Now showing items 21-40 of 6761

    • Generalized multi-scale stochastic reservoir Opportunity Index for enhanced well placement optimization under uncertainty in green and brownfields

      Vaseghi, Forough; Ahmadi, Mohammad; Sharifi, Mohammad; Vanhoucke, Mario (Oil & Gas Science and Technology, 2021)
      Well placement planning is one of the challenging issues in any field development plan. Reservoir engineers always confront the problem that which point of the field should be drilled to achieve the highest recovery factor and/or maximum sweep efficiency. In this paper, we use Reservoir Opportunity Index (ROI) as a spatial measure of productivity potential for greenfields, which hybridizes the reservoir static properties, and for brownfields, ROI is replaced by Dynamic Measure (DM), which takes into account the current dynamic properties in addition to static properties. The purpose of using these criteria is to diminish the search region of optimization algorithms and as a consequence, reduce the computational time and cost of optimization, which are the main challenges in well placement optimization problems. However, considering the significant subsurface uncertainty, a probabilistic definition of ROI (SROI) or DM (SDM) is needed, since there exists an infinite number of possible distribution maps of static and/or dynamic properties. To build SROI or SDM maps, the k-means clustering technique is used to extract a limited number of characteristic realizations that can reasonably span the uncertainties. In addition, to determine the optimum number of clustered realizations, Higher-Order Singular Value Decomposition (HOSVD) method is applied which can also compress the data for large models in a lower-dimensional space. Additionally, we introduce the multiscale spatial density of ROI or DM (D2ROI and D2DM), which can distinguish between regions of high SROI (or SDM) in arbitrary neighborhood windows from the local SROI (or SDM) maxima with low values in the vicinity. Generally, we develop and implement a new systematic approach for well placement optimization for both green and brownfields on a synthetic reservoir model. This approach relies on the utilization of multi-scale maps of SROI and SDM to improve the initial guess for optimization algorithm. Narrowing down the search region for optimization algorithm can substantially speed up the convergence and hence the computational cost would be reduced by a factor of 4.
    • Stimulating the drive to drive green: A longitudinal experiment on socially comparative vs. individual digital eco-driving feedback

      Vanpaemel, Pieter; Weijters, Bert; Goedertier, Frank (2019)
      In the global fight against climate change, eco-driving could contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions. Recommendations on how to drive more ecologically abound, but drivers may fail to implement them as they experience difficulties monitoring their own behaviour. Digital feedback systems can help. In a longitudinal experiment, we communicate eco-driving recommendations to a sample of drivers (N = 412). Over a seven week time frame (in addition to a 13-week pre-experimental baseline easurement), we test whether digital feedback using an eco-score index further improves eco-driving. We experimentally evaluate whether adding a competitive component to the feedback further impacts eco-driving, testing different types of socially comparative feedback. Our results show that competitive feedback may help reduce speeding (but not other aspects of eco-driving), respective of the type of social comparison provided, suggesting that possibly the competitive mind-set as such (rather than the specific information conveyed) triggers the partial eco-driving improvement.
    • Equity crowdfunders’ human capital and signal set formation evidence from eye tracking

      Buttice, V.; Collewaert, Veroniek; Stroe, S.; Vanacker, Tom; Vismara, S.; Walthoff-Borm, X. (2021)
      Signaling theory typically assumes that attention is always given to observable signals. We study signal receivers’ formation of signal sets—the signals to which receivers attend and that they can use for subsequent interpretations. Drawing on a cognitive perspective, we argue that signal receivers’ human capital influences the volume and type of signals they attend to and the time they take to form signal sets. Using eye tracking, we show that equity crowdfunders do not attend to many signals that are easily observable on a campaign page, and that differences in crowdfunders’ human capital uniquely affect their signal set formation.
    • The value of installed base information for spare part inventory control

      Van der Auweraer, Sarah; Zhu, Sha; Boute, Robert (International Journal of Production Economics, 2021)
      This paper analyzes the value of different sources of installed base information for spare part demand forecasting and inventory control. The installed base is defined as the set of products (or machines) in use where the part is installed. Information on the number of products still in use, the age of the products, the age of their parts, as well as the part reliability may indicate when a part will fail and trigger a demand for a new spare part. The current literature is unclear which of this installed base information adds most value – and should thus be collected – for inventory control purposes. For this reason, we evaluate the inventory performance of eight methods that include different sets of installed base information in their demand forecasts. Using a comparative simulation study we identify that knowing the size of the active installed base is most valuable, especially when the installed base changes over time. We also find that when a failure-based prediction model is used, it is important to work with the part age itself, rather than the machine age. When one is not able to collect information on the part age, a logistic regression on the machine age might be a valuable alternative to a failure-based prediction model. Our findings may support the prioritization of data collection for spare part demand forecasting and inventory control.
    • An analysis of network and resource indicators for resource-constrained project scheduling problem instances

      Vanhoucke, Mario; Coelho, José (Computers & Operations Research, 2021)
      In the past decades, the resource on the resource-constrained project scheduling problem (RCPSP) has grown rapidly, resulting in an overwhelming amount of solution procedures that provide (near)-optimal solutions in a reasonable time. Despite the rapid progress, little is still known what makes a project instance hard to solve. Inspired by a previous research study that has shown that even small instances with only up to 30 activities is sometimes hard to solve, the current study provides an analysis of the project data used in the academic literature. More precisely, it investigates the ability of four well-known resource indicators to predict the hardness of an RCPSP instance. The study introduces a new instance equivalence concept to show that instances might have very different values for their resource indicators without changing any possible solution for this instance. The concept is based on four theorems and a search algorithm that transforms existing instances into new equivalent instances with more compact resources. This algorithm illustrates that the use of resource indicators to predict the hardness of an instance is sometimes misleading. In a set of computational experiment on more than 10,000 instances, it is shown that the newly constructed equivalent instances have values for the resource indicators that are not only different than the values of the original instances, but also often are better in predicting the hardness the project instances. It is suggested that the new equivalent instances are used for further research to compare results on the new instances with results obtained from the original dataset.
    • Practice note: Copycat behavior by junior auditors – The impact of their senior’s working style and the role of promotion incentives

      Cardinaels, Eddy; Reusen, Evelien; Goris, Jeffrey; Stouthuysen, Kristof (2020)
      As a key attribute to audit quality, regulators specify that more experienced staff (i.e. managers, senior auditors) should provide less experienced staff with appropriate coaching and on-the-job training (IAASB 2014). It is fairly common for junior auditors to start their auditing career by mimicking a more senior person who performs similar tasks; as the saying goes, “Monkey see, monkey do” (Cannon, 2016). Yet, while imitation is an inherent human tendency, limited evidence exists on the impact of such imitative behavior on the quality of an individual auditor’s judgment. The objective of our research project is to examine the extent to which mimicking behavior occurs in junior–senior auditor relationships and its consequences for audit quality. In particular, we advance the argument that this imitation tendency may lead junior auditors to follow seniors’ auditing practices, even when those practices are not always ideal. We also examine whether promotion opportunities for the junior can be an important contributor in mimicking an audit style of a senior (which in turn would affect audit quality). The tendency to imitate their senior – even though his working practices might not be ideal - might be higher when the direct senior has a strong voice in the promotion decision of the junior. The findings of this study are expected to provide valuable insights and r recommendations for practice
    • Neue Technologien im öffentlichen Sektor: Bürgerinnen und Bürger haben nur geringe Erwartungen

      Fischer, Caroline; Willems, Jurgen; Van den Bergh, Joachim (VM Verwaltung & Management, 2021)
      Aktuelle technologische Entwicklungen (z.B. künstliche Intelligenz) führen immer wieder zu Debatten, wie diese sinnvoll für die öffentliche Verwaltung genutzt werden können. Die Verwaltung selbst und entsprechende Expertinnen und Experten diskutieren mögliche positive Wirkungen auch in Bezug auf Werte, wie Effizienz, Transparenz oder Fairness. Diese Studie untersucht, ob Bürgerinnen und Bürger von der Anwendung dieser Technologien in der öffentlichen Verwaltung ebensolche Wirkungen ebenso erwarten. Dabei wird auch analysiert, ob eine andere Erwartungshaltung als bei gewinnorientierten Unternehmen besteht. Die Befragungsergebnisse (N=1.577) zeigen, dass weder negative noch positive Erwartungen in Bezug auf Wirkungen dieser Technologien bestehen, das gilt für öffentliche wie für die privatwirtschaftliche Leistungserbringung. Es wird diskutiert, ob die Ergebnisse in der bisher mangelnden Anwendung der untersuchten Technologien begründet liegen oder aus einer unzureichenden Kommunikation mit und Einbindung von Bürgerinnen und Bürgern in entsprechende Planungs- und Implementationsprozesse resultieren.
    • Sailing on a sea of uncertainty: Reflections on operational resilience in the 21st century

      Ashby, Simon (The CAPCO Institute Journal of Financial Transformation, 2021)
      This paper reflects on operational resilience in the 21st century world of transboundary crises. Transboundary crises cross borders, including geographic and organizational boundaries and beyond. In so doing, transboundary crises can have surprising, even unique, consequences, atypical in both their nature and severity. In the case of COVID-19, the crisis spread rapidly from the biological world into politics, markets, and operations/supply chains, almost stopping the beating heart of our global economy. This paper proposes a capability-based framework for thinking about operational resilience in the face of transboundary crises. This framework incorporates formal and informal elements, along with a combination of pre-crisis planning and in-crisis adaptation. The idea is to maintain flexibility, while avoiding unstructured chaos. The case of Texan supermarket chain H-E-B is used to illustrate the framework. Though not from the financial services sector, there is much that financial organizations can learn from its example.
    • Acquisitions: a curse or blessing for direct competitors? The impact of target ownership structure  

      Mataigne, Virginie; Luypaert, Mathieu; Manigart, Sophie (Journal of Corporate Finance, 2021)
      This study examines the impact of horizontal acquisition announcements on the value of direct competitors of the combined entity. We argue that the ownership structure of the target drives competitor wealth effects. First, the stronger disciplining force of the market for corporate control for public firms compared to private firms will lead to higher competitive pressure post-acquisition when a public firm is acquired, leading to more negative valuation effects of direct competitors. Second, acquisitions of subsidiary targets, compared to stand-alone targets, are expected to lead to stronger asset utilization improvements in the target, leading to more negative competitor returns. A unique hand-collected sample of 1,038 direct competitors of 228 horizontal acquisitions in Europe empirically supports these hypotheses. Alternative explanations, such as information asymmetry or empire-building, are rejected.
    • North meets South: A call for inclusive global research

      Boros, Smaranda; Bosch, Anita; Shymko, Yuliya (Global Focus. The EFMD Business Magazine, 2020)
      The COVID-19 pandemic is emphasising the extent of inequalities, both between and within societies. In the dynamics between nations, these inequalities revolve around the reliance on international funding bodies for humanitarian aid — and what happens when these big funders withdraw their support.
    • Travel retail exclusives supply chain: Strategic alignment and process optimization

      Claeys, Mélanie; Esguerra Morales Natalia, Andrea; Houben, Ellen (2018)
      One of the regions within Estée Lauder Companies (ELC), i.e. Travel Retail (TR), currently exhibits strong growth and aims to further accelerate this growth via a product offering exclusive to this channel, i.e. Travel Retail Exclusives (TREX). Often a TREX is a set or kit of multiple products offered at an attractive price. Due to constraints on the speed-to-market and/or the minimum order quantities TREX cannot be produced via the global supply chain process, hence, TR has installed the local kitting process in which certain steps are eliminated or shortened. However, the process is far from optimal and is characterized by misalignment and miscommunication, (time) inefficiencies and forecast and stock issues. The report, which is dived into six subprojects, elaborates on multiple initiatives which will support this acceleration of TREX. The first two subproject mainly focus on steps prior to the process, i.e. a review of the supply chain model and development of a proper decision-making process. The third and fourth subproject focus on the optimization of the process itself and is divided into a general part and a deep dive in the packaging development of a TREX set. Finally, the remaining subproject elaborate on measures that will occur after the process execution, i.e. performance evaluation and continuous improvement. A review of the currently adopted supply chain model, which adheres to a make-to-stock model, demonstrated the lack of responsiveness and agility to respond to the fast changing behavior of end consumers and increasing customization requirements. In order to reach the strategic goals, TR should introduce multiple supply chain models, which are each specific to a particular product, or in this case TREX, category. By examining multiple supply chain models, four TREX specific supply chain models are identified. Next to the existing make-to-stock model, one make-to-order model and two variations on the assemble-to-order model are proposed. To determine the most appropriate use of each model, a set classification method is installed based on whether a set is pushed onto the market by the Marketing team or created due to a retailer request, which implies a customer pull. As the level of customization strongly depends on the driver behind the TREX set ideation, the following four categories were obtained, i.e. the innovative, beauty trend, medium fast/medium customized and a highly customized set. Furthermore, the packaging complexity drives up lead time and is therefore considered to be the second important criterion for this supply chain based classification. The packaging can be either low, medium or high complexity depending on the packaging components as well as the diversity of products that it will contain. Finally, the time allowed to execute the set will impose limitations on the use of certain supply chain models. The combination of all above described insights result in the set classification into different supply chain models, which links a supply chain model to a specific set category and allows to achieve the requested level of responsiveness. The final four supply chain models will include an innovative, fast, medium fast and highly customized track. However, to deploy the models and run them in parallel, several inhibiting factors are encountered. The report provides multiple options, also part of other subprojects, to resolve these shortcomings and enhance the implementation of the classification. The second subproject formalizes the set execution decision-making process among brands via a decision tree and RACI matrix. The decision tree includes five major analysis and/or checks, i.e. a strategic alignment check, a profitability analysis, a production feasibility analysis, concept revision and priority evaluation. While the decision tree clearly outlines the different steps or checks that need to be performed, the RACI matrix maps out who will be involved in the decision associated to it. The RACI matrix will resolve the lack of decision ownership and create visibility on who to contact for support. The third subproject concerns the optimization of the current local kitting process. First, the current process is outlined and its pain points and hurdles are identified. These pain points have been clustered in three main areas, i.e. misalignment, time inefficiencies and forecasting and stock securing stock issues. Within the fourth subproject, an additional split up is made between internal and external processes. The optimization of the internal processes involves three topics, i.e. the standardization of packaging, the realization of a shortened artwork development and the implementation of late stage differentiation. The first topic is achieved by employing the four variety management strategies, i.e. component families, commonalities, product modules and platforms. In order to curtail the timeline of the artwork development (the second topic) solutions are proposed to standardize via the use of an artwork database, speed up the development by employing a TR dedicated photographer and shorten the waiting time for approval by installing ad hoc calls to request artwork approvals rather than emails. Finally, the report discusses three techniques to enable late stage differentiation (the third topic), i.e. DataLase, direct printing and instant foil printing. The last two techniques are already been examined by the global supply chain department and thus provide the highest probability of being implemented. On the other hand, the external improvements are going to be focused in strengthening the relationship with the existing ELC qualified suppliers. In order to do it, are proposed two initiatives. The first one is a TR supplier database for secondary packaging which is going to contain a list of the most common types of packaging needed to procure in order to complete the TREX, the information of the supplier suggested for each commodity and the person inside ELC that can support in the selection process in case that further information is needed. The second one is a supplier challenge that has as main purpose to build up the relation with the strategic suppliers. This is going to be done in three different stages. At the beginning, are going to be selected the key suppliers that can procure the most relevant secondary packaging commodities. After doing this, a phase of alignment between ELC and the strategic vendors is going to allow to look for actions that improve the lead time without affecting the quality. The second stage will be to leverage economies of scale. The results gotten from the variety management strategies are going to be used as inputs to start developing standardized packaging with the strategic suppliers. The last stage will be to boost innovation via the suppliers. As they are the experts in the packaging industry, the suppliers can be a resource to develop creative solutions to challenges that TR could be facing in this field in the future. The fifth and sixth subprojects are going to allow the review of the TREX. The fifth subproject is the creation of a dashboard that will provide at-a-glance visibility of key supply chain metrics and KPIs to track the performance of the TREX by brand, category, and retailer. The scope of the last subproject will be to enhance continuous improvement. It provides options like the realization of Kaizen events to solve or improve tasks (e.g forecast issues and set classification), initiatives of open innovation to allow people outside the CoE to participate in the streamlining of the packaging, and defined tasks for the CoE team related to continuous improvement.
    • Understanding the van tire market in a fast changing environment: Who’s driving the volumes?!

      Teixeira Bemba, Magalie Tema; Meex, Wouter (2018)
      The project was triggered by the fact that over the past two years Continental Belux has a growing market share, which even outperformed their market share on the car tyre market, within the van tyre segment. Although this is a relatively small market compared to the entire tyre market, the question came how this came to be and how to remain with this high market share. The objectives of this project were: 1. develop a deep understanding of all internal and external parameters influencing our current sales performance in VAN tyres 2. analyse the results of your field survey among our B2B customer base in order to build insights in their way to market VAN tyres. 3. create a roadmap including recommendations on how to further develop and reinforce our VAN tyre sales position in future 4. define a list of KPI's relevant for future sales performance in VAN tyres for each of the distribution channels In order to be able to respond to this question the internal sales data, as well as pool sales information were studied. Furthermore, interviews with both various types of tyre replacement centers (27 in total) and fleets (2 interviews) were conducted. Moreover a trend analysis with regards to parcel delivery (as large fleets of vans are used for this end) and general trends with regards to automotive and van in specific has been done. To define a clear strategy, which is customer intimacy, we used the framework designed by Treacy and Wiersema. In order to put this into concrete actions for Continental Belux the Balanced Scorecard method was used. In order to remain and ultimately increase their market share, several recommendations are proposed and can be summarized as following. Continental Belux should become even more customer intimate as currently is the case by conducting surveys and gathering data on preferences and needs of their customers. Continental Belux should strive to get the desired consistent quality from Continental AG to be able to provide a consistent quality. Moreover, further innovation regarding the EU label and fuel efficiency will help cater for the needs of bigger customers. As a result of the analysis of the above mentioned studied data and trends, the following KPI's have been developed: Customer intimacy Existing customers 1. Low number of complaints in terms of sales 2. Number of surveys conducted with customers regarding needs and quality perception a. 100% of customers every 6 months 3. Provision of monthly updates on back orders 4. Follow up within week on further process regarding a complaint 5. At least one visit per month by a person of Continental Belux to customer's location 6. 20% of customers (within each channel) has a tailor-made profile through an automated system Lost customers 1. Follow-up within a month after not buying according to historical behavior Customers acquisition 1. Monthly update of potential new customers Marketing 1. Yearly update on OE booklet and "Umbereifung" 2. Yearly update on van registrations 3. Yearly forecasting meetings based on OE booklet, Umbereifung and vans registration to allow for better anticipation of future tyres demand Products 1. Provide quarterly updates on range coverage by Continental
    • How semantic searching can improve ROI of pharmaceutical projects

      Louage, Benoit; Blancquaert, Tarquin; Hougen, Trevor (2018)
      As part of our Master in Financial Management program at Vlerick Business School (Belgium) we - Dr. Benoit Louage, Trevor Hougen and Tarquin Blancquaert - had the opportunity to perform an In-Company Project on behalf of ONTOFORCE. ONTOFORCE is a young company developing a data analytics platform for application in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors, named DISQOVER. By way of its semantic search technology, the database/platform seeks to maintain all individual forms of research-relevant data under one scalable cloud architecture. Overall, this report highlights the disruptive potential of 'Big Data' and semantic search technology for the pharmaceutical industry. As the latter is currently still experiencing a decline in R&D productivity, several strategies should be investigated in order to improve the drug development processing. Our main objective was to quantify the impact of (linked) data on R&D processes of Pharmaceutical and Biotech companies. More precisely we had to quantify the potential of ONTOFORCE's semantic search platform DISQOVER within R&D processes. Eventually we came up with a valuation model, which calculates the ROI (return on investment) and 'Wins per Day' of the DISQOVER platform towards its users. After conducting extensive research and interviewing many experts within the field, we believe that the model we created is well-thought-out and the assumptions are substantiated by expert opinions and academic literature. In addition, the model is highly flexible, providing the opportunity for users to fill in their own input regarding R&D, financial and market assumptions. In conclusion, the results of this project were positive, quantifiable and derivable, which was especially important considering the original objectives of the project. Considering these results, it is safe to note that the outcomes of quantifying ROI and 'Wins per Day' were attained with supportable assumptions. Our results are clearly reflecting the high potential of the platform. It should be noted that these results are still preliminary outcomes. Further integration of this tool by pharmaceutical companies' R&D projects will allow rendering the model outcomes more accurate as the latter will increasingly provide real company-originated input data (e.g. cycle time reductions). It is noteworthy that during our research we encountered two major future opportunities that would further lift the DISQOVER platform to a higher level. Firstly, there was a clear demand for a platform that starts to learn the user's movements and begins to recommend searches and bring relevant information to the reader through understanding of the searching behaviour. The truly valuable databases such as DISQOVER are those that can, besides allowing the user to search information, also send relevant information to the user based on its searching pattern and interests. In this way the user stays up-to-date at any time and can immediately anticipate on progresses made in the field. Secondly, further insights lent to us are that the ability of the platform to connect institutional knowledge based on clinical trial population would also be key, in order to pre-determine relevant populations for clinical trials, which is very time consuming. Finally, we would like to mention that throughout our project we could at any time rely on the best assistance from Hans Constandt (CEO and founder of ONTOFORCE) and Dr. Filip Pattyn (Scientific Lead at ONTOFORCE), and the knowledge of Walter Van Dyck (Associate Professor and Partner at Vlerick Business School). For this, we are very grateful towards them. Despite some difficulties we came across, we look back on the project as being very challenging and instructive, resulting in a very satisfying final result.
    • The improvement of the matchmaking process of different stakeholders within biotech clusters through semantic data search

      Shi, Shenzhi; Teerlinck, Maxim (2018)
      ONTOFORCE is a fast-growing scale-up that started developing a data integration and visual analytics platform focusing on Pharmaceutical and Biotech companies. As the platform is currently mainly used by researchers in Pharmaceutical and Biotech companies, ONTOFORCE wanted to expand its scope. By creating a platform focused on the corporate side of life science companies, a convenient tool could be created for a broad range of different customer segments. In order to create this new platform, an in-depth analysis of the potential market and their corresponding necessities were required. Obtaining a clear view of the way of working of every single segment as well as understanding the available tools and their use cases were required to obtain insights in the industry. As soon as we had developed market perception, we could determine the specific segments in the market which could be worthwhile to investigate. Soon it became clear that European Biotech clusters are remarkably closed entities, yet, possess extreme valuable information. Even though almost every cluster agree that a close inter-cluster collaboration would be beneficial for both the clusters as well as the members of clusters, few were willing to completely open up their obtained market insights. As a result, this report suggests serving the clusters as a channel to provide ONTOFORCE with the relevant customer profiles. One of the customer segments that originated out of the analysis of the European Biotech clusters, were the investors. More specifically, Venture Capital firms, as these entities play an important role in the financing of early-stage Biotechnology startups. Albeit, we anticipated a tremendous enthusiasm of these investors for the DISQOVER platform, the opinions were rather divided. However, both the literature as our interview results concluded that the Technology and Management team are the most important parameters in the deal assessment of investors. The third customer segment we investigated are the Big Pharmaceutical companies which seem to require the assistance of semantic data search more for their licensing than M&A activities. Consequently, these entities are interested in using the DISQOVER platform only if ONTOFORCE is able to include a comprehensive overview of the competitive landscape. However, this customer segment would be of major importance as they have a lot of resources devoted on research and evaluation which means they would be willing to pay whatever it takes to reduce their research time. Finally, Technology Transfer Offices are another interesting customer segment, as these entities stressed their need for using kind like platforms. However, one needs to take in account that TTOs are generally government funded and consequently mainly have financial constraints. However, including information of TTOs in the platform would be create a major added value for all the different users of the platform. As such, one could argue to reduce the fee TTOs would have to pay for their subscription. To conclude our project, we came up with three main recommendations which could be considered for the further course of creating the new DISQOVER platform. We suggest ONTOFORCE to appear the Biotech clusters as a sales channel in order to reach out to the different customer segments such as Biotech Venture Capitalists, Big Pharmaceutical companies and Tech Transfer Offices. Besides, ONTOFORCE needs to exploit the capabilities of semantic technology in order to create a clear visualization of the competitive landscape within the life science industry. Finally, we recommend utilizing a crowd-sourced data collection technique, which requires the users to create a personal profile, in order to gather clusters' private information.
    • Spicing up the Rwandan chili industry: From mapping the market to ensuring a sustainable future for smallholder farmers

      Demaerschalk, Emmeline; De Schrijver, Laurence; Moreau, Nicolas (2018)
      Background and aim - Situation - Inclusive Trading Group BV (ITG BV), a Dutch social enterprise, asked to conduct market research for its daughter company Spices Rwanda Ltd. This new venture aims at generating a fair income for smallholder farmers, through the production of bird's eye chili pepper (BEC). In this regard, ITG BV wishes to establish a short value chain as to maximise profits for famers. Problem - The bird's eye chili market forms a niche market with little transparency. As such, it is difficult to identify relevant buyers/partners. This circumstance, combined with an important price drop in the past years, makes it difficult for Spices Rwanda Ltd. to sell their production. In addition, ITG BV seeks sustainable partnerships to cut middlemen and hence shorten the value chain. Aim - The market research first aims at mapping the BEC market, as to identify potential buyers. Second, it explores processing alternatives, certifications, new markets and differentiation opportunities. In turn, these lead to a recommendation on how Spices Rwanda Ltd. should operate in the coming years. Methodology - Data collection - Faced with a lack of secondary data, we apply an explorative approach to map the BEC market. This consists of 1) qualitative in-depth interviews with key players from the spice industry and 2) observations during fieldwork in Rwanda. Data analysis - The analysis first addresses external factors related to the BEC market. We explore its value chain (BEC from field to fork), apply a Five Forces analysis (competitive environment) and finally identify price evolutions and demand. Second, we explore the strengths and weaknesses of Spices Rwanda Ltd. when operating in the BEC sector. A SWOT analysis and internal value chain serve this purpose. Data Strategy - We translate the collected data into a determination matrix. This serves to map all possible strategies for Spices Rwanda Ltd. and extract the five most viable ones. Finally, we present a dynamic action plan for Spices Rwanda Ltd.'s future operations. Results - First, we examine the conventional export of dried BEC to Europe. Our results highlight a niche market, with a yearly estimated volume of 1000 ton worldwide. Consequently, BEC often comprises only a small chunk of an importer's portfolio. Besides, prices in the BEC market are volatile as the supply heavily relies on weather conditions. We estimate the current market price at €3 to €4, and expect it to remain stable due to large stocks in Europe. This implies an even lower demand at the moment. Second, whether or not Spices Rwanda Ltd. should continue its activities in exporting dried BEC to Europe or switch its strategy, depends on the attractiveness of alternative options. To step away from this commodity export, the company could process BEC themselves, obtain certifications or export to different markets. In terms of processing BEC, we deem a partnership with existing producers more fruitful than an own production. Considering certification, our investigation shows they will not provide an important competitive advantage, yet Spice Rwanda Ltd. should obtain HACCP (food safety) and GAP (traceability) as soon as possible, since buyers expect these. Moreover, the element of sustainability appears as "nice to have", rather than "need to have". As it yields little competitive advantage, we do not recommend a Fairtrade or organic label at this stage. Looking at different export destinations in Europe, we singled the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands as potential buyers. In addition, we outline the need for differentiation in the form of an additional cash crop. Here, we advise a pilot project with the Habanero chili, as well as research on other suitable crops. Conclusion - Our dynamic roadmap defines future action points for Spices Rwanda Ltd. On short, medium and long-term. First, the company should maintain its existing BEC production and seek partnerships with local processors. Second, differentiation is required and a new cash crop should be introduced (cf. Habanero). Finally, Spices Rwanda Ltd. should focus on supporting activities (certifications, irrigation systems) to sustain its future operations and remain attractive towards buyers. Combined, these recommendations should help to avoid a commodity export of dried BEC and create new opportunities. In turn, we hope these will lead to a more stable, recurring income for the company's farmers
    • Sourcing in the promotional-wear industry: Assessing the feasibility of production in Central America

      Crede, Christopher; Ruiz Lopez, Diana Carolina (2018)
      The aim of this report is to provide an overview of the textile and apparel industry in Central America and the Caribbean on a country-by-country basis, as well as identify manufacturers that show potential as future garment suppliers for B&C. The report answers two key questions: Firstly, what countries in the region are an attractive destination for promotional wear manufacturing, and secondly, what suppliers could be contacted in the near future for further negotiations. The analysis focused on identifying sourcing opportunities for the 2 primary product categories, or "runners", in the promotional wear garment catalogue of B&C. These are 100% Cotton knit t-shirts, and 100% Cotton knit polo shirts. The analysis focuses on three stages. First, regional countries are evaluated on the basis of their existing production of cotton t-shirts and polo shirts; the average price per unit according to custom declarations in the EU and US; access to tariff exemptions; and competitor presence. Secondly, a comprehensive overview was conducted on the political, economic, and business environment of the shortlisted countries whilst also paying close attention to the logistics & infrastructure capabilities, trade deal implications, and the state of the local textile and apparel industry. To conduct the analysis of each country, data was gathered from industry reports, government agencies, trade associations, and various international agencies that specialise in economic and sector-specific data. Countries were ranked accordingly. The third stage of analysis focused on the evaluation of manufacturers in the region. Data was obtained from company websites, company profiles, and industry reports that were publicly available online. Structured, but open-ended telephonic interviews were conducted with suppliers to further evaluate their potential. Questions were structured to obtain further information on theoretical capacity, pricing, production lead times, yarn quality, tubular production capacity, and quality certifications. The results indicated that of the 9 regional countries, Guatemala and Costa Rica were not considered feasible destinations for promotional wear manufacturing due to low production volumes, high prices, and a focus on value-added apparel manufacturing. Further analysis of the 7 remaining countries indicated that Haiti, Nicaragua, and Honduras remain the most attractive sourcing destinations for low-cost apparel. Haiti offers the cheapest labour but strategically, it should be considered together with the Dominican Republic as its neighbour is the source of fabrics for many of the CMT factories in Haiti. The supplier analysis yielded minimal insights into the criteria considered as most manufacturers were hesitant to share detailed information on their production profiles without receiving the product specifications from B&C. subsequently, the results provide a high-level overview of potential suppliers based on theoretical production capacities greater than 500'000 pieces per month. A list of 23 potential manufacturers across the region were listed. As expected, the majority of these manufacturers have sites in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Haiti. While the analysis indicated 3 potential countries as destinations in Central America for promotional wear sourcing, the study faced certain limitations. Time constraints; language barriers; the inability to conduct interviews face-to-face with suppliers in the region; a resistance to share more in-depth information pertaining to manufacturers' operational set-up, volumes, pricing, and available capacity; and failure by manufacturers to respond within the allotted time-period of the study have compromised the quality of the data gathered. Due to the sensitive nature of the technical specification packs for each of the 3 products included in this study, it was not possible to share this information with manufacturers to obtain further details on their target pricing, volumes, and production lead times. As a result, the analysis could not make supplier-specific recommendations. Future studies on sourcing opportunities in the region should consider country visits to gain more detailed insights into the regions potential as an alternative to existing Asian manufacturing countries.
    • Selling medical devices in a digital age: Complementing face-to-face interaction with a multi-channel marketing strategy

      Broos, Anouk; Declerck, Bénédicte; Vanmaele, Willemijn (2018)
      Background and aim: Mitek, the sports medicine franchise of DePuy Synthes, and a subsidiary of the Johnson & Johnson Medical Device Companies (JJMDC), is currently facing some challenges. The competition is growing and the brand image is deteriorating. Due to a single-channel engagement model, being the face-to-face interaction between a Mitek sales representative and the orthopaedic surgeon, various undifferentiated accounts are being underserved. In addition to the single-channel engagement model, the decrease in sales force results in declined sales revenues for Mitek. This increases the need for different measures, including a multi-channel marking strategy to sell medical devices in the six countries in scope: Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Switzerland and The Netherlands. This In-Company Project (ICP) aimed to evaluate the current sales and marketing practices related to Mitek and, based upon both qualitative and quantitative research, formulate recommendations in the form of a customer journey that targets the right orthopaedic surgeon through his/her preferred communication channels with desired content. Methodology: An internal and external customer desk research and a channel-content mapping have been performed in order to map the current practices within Mitek. These practices were measured against the desired requirements of the customer, the orthopaedic surgeon. These requirements could be identified by performing a combination of a literature review and both qualitative and quantitative research. Hereof, firstly, some best practices resulted from the literature review. Secondly, the qualitative research involved extended interviews (n=15) with orthopaedists. Finally, an online survey (n=122) was conducted, which provided data that could be analysed. The derived requirements were identified on a persona basis. The foundation upon which the personas were identified, were also derived from the data analysis. Results: The personas were built based upon their communication preference with the medical device company: face-to-face (the “Traditional” orthopaedist), digital (the “Digi” orthopaedist) or a combination of face-to-face and digital (the “Multi” orthopaedist). Overall, significant increases in desired use of mobile app, real-life training, scientific webcast and remote interaction with a sales representative were found. Further analysis showed the top three preferred channels per persona. These are: sales representative – face-to-face (85%), email (55%) and real-life training (46%) for the “Traditional” (n=33), email (71%), mobile-app (64%) and real-life training (43%) for the “Digi” (n=14) and email (59%), mobile-app (58%) and sales representative – face-to-face (57%) for the “Multi” (n=85). Taken together these overall increases in desired channels, the top three channels per persona and the results of the qualitative research, three customer journeys could be designed. This journey comprises several stages, each incorporated with specific channels in order to allow orthopaedic surgeons to satisfy their needs and reach their goals. The content of these channels should offer informational and educational content, for the most part. Conclusion: Each orthopaedist should be approached by the medical device company in a personal, tailored way via the surgeon’s preferred channel. In order to do so, it is highly recommended to use the three developed customer journeys for each type of persona. Furthermore, a cohesive Mitek brand conversation is needed to be able to tell the company’s story via these channels. Finally, there is some room for more measures within Mitek’s marketing strategy, therefore, some future perspectives were given in this research paper.