Gies College of Business | Groups

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Case studies

Housed in the College of Business at the University of Illinois, IBC provides students with real-world project opportunities while helping clients solve challenges and identify opportunities. IBC conducts more than 70 projects every year with Fortune 100, mid-sized and startup companies and nonprofit organizations.
 


 


Allstate

The Allstate Corporation, a Fortune 100 company, is the largest publicly held personal lines property and casualty insurer in America, providing customers with auto and homeowners insurance.

The Problem

Allstate came to IBC for help creating a game for an employee training program that would increase engagement and improve employees’ abilities to provide relevant and effective services to each customer.

The Solution

The IBC team began this project with by focusing on the user experience people encounter when gaming, and how games could potentially be used as a learning technique. The team also uncovered the motivation people experience during a game and the range of characteristics for the various types of games on the market. With this research and input from Allstate, IBC created three different games to meet the needs of the Allstate training program. Since this project, Allstate has hired three IBC students in both full-time and intern positions. Amy Floyd, Director of Direct Sale Education at Allstate, said the following about working with IBC, "I was so impressed with the quality of the material that came out of the IBC consulting group I would have likened it to any outside sourcing professional training organization that I might have used in the past. The quality was equivalent, certainly the depth of understanding of what I was trying to get was equivalent, if not better. But the best thing about this was I was working with a group of students that had so much enthusiasm that couldn't be paid for in any engagement."


City of Champaign

An independent committee, commissioned by the City of Champaign, was formed specifically to address bringing a Minor League Baseball team to Champaign, IL.

The Problem

The committee formed for this project asked IBC to investigate the parameters of investing $10-30 million in building an athletic facility that would act as the home for a Minor League Baseball team. Due the variation of the investment, the IBC team would determine what type/size of facility should be built in order to be financially successful for a long period of time.

The Solution

The IBC team utilized data and case studies on 35 comparable stadiums in order to learn how current stadiums and teams become, and remain, successful. Based on the research, the team identified factors that affect attendance, the efforts required in creating a positive fan experience and how to make a stadium and baseball team financially sustainable. The team also created multiple scenario-based financial models to help their client make projects on sales and profit. Ultimately, the IBC team made the recommendation that the City should bring a minor league team to Champaign. Since the IBC’s final deliverable, approximately 2 dozen city leaders have made the decision continue to explore the option of potentially acquiring a facility. Tony Johnson, Chairperson of the Committee, said the following about working with IBC, "I was thoroughly impressed; I thought they did a fantastic job. I thought the group was not only energetic, but beyond that, the presentation was done extremely professionally and done exactly the way and within the scope that was necessary and asked for. They answered the question directly and fully, and all information given was valuable and pertinent. I presented the project to both the City and to a potential owner of the team and I also got the same response. I couldn't score them less than 5 stars."


Cozad Asset Management, Inc.

Founded in 1972 and based in Champaign, Illinois, Cozad Asset Management is a client-driven company that manages over $760 million in investments through a range of services including their unique International Equity Income portfolio.

The Problem

Cozad brought in IBC to help collect a vast amount of business intelligence and trending data that focused on economies worldwide for their International Stock Portfolio. For the last six years, Cozad has used IBC to do macroeconomic research for multiple foreign countries, and to ultimately determine strategies on which economies will provide a return on investment.

The Solution

IBC performed a top-down analysis of the macroeconomic conditions in various countries to identify the most promising countries and sectors for investment. The IBC team compiled research on expected gross domestic product, and inflationary and political risks while analyzing a few specific public companies from each region. Cozad is very pleased with the system that has evolved with IBC over the last six years. J. Bryant Evans of Cozad said the following about IBC, "We realized that IBC was a natural fit for the International Equity Income portfolio because of the opportunity to bring in students from around the world. IBC seemed like a good place to start and the students under the guidance of great professors met the challenge. We re-engage with IBC about once a year and plan to do so in the future."


Delphi Technology

Delphi is a leading global supplier of electronics and technologies for automotive, commercial vehicle and other market segments. Delphi delivers real-world innovations that make products smarter and safer, as well and more powerful and efficient.

The Problem

Delphi came to IBC with a promising new technology in North America and Europe, but needed help in determining the best application methods and target segments the new technology would appeal to.

The Solution

The IBC team utilized multiple models, including the Bass Diffusion Model, in order to forecast user adoption and growth for the new technology. Multiple WACC and cash flows were estimated for the new technology launch in both North America and Europe. These services provided by the IBC team guaranteed that Delphi had the intelligence required to launch their new technology and allowed them to define a starting point to market their product.


Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin is a Fortune 500 company specializing in global security and aerospace. Headquartered in Maryland, they are the largest provider of IT services, systems integration and training to the U.S. government, working mainly with the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. federal government agencies.

The Problem

As the frequency of space launches began to decline, Lockheed Martin asked the IBC team to determine how the company might position itself moving forward. The positioning analysis considered multiple variables regarding the future of the space launch industry and would provide the IBC team the intelligence necessary to suggest the strategies Lockheed Martin would need moving forward.

The Solution

The IBC team began their research with Michael Porter’s Five Forces Analysis, which provided an overview of competitive forces, firms offering substitute products, barriers to enter the industry, and the bargaining power and leverage exercisable by suppliers of inputs as well as buyers of the product. IBC also investigated government and political factors, and took into consideration how financial and market related contingencies would affect Lockheed Martin’s success. Based on this research, IBC determined the opportunities and strategies that Lockheed Martin should give substantial consideration to for the overall success of launch vehicle programs. IBC also provided Lockheed with recommendations to lower their costs and recommended that they consider forming a joint venture with a major competitor.


Hammer Haley

Founded in 2001, Hammer Haley pioneered the ‘Candidate Elite’ segment of retained executive search. The ‘Candidate Elite’ community is comprised of individuals who combine first-rank academic credentials and world-class employment pedigrees. The firm is a boutique market leader for senior-to-middle management client assignments focused on corporate strategy and corporate development roles.

The Problem

Hammer Haley came to IBC to conduct research in the Fortune 1000 market to determine whether diversity in hiring is important to employers for corporate-level strategy positions.

The Solution

IBC performed an assessment on the corporate market, and based on their findings, IBC recommended that Hammer Haley formalize a diversity and inclusion practice that emphasizes the innovation gained from including diversity in the hiring process. Since the IBC project, Hammer Haley has acted on IBC’s recommendations, and has formalized a diversity and inclusion business practice with a focus on recruiting. Mike Gozon, Co-Founder of Hammer Haley, said the following about IBC: “As a group and individually, they were terrific to work with. They had the right level of energy and were smart. They were willing to take risks. They came to the table with ideas in terms of where to take the study, so they were proactive in that way. I really feel like they gave it a best effort. Would I work with that group again? Absolutely. I hope one day they are some of our candidates.”


Dow AgroSciences

Dow AgroSciences is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company and focuses on researching technologies to make agriculture grow faster and efficiently, increase quality, and overall achieve greater feasibility.

The Problem

Dow AgroSciences wanted to expand one of its brands, Advanced AgriTraits (AAT), in the marketplace. Dow brought in IBC to assess the position of AAT in the agbiotech industry, analyze its competitors’ cost structure, and determine whether seed retailers would be interested in buying the brand.

The Solution

IBC built a financial model mimicking Dow's competitors cost structure in order to estimate possible opportunities such as: pricing, timing, and market shares. This model helped to determine which factors were most important to the success of Dow’s competitors and how AAT could implement those factors into their business model. The IBC team also conducted a phone survey of thirty-two companies in the market and then performed a multi-objective value analysis of the data. With this information, IBC was able to provide Dow with a list of companies for AAT to target as potential customers. Eric Schlorff, Global Market Intelligence Leader at Dow AgroSciences and former IBC student, said the following about his work with IBC: “All IBC projects are meaningful and real, and the projects with Dow have been no different. Working with IBC has helped Dow to shape business strategy and future decisions. It’s also a great recruiting tool; it’s not uncommon for us to make employment offers after IBC presentations.”


Flexco

Founded in 1907 and headquartered in Downers Grove, Illinois, Flexco is a privately held, manufacturing company striving to make belt conveyers more productive through superior products and sound advice.

The Problem

Flexco came to IBC for aid in determining which country in South America would be best to initiate Belt Conveyer Products (BCP) manufacturing/warehousing operations. Due to each country in South America providing a unique advantage and the cost of capital investment that Flexco was preparing to spend, the project would be vital to their expansion effort.

The Solution

The IBC team researched and analyzed the political, economic, social, technological, and environmental factors in several South American countries. Based on this research, IBC determined that Chile, Brazil and Peru were the frontrunners for the manufacturing location. Chile being ranked number one for the West Coast, while Brazil ranked number one for the East Coast. IBC’s final recommendation was for Flexco to consider Brazil’s Triangle Region and Northern Chile as investment locations for manufacturing operation.