CIP Projects Spring 2021

The Mack Institute’s Collaborative Innovation Program (MGMT 892) connects students with business leaders and researchers in the study of innovation management and its practical application. Through this program, students collaborate with our corporate partner companies to address existing challenges within their organizations. If you are interested in applying for Fall 2021 CIP, please check back in the summer for information about the next round of projects.

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

Spring 2021 Projects

To read the full project descriptions, click the titles.

1) Product strategy and operationalization of virtual care services

Organizational Background

Company A is a leading home care franchisor. The company’s niche is personalized and connected care with the purpose of empowering seniors and differently-abled. Its core services include ensuring safety at home, assisting with ADLs and IADLs (Activities of Daily Living and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living), and providing companionship that helps prevent loneliness.

Its ~200 franchise owners employ caregivers and run individual operations. The caregivers provide services to their clients largely in a one-on-one setting and have varying levels of education/certification; the caregivers include nurses, certified nursing assistants, personal care aides, companions, etc. Payor sources include but are not limited to: out of pocket by consumer, long-term care insurance, Medicaid, Medicare Advantage, Veterans Administration benefits, and worker’s compensation insurance.

Problem Context and Definition

In the United States, there are currently 56 million individuals over age 65, and the number is expected to grow to 84 million by 2050. It is anticipated that 70% of people over age 65 will need some help at home, but the number of caregivers to provide this help will continue to shrink. So not only do these numbers indicate a clear opportunity to serve but also the current pandemic intensifies the need to incorporate more virtual services. Services such as telehealth, remote care, virtual visits, and support of technology in clients’ homes to connect with family or providers can help in limiting exposure; scaling the company’s services; and utilizing in-person caregivers where most needed.

With the healthcare community providing the company’s largest stream of referrals, it seeks answers to the following questions to (i) better understand the current and future needs of customer as well as their families (decision-makers) and (ii) to better develop and bundle its virtual care services.

  • What are the primary needs of healthcare partners (examples include home health, doctors, hospice, hospitals, rehab, assisted living, and nursing homes) when it comes to their patients (or clients/residents), that a home care company might be able to solve?
  • How do our healthcare partners feel about recommending virtual care services, today as well as in a post-COVID-19 world? For instance, would they recommend telehealth devices to monitor biometrics at home?
  • What are the criteria for caregivers, in order of importance, for keeping the partners such as hospitals updated on clients’ well-being? What is the frequency and method of updating partners that would like to receive information?
  • How best to position the virtual care offerings with existing referral sources?
  • What are the most desirable ways to bundle virtual services such as remote visits, telehealth monitoring devices, and in-person care?


The project deliverables should ideally enable Company A to optimally develop and package any desired virtual care services to offer to clients/families as well as healthcare referral partners. Deliverables include but are not limited to:

1. Market overview and opportunity size for virtual care services and telehealth in the context of home care

2. Healthcare partner (B2B) research to identify current and future needs of this audience

3. A product strategy for virtual care services including product offerings, bundling, positioning, pricing, and reimbursement models; so that the company can guide its franchisees better on their go-to-market strategies

4. Operationalization of virtual care services both at corporate and franchisee level

  • Impact on human capital strategy to attract new/better caregivers
  • Pricing model to drive top line revenue growth
    • Stand-alone virtual care
    • Hybrid deliver – virtual care and traditional in-person services
  • Change management / communications strategy to get franchisee buy-in

Students can conduct both primary and secondary research. The company will provide access to some research done by healthcare agencies and other research organizations.

2) Evaluating innovation management practices for a semiconductor equipment firm

Organizational Background

Company B is a large semiconductor equipment manufacturing company, specializing in providing ion implantation equipment to semiconductor manufacturers worldwide, including Intel and Samsung. The semiconductor equipment business is highly competitive, with companies vying for market share by continuously innovating their technologies and business practices.

Project Objective

The project’s goal is to evaluate the existing innovation processes and metrics in a semiconductor equipment firm, Company B, and provide recommendations for improvement in its innovation management practices.

Project Summary and Deliverables

The student team will spend time gaining an understanding of the company, the ion implantation industry, the state of the business environment it operates in, the business drivers critical to its competitiveness and success, and Company B’s competitive positioning in the market.

The team will then focus on the innovation management practices within the firm and bring to table best practices worth replicating. Once done, the team will evaluate the existing innovation management system of Company B, compare and contrast it with the best practices, and provide actionable recommendations for improvement.

Company B will guide the team by providing necessary information about the company, its ecosystem and value chain, its market positioning and target customers, and its innovation infrastructure. The team will also have access to internal groups within the organization to understand the business better.

Note that this project has a potential for very high visibility in the corporation because of its renewed growth strategy involving innovation.

Key Questions to Answer

  • What are the best practices for innovation management in the semiconductor equipment industry that Company B can take home to implement within its organization?
  • Within Company B, how is innovation promoted within the corporation? Is its structure conducive for innovation?
  • How is innovation measured, how are the metrics fed back into the system, and is there room for improvement?
  • How is the innovation initiative perceived by the employees? Is there enthusiasm or resistance?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses that Company B can focus on?
  • Actionable recommendations for Company B to improve its innovation management system?

3) Future of work and people risks in TMT industry

Organizational Background

Company C 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

The project is aimed to build upon the research conducted by past CIP participants for the TMT Futures Report project and will be focused on the Global Talent and Skills megatrend. This will be a deep dive into the Future of Work shifts and people risks in the TMT industry. Students are welcome to adjust the direction for the upcoming report based on insights gained from the initial project report. Note, we expect there to be relevant findings / research coming out of the current 2020 project work that will allow us to link the two pieces around specific megatrends.

Project Objectives and Deliverables

Identify issues and risks associated with the Future of Work and overall people risk with changing and virtual workforce. The following questions are to be covered:

  • Changing workforce (how and where do we work):
    • How to quantify the risks? What are the organizational challenges?
    • Baby Boomer retirees – How do companies plan for the shrinking workforce? Will automation and AI play a role in filling the gap?
    • Employee identification/attraction/development/retention – Skilled/developed talent versus new avenues of talent attraction? How to train-up undeveloped talent and maintain employee retention (remotely?)
    • Impact on employee experience and company culture. How do companies maintain strong culture across a virtual workforce?
  • Virtual workforce:
    • Employee engagement – How to embed company culture in virtual workforce and foster company loyalty?
    • Risk issues – Increased cyber exposure (e.g. ransomware, malware) from at-home workers?
    • Are there additional IP protection risks?
    • Projected outlook for virtual workforce returning to the office, post COVID-19. What are potential long-term risk issues [both organizational issues and/or individual / workforce issues] for many remaining at home?
    • Impact on employee experience and company culture. How do companies maintain strong culture across a virtual workforce?
  • The project will keep the following aspects in consideration:
    • How to capture necessary metrics to make decisions about the impact of work on employee health and wellbeing?
    • Impact analysis on operational complexity and vulnerability (one of the five megatrends identified and developed within previous studies) and link to changing workforce point above (how and where do we work). Changing workforce will impact organizational complexity and vulnerability, in the aspects of cyber culture, human resources, and supply chain lengthening / displacement.

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 relevant TMT centers of excellence.
  • Input may include secondary outreach to clients who participated in the TMT Futures Report research.

4) Creating sales strategy in a virtual world for a German-based multinational software company

Organizational Background

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

Project Summary

With over 100k employees globally, Company D is a market leader in enterprise software applications with a robust sales organization. Its technology enables customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and make a difference. This year, COVID-19 has drastically changed the way we work and has accelerated the need for upskilling and reskilling of many employees. In the past, its sales force has relied heavily on an annual (in-person) marquee event to showcase and sell its technology. But in a world where it can no longer depend on this large event, how can its sales organization continue to successfully engage, target, and sell to customers?

Additional questions to consider:

  • What does enterprise sales look like in a current and post-COVID-19 world?
  • What new skill sets does the sales force need in order to be successful?
  • What are examples of other organizations that have successfully switched to virtual events? What were their end results?


Structure an action/recommendation that can be reviewed with Company D’s President of North America.

5) Identifying emerging technologies and implementable use cases for a global digital infrastructure services provider

Organizational Background

Company E 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

The focus of the project shall be on competitive benchmarking and insights covering the following aspects:

  • Scanning emerging and disruptive technologies; assessing the risk and the opportunity with a focus on information, communications, computing, and deep tech; and provide recommendations on technologies with potential that Company E should focus on.
  • Deep dive on key business drivers and metrics that enable Company E’s positioning in the market as a digital ecosystem enabler (with adaptations).

The student 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 think tanks, analysts, consultants, etc.
  • Secondary research on comparable companies
  • Primary research with industry experts and analysts
  • Understanding Company E’s portfolio and its innovation priorities through interactions with its key executives

The Chief Strategy Officer will brief the student team during the scoping meeting, and the team will work closely with the Corporate Innovation and Corporate Development teams at Company E.


  • A list of key emerging technologies like LEO/satellite that are likely to disrupt the future of the industry that Company E plays in and those that leading global enterprises are looking to deploy to drive innovation in business models, products, and offerings, operations, and customer experience.
  • A list of potential and relevant use cases with monetization potential related to each emerging technology identified above that Company E should be considering. The use case evaluation should ideally include value add, economics, and a business case.
  • Identify and benchmark key business metrics that align with Company’s E market positioning as a digital ecosystem enabler, including the ones related to measuring the firm’s focus on and impact of such emerging technologies.

6) Improving market share of a global bank’s trade finance portfolio in the U.S.

Organizational Background

Company F has a dedicated five-member team, taking care of trade finance portfolio/activities, with some officials having an experience of more than 20 years in international trade. There are three associates and one supervisor in the trade department. They report to Manager (Trade). Trade department is headed by Vice President (Trade) who in turns report to CEO.

Project Summary and Deliverables

Company F has been in the U.S. since 1981 and has a sizable balance sheet but is a limited player due to licensing restrictions. It has no retail business but has license only for commercial credit and trade finance. For this project, the management wants to focus on its trade finance portfolio.

Company F now wants to expand its trade finance portfolio in the U.S. It has a few initiatives in place, but it is seeking a student team to help its management understand the influencing factors for demand and supply of trade finance in the U.S. and provide actionable recommendations for increasing its market share. It would like to have the following questions answered:

  • What are the market factors that are affecting the demand for trade finance today? For instance, how is emergence of technology giants with financial and infrastructural capabilities influencing the traditional banks? What market trends are influencing this business?
  • Who are the strong players in this market in the U.S. and what are the key pull factors that they are leveraging to cater to the demand?
  • Which specific demand segments are attractive and growing? What factors bring value to these segments and what are their expectations? What opportunities exist in these segments that Company F should focus on?
  • Provide actionable strategic and operational recommendations for Company F to improve its visibility among the target customer segment and capture a better market share. If possible, provide recommendations on possible partnerships for facilitation of this business and internal capabilities that Company F should improve on.

7) Creating a marketing strategy for a multinational telecommunications firm

Organizational Background

Company G 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 G has two business units:

  • Business (B2B): Mobile solutions (roaming, data, caller 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, cybersecurity, GPS, marketing communication by SMS, point of sale to charge with credit and debit cards (POS), security by surveillance and walkie-talkie two-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 company has a strong brand in Latin American countries but also has clients outside the company’s main coverage, such as Mexico and U.S. It needs to overcome the challenge of distance to promote its brand and public image, as well as to communicate with strategic contacts within the clients’ organizations. For this reason, it wants to create a marketing strategy to gain more visibility among its clients in these countries and be able to communicate more effectively. The target audience will be carriers in the B2B segment.


  • Define a marketing and communication strategy that allows the company to promote solutions without overwhelming the clientele.
    • Define a strategy to overcome the communication barriers with some clients and get to meet more strategic contacts within their companies.
    • Review and provide feedback on current marketing content; suggest revisions as necessary to ensure the right message reaches the target audience.
    • Create a marketing approach and strategy for clients and final customers that considers digital media and relational marketing. Recommend most efficacious media to communicate with the target clientele.

CIP Application Form

The Spring 2021 application process is now closed. Please check back in the summer for Fall 2021 projects.