CIP Projects Fall 2020

The following projects will be available to students in the Mack Institute’s Fall 2020 Collaborative Innovation Program (MGMT 892). We encourage all Wharton MBA students — including West Coast and WEMBA students — to apply, as well as graduate students from other schools at the University of Pennsylvania.

To be considered for this class, please submit your application by filling out the form and ranking your project choices below. Students may apply as individuals or in groups. If applying as a group, each member should submit their own application, but one group member should be designated the team’s point person. Each application will be evaluated individually.

Find an overview of the Collaborative Innovation Program, a deck and a recording of an information session about Fall 2020, a sample syllabus, and student experiences here.


To read the full project descriptions, click the titles.

1) Financial data strategy for a German OEM (Two teams are invited for this project)

Organizational Background

Company A is a +$20.0B revenue luxury vehicle business, focusing on innovative mobility solutions that win the hearts and minds of new and existing customers.

Problem Context and Definition

Company A’s quarterly planning processes require high degree of manual data entry with little value-add. The company is looking for help to solve this problem so that the man-hours are used more for generating insights than data entry and consolidation. An overview of the current process and the business problem:

  • Each quarter the financial planning is updated (enterprise wide) with a review of Actuals vs. Plan and a forward-looking forecast, based on new business insights. September of each year is when the major strategic planning for the next operating year is planned.
  • During the annual strategic planning period, there are many target alignments across the entire enterprise. Once all the business discussions take place, and the strategic targets are set, the Finance team needs to enter this into the company’s financial consolidation system to determine the resulting financial plan.
  • This translation of strategic targets into a financial plan takes nearly 10 days, 10-12 hours daily, across 3 dedicated FTE, which is nearly 360 man-hours.
  • The translation process of strategic targets into the financial system is quite important; however, is not adding value. Ideally, the team needs to deep dive into data trends and forecast analyses: generation of insights is where the team needs to spend the current 360 hours.


The project deliverables should enable Company A’s employees to perform robust financial analyses, migrating focus from data creation to insights generation.

  • Automation (no manual entry) of the data translation into financial system (RPA, etc.)
  • Reporting that allows for generation of waterfall charts that allow comparisons between different financial planning periods
  • Drill down capability
  • A forecast and scenario planning tool, i.e., ability to create financial model based on changes in strategic targets and macro-economic data

2) Creating brand improvement strategy for a German-based multinational software company

Organizational Background

Company B is a multinational software company serving more than 437,000 customers in over 180 countries. It is a market leader in enterprise application software, providing the intelligence to bring together operational and experience data. By leveraging innovative technologies in the domains of machine learning, IoT, and advanced analytics, Company B aims to help the world run better and to improve people’s lives.

Problem Context and Definition

With over 100k employees globally, Company B is a market leader in enterprise software applications. Its technology enables customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and make a difference. Given that its headquarters is located outside of the United States (Germany), how can Company B improve and amplify the market perception of its innovation strategy in North America? Additional questions to consider:

  • How is Company B perceived in the market as it relates to innovation topics such as cloud and artificial intelligence?
  • Amongst North America brand competitors, what is being done to foster a brand perception of innovation?
    • Is there a difference in market perception when a company’s leadership is highlighted/made more visible versus solely focusing on brand (innovation) marketing?
  • What are the forums Company B should be exploring and investing in?


Structure a branding strategy along with actions/recommendations that can be reviewed with Company B’s President of North America.

3) Strategies to improve brand visibility and increase customer base/market share

Organizational Background

Company C is a Chicago-based subsidiary of the largest bank in India with over 22,000 plus branches in India, 58,000 ATMs and 227 overseas offices spread over 32 countries having the largest presence in foreign markets among Indian banks. The firm is one of the top 50 global banks with assets worth more than $522 billion, 249,448 employees and 490 million customer accounts. Company C is FDIC insured and offers a bouquet of services to the clients by dedicated verticals for Corporate Credit, Trade Finance, Deposits and Remittances.

Project Context and Objectives

Company C in Chicago is a single-branch setup, with an Illinois State license. Owing to regulatory restrictions the branch can offer only liabilities and remittances products to its customers. It does not offer retail/consumer loans. The branch is currently working on development and introduction of a new online banking platform and a mobile banking app and is seeking a strategic roadmap to increase visibility and market share assuming both the digital banking channels are successfully implemented. Further, it is seeking advice to help the bank in:

  • Building its presence through digital platforms
  • Expanding its product offerings
  • Taking a focused approach to target specific customer segments


  • An in-depth market analysis of liability product offerings in the U.S. A study of competitors, their product and service offerings, and a gap analysis of the market need. Students can use a variety of methods to research including interviews with necessary stakeholders.
  • A customer segmentation study to throw light on the needs and preferences of different customer segments, based on the gap analysis above. It should also provide insight into tech trends that these segments are inclined towards.
  • Strategies for marketing the digital technology products that the bank is developing on and using these products to market its liability products considering the constraint of single-branch setup with limited physical presence. The project should ideally cover (1) a customer outreach strategy for high-value segments along with an implementable plan for digital outreach, and (2) product strategy for the segments to be targeted. Suggestions may be made for potential products that are different from what is being offered currently keeping in mind the technology enablers, cost and compliance and regulatory requirements and risks.

4) Designing innovation tournament and identifying accelerators to partner for innovation

Organizational Background

Company D is a Japanese multinational financial service group that operates commercial bank, investment bank, trust bank, credit card, leasing and consumer finance. The company has been working with startups, VCs and universities to explore new business and innovative technologies including Fintech, AI, Machine Learning, etc. In addition, the company invests some VCs in Japan and the U.S. as LP to expand network in the startup ecosystem. The company owns a variety of internal departments that focus on R&D and collaboration with startups. Each department works closely, but the company assumes that there is some room to improve in terms of organization to accelerate its business in the areas.

Project Context and Objectives

Company D’s innovation team is very young and is in the process of establishing itself in the Americas. To assist the team in establishing their operating model, there are two projects in which the company would like to gain external advice from the student case team:

1. Innovation and Fintech team best practices based on peer banks and other peers in parallel industries
2. Creation of a digital strategy to support the bank’s business growth, increased efficiency and improved controls.


  • The teams are expected to work directly with the Innovation and Fintech team to present the results of benchmarking analyses related to:
    • Corporate Innovation and Fintech team processes (e.g., opportunity creation, incubation, etc.)
    • Corporate Innovation and Fintech team organizational structures and employee skill sets
    • Corporate Innovation and Fintech team tools
    • Corporate Innovation and Fintech team marketing and intellectual capital creation
    • Corporate Innovation and Fintech involvement in strategic investments and venture funds
    • Corporate Innovation and Fintech events attendance
    • Corporate Innovation and Fintech training
    • Corporate Innovation and Fintech partnerships (venues used to become more plugged into the ecosystem)
  • The teams are expected to work directly with the Innovation and Fintech team to create a digital strategy for the bank based on:
    • 3-5 year horizon and an assessment of what trends (technology and demand trends) will be in place in that time frame
    • An understanding of peer banks’ 3-5 year strategy and core competencies / capabilities
    • An understanding of the banks strategic positioning vis a vis the competitor set

5) Post COVID-19 business strategy for a Guatemalan telecom firm

Organizational Background

Company E is a large Guatemalan telecommunications firm with a customer base of more than 245,000 companies in 17 countries. The company has a significant presence in the market with a spread across various locations in each country. It is focused on providing B2B technological solutions for carriers in Latin America with a main product portfolio of Connectivity (Internet, Data Products and Satellite services), Mobile data, Cloud services, and Security. The company guarantees excellence in the services that it provides customers, with a high performance and availability network.

Company E has two business units:

  • Business (B2B): Mobile solutions (roaming, data, called ID, among others), Business internet, Dedicated internet, Ethernet, Private IP, Call center solutions, Fibertec (fiber optical for internet and calls), Cloud solutions, Data center leasing, virtual desks, Office 365, Cyber security, GPS, marketing communication by SMS, Point of Sale to charge with credit and debit cards (POS), security by surveillance and Walkie Talkie 2-way radio services for delivery and supply chain needs.
    • Wholesale: This unit provides support to carriers that further provide solutions to corporate companies based in United States and Mexico to Central and South America. The products that this unit provides are the same of B2B.
  • Consumer: Residential package with phone, internet and cable. Mobile plans (prepaid and top up), phones (included with prepaid plans or can be paid with a top up plan), music app (included in all the mobile plans), health app, platform for mobile wallet and their own sports app. All the apps are included in prepaid plans.

Project Summary

The project entails identification of B2B, B2C, and Wholesale customers’ current situation, problems, and needs during and after COVID-19 crisis. Based on this, the team can define new trends, and further, recommend products and solutions that Company E can provide after the return to the “new normal.” The team can provide scenarios on how the market might evolve and how Company E could possibly help customers in the path to recovery. Provide a short- and medium-term strategy.

Objectives and Deliverables

  • Identification of challenges due to COVID-19 for B2B, B2C, and Wholesale customers in Latin America.
  • Identification of new technology trends in USA that could be brought to LATAM countries in the segments mentioned above: Wholesale, B2B, and B2C; and products and solutions based on Company E’s capabilities (e.g.: Connectivity, managed services, mobile solutions, cloud, cybersecurity)
  • Evaluation of what the “new normal” might be for the Fortune 500 companies. Focus on those who have presence outside of the USA, their main situation and problems. Provide, if possible, an analysis for key verticals
  • Based on the above, identification of a new strategy for Company E to reinvent its business in the short and medium terms

6) Strategy to increase market share of cards for a large global financial services company

Project Summary and Background

Ecommerce shopping is growing at fast pace and has accelerated in the aftermath of COVID-19; it had also briefly overtaken Point-of-Sale shopping in April. Traditional Consumer Credit Card issuers, like Company F, by virtue of decades of experience, have products and services to engage Customers in Point-of-Sale based shopping. What should Company F do to gain larger market share of ecommerce shopping in future?

  • Card issuers break out card spending in following means:
    a) Card present (used) at POS
    b) Card Not Present (i.e., ecommerce or Telephony shopping. Telephony is extremely small–less than ~2% overall)
  • Customers usually shop online and use their card via one of these means:
    a) Hardware e-wallets (Apple wallets, Samsung wallets etc.), or
    b) Checkouts (Visa, Google etc.), or
    c) Add Card on file permanently on merchants’ payment systems (at Amazon, Verizon, Geico, Chipotle etc.), or
    d) Use mediators (like Paypal)

While issuers have dabbled in either e-wallets, checkouts, and partnerships with players like Amazon with varying degree of success, digital commerce has continued to leapfrog all expectations. With Amazon as 800-pound gorilla in this space, Brick-and-Mortar retailers are standing up their capabilities to rival Amazon. Restaurants are adding their own order-to-go plays. All of these are ecommerce shopping.

A sizeable portion of digital shopping happens because of digital advertising. Facebook and Google, two of the largest players in digital advertising space, have launched their own shopping malls. FB has launched FB payments via FB messenger and Whatsapp social media platform. What should this mean to card issuers?

Looking at consumer buying behavior in future, what should Company F do to capture larger share of ecommerce shopping with its cards? In the era of desktop/mobile commerce, what are the strategies that issuers can opt to undertake, which will increase their card to be the one that is used most often (a.k.a. card to be on top of wallet)?


  • Product and/or Features on existing products that are needed to influence customers to use those cards first
  • Incentives/rewards that can significantly influence card spending behavior
  • Alternatively, improvement in customer experiences that are needed to achieve these goals
  • Plan to build sustainable competitive differentiation with those products and features
  • Go-to market strategy

7) Evaluating risk landscape of TMT industry

Organizational Background and Context

Company G is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. It deploys resources for protecting people, managing risk, safeguarding capital and preparing for recovery. The company advises clients across the Technology, Media and Telecommunications industry on people and asset related issues and risks.

Project Summary

In 2016, Company G published a TMT Risk Index study to uncover the threats, challenges and opportunities facing senior executives in the TMT industry over the next 10 years. This report assessed attitudes towards risk among TMT business leaders across the world. The report was based on interviews with 350 TMT companies and commented on the impact of five megatrends that are continuously shaping the industry, and their associated risks that are perceived to be most significant. The five megatrends are:

  • Regulation and Legal Risk
  • Digitalization and technological advances
  • Business model and strategy pressures
  • Operational complexity and vulnerability
  • Global talent and skills race

This project is to help Company G understand what has been the impact over the past ~5 years on the risk landscape identified in the TMT Risk Index study, and to determine what a forward “look” would suggest. Identify potential challenges and impacts to the corporate risk landscape including and building on those identified in 2016.

While this project is aimed to be a follow-up for the Index study, the students are welcome to adjust the direction for the upcoming report based on their insights from this project. For example, the students could recommend changing some of the existing five megatrends or even identifying five new megatrends and risks instead. Students’ input/ideas should influence the final scope for this.

Objectives and Deliverables

Evaluation of the five identified trends:

  • Identification of changes in firms’ attitudes towards the five megatrends and their related risks, via primary and secondary research around the use and deployment of technology and digital solutions in broader industry sectors.
  • Identification of material deviations, changes, new trends, and risks allowing Company G to provide opinion-based output using this project as the primary base.
  • Specific highlights/breakouts/impacts of COVID-19 seen in the research data.

Identification of changes for a future index report:

  • Identification of key trends and emerging technologies that are likely to impact business operations in the five sectors mentioned. Consider a 5-year horizon (from Jan 1, 2020) and gather insights through interviews.
  • Develop/outline/share Scenarios where emerging risks could disrupt current business models.

Students can tap into Wharton Alumni Network in the TMT industry or technology/digital roles for the interviews.

Key Considerations

  • Research methodology must lay emphasis on primary research leveraging the Global Wharton Alumni Network, and complement it with secondary research as needed.
    • Research to cover Silicon Valley and New York and other relevant TMT centres of excellence.
    • Company G will also facilitate access to its relevant clients in U.S. and U.K.
  • Survey questionnaire to be developed based on the 2016 Risk Index questionnaire to ensure consistency and to capture:
    • Respondent view on current risk issues and what has changed since 2016 (unprompted).
    • Respondent views on new and emerging risk issues faced (prompted – using the secondary research to structure this), and the relative strength of those issues (i.e., a view on weights of the risk issues).
    • Qualitative factors driving those risks, expectation of change over time, etc.
    • Views on unique risks pertaining to the respondent’s specific industry segment, that were not mentioned in 2016 WTW TMT Risk Index.

8) Benchmarking metrics for growth of a global digital infrastructure provider

Organizational Background and Context

Company H is a leading global digital infrastructure services provider. It provides integrated, globally managed technology solutions that underpin today’s fast-growing digital economy. The company is shaping the future by investing in emerging innovations in the areas of IoT, Edge computing, Next gen connectivity, security, and predictive analytics using AI.

Project Objectives

This project seeks to identify comparable companies and best-in-class metrics to benchmark Company H around its specific growth areas, and identify the most relevant metrics for Company H to track and focus on:

  • The student team will begin with understanding Company H’s strategy, product lines, and value drivers, to determine the various industry categories that Company H can be classified under. E.g. is Company H, a services’ or a product or an asset heavy company or some hybrid of these? They would also identify its growth areas for benchmark analysis.
  • The team is then expected to conduct a competitive landscape analysis to identify comparable companies that Company H should benchmark itself against; determine key metrics that these companies use for tracking business impact and growth; evaluate how do they compare on these metrics and figure which of these are best in class.
  • Tying the competitive analysis to Company H, the team would provide recommendations on which metrics tie with the company and which it should focus on.

The team is expected to adopt a good mix of primary and secondary analysis through leveraging Wharton’s database and connections. The research would include:

  • Benchmarking data from thinktanks, analysts, consultants, etc.
  • Secondary research on comparable companies
  • Primary research with industry experts and analysts
  • Company H’s portfolio understanding and interactions with key executives

The Chief Strategy Officer will brief the team during scoping and the team will work closely with the Corporate Innovation and Corporate Development team.


A project report, with interim milestone checks / validation, covering:

  • Company analysis: A brief on which industry categories or type of business Company H can be classified under, its value drivers, and its growth areas.
  • Competitive landscape analysis with insights on who are comparable companies, and why, and key metrics that these companies focus on, how they fare on those metrics, and which are considered best-in-class.
  • Recommendations for Company H on which metrics to focus on.

CIP Application Form

The application process for Fall 2020 is closed.