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.

Investment Choice Education Analysis — TIAA-CREF and The University of Iowa

Full-time  MBA students present their findings to representatives of TIAA-CREF via  teleconference. Pictured are MBA students Abbie Dombrock, Christine  Eichinger, Malini Ratan, and Chuck Mersch with TIAA-CREF employee Brock  Noel.

Full-time MBA students present their findings to representatives of TIAA-CREF via teleconference. Pictured are MBA students Abbie Dombrock, Christine Eichinger, Malini Ratan, and Chuck Mersch with TIAA-CREF employee Brock Noel.

To determine the cause of below-average participation by University of Iowa employees in a supplemental retirement plan, team members analyzed the profiles of plan participants and non-participants. They also conducted one-on-one interviews and administered a large-scale survey. Armed with this analysis, the team made recommendations for participation rate improvement.

Scope of Work: The University of Iowa is a major client of this firm and has a lower participation rate in the Supplemental (versus mandatory) Retirement Plan (SRP) than other universities of like size and location. The team performed a demographic analysis of University of Iowa participants/non-participants in the SRP as well as a University-wide survey to gather insight on the reasons employees participate or do not participate.

Financial Services For the Greater Good ImageOutcome: This insight provided management with the data to focus/revise marketing strategies to increase participation in the SRP. In addition, data was gathered which provided input on communication vehicles to employees, plan name options, and characteristics of high likelihood plan participants.

The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired — Strategy Development & Implementation Planning

Chicago Lighthouse consulting project 2010

Overview: The Chicago Lighthouse is a not-for-profit organization pioneering programs and opportunities for the blind and visually impaired for over 100 years. This project addressed the fact that unemployment affects over 70% of blind adults, and their struggle to navigate their own communities is a primary cause. A team of Tippie MBAs spearheaded a project to provide assistive GPS-enabled cell phones to blind children throughout Illinois. These units would enable freedom, independence, and self-reliance in these children from an early age, ensuring a brighter future.

Scope of Work: The team started by analyzing the demographics of Illinois’ blind and visually impaired community. GPS-enabled cell phones already on the market were assessed and potential units selected, including a cost analysis for each device. A funding strategy for the project was researched and the first steps taken, including Requests for Proposal to government, corporate, foundation, and in-kind donors.

Chicago Lighthouse employee (green apron) helps a blind woman (right) to make tortilla soup at the Chicago LIghthouse for the Blind & Visually Impaired

Outcome: The cross-functional team assembled for this project was vital to its successful result. Team members versed in non-profit management presented the plan to government leaders and potential donors while team members with technology know-how dug into the software capabilities of mobile devices.

The team’s final deliverable, which was translated into Braille for the management team presentation, included recommendations on devices that would meet the project’s goals and a vetted list of high-potential funding sources. The team developed a communication and training strategy for project rollout and detailed the needs around the care and training of blind children that would use the GPS-enabled devices. Finally, they provided a list of next steps for maximum “plug and play” capability.

AEGON/Transamerica Capital Management — Marketing Analysis for Direct Marketing Campaign

Aegon/Transamerica consulting project 2010

Overview: Transamerica Capital Management (TCM), a member of the AEGON Group, offers innovative financial services and products with the goal of helping their customers build and protect their assets. Transamerica worked with a team of Tippie MBAs to identify potential markets and tactics to sell financial products directly to consumers.

Scope of Work: The team analyzed potential competitors thoroughly, researched relevant industry advertising strategies, identified and evaluated opportunities to market directly to consumers, and developed a “go-to-market” strategy. This strategy included a market analysis, market segmentation, risk assessment, financial forecasting, and media strategy and costs.

Outcome: The Tippie team recommended several tactics to target the consumer directly, including a group of marketing initiatives which top executives found valuable across multiple divisions of TCM.

Market Opportunity Assessment — Zurich North America

Zurich Job Logo

Zurich has incorporated a process referred to as Market Opportunity Assessment (MOA) as a means to evaluate current and potential markets and market segments (“market baskets”). Students conducted an analysis of the MOA with the intent of providing recommendations for improvement and refinement. The team also determined which of existing potential market baskets would benefit most from the MOA process.

Scope of Work: In support of corporate growth objectives, the company has developed a “Market Opportunity Assessment (MOA)” process for evaluating the business potential for new markets/products and services. The team was charged with applying the MOA process to a specific market and subsequently evaluating the effectiveness of the MOA process.

Outcome: The team identified the characteristics and potential of a market for a specific insurance product. This provided the basis for the company to enter that market with a new product. In addition, the team suggested a number of process and culture improvements/changes related to the MOA process.

iPrism Global — Market Entry Strategy Analysis

iPrism Consulting Project, Spring 2010

Overview: A paperless, virtual work environment is a new way of doing business. iPrism Global provides an online virtual workplace that replicates the workflow, objects, and application in your physical workplace to reduce costs and increase productivity. This innovative technology provides single sign-on, integrated CRM data, unified communications, document management, online workflow toolkit, content creation & management, and integrated video conferencing. Tippie MBA’s were charged with researching and providing a go-to-market strategy for iPrism Global to market their innovative technology.

Scope of Work: Analysis was completed on the product, business model options, competitors, customers, and potential partners.

Outcome: The team provided executives at iPrism Global with a full marketing plan which included business model comparisons and recommendation, competitor analysis and solutions, market opportunities, and final recommendations.

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.