Category Archives : Case Studies

Case Study: Hiring Selection Trends and their Impact on Pre-hire Assessments

Client Situation:

Our client commissioned us to look into trends in hiring selection to determine their impact on the market for pre-hire tests. As a large education services firm with expertise in test administration for the higher education and K-12 segments, our client was considering expanding its offering in the pre-hire assessment space and needed to know more about which hiring methods were valued for which purposes by industry and by country. This project covered the hiring selection practices of multiple industries in the United States as well as general trends in a total of 10 additional foreign markets.

Methodology:

To address our client’s objectives, our team relied on interviewing HR professionals in target markets and industries to gauge their attitudes toward traditional methods of hiring selection. Because hiring selection practices vary significantly across job functions, meeting our project objectives required us to analyze the nuances of pre-hire assessment practices. We contacted a wide range of stakeholders and conducted in-depth interviews with them to cover all the bases — some sample research objectives include: what types of tests are valued by job function, by industry and where tests are deployed in the hiring process. Our team also reached out to vendors in this space to gain additional insight into market trends, specifically with regard to emerging technology standards in the industry.

In addition to pre-hire assessment trends, we also investigated other new technologies beginning to appear in the pre-hire selection market to determine their likelihood and nature of their impact to our client’s interests. We identified a list of six potentially impactful technologies including but not limited to: video interviewing, social media scraping, digital simulations and predictive analytics. To analyze the potential for these nascent hiring selection methods to make waves in the market, we employed a combination of secondary desktop research and primary research with vendors and other experts.

Results:

This project provided insight into the pre-hire test market by delving into customer attitudes and HR practices across multiple key industries and markets. In leveraging the insight of a wide range of experts and stakeholders our team developed evidence-based, actionable conclusions and recommendations for our clients to utilize in their internal strategy discussions regarding business interests in the pre-hire assessment market.


Case Study: Market Trends in Online Formative Assessment Platforms and Assessment Analytics Platforms in the U.S. K-12 Market

Client Situation:

Our client was a formative assessment analytics platform vendor for K-12 in the United States. Facing declining market share in recent years in key markets to due the surprising gains of some successful new entrants, they decided to initiate a product revamp. To better inform product development, they needed in-depth, timely market intelligence on what their competitors currently offered and what customers and users saw as the top strengths and weaknesses they could address in upcoming product development efforts preceding the platform re-launch.

Methodology:

In order to make sure their next generation assessment analytics platform met and exceeded expectations, they engaged us to provide detailed analysis on what specific feature sets and services would prove compelling in a future product rollout. We proposed researching specific feature sets found in leading competitor products and categorizing them into common parameters such as supported data sources, software integrations, reporting features etc. to allow for cross comparison. Once we laid out the research objectives, we conducted extensive secondary research to build out the framework with detailed analysis of feature specifications. We consulted available resources including user guides, product reviews as well as primary research with vendors, former employees and thought leaders with extensive product knowledge.

In addition to present generation feature specifications, we also investigated which feature areas needed the most improvement to provide suggestions for product development efforts. In other words, we endeavored to find out where the market leaders were currently falling short with the objective of providing recommendations on how our client could address these shortcomings with a future rollout. To accomplish this, we interviewed end users of the target products in each of the key markets to further inform our analysis.

Result:

Analyzing the present generation of product feature sets among leading platforms along with pain points and gaps identified by users themselves allowed us to provide an insightful view into opportunities on the table for our client to consider in product development efforts. Both the strengths and weaknesses presented opportunities for our client to either emulate successful features or develop new ones to address critical gaps according to customers, leading to a better informed product development process.


Case Study: Niche B2B Manufacturing Market Landscape of China

Client Situation:

Our client was a global manufacturer of flexible packaging used by leading food, consumer products, medical, pharmaceutical, and other companies worldwide. In 2013, they entered the Chinese market by acquiring a local specialty film manufacturer and were looking to increase their market share in protective films in the APAC region. The company sought to inform their internal strategy with analysis of the external commercial environment – the market landscape, competitors, customers and suppliers.

Methodology:

We proposed analyzing the competitiveness of various protective film markets through the lens of Porter’s 5 forces analysis framework. We also agreed that deep dive profiles into key competitors, customers and suppliers that were of interest to the client would also be beneficial. We conducted a funnel type market landscape analysis to evaluate the upstream product demand directly impacting the nature and scope of demand for downstream components such as protective film.

Emerging Strategy utilized primary research to gather information and compiled data to fill in the gaps in available secondary sources. Our target primary sources for this study composed industry experts and regional chambers of commerce where the local specific industry hubs were located. These sources provided us the hard to find data we required to complete this project.

We provided information about size, drivers and expected growth of upstream and downstream markets by product application, material structure and complementary profit driving markets. We also provided an enhanced understanding of the competitive landscape in China and all the value chain players, together with identified unmet customer needs and opportunities.

Result:

The insights generated by Emerging Strategy provided a clear picture of the protective films market in China, giving our client the market intelligence they needed to help develop a growth strategy for the region. These insights facilitated a leaner utilization of resources and targeting of emerging opportunities for scaling up. Our project also provided insight on how aggressively they should pursue expansion in this market and the required capital expenditure to support their growth strategy.


Case Study: HR and SG&A Benchmarking of Leading APAC Electronics Distributors

Client Situation:

Emerging Strategy was approached by one of the world’s largest electronics components distributors to conduct a detailed benchmarking study targeting organizational structure, cost and operations across APAC. Our client had a track record of successful M&A over the previous 5 years and believed that their organizational and cost structures could be improved by leveraging synergies from the assets acquired in these transactions. To inform this course of action, they sought to better understand organizational structures in their industry, design best practices as well as adopt the leading cost structures used by their main competitors in APAC.

Methodology:

Emerging Strategy leveraged its established geographic presence in APAC countries to conduct extensive primary research interviews as well as secondary research in local languages over the course of several months. For this study, we agreed to benchmark three competitor companies and one non-competitor company. For each company, our team mapped out detailed organizational, operational and cost structures. We analyzed the APAC regional operations within each of the targeted companies with the aim to determine the Asian-based cost structure and headcount of the targets, including an understanding for key cost drivers.

Result:

Our research yielded a comprehensive breakdown of the following:
• Selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses by headcount (including by location, function and discipline),
• Facilities (both fixed and variable costs associated with warehouses, offices etc.)
• Organizational structure and philosophy. This was done in detail across organizations in China, India, Taiwan, Hong-Kong, Japan, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, New Zealand, Vietnam, Thailand and Australia.

Our client’s board of directors used the information provided from this study to inform the business process optimization strategy for their global operations.


Case Study: Global Trends in Education Technology and their Impact on Test Administration across Education Segments

Client Situation:

On behalf of a client in education services, Emerging Strategy conducted an analysis on the short and long term impact of technology trends on test administration. Our client needed to anticipate the potential for disruption to its business posed by emerging technology trends such as adaptive technology, data analytics, remote proctoring and gaming. Additionally, the proliferation of mobile devices in education and learners bringing their own devices to use in class or the workplace was also researched. Our client has a wide range of interests in education services across major market segments including K-12, higher education, English language learning and workforce training. To kick off the project, Emerging Strategy’s consulting team worked with our clients to craft a project scope that included specific areas of inquiry in select markets around the world.

Methodology:

To gain the deep level of insight required for our client to understand these trends, we conducted primary research with experts in these fields as well as knowledgeable stakeholders also managing the effects of these trends in competitor firms and customer institutions. To support this effort, Emerging Strategy’s team also reached out its education expert panel members.

Our research methodology comprised two central missions. We provided a broad-based understanding of these trends and their level of impact on test administration by collecting and analyzing information available from secondary research sources. To tackle the toughest questions left unanswered after extensive secondary research into the technology trends, we leveraged the expertise of experts, thought leaders and other relevant stakeholders through primary research. Over the three-month duration of this project over a hundred industry experts were interviewed. Utilizing this combination allowed us to provide a big picture analysis with targeted focus on questions most critical to our client’s business interests.

Result:

Each emerging technology included in our study has the potential to impact these business interests in myriad ways and timely, insightful market intelligence can provide a big value add to the business units at our client organization who need to stay ahead of competitors in the rapidly evolving education services market. We provided our client’s team with research-backed insight and analysis in a crisp, concise deliverable format easily shared with internal customers. The project delivered answers to the key intelligence questions our client needed answers to regarding the current and future impact technology would have on test administration.


Case Study: Graduate Student Enrollment Trends and Issues for U.S. Market

Brief:

Our client wanted to identify market trends and issues that have affected or that may in the future affect enrollment for graduate-level studies in the United States.

Emerging Strategy’s Solution:

Emerging Strategy researched the top three markets or origin for graduate studies of the US: US, China and India. Secondary sources were exhausted and complemented by a series of primary interviews in the three geographies. Market leading test prep providers and study abroad agencies were consulted in order to identify topics that have and may lead prospective graduate students to defer studies or target a destination other than the United States. Language and entrance/ admissions exams and prep courses volumes were used as indicator of intention and potential convergence to graduate level study. Historic trends and future expectations based on findings were essential to client needs.

Result:

Outputs enabled client to program expected demand for the coming 3 years and key trends that may influence the target market.


Case Study: e-Learning Tools and Market Analysis

Brief:

Our client was evaluating business development opportunities within Mainland China’s e-Learning market, and needed to understand the landscape, players and product offerings available.

Emerging Strategy’s Solution:

Emerging Strategy’s consultants drew on a mix of domestic and international sources, beginning with secondary research to find e-Learning products and services in mainland markets using industry reports, trade publications and general media. Afterwards, extensive primary research and site visits were conducted to triangulate, validate and further elaborate on findings. Research also characterized the different user and buyer segments, making the identification of coverage gaps possible. Industry specialists, educational institution directors, and MoE officials were amongst the primary contacts consulted.

Result:

Valuable insights into the e-Learning tools available to the Chinese market, both current and forecast, helped our client plan their BD/partnership strategy, target profile and product mix.


Case Study: The Impact of Macro Trends and Innovations on the Education Sector

Brief:

In order to improve their strategic planning process, our client sought actionable intelligence on near-term (3-5 years) and long-term (10 years) macro trends and disruptors in the education and training sector in a number of countries.

Emerging Strategy’s Solution:

We created an analytic framework including a PEST analysis, opportunities and threats presented by each trend, and the potential level of impact and certainty for each. For the PEST analysis, we conducted detailed secondary research complemented by interviews with members of an expert panel assembled for this project, to elicit hypotheses on political, economic, social and technological trends. We tested these hypotheses using additional primary and secondary research. We created a ‘disruption factor matrix’ to segment those trends that had the greatest level of certainty as well as the highest potential for impacting our client’s business. We also deeply analyzed each resultant opportunity and threat facing the client.

Result:

Our study enabled the client to gain an understanding of future trends and outlooks in the target market and to tailor their products to the anticipated changes in the education and workplace sectors.


Case Study: Downstream Oil and Gas Market Analysis

Brief:

In order to develop a robust market entry strategy for the Chinese downstream petroleum and gas market, our client wanted to develop an understanding of the market landscape so that they could identify and target the most promising segments of the downstream value chain.

Emerging Strategy’s Solution:

To develop a detailed understanding of the competitive landscape, the influence of government regulations and incentives on consumer demand, and the possibilities for partnerships and joint ventures, Emerging Strategy conducted over thirty in-depth interviews with executives and high-ranking employees at international and Chinese oil and gas companies, industry analysts, and experts from leading universities. The interviews provided valuable insight into: the current structure of the Chinese market, the strengths and weaknesses of the major players, cultural and regulatory situations, and the market entry history and development of major oil & gas companies. Conversations with government contacts enabled us to gain insights on the impact of government regulations.

Result:

The client gained an understanding of the opportunities and the risks involved in entering the Chinese downstream O&G sector, and were able to identify opportunities that matched their business scope and scale.


Case Study: New Site Location and Construction Benchmarking of Leading Petrol Station Brands

Brief:

The client requested detailed benchmarking and analysis of the new petrol station set-up process used by key competitors in Australia and Malaysia, so that opportunities to improve the client’s process could be identified, as well as to generate a set of industry KPIs.

Emerging Strategy’s Solution:

We mapped the entire process from site identification and acquisition to operational start-up and then benchmarked the process. The benchmarking included detailed insights on the investment approval process within the company, acquisition of building permits, the construction process and project management, and the opening of the new petrol station for commercial activity. Tracked topics of particular interest included the level of outsourcing, business model, the structure of project teams, and performance metrics to evaluate the new site set-up process. We benchmarked competitors’ strategy as well as operational measures taken to optimize their business performance, and future planning around geographic footprint and expansion. The study relied heavily on primary research, with a total of over 30 in-depth interviews with mid and senior level contacts.

Result:

We identified opportunities for improving the client’s own new site set-up process, as well as understand competitors’ current capabilities and expansion plans.