A sensational race unfolded in ‘virtual Canada’ at the CaseIT competition in February 2021. The debut entry for Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) in this year’s competition resulted in first place for the four BSc International Business Administration students when they competed against 16 international university teams over four days in the CaseIT MIS Case Competition, working on two challenging IT business cases.

CaseIT is the leading international Management Information Systems (MIS) case competition hosted annually at the Simon Fraser University Beedie School of Business in British Columbia. CaseIT has hosted 872 undergraduate competitors involving 47 universities in 19 countries in its mission to provide an unparalleled, rigorous, and engaging international competition for talented business students. Each year, competing universities train and send out their best to compete on the international stage. The level playing field and severe time pressure of such competitions puts these teams to the ultimate test. This also attracts the attention of sponsors such as Baker Tilly, Microsoft and CGI, which help populate the judging panels.

“Students have to become adept at seeing through complex cases quickly and rely heavily on each other’s work. I admire how eagerly this team has absorbed feedback in the months of preparation and worked hard to grasp the many novel concepts in the IT space. This win is a testament to both the excellent foundation of knowledge at RSM and the dedication of Janna, Max, Marcus and Karim to go above and beyond. Watch their presentations, the result speaks for itself!” said their Faculty Advisor, Nathan van den Dool. Nathan has won several competitions in the past and now dedicates some time to coach teams at RSM.

Curious what the RSM team presented at the finals? Watch the live recording here.

Three months’ preparation

The team, Janna Langerbeins, Marcus Rigler, and Karim Taher in their second year of the BScIBA, and Max Wolfarth in his first year of the same programme, are all members of the RSM STAR Case Club student organisation at RSM. Together with their Faculty Advisor, they prepared for three months on subjects such as business information management, business transformation and architecture, and consulted alumni to find out more before embarking on the four-day challenge. They also brought in external perspectives from firms such as corporate investment and incubation firm BCG Digital Ventures and semiconductor supplier ASML to be completely up-to-date on current trends.

During their training, the team dived deeply into new fields of digitisation and analytics, as well as constantly refining their solving process, framework fluency and division of roles. After dozens of practice cases, the team incorporated increasingly detailed refinements to their methods.

Top result on Day One

On Day One of the competition, the first of the two cases dropped into the students’ inboxes, and they had only eight hours in which to develop a proposal for Arc'teryx Equipment to automate data ingestion and processing. Being completely new to the company, the team came out with a surprisingly tailored solution, which impressed judges and coaches in the room. Their reasoning was sensitive to the company's identity, cautious about the risks of ambitious IT projects, and well-informed. The team won, putting them right at the top of their division.

24-hour challenge

The eight-hour case contributed 40 per cent of the team’s points for the competition but there was still a 24-hour case ahead of them: a case involving Electronic Arts (EA) in which they brought together technology and a humanised approach to artificial intelligence (AI) in their integrated ‘EA Guardian’ system. This integrated digital platform uses deep learning algorithms to identify harmful player behaviour and voice-chat harassment. Further, it incorporates a human component through 'Guardians', who are experienced players on EA. They help promote positive play and an enjoyable gaming community by making verdicts where AI does not reach a sufficient certainty threshold receiving in-game rewards for their help. This way the joy of gaming is brought back to all players! What really made the solution unique, was incorporating a human aspect and integrating the community in addition to data analytics as EA places great importance on its players.

Their sensitivity to the company and the level of detail in their presentation brought them the victory in the finals, where EA’s senior management complimented them on their “100% accurate” root-cause analysis and well-thought-out solution. According to the CaseIT competition organisers, “The Rotterdam team was presented well by top-calibre competitors who presented truly innovative technology solutions.”

Perhaps the most striking compliment came in a week later, when the team and their faculty advisor got contacted by EA and Baker Tilly to “Discuss how to productise this solution” and “If we can build a startup together”.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. www.rsm.nl

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Erika Harriford-McLaren, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at harriford@rsm.nl.

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