Now showing items 41-60 of 143

    • Exploring and mapping new channel and assortment potential with the objective to increase the availability and awareness in the sports bra market

      Catoor, Axelle; Rosseeuw, Laura; Van der Gucht, Laetitia (2018)
      Introduction - Van de Velde, founded in 1919, is a company specialized in lingerie and located in Schellebelle. Their brand portfolio contains Marie Jo, PrimaDonna and Andres Sarda. Thanks to the complementarity of these brands, Van de Velde is able to serve every kind of woman in the segment of luxury lingerie. Just like lingerie, the confidence of a woman can be stimulated by a solid workout. Therefore, Van de Velde introduced PrimaDonna Sports, which is a collection of trendy sports bras and matching sportswear. This collection stands for fashion, comfort and quality. Nevertheless the belief of Van de Velde in this new collection, the results were a little disappointing due to several issues. The main issues were threefold. Firstly, the sports collection is only sold in a limited amount of stores. Therefore, the challenge was to optimize the current sales channels of the PrimaDonna sports bra as well as to search for new channels. Secondly, the awareness of this sports bra is very low. Recommendations are given to improve this. Also, to assure future growth of the sports bra, possible suggestions for the assortment potential are given. The challenge concerns four different markets, namely Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom. The research question, based on the problem statement, is formulated as follows: “How to increase the availability and awareness of the PrimaDonna sports bra and optimize the assortment potential of it in four countries: Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom?“ Methodology - Beforehand, a literature study was conducted based on not only internal data of Van de Velde, but also external data in order to get a complete overview of Van de Velde and the sports bra market. To answer the research question, four research methods were used. First, primary qualitative research was executed to get insights into the market, the competition and the fit with the sports bra of PrimaDonna. This was done by organizing a field study in the four countries of our scope. Second, buyers from four stores were interviewed. Third, two focus groups were organized with at least six women per group. These different components of the qualitative research helped to get an overview of the a sports bra market. Besides the three described qualitative research components, primary quantitative research was used to translate our qualitative insights into quantitative results. This quantitative research consisted of a survey to go more in-depth into the channels used by (non-)consumers. This survey was send to the four countries and permitted us to get an idea of which kind of women purchase in which type of channel. Results and recommendations - Out of this research some interesting findings were analyzed and reformed into different recommendations to solve awareness as well as availability issues for the four countries. Firstly, when looking at the availability of PrimaDonna Sports, a difference needs to be made between the four countries, since each country has different habits and desires. Yet, there are some general conclusions for all countries together. These consist of specializing in sports bras only in order to assure a high level of quality and to create economies of scale, so that the price can be lowered. Based on the different analyses and the price level of the main competitors, this is required in order to be and stay competitive. Besides this, it needs to be emphasized that there are a lot of non-consumers who can be found in a lower premium and service level, which might not be aligned with the expectations of Van de Velde. When looking at the availability of the sports bras, it is recommended that the PrimaDonna sports bra is also sold in a sports/department store and via e-tailers, next to the already known offline lingerie stores, in order to reach all potential consumers. Secondly, to increase the awareness, recommendations were formulated. Infomercials (wherein information and active movements are combined), interesting marketing campaigns and the usage of digital media (e.g. videos of exercises and influencers) are recommended. Lastly, a mobile Lingerie Styling Center is suggested in order to fully make use of the 3D mirror and the service around it. This makes Van de Velde unique compared to their competitors. Via these recommendations and ideas, the intention is to improve the sales of the PrimaDonna sports bra as well as to enhance the image of PrimaDonna in general.
    • Empirical Validation of an innovation process to build a GDPR offer in Healthcare

      Depypere, Alexander; Suntay, Selin (2018)
      As a last milestone in the Master in General Management at the Vlerick Business School, the students get the opportunity to put their theoretical knowledge into practice by working on a real project within a company. The students are divided in groups of two or three and get guidance from a promotor at both the company and Vlerick side. This way a perfect learning environment is created. This project took place in the leading subsidiary cooperation of the ENGINEERING Group: ENGINEERING Ingegneria Informatica S.p.A. The ENGINEERING Group is a global player and the first group of system integration in Italy, a leader in integrated and complete offers along the entire software value chain: design, development, outsourcing services, proprietary vertical products and solutions, IT consulting and strategic, tailored to customer business models across all markets. In today's fast paced connected data-driven world, individuals and companies become increasingly aware of the importance of privacy and data security. A new standard is set by the European Parliament by introducing the General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679. This regulation came into effect on the 25th of May 2018 and companies should be compliant with its requirements and obligations. This worries companies because of many reasons, for one the fines in case of non-compliancy are big (4% of global turnover or 20 million dollars, whichever is highest) and the requirements are extensive and challenging. This research is done at Italian and Belgian hospitals. Since ENG is ICT leader in the Italian market (provides ERP solutions to 70% of Italian Health Care Operators) and had good connections within the Italian and Belgian hospital market, this was the ideal starting population. The healthcare sector is targeted because it is the most trusted sector by the consumer (KPMG International, 2016)1 and the most developed industry yet, meaning that if the offering is interesting for healthcare, it will be interesting for other industries too. This report provides an empirical validation of an Innovation Framework developed by Engineering Ingegneria Informatica SpA to build a GDPR offer in Healthcare. Methods of analysis include trend, qualitative and quantitative analyses and thorough legal and internal product analyses. In general, the Innovation Framework was well appreciated, especially its completeness by being iterative and dynamic. The GDPR offer, resulting from going through this process, has favorable outsights yet the market should be closely monitored. Recommendations discussed include: - The ideal GDPR offer as desired by the customer and where Engineering Ingegneria Informatica SpA could fit in; - Relevance of the innovation approach and useful add-ons and its scalability to other industries. The report also investigates the limitations occurred in the conducted analyses. Some of them include the budget and short time frame of this project. However, the most important is the lack of real time data available around the GDPR market. This is mainly due to the fact that GDPR compliancy became only recently legally binding.
    • Dynamic opportunity assessment as integrated approach towards energy management

      Smets, Michiel (2018)
      Over the last 20 years, energy management has gained importance in almost every company active in a competitive industry. This new focus is a result of the increasing commodity prices, changing regulation, influence of NGO's and public opinion. In addition, other departments (e.g. marketing, strategy, finance, …) have found their way into energy related topics as well. Today, this has made energy management complex as it requires a holistic approach. Cargill Herent is a malt production plant of the multinational company Cargill. Their energy demanding process requires both electricity and heat. Therefore, Cargill Herent has contractual agreements with energy suppliers and produces its own energy through CHP installations. Because energy has become such an important topic in business, Cargill has developed an energy strategy which is mainly focused on energy efficiency and cost reduction. However, to remain competitive in the future, management doubts whether energy efficiency should be the main focus. Therefore, a new approach towards energy strategy and management was researched based on the dynamic opportunity assessment. The dynamic opportunity assessment is a 5-step circular process which is used for strategy determination, execution and evaluation. First, an internal company and external market analysis on the energy level was conducted. This to obtain insights in the current energy management and how Cargill prepares itself for the future. The internal analysis contains a cost breakdown structure for the total energy supply chain based on quantitative data. The external analysis contains a qualitative description of the main trends in the energy market. Next, a SWOT analysis was performed to develop an energy strategy on the plant level: * Optimize the energy efficiency of production processes and energy related assets. *Evaluate existing practises, methodologies, suppliers,… related to energy on a regular basis. * Explore and evaluate upcoming trends within the energy market and leverage by strengths. *Dedicated team for energy management and follow up on the plant level is advised. In addition to strategy development, an integrated energy management tool which can be used for evaluating energy projects pre- and post-implementation was developed. This tool refers to supply chain management, risk management, innovation management and financial management as core sub-topics of energy management. Fitting with the developed strategy, different investment projects were evaluated. Three projects were selected for further investigation and a business case analysis: Automated steering of the CHP based on recommendations from the cost breakdown analysis. * An integrated approach for emission- free heating, heat buffering and heat transfer between the different production lines of the plant. * A new revenue stream by partnering with an aggregator for grid stabilization. These 3 projects were evaluated based on financial investment KPI's (ROI, payback, NPV, IRR) and the energy management framework provided. The following investment advice was given: * Implement the automated steering program for the CHP installation. In addition, all repairs and investments needed to reach the theoretical optimum should be further investigated. This to leverage the current energy assets. *Further investigation on the initial investment cost for the heating, buffering and heat transfer system should be performed in addition with a technical study and feasibility analysis. This should give a more trustworthy analysis of the costs and narrows down the range of financial KPI's. Re-evaluation of the business case should be performed regularly. * Start a trail period with an aggregator and assess the impact on the production, especially heat production. This project is suggested to leverage new opportunities in the energy market. The supplied framework resulted in a solid and structured analysis of the energy strategy and energy management for Cargill Herent. The results are new insights for the energy strategy in which energy efficiency is still very important, but more long-term solutions are offered and external opportunities are leveraged. In addition, this new approach focusses on constant re-evaluation of the energy management which is necessary in a fast-changing energy market.
    • Development and integration of a business model and financial plan for an airport training-as-a-service provider

      Vanderstuyft, Gilles; Vergeylen, Daphne (2018)
      Brussels Airport House is a non-profit organization that is responsible for everything related to jobs and education at Brussels Airport. It was founded in December 2016, which means our in-company project took place at a relatively young start-up with a lot of growing potential. Its foundation is the result of a partnership between VDAB, Actiris, Brussels Airport Company, POM Vlaams-Brabant, Voka Vlaams-Brabant, BECI and SFTL. All these involved organizations are therefore the board members of the non-profit house, all having their own reasons to be part of this initiative. Since Brussels Airport is the second biggest economic job engine in Belgium, representing 20,000 direct and 40,000 indirect jobs, it can be advantageous to centralize HR functions such as education and job search. Brussels Airport House aspires to be active in five domains. Its first cornerstone is employment. There is a rise in job demand, so it wants to match vacancies and people as good as possible. Secondly there is education. Creating a close relationship with schools is important to arouse students for a career at the airport. The next cornerstone is training and learning. This is relevant to both job seekers and current airport employees. On the one hand, new employees that receive introductory training will have a better start at the airport in terms of their careers. On the other hand, current employees must have the opportunity to improve their skills continuously. Another cornerstone is communication. Marketing Brussels Airport and conveying a coherent message are part of Brussels Airport House's responsibilities. Finally, there is mobility. Improving transportation and connectivity to and from the airport is a project to which Brussels Airport House is entitled. These five activity cornerstones imply many different projects. Examples are Educavia, Activation Brussels Airport Community, Airport Academy, Brussels Airport House Digital Portal, and many more. The project we helped develop is the Airport Academy, which can be situated within the training and learning cornerstone. The as-is scenario when we arrived was surveys and interviews being taken within the airport community to better understand the needs in terms of training programs. No clear structure but a conceptual blue-print was yet in place. In a first phase, we decided to research Brussels Airport and both the airport and training industries to understand how similar activities were being organized elsewhere. Questions such as 'What do they offer?', 'How expensive are they?' and 'How is it organized?' were the red thread in our competitive investigation. By following this methodology, we quickly discovered that the Airport Academy would become a complex project: it didn't yet exist in the market, board member's interests were wide-ranging and influences from the Walloon, Flanders and Brussels regions added a political layer to this project. In other words, creating a structure that must satisfy different interests is much more difficult than just setting up a school providing training services. As a result, we considered three key deliverables that will be discussed in-depth in this report. The first deliverable is a clearly defined strategy, mission statement and vision for the Airport Academy. In this regard we determined how several business strategies should shape the entire academy and what messages should be conveyed to which target groups. In this regard, we have challenged the current conceptual blue-print and presented an alternative. Secondly, a business model containing different training programs was decided upon. This key-deliverable was future oriented since not all suggested training programs could be taught as from the first year of the Airport Academy's existence. The final deliverable is a - mostly cost-based - financial model, to prove the robustness and financial viability of the Airport Academy. Interviews with (industry) experts were an essential part to delivering all three deliverables. We have conducted interviews with experts in the business strategy domain, important stakeholders of the academy, and experienced employees of Brussels Airport Company. This allowed us to come up with a sustainable solution, integrating the best alternatives with the needs of the many stakeholders. Aligning expectations was an important element that needed to be taken into consideration in our proposed solution. In terms of strategy formulation, we propose a customer-based approach. Our first and foremost recommendation is to create business units based on who the customer is. These strategically similar business units, each operating on a stand-alone basis, should allow for synergy management at the corporate strategy level. Different types of customers are: schools and universities, job seekers, employers, executives and trainers. Our advice is to not start servicing all five different types of customers at the same time but instead gradually set up business unit by business unit only when each of these have attained a proven business model. Following a customer life time value approach, logically speaking the school programs and internships business unit should be organized first, followed by the job seeker training programs (B2C), employee training programs (B2B), executive training programs and ultimately train-the-trainer programs. Nevertheless, because of stakeholder influences both the job seeker training programs and employee training programs business units (i.e. the "core" of the academy) will be set-up in a first stage, gradually expanding over the years. Secondly, we have formulated both a strong mission statement and vision, which will allow the Airport Academy to convey its strategy and positioning to its employees, stakeholders and customers. Together with the management, we have furthermore translated the vision into specific strategic targets and KPIs. Thirdly, we came up with a business model. In the run up to devising a final list of training programs to both job seekers and current airport personnel, we conducted many interviews to better understand the necessary training programs at the airport. Many of these training programs are already organized internally by different companies, meaning unnecessary costs are being made. In this regard, the Airport Academy can take on two different roles. It can either be an organizer, offering a training program itself, or it can be a coordinator, meaning a company already internally organizing a training program, opens it up to other companies through an Airport Academy platform. In our proposed business model, we make a distinction between the different processes and functions at the airport. Categories among which training programs are subdivided are: aviation security, airport safety, niche markets, airside operations, passenger care, train-the-trainer and management. The latter two are rather suggestive to the future set-up of the train-the-trainer programs and executive training programs business units, the former imply concrete training programs to be offered mainly in the employee training programs business unit. Not unimportant is the role that the already established Air Cargo Academy will take on in the holistic model of the Airport Academy. In devising a financial model, we took the same structural approach as with the business model. Based on well-founded assumptions, we have created a cost and revenue overview for each of the separate business units and on a consolidated basis to prove the academy's financial feasibility and even profitability after some years. In this regard, the Airport Academy would already turn break-even during its second operational year. Net operating losses in the first year amount to € - 129k but grow to a comfortable net operating profit of € 528k after five years. The financial model is nevertheless a cost model rather than a revenue model and excludes internal flows (except for sale income and fee income paid by Air Cargo Academy as a compensation for the Airport Academy's overhead resources). The point of this is to leave the concrete implementation of the funding aspect to the management as it falls out of the scope of this project. Funding (in the form of capital, debt, subsidies and/or alternative sources of revenue) will have to be decided upon in a later stage in dialogue with all funding partners and profit contributors but the financial model nevertheless should give an idea of the funding needs over a five-year time period. We have determined that direct funding needs amount to € 600k, should capital expenditures not be spread over the years. In this case, the academy would be cash-flow positive in the subsequent years even in the worst-case scenario (meaning under the circumstances of a 20% growth rate in annual participants).
    • Development of an opex benchmark and monthly business reporting at a major FMCG company

      Adriaenssens, Frédéric; De Winne, Liesbeth (2018)
      Currently, Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) focuses on its operating expenses as each expenditure should be carried on to sustain/generate revenue. One of CCEP's five business units, the Northern Europe Business Unit (NEBU), consists of five different markets (i.e. BeLux, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Iceland) with different cost structures. OBJECTIVES: The objective of the project is twofold. The first part is the performance of a NEBU opex benchmark to create awareness on the shape of the overall P&L and opex drivers across NEBU. In addition, the project will enable CCEP to compare cost structures among NEBU and provide insights to unlock saving opportunities in the Annual Business Plan (ABP) of 2018 and onwards by leveraging best-in-class approaches, using CCEP its multi-territory Business Unit (BU) set-up. Recommendations will be made and next steps identified. The second part of the exercise is the development and validation of an opex standardized monthly reporting in a slide deck to support the local business and finance team by providing actionable insights to optimize opex. This will enable the company to have a standardized way of reporting on opex across the five NEBU markets. The report should be based on the earlier performed benchmark exercise and stakeholder discussions with the NEBU Finance Leadership. Finally, the opex benchmark and new reporting structure will be presented to the NEBU Finance Leadership team. BENCHMARK CONCLUSION: Our approach is to benchmark opex of the five NEBU markets (BeLux, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Iceland) over three years against each other and the market. Therefore, we familiarised ourselves with software used at CCEP such as BPC and Think Cell. We interviewed key stakeholders, identified focus points, researched academic approaches to manage opex and gained FMCG benchmarking insights for opex through a survey. In 2017, a similar opex benchmark is performed for NEBU, under guidance of Willem Hendrix, which we used as base. Data is gathered, consolidated and analysed. We made recommendations through key takeaways, identified next steps and provided an executive summary for NEBU and its individual markets. We installed a progress tracker to list all our actions and track their progress. This allowed us to report on common basis to the ICP supervisors on our actions and progress. We benchmarked the five NEBU markets against each other. All figures are based on the Annual Business Plan of 2018 and compared to the Pro Forma of 2017. All figures mentioned are P/L totals such as revenue, gross margin and operating profit. Net sales revenue excluding tax is the base of comparison. Specific financial key metrics are targeted such as revenue, full delivered margin and opex relative to business drivers such as unit cases, net sales revenue, full time equivalents and trade marketing expenses. Our biggest contribution to the benchmark study is the increased transparency in opex costs of the Cold Drink Operations department and Global Support Functions to align with and reflect organisational changes. The key takeaways from our benchmark exercise are eightfold. Firstly, NEBU realises moderate operating profit compared to CCEP. Secondly, significant differences exist in the operating profit margins across NEBU so we recommend to leverage the best-in-class performances of BeLux and the Netherlands. Thirdly, the focus should be on revenue excluding Eco & Excise taxes instead of volume as main opex matric to increase comparability. Fourthly, our benchmark demonstrates that opex can make the difference in profitability as NEBU markets have similar FDM (Full Delivered Margin) margins excluding taxes. As Norway and Iceland have the highest opex spend on revenue excluding taxes, both have big opportunities. Nevertheless Iceland should prioritise a COGS and FX focus before focusing too much on opex. Fifthly, BeLux realised the highest net sales revenue excluding taxes per euro invested in working opex for two consecutive years although the trend is decreasing. The same downward trend is visible for Norway and Sweden, and should be closely monitored it is key for investments in working opex to generate additional revenue. Sixthly, Sweden has the lowest Cold Drink Operations opex because of a different equipment strategy. It has a bigger proportion of coolers that have a lower cost of ownership than vendors and coffee. Seventhly, it is remarkable that the local controllable Global Support Function opex per FTE in BeLux is the most expensive for every GSF subdepartment. In addition, we recommend to introduce an allocation key for senior management independent of their home country. Also, the allocation key for central GSF should be reviewed. Finally, it is remarkable that the Netherlands need significantly more FTEs in Sales & Marketing Home and Cold to support Field Sales FTEs. As next steps, we recommend NEBU to implement Iceland in BPC to measure performance and leverage best-in-class approaches of other markets. Opex awareness should be increased through monthly opex reporting. CCEP needs a mentality switch in terms of budgeting by the introduction of zero-based budgeting to build the budget from scratch each year, instead of the current rule of thumb to add or subtract a percentage to the expenses from previous year. We also recommend to evolve to a cash view and introduce Earnings Before Interests, Taxes (and Depreciation & Amortisation) metrics. Finally, as a follow-up project, we suggest to look to the FTE structure in each country and compare which roles are not existing. This might reveal considerable saving opportunities. REPORTING CONCLUSION: Our approach is to hold stakeholder discussions and organise brainstorm sessions to agree on the reporting structure and which information to include. Data is gathered, variance waterfalls are created, metrics and FTEs calculated. The look-and-feel of the slide deck is extensively discussed to lower the threshold for key stakeholders without a finance background. As a result, our standardised reporting will enable opex controllers to quantify and qualify opex results, make the reader aware of what is going on, and allow a standardised way to talk to stakeholders. We developed an opex report for BeLux, as proof-of-concept, before rolling it out to the other NEBU markets. The result is presented to the Finance Leadership team, including all NEBU key stakeholders to discuss its potential roll-out. The slide deck consists of three sections. Firstly, we discuss the monthly opex evolution on NEBU level to indicate where BeLux is situated in terms of variances between the budget and the outlook. Secondly, we zoom in on BeLux opex and subsequently take a department view. A heatmap is created to give immediately point out overspend per department and cost category. The set-up of a responsibility matrix assures that VPs are held responsible for their opex category and informs stakeholders whom they need to address if more information is required. To simplify the monthly reporting, we spent effort to consolidate excel tabs and minimised the amount of cells to update. A handover manual is provided to the client. In addition, we built the bridge to CCEP's online reporting tool Tableau, through hyperlinks with pre-set department views, to educate stakeholders how to use the tool. As next steps, the BeLux opex reporting deck will be replicated for the next period (i.e. 5+7) and rolled out to the other NEBU markets. The opex controllers will get training how to update the monthly report. We recommend the creation of a monthly NEBU report that consolidates the opex reports of the five NEBU markets. Finally, pre-set links to the FTEs on Tableau per department can be still added.
    • Development of a pricing strategy and implementation plan for a developer, manufacturer and global supplier of medical and laboratory equipment in the Benelux region

      Steckler, Lars; Sidorov, Anton; Malik, Muhammad Arslan (2018)
      Sarstedt B.V. is a privately held Dutch company and part of the German based company Sarstedt. Sarstedt, one of the world's leading providers of laboratory and medical equipment, develops, manufactures and sells equipment and consumables in the field of medicine and science. Currently Sarstedt B.V. does not have a coherent pricing strategy resulting in a large number of different prices for the same products or customer types. To solve this issue, we developed a pricing strategy that takes the different characteristics of the product groups as well as the different characteristics of each customer group into account. As a cost base the strategy uses the manager process provided by the German headquarters and the cost of Sarstedt B.V. allocated based on the historic revenues of each product. The strategy is limited by the fact that manager prices were only provided for products that had been sold in the last 18 months. Furthermore, the manager prices are not an accurate representation of the cost base of each product. Lastly an allocation of costs based on working hours of the Account Managers would give more accurate results but given the time frame it was not possible to gather the accurate data needed for this. To implement our developed strategy, we have provided Sarstedt B.V. with a model that incorporates our findings and allows Account Managers to calculate a price range for each product and the management to adjust the mark-ups used in the model. We also recommend to first further test this strategy on old tenders and smaller clients before implementing it across all clients. To gather the data necessary in developing the pricing strategy we initially analysed all product groups (later also referred to as MPM groups) and customer groups as well as the competitors. As a result of this we discovered that many of the products offered by Sarstedt are so called commodity products and as such we have to provide a price for them that is at or below the market level. Of the few products that we classified as "product leadership" products we have analysed the S-Monovette, V-Monovette and Tissue Culture Flask in more detail. The competitor analysis showed that Sarstedt is slightly more expensive than the competitors but offers better quality products. Our customer analysis was used to develop reasonable mark-ups based on company type and region. Following our initial analysis, we developed interview questions to get further information from the Account Managers and customers of Sarstedt B.V.. These interviews mostly confirmed our initial theory that we won't be able to sell most products at a premium and that Sarstedt currently is more expensive than the market. While the better quality of Sarstedt is recognized by the customers the price remains the main deciding factor for most customer groups. Secondary factors for a buying decision also include innovation and customer relationship with Sarstedt being rated highly in both categories. Aside from higher prices Sarstedt also suffers from bad ratings in terms of Delivery. As Sarstedt B.V. however recently changed suppliers this will be mostly ignored as of now. The conducted interviews also build the base of our deeper look into the three products mentioned above. We analysed the S-Monovette, V-Monovette and Tissue Culture Flask based on the blue ocean theory with the result that only the S-Monovette can be considered a blue ocean product. We also concluded however that customer perception at the current time does not allow for the S-Monovette to be market as such a product in the Benelux region. Evidence from Germany (95% market share) however shows that our assessment of the product overall is correct. A Value curve analysis was used to follow up the blue ocean analysis to determine whether we could charge a higher price for each of those products. The results showed that for both the S-Monovette and the V-Monovette charging a higher price is possible because the innovation and quality of the products is so high that customers are willing to pay a price. For the Tissue Culture flask, the benefits are not high enough and customers are not willing to pay a higher price. While we think that our strategy provides Sarstedt B.V. with a fix to their current pricing problem we want to emphasize again on the limitations of the strategy due to lack of data. We would recommend to revise the strategy continuously as more data becomes available.
    • Development of a franchise business model and reporting tool for rural electrification in Sub-Saharan Africa using flexible mini-grids

      Smet, Anton; Smets, Ruben; Symon, Hadrien (2018)
      FlexGrid is a business concept invented by GreenVentures CleanTech BVBA and Flamengo Services that wishes to address United Nations' Social Development Goal 7 of bringing clean affordable energy to all by 2030 by offering a breakthrough approach for rural electrification. FlexGrid proposes a fully distributed and scalable architecture of a mini-grid, made possible through the use of Artificial Swarm-Intelligence as developed by PowerBlox AG. Related to scaling the business, the company sees itself faced with three problems: the need for a reporting tool in order to communicate their performance to shareholders, and the decision to either buy or build the tool; insights on the viability of a proposed franchising business model with which they can scale as quickly as possible; installing a pilot village as soon as possible in Burkina Faso and developing procedures to facilitate this process in possible future countries. The approach of a strategy map based on a strategy of collaborative growth results in a strategic KPIs that lead to a list of reporting and monitoring requirements. A mismatch of those requirements and the tools currently at hands for FlexGrid lead to the conclusion of buying the software tool provided by RafikiPower in the short-term and building the software in the long run because of the centrality of the software tool in the proposed business model. The viability of the franchising business model was checked using a financial plan. The input in this plan is based on content of a business model canvas, findings from market research on countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and an earlier made business model based on the Monte Carlo method for the company`s project in Mali. This results in the conclusion that franchising is feasible, based on the internal rates of return that are found for both the franchisor and the franchisee on a 10-year basis. The company's main objective is to prove its concept to all possible stakeholders by setting up pilot projects in rural communities. FlexGrid's main focus at this very moment is the pilot project of Namisigui, Burkina Faso. The process for getting approval for the pilot village in Burkina Faso included a multitude of meetings with authorities and its findings can be used to draw up a standard procedure for further expansion
    • Captivating the potential of additive manufacturing to improve spare parts management in steel intensive industries

      Mrithyunjay, Padmavathy; Chammanthraj, Ranjith (2018)
      A disruptive technology defines the way of life or the way of working like Internet, Mobile Phones etc. The roadmap of maturation vs adoption is never linear. The first adopters in some case benefit for being the first gainers like Microsoft and Google OR in some cases feel the negative side of the impact like the Orkut. The Industry players should also know when to get on the bandwagon and when to let go for e.g. ToysRUs missing the ecommerce bus. One such game changing technology in the horizon is the 3D printing. Bekaert is a steel wire company who provides steel wires to various sectors across the world. They want to consolidate the pole position by innovating their business ecosystem using this technology. They have embarked on this project to look at wire-based 3D printing technology for spare parts management in industries. Spare parts management and aftermarket are a substantial part of many big industries and pose major challenges for smooth operations. The project focusses on identifying two potential industries to be evaluated which could embrace the 3D printing technology for effective management of their steel spare parts. We have examined the supply chain of spare parts management in the two industries to understand the value chain and identify the value proposition. Next, we identified the value proposition, which would then help in suggesting a market entry strategy for Bekaert to be a steel wire feedstock supplier. The research project was executed in 3 phased approach – • Scoping – We used a ranking of industries on criteria common across platforms which were measurable. The criterions were based on three main categories- Importance of steel spare parts, feasibility of 3D printing and business opportunity. A superset of 14 Industries where ranked and a short list of 2 Industries where picked to pilot our research. • Industry Analysis – We have two industries to investigate in terms of market attractiveness and capability of the industry. • Market Entry Strategy – Provide a Market entry strategy for Bekaert into these industries and an approach towards future investment on these technology. The Industry analysis during the research by speaking to industry players it was found that spare parts are categorised based on their criticality, specificity, demand patter and value of parts. This categorization of spare parts determines the supply chain for both shipping and machinery industry. The analysis threw light on some obvious facts on the need to simplify and accelerate the supply chain process of the spare parts for optimal efficiency gain in their core business there by achieving a better operating margin. The marine industry supply chain is specifically driven by the availability of spare parts on the ship. Ships always have high inventories of spare parts onboard to avoid mishaps and the need for ships to come onshore for a spare part. Most of the spare parts are supplied by various suppliers of the industry and only unique parts were ordered with the manufacturers. The machinery industry, on the other hand have supply chain of spare parts is mostly covered by the OEM and the suppliers. Standard spare parts are usually manufactured by the suppliers and the unique & critical spare parts are manufactured by the OEM. Considering the supply chain of spare parts for both industries and evaluating their value chain and the challenges they face, we identified three value propositions for each of the industries which would add value addition for them. The value propositions helped in identifying strategies of how 3D printing can be incorporated into the present supply chain. Further to the value proposition market entry strategies were developed for Bekaert to be a feedstock supplier and analysis was done to understand which strategy would align with the value propositions. The trends and view on market entry strategy and recommendations for Bekaert completed the project research. Although the need is there for improving the spare parts management, there are inherent reservations and inertia towards the adaptation of newer technologies in these traditional industries. It is recommended to re evaluate the industries in the growing market to strengthen the proposed strategies and be in a more advantageous position compared to customer.
    • Data engineering in an entertainment driven business: Sales forecasting within a real-time platform

      D'Hooghe, Ruben; Oosterlinck, Thomas (2018)
      Problem statement:Tomorrowland, globally known and often described as the most loved and best-known music festival on the planet. Each year, the festival hosts a total of 65.000 attendees per day. Starting from the edition in 2017, the organization created a two-weekend concept which sums up the attendees to a total of almost half a million. Coordinating such large numbers of people translates to the need of an operational and logistical wonder. This work focusses on the Food & Beverage department, a strong nine headed team that serves food and beverages to half a million people over a period of 10 days (start and end date of Dreamville included). In order to get a sense of the numbers behind this department, please find the infra listed overview of activities this team fulfils. 1. Coordinating logistical streams towards the more than 100 bar locations 2. Coordinating the crew that operates both bars and warehouses 3. Creating and implementing a total of four unique restaurant experiences on the Tomorrowland festival site (Aperto, B-Eat, Tomorrowland Restaurant & Brasa) 4. Producing a large number of organization operated food stands 5. Managing stock levels for both the Food and Drinks warehouse It is clear to see that structured process flows are needed in order to look over the operational and logistical challenges this team oversees. To get a hold of these challenges, a system was put in place during the edition of 2017. A full stock ordering and management platform was created and a dashboarding platform was added as an extra layer. This enabled the team to keep track of all stock movements as well as view current stock levels. This upgrade in operational excellence then led to the following challenge, that we tried tackling with this project. As there are huge people flows on the terrain, a lot of stock needs to be foreseen within the bars that deliver drinks to the public. Furthermore, it is a daring piece to estimate the stock levels that need to be present in the bars at what times and thus what the total stock to order should be. Apart from stock levels, a huge part in keeping this department operational during the festival has to do with the bar personnel. It is therefore of utmost important to get the people planning right in order to catch incoming waves of traffic at the bars. Last but not least, there is also the crisis management hat has to be addressed. It is a difficult task to keep track of all activities that are going on during such operation. If something goes wrong, it takes a lot of time to either see what exactly is off-track or to get notified on what went wrong exactly. This project aimed to tackle all stated challenges by creating and implementing a forecasting platform that attempts to predict sales volumes on site during operating hours. This will present a solution to the volume challenge as these volumes can be predicted long before the festival (in an offline system that does not take changing factors into account) as well as with more accuracy during the festival (in an online system that takes weather and other factors into account). The platform can also cope with crisis management as a deficit in sales can be seen every hour. Solution Our solution consists of two distinct parts: an offline prediction models that can make a prediction of the sales volumes before the festival starts, and an online prediction model that adjust these predictions throughout the festival by taking into account real-time sales data. The offline prediction was done by using a linear regression model. We started from transaction data from 2016 and 2017 and aggregated those transactions per product, per bar and per quarter. To those aggregated sales figures, we added additional data sources: - Bar data (bar types, bar sizes, bar locations, …) - Line-up data - Weather data - Product data This data sources were used to train our regression model to deduct relationships between those parameters and the sales volumes. This regression model was then applied to the new parameters of 2018 to make predictions of the sales volumes of 2018 The online model has three functions. - It gets the most recent weather forecasts and uses this to reevaluate the regression model - It rescales its prediction for a certain product at a certain bar by comparing the predicted sales vs the actual sales of that product at the bar since the start of the festival - It notices discrepancies between the forecast of the last quarter and the actual sales, and uses this information to adjust the prediction for the upcoming five quarters. Results The model is relatively accurate when it comes to predicting aggregate sales volumes of the products. The MAPE is around 12% for all drinks, while it reduces to 9% when taking into account only the most commonly sold products. Making predictions on a bar level is more difficult. There we see that we have a MAPE of around 50% during peak times, and an even higher MAPE during the first and last hours of the festival. We believe that this is due to the limited amount of data available to train the model and to detect quantify relations between parameters. However, this is not necessarily an issue, since the offline prediction will mainly be used to assess order quantities and to get an idea of the busiest periods at a certain bar. We are thus interested in the shape of sales curve, rather than the absolute volumes. Conclusion Our advice is to not base any important decision on this prediction tool yet during this year’s edition. It should be rather used as a proof-of-concept test case, and its performance should be thoroughly assessed after the festival. The interesting thing about this tool is that the more data that will be available, the more accurate the predictions will become. Therefore, the tool will become more useful throughout the years. Throughout this project, we identified a couple of issues in the data gathering process. Data wasnot stored in a consistent way. Besides, the exchange data and the access to data was not as straightforward as it could and should be. We therefore advice to invest into projects related to data streamlining in order to better allow similar project to this one.
    • Develop and integrate S&OP function in the existing supply chain process for a flash sales company

      Braet, Roseline; Ramalingam, Sumathi (2018)
      The purpose of this project is to develop an integrated S&OP function for Vente-Exclusive (VeX). The scope is limited to the following relevant departments: sourcing, commercial planning, supplier development team, aftersales and warehouse. The process should enhance communication and visibility between departments, so that the allocation of resources can be optimized. It should support the overall strategy and create business value for VeX. One of the major challenges VeX wants to address by this process, is reducing the Click2Delivery time. The report is organised as follows. First a literature review is done, with an external interview and case study of Amazon. Then the flash sales company is thoroughly explored, with data gathering of the different relevant departments. Subsequently, new integrated S&OP process maps are suggested specifically for VeX, to help reduce their business challenges. This is combined with an S&OP framework, an S&OP positioning and a guidance/governance of the S&OP meetings. An Excel based tool has then been developed to support, enhance communication and flag attention points between departments in S&OP. To make the S&OP process effective and value driven in the long run, different KPIs are suggested. Last but not least, recommendations for a successful S&OP process integration are given. The following information was gathered from the literature. Vente-Exclusive is a flash sales business, which is a website where retailers sell products online at a discount during a short time. Sales and operations are a key part of their business. Literature defines S&OP as an integration process that can drive business value and enhance the performance of the company. It is about finding the right match between sales and operations, but also between the business strategy in the long term and operational planning in the short term. It is hard to create a successful S&OP development, mostly because of a misalignment between departments and their incentives. It also doesn't happen overnight but takes time and persistence. It is important that a company knows the maturity level of S&OP. Amazon implemented S&OP, a couple of years ago, to address some of their supply chain challenges. In this development they defined and designed the variables, decision timeframes and a collaborative process. After this initial stage they added a network optimization organization, formalised the S&OP planning and identified metrics to unify the incentives. The literature review is backed-up by practical experience and knowledge of an S&OP subject matter expert, the following insights where shared during the interview. à The ultimate goal of S&OP is to align the 3 core functions: sales, operations and finance to improve the bottom line (ROCE). à This development usually takes two years but is never really finished. à S&OP should be an independent function that reports directly to the CEO, with specific S&OP KPIs that should eventually drive business value. à MS Excel can be used for small companies with limited complexity. Many large organizations invest in ERP systems which provides an analytical platform capable of giving advanced insights. à The IT tool alone is not sufficient, time and money should also be spent on the product, process and people. The following findings were done when analysing Vente-Exclusive (VeX) and its S&OP related departments. Vente-Exclusive was acquired by Vente-Privee (VP) in 2015, which has driven them much more into internationalisation. VeX is now responsible for the fulfilment of the North European Region (NERO). The longer delivery times are a part of the flash sales business model, but measures can still be taken within the company, they might be able improve their operational process by reducing complexity, variations and perform activities in parallel, which will improve the throughput rate. The throughput rate is the number of items VeX is able to fulfil in a certain timeframe. Internal interviews have been conducted to get insights in the different S&OP related departments. A lack of communication and missing required tools are the key take-aways. Different delivery flows: B2B and B2C have also been analysed. Propositions of the S&OP integration are as follows: S&OP is a collaborative and connecting function, that supports on the strategic, tactical and operational level, not the day-to-day execution. There should be a direct reporting link with the senior management to ensure collaboration of all related departments, where the S&OP manager should make trade-offs that are in line with the company's strategy. This might be difficult as all related departments have their own conflicting metrics, targets and incentives. Different challenges of each department are listed, and it can be concluded that S&OP might be more useful and valuable from operational perspective, nevertheless the importance of the commercial teams is needed to tackle those operational challenges. In the newly developed process maps the S&OP function is placed in the middle and is in charge of making collaborative decisions on fulfilment centre, stock to add and capacity issues. But it is much more than just those 3 topics, any attention points of sales should be flagged in advance of the sales, so an appropriate solution can be found. In practice these decisions will be made in the S&OP meeting. All relevant departments should come prepared to the S&OP meeting, therefore a checklist for S&OP inputs, preparation for the S&OP meeting and the weekly S&OP meeting topics have been suggested. An MS Excel based tool is also proposed with different dashboards that should help in raising attention points to discuss at the S&OP meeting. The data input, done by the different departments, is an important element of the tool as it needs to be accurate and trustworthy for the S&OP process to work. Specific business KPIs are also suggested to ensure that the S&OP process stays on track and delivers the intended results. This project was able to address some of the pitfalls, but when actually implementing the S&OP process, there might be many more that VeX needs to deal with. Some recommendations are therefore mentioned at the end of the report.
    • Defining the flows of fresh food trays at a Belgian retailer

      De Monie, Axel; Van Meerbeek, Ruben (2018)
      This paper explains the findings of our two month research at Colruyt Laagste Prijzen, known for its promise to provide customers with the lowest product prices in their stores. In order to guarantee this promise, Colruyt Laagste Prijzen needs to define, manage and minimize every financial outflow within their operations. Colruyt Laagste Prijzen uses reusable trays to simplify the distribution process to its stores. These so called EPS trays rotate in a closed pool system, managed by European Pool System. Over the last three years, Colruyt Laagste Prijzen noticed an increasing mismatch between the operational and financial flows of EPS trays within its supply chain and therefore opted for a comprehensive analysis on all the operational and financial flows within the Colruyt Group. Colruyt Laagste Prijzen manages the internal EPS depot for European Pool System in a Third Party Logistic Model. Given this relation, the complexity of 3PL relations needs to be taken into account for our recommendations. The mismatch between the operational and financial flows has been overlooked the last years. First of all, it is not Colruyt Laagste Prijzen primary business to wash and divide EPS trays. But also the complexity of all different operational flows and its different registrations made it a tough nut to crack. However, the increasing mismatch and the drive to excel in its supply chain urged them to master this process again. We took advantage of this unique opportunity to take a deep-dive in the exciting business of EPS trays at Colruyt Laagste Prijzen and to make everyone familiar with what exactly is going on and to provide them with our fresh and external view. In order to achieve in our consultancy project, five objectives were put forward: 1. Understand stakeholders and document current CLP processes around all EPS trays related processes. 2. Define the different registration points among the operational flows. 3. Quantify the magnitude of the different operational flows. 4. Disclose attention points among the processes. 5. Provide recommendations by linking attention points with the mapped operational flows. To tackle the first objective, we acquired a great deal of information from relevant stakeholders within the organization through multiple interviews and work meetings with all involved stakeholders. Moreover, we gained some first-hand insights through internships in relevant departments. To illustrate these processes in a clear way, process flow charts in a chess pattern were used to create swimming lane diagrams. The second objective required a comprehensive analysis on the different registration points among the operational flows. We applied the same successful methodology as for the first objective and conducted many interviews and some work meetings to grasp an idea of the many registration points in different systems. Also, we checked out ourselves on these registration points through internships in the DC and RC. These registration points were integrated in the process flow charts in order to provide the company with a complete picture. The third objective required a quantitative analysis of the different operational flows among the Colruyt Group. We gathered relevant information in different data systems from different stakeholders to create a high level view on EPS trays in the Colruyt Group. The fourth objective allowed us to benefit from the expertise gained during the previous objectives through internships, interviews, work meetings and the quantitative analysis. This resulted in many interesting attention points which might cause the mismatch in the operational and financial flows. The fifth objective is the cherry on the cake of our comprehensive analysis. Here, we provide interesting recommendations on the raised attention points. We are convinced that the provided recommendations, once implemented, would contribute to a better match in the operational and financial flow of EPS trays. Providing recommendations is one thing, implementation of these recommendations is another thing, definitely in a project that recently started and is continued for the next 10 months. Therefore, we will explain the different next steps to be taken for the success of the project. First of all it is key to create a full understanding of the financial flows as well, by linking them to the operational flows and registration points we analyzed. Afterwards, time is needed to implement a sustainable solution. The next months will definitely be very interesting!
    • Analysing the digital behaviour and communication method perception of groups (personas) of Belgian general practitioners

      Dölling, Lisa; Zachariadis, Ilias (2018)
      The aim of the In-Company Project at MSD Belgium is to investigate what (open source) data is available in the market place about MSD Belgium’s three personas of general practitioners (GPs) with a relatively high degree of digital affinity in order to improve MSD’s digital communication with these important customer groups via various digital channels. MSD Belgium recently conducted a market study together with the consultant firm IQVIA which resulted in the categorisation of Belgian general practitioners in seven personas. Whilst these personas give an insight in different behaviours of the company’s targets, MSD Belgium is dissatisfied with the quality and the outdatedness of the digital parameters (Kruijff, 2018a). MSD Belgium would like to gain a deeper understanding of the digital affinity and the online behaviour of its personas, particularly the personas which were identified to have a high digital affinity, namely persona 0 (Dutch Speaking Digital Growers), 5 (Multi Channel Sita Lovers), and 6 (Young Online Females) (MSD Belgium, 2018d). In order to answer the above outlined management question, we used a number of different methodologies. On the one hand, we conducted desk research by consulting literature and analysing secondary data. On the other hand, we conducted primary research, inasmuch as we conducted an email survey as well as interviews with healthcare professionals, employees of MSD Belgium, and external consultants. The digital affinity of GPs is of high importance for MSD Belgium’s digital marketing due to the company’s client segmentation. MSD Belgium currently has potential customers which are in target (‘blended target’) or out of target (‘digital target’). Only blended targets are subject to visits from medical representatives, as the prescription volumes of digital targets are too low to warrant visits from representatives in a cost-efficient way (MSD Belgium, 2018d; Meijer and Meir, 2018). However, 78.7% of all Belgian GPs constitute digital targets. Whilst their prescription volumes are predominantly low, and MSD already captures a considerable market share, there is room for expansion. If MSD Belgium successfully launches well targeted digital marketing campaigns ultimately convincing GPs to switch to the MSD’s diabetes products Januvia or Janumet, the company can generate a significant amount of extra revenue. Beyond that, sales to digital targets are subject to a higher profit margin than to in target customers due to the lack of medical representatives involved. The market research conducted by IQVIA gives first insights about the digital behaviour of GPs in terms of channel preference, clicking behaviour and MSD meeting attendance, as well as online presence. However, data on the channel preferences was subject to large extrapolation, with insufficient back-testing, which impairs the credibility of the results. Also, data on online presence can be considered inferior, as IQVIA’s methodology was flawed due to a lack of identity verification. Research on social media, namely LinkedIn and Facebook, has shown that the online activity of the digitally affine GPs is limited, providing slim grounds for profiling. However, we managed to identify trends providing psychographic insights on the personas. Persona 0 has strong commercial characteristic. Persona 6 is a truly humanistic group. Last but not least, persona 5 appears to be a cross-over of persona 0 and 6 demonstrating commercial, scientific, and humanistic traits. Whilst the personas’ activity on social media was limited, the analysis of their open and click behaviour for the diabetes campaigns demonstrated a higher digital receptiveness compared to the other personas. Through our primary research, we could verify the popularity of communication channels amongst GPs, which only differ insignificantly between the personas. We identified face-to-face meetings with medical representatives, scientific meetings/reunions, and e-learnings to be the most popular channels. On the other hand, physicians strongly dislike call centres, social media communication, live tele-conferences with medical representatives, virtual representatives, and apps. This demonstrates that even the most digitally affine physicians have a strong tendency towards offline communication. In terms of content, all personas showed scientific interests, with a high emphasis on scientific studies and updates on treatments. Also, commercial attitudes are present as tips on management of a practice as well as information sources enjoy general popularity. The content preferences are mostly in line with the psychographic profile identified through social media. MSD Belgium is able to implement persona-specific actions based on the psychographic profile of the personas created throughout our analysis. Beyond that, our primary research enabled us to recommend more general actions to MSD Belgium related to the communication channels, content used in its digital channels, as well as the accessibility, structure, and content of MSD Now. Processing of personal information in order to build a profile of an individual’s personality and behaviour is affected by the EU General Data Protection Regulation. MSD Belgium’s data processing needs for the personalisation of marketing campaigns can be based on either consent or legitimate interest. As current profiling activities at MSD Belgium do not lead to automated decisions which have a legal effect on the data subjects, consent is not a premise for the intended profiling exercises. In conclusion, it is possible to build a profile of the personas based on (open source) data available in the market place to aid the development of person-specific communication strategies. We identified channel preferences, preferred information sources and content, thoughts on MSD’s online platform MSD Now, and the receptiveness to MSD Belgium’s diabetes email campaigns per persona. However, due to the limited activity on online networks, further primary research and other profiling efforts are required to build a reliable picture of the personas
    • Analysis of transformation from products to solutions

      Pingali, Harish; Nidyamale Prakash, Madan (2018)
      This report provides an analysis and evaluation of Zebra Technologies transition from product-based company to provide solutions & services. The method of analysis includes qualitative interviewing with semi-structured approach with internal sales teams and channel partners, as well analysing similar transitions in the industry to identify best practices, potential pitfalls to avoid and provide recommendations in making the transition successful. All the results from interview have been presented in the report. The said interviewees include 18 internal sales employees cutting across regions and levels in the organisation and 4 strategic channel partners. The report not only finds the prospects of the desired transition for the company but also finds major areas of weakness that require attention to fuel the company's transformation and suggest some remedial actions to overcome those. The key recommendations discussed in the report include: Building clear go-to market frameworks - Organisational change to deliver clear ownership on solution sales - Communicating Enterprise Asset Intelligence (EAI) strategy across the organisation - Directing marketing towards solutions - Identifying and working with solution-oriented channel partners - Reviewing incentives to be in line with solutions target - Improving solutions provider brand image. All these key recommendations along with some additional steps have been discussed in detail in the recommendation section. The report also investigates the fact that the analysis conducted has limitations, which include the following, The analysis did not value the financial impact on the organisation and future forecasts of achievable revenue streams after achieving the mentioned transformation.
    • A research for the impact and functioning of the Visual Player system in on-trade outlets in Belgium and the Netherlands, as a foundation for future improvements.

      Janssen, Stef; Willaert, Gilles (2018)
      The Bacardi Visual Player is a TV-screen placed in on-trade outlets in Belgium and the Netherlands that displays visuals of Bacardi brands. The objective of this program is to build brands in the on-trade and to influence the consumer buying decision towards Bacardi’s category. Until today, Bacardi has no understanding of the impact of this initiative on these objectives. They do not know any marketing KPIs of this system, nor the possible impact on sales. On top of this, Bacardi has no insights from outlet owners on what is currently working well and what is not. The only thing that is sure for the moment is the fact that the amount of well-functioning Bacardi Visual Players is significantly decreasing. Does Bacardi keep investing in this system ‘as is’ or not? If not, what do they need to do to improve this program?
    • Blockcain technology and its applications to financial services

      Brogniet, Adrien; Jamar, Constantin; Mestdagh, Jeremy (2018)
      A transaction always comes with risks. The so-called transaction risk is associated with the delay between the moment the transaction is initiated and the moment it is settled. This risk can arise from many sources: credit, liquidity, operations and business. To reduce those risks, trusted third parties are needed. Recently, Blockchain Technology has been presented in the news as a way of protecting corporates from these risks while providing a faster, cheaper and more efficient process by removing the use of a trusted party. Blockchain is a distributed ledger secured by cryptography. It is shared on a network and every time the ledger is modified, the new statement is encrypted and spread among the nodes of this network. Blockchain works on a consensus protocol to validate the transactions. As a result, we can say that the network owns the power of its own statement. On top of that, every statement of the network is linked and stored in a chain allowing anyone to go back in time and chronologically see the evolution of the ledger through time. This way, Blockchain ensures certain characteristics, the most important being distribution, immutability, and security. Blockchain Technology combined with the use of other technologies forms the Blockchain environment. As a result, APIs, smart contracts, cloud computing can be used together with Blockchain to create powerful tools. Together with Blockchain, we can create an automated protocol combining the self-execution of contracts and the automated verification, safety, and distribution of a transaction. The most common understanding of Blockchain is its public form, created and used in the Bitcoin Network. However, Blockchain being a protocol, it is possible to create an infinite number of Blockchains with varying rules, resulting to other forms such as consortium and private Blockchains. Those forms are not necessarily open source and consensus rules are fixed in a protocol defined by the controlling nodes. There is a debate whether these forms are true Blockchains in the sense that it does not respect the original spirit of the technology (which is creating a decentralised network where the control is spread among the network) but it provides paths for applications that better suit financial services actors. Based on these considerations, we established a checklist to assess the utility of any Blockchain project. We concluded that Blockchain is only valuable when there is a need of a database storing information for multiple writers that do not trust each other. We conducted an in-debt analysis of the advantages and the limits of this new phenomenon. The biggest advantages of Blockchain stands in its architecture and the way the protocol is set. Therefore, Blockchain provides a network that enables untrusted parties to transact without the intervention of a trusted third party due to its decentralized architecture. As a result, Blockchain reduces the frictions of transactions. Moreover, Blockchain Technology combines cryptography based on public/private key protocol leading to a certain privacy of the users. Actors involved in the Blockchain are not totally anonymous but pseudonymous (through their public key). The ledger on the other side can totally be encrypted and thus provides some confidentiality for the data and transactions history. Next, Blockchain, once again due to its architecture, is immutable. It is not possible to alter the history once it is spread through the network. We keep some reserve here with the potential creation of fork but we will not expand on this point. Because Blockchain is a chain of block that are chronologically linked and that the transactions are timestamped, it is possible to track the history of transactions. In terms of limits, it comes out that Blockchain may be overhyped for the moment, leading to an over implementation of the technology. It is relevant to invest in Blockchain solutions only if there is a real need. In term of governance, having no centralized authority to regulate the Blockchain may slow down the development of the technology. Furthermore, there is a problem of interoperability between different Blockchains because they are using different protocol, different architecture and different languages. Next, there is a problem of scalability. There is a trilemma in Blockchain: you cannot be fully decentralized, secure and scalable. Therefore, current Blockchain protocols focus on decentralization and security losing scalability with an example like Bitcoin being able to process only seven transactions per second against thousands for VISA. In term of privacy, as transactions are immutably written in the Blockchain, we foresee some problems for private data management. Lastly, one of the limits of the Blockchain stands in its immaturity. We do not know how it will evolve, if it is viable on the long run and if the use of energy will not go out of control. After setting up a detailed definition of Blockchain, the solution it brings to the users and the limits of the technology, we have analysed concrete potential applications for financial services. There is no totally effective application that is widely used with Blockchain but the most advanced project in Belgium is Know Your Customer (KYC). Indeed, it already exists small initiatives run by some agents. This application of Blockchain will reduce cost of KYC processes that are very heavy nowadays and very redundant as well from the customer perspective. The second application concerns interbank payments and clearing & settlement. Blockchain would allow a faster, cheaper and disintermediated process. Finally, we described already existing proof of concept being Corda, FundsDTL and E-Estonia. Those applications give us great inside of the potential uses of Blockchain in financial services. We conclude our report being critical about Blockchain. It is an amazing innovation that may disrupt some industries but will not replace banks neither will disrupt financial services. We are convinced that it will incrementally impact financial services leading to a faster, cheaper and more efficient way of communicating information and processing transactions. Blockchain in its pure form (public Blockchain) is very unlikely to reach the banking industry but more structured forms like consortium and semi-private Blockchain applications are very likely to emerge and provide value to the industry. Therefore, we recommend financial services actors to stay aware about Blockchain, have a moderate understanding of it because even if it may not directly be implemented by banks, IT providers may create useful platform using Blockchain. Understanding Blockchain is thus a competitive edge in case of emergence in the near-medium future.
    • Benchmarking efficiency of shared service centres

      Duran Maica, Jeancarlo; Jain, Devashish (2018)
      Willemen Group is the largest family owned construction company in Belgium. In its drive for continuous improvement, it collaborated with Vlerick Business School for an In-Company Project (ICP). The goal of this project is to verify through benchmarking that whether the costs charged by the Shared Service Centers (SSCs) to its working companies is justified. To develop a rational for improving the existing cost allocation, both parties agreed to use the activity based costing (ABC) methodology. ABC methodology is an outstanding tool for generating in-sights about company's key performance indices (KPIs), making it convenient for managers to monitor the performance. Further, this project is aimed to identify the realistic cost and efficiency targets through competitive benchmarking of SSCs in construction industry. Willemen SSCs consists of four departments namely Human Resources; Finance; Information Technology; and Legal, Risk and Insurance. Having SSCs offers a cost advantage to corporations that consists numerous group companies. However, Willemen's inorganic growth strategy sometimes creates challenges regarding integration of the SSCs. As a result, Willemen SSCs are not 100% centralized because it is more convenient to have local resources. Nevertheless, Willemen is committed toward efficiencies, and the management is logically working on integration and re-structuring. This project has generated valuable insights about the cost performance of each SSC, especially Finance and IT. These results were benchmarked using the research based reports from different sources such as academic and consulting. Other construction companies in Belgium and nearby countries were also supposed to be part of the benchmarking process. But because of the time constraint, these companies didn't find it feasible to participate. Based on the available data at Willemen, it is established that performance of SSC is well in-line with the industry trends. To gain full control on the performance, activity based costing is recommended. However, following hurdles must be cleared first in order to successfully implement ABC methodology. However, following hurdles must be cleared first to successfully implement ABC methodology: Commitment from top management to accept this change and take lead for their respective departments. Convincing all companies to take part in activity based costing. If not, then clearly identify the companies that uses SSC services. Improving processing and flow of information such as key financial figures etc.
    • Analyzing future-oriented mobility solutions and developing business cases

      El Youssoufi, Hicham; Cnops, Robin (2018)
      The aim of this paper is to analyse two out of the box business cases in a travel and mobility context for three of the KBC group entities; that are KBC-VAB, KBC Autolease and KBC Insurance. Around each one of those cases, a business model has been built, to allow KBC stakeholders to assess the feasibility of the solutions suggested, have test runs, and ultimately put the ideas into the market after having shown a true value. After a brief introduction, a description of the methodology that has been used to conduct this study will be provided. The first part of this report will be dedicated to the first business case; that is the “Connected Bikes”. This part will start with a description of the case that will provide a context to the analysis of the solution, followed by a detailed description of the features that the solution would be equipped with. Then, a target market analysis will be discussed, describing the target market segment profile and need, as well as analysing the value to the customer and coming up with a list of the most asked for features based on the results of the survey that had been conducted (Appendix I). Afterwards, the business opportunity and the value for KBC entities, in addition to the suggested revenue model will be defined, and the later will supported by a simplified financial analysis (Appendix II). The last section of this first part will be focused on the main competitors sorted by the features that they are offering, describing their products and analysing the services they are offering. The second part of this report will tackle the “Olympus Additions” case. As in the first case, this part will start with a description of the case to provide a context to the analysis of the solution, followed by a detailed analysis of the target market, customer profile, need and value. The t hird section of this part will be describing the business opportunity that exists out there in the market. Furthermore, a description of the existing features that Olympus is currently offering is provided. This second part of the report will end up by a definition of the main existing competitors in the same market (B2B) as well as in potential future markets (B2C), supported by an analysis of the services they offer. Finally, a conclusion will smoothly sum up the content of this report.
    • Revamping a commercial strategy for a global engineering company: Analyzing the attractiveness and ability to win in Chinese and Indian cooling tower and air quality system markets

      Van Overloop, Sven; Vandendriessche, Louis; Verschueren, Nicolas (2019)
      Hamon is a global engineering company, active in many industries and offering a variety of products to its customers. Thanks to acquisitions and a longstanding history, it managed to build an unquestionable reputation across the world. Originally, Hamon was active in cooling towers for the mining and steelworks industry. This has since been expanded to other activities such as air quality systems (AQS), Deltak boilers and chimneys across numerous segments such as the power industry, pulp & paper, oil & gas, … This expansion stared reversing roughly 10 years ago. Since, many actions have been taken to fight this downturn. The latest actions taken were to elect a new CEO as of January 2017. Major restructurings, cost cuttings and strategic initiatives enabled the company to become profitable again. The next phase for the company is to start growing its business again by developing a new commercial strategy. We have been assigned to help the company with the first steps of this commercial strategy development. The purpose is to analyse each market across all segments worldwide to understand what markets are attractive and in which of those markets Hamon could win from its competitors. Subsequently, the company needs to allocate the right resources to the right markets to gain a competitive advantage. At last, it is important set up a methodology to maintain and monitor market trends and it should embed intelligence to improve strategy planning and its daily sales and marketing activities. Since this whole project is too large to execute with three students in two months, the scope has been narrowed down to the Indian and Chinese markets covering six segments, namely power, food & beverages, oil & gas, chemicals, mining & metals and cement over two product lines, cooling towers and air quality systems. Overall, both the Indian and Chinese markets are highly demanding infrastructure development. However, the potential business for Hamon depends on many factors and is not always that straightforward and easy to achieve. The Indian market seems to be attractive for three out of the six segments: power, mining & metals and oil & gas. For chemicals, experts sense a potential business for Hamon, but research remains intangible since Hamon possesses no in-house market intelligence nor experience in this segment. Within the food & beverages market, only sugar needs cooling. This market, however, is so small that return on investment would be very tough to achieve. Cement is both a small market and Hamon is competing against two major companies benefiting from a low-cost structure that Hamon cannot mirror. By looking more in detail to each potential subsegment, AQS in oil & gas is placed the highest for both market attractiveness and ability to win. Cooling in the power and mining & metals segment score slightly above average on ability to win, which make them still attractive. These subsegments score well on market attractiveness too, although cooling in power scores slightly higher here than cooling in mining & metals. AQS for power scores very high on market attractiveness but extremely tough competition makes it very difficult for Hamon to win in this market. AQS in mining & metals, AQS in cement and cooling in oil & gas score below average, which makes these subsegments unattractive for Hamon. Overall, the chinse market seems to be less attractive on all levels. Except for the Power segment, all other segments score low on both attractiveness and ability to win. The dry cooling market for metals, which is the second most attractive segment, scores average for ability to win and below average for market size. Export from China, however, has more potential. It makes sense that the Indian market looks more attractive from a growth perspective too, since real GDP growth published by the IMF is forecasted at 7,7% for India, while this is only 5,5% for China. Hamon thus has several options for the future. Firstly, we suggest that Hamon focusses on the Indian market while maintaining activity as it is today in China. In India, it would be advisable to focus on one of the major demand driver, the price, while maintaining an unquestionable quality and outstanding reputation. To do so, Hamon could acquire a local player that has a lower cost structure. This would profile Hamon as an original equipment manufacturer with would class technology at an accessible price. Alternatively, since quality in India seems to be less appreciated than elsewhere in the world, they could invest less in design and performance to internally achieve more competitive prices. This, however, might harm the global reputation of Hamon. Consequently, if Hamon decides not to acquire a local player, it might advisable to divest in the Indian market and orient towards quality-focussed markets. Hamon could leverage its position for power and oil & gas in two ways. Firstly, they should drastically improve their sales strategy by proactively approaching customers, increase market visibility and focus on total cost of ownership. Secondly, they should take part in backward integration by acquiring a Chinese parts producer such as Fengtai. This would create cross synergies that would enable Hamon to achieve a lower cost intensive production, while Fengtai would benefit from world-class technology and a long-standing reputation.
    • Global vs. local: Sourcing decisions for european retailers of household items

      Bender, Thibaut; Panzer, Adrien (2019)
      While the price and costs of sourcing from Asia are lower, European buyers are sometimes still more willing to source goods locally. Is it because of the ease, because of the uncertainty or due to the lack of information? In any case, this statement introduces other elements than the pure countable elements like prices and costs in the sourcing decision. The purpose of this study is to provide first a better understanding of the process of the buying decision and the factors that may have an impact on this decision. Secondly, it aims at highlighting the potential concerns and barriers the buyers have during the purchase and especially when they need to source from Asia. Getting to know the concerns and barriers enables to think of ways to overcome these challenges and give recommendations for the global sourcing decision. To do so, we conducted a qualitative analysis based on both, primary and secondary research. We first went through the literature in order to get a broad picture of the buying environment, the process of the buying decision, the theories and the case studies related to the buying situations. We crossed our findings with interviews and discussions with the buyers, with people from sourcing offices and other positions related to the purchasing department or logistics. We found out that we can divide the process of the buying decision into 5 stages. The need identification & the product specification, is done consciously or not by the buyer before starting to search for alternatives. Then, when the buyer has different options, he/she would have to compare the benefits and alternative offers from a cost or other perspectives and decide on his/her best option. Next we decided to include the manufacturing and transportation in the process because it may have a high impact on the buyer’s performances. At the end of the process, the buyer evaluates the performances of his purchase. It is essential to consider this process as non-linear and buyers may need to go one stage back in order to progress in the process (e.g. if the buyer can’t find any supplier for their need, they would need to think again the product specifications in order to have at least one supplier). During all the process, buyers are influenced by environmental elements such as the strategy of the company or current economic or political landscape. Based on the literature and our interviews, we identified fifteen influencing factors of the buying decision: the ability, the continuity, the culture, the effort of buying, the flexibility/agility of the supplier, the logistics, the margin, the price, the quality, the reliability, the supplier management, the tariffs & regulations, the time to market, the total landed costs and the uniqueness of the product, have an impact on the buyers when they need to decide whether to source from Europe or from Asia. Each of these factors comes with different challenges for the buyers and needs specific recommendations. We combined all the recommendations, associated with their factor and a short statement of the buying situation in a tool, that will serve as a guideline in order to help the sourcing decision. Following the recommendations will help to solve the concerns related to each factor. This tool may be used as it is, or may be combined with a profiling exercise. In order to provide a solution as tailored as possible for each buyer, we developed a way of getting to know the profile of a buyer, comparing the importance each of the fifteen factors has from his/her perspective to the objective importance determined by the strategy of the company. Comparing the two perspectives enables to weight by importance each of the factors and to exactly know the most important factor for a specific buyer in a specific organization. The objective weight may change from a product category to another and it may require to determine it with an experienced professional, who has a good knowledge and unbiased opinion. The aim of this profiling is to keep focus on the key factors and avoid to waste time on concerns with factors of low importance. At the same time the buyer is also guided so that his decision is in line with the company’s strategy
    • What moves around in Marrakech? The bicycle as a means to generate opportunities and create a more sustainable urban environment imroving the informal delivery network within the old medina imroving the informal delivery

      Goethals, Charline; Poelmans, Ines; Volant, Eline (2019)
      This report is the final work of an in-company project carried out in a Moroccan association centered around the bicycle. The association was looking to set up a new business line of bike delivery next to its existing activities in Marrakech. The business challenge to tackle was to find a gap in the logistics market where potential clients would benefit from this bike delivery service, how the association could best fill this gap and how implementation should look like. All of this whilst keeping in mind the main pillars the association has been built on: employment creation and the creation of a more sustainable urban environment. After an in-depth market research on everything that moves around in Marrakech, many possibilities for bicycle delivery were observed. Turning them into business opportunities, they were then held against several factors to assess their feasibility. This analysis showed one option was the most adequate one to move forward with. It was also the most challenging one, as the target client and the stakeholders involved had each a different interest and were rather powerful market players in place for already a long time. However, the association’s strong CSR potential and the efficiency increase in the proposed solution have been convincing. Discussions with this partner resulted in a proposal meeting and even a request for an offer. A sound business plan has therefore been elaborated with a well-thought offer in order to make this collaboration fruitful for both the association as the partner in the future.