USC Nustory cognitive business lab

USC / IBM Cognitive Business MBA Module

Milestone 1 & Peer Eval 1 due: June 6
Milestone 2 & Peer Eval 2 due: July 11
Milestone 3 & Peer Eval 3 due: August 15

For collaboration around this project and to ask specific questions, we will be using Slack.

Commercializing a new technology requires a thorough understanding of the potential applications that the technology may feasibly have, potential markets the applications could feasibly reach, the potential demand that the applications might reasonably see, the existing supply chain partners needed to make the applications a reality, and existing products that might impede the applications’ likelihood of securing a foothold.

A clear go-to-market strategy is also critical when commercializing a new technology, which entails more than just a sense of path to market, the strategy must also take into careful consideration time to market, cost to market, proprietary barriers to competitor entry, scalability, manufacturability and more.

In this assignment, self-selected teams of not more than four (4) students will develop and demonstrate fluency the commercialization of a new technology as expressed  by three major (and some minor) in-class deliverables. More specifically, students will be asked to:

  1. Become expert in the existing commercial space (applications and markets) associated with the chosen technology.
  2. Collect data and conduct an opportunity analysis regarding the potential (in new or existing markets) of three new applications that use the chosen technology.
  3. Develop a clear, compelling, and actionable plan that recommends to our external technology partner a startup concept and an associated business model worthy of development.

Milestone 1 – Due on June 6

For this milestone, you are expected to deliver a report that analyzes the functionality and current market adoption of IBM’s cognitive technology (as introduced in our Module 1 MarshallTALK session). Within the report, you are asked to identify and comparatively assess the technology’s capabilities and limitations, including consideration of resource requirements and their relationship to practical issues of accuracy, liability, and speed of computation and communications. You are further asked to identify key trends, both domestically and internationally, that you see as relevant to projecting the future of these products and markets (including the possibility of new products and new markets). In addition to discussing the above, your document should include an analysis of existing applications and their customers, across at least three adopting industries and companies, in which you analyze issues of application use, tolerable cost/price, and implementation. Your report should conclude with a proposal for two new cognitive technology applications that you believe merit further progression in this course – applications that you believe might be the basis of a robust, growable, and scalable startup!

The deliverable for this milestone is a comprehensive and well-structured business document (of not more than seven single-spaced pages) that clearly demonstrates fluency in the chosen technology.

Milestone 2 – Due on July 11

For this milestone, you are expected to propose two “cognitive tech” business concepts that you believe represent viable startup opportunities; the concepts can be based on the same applications proposed in Milestone 1, or modifications of those same (or, in rare circumstances, pending discussion and approval of both professors, entirely new applications). You are expected to deliver a preliminary opportunity analysis of each your proposed concepts, as characterized in terms of (1) the capabilities and limitations inherent to cognitive technology; (2) alternative technologies that might be useful for the same or similar (existing or potential) products; (3) relevant industry trends (identified through secondary research); and (4) projected customer demand, including specification of likely customer segment and value proposition (as  driven by your own primary research). Your report should conclude with a rank ordering of your proposed concepts and an indication of which one you would like to further pursue in Milestone 3 of this project.

The deliverable for this milestone is a comprehensive and well-structured business document (not to exceed 6 pages, plus up to 4 pages of appendices). Further instructions for Milestone 2 will be provided later in the term.

Milestone 3 – Due on August 15

For this milestone, you are expected to provide a report that elaborates on and amends, as based on in-depth feasibility analysis, the single business concept your team identified in Milestone 2. It should contain a detailed discussion of the proposed business’ strengths and deficiencies, as supported by substantive primary and secondary data. It should explore issues of product, production, finance, distribution, market demand, and profitability – and it should provide a formal business model recommendation; this recommendation will identify  the customer-based rationale for your product choice (e.g., value proposition, source of sustainable competitive advantage, proof of demand); the supply chain for your chosen business (including, notably, your location within that supply chain); and the resources necessary to execute to your vision. The report should also articulate the key risks / uncertainties facing your chosen concept. Your report should conclude with a clear go/no-go recommendation.

The deliverable for this milestone is a comprehensive and well-structured business document (not to exceed 10 pages, plus up to 5 pages of appendices). Further instructions for Milestone 3 will be provided later in the term.