CIP Projects Spring 2020

The following projects will be available to students in the Mack Institute’s Spring 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.


To read the full project descriptions, click the titles.

1) Cashflow Forecasting Model and Business Recommendations for a German OEM

Organizational Background

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

Project Context and Objective

The Treasury Group of Company A currently has a labor-intensive method for cash flow forecasting. It is seeking a student team to analyze its data and determine a robust algorithm to optimize cashflows and give accurate forecast. The analysis should be followed up with recommendations for business.

The student team is expected to work with IT and other functions to understand the data and gather additional insights.

Objectives and Deliverables

  • Determine a robust forecasting model for Company A to optimize its cash flows
    • Analyze Company A’s financial data to identify levers that influence predictions. Cross-verify this with the existing levers that Company A has identified and determine what additional variables matter for near accurate forecasting
    • Build in stress factors for scenario analysis and model constraints for optimizing cash flows
  • Build a storyline to make a business case and provide recommendations
    • Understand how Company A’s value and supply chain works to identify additional levers that might be relevant but currently ignored
    • Identify best practices for cash flow forecasting that Company A can learn from
    • Create a storyline with a dashboard, and provide recommendations based on insights from the analyses and the best practices identified

2) Product Forecasting (Data) Model and Business Recommendations for a German OEM

Organizational Background

A +$2.0B revenue business focused on providing holistic mobility solutions for commercial and people moving segments.

Project Context and Objective

The Vans division of Company B is seeking a student team to analyze its customer and product data to create a forecasting model for optimizing its product offering. The project is to create a data model that is able to not only suggest best combinations of product (customer offerings) that optimize for profitability, customer segment requirements, and macroeconomic factors; but also allows for constraints modeling.

Objectives and Deliverables

  • Analyze Company B’s sales-level and production-level data, and build a robust data model to optimize product offering
    • Consider elements of profitability, constraints of production, product options, sales, pricing, etc. to determine optimal requirement
    • Model production (and other identified) constraints against optimal requirement; and optimize for profitability given the constraint
  • Build a storyline to make a business case and provide recommendations
    • Build business case for product offering with optimized profitability
    • Identify best practices for product forecasting from other automobile, retail, and other supply-chain heavy industries for Company B to learn from
    • Create a storyline with a dashboard/scorecard, and provide recommendations for Company B based on insights from the analyses and the best practices identified

3) Designing Innovation Tournament and Identifying Accelerators to Partner for Innovation

Organizational Background

Company C 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 into some VCs in Japan and the US as a LP to expand its network in the startup ecosystem. The company has a variety of internal departments that focus on R&D and collaboration with startups, 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 C’s innovation team is very young and is in the process of establishing itself in the Americas. Among its several competing priorities, the team wants to figure prioritization of competing innovation pipeline projects, source possible solution providers such as vendors or consultants.  In addition, they hope to design an innovation tournament to generate additional ideas for pipeline projects. Time permitting, the student team could launch the tournament and evaluate submissions.


  • Work with the company’s innovation ambassador teams to help source fintech vendors or solutions to the identified and prioritized pain points and help finalize the innovation ambassador teams’ business plans to solve for business need.
  • Design an innovation tournament. The steps would involve:
    • Identifying case studies of other firms that have conducted internal innovation tournaments and highlighting key constraints and concepts that Company C should be aware of as it considers these tournaments
    • Create a tournament design. This could encompass:
      • Identifying the theme(s) of the contest
      • Determining the scope of eligible projects
      • Determining how often Company C should conduct such tournaments and the timeline for implementation
      • Highlighting key documentation, communication and marketing material, channels, etc. for implementation
      • Creating prioritization criteria/framework for reviewing the submissions
      • Highlighting post-contest actions that Company C should take
    • Time permitting, the student team could implement the first round of the tournament and assist to evaluate submissions
  • The student team could identify accelerators and/or incubators in the NYC area that would be good targets for Company C to partner with

4) Vectors of Organic Growth for a Global Book Publisher

Organizational Background

Company H is one of the world’s largest book publishers. The US-based company employs nearly 10,000 people globally and publishes 15,000 new titles annually under 250 brands and imprints.

Project Summary

The project is to identify and evaluate 5-10-year organic (i.e., non-M&A) growth opportunities for the company.

This project will be administered through the PRH Labs team, but students may get exposure to other leaders throughout the business. A final presentation to key executives in Company D’s New York HQ at end of project late April/early May would be ideal.

Objectives and Deliverables

  • Identify key levers of growth for Company H in the context of its business and its evolving industry. Identify which of them are most relevant and promising. Extend the idea to identify 5-10 valid opportunities of growth with $30M ARR.
  • Analyze the opportunities further and propose a strategy for organic growth of Company D: How should Company D approach these ideas? Identify key risks and potential partners that the company can work with. Consider competitors’ response and its implications for the company.
  • Proposed Deliverables should include a 30-50 slide strategy deck and excel models for the businesses explored
    • Teams can focus on customer segments, distribution, product niche and/or positioning, marketing, etc.

5) Creating Go-To-Market Strategy for a Multinational Software Company

Organizational Background

Company E 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 E aims to help the world run better and to improve people’s lives.

Project Context

The number of employees at Company E has grown to 100,000, more than double its size 10 years ago. This rapid expansion, in conjunction with changing market dynamics in cloud offerings, digital-savvy enterprises and an increasing emphasis on consumer experience, has resulted in a burgeoning need to adapt go-to-market frameworks that simultaneously address selling-at-scale and yet also support the bespoke needs of large enterprises. While much research exists in the space of the consumer side of this equation, there is less research available in the enterprise B2B space. As Company E continues to grow over the next 10 years, it will be continuously adapting its go-to-market frameworks and would therefore better like to understand models that work in the context of its current ‘Supply Chain of Selling’.

Objectives and Deliverables

Assess the current go-to-market strategy of Company E and explore viable alternatives. Specifically,

  • Research and identify key needs in B2B enterprise software industry, trends, and successful sales models in B2B for enterprise software delivery.
  • Develop a “greenfield” go-to-market strategy notwithstanding any constraints that the company might have.
  • Evaluate the company’s current ‘Supply Chain of Selling’ go-to-market strategy, and provide a gap analysis with regards to the best practices.
  • Explore areas for adapting the applicable best practices and provide actionable recommendations for Company E as it adapts the current go-to-market model over the next 10 years.

6) Designing corporate growth strategy for B2B business of a Guatemalan telecom provider

Organizational Background

Company F is a large 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 to its customers with a high performance and availability network.

Project Context and Objectives

Company F’s wholesale international business provides connectivity layer from USA to LATAM for companies such as Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and Century Link, who in turn provide services to multi-national companies. The problem is that Connectivity in telecom has been seeing price erosion, as a result of which the wholesale business of Company F is seeing an increasing churn in its customers. To be competitive in this scenario, it has introduced connectivity bundles (such as fixed connectivity plus LTE), insurance, and other initiatives that can help contain churn and enhance growth.

Company F is now seeking a student team to help design a strategy to combat decreasing prices and the resultant problems that it comes with, and to improve its growth.


  • Design a strategy to help Company F figure how to navigate the problem of falling prices
    • Analyze the industry and provide insights on key factors that influence decisions in such scenarios
    • Identify cases where telecom carriers have successfully grown despite facing similar situations. Determine what lessons can Company F derive from them to replicate success
    • Given these insights determine what should be its growth strategy
  • Provide recommendations
    • What solutions make most sense for Company F to provide
    • What should be its strategic efforts in the short and medium terms

7) Identifying Solutions for Large Firms to Protect Innovative Technology (Knowledge And IP) From Competitors

Organizational Background and Context

Company G is a leading global digital infrastructure 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 of IoT, AI, automation, and predictive analytics.

Objectives and Deliverables

Project deliverables include:

  • Identifying existing contractual and licensing models that large firms have with startups and academic institutions while working on emerging technologies.
  • Identifying possible solutions (business model and contractual) to protect access to technology in a partnership, in situations where the partners get liquidated or acquired by a competitor.
  • Identifying what solutions (contractual or otherwise) exist for large firms to gain and retain IP rights on the technology (exclusivity or ownership) when working with universities or knowledge partners on research projects. Further,
    • Having invested research dollars and provided highly valuable data, how do firms mitigate the risk of the technology or IP leaking to competitors?
    • Identify whether there are any specific research sponsorship models that are conducive to this kind of approach.
  • What capabilities are required to be built in innovation teams to be able to absorb research or a licensed IP from a university or a left field tech work (like AI/ML algorithm) and commercialize it? (Is it just domain expertise or special skills that they may not have but the university or the startups have?)

8) Creating Solutions for Young Adult Investors for a Global Asset Management Firm

Organizational Background

Company H is an asset management firm that is one of the largest providers of ETFs and mutual funds globally. We also provide brokerage, financial planning, trust and asset management services. Our clients span individual retail investors, institutional asset managers who hold our funds on their platform, and corporations whose 401k plans we manage.

Project Context and Objectives

Awareness of the Company H brand is significantly lower with people under the age of 40. Company H is attempting to address this increasing concern through marketing efforts, including a campaign targeting a younger audience, but marketing alone may not be enough to draw this segment in, and surely not so over the next 5+ years.

In this customer segment, there are a number of trigger events that may prompt one’s introduction to investing, whether it is income earned from a first job, an UGMA account moving over when one turns 18, negotiating employment terms, navigating loans, etc. Company H would like to attract and better support students, recent graduates, and young adults in launching their investment journey.


In your solution, please address three specific questions: How do we get younger people to (1) invest sooner, (2) invest more, and (3) invest with Company H? The student team may use primary and/or secondary research.

Current state/needs analysis:

  • For the proportion of this customer segment that does not invest: Identify reasons why they do not invest. What are the key obstacles and points of pain that keep them from investing today.
  • For the proportion of this customer segment that does invest: Identify products and services that are popular for investments in this segment, how and why they chose their existing provider, and pain points with the current solutions available in the broader market place.
  • Provide a competitive analysis of products and services that cater to the investing population in this customer segment.

Solution recommendation:

  • Design a solution including key features and how it works.
    • Identify the value proposition. How can Company H garner interest from this segment in investing and increase penetration?
    • What are their needs and values that matter for making investing decisions?
    • What can Company H do to increase their interest in thinking about investments? Further, what can it do to garner their interest in Company H’s products and services.
    • How is this solution differentiated from existing products/services currently in the market?
  • Develop an early stage business case.
    • What is the market size of this opportunity?
    • Why is Company H uniquely positioned to offer this solution?
  • Create a high-level go-to-market strategy and marketing plan to target this segment, including a sample positioning and/or marketing campaign.

9) Creating a model to quantify costs/revenues/shareholder value associated with Employee Engagement

Organizational Background

Company I’s contact center is an integral interaction channel providing financial advice and service to its customers through phone and chat bankers. With evolving customer expectations and competitive market dynamics, the contact center is undergoing significant transformation. The contact center division has tens of thousands of employees in globally spread call centers and handles approximately 50 million calls a month.

Project Context and Objectives

Over the past decade as customers have continued to leverage their mobile phones as the primary method for basic banking services, the role of contact center bankers has shifted from cost-focused transactional model to that of brand-extension and customer loyalty and delight center.  Simply put, customers opt to use mobile phones for fast, simple, easy needs; while calling contact centers for more complicated issues. As mobile phones become ubiquitous and omnipresent, what will truly distinguish great customer experiences with contact centers in the future will be the degree of personal and empathetic interactions customers feel during moments that matter.

However, studies indicate that stress blocks the ability of people to empathize with strangers. The company is currently under significant shareholder pressure, driving cost-cutting initiatives that focus on optimizing key operational areas such as average handle time, occupancy rate, seat utilization, and other operational metrics. As the company continues to maximize cost savings, there could be a negative impact on employees as their stress increases with fewer breaks, more focus on key metrics, and fear of layoffs, etc.

As such, Company I’s hypothesis is that maximizing easily quantifiable operational objectives without considering the cost associated with the ‘soft side’ of employee engagement and its impact on customer experiences, cultural drain, etc. leads it to make business decisions that actually negatively impact shareholder value.

The student team is expected to create a model to help quantify the true shareholder impact of team member engagement (including, but not limited to, cost of new hire attrition.) What are the levers and how do we quantify the impact on customer loyalty, culture and halo of other employees, and ultimately shareholder value (cost and revenue)?


  • Do a research analysis of people analytics models (internal/external) that that are being adopted by call centers, and employee engagement models that are successful. Provide insights in the form of case studies
  • Create an analytical model for which the student team can use the identified levers. How do these levers directly or indirectly relate to levers used around operational efficiency? Justify/backup what was used to develop this model (best in class case studies, methods, etc.)
  • Suggest ways to measure ROI on employee engagement. Some factors might be hard to quantify objectively, so a directional ROI based on research and case studies would be appreciated
  • What would be the breakeven point for investment efforts around employee engagement to create net neutral shareholder value?

CIP Application Form

Note: If you are only interested in one project, feel free to rate others as an 8 or 9. If you are open to all projects, feel free to rank all 1.