Business Solutions Center

The Buzz: Client

Michael SherzanMichael Sherzan
Broker Dealer Financial Services Corp.
EMBA '99

"The work product created by the MBA students was of the same quality as industry-generated reports we receive from specialty research firms in our business. Because the entire experience was extremely positive for our institution, and because of our experience, we will certainly consider the utilization of this unique program again."

The Impact Zone

Past Projects

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.

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.

CompleWare Corporation — Successful Software Product Launch
CompleWare consulting project 2010 A CompleWare executive discusses project specifics with his Tippie MBA consulting team

Overview: CompleWare Corporation is a technology leader in software for the pharmaceutical industry, specializing in products designed to expedite and manage complex clinical trials. The company’s newly developed all-inclusive software suite simultaneously collects data from multiple sites worldwide in multiple languages while providing the clinical sponsors real-time results. CompleWare enlisted a team of Tippie MBAs to create a market launch strategy for its highly competitive market.

CompleWare project

Scope of Work: The team completed an environmental scan of market forces and the development of marketing goals, strategies, and tactics. The strategy was developed with consideration of CompleWare’s highly competitive market filled with several well-established market leaders.

Outcome: The team developed a marketing plan that analyzed software business models and recommended effective and low-cost means that CompleWare could use to gain market presence. Several new market segments and partners were identified, providing the company with immediate opportunities to gain a return on their investment.

Eaton Hydraulic Supply Chain — Profitability Improvement Analysis
Project 1 - Analysis based on commodity spending
Eaton Corp consulting project, Spring 2010 A Tippie MBA consulting group works with Eaton Corporation defines the project scope at the kick-off luncheon.

Overview: Eaton Corporation, a diversified power management company with annual sales over $11 billion, sought to streamline their purchases of hydraulic commodities in order to take advantage of economies of scale. A large part of this streamlining meant reorganizing the codes that Eaton used to classify each commodity. The team was charged with improving the company’s method of tracking inventory to help Eaton make purchasing decisions to boost profitability.

Scope of work: The team of students worked closely with commodity buyers, IT, management, and hydraulics staff to analyze and revise existing commodity codes. The analysis included all 11 North American plants, with the list revised to include current and most relevant purchases.

Eaton logo

Outcome: The team’s new list of commodity codes was expansive, yet it simplified the tracking process, helping Eaton make more informed purchasing decisions. The company’s database was quickly updated and the client saw results immediately. Eaton plans to extend the analysis the Tippie MBA team completed for the 11 North America plants to their plants around the world.

Don Hummer Trucking — Strategic Financial Analysis of Operations
Don Hummer Trucking Consulting Project

Overview: Don Hummer Trucking is an Iowa-based provider of nationwide dry van and temperature-controlled freight service. Though Hummer enjoyed rapid growth, they lacked the in-house capacity to rigorously analyze profit margins. A team of Tippie MBAs were charged with identifying which trips were most profitable, so Hummer could focus resources on the trips that contributed most to the bottom line.

Scope of Work: The team gathered data on historical trips and converted it to an analyzable format. In-depth analysis revealed the most profitable trips based on origin, destination, length of haul, time/date of departure and arrival, solo or team drivers, and type of freight (refrigerated versus non-refrigerated).

Outcome: The Tippie team’s final deliverable, a Trip Optimizer tool, was an easy-to-use resource that allowed Hummer’s sales team to choose the most profitable trips by simply plugging in the trip location. The tool displayed profitability trends and breakeven revenue per mile for each product on every outgoing and return route. Because the tool was designed for ease of use, little if any training was necessary, and the Tippie team’s results began making an impact on Hummer’s bottom line immediately.

University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics (UIHC) — Market Expansion Analysis
UIHC Team meets with Cindy Geyer, client sponsor, to discuss project details. UIHC Team meets with Cindy Geyer, client sponsor, to discuss project details.

Overview: UIHC is the largest medical provider in the state of Iowa. Its Credentialing Services Office (CSO) managed the verification process of physicians and other providers to practice medicine within the hospital. The CSO had limited experience working with external clients, and wanted to explore potential opportunities to expand their services to the market at large.

Team Leader, Katie Lyon and UIHC Client Sponsors discuss project details. Team Leader, Katie Lyon and UIHC Client Sponsors discuss project details.

Scope of Work: The Tippie team developed a road map to demonstrate how the department could increase profitability through market expansion, analyzing market potential, efficiency, and work flow. The team developed a sales/marketing plan which would allow the CSO to accomplish the growth.

Outcome: A thorough market analysis, including market penetration strategy, was developed for UIHC’s CSO. An internal workflow analysis was completed that identified short and long-term implementation plans to improve the CSO processes, reduce costs, and increase profitability.

Eaton Hydraulic Supply Chain — Profitability Improvement Analysis
Project 2 - Analysis of sales discounts across market segments
Eaton Corp consulting project, Spring 2010

Overview: Eaton Corporation, a diversified power management company with annual sales over $11 billion, sought to market their products and services most effectively. To do this, Eaton needed to understand purchasing patterns across products, customers, and market segments. By analyzing their sales transaction data, the Tippie MBA team was charged with identifying these patterns and help Eaton to make the most of their marketing dollars and sales force’s time.

Scope of work: The team analyzed invoice transaction data by using various analytical techniques, such as regression and ANOVA analysis, to identify patterns, draw conclusions, and recommend changes to pricing strategies.

Eaton logo

Outcome: The team analyzed purchasing characteristics by customer and market segment and sales of top products, looking for patterns in buyer behavior. Using regression analysis based on historical data, the Tippie MBA team developed a tool to help make future pricing decisions.

CompleWare Corporation — Market Entrance Plan for Global Market Expansion
CompleWare consulting project 2010

Overview: CompleWare Corporation is a technology leader in software for the pharmaceutical industry, specializing in products designed to expedite and manage complex clinical trials. The company envisioned a launch of its proprietary clinical research software, into the global marketplace. A cross-functional (and purposely cross-cultural) team of Tippie MBAs designed an implementation plan for the launch.

Two CompleWare consulting teams are briefed at the project kick-off work session. Two CompleWare consulting teams are briefed at the project kick-off work session.

Scope of Work: The Tippie team gathered and analyzed data to provide a set of actionable recommendations and next steps for the expansion, addressing legal, financial, market, governmental, regulatory, and operational requirements. In addition to data analysis, the team conducted interviews of potential partners and investors.

Outcome: The result was a roadmap for global expansion: a comprehensive Market Entrance Plan encompassing costs, timelines, and a clear recommendation of legal structures, operational nature, and technological measures to ensure CompleWare was in compliance with regulations.

Strategic Profitability Improvement — Marriott

Strategic Profitability Improvement — Marriott


To identify opportunities to improve utilization/profitability of hotel rooms, food service and conference facilities at the nearby Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, a team of students worked to determine how to better engage with University of Iowa students, staff, faculty, parents, and families. Students gathered and analyzed customer data and recommended a set of actionable recommendations and next steps.
MariottScope of Work: Development of a profit improvement strategy for a relatively new property. This property is located in an established university town, is very upscale, and has a very significant banquet/conference capacity.

Outcome: The team developed a market penetration strategy which addressed multiple market segments and associated product offerings. Very specific near-term action items were identified, providing management with actions and market contact information that provided immediate impact.

Segment Growth Analysis — AdTrack

Adtrack LogoAdTrack, a company which provides sales lead management and related services, enlisted a team of University of Iowa Tippie MBA students to review its business model and make recommendations for achieving profitable growth. After defining and assessing the size of each market segment, students identified go-to-market and pricing strategies for each. Students also identified potential new markets for the existing bundle of services.

Scope of Work: The company provides services in support of various segments of the customer relationship management function. They can provide marketing call center support, Internet-based lead response, material/brochure warehousing and distribution, and decision support/business intelligence analysis of lead activity. The business issue to be addressed was related to defining and prioritizing market expansion opportunities.

Outcome: The team identified characteristics of clients/markets in which the company has been successful in the past and identified industries, companies, and distributions channels which are high success probability opportunities. In addition, alternative business models were identified which more closely aligned company revenues with client value creation.

Schafer Systems Inc., Division of Owner Revolution

Store SettingClients at Schafer Systems Incorporated (SSI), the foremost supplier of plastic instant ticket dispensers and point-of-purchase displays, charged students with investigating new sales opportunities outside their core market, the worldwide lottery industry. Students analyzed SSI competencies for ideas to drive new product development. The team identified “outside the lottery box” opportunities and put together a proposal for a business plan and new product offerings.

Scope of Work: The company holds an 80% global market share in the point-of-sale product display cases they manufacture. The business issue is to identify additional market segments that the company is adequately skilled to enter with similar products.

Outcome: The team identified two specific markets which are candidates for products using the same or similar materials, manufacturing methods, and quality standards. Market size, characteristics, and penetration strategies were identified.
Broker Dealer Financial Services
Mike Sherzan Mike Sherzan of BDFS discusses his company's project with students.

Students working with Broker Dealer Financial Services (BDFS) analyzed selected Midwestern target companies overlooked by major Wall Street firms and their research analysts. The project deliverable was a collection of unbiased investment research reports, called the Booneville Road Reports. The reports will be distributed nationally to the public and the Wall Street community. During the project, students gained practical experience meeting with senior management, collecting data, analyzing financial and non-financial public information, and preparing a professional research report reflecting a variety of public firms.

Scope of Work: The team was asked to develop and apply a methodology for evaluating the investment worthiness of Iowa-based publicly traded companies for the purpose of potentially developing an “Iowa Fund” consisting of investments in firms headquartered in or around Iowa.

Broker Dealer Financial Services Corp.Outcome: The team applied an approach/methodology intended for small- to mid-sized companies to two Iowa-based firms. This approach included meeting with the CFO of each client to obtain the perspective of the management team. This approach can now be replicated in the future.