies has a high rate of failure. Eventually, his job was “turning around these failing ERP projects.”

“There’s no reason for these organizations to continue to fail with implementing these technologies,” he explained. “So, what happened was, I consistently turned around these failing projects time and time again.” Learning about what these technologies are and how they can be successfully implemented without failure is the focus of both his research and teachings.

Battleson also spoke of how he came to incorporate SAP further into Edinboro’s business department. EU already “had a contract with SAP,” he explained. “There are only three schools in the PASSHE System that are a member of the SAP University Alliances Program.” Edinboro was seeking someone to teach SAP, and as a coincidence, he was then seeking “another university to move to.” He concluded that it was “a perfect fit” and has been a part of the department now for 18 months.

The new concentration will look to give students "education on using all of the tools that SAP and other enterprise systems have to optimize performance and improve the organization overall,” said Battleson.

Students will then have the chance to use their knowledge in their post-college careers. “This gives them skills that employers will really appreciate,” said Miller. “The fact that they will have all of this experience on an enterprise platform, specifically SAP, that will give them a significant advantage when looking for positions in organizations, because if an organization uses SAP or another enterprise system, they want people who can hit the ground running [and] understand how to utilize those tools.”

Battleson echoed these statements. During his tenure at his previous university, they hosted a similar program for graduate students. From a sample of over 100 students, there was a “100% placement rate for both internships and employment” for domestic students and a 90% internship and employment placement rate for international students on an F-1 visa.

“I’m excited to come to Edinboro and work with undergraduates,” said Battleson. “Of course, maybe eventually we’ll move this into the MBA program.” Related, he mentioned that within two minutes of the announcement of the concentration last April, a student in the MBA program inquired about taking the class. One additional hope from the department: current business professionals will also understand the importance of receiving an education within this particular concentration due to their use of it.

The SAP University Alliance Program is not new to Edinboro University. In fact, EU has been a member of the program, according to Miller, for “over a decade.” He continued: “We’ve utilized it for well over 10 years in various courses that we have. We have a specific course now called ‘Intelligent Enterprise,’ [which] used to be called ‘Information Resource Management.’ That spent a lot of time educating all of our business students on the use of SAP. And we’ve started integrating it into other courses, such as accounting and marketing, to allow students to use other facets of it. This program will give us even more opportunity to integrate that into our curriculum.”

Students will also be able to obtain SAP certifications beyond their coursework.

Both the students and the business department responded positively to the “Intelligent Enterprise” concentration. Battleson recalled one of the Edinboro deans stating the concentration was “fascinating.”

“The department was very excited; Dr. Battleson came in and promoted it to the department; gave them a very detailed proposal, and they were really excited,” said Miller. “Many of them are anticipating integrating it more into their courses beyond just the ‘Intelligent Enterprise’ courses and while we were putting the program through, we had many students that were just waiting for it to be approved so they could sign up for it because they saw the value in it.”  

The curriculum is posted on the business department website and the registrar’s office is currently processing student’s applications for the concentration.

Juniors and seniors who might have missed their chance to be a part of the concentration can also join classes in the spring as electives.

Nicholas Constantino is a staff writer for The Spectator. He can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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