Getting Out of The Classroom: Alison's visit to SAP in Chicago

Author: Notre Dame ESTEEM

Alison O'Shea is a current entrepreneurship master's student.

On Wednesday October 8th I had the opportunity to attend the SAP Illinois Innovation Day, thanks to Don Ginocchio. Don is SAP’s University Alliance Director here at Notre Dame.  He thought the trip would be a good way for me to continue my capstone thesis research, which is focused on big data processing, and it would help me understand more about SAP’s products and customers.  My thesis advisor, Sunny Shah, accompanied me on my trip to Chicago and we were in for a treat as the conference was being held in Soldier Field, the home of NFL Team, the Chicago Bears.

Alison at SAP Innovation Event

We arrived in Chicago for our 8 am start and were treated to breakfast while getting to know some of the SAP employees in attendance at the talk.  We learned about some exciting projects SAP is facilitating in Indiana by offering their data processing hardware and software to people working on social impact within the state.  This was exciting to hear as the data processing mentioned fits well within my thesis project and social impact is important to all Notre Dame students and is a strong theme here in ESTEEM.

An introductory talk was held at 9am and then we launched straight into a discussion on how emergency services in Chicago are looking into using SAP’s Real Time Situational Analysis tool. This tool is designed to help first responders and emergency personnel understand more about the environment surrounding a disaster.  It is intended to help first responders quickly and effectively determine the optimal response. This was an interesting use of SAP HAHA.  HANA is built upon in-memory processing and I have been researching its features and potential as part of my thesis project. We were then shown another tool built on HANA that was designed for managers in industry to have more intelligent control over their HR and to help them improve manager-employee relations.  This was another great example of the power of data processing.

Finally, we finished the day with a tour of Soldier Field.  We learned a little bit more about the history of the stadium and I learned that Notre Dame’s football team had played there on more than one occasion.  We travelled through the stadium, into the visiting team’s locker room and onto the pitch.  Over the course of the day many business cards were exchanged and I have already utilized some of these new connections to help in my thesis work. The weather was absolutely beautiful and it allowed us to see all the way across Lake Michigan to Michigan City. We finished our tour in the Skyline Box which overlooks the field; I was extremely impressed by the size of the stadium and the silhouette of Chicago in the background made it even more special. 

Sunny at Soldier Field in Chicago

When the tour was over we said our goodbyes and thank yous. Before hitting the road back to South Bend we stopped into a trading company, Traditum, to speak about their big data practices. This was another great interview for my thesis and added to all of the insights I had gained throughout that day. The whole trip was fantastic and really worthwhile. Thank you to Sunny, Don, everyone at Traditum and all at the conference for a rewarding and exciting trip.