• Feasibility study on a new ride-sharing app in Belgium

      Mahan, Jaures; Meersschaut, Thomas (2018)
      The idea of a new ride-sharing app was brought by Mr. Karel Cardoen to the Vlerick Business School. The scope of this project is to carry out a feasibility analysis on a new ride-sharing app in Belgium. The goal is in the end a report that discusses our finding and recommendations but at the same time do some hands-on research and talk to app developers and mobility experts. After setting the scene and the methodology we carried out an industry analysis where we discuss both ride-sharing and ride-hailing trends, as well as car sharing since we believe this is worth talking about given the shift towards a lot of new mobility solutions in Belgium and all over the world. We see there are many different sorts of matching agencies in the industry, all with their own particularities. Planning, pricing and payment are three pillars that a company can use and fill in as they want. Integrated services do all of it and the prime example of this is Uber. But there are also companies who only do the planning and pricing and do not handle payments. Aside from the ride-sharing, car sharing is also gaining a lot of importance in the mobility budget. There are three main types: free-floating, stationary and peer-to-peer car sharing. Freefloating means you can use a car from a fleet of a private company and pick it up anywhere you want and consequently drop it off anywhere you want. Stationary car sharing on the other hand is not as flexible and there are fixed pick-up and drop-off places where the car must be parked. Peer-to-peer car sharing does not require an own fleet and private people can rent out their car on a platform. One of the most important parts is making sure who you are dealing with in the industry. There are many competitors fighting for their share in the market and not all of them succeed to do so. The prime example is Uber, a ride hailing company with an aggressive marketing strategy and the biggest player worldwide for now. They are basically a network provider for taxi's, but the drivers are private people working for them. In Asia a similar company is taking big market share, namely DiDi Chuxing. Companies like Blablacar, Carpool.be and Waze are a step ahead as they own a product that could respond to the needs and pains of the Belgian market and they already have for most an important number of users in the country. Nevertheless, Europe and Belgium in particular seem yet to conquer with a lack of dominant players in Carpooling, especially in the On-demand and the ride-sharing for commuters' market. By knowing the main competitors, we should determine where we want to position ourselves and this starts at choosing our target audience, the customers. By looking at data and doing a survey, we derived that 25 % of traffic is commuting and in peak hours this can increase up to 66%. In order to build an instantaneous app, we first need a critical mass of people on the platform and by targeting commuters we believe we target the biggest group of people. Arriving at the business plan we set up a business model canvas to describe our business proposal. Wo go deeper into the technological part and contact three different app developers to see what is needed in order to accomplish the app on a technological level, but also which kind of app developer is a good fit to make it. We opt for an experienced one, like World Of Digits, who already has some experience in making such a carpool app (Kowo). In terms of marketing, it depends on your target audience. In case of commuters we should start by targeting small communities and specific events to gain national press and make sure that as much people as possible get to know the app. This could be football matches as pilot projects but also bigger events such as Tomorrowland and Rock Werchter. The financial side is something to think about in a later stage but nonetheless we set up two possible scenarios for a financial structure on how to get profit to reinvest it into the app itself. The first one is based on a variable fee system where the fees are calculated per kilometer. The second one is a fixed system where the fees go up in 'regions' between a certain number of kilometers. The vast majority of the mobility providers use a variable system since it is fairer but the fixed one could pose transparency towards passengers and is also an incentive for drivers to pick up passengers for shorter trips. As a general conclusion, we think this project definitely has an added value in the market we are in. Although competition is tough, on-demand ride-sharing has a lot of potential for the future. We see the biggest problem in reaching a critical mass of people on the platform and in order to get there, we advise to start with targeting commuters since they pose the biggest market and are the most in need of such an application but on the same time they are the main reason for the numerous cars on the road.
    • For you a little for them a lot: A qualitative research to drive the success of the donation platform

      Boone, Laurence; Breynaert, Laurence; Lemmens, Julie (2018)
      Mastercard has a long-standing reputation, striving for a world beyond cash. Its core business consists of offering payment cards towards banks. The role of Mastercard is being an intermediary between banks, cardholders and merchants. Over the years, Mastercard has grown into an established value in the financial sector. Besides its well-known trust and safety, the company is also known for its continuous innovation. One of its most recent initiatives is the set-up of a Donation Platform, permitting cardholders to donate to charities through their Mastercard usage. However, despite its great mission, the Donation Platform has faced several challenges, resulting in a low registration rate. Therefore, the biggest challenge has become: "How can Mastercard improve its Donation Platform in order to acquire and retain more active users?" That being said, there are several obstacles that Mastercard should tackle in order to achieve a strong position in the donation market. These barriers are: (1) Lack of user-friendliness, (2) Misunderstanding of Mastercard's role, (3) Trust issues, (4) Low awareness, and (5) Lack of information and communication. To gain insights on how to deal with these bottlenecks, qualitative research in the form of semi-structured interviews and online discussion groups, has been conducted. Besides this qualitative research, a profound analysis about the environment was established in order to grasp the current positioning of the Donation Platform and to determine its growth strategy. All conducted research presented valuable insights, some of which can be literally translated into recommendations. First of all, trust is a key driver for donating. Concerns about the legitimacy and the security of the website were brought up, as people could not spot a link between the Donation Platform and Mastercard's official website. In general, the lack of information was a recurring factor on all aspects of the Donation Platform and this should be improved. Secondly, a personal fit with the charity is essential and this is why participants prefer the offer of multiple good causes. Thirdly, micro-donations were well received, bearing one necessary condition in mind: having an overview of their donations, in the form of a dashboard or, if selected, via an update email. To wrap up, the majority of participants preferred social media as the main communication channel. To maintain a good balance between digital and physical communication, advertising via both monthly statements and social media can be beneficial to reach our target group. To fully drive the success of the platform, we came up with additional propositions. Firstly, implementing video allows to provide information in a more entertaining way. Secondly, the issue of trust and security can be bypassed by integrating the Donation platform in Mastercard's official website. To enhance communication, a third recommendation is to apply big data. This could be useful in optimizing SEM and especially in tailoring the marketing strategy towards consumers. Ultimately, to exploit as many opportunities as possible, Mastercard could enter the B2B market by making the Donation Platform available for corporate cards. This would be a win-win situation for both Mastercard and the partnering company, as the latter one benefits from this CSR action.
    • Global Cooperative Impact (GCI) Fund

      Avagyan, David; Gandhi, Siddhesh (2018)
      The project initiated by International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) and Cre?dit Coope?ratif (a cooperative bank) welcome other funding and technical assistance (TA) partners. Cooperatives are businesses owned and run by and for their members. The members have an equal say in what the business does and how to share the profits. As businesses driven by values not just profit, cooperatives share internationally agreed principles and act together to build a better world through cooperation. The GCI is part of the Blueprint Strategy for a Cooperative Decade launched in 2012 by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) to define an ambitious and global strategy for cooperatives because there is an urgent need for cooperatives to find socially constructive and stable funding. The International Cooperative Alliance and Crédit Cooperative wish to bring a sound solution to this lack of funding and support the development of cooperatives in developing countries by providing them long-term financing while improving the cooperative spirit. The GCI Fund will support the development of cooperatives in developing countries by providing them long-term financing. In collaboration with the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), the Fund selected a number of focus countries to invest in priority. Based on the on-field expertise on the continents of Africa, Asia and Latin America, ICA representatives provided the Fund with countries where the cooperative movement has a strong presence (in terms of institutional support, legal framework, governance and other important parameters) and needs support for further development. It will build management and long-term capacity via dedicated technical assistance, particularly in governance, financial management, business planning and impact measurement; establish cooperatives as an investment class like microfinance has now become and create a financial market for cooperatives, demonstrate the impact of the cooperative models for the final beneficiaries and members, and contribute to more inclusive development.
    • How can KBC securities and KBC markets stay relevant in the future?

      Van Britsom, Djordy; Depuydt, Joachim; Baecke, Vincent (2018)
      In chapter 1, an introduction to KBC Securities and KBC Markets is provided. It is mentioned that KBC Securities plays a significant role in the Benelux capital markets and has been rewarded with the title of Equity Finance House of the Year and Cash Market Brokerage House of the Year in 2017. Nevertheless, KBC Securities and KBC Markets operate in a changing environment and are facing a series of challenges: new regulation, advances in innovative technology, strong competitors, new entrants and higher demanding clients. As a result, the following research question was formulated: "How can KBC Securities and KBC Markets stay relevant in the future?". Additionally, we researched several subquestions such as: "What are the reasons clients (do not) choose for KBC Securities? What activities do clients expect and want, now and in the future? Are KBC Securities clients satisfied with the service level they receive? How does KBC Securities' client experience compare to competitors?". In chapter 2, an overview of the selected methodologies is given in order to tackle the research question. This study is exploratory and has an inductive approach using qualitative research in order to fulfil the purpose of the paper. Semi-structured interviews with clients, non-clients, industry experts, academics and employees were chosen as a way to gather empirical data for research. An overview of the interview questions can be found in this chapter. Additionally, we supplemented our findings using secondary research: journals, books, articles and working papers conducted by academics and global professional management firms. In chapter 3, several conceptual strategy frameworks are presented which are used to tackle the research question in a structured way. First, a strategic framework of Bain & Company is given which involves making deliberate choices in three areas: ambition, where-to-play and how-to-win. The main focus of this paper will be on the "how-to-win" question. Second, the three value disciplines of Treacy & Wiersema are used to answer the "how-to-win" question and it is concluded that "customer intimacy" is the appropriate strategy for KBC Securities. This strategy focuses on offering unique customer services that allow tailored solutions to meet different customer demand. Companies who pursue this strategy bundle services and products into a solution designed specifically for the customer's problem. As a result of this strategy, KBC Securities will face a new key challenge: switch from being product-centric (the so called 'product-factory) to being client-centric. Thirdly, a framework of prof. dr. Kurt Verweire is used to implement customer intimacy based on seven building blocks: (1) strategic positioning, (2) customer relationship management (CRM), (3) client segmentation, (4) client profitability, (5) key account management, (6) tracking client satisfaction and (7) a dynamic and proactive approach. In chapter 4, the paper elaborates on the seven building blocks that are needed to achieve customer intimacy: (1) Strategic positioning: KBC Securities should position itself as a local specialist. A local specialist is an investment bank with deep capabilities in individual markets or regions, and strong local knowledge, networks and connectivity. (2) Customer relationship management: In context of achieving customer intimacy, CRM systems are indispensable. Two elements are essential to successfully implement CRM, namely CRM data collection and CRM data usage. The benefits of a good CRM system are listed and several recommendations for KBC Securities are given. (3) Client segmentation: We suggest implementing a value-driven segmentation system based on the client's current value, potential value and behaviour. This results in three client segments: priority, specialised and self service. For each segment, a distinct differentiation approach and clear rules for coverage structure, content access and execution and platform capabilities should be developed. (4) Client profitability: Client relationships should be managed in terms of profitability, not revenues. KBC Securities should consider both client revenues as well the cost-to-serve these clients. (5) Key Account Management (KAM): KAM is an approach to act as a real business partner for clients. This enables to build loyalty, customer commitment and give the client a single point of contact. We believe an appropriate person to fulfil the key account manager's position is the senior corporate banker. Another option would be to develop the function of a key account manager in-house at KBC Securities. This person could then join client meetings with the corporate banker and proactively approach clients of KBC Securities to identify business opportunities. (6) Tracking client satisfaction: We believe it is essential for KBC Securities to track client satisfaction more rigorously. This happens in three simple stages: gather input data, analyse the input data and adjust the services based on the outcome of this analysis. Internally, senior management's involvement and the documenting of outputs are important. (7) Dynamic and proactive approach: Based on client interviews, it seems that KBC Securities sometimes lacks dynamism and proactivity in its business approach when compared to competitors. We elaborate on this concept and emphasise the importance of staying sharp in every business interaction. In chapter 5, we elaborate on some additional findings which are relevant for KBC Securities, but not directly related to implementing customer intimacy. More specifically, it covers the following topics: innovation & technology and some suggestions for starting activities. Concerning innovation and technology, we identify some critical areas where IT investments should be focused on: dealing with legacy IT and customer-centric solutions. We also elaborate on the implementation of a 'Technology Plan' which is based on three elements: a budget, a time-period and an 'IT Innovation Officer'. The IT Innovation Officer should be responsible for developing a cohesive innovation and technology strategy for KBC Securities. Related to the suggestions for starting activities, we elaborate on (1) starting in-house private equity activities, (2) cross-selling in KBC Securities, (3) the organisational set-up of the corporate finance team and (4) convertible bonds. (1) Starting of in-house private equity activities: Having in-house private equity activities might be beneficial for KBC Securities, as well as for KBC bank. Potential advantages could be the realisation of informational synergies, cross-selling opportunities, better serving of the upper wealth management clients, reducing agency problems and a better brand image. Additionally, it would be in line with KBC Securities' vision of serving companies in every stage of their lifecycle. (2) Cross-selling in KBC Securities: We focus on how private, corporate and investment bankers should work together to generate more revenues as a whole. We elaborate on the importance of knowledge training, good incentive systems, alignment of every party involved, proper internal communication systems and the support of senior management to effectively realise cross-selling opportunities within the bank. (3) Organisational set-up of the corporate finance team: For the reason that ECM activities and M&A activities serve different type of clients, require different skills and networks to grow, we believe (after performing research and conducting interviews with industry experts) that it would be better to split up the corporate finance team into two separate teams: an ECM team and a M&A team. (4) Convertible bonds: As KBC Securities currently has no in-house expertise regarding convertible bonds, we want to encourage KBC Securities' management to consider if it is worth starting this activity. Chapter 6 is the conclusion of the In-Company Project. Moreover, the research question which was presented in chapter 1, is answered. KBC Securities should implement customer intimacy as a strategy in order to stay relevant. Furthermore, the following limitations of this project were discussed in this chapter, namely: the limited number of conducted interviews, the limited amount of available academic research regarding the research question and the time constraint. We emphasised that this project is a purely strategic exercise (formulation), with limited focus on strategy execution. As a result, compliance, risk, regulation and operation-related matters are out of the scope of this project. This chapter finishes with some actions for KBC Securities going forward. The formulation of a sound strategy, as presented in this report, was only a first step in becoming a customer intimate bank that puts the client at the centre of everything it does. However, there still is a long way to go. Next steps for KBC Securities should focus on the actual execution and implementation of this strategy across the investment bank, with impact on its day-to-day operations. In chapter 7, additional research is conducted on the sell-side research function. MiFID II will have a major impact on sell-side research firms. Buy-side firms will become much more selective in deciding which research reports to buy and the budgets for research will likely decline, which means quality becomes the key differentiator. Additionally, competition is expected to increase. We conclude that KBC Securities should position itself as a regional champion where they should leverage their home field advantage in the Benelux to compete with other sell-side firms covering the same stocks. Lastly, we conclude that artificial intelligence and technology will be important in the future and that research analysts should focus more on client-facing activities instead of performing basic written research. KBC Securities should take actions to make sure analysts' time is spent on activities that are valued by the client and activities that the client wants to pay for, instead of spending most of their time on less-valued activities.
    • A design of business structure and methodology for improved business development

      Kerstholt,Robert; Verelst, Charlien (2018)
      DEKRA Belgium (from now on referred to as DEKRA) is a mid-sized company that is part of the globally active DEKRA Group. It aims to assist in everything around safety and accidents at work, on the road, and at home. DEKRA does this throughout the whole safety lifecycle. Meaning that it provides services to prevent, handle, and improve. Most of DEKRA’s business considers the automotive industry, where it provides services like expertise in car damage and handling claims for insurance companies. The business activity of DEKRA is not limited to the automotive industry, with their departments industrial and personnel, they cover claims from insurance branches such as cars, cargo, real estate, liability, accidents, and health. DEKRA’s aim is to be the partner covering the entire safety lifecycle. DEKRA has strongly grown in previous years and the objective is to keep growing at a high pace. The company sensed the need for an improvement with regards to business development to reach this goal. This lead to a project to find out what this need exactly was, where it came from, and to provide a practical plan to fulfil this need. This report starts with preliminary research in which the exact need for business development gets tracked down. Tracking down the need for business development started with gathering general information about the company. This resulted in an understanding of the context. With this understanding, meetings were held in which targeted questions were asked about the motives for initiating this project. This lead to further research which revealed why there is indeed a need for improved business development. The reason for starting this project was illustrated with a couple of examples. These examples provided the insight that as DEKRA grew, certain company dynamics changed. This change in dynamics impacted the effectiveness of business development. Operations used to be able to somehow run the whole operational business and on top of that develop new business. Currently, the flaws of this system become evident. It is not possible anymore to expect operations to fulfill such tasks. They should no be expected to fulfill these tasks because it is not their expertise, nor do their day-to-day responsibilities leave enough time. This combination asks for a change that provides business development expertise and at the same time reliefs operations from tasks that do not fit their responsibilities. To provide this change, the logical solution is to assign one or multiple employee(s) with business development expertise and available time to do business development. Within DEKRA there is not enough spare capacity to meet both of those requirements. Therefore, new employee(s) are required to fulfill the business development need of DEKRA. Further research showed that for those new employees it should be clear who has the final responsibility for what. Organizational structure provides the necessary clarity. Designing this structure yields two options. They either work together as one team or they work separately. The first option results in one department from which business development is done company wide. The second option results in separate units that develop business for their specifically assigned department only. An evaluation of both options leads to the conclusion that setting up one department is the best option for DEKRA. This will bring organizational structure that fits DEKRA. The next part considers methods to develop business. This is about making what the department should do concrete. To concretize the function of this department, the exact scope of tasks that falls within the responsibility of the business development department was to be defined. To not reinvent the wheel a broad range of companies was studied in order to find learn from other companies about what to do to develop business. An evaluation of successful business development departments showed that business development can fulfil these tasks: creating an ideation culture, collecting business opportunities, creating an overview of business potential, evaluating potential business, making the step from plan to realization, adopting new business into day-to-day activity, marketing for the new business, managing the business development process. An additional conclusion with regards to the newly hired business developers is that they should get a job title that helps other employees to understand the function of business developers. This will lead to a higher chance of acceptance. The design of business structure and definition of tasks do not make clear what steps to take to improve business development. The real value for DEKRA comes from a practical plan. Therefore, a plan that describes how to do business development follows. From other companies was learned that there is not one set of tasks that will lead to effective business development for every company. The activities to develop business should be customized for the company. The next objective was to filter the list of tasks that business development departments usually fulfil. The value of performing these tasks at DEKRA was evaluated for each task individually, this lead to a set of tasks that is customized for DEKRA. Business development’s first task will be to collect business opportunities. This should be done in two ways. Firstly, by taking an active role with the aim to connect to the right people and sources of information. Secondly, attending meetings with customers and taking a similar active role to ensure opportunities are seized. The next step will be to create an overview of business potential; this can be done in various ways. How this is done will not be a difference of night and day. Making sure this step will not be skipped is what is most important. When the overview also displays the opportunities clearly and in order of urgency, then this step is performed very well. After everything is neatly organized, it is important to evaluate the potential business to see which opportunities are worth follow up. The most efficient way of doing this, is to start off with the pass/ fail evaluation method. Then a second evaluation round, where the evaluation matrix is used, results in a thorough evaluation. More practical information about how to create and use this matrix can be found in Appendix E. The end result of the matrix will be a tool for comparison and focused discussion. After deciding to further develop an idea, the realization of the idea should be prepared by establishing commitment through idea ownership and making a planning that tackles the pragmatic challenges. Then, the development and testing of minimum viable services will result in the actual realization of the business opportunity. Providing operations with necessary information to deliver the minimum viable service is driver of success. In parallel, business development should devise and realize a go-to-market strategy. To finish the business development cycle, the responsibility for the service should be transferred to operations. Operations will then adopt the new business in day-to-day activities while providing feedback to the business development department. DEKRA’s internal knowledge on management provides a solid basis to manage that all these tasks are performed correctly. However, it advised to spend extra attention on communication. Research showed that the use of a platform can result in the efficient and effective communication aspires to have. The assessment of multiple platforms provides an overview of options and inspiration on how to improve communication. A platform called Yambla has high potential to improve the communication of the business development process as well as the overall communication within DEKRA. A system that integrates DEKRA connect with a platform would make the ultimate communication tool. In conclusion, a business development department has to be set up and should follow a welldevised set of methods to fulfil the tasks that lead to business. The report covers in how to do this in closer detail. The execution of this plan will result in effective business development that enables DEKRA to grow in the future.
    • How to develop a digital solution for mobile that improves the customer experience in the construction industry and how to implement it? Qualitative market research and strategic design thinking

      Devillez, François; Van Noten, Sebastiaan (2018)
      Aliaxis is globally a leading company in the manufacturing and distribution of advanced plastic piping systems. Aliaxis Group employs over 16.000 people in over 100 commercial and manufacturing companies worldwide. Since July 2016, Aliaxis introduced the new DNA strategy: ‘Developing the New Aliaxis’. The strategy is built upon a clear three-pillar aim: winning together with our customers, becoming the clear number 1 in global plastic piping, and creating the best place to work for Aliaxis personnel. Aliaxis’ clear choice for customer intimacy as the competitive business strategy is not aligned with the fact that, currently, there is an existing lack of touchpoints between Aliaxis and its end customer. Aliaxis misses out upon valuable opportunities to create more sustainable customer connections. The growing importance of the customer relationship is not only a result of Aliaxis’ conscious choice for customer centricity but is also a product of today’s business propositions riddled with digital innovations. To address these delays, the objectives for the project were set to improve the customer journey and to increase Aliaxis’ power over its distributors through digital means. Information about the current problems and processes of Aliaxis were gathered through interviews with 24 employees and 18 plumbers who are part of these processes. Customer journey maps were drafted. The project was managed in line with a custom research model and strategy-to-implementation model. One solution embraces all Aliaxis’ challenges: developing a digital mobile solution. A mobile solution that would work in close collaboration with the plumbers, as a new colleague. The global solution proposed includes five areas of action: 1) A planning and HR tool, 2) a product information tool, 3) a quotation and invoicing tool, 4) an Inventory Management tool and 5) a virtual training section. It was recommended to Aliaxis to reunite all these solutions in one application featuring a Spotify-model design that allows justified pricing differentiation between functionalities and target users. Furthermore, it is advisable to make sure the application is usable throughout EMEA which requires an experienced developer to enhance multi-market compatibility of the platform and mobile app. Recommendations were made to Aliaxis on the implementation itself, ranging from design, over marketing to change management solutions. It was suggested to implement several incentivization elements where influencers, ambassadors and plumbers can be rewarded for promoting the platform. This will assure wide-spread online presence of the application next to increased word-to-mouth propagation. Also, the importance of internal communication and acceptance of the new digital product is stressed. Training the employees is as essential as training the plumbers. For the go-to-market plan a two-sided implementation plan (input & output) is worked out and proposed that installs a platform ecosystem. Using network synergies between online influencers, Aliaxis ambassadors and other plumbers, the first push marketing plan was created. Further, a concrete implementation roadmap was suggested on a short, mid and long-term perspective to enable Aliaxis to visualize all the steps needed on its road to success. Lastly, the benefits and new revenue streams for Aliaxis Group that result from this new digital tool are listed to show that the potential is tremendous. When implementing these recommendations, the success of the project could be measured by several KPIs. Market adoption can be measured through the number of mobile app downloads. Progress can be measured in increasing number of DAU1, in the quality improvement of the customer journey and in the product turnover.
    • Improving mobility on the Loghidden City

      Dessaer, Erland; Schroyen, Thomas (2018)
      Due to the rapid growth of the operations as well as the number of employees on the Loghidden City terminal of Katoen Natie in Antwerp, Katoen Natie is searching for solutions to improve the mobility on their site. With over a thousand permanent employees and more than 75% of them coming to work by car, they are forming congestion on the site at times of shift changes. This results in a loss of productivity of €132.600 and even an unsafe work environment. The employees are getting frustrated since they must queue in a traffic jam to leave the terminal after their shift. In order to implement a long-term solution, a radical change will need to happen. The Loghidden City, which historically grew to an open terminal where everyone can enter freely, should transition into a closed terminal. Hereby, all passenger vehicles can be kept off the site and only vehicles that are necessary for the operations, such as trucks and Tug masters, will drive on the terminal without any obstacles. The transitions to a closed terminal entails redesigning the entry and exit gates, but this is not within the scope of this research. The focus of this paper is twofold. First, where to park the cars of the employees? And second, how to 'transport' them to their warehouses? Mapping out the number of employees per warehouse per shift gives a good overview of the flow of people throughout the day. Furthermore, it indicates the capacity needed for both parking areas and possible modes of transportation. Combining the facts that building land is valuable and hard to find in the region of the terminal and that parking areas don't generate a revenue stream, it might be most beneficial to provide centralized rooftop parking's on warehouses which still need to be built. On the northern side of the terminal, warehouse 59 would be the perfect location as it is right next to a gate that could be used as entry and exit for passenger vehicles. With a surface of 30.000 square meters, it could accommodate parking for 1.350 cars. At the moment, the capacity needed at this side of the terminal is only 500 cars, but there is still a lot of expansion expected. The extra cost of the warehouse to provide a rooftop parking, including an access ramp and staircases, will be approximately €10.500.000. The southern side of the terminal, where almost no expansion is possible, a capacity of 550 parking spots is needed. Building a rooftop parking on warehouse 19, could accommodate just the right amount of parking spots and is well situated to use the southern entrance/exit or even use the gate of the neighbouring company, Lawter. The additional cost of this warehouse, including access ramp and staircases, will be approximately €5.550.000. Lastly, the already existing parking of the offices at Singelberg (east side of the terminal) could also partially be used by employees on this side of the terminal. Using these three parking areas, some mode of transportation has to be implemented as the terminal is too big to walk to some of the warehouses. Three different scenarios are researched and each scenario is assessed on its operational feasibility, timing, safety and costs. In case of using motorized vehicles, preference is given to an electric vehicle because Katoen Natie has a surplus of green electricity on the Loghidden City. The first scenario is the implementation of self-driving, autonomous shuttles. By using autonomous vehicles, the operating expenditure (OPEX) of the project should go down. However, at the moment this requires a higher capital expenditure (CAPEX) at the beginning of the project. Of the four established companies in this market, Easymile is the one to opt for. At the moment, they have a shuttle with a capacity of 15 people, but a project is in the pipeline regarding a vehicle with a capacity of 75 people. In terms of routing, three routes have been designed whereby the maximum time from a parking to the last stop is approximately 7,5 minutes. The total CAPEX of this scenario, including the purchase of 13 shuttles and all the infrastructural changes needed to the terminal (fast lanes, bus stops, etc.), will be approximately €3.725.000. The yearly OPEX, consisting of licensing fees and the salary of an operator, will be approximately €515.000. The second scenario is a simpler version of the first one. Namely, the implementation of 12-meter electric buses with a capacity of 75 people. In this market, VDL is one of the top players. And because of the fact that VDL and Katoen Natie already collaborated on successful projects in the past, prolonging this partnership is the logical choice. The routing for this scenario is more or less the same as for the previous one. Due to the fact that only three buses and less infrastructural changes are needed, the CAPEX of this scenario will be approximately €1.460.000. The yearly OPEX, only consisting of the salary of the bus drivers will be approximately €255.000. Within this scenario, there is also the option to partner with De Polder for the exploitation of the buses. Hereby Katoen Natie will not have to purchase the buses, nor arrange the bus drivers and scheduling. In this case, this will result in a yearly OPEX of approximately €940.000. A third, less sophisticated scenario is the usage of bicycles to go from the parking's to the warehouses and vice versa. The optimal bicycle to use is a unisex model, easy to maintain and not too costly. The company that can deliver a bicycle which fits Katoen Natie's needs, is Kanora. In terms of routing, three routes have been designed which will ensure a safe path with minimal interaction with other traffic on the terminal. The biggest infrastructural changes are the construction of the routes and the placement of the double-layered bicycle racks which will enable the most efficient way of parking and take up the least space. The total CAPEX for this scenario, including the purchase of roughly a thousand bicycles and all the infrastructural changes, will be approximately €1.155.000. An extra scenario which has been reviewed entails the construction of one extra parking area next to the Loghidden City. On the west side of the terminal, there is an old landfill of Bayer which is not used anymore. However, nothing can be built on top of it, but a parking is still possible. Acquiring this land and turning it into a parking area would enable Katoen Natie to let all their employees walk from a parking to their warehouse. The maximum walking time would be roughly 14 to 16 minutes, depending on the routing. The construction of the new parking and safe, separated walkways will have an approximated CAPEX of €920.000, excluding the acquisition of the landfill. A survey was conducted in order to gain more insights about the mobility in the view of the employees which are working every day at the terminal. In general, half of the employees experience a problem when driving on the terminal before and/or after their shift. At the moment, even 47% of the employees rate the mobility situation on the Loghidden City terminal "bad" to even "very bad". The problems are related to the unclear signalisation on the terminal, truck drivers parking on the road, lack of safety, speeding and many more. Moreover, 62% of the employees are willing to come 15 minutes earlier to work in order to get to their warehouses. The employees have no clear preference to use a certain internal mode of transportation. After carefully assessing the pros and cons of the different scenarios and taking into account four criteria's (operational feasibility, safety, timing and costs), the preferred scenario to be implemented today is walking (scenario 4). This scenario needs a reasonable investment. The total CAPEX would be €16.969.875 without the landfill of Bayer. The CAPEX also includes the construction of the North and South parking (€16.050.000). Furthermore, this scenario has no OPEX.
    • Identifying opportunities for growth of a social enterprise within the context of the Belgian healthcare industry

      Georgieva, Elena; Helsen, Siemen (2018)
      In Belgium, social enterprises of different types and sizes have been around since 1964, after in April 1963 the Parliament voted the supporting regulatory framework in place. Due to the low degree of variation in terms of the actual activities performed, those social enterprises located in nearby geographic areas often compete with each other for the same customers - which are more often than not situated in the very same region. One possible solution to overcome this, is consolidation, bringing several social enterprises located relatively close to each other together under one company. Another can be to specialize in a limited number of sectors, thus differentiating from competitors in terms of experience and expertise. It seems like Amival has already taken some steps towards the latter option, by replacing its old activity-centered structure with a new business unit-centered structure. The goal of this report is to further research the possibilities for growth of the Healthcare business unit in particular. Much to the authors pleasant surprise, the threat of automation, a commonly referred to enemy, should not be overestimated. Even in a highly technological sector like healthcare, where the demand for manual repetitive work is still strongly present. Though it is true that big multinational players usually prefer to automate their primary production processes, because they have the volumes to take advantage of the better economies of scale, (re)work opportunities in the form of quality control or product repackaging and relabeling do still occur, albeit less frequent and in more of an incidental fashion. Similar activities, but for very different customers need to be performed in relation to the parallel import business model that is being employed by some international logistic players. In this arbitrage scheme, where the same good is bought cheap in one country and then sold at a higher price in the other, cost-efficiency in terms of transport, storage and repackaging (often needed to provide all the necessary information in the correct language of the country of destination) is primordial as this can make or break the business case. The secondary and incidental nature of these two possibilities, could lead to uncertainty about both the volume as well as the occurrence of related revenues for Amival, which would therefore prefer to become a part of the primary production process. In this respect, several opportunities were identified. The most promising one in the short term being the packaging of unit dose medication for use in hospitals and other care institutions. Since big pharma companies currently are unwilling to undertake this activity, and hospitals are reluctant to make the necessary investments to do it themselves, they rely on third parties to perform this service for them. Because also here cost-efficiency is of great importance to the hospitals - in the hospitals' ideal world, all of the medication is immediately supplied to them in unit dose at zero extra cost, limiting the hospitals willingness to pay for this service - and investment costs can be significant (cleanroom facilities, unit dose packaging machines for blisters, vials etc.), the safest way to enter into the market is first securing enough customers before making the necessary investments. The ongoing hospital reform, forcing cooperation between hospitals of the same care network offers an interesting window of opportunity for doing this. Another interesting possibility, albeit less obvious as not all interviewees seemed to be unanimous on the topic, is the assembly and/or packaging of medical devices. From a purely economic point of view there can be no doubt about the probability of success: many of the young medical device manufacturing companies in Belgium are looking for cost-efficient and reliable partners to outsource part of their (sub)assembly and packaging process as it requires a lot of manual labor, generally at rates high above what social enterprises like Amival would charge. This potential cost saving can stir up the interest of any company manager in the industry. What is hindering them to make the decision are the strict regulatory requirements in terms of process control to qualify for the needed ISO 13 485 certification, together with the reluctance of these relatively new kids on the block to risk the company's reputation on product quality by entrusting their high-tech, innovative product into the hands of an inexperienced social enterprise. At this point in time no am knowledge and expertise in the coming years, this might change sooner than one might think. The mandatory reverse logistics process, forcing manufacturers of medical devices to take care of the complete product life cycle can have some potential for Amival as well, because it might give rise to more manual labor in terms of rework of reusable products or disassembly of products to prepare them for recycling. For now, however, not enough concrete information was gathered by the authors in the short timeframe of their research, to confidently assess the potential. It is therefore recommended to further look into the matter and carefully monitor the evolution of this process. The same can be said for the introduction of smart packaging. Even though this is one of the buzzwords in and around the healthcare industry today and a lot of information on the potential benefits can be found in the literature, the practical introduction is not expected to take place anywhere in the near future.
    • Intelligent pricing strategy for B2B platform in the fashion industry

      Parsaieva, Valentyna; Wu, Xian (2018)
      This report provides an analysis of the problem that most startup Software as a Service (hereinafter-SaaS) companies are struggling with: the development of a pricing strategy for fashion startup Lys.Fashion. Often, SaaS companies do not understand how to price their product/service based on the value they provide. In most cases in real life, companies that do not have pricing models also lack customer development and, as a result, are not aware to whom they are selling their product to. This report explores the needs of the future customers of Lys.Fashion, investigates a pricing process as a paramount lever of growth and provides recommendations for a pricing strategy. The report first evaluates the key trends of the market and challenges of the fashion ecosystem, describes best practices of PaaS companies, identifies the forces shaping the fashion industry in 2018 and examines the main competitors and substitutes of Lys.Fashion business. The analysis of successful SaaS business models draws attention to the fact that platform businesses have changed the way of doing business and have become a driver of economic growth, but the level of failures in PaaS business is very high. Attracting and keeping users on both sides of the platform is crucial for Lys.Fashion to succeed. The report provides recommendations for Lys. Fashion to address the chicken and egg problem, such as: - Lys.Fashion should first invite a critical number of brands to create value before reaching the retailers. Lys.Fashion should build partnerships with industry experts or trade shows who already have large brands' and retailers' base. Lys.Fashion should focus first on the charged platform's side - brands within a specified cluster, e.g. premium market segment, and, afterwards, combine it with providing an easy and free access for retailers combined with referral programs. The report highlights that the fashion industry is currently undergoing a digital transformation. A lot of investments have been made in the direction of disruptive technologies that are quickly spreading within the industry. Lys. Fashion's PaaS business model is innovative itself. However, in order to stay in the market and survive the fierce competition, further actions in the direction of continuous improvement of users' experience are recommended such as: to consider functioning more than a digital catalogue in order to create perception of "emotional connection/personal touch" online to compensate the fact that people can no longer touch or fit before they buy. to reconsider the value proposition and include new possibilities offered by digital technology, especially profound data analytics tools. Creating highquality and personalized content based on data analytics should become the differentiator of the Lys.Fashion platform in order to deliver seamless digital experience that will guarantee the customers engagement and platform's sustainability. to become the digital fashion expert, influencer and trendsetter. The competitor analysis provides insights about their value propositions, about customers' willingness to pay and price sensitivity of different market sides. The point of differentiation of Lys.Fashion has been defined, which is inspirational platform for discovery and connection of brands and retailers, but not a marketplace for reordering. The substitute and complementary analysis show the costs made by Lys.Fashion's potential customers in the industry, that have become the foundation for our anchorbased pricing. However, among different price setting strategies, value-based pricing has been chosen as the major pillar of the recommended pricing strategy because the best way to understand the value of the product is to study the feedback of the customers who will buy and use it. The report draws significant amount of attention to the validation of brand and retailer personas of Lys.Fashion, their needs and channels to connect with each other, their current expenses and their willingness to pay for Lys.Fashion services based on interviews with more than 70 members of B2B fashion market. Finally, the report provides the recommendation on the optimal pricing strategy with a yearly "feature based" subscription model for brands and freemium "user-based" model for retailers. The revenue model based on the charge for access has been examined where two revenue streams for Lys. Fashion, such as charge brands for access and charge retailers for access, are envisaged. Based on the high price sensitivity of the interviewed retailers, the model, where the brands will subsidize the retailers, is recommended in order to address the chicken and egg problem. The report unveils the process of development of three pricing packages for brands based on: the needs of each defined brand persona; the right feature mix linked to the most valued features by each brand persona during the interviews; the value metric that enables Lys.Fashion to grow with the growth of its customers. Logical transition from one pricing package to the next, starting out from the "Startup" plan and moving progressively up in scale, has been developed in a pricing model for Lys.Fashion. The report also illustrates the uncertainties, the main of which is the time period that is sufficient for reaching platform network effect that directly depends on the efficiency of onboarding the users to the platform. The report also provides a road map of future action plan till the end of 2018, together with dynamic pricing strategies, in order to facilitate the process of Lys.Fashion acceleration.
    • International go-to-market strategy for home automation product

      Nagdasova, Nina; Luo, Jiawei (2018)
      Niko Group is the market leader in Belgium for electrical solutions and services and is well known for the excellent quality of its products. Mainly known as a B2B player, Niko has set the goals to grow the business and expand into the European mass market. In order to do so, the company is going to launch a new home automation product - "Niko Home Control for All", consisting of universal smart switching equipment designed to work with existing in-house wiring, being able to integrate with different IOT systems and serve as one integrated point of remote control. Therefore, the main challenge is: how to bring Nick Home Control for All into the European mass market. To tackle the challenge, the project team broke it down into two main parts to make this international go-to-market strategy a success. The first part is to identify potential most beneficial markets for the introduction and international expansion of "Niko Home Control for All" and formulate a feasible and relevant entry and expansion strategy. The second part is to define the right go-to-market strategy to win the markets, which includes formulating the competitive product value proposition, designing new channel strategy and identifying the required organizational changes to adapt to the new strategies. Various research methods were used in the project. A market attractiveness assessment model was used to assess the markets potential, the in-depth market analysis enabled the team to narrow down the country list and formulate a feasible strategic launch plan. Furthermore, a Belgium-based market research was conducted. Both primary research methods, including focus groups, online survey and personal interviews, and secondary research were used to complete the Belgium market research. The following in-depth analyses were executed: customer concerns and needs analysis, market trends research and competitor analysis. The findings resulted into valuable inputs to formulate the new relevant product value proposition. The findings resulted into valuable inputs to formulate the new relevant value proposition for the product. Entering mass markets, which is the target market for the Niko product, requires from the company to take more control over end customers and retailer channels. A new channel strategy was proposed after the profound research of sales value chain. The given by the project team recommendations require from the company some organizational changes in order to adapt this new international go-to-market strategy. The proposed changes are aimed to increase flexibility, feasibility and overall benefits of the proposed new strategy. Out of 38 European countries, four countries - Belgium, Netherlands, United Kingdom and Germany were selected for the first and second stages of product launch. At least 6-month break period for localization and adaptation of entry strategies is recommended between the two stages. Belgium and Netherlands were selected as the pilot markets due to the high market familiarity and large network. The pilot markets will help to test the product and ensure enough time for launching the product in other new markets. Germany and United Kingdom were selected for the second stage with recommendations to give to these countries very high strategic focus, due to the outstanding market potential. Based on the performance, other potential countries, like Denmark and Sweden, were chosen to enter in the later stage. Conducted customer research enabled the project team to identify the most potential customer segment - "enthusiastic home-birds". This segment shows high interest in home automation product and high willingness to purchase. The key values for this segment are energy saving, home security, product evolution to keep it up-to-date, and peace of mind. Combing the insights from customer research, competitor analysis, market trends research and business strategy, the team formulated the new value proposition: Self-installable Home Control is designed to provide efficient energy management, reliable home security, and bring peace of mind in your daily life. The customer research also showed customer preferences regarding market channels, including electronics stores, DIY chains and online shops. Electronics retail chains, like Mediamarkt and Vanden Borre, are the most popular channel for the product. However, to push the product into mass markets, a new channel strategy was identified. This strategy includes direct approach to retail partners and use of outsource companies for packaging and logistics. In the end, organizational changes were proposed to ensure execution of this international go-to-market strategy. Therefore, the new team structure will be needed, including adding new roles, such as controlling planner, local trade marketing manager, local service support representative, etc. Besides that, upgrade of current positions from local to international level is recommended, for example product manager shall be upgraded into international product manager. Additionally, internal B2C trainings will ensure that the company's employees can better and faster adapt themselves to the new business.
    • Implementing the structural change of the medical department in a large-scale, international NGO: Introducing holarchy

      Ampe, Charline; Van Eldere, Hendrik; Van Iseghem, Ruben (2018)
      The medical department of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Brussels is currently going through a structural change. In order to implement this new structure, the medical director abolished the units and initiated self-organised teams, which are called circles. When the Vlerick team entered the organisation, the assignment was to create a tool to measure the output of the circle system. Although Convidencia, an external consultancy firm based in Brussels, was hired to assist the change manager in the structural transition, the team quickly detected that change had been very slow-paced. Therefore, other steps had to be taken first instead of measuring output of circles. Consequently, the team decided to tackle the process from an action research mindset. The action research revolved around three main questions that were identified during the time within the company: ‘How far has the organisational structure been implemented?’, ‘What are the next steps in order to obtain a good implementation of the new structure?’ and ‘How should the output of circles be measured and which metrics should be used?’. Six batteries of change were used to measure the status of the organisational change. These batteries provide a tool to picture where the organisation is performing well, and where it should take action to facilitate change. Two batteries were very highperforming; namely ‘management team’ and ‘connectedness’. This means that the management is inspiring, has a great relation with its employees and staff feels strongly connected to each other and to the organisation. The culture battery scored well, but some key issues should be improved: the culture is strong, but often fails to channel the positive energy. Furthermore two batteries were performing poorly: ‘management infrastructure’ and ‘action and implementation’. The change management lacked guidelines and templates, as well as strong structures to support the employees. These are the batteries that the Vlerick team deemed most urgent, and the impact of the In-Company Project can already be gauged as proven by the improvement within some batteries. The last battery regarding strategy scored average which is why the Vlerick team urges the management to further intensify the focus on strategy. Additionally, an output measuring system for circles has been based on three principles. Firstly, objectives have to show a clear link to the needs in the field. Secondly, objectives in a Kanban system have to be ranked by importance, and lastly, the system is strongly based on communication with the coordinator. By providing an output mechanism based on these three principles, the necessary conditions observed in literature are fulfilled. This research is concluded by an important managerial implication. In order to make the new structure succeed, a unified strategic direction of the department should be emplaced. All members of the medical department should be aligned and in favour of the new structure. In order to achieve this alignment, firm leadership is essential. Additionally, the guidelines proposed by the Vlerick team should be meticulously followed and trainings for the employees should be organised internally. To make circles a dynamic tool, the management should keep re-evaluating the structure on a permanent basis.
    • Impact investment in an emerging market: An economic feasibility analysis of a dried mango factory in Burkina Faso

      Deligiannis, Ioannis; Mutungi, Colling; Schepens, Laurens (2018)
      Investing in emerging countries can be risky but also extremely rewarding if successful. The target of this economic analysis is to establish if the investment in a mango drying facility can yield a 20%-30% IRR on investment over a five-year period with a fixed initial investment of €200'000. Conclusively, it has been established that the venture has potential to yield an IRR over 60% over five years. This conclusion is based on an in-depth analysis of the current dried mango market conditions, establishing a competitive business strategy, and analysing the feasibility and risks of the operations. Market conditions seem favourable to establish a dried mango venture based on three market observations. Firstly, people are getting more conscious about their well-being and this leads to healthier diets. Secondly, consumers, particularly in Europe, dislike products with additives or which are produced with pesticides. Lastly, consumers want to be reassured that their products have been produced in socially acceptable conditions. These trends lead to a growing demand for dried mangos particularly in the UK, Germany and the US. Characteristics of dried mangos from Burkina Faso suit perfectly to be established as a premium niche product. The organic way of production and the great taste are strong differentiators to the international competition and therefore the strategy should be focused on creating a high-quality product. Moreover, establishing a professionally organised production hub will lead to a higher quality standard and production efficiency compared with local exporters. Clients have significant bargaining power and have to be convinced about the benefits of the product and about a reliable business relationship. The commercial office in Europe will therefore be a clear strategic advantage, especially at the start of the venture. As already described, operations will be key to a successful product strategy. Continuous investments in the capacity expansion and product improvements are necessary to secure high production standards and scale in operational processes. The venture will be dependent on a steady fresh mango supply and 75% of direct cost will be driven by the raw material. This dependence on the local mangos is a risk which increases significantly the larger the production grows. From a finance perspective the rapid growth can be sustained due to the high contribution margin and relatively low fixed costs. This will lead to a positive free cash after two years which can directly be reinvested into further capacity building. After 5 years of sales growth averaging 50% per year the company is expected to have an equity value of 1 Mio based on a DCF analysis. This in return will lead to a 62% IRR on equity for investors.
    • Implementation study for automatic appointment planning systems in CRM software

      Westermann, Marc (2018)
      This report provides an implementation strategy for an automatic appointment planning system integrated into the SaaS CRM platform Teamleader. The implementation is evaluated on different dimensions to determine the viability of proceeding. These dimensions include: strategic fit with company values and objectives, business position and market strategy, and user's pain to solve this problem. Results of the evaluation show a strong fit with Teamleader's vision to enable users to work smarter, by enhancing the core functionality calendar functionality with a meeting solution. As a company in its scale-up phase, Teamleader is in need to constantly evolve the product with reasonable capital investment. Lastly, the automatic appointment planning system is eliminating a pain point for users in the SME sector, that experience time losses through the administrative overhead of scheduling meetings. The positive outcome of the strategic evaluation initiates the implementation strategy to proceed to creating concrete advice for implementing this feature technically, visually and on a management level. Information gathered from: empirical analysis of current platform metrics, market research, user testing sessions, and technical exploration lead to actionable results on all levels of examination. The recommendations for a successful implementation include a three-step process to introducing the feature to the product. The implementation moves successively from a manual solution to a fully automated process. Every step of this process is recommended to be rolled out to production after beta testers approve the changes
    • Managing complexity in fashion: SKU rationalisation for a leading international lingerie company

      Feys, Lien; Gigliotti, Olivia; Van Parys, Victoria (2018)
      At Van de Velde, within the lingerie industry a leading international company, the number of stock keeping units (SKUs) doubled over the years. Nevertheless, average sales per SKU have decreased almost by half over time. This increase in SKUs has been costly and harms the efficiency of the firm to a high extent and thus can be considered as bad complexity. In other words, this growth in SKUs affected the company negatively. Therefore, the aim of this project is to rationalise Van de Velde’s product portfolio for the brands Marie-Jo and Prima Donna and their respective side collections: L’Aventure and Twist. More specifically, this project focuses on reducing the number of SKUs for each of these brands. This rationalisation process must be conducted via quantitative, as well as qualitative analyses. The project started off with a set of interviews given by internal and external stakeholders. These people all shared their opinion about what they experienced as problems within the current offering. These people’s individual and combined hypotheses were fact checked via data. The data analysis was structured in a four-step process. Within the first step underperforming SKUs were identified. This was done very thoroughly, data per collection, per season, per year, per country and even per product style were analysed. In order to make sure not too much of the assortment would be cut, additional substitution analyses were conducted, so the risks of lost sales and eventually lost customers, when delisting a certain product or product line, could be lowered. The outcomes of all these different analyses formed the basis for the second step: developing an action plan, in terms of three scenarios. These three constructed scenarios reach from prudent to farfetched and are called: step-by-step, halfway there and at the top, by analogy with climbing a mountain. Each of these scenarios holds specific recommendations concerning families, styles, colours and size ranges. Via this scenario approach Van de Velde can choose how far they want to go. If the they decide to start off with the step-by-step scenario, the company can later on still choose to improve its portfolio by following up on the delisting presented within the second scenario, since these scenarios are built-up gradually. Below every domain will be introduced. Families - Research has shown that Van de Velde still has too many families, both in stayer and fashion collections. Therefore, it is suggested to further scrap fashion collection up to 3 families. For stayers, the specific family Undertones should be removed from the assortment and the amount of families in the same colour should be limited to maximum 3. Remarkable is that sales round 2 in the FW season drastically underperforms. A solution is limiting FW to 1 sales round. A last suggestion in this section is to introduce slow fashion collections that are available for multiple seasons. This to limit SKUs while improving the efficiency per SKU. In this slow fashion collections could be included: recolorations of stayers, introduction of new stayers, collections in basic colours and bridal collections for the main brands. Styles - Currently there is too much overlap in the assortment of Van de Velde. In order to prevent cannibalisation, there cannot be an overlap of similar styles within 1 family. Moreover, the overlap in more special styles across families should be limited and there needs to be set a maximum of styles per family. Analysis shows customers prefer certain styles in across the different brands. Therefore, it is suggested to reserve those styles for the specific brands. For example, full cup wire in Prima Donna and Twist, and no longer in Marie-Jo and L’Aventure. Last but not least, style preference shows to be country specific. Therefore, this report suggests adapting certain families to specific countries or regions in terms of styles and colours. This to be able to further grow in foreign markets. Colours - The analyses deducted two specific colour issues. One is the lack of a good performing red family in the stayer collection. A finding that was confirmed by different retail partners, as well as by sales representatives. Another is the underperformance of white across all families. This colour has become less popular but is still strategically important in certain countries. Therefore, a limited offer in slow fashion is suggested. Sizes - One recommendation that came out of the analyses is to scrap in cups. B underperforms in both Prima Donna and Twist, but especially in Twist. As retail partners and sales representatives emphasize the importance of a B cup in Prima Donna for older customers, it is suggested to scrap the B cup except for the stayer collection in Prima Donna. Similar to the B cup, the F cup underperforms in Marie-Jo and L’Aventure due to cannibalisation effect of Prima Donna and Twist. This cup is suggested to be eliminated as feedback from the field indicates that these customers are more easily transferrable to Prima Donna and Twist, due to the advantage of support and comfort. A cups in Marie-Jo and L’Aventure, G and H cups in Twist and J cups in Prima Donna, are proved to be less efficient but are still strategically important. Therefore, it is recommended to reduce these families and not entirely scrap them. For extreme circumferences the same applies. Another recommendation is to develop a fixed size table for every style to make it more logical for both customers and end-customers. It might however be possible to have a different size table for the three categories fashion, slow fashion and stayer to optimise the efficiency of its SKUs. Additional ideas - Whenever the bad complexity the bad complexity has been eliminated, there is room for innovation and development of new SKUs. This to address different customer needs and increase overall sales. One suggestion is to launch a “first-buy” collection, starting from an A cup at a low pricing point. This way, Van de Velde could address the problem of the high age for a first buy of its brands. Acquiring young customers from the start increases loyalty and repeat purchases. Another suggestion is to extend the size range for the Prima Donna Swim collection. Nowadays, loyal I and J cup customers are not addressed and thereby disappointed. Given the large sizes strategy of Prima Donna, also a larger size table for Swim is in line with the brand’s values. A last suggestion is to launch limited editions at different key moments during the year, such as Christmas or Valentine’s day. These products could be sold at a higher margin because of the scarcity effect and could further build on the brand image. Each of the developed scenarios will have an impact on the company and its people, whether it is the prudent one or the farfetched one. The effect of each scenario was researched within step three, via interviews. The internal and external partners who gave interviews at the start of the project, were contacted to give feedback on the possible rationalisation scenarios. All interviewees confirmed that scrapping the suggested items was justified. In order to make the company more futureproof in terms of product portfolio, a few suggestions are given. For instance: more data insights concerning customer behaviour and brand awareness could be useful to set up a brand switching matrix, via which cannibalisation between Van de Velde’s both brands can be researched into detail. Besides that, an activity-based costing (ABC) system, via which overhead costs are properly allocated, can be useful to develop a more transparent cost structure. This ABC system also allows to analyse the profitability of each stayer via breakeven analysis and gross margin return on inventory. All these tools can be used to follow up closely on the SKU portfolio and allow the company to make fast adjustments to its offering. In these fast-changing digital times, in which E-commerce is gaining traction, it is important to react swiftly to customer behaviour and if needed adjust the offering. These tools, together with the rationalisation presented within the scenarios, will guide Van de Velde successfully towards an optimal product portfolio.
    • Monetization in B2B SaaS industry and optimizing customer segmentation model

      Misirlilar, Gülçin; Borja, Justine Kyle (2018)
      This in-company project aims to identify the winning monetization strategies in the B2B SaaS industry which Teamleader can potentially tap into, and at the same time, identify the most optimal customer segmentation model through quantitative analysis. Chapter 1 talks about Teamleader as a company, its history, value proposition, product offerings, presence in the EU market, and the direction of the company. This chapter also talks about the evolution of Teamleader from product - platform through the marketplace, and its most recent project launch during 2018's work smarter event, which was the €1M integration fund. Chapter 2 outlines the scope and limitations of the project statement which mainly revolves around monetization and customer segmentation, as these are the main objectives and deliverables of this market research. The project statement also requires a detailed study and report on competitor's monetization strategies as a benchmark, a proposal on new/adapted revenue streams which the researchers would like to further explore on, an interactive revenue model to show its impact, and a quantified customer segmentation model through the use of relative preference analysis and Van Westendorp's price sensitivity meter. Chapter 3 enumerates the 3 different key drivers of SaaS: Acquisition, Retention, and Monetization. This chapter provides both a literature review and internal data from Teamleader on the different strategies that the company has been doing in relation to these drivers. Moreover, a thorough competitor's analysis was also conducted in order to benchmark some monetization strategies which are currently being used in the market. Lastly, the proposed monetization strategies of the researchers were also discussed in this chapter and its foreseeable impact to Teamleader. Chapter 4 displays the interactive revenue model created by the researchers that shows the impact of data enrichment and white-labelling to the MRR of Teamleader. This chapter also highlights the different metrics crucial to a SaaS business. Chapter 5 discusses the current customer segmentation model of Teamleader and why is there a need to optimize this model. This chapter also tackles some business cases relating to the segmentation strategies of other similar companies in the SaaS industry. Furthermore, the jobs to be done framework was also discussed as this is one of the many frameworks which Teamleader is looking into for potentially segmenting its customers. Chapter 6 lists all the different methodologies which the researchers have done in pursuance of the objectives of the market research. Wiki Survey and Qualtrics were the main survey tools that were used in this study and was used accordingly to the target participants. The Wiki Survey was used during the Work Smarter event of Teamleader in Belgium to find out the different JTBDs of both the customers and non-customers of Teamleader. On the other hand, Qualtrics was used as the main survey tool that was sent internally to Teamleader customers through HubSpot. The survey duration and distribution methods were also talked about in this chapter. Chapter 7 puts a more elaborate focus on Wiki Survey and Typeform. In this chapter, the researchers discussed how the survey was designed and how the data was analyzed. From the Work Smarter event, the researchers were able to gather 159 respondents which was an optimal number, as 100 respondents is the minimum number to arrive at a good conclusion. Furthermore, the researchers were able to identify the Top JTBDs that matter to the attendees regardless if they are Teamleader's customers or not. Chapter 8 is the biggest part of this market research as this highlights the 2 main analysis which the researchers conducted towards optimizing the customer segmentation model of Teamleader: elative Preference analysis and Van Westendorp price sensitivity analysis. This chapter talked about literature reviews which indicates the importance and benefits of using such analysis towards segmentation. Moreover, the survey design was also very important as both analysis had very unique ways of asking questions in order to arrive with the desired results. Having said this, chapter 8 also scrutinizes the different variables which the researchers have used in finding the most optimal customer segmentation model. The researchers have opted in performing the customer-based analysis which takes service and service + material and number of users into account, whilst product-based analysis looked at the different modules a customer is using and adding the said variables. Through these different analysis, the researchers were able to pinpoint the unique differentiation among Teamleader users and some potential areas to improve on. The Van Westendorp analysis was also supported by a revenue-demand curve which poses a question to Teamleader's strategy in relation to choosing low price over more customers, or high revenue but low customers. Lastly, chapter 9 illustrates the proposed customer segmentation model made by the researchers. This model was purely based on the data-driven analysis which the researchers have acquired from the previously mentioned chapters. In the end, the researchers were able to merge the most preferred Teamleader features given by the respondents and associate it with their willingness to pay. From experimenting different segmentation factors, the researchers also arrived at a conclusion that a customer-based analysis which is segmented by the number of users is the way to go for Teamleader, instead of a service and service + material segmentation. To summarize, the different literature review, data gathering, statistical techniques, and analysis were all crucial factors in achieving the deliverables and giving a solution to Teamleader's burning management questions. The recommendations given were all a representation for what Teamleader can possibly do in the future.
    • Investigation and business model improvement of 3D pre-operative planning software in the craniomaxillofacial market

      D'hoore, Anastasia; Leblanc, Julie; Seghers, Stéphanie (2018)
      Materialise is generally known as the pioneer within the 3D printing and planning software industry. "ProPlan CMF" is generally recognized as the state of the art for pre-operative planning solutions for the cranio-maxillofacial (CMF) surgeries. However, new players are entering the market and the competition is growing. In addition, 3D solutions -both software and printing- are becoming cheaper. Also, the number of patients for CMF surgeries, planned with 3D pre-operative planning software, is growing. More and more CMF surgeons realize and confirm the added value of pre-operative 3D planning compared to the traditional method. Furthermore, this growth is also stimulated by the changing healthcare landscape, with an evolution in value. To meet this value-based healthcare, 3D planning proved already to increase the operation excellence with i.e. more accurate planning, reduction in operation time; complications and the stay of the patient in the hospital. Subsequently, 3D pre-operative planning can offer greater cost efficiencies for patients, surgeons and hospitals. In addition, there is a clear trend of developing 3D solutions in-house. As a result, it is expected that there will be a strong increase in sales from the software as such (licensing model). At the moment, 95% of the sales are coming from the service model while only 5% of the sales are attributed to the licensing Model. However, the number of sales doubled in only one year. This evolution states the importance of improving the business model of the licensing model. In the light of this maturing market, the objectives of the report are threefold. First, review the sales and marketing strategy of the ProPlan CMF software in terms of segmentation, targeting and positioning. Secondly, analyze the sales and marketing process and tune towards a new sales and marketing strategy. And thirdly, rethink the revenue model of ProPlan considering the growing importance of the licensing model. Concerning the sales and marketing strategy of ProPlan, we recommend Materialise to set-up a mapping of all CMF surgeons and the corresponding hospital per country. This will form the foundations of a profound segmentation, targeting and positioning strategy. Segmentation should be done on the level of the hospital while including a specific criterion related to the activity profile of the corresponding surgeon. The segmentation criteria should be strategically significant, linked to customer behavior, create stable segments and can be operationalized and measured efficiently. In addition, each criterion should defined in a mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive way. We suggest to also take into account a criterion related to the degree of digitalization and the degree of integration of 3D solutions within a hospital. The decision of which segments to target is a strategically important decision which should be balanced in relation to the costs. We recommend Materialise to complement the current positioning sheet of ProPlan with non-technical features such as user-friendliness, ease of handling and price. In light of the increasing competition, we strongly recommend Materialise to identify their main competitors -keeping in account both technical and non-technical features- via a strategic group analysis. With regard to the sales and marketing process, we recommend Materialise to complement the rather passive approaching methodology based upon observing interests and activity on digital platforms with a more active and strategically loaded type of approaching. Furthermore, we recommend Materialise to align the sales and marketing approach with the decision making process of the hospital by not only providing the surgeon with data related to the technical added value of the software but also with data concerning the economical added value of the software. This data can be gathered by stimulating the surgeon, for instance via a promotion deal, to evaluate each case in terms of planning and operating time. In addition, we recommend Materialise to pay more attention on customer relationship with the surgeon. Furthermore, we advise Materialise to pro-actively reconsider the sales and marketing process in case of a purchasing process via public procurement since we expect that this will happen more frequently in the future. Finally, specifically for Belgium, we advise Materialise to think about a way of approaching assistants since we've notified that in Belgium surgeons pass down the 3D pre-operative planning and printing towards their assistants. With respect to the revenue model, we want to stress the importance of an adjusted pricing strategy. We advise Materialise to consider a psychological pricing tactic in form of a 'product bundle pricing'. This will give an extra customized value and create a higher willingness to pay. In addition we recommend to keep using the 'per-feature-pricing model'. We also want to state the importance of evaluating and improving the revenue model on a regular base.
    • Loyalty as an effective strategy to maximize customer lifetime value and multiple customer acquisition for a lingerie retailer

      Eraso Sarmiento, Maria Fernanda; Meuleman, Laura; Vermoesen, Isabeau (2018)
      Van de Velde has its own retail brands, Rigby & Peller and Lincherie. Worldwide these stores sell Van de Velde's high quality lingerie brands among other selected competitor brands to offer every customer a wide range of premium lingerie. Recently, the retail brands are confronted with a general market trend, namely a decline in traffic. At the same time, they are confronted with results of their loyalty program that were below expectation. One the one hand, Van de Velde wants a renewed, better performing loyalty program that can increase both customer lifetime value and multiple customer acquisition and on the other hands hopes this will increase traffic in stores. It is our job to tackle this challenge during an intensive three- month research of which this report is the end result. This report answers the following research question: How to define a loyalty strategy for the retail brands of Van de Velde (Rigby & Peller and Lincherie) in their different markets that could maximize both customer lifetime value and multiple customer acquisition? Methodology: To answer this question, we conducted several studies. Our secondary research consisted of a literature study about loyalty in general, a market analysis for the four different markets and an internal analysis of the current loyalty program. Afterwards, based on the previous research, we conducted our own primary research including a focus group and a survey to get insights in the buying behavior of women regarding lingerie, their opinion on loyalty programs in general and more specifically on the one currently implemented in the retail stores. The results of these studies have made it possible for us to come up with a recommendation for a loyalty program for the retail brands. However, there are some small differences between the one of the USA and the other markets since loyalty programs in the USA are more developed than in other countries. Results: We came up with a multi-tiered loyalty program with three different tiers, offering more benefits to customers who earn more points. Our program includes a few remarkable aspects. One is the partnerships, as a way to reward the most loyal customers with exclusive deals from other premium brands. We also included the option of Brand Ambassadorship as a way to earn points for referrals. And finally, for recycling your bra, which not only helps the environment but is also valuable for Van de Velde and works as an incentive to get customers to the store. In order to be effective, the loyalty program should be communicated very clearly via different channels. We therefore came up with a communication strategy that has three different stages: the pre-launch stage, the launch stage and the post-launch stage. Every stage includes different communication techniques to attract new members and retain and engage the existing members.
    • Investigation of the potential applicability of smart meter events to improve future asset management of distribution system operators

      Scheepers, Herman; Vanacker, Johan; Van Brabant, Vincent (2018)
      The traditional electricity generation and distribution model is undergoing a dramatical change from a unidirectional into a participatory network where active customers and decentralized energy generators (prosumers) are encouraged to participate to support the distribution. Moreover, electrical vehicles (EV) are appearing as additional consumers on the grid and while the current car landscape is still dominated by the combustion engine, the EV market has shown significant growth of up to 58% annually in the last 3 years. Therefore, the network managers will need to reinvent their operational and business models to assure the flawless execution of their mandate which is the maintaining, planning and developing of a distribution network, to ensure a secure distribution of electricity while maintaining the power quality to its customers.
    • Optimizing mobility with eChair: Business model development and market strategy analysis

      Dimitrakopoulos, Nikolaos; Lin, Ji; Sanfeliu, Marcoantonio (2018)
      The eChair project that Ford Motor developed is a wheelchair with electric wheels that can be navigated and stored in the trunk of a car lifted by an electric loading arm, automatically. This project was proclaimed as one of the best new concepts for 2017 in Ford Reasearch and Innovation Center. The user's journey consists of the use of the wheelchair to reach the car (phase 1), the process of the user entering the car (phase 2) and the automatic process of the wheelchair that drives itself to the trunk and is lifted and stored by the electric arm (phase 3). Phase 2 is not considered as a part of the project while at the end of phase 3 the trunk closes automatically. The opposite route takes place every time the user parks the car and starts the process of getting the wheelchair next to the driving position. The purpose of this innovation is to increase mobility and provide convenience to the disabled. This concept was highly evaluated by the Ford, internally. *The wheelchair is a product that belongs to the assistive market; it is the market that includes products such as hearing aids, wheelchairs, spectacles and memory aids. According to W.H.O., "assistive products maintain or improve an individual's functioning and independence, thereby promoting their well-being." Ford is already working on adapted cars for disabled and eChair is not their first initiative. Particularly in Spain, the company has developed a few models that are adapted in various ways and this initiative is called Ford Adapta. A significant progress has been made during the five years of Adapta's operations. The initiative contains promotion tours throughout the country in partnership with the dealers, where they bring all the adapted cars allowing people with disabilities to try and order them. People with disabilities do not usually have the chance to just search for any specialized adapting company and this initiative is bridging the gap, bringing benefits to Ford. Adapta is supervised by the Aftersales team in the country and it is a unique team with no similar initiatives in other countries for Ford. * The eChair operates as following; On the wheelchair, a set of electric wheels has been adapted together with a battery kit to help the wheelchair move automatically and to assist the user complementary. The navigation system is responsible to lead the wheelchair to the trunk, back and forward and the electric arm is responsible to uplift and drop the wheelchair out. The concept can be activated by a smart phone and at the same time the navigation system of the car should be connected by Bluetooth with the electric loading arm, to let the complete system operate efficiently. The project, developed internally, is considered tech-feasible. The prototype has been tested from the company and it is proved that operates smoothly. On the other hand, there are a few challenges to be addressed on this report: The desirability of the concept is an objective that needs to be identified and analyzed. This analysis will reveal if there is a gap in the market. In other words, if people would like to purchase and use this solution. Secondly, it will be examined if the concept will be economically viable, meaning that the final version of the product should be specified and the way it will be offered to the market must be beneficial for the company and for the customer. Additionally, the issue of the unit or venture that will launch the product to the market must be identified. At this stage it should be clear if the company proceeds alone, cooperates with manufacturers and/or sellers or delegates the development to another company. If the findings prove to be poor, then there is the possibility of holding the project until the circumstances mature. Not only the demand for this product should be measured, but also the version of the prototype that will be delivered to the market. Taking into consideration the parts of this innovation, there can be four different versions of the concept and a specific one must be chosen for the launch. The four versions can be conducted bellow;Version 1:Wheelchair / electrification kit / loading arm / navigation system. Version 2:Electrification kit / loading arm / navigation system. ersion 3:arm / navigation system Version 4:Navigation system. All the challenges, mentioned above, are faced using appropriate methods and techniques. Firstly, a theoretical approach is developed to put all the existing data into a framework and examine all the potential solutions through theoretical models. Once the business model is developed, all the possible solutions are elaborated on the table. Also, the business model canvas provides specific information about the concept that can be used to underline specific solution paths. At the same time the most challenging and complex questions about the concept are simplified and analyzed to subcomponents, to be easily verified. Moreover, the analysis of the market provides the opportunity to go deep into the various external environments and assemble the framework for the business model that is chosen. The theoretical research proved that there is a lot of competition in the external environment; there are at least 9 major companies in the EU and in the US that develop electric wheelchairs and relative projects. The eChair project seems not to be that interested in partners such as the assistive product makers or other major car manufacturers due to the solutions that they have developed until now. On the other hand, specialized adapting companies find the product interesting and a solution that can sell. After the framework development, a targeted research is applied to penetrate deeper to the stimulus and gather certified data. This research targets the end users and adapting manufacturers and potential partners. For the end users, a questionnaire is built up and sent to the Adapta tour events in Spain. This questionnaire is designed to address the reaction, the usability and the feedback of end users that will visit and experience the prototype, there. This survey also includes information about the market and the existing solutions that are used now and the potential convenience that eChair can offer. Information is also gathered from the professionals and adapting manufactures. This is a crucial information as it is the first time that the concept is presented to key players and specialists and these data can determine whether the concept can be viable or not. Moreover, these people provide useful technical feedback due to their know-how and their strong orientation to similar or identical projects. The data from the partners and the users provided valuable information for the concept. Data such as the features that the wheelchair users prefer in adaptations, the average time required to adapt a car and the increasing demand for assistive products. All these data helped to finalize the business model canvas and provide a descend path to launch the product to the market. Moreover, the challenges and risks could be mitigated since the information captured could assist provide alternative solutions. At the methodology section, all the actions taken are analyzed and the reasons and goals behind them. One of the objectives was to balance the limited information for eChair with online findings and theoretical models and tools that could lead to a conclusion. Finally, at the recommendation, the business model that is proclaimed is a combination of the first two versions; electrification kit / loading arm / navigation system, plus the manual wheelchair for demonstration and purchase purposes. Ford is not advised to launch the product in the market alone but rather to do a partnership. Since eChair is fully patented, the company is encouraged to cooperate with adapting and medical companies in the area. In this way, eChair will gain proximity and visibility since the end user will reach the product easier through the partners. Moreover, the partners will offer knowhow, appropriate test reports and after sales service and warranty, factors that are crucial for the product and Ford will not have to invest on them. With the ability to have the wheelchair as an extra feature for the customers that need the complete package and for demonstration purposes. The market in Belgium is quite attractive for the eChair and Ford can cooperate with the partners proposed in the survey to launch and promote the product. This is action can be an Adapta-like initiative and the partners should possess prototypes that they can promote to customers. Since eChair is a Ford product, the company apart from the financial benefits, will gain visibility and reputation for acting responsibly for the society.
    • Optimization of equity management for start-ups and venture capital firms through the development of a capitalization table management platform

      Ghailan, Badr; Farinha, João; Chandrashekar, Vimarsh (2018)
      The environment that start-ups have to face in their early development stages is extremely though and often drives these young companies to failure. In the early stages of a company many struggles surface: the difficulty of getting financed, the lack of knowledge from [often first-time] entrepreneurs in areas such as finance or law, problems stemming from weak company-investor communication, the issues with navigating the legal framework and probably the most important, the challenges related with operations. Dealing with all of the previous drains a considerable amount of time and resources from these ventures. The purpose of this project is to develop a platform to be used by both Venture Capital Firms and Start-ups (as well as some designated stakeholders) in order to improve the information flow between the different parties. In the first part of this work we focus on verifying the existence of a problem and defining it concretely. To do so we defined a methodology on how to approach the research. We have come to the conclusion that interviewing different Start-ups and Venture Capital Firms was the best way to go in-depth into the issues faced by them. While the interviews usually end up having a considerable lower sample of answers than alternative methods (since they require more time and effort from the respondents) the importance of in-depth answers far out-weighted the alternative of higher amount of brief answers. Still in the methodology chapter we have defined how to approach the research for similar platforms available on the market. We believe this is a crucial part of the work as in order to start developing the platform we need to know what the main features offered are, the type of customers targeted and the pricing of such platforms. In the next part of the report we go over the outcomes obtained employing the methodology, covering the competitors found and the answers obtained in the interviewing process. For competitors we have found six companies offering comparable services in the United States (namely: TruEquity, Carta, CapShare, Slicing Pie, CapTable.io and Certent) and two in Europe (ReporTally and Ledgy). As for the interviews' outcome we were able to make the following conclusions: both Venture Capital Firms and start-ups use exclusively Excel to manage their cap tables due to its user-friendliness and the fact that is globally accepted; interaction between investors and companies is done either through emails or phone calls; none of the eleven interviewees (six representing start-ups and the other five Venture Capital Firms) were aware of the existence of capitalization management platforms; both Venture Capital Firms and start-ups are more favorable towards having legal advice from their lawyers directly than through a platform. The question of whether or not the interviewees would be interested in changing to a platform that would centralize the data shared between investors and companies was quite more controversial and we got four participants interested in doing so (two companies and two investors) while the remaining ones didn't express interest. In the final part of the report we draft a minimum viable product along with some recommendations for Laga. In the minimum viable product chapter, we tackle the crucial features needed for such a platform to be appellative to the market (capitalization table management and scenario modelling) based on the answers received in the interviews and the market research. Although not defined with certainty, based on the meetings had with the developers, the features are to be integrated in an existing platform (Element) rather than developed as part of a brand-new tool. In the recommendations that follow, we give some major points for Laga to consider moving forward (reasons for and against launching the product, what to include in the final product - beyond the minimum viable product), along with some limitations that come from this report together with its research. Following this, we also draw some conclusions, not only applicable for Laga and the platform but also some retrospective in the entire research.