Prior to his retirement in June, Bill Allison’s position as the Global Managing partner for the Deloitte Consulting Technology Practice took him all over the world, and wherever he went, he saw a “consistent need” for talent trained in enterprise software.
“There’s always been more demand than there is supply,” noted the 1979 Illinois State University graduate and College of Business Hall of Fame inductee.
Now, his alma mater is doing its part to help equip students to meet the demand by offering a class centered on SAP (Systems, Applications, and Products in Data Processing) technology. The new course provides ISU students with a valuable opportunity to foster skills most business people do not develop until several years into their career.
Seven graduate students and 23 undergraduates currently are enrolled in Integrated Business Processes in an Enterprise System, which is designed to provide training in SAP, the world’s largest enterprise resource planning system.
“I believe that SAP is important for our accounting and BIS (business information systems) students to learn because it is extensively used by businesses today,” said Dr. Bill Crampton, who originally taught the class as an independent study and this semester is offering it as a regular course for the first time. “SAP is used in over 90 percent of the Forbes Global 2000 companies─the world’s 2000 largest public companies. SAP has approximately 413,000 corporate customers in 180 countries. Consequently, knowledge of SAP is in high demand by corporate recruiters.”
Allison defined SAP as not just a software product but “the catalyst for massive business improvement and transformation” and described how it can impact a wide array of business components, including human resources, supply chain, financial management, corporate structure, business analytics, taxes, and artificial intelligence. “One of the single most important things that a business of any size can do to make themselves better is to get themselves on a platform like SAP,” said the retired consultant.
Allison went on to describe how offering the SAP training course is an “incredibly important and impactful” opportunity for ISU students and will give them a leg up as they enter the job market.
Those enrolled in the new COB course use corporate-level training materials from Michael Management, which typically cost $1,600. As university students, they receive a $1,300 discount, and the cost is further lowered to zero thanks to the Department of Accounting’s SAP Impact Fund, which provides each student in the class with a $300 scholarship.
In recognition of Allison’s retirement from Deloitte in June, the Deloitte Foundation donated $15,000 to the SAP Impact Fund.
Crampton stated he was “thrilled” to learn of the gift, which “will allow many accounting and BIS students to obtain costly SAP corporate-level training materials for free.”
“We are having great success with the class but could not achieve that success without the commitment to funding from Mr. Allison and Deloitte,” added Dr. Deborah Seifert, Accounting chair. “Bill Crampton and his wife, Vaneetha, actually started the SAP Impact Fund and have personally donated to the fund as well, and they have made it possible for many more student scholarships to be given for the SAP materials. It is truly a partnership that is developing critical skills for our students and that benefits our recruiting partners, such as Deloitte, GROWMARK, ADM, and many others.”
Dr. Crampton so firmly believes in the importance of opening the door for students to learn about SAP that he came out of retirement to teach the new course. He originally developed an interest in the subject matter after past Accounting chair Dr. Gerry McKean asked him to incorporate information on SAP into the course, Accounting Information Systems (ACC 263). Later, Dr. Crampton met Allison when the alum delivered a presentation about his work at Deloitte and SAP to the BIS faculty.
“Post-retirement, I continued my study of SAP and became convinced that a course solely devoted to SAP would be of tremendous value to our students,” he said. “With the unwavering support of [Dr. Seifert], I came out of retirement and I began offering a course on SAP…During this time, I met with Bill Allison again and he gave me ‘spot-on’ advice on essential topics to include in the course (e.g. Leonardo, Internet of Things, Fiori) that greatly influenced the course content. I would like to express my appreciation to Bill for both encouraging my interest in SAP as well as his excellent advice on topics to cover in the course.”
Citing his own “really rewarding” experience interacting with his alma mater, Allison challenges other ISU alumni to reengage with the university.
“It was so much fun and it felt so good to come back and see the campus…I could sense the same sort of vibrancy amongst the students that was there when I was a student,” he observed. “One of the things I thought ISU gave me was a great chance. I think it’s an important and fun thing to do, if and when you can, to give a little bit back to the people and the institutions that helped you.”