Last night I went to see this semester’s E-Business Case Competition finalists give their recommendations to Cisco and Deloitte. Teams were challenged to develop a strategy that Cisco could adopt for penetrating the domestic and international small & medium business (SMB) market. I felt this semester’s case competition was more interesting than last semester’s Investment Banking case. The problem presented by Cisco was much more challenging. I kept thinking to myself “what SHOULD Cisco do to penetrate the small business market?” and I really had no clue where to even start addressing this issue. For some reason my mind kept thinking “China!” as if gaining market share in China would somehow take care of all of Cisco’s problems. Not surprisingly, most of the finalists did mention that focusing on China was the best possible avenue to becoming the dominant player on the international SMB scene.
One group suggested primarily targeting the Middle East in order to gain a dominant international foothold. I felt this was the most “thinking outside the box” answer to Cisco’s problem. They supported their decision with data and did the necessary research on Islamic Law in the Middle East and how it might affect Cisco’s entry into that market. Kudos to that group. Even though they didn’t win, their argument was compelling and they nicely challenged the traditional line of thinking by looking at the numbers first, rather than thinking of China and then looking at the numbers for support.
The winners of the competition were Jenny Zhou, Andrew Wang, Kevin Huynh, and Patrick Pan. Congratulations!