5 MBA Students

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Five Imperial Full-Time MBA students undertook a piece of consulting for US technology giant Cisco as part of their studies, providing valuable insight for the company to launch an innovative lighting system for buildings that is controlled by computer systems.

Intelligent buildings are a current trend in construction. By networking together systems – such as lighting – to a computer network, services such as lighting can be automated. By using networks like this, buildings become more comfortable for the people in them, run more efficiently and save energy – and therefore costs.

Cisco, a global market leader in enterprise IT and networking solutions, is working with other partner companies to launch an innovative intelligent lighting system. By using computers to control the brightness and colour of each light, the hope is to realise the potential for sophisticated lighting controls and the efficiency they bring.

One of the first things Cisco asked the group to look at as part of the project was what market they should consider to launch the intelligent lighting to. After an analysis of the construction industry, the group’s recommendation was that Cisco should aim the product to non-residential markets – particularly focusing on new build offices.

MBA student Nemy Wieland found the project a useful learning experience and an opportunity to develop his consulting skills. “The Consulting Project gives a large amount of autonomy to students, allowing for high levels of accountability in terms of project delivery,” he says.

The Consulting Project offers MBA students hands-on, practical learning experiences during the year, giving them the chance to apply their learning from the class room, gain experience in new functions or industries, experiment with new skills and build a network of new contacts.

“Many MBA students are keen to explore whether a career in consulting is for them,” explains Dr Katja Ahoniemi, programme director of the Full-Time MBA. “For those students with no experience in consulting, it is an opportunity to test consulting in a friendly and supported environment. Other students know that they want to enter a role in consulting and this project gives them an opportunity to boost their credentials in this area and build valuable relationships.”

“The opportunity to work closely with a well-known and innovative multinational technology organisation on a new market offering was very appealing to all of us,” says Nemy.

With the target market identified, the group then looked at the different audiences that would need to be educated in order to launch Cisco’s intelligent lighting product to market. Construction of a building is reliant on several parties, including the building owners, the contractors, the lighting designers and the operations management team who will take on the building once it is finished. In an intelligent building, IT teams are thrown into this mix and suddenly what is familiar for the construction industry becomes unfamiliar.

By understanding the different needs and concerns of this ecosystem, the group of MBA students were able to make a set of recommendations for Cisco about how to allay concerns about the adoption of the new technology.

The group were also able to show Cisco which of the parties are key decision makers when choosing to put an intelligent system into the building, allowing Cisco to target their launch efforts to the right audiences.

“Cisco benefited from receiving a fresh perspective to how to address their issue,” explains Nemy . “We conducted unbiased research, analysed data and looked into the details to understand how to help our client.

“We then used a multi-dimensional approach to analyse the existing business ecosystem and that is how we spotted opportunities for value creation.”

The group of MBA students then presented their client with simple and actionable solutions that were easy to implement.

“At the end, our client was happy with our consulting project results and recommendations and it was a rewarding experience,” says team member Yannis Georgas.

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