ISA Students Innovate Solutions for Scripps Networks Interactive

June 2013

There's an app for that. At least there will be soon, thanks to Farmer School students.

This spring, two ISA 495 "Managing the Intelligent Enterprise" classes had the privilege of defining applications for Scripps Networks Interactive (SNI), owner of HGTV, Travel Channel, Food Network, and other media programming. SNI asked the students to come up with app proposals that would help the company acclimate new hires, modernize ad sales, and manage production deliverables. At the end of the semester, the eight student teams presented their app concepts virtually to Scripps executives and received rave reviews.

Mark Hale, EVP of Operations and CTO at SNI, spoke highly of the students and final results: "We were extremely impressed with the presentations provided. Each idea was well thought out, researched, developed, and designed to showcase the underlying strategy and business value to SNI. This was one impressive class of students. I believe we all benefited from the exercise in more ways than one."

Client projects are designed to be valuable, both for companies and students. ISA 495 professor Jeff Smith, the George & Mildred Panuska Professor in Business, said one of the main things that Miami students offered Scripps was their social media savvy. The students' familiarity with the way apps function as well as their insights into what new hires might be looking for was very valuable. For students, it was an opportunity to experience real-life contexts and challenges: "What Scripps brings to the table for us is a lot of their executives' time; also letting our students into a real world environment where they're involved the way real consultants are," Smith said.

ISA senior Tim Good said he gained a lot of insights from the project: "I am going into a systems design/integration consulting role after I graduate, so this project helped me see the importance of understanding the client's business processes at the outset of a project. It is essential to understand conceptually how they operate so you can identify any inefficiencies and offer a creative solution." This semester's Scripps projects asked a lot of students: "Not only were we asked to come up with an idea, but we were expected to further develop the idea from start to finish by identifying benefits, defining product requirements, and creating mock ups," said ISA senior Jackie Paplaczyk. Business Economics senior, Clare Mengebier agreed: "This project challenged me a lot. It definitely forced me to think about not only how the app would help the employees during normal business operations but also how the app can be put together. More specifically, the painstaking details that go into creating an app and the way these specific technical requirements relate to the overall purpose of the app was a fascinating challenge."

Despite the complexities involved, the student teams arrived at creative apps for Scripps to consider: "The students really came to grips with what the problems were and then came up with nontrivial solutions," Smith said.