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Experiential Learning Center

Projects ~ Fall 2012


Faculty Coach: Brian Bender
Meeting Time: T/Th 12:30 to 1:45

GreenFish is a global leader in credit information and information management services. For more than 50 years, it has worked with businesses and consumers to gather, analyze, and deliver the critical information needed to build strong economies throughout the world. The result is two-fold: businesses can better manage risk and customer relationships, and consumers can better understand and manage credit to achieve their financial goals.

The Project Management Process within GreenFish is currently inefficient. It involves an excessive amount of manual effort preparing the project summary analysis, in addition to tracking and updating all projects in the project list.

GreenFish asked an ELC team to create an automated system for the Project Management Process will reduce project management office labor hours by at least 80%, will enable more efficient data input, will better facilitate queries, and will provide the ability to analyze data and generate vital reports. The goal of the project is to enhance project management within two months of system implementation.

This project is a problem solving simulation designed to provide students with the opportunity to solve a real business issue.

Calamos Investments

Topic: Global Interactive Marketing Strategy & Plan
Faculty Coach: Dr. Mark Rosenbaum
Meeting Time: M/W 2:00 to 3:15

Topic: Global Interactive Marketing Strategy & Plan

Calamos Investments is a global investment firm committed to excellence in investment management and client service. Entrusted with more than $34 billion, we serve the needs of institutional and individual investors around the world. For more than 30 years, we have provided innovative investment solutions that capitalize on the evolving opportunities of the global economy. Calamos Investments would like an ELC project team to deliver an interactive media strategy and plan with a focus on social media. The project team will develop a competitive analysis of social media strategies within the financial services industry, an assessment of key regulatory issues, differences among global markets and client segments, and a proposal for using social media to communicate with different client segments, build relationships and followings and enhance market share. In addition to reflecting a global perspective on social media, the proposal should consider emerging trends in social media as well as more established ones. All majors can apply.


Faculty Coaches: Joan Petros & Sheila Kloster
Meeting Time: M/W 3:30 to 4:45

Jewel-Osco understands the importance of becoming more technologically relevant as well as attracting the younger generations of shoppers to build a more successful future. This year's project takes both of these business functions into consideration along with providing NIU students a more convenient and exciting way to grocery shop.

We would like an ELC team to develop, create, market and implement a Jewel-Osco Shopping Wall from start to finish that will allow students to purchase select items from a convenient on-campus location. The idea was first implemented by TESCO in the South Korea subway stations. The Shopping Wall is a virtual store where customers can browse, order, and ultimately have products delivered to their residence. The students will determine the products within the shopping wall, create the technology needed to shop and transmit orders and payment, determine location on campus of the wall or walls, develop the marketing strategy, build the transportation structure needed for deliveries, and anything else needed to implement the Shopping Wall. There has been some preliminary data collected to assist in some of these features, but many functions will need to be developed from the ground up. We would also like to see a financial recap of potential sales and earnings for Jewel-Osco as well as the costs that will be incurred with this project.

Motorola Mobility

Faculty Coach: Dr. Jim Johnson
Meeting Time: T/Th 11:00 to 12:15

Employees and contractors working at Motorola Mobility often times are challenged to find "self-help" solutions to common issues they experience with technology. There is a help desk which focuses on how to repair things that are broken, but do not provide "how-to" type solutions for simple or complex issues. We have implemented forums, lists, blogs, and other repositories which are intended to be locations to find these types of assistance. The providers of the service or documentation provided at the time of deployment become quickly outdated, don't get refreshed regularly, and as a result of this people tend to lose interest in going there first over time.

Motorola Mobility would like the ELC team to design, develop, and pilot a self-help forum which will be used to address the problem statement. We would like it to be flexible enough that it could applied to hardware and/or system solutions. In an attempt to address the "freshness" of the content possible a rewards system would be part of the solution which would incent people to submit ideas/solutions that would become part of the "system". The solution should include multiple types of mediums and should definitely include mobility as a characteristic. The initial focus of the system would be on MMI devices (smartphones and companion products) as well as Google Apps, but the intent would be to ensure the solution is scalable to be used for both IT and non-IT environments. All majors can apply.

ESCORT Electronics

Topic: Competitive Market Analysis and Plan
Faculty Coach: Dr. Tim Aurand
Meeting Time: T/Th 9:30 to 10:45

Escort Inc. is a proud North American company, headquartered in metro Cincinnati, OH. Escort Inc. has been designing, engineering, and manufacturing industry leading radar/laser detectors and premium automotive accessories in North America for over 30 years. ESCORT Electronics is currently in development of two mobile electronic devices to receive TV over the air waves on IPADs or in vehicles called ESCORT MobileTV. They are currently working with NBC and Fox as partners to become an endorsed provider of this product. Timing for launch would be 4th quarter of this year. ESCORT Electronics would like a team of students to create a competitive market analysis and a launch plan/possible social media opportunities for launching the MobileTV product.

Projects ~ Spring 2012

Abbott Laboratories
Topic: Digital Marketing Plan
Faculty Coach: Dr. Mark Rosenbaum

Abbott is a global, diversified healthcare company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals, nutritional products for children and adults, and medical products including devices, diagnostic tests and instruments. Abbott Nutrition International offers some of the world's most trusted brands in pediatric, therapeutic and performance nutrition. The company employs nearly 90,000 people and markets its products worldwide.

Abbott Nutrition International tasked an ELC project team to deliver a proposal that would detail progressive, compelling and differentiating ways to drive market share growth, improve knowledge of the customer and the customer experience, and differentiate Abbott Nutrition products by leveraging digital marketing and social media programs/tactics.

The ELC project team developed a comprehensive recommendation that accounted for the unique needs of key brands (such as Similac, Ensure, Pedialyte, Glucerna), including the optimization of product launches within a brand, and the unique cultural considerations, as well as market conditions/constraints of Abbott Nutrition's critical international markets, known as "BRIC - MTV" (Brazil, Russia, India, China, Mexico, Turkey, and Vietnam). As part of the proposal and recommendation, the project team considered the competition, consumer, financial, healthcare economic/professional, clinical, and societal perspectives, along with new/emerging media and technology channels to achieve near-term wins and to achieve sustainable long-term momentum and value.

Coupon Cabin
Topic: Market, Business and Product Development Plan
Faculty Coach: Dr. Lauren Labrecque

Lakeshore Interactive was developing a mobile strategy for one of its clients, CouponCabin, that maintains the site's position as the definitive, online source for coupons. CouponCabin helps consumers save money when shopping online or at bricks-and-mortar retailers by providing online coupon codes (i.e., free shipping and other promo codes used directly on retailer websites), grocery coupons, printable coupons, product deals, and more. CouponCabin experienced tremendous success working directly with name-brand retailers to bring coupons online and drive hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions to its partners. Consumers know CouponCabin for its quality content, offerings from a large network of retailers, and ease of use. However, the site lacked a mobile presence. Mobile commerce in the United States was projected to reach $6B in 2011 and $30B by 2015, making this space extremely attractive for CouponCabin.

Lakeshore Interactive requested a preliminary business and product development plan that recommended a strategy for CouponCabin's mobile launch. The ELC team developed a plan that incorporated market research and investigated consumer behavior and expectations while shopping with mobile devices using iOS apps for the iPhone and iPad, Android apps, SMS, and mobile websites. The team also explored how the content and functionality currently available at CouponCabin.com could be leveraged to delight consumers while supporting business goals.

Follett Corporation
Topic: K-12 Classroom Social Media Strategy
Faculty Coach: Sheila Kloster

Follett Corporation is a privately owned retailer, wholesaler, and distributor of educational products and services with annual sales over 2.7 billion dollars. For over 135 years, their mission is to help improve people's lives by supporting a lifetime of learning and education. They touch the lives of millions of students ranging from adults taking classes on college campuses and in cyberspace to grade school children surfing the Internet in their school library.

Follett engaged an ELC team to look for ideas, suggestions, and recommendations on how to attract and build an online community of teachers through the use of social media tools and techniques to expand their value proposition in the K-12 Classroom. The team developed a vision, strategy, roadmap, a business case to implement the recommendations and a prototype of the proposed solution.

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA)
Topic: Marketing Video Production
Faculty Coach: Dr. Laura Vazquez

Aspiring to be the world's leading teaching and learning laboratory for imagination and inquiry, the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) strives to develop innovation and entrepreneurial talent and capacity. This includes creating conditions to stimulate, support and conduct innovative pilots/prototypes that have the potential to transform STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education. Started with seed funding from the Abbott Fund, Tellabs Foundation and the State of Illinois, CoolHub.IMSA connects learners of all ages and gives them tools to explore their "What if?" questions, take creative risks, develop ideas and innovate together outside traditional organizational structures. Through physical and virtual meeting spaces, CoolHub.IMSA provides opportunities and resources that accelerate research, rapid prototyping and program development.

IMSA tasked an ELC team to produce a short series of five-minute vignettes that would tell the story of several CoolHub Projects and would include interviews or statements with project owners, project participants and other relevant people associated with the project. The videos that were developed will be used for fundraising and marketing efforts as way to showcase this exciting real world learning environment. To learn more about CoolHub.IMSA visit http://coolhub.imsa.edu/cool-hub. The team was comprised of film majors (filming/editing) from NIU's Communications Department and business majors (project management/budgeting) from the College of Business.

McDonald's IT Enterprise / Training, Learning & Development
Topic: Learning Tools Evaluation
Faculty Coach: Tamara Phelan

McDonald's recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of Hamburger University (HU), where various educational programs and degrees, including a degree in Hamburgerology, are offered to its crew and staff. McDonald's has been investing in learning technologies to help modernize the learning experience by offering blended learning curricula, including e-learning, virtual classrooms, self-studies, online tests as well as traditional classroom training. McDonald's was on a journey to better define their learning technology platform to include an LMS, LCMS, virtual class and assessment tools. While they had most of these technologies in place across 7 HUs around the world, they requested that an ELC team define a platform that would allow them to standardize learning technologies and establish a global recommendations and best practices.

Northern Illinois University's Information Technology Services (ITS)
Topic: Go Green Strategy & Marketing Plan
Faculty Coach: Brian Bender

NIU ITS engaged a team of ELC students to develop creative ideas and solutions to help make NIU a more "green" campus as it related to computer labs and printing. The project team created fresh ideas and recommendations for NIU's ITS department to help implement and spread the message to faculty and students regarding alternative methods to reduce the printing at all NIU computer labs across campus. This effort assisted with NIU's Vision 2020 Strategic Plan on ways to be more sustainable with resources. The project resulted in a detailed strategic marketing plan with further recommendations for a possible future ELC project to help the university become more "green".

Richardson RFPD, Inc.
Topic: Optimizing New Product Introductions (NPI) Using Web-based Tools/Activities
Faculty Coach: Dr. Jim Johnson

Richardson RFPD, Inc., an Arrow Electronics Company, is a global leader in the RF and wireless communications, power conversion and renewable energy markets. Relationships with the industry's top component suppliers enable Richardson RFPD to meet the total engineering needs of each customer. Whether it's designing components or engineering complete solutions, Richardson RFPD's worldwide design centers and technical sales team provide support for all aspects of customers' go-to-market strategy, from prototype to production. Local sales engineers work side-by-side with customers to design circuits, select cost-effective components, plan reliable and timely supply, create reference designs, test prototypes and assemblies, and manufacture the highest quality solutions.

Richardson RFPD views new production introductions (NPI) program as a key differentiating element to drive and expand their business, both from sales and profitability perspectives. As a company with a highly technical sales team specializing in the RF, Microwave and Wireless markets, the company is positioned to offer a best-in-class NPI program to their suppliers and customers. To further expand and enhance this program, Richardson RFPD views web-based activities and tools (e.g. website, online advertising, social media, etc.) as an area for improvement. The objectives of the ELC team were to review competitor activities, perform benchmarking and recommend website improvements, online activities and social media programs that would most effectively support NPI to help gain market share.

Savant Capital Management
Topic: Research and Growth Plan
Faculty Coach: Joan Petros

Savant Capital Management, a nationally recognized wealth management firm founded 25 years ago and residing in Rockford, Illinois has continued to expand into other regional markets in the Midwest. The company desired to better understand the current community demographics where their home and satellite offices reside as well as other potential expansion opportunities. Savant asked an NIU ELC team to identify target Midwest markets within 3-400 miles of Rockford, Illinois with a large percentage of high net worth individuals ages 55 or older who were either nearing or in retirement. The team identified office expansion locations, possible acquisition candidates, competitor analysis and provided additional analysis of the economics of local markets. They also gave recommendations of ways to identify and reach those high net worth individuals nearing or in retirement and in their current markets as well as the recommended expansion locations.

Previous Projects