Cloud Computing Forecast at UT Dallas is Sunny
SAP Pilot Program Designed to Give SOM Students a Jump on New Techn0logy

As cloud computing changes the way companies run their business, the UT Dallas School of Management is grooming tomorrow’s business leaders to gain an edge with this emerging technology.

The school is 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. The project incorporates SAP Business ByDesign, the software company’s new cloud software for Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), in the curricula of selected universities taking part in the SAP University Alliances program.

Cloud computing turns information technology-related capabilities into on-demand Internet-based services that customers consume much as they would electricity or on-demand television, says School of Management Information Systems Professor Hans-Joachim Adler. Instead of setting up their own expensive hardware and software infrastructure, companies plug into the “cloud” – a bank of Internet-based applications that can perform administrative, managing, analytical and forecasting tasks. 

Many experts predict that cloud technology will be a $27 billion global industry by 2012, when the technology finds mainstream adoption. Not only is cloud computing more flexible and less complex than traditional computing, it’s also less expensive, making it easier for small to mid-size companies to push into the sector, Adler said.

And since cloud computing is making business application software much more affordable, there is a rising demand for cloud-computing savvy graduates, he said.

“To stay competitive, small to mid-size companies have to incorporate more intelligent software into their organizations, but in the past they couldn’t afford to buy hardware and software for $2 to $3 million from SAP or Oracle. With this new cloud software, they can pay reasonable prices like $60 to $100 per license a month to get access to it. But getting access and being able to afford the software doesn’t make them knowledgeable about its functionality,” Adler said.

“For instance, if you complain that it takes you so long to get to work in your car and I tell you I have a solution – a helicopter – if you don’t know how to fly it, the nicest helicopter doesn’t make sense to you,” Adler said. “This is something that schools are taking note of. Now where this software becomes available to smaller companies, there’s then a growing need for teaching students how to use it.”

Advanced business consultants with cloud computing skills are in high demand, Adler said.

“There is huge growth potential in this market, and it makes a lot of sense for business schools to help educate those types of consultants,” Adler said. “But the word ‘consultant’ means something different than it did years ago. Before, if someone told you they’re an IT consultant, what they did was help install software and make it ready to work or show or teach you the basic functionality. But today, it’s beyond just installing and telling someone if you push this key, you’ll get this screen.  Today’s advanced business consultants help find solutions like helping make better decisions, increase the business performance or innovate faster than the competition, so the knowledge must really be lifted.”

“There are many articles out there right now that describe a weakness in many business schools that they tend to emphasize ‘what to do’ at the expense of ‘how to get things done.’ I think offering these kinds of opportunities for our students really positions the School of Management as the school that is not only teaching what theory looks like, but also how theory is applied in business,” he said.

For more information, email Adler at [email protected]

Cloud computing puts complex data processing within reach of small companies, but they will need knowledgeable managers to deploy and use the new technology, says Dr. Hans-Joachim Adler.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].