Business Solutions Center

The Buzz: Client

Tom Perski, M.A. Senior Vice  President/Rehabilitation Services Tom Perski, M.A.

Senior Vice President/ Rehabilitation Services
Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind & Visually Impaired

"The team surpassed all our expectations—they went over and above what we thought they were going to do. It was a perfect mix and balance of students, because we had so many different areas to cover, such as technology, marketing, sales, and finance. That was terrific."

The Impact Zone

Project Portfolio

No two projects have been the same, but all projects are highly analytical and can be done remotely. The project scopes range widely and are across a number of industries. Some past project scope examples include strategic, financial, market, and profitability analysis, and ideation. View the tabs below to see a sample of past projects!

Best Buy — Alternative Business Model Project

Best Buy consulting project 2010

Since 1966, Best Buy's business model has been based on velocity, selling boxes and then attaching "value-adds" to the purchase. These items typically had a higher price tag but lower margins, while the add-ons were the real source of margin. With an eye toward the future, Best Buy tasked a team of Tippie students with identifying alternative business models and determining how Best Buy might take advantage of those opportunities.

Scope: The consumer electronics industry changes more with each day, with competition both on the ground and on the web becoming stronger than ever. An evolving business model is the key to staying competitive. The Tippie team set to work brainstorming and analyzing possible alternative business models for Best Buy.

Best Buy

Outcome: The team brainstormed a number of business model alternatives. After receiving feedback from Best Buy business partners, the team narrowed its focus to 10 ideas and performed high level research of several population segments. The data allowed the ideas to be further focused to just two, which the team pursued with detailed analysis. Findings were presented to Best Buy management at corporate headquarters in Minneapolis for further research and potential implementation.

Starcom: Becoming Millennial-Ready

Starcom consulting project.

Starcom is “the Human Experience Company,” the leading media agency helping companies seamlessly market their brands across various media channels. While media agencies traditionally buy and optimize media placement for their clients, Starcom doesn’t simply buy placements - they specialize in understanding the human experience and use that knowledge to create brand and product experiences that people value. A famous example of this is the Starcom-penned and planned celebrity-studded Oscar “selfie” that Ellen DeGeneres took with a Samsung Galaxy at the 2014 Academy Awards.

Scope of Work: The Millennial generation (born 1980-2003) is a generation shaping our workforce; it is projected that by the year 2020, Millennials will represent nearly half of all U.S. workers. While there is much research, information, and data available that describes the Millennial generation, we still have a long way to go to really grasp who they are, how they want to live their lives, and what this all means for employers. The focus of this project was to help Starcom become a "Millennial Ready" organization.

Outcome: A full Tippie team of Millennials (including a few Gen X/Gen Y ‘cuspers’) with diverse backgrounds in education, history, management consulting, architecture, engineering, and graphic design, excelled in delivering a strategic framework and aligned recommendations for attracting, engaging, and retaining Millennial workers. The team performed primary research onsite with the client, uncovered key insights in their secondary research, and collaborated from start to finish. In the end, they delivered very meaningful and impactful work that Starcom can put to use immediately.

ACT: Customer Experience Strategy

ACT consulting project

Overview: ACT is an education and workforce-development non-profit looking to align their Customer Experience strategy with the overall corporate strategy.

Scope of Work:The scope of this project was to better understand what other companies have done to develop, implement, and measure their Customer Experience initiatives, and provide insight and analysis on how ACT can transition smoothly into a customer-centric business.

Outcome: The first step was to research the “what”, and the “how” of customer experience in other industries and companies. Over seven weeks, the team gained insights into fields as diverse as healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and financial services. After helping to determine a path forward for ACT in conjunction with insights from other ACT work streams, the team then launched into a current-state analysis through interviews with key internal stakeholders.

This internal analysis, seen through the lens of customer experience expertise gained in the first phase of the project, allowed the team to provide a general Point A to Point B strategy for ACT, which also included tools to measure alignment, like a functional ROI modeling spreadsheet and visuals to aid with the education of employees. Ultimately, ACT is now better-equipped to enter the customer-focused landscape and boost their social and financial bottom line.

ICAD: FEC Market Opportunity Research

ICAD consulting project

Overview: The Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD) and The Iowa Valley Resource Conservation and Development (IVRCD), two of the leading development groups in the area, asked for help from Tippie to assess the need and scope of a developing a Food Enterprise Center (FEC) or a Food Hub.

Scope of Work: The team was asked to research and analyze the differences between an FEC and a Food Hub, assess the need for an FEC or Food Hub by local food entrepreneurs and farmers in a two-county area, and to understand the services expected from each. The team conducted interviews with key stakeholders and conducted a survey of over 200 people of interest to determine the demand for an FEC in the area as well as the challenges and best practices for establishing one.

Outcome:The team first analyzed secondary research to better understand the “local-food” industry in general, FECs, and Food Hubs, and to estimate the area’s “local-food” opportunity/market size. Primary research kicked off with the team conducting interviews with the target market (farmers and food entrepreneurs), followed by design and execution of an online survey to better understand specific needs and service offerings around both FECs and Food Hubs. Findings and recommendations were presented to the project sponsors to assist with their decision making, business planning and potential construction plans for a Food Enterprise Center.

Allsteel: Win-Rate Analysis


Allsteel is a contract furniture manufacturer located in Muscatine, IA, and is a part of HNI Corporation. Allsteel receives business from customers through a distribution network of dealers across the nation and directly to the manufacturer through an internal sales and bid process.

Scope of Work: The scope of this project was to better understand what’s behind internal sales wins, and what drives profitability levels from the in-house bid process? In particular, Allsteel wanted to better understand the relationship of certain variables -- like product, discount, region, and customer segments -- and their impact on win rates and profitability.

Outcome: The team followed a circular approach of using Data Analysis and Interview/Process Mapping to find new insights from Allsteel’s existing bid process. The team interviewed bid analysts, product managers, members of the sales team, and dealers to understand and map the entire sales process, including the bid portion.

Insights from initial data analysis were used to frame the interview questions, and insights from the interviews were used in conjunction with deeper win rate analysis to identify new trends and significant relationships among the variables. This circular approach resulted in a deliverable of which products win/lose more (and in what areas of the country), which dealers tend to out-win others, the win rates of various regions, the impact of certain discount levels on win rate, and other discussion-provoking outcomes – undoubtedly valuable information that will drive decision-making at Allsteel in the future.

TIAA-CREF: The Millennial Mindset

TIAA-CREF Consulting Project

Overview: TIAA-CREF is a Fortune 100 financial services provider based in New York, NY, providing financial advisory services to niche participants in the academic, research, medical, and cultural fields.

Scope of Work: It’s a tall order: how does a company impress upon young adults just how important it is to save for retirement? This team’s mission was to better understand the mindset of the Millennial generation, and specifically, their attitudes towards annuities as retirement saving vehicles. The combination of Baby Boomers withdrawing their savings as they retire and Millennials becoming increasingly wealthy as they age is causing financial services companies to think creatively about how best to reach this age-based customer segment with messages about saving for the future.

Outcome: This Tippie MBA team collected secondary data to first understand how Millennials think about saving, and how they spend their hard-earned dollars. Secondary research included insights into buying behaviors, media consumption habits, and communication preferences. A survey designed and executed by the team captured attitudes towards saving for retirement and whether or not annuities are appealing.

Insights from the survey guided question development for focus groups where the team worked to further understand how Millennials prefer to interact and communicate with financial services companies. The research and insights resulted in identification of ways TIAA-CREF could better appeal to Millennial customers, communicate and interact with Millennials on their terms, and ultimately earn Millennials’ trust as a financial services provider.

Rockwell Collins — Strategic analysis on implications (regulatory, technical, economic) of the convergence of manned and unmanned flight in common airspace

Rockwell Consulting Project, Spring 2010

Overview: Will your next flight be in a plane with no pilot? Rockwell Collins, a $4.47 billion company, is a world-leading provider of aviation electronics and airborne and mobile communications products and systems for both the commercial and military markets. Innovation is at the forefront of their business and Tippie MBA’s were tasked with researching and developing a strategic analysis on the convergence of manned and unmanned aircraft.

Scope of Work: The team completed a thorough analysis of the unmanned aircraft market including economic feasibility, relative timeline to market, conversion technology, funding sources and awards, training, and application in military, cargo, and commercial markets.

Unmanned Aircraft

Outcome: The final deliverable included various conclusions and recommendations for the military, cargo, and commercial markets. Various opportunities and obstacles were identified for Rockwell to be aware of or pursue. In addition, the team provided a review of the various training programs and funding sources currently available and made recommendations on how these sources will lead future opportunities.