Company have been working for several months as an intern at the Lewis Lee Corporation. This organization has been concentrating its activities on a certain niche in the software products industry. Indeed, it creates software products that are used in training by different financial institutions. The product portfolio is formed from three different products (Bank President, Managing Consumer Credit, and Retail Bank Builder), each of course applying to a certain category of bank employees and a certain area of bank operations. The company has been quite successful and could boast most of the important players in the banking industry, companies like Citibank, Bank of America or MasterCard.
Problem Identification and Definition
The first problem that can be identified and from which all others seem to derive is the fact that the company has not produced any updates for its software products in the last years. Such an act has had several different consequences for the company's activities.
The first consequence is that, while the financial and banking activities have clearly been diversifying in the last several years, with new things, such as online banking and online payments, the training software that Lewis Lee is commercializing is the same, which means that it is somewhat obsolete.
The second consequence deriving from this is the fact that the company has lost its connection with the customers. Indeed, the product is tailored to fit the exact needs of the consumers, however, if in a period of several years, no changes are made to the product, it is quite certain that the customer is no longer using a product that best fits its needs. There is the danger that the clients will turn to other companies for alternative solutions.
Both of these consequences can be solved by developing and implementing a new software solution. This is where the more direct questions and problems appear. The first one I have already briefly discussed in the paragraph here above: the company has lost its basic contact with the market and does not know where this stands, what the trends are and what the clients actually want. There two aspects that need to be discussed here. First of all, the company must create a new product that best fills the customers' needs. Second of all, an update means that they have to improve technologically, so a market analysis to see what has been going on the market during the last years and what the competitors have been producing is also necessary.
Another issue that needs to be reached, besides the product's design and technology, is its commercialization and target customers. Indeed, Lewis Lee needs to ask itself whether the initial category of consumers it targeted, that is banks and their training departments, are still the ones that will be beneficial in the future. An alternative to this solution is to try and sell to individuals, bank employees that is. The effect of such a thing is two fold. First of all, it brings forward a new potential target market, with practically unlimited possibilities for the future (it is agreeable that new individuals will keep being hired by financial institutions). The second impact is that the company will be forced to become more dynamic. Indeed, if we may assume that a bank may use the same product for a longer period of time (several years as is the case here), we are deemed to assert that the products made for individuals will have a shorter life span.
However, this new target category can also produce several problems. One of the most important ones is the fact that the pre- development research will probably have to be more ample and will cost more. In order to create the perfect tailored product, having agreed that this is a must for an individual, a research should be conducted before development to decide on different preferences. In the case of a company, this is much simpler: a discussion with the CFO and the CTO will probably be enough. Less time, less costs.
Another problem that the company needs to work out is the product's presentation. In the past, this was delivered on CDs and this worked fine at that point of the product's development. However, modern technology has allowed a much easier implementation of the program, by using a website, wherefrom the clients can operate online the training program.
The main advantages I see in this approach is the fact that Lewis Lee is able to save extra costs imposed by the technical personnel that had to install the program and provide constant troubleshooting, not to mention the fact CD distribution meant that a CD supplier had to exist. As such, a website means that everybody in the company can access the site (and this is an extra plus in terms of collaboration and working together, which more and more institutions and organizations find it a must), work online and Lewis Lee saves money on distribution services.
However, a website would provide additional problems, one of the most important being the security issues. Besides the website and the program, the company must use a powerful firewall and must ensure that only the employees of the respective financial institutions will be able to use the training program.
Required Data Sources
As such, the easiest way to decide both on the customers' preferences and on the ways by which Lewis Lee could increase its sales, was to conduct interviews with the main characters involved in the process. I have mentioned several times that the training program was tailor- made to fit each need, so that it seemed only natural to ask the clients how this program should be implemented (CD software or website), how it could be improved, etc.
There were three different researches conducted, each directed towards an objective. The first research aimed to see if there was a potential market within the individuals working in banks and if the product could also be commercialized to individuals, besides financial institutions.
The second research aimed to work out the distribution issue: how o we implement the program? I have already mentioned the two alternative solutions here (website or CD) and the interview asked the people in charge with training at the financial institutions which solution they would prefer.
Finally, a third research was aimed towards learning more about the market Lewis Lee worked in, about the competitors and the competitors' products. Indeed, as we have seen, Lewis Lee hadn't had a close contact with the market for some time, so it only seemed natural to see what the industry was all about in present times. This was important, because it ensured the fact that Lewis actually brought something new for the industry and could have a competitive advantage over the others.
Additionally, this last research provided extra information on the competitors and let the Lewis Lee management evaluate what they would be up against.
The interviews and research that the company has conducted provided several interesting results and allowed the top management get the essential conclusions and decide on a way of action for the future.
The first research, as I have mentioned, was aimed towards determining where the individuals in a bank, who constantly seek self- improvement and could use the product, would prove a potential target market. The interviews showed that less than 33% of those interviewed were interested in acquiring the product on an individual basis and that 66% relied on the training provided within the institution. The result of the research was somewhat a surprise, because we assumed each individual should attempt to learn a little more than the company provided for all employees and be thus able to make a difference. However, it seems that the work schedule corroborated with the training hours left little…