Musings on books, technology, entrepreneurship, nonprofits and umm.. everything else …

Starting this week, I shall be blogging about my Wharton experiences at this blog as well, instead of at the Wharton blog site where I was doing so during the first year in the program.

In the last session, a common theme that came through for this semester, largely, was how to go about building the right product. In our New Product Development class, it was all about studying the market and conducting market research to understand what attributes the market needs, how to segment it etc. In the Competitive Strategy class, in addition to Porter’s Five Forces, we analyze competitive strategy along different axes to understand what is the best way to enter a new market, or continue to innovate and grow in an existing one. Starting this weekend, we will learn how to build contagiousness into a product to ensure that it propagates between users through word of mouth and other mechanisms, in addition to the dollars spent by the company in marketing and raising awareness.

Well, of course, there is no neat way to unify International Corp Finance into this, but I assume one could say that would be the way to know how to aim for world domination by extracting the maximum profits out of every international operation you have by doing all the right analyses. Speaking of which, we had a fascinating case due in the next session, around how to value operations of a firm that has domestic sales as well as international sales, assuming different methods of predicting exchange rate movements. We are to do this analysis from the point of view of a domestic investor that wishes to purchase the firm and an international investor in the country to which the firm is exporting products to. Interestingly enough, the firm happens to be Jaguar, and I’m sure some smart folks at Tata Motors did this prior to their acquisition of the firm.

We also had Terry Kramer, Regional President of Vodafone Americas come talk to us about mobile communications and the way he sees the market evolve and what he expects it to shift towards. Last session, however, was when our conjoint analysis report was due, so several teams were cranking away until the last minute, making sure that we got our ASEMAP and SPSS results done right, feeding it to the Conjoint Simulator and  running different benefit segmentation and profit maximization analyses. We may not have access to all these tools once the course is done, but it was a fascinating window into how the field of market research works. It helped us to understand and appreciate the difficult job in front of a market researcher in terms of predicting customer interest in a product, and forecasting market share and revenue growth.

What’s in store for next session? We’re looking forward to a dozen of our classmates from the East visiting us to take the Contagious class – a hearty welcome to all of them to the prettier Wharton campus! Stay tuned for more updates once the session’s done!

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