The most valuable yet limited resource we have as human beings is time: it is the blank canvas upon which we paint our lives. Therefore, it was not surprising that time, and making the most of it, was a focal point within the second edition of Konica Minolta’s International University Contest. At the final event of this year’s contest, five teams of students from tertiary education institutions met on 21st April for an awards ceremony held at the Konica Minolta Experience Centre in Amsterdam.
Out of 33 entries, to get this far in the contest was already a huge success for all the teams. The finalists belonged to the International Business School of Sofia (Bulgaria), the University of Groningen (Netherlands), the University of Cape Town (South Africa), the University of Valencia (Spain) and the UMST of Khartoum (Sudan). Different cultures, different mother tongues, different habits, different environments, and different problems to face every single day, but one unique goal: to be the best in analysing and proposing improvements for document and information workflows management in their institutions.
With this task in mind, the students’ groups identified requirements in key administrative and service processes, and made well-defined proposals for solutions to bring clear and important improvements to their institutions. Some of their key findings have been summarised below:
- Task optimization and automation of routine tasks are essential activities that were identified as very important objectives by the finalists. You can read more about this in our whitepaper The future of User Interfaces.
- Time is the finite resource that students want to protect for supporting a healthier life – for both themselves and for back office personnel. According to the National Salary Study (Dutch only) by Nyenrode university and career site Intermediair, the number of employees suffering from burn-out symptoms in the Netherlands increased significantly between 2015 and 2017, and other references confirm that academic students also suffer about burnout. This is having a negative impact on education (due to lower number of students completing their study at university), national healthcare systems (due to high costs for curing depression and related diseases in younger people) and also simply on society overall.
- Cognitive states of end users, even if not measured during their project preparation, represent one of the key elements assessed during the analyses developed by the students. A second key element is related to how innovation affects user experience.
- The approach that the teams participating in the contest followed was technology-driven, with a clear focus on Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Semantic Technologies.
Being a member of the jury and representing Konica Minolta Laboratory Europe, alongside my colleagues Alastair Creelman, e-learning specialist at Linnaeus University in Sweden, and Armin Alt, Managing Director and co-founder of performIT, was an honour and a privilege. The projects presented innovative and detailed concepts, making it exceptionally difficult for us to choose a winner.
The statement “Easy ya azeezi” (commonly used in Sudan to tell someone to relax or to take it slow, as in “Easy, my dear”) was not applicable for the jury at all, as all the students were anxiously waiting for our response. Yet we finally came to a decision, and as traditional for any awarding ceremony, the well known sentence “and the winner is…” ended with University of Medical Sciences and Technology of Khartoum (UMST) from Sudan! Congratulations team! Well deserved!
The winning team rejoiced for their success – and as part of their win, the four Sudanese students have been awarded with the opportunity to take part in the Web Summit, one of the world’s most important tech conferences, that will be held in Lisbon next November.