Meet Amir, the heart of Unit4's Education machine
Posted by Jessica Tatlow
Several months ago, we made the exciting announcement that Unit4 had acquired Three Rivers Systems, an established education technology company that specialized in enterprise resource planning and student information systems for colleges and universities. Since then, we’ve gained some great new colleagues, deepened our expertise in the education market and launched a first-to-market enterprise education solutions suite, Unit4 Education Solutions. Unit4 Student Management is built from the ground up to give colleges, universities and research institutions a leg up in the digital era with touch-first design and intuitive next-generation capabilities focused on users’ needs. It is the heart of our Education Solutions suite, complemented by tight integration with Unit4 Business World ERP and Unit4 Research Management, with support from a single global company.
And at the heart of Unit4 Student Management is Amir Tajkarimi, the founder and President of Three Rivers Systems, and now Unit4’s Senior VP at Unit4’s Global Center of Excellence for Education.
Q: How/why did you first get into the education technology scene?
A: I have an advanced degree in electrical and computer engineering, and I’ve always had a special interest in artificial intelligence, networks and database design. I got involved in higher education during a special project to find a solution for some local colleges that were looking to automate their institution’s daily activities. After a comprehensive search, we decided to develop our own product that was easy to use, cost effective and based on consumerized technology.
Over the past 30 years, I have developed four generations of products, all of which were built from scratch as the technology advanced and the needs of higher education users grew. I have always believed in pure solutions that increase productivity at all levels while reducing risks to institutions. It’s all about being a high value partner to our customer.
Q: Where do you live? And, who do you work with?
A: I live in the suburbs of St. Louis in a friendly community called Town & Country. It’s a wonderful place to live and raise children, with access to great education. I enjoy all aspects of this business as I built it from scratch and am familiar with all its aspects. Merging with Unit4 has provided me with the opportunity to work with many talented people around the world. My current focus is to deliver our game-changing next-generation product, Unit4 Student Management, the product of our 30 years of experience.
Q: What are your hobbies and extra-curricular activities?
A: I enjoy travelling, skiing, exercising, attending my kids’ sports and activities, photography, entertaining friends and family, and learning about new technology.
I also spend a lot of my time figuring out how to improve user experience solutions. It’s a full-time passion!
Q: Tell us about your family. Are your children into technology, too?
A: I have four children: two boys and two girls. We are surrounded by exciting technology that I make available to my children. I try to set an example, but not force my ideas on them. They are all very different, but they are all high achievers, hard workers and the best at everything they do; I may be biased, but I don’t think so!
Q: What does the merger with Unit4 mean for your vision of enterprise technology for education?
A: It’s really been a perfect match, from the very first meeting where we discussed the potential for collaboration, all the way to acquisition. My vision is to provide higher education with a solution that meets the growth and efficiency needs of both individuals and institutions, with intuitive functionality that lets you get to work right away and gives you the freedom to be flexible as needs change. Unit4’s message to me, then and now, was “We like your vision. How can we help you achieve it even faster and bigger?” Unit4 has demonstrated its commitment to the growth of this business by delivering 100% on our joint business plans. We’ve done this by making cloud, touch-first design and flexibility standard in our Higher Education Solutions to help the people in higher education get what they need, and more, out of their systems.
Q: What are you most excited about in the new Unit4 Student Management build?
A: I’m most excited about its level of flexibility and its all-encompassing technological functionality that will meet the needs of colleges and universities, not only today, but also far into the future. Having a large company pouring their support and investment behind my vision is exciting. With an integrated, end-to-end solution that covers student management, finance, HR and research, all developed as “touch-first” and delivered via the cloud, it’s a cutting-edge first-to-market solution.
Q: We saw in your post, 2016 Technology Trends for Higher Education, that your trends to watch are technologies to meet the higher expectations for great student experience, campus-wide CRM, and cloud. What’s next for the Unit4 Education team? Can you reveal any secrets about new functionality that can we look forward to?
A: We will continue to invest in our products to deliver new features and functionality. After doing this for 30 years, we have a pretty good idea of how to deliver software that provides value to our customers, but we always keep an eye on “what’s next,” by talking with customers to solicit their wishes and requirements. For example, our customers have told us they would like to be able to more easily extend the application, so we’re coming out with a software development kit (SDK) that will allow customers to create and share functionality that works within the framework of our software. In addition to great functionality developed by our own R&D team, I can’t wait to see what our customer community will do with an easy-to-use SDK.
Q: Where can we learn more about Unit4 Education?
A: We have a lot of exciting things happening at Unit4 in the near future. Be sure to catch today’s Eduventures webinar with analyst Jeff Alderson to learn about the latest trends and how higher education institutions are finding opportunities to succeed, as well as how Unit4 fits into the market. We will also be at many industry trade shows this year, including Achieving the Dream, AACRAO, WASC-ARC and the Higher Learning Commission – find out more on our events page.