Assessment Brief and Marking Criteria
The aim of the assessment is to analyse and interpret trends in a chosen market sector with the intent of informing an internet-based business strategy. The assignment is an individual 3,000 word management report which is based on market research relating to the use of web-based or mobile technology to effect behavioural change amongst customers in a country outside the UK. The report may include words, graphical and tabular representations. It must explore (with appropriate theoretical support) at least:
the internet-based market opportunities (and offline differentiation if using a multi-channel approach)
the proposed business and revenue models
proposed customer segmentation and value proposition(s)
proposed methods of communicating value and developing a customer base
suggested organisational design and start up requirements.
In groups you must gather market data on the allocated area and begin constructing a business strategy. Formative feedback will be available in Dragon’s Den style seminars; come prepared! The data gathering component for this is team-based, and the assignment should be written as an individual report. Supporting evidence and data gathered should be from reputable academic, governmental and industry sources. A useful starting point is the theoretical frameworks and models addressed within the module. Assignments using appropriate theory and evidence to support your proposal will gain higher marks than those that do not; not providing theory or evidence is a guaranteed way to attain a low (probably failure) mark! The use of Wikipedia, BusinessBalls and sites of a similar ilk will be looked upon extremely unfavourably.
A conceptualisation of the assignment process is seen within the Figure 1 below, and a fuller illustration of the assignment can be found on the following pages.
Figure 1: A conceptualisation of the suggested process to undertake the assignment
The rest of this document details the suggested format, plus indicators of questions that you should think about when attempting the assignment. This concludes the introductory statements and briefing for this document. The next section outlines the market for investigation and provides a more detailed schema for the way in which you must approach this:
Allocated Marketplace: the Health and Fitness industry.
How do you get people to change their behaviours to be more productive, diet, learn a new language, or buy new products? Behavioural change is a major area appearing within organisations, and more sophisticated methods of change are appearing. Large organisations are particularly interested at improving employees, enhancing business processes and recruiting or keeping customers. Individuals are interested in making real changes to their behaviours to aid their learning, to improve their fitness, to stop smoking or reduce their weight, or for improving their wider wellbeing. Companies such as the BBC, Accenture and the NHS have been developing methods to improve behavioural change, to not just reduce bad behaviours or increase good behaviours, but to ensure that these behaviours are maintained. Increasingly technology is used to gather data, analyse for targeting and to pinpoint moments to intervene to reinforce good behaviours. The web and smartphone apps are often marketed as part of this “service”. It’s up to you on how you might make revenue out of this new area.
You must find a profitable niche and develop a good business idea around this area, and should research the area thoroughly to allow you to identify market opportunities that you may exploit. Remember your proposed business strategy should be one that focuses outside of the United Kingdom, although if you are suggesting a multi-national approach (e.g. European Union-wide) you may include the UK as one of your target areas provided the UK is not the first or main marketplace. Remember that the UK must NOT be your start-up country or headquarters.
Each assignment will clearly be different along specific opportunity or strategic dimensions, so the format presented below is suggestive. The questions outlined below are included to help your thinking; you may not be able to answer every one. Different approaches to the presentation within the assignment are possible provided that you incorporate the material and information stated above and illustrated within the format below. Note that no suggested word count for each section is included as the word count for each section is likely to differ dependent upon your own proposal. For example, the proposed market opportunity may take longer to explain, but the proposed customer segmentation may be quite simple and require less word count. Remember to identify and apply relevant theory or approaches from the module programme, but remember that you are welcome to incorporate wider reading. The assignment should take the form of a report including the following information:
You must include an overview of the contents of the report and key definitions that you are using.
The Market Opportunity
You should describe and discuss the internet-based market opportunities at which you wish to target your ideas (and offline differentiation if using a multi-channel approach). You must clearly identify which opportunities you are targeting. Think about concerns such as:
What unmet or under-served needs are there?
Is the opportunity potentially profitable?
Is this a niche opportunity or one that could be scalable?
For how long might the opportunity exist?
What role do digital and internet technologies play?
Are there existing players in the marketplace? If so:
o who are they?
o what do they offer customers?
o what are their capabilities?
o what are their weaknesses?
Are you attempting to compete in a ‘red ocean’ or find a ‘blue ocean’?
What barriers to entry exist or could do in the future?
How risky is this opportunity?
The Proposed Business Strategy
You should identify a clear strategy for exploiting the market opportunities. Remember that your strategy will be different depending on the marketplace and the form of opportunity you are approaching; e.g., is it trapped or new-to-the-world, or hybrid value that you are proposing? We will be assessing the alignment of your proposed strategy and the market opportunity. Think about concerns such as:
What capabilities do you need to exploit the opportunities?
How are you positioning yourself in the marketplace or space?
Are you using physical items or intangibles such as information?
What are your likely costs?
How will you generate revenue?
How will you make profits (and on what timescale)?
What forms of innovation are you suggesting?
What are your key objectives (to monitor performance)?
What are your long, medium and short term priorities?
How should you evaluate your investment priorities and returns?
How do you make the business sustainable (e.g., not just producing pens, but complementary items/services such as ink)?
These elements are further articulated into the three areas below
Customer Segmentation and Related Value Propositions
You must identify the customers and segmented types of customers that you are targeting and their relative value propositions. Also, indicate changes in the value proposition for different segments of your potential customer base. Remember that these value propositions and the customer segmentation should be linked to the different unmet or under-served needs identified within the market opportunity section of the assignment. Think about concerns such as:
Who are your customers?
What methods are you using to segment your customers?
What differences are there between the types of customers you are targeting?
How do your proposed value propositions meet the needs for each customer segment?
Are their specific cultural/language/geographical/etc concerns for customers?
Potentially, who are the most/least desirable and the most profitable customers? Why?
The Business and Revenue Models
This will develop partly from the above, and will vary depending on the market opportunities. We are not expecting this to be a full ‘nuts-and-bolts’ approach but for you to articulate the major elements of the business model, e.g., egg diagrams and resource system models might be relevant ways to display this information, but there are others. Whatever method you use, you must interpret, apply and explain for your business idea. Remember that you must consider the effect of your online approach on offline requirements (e.g., warehousing). Think about concerns such as:
Are you offering a single or cluster of benefit(s) (and hence value proposition(s))?
Do you potentially have significant differentiation from potential competitors?
How do(es) your proposed value proposition(s) meet the needs of your stakeholders?
What value innovation is there and how can you make it sustainable?
What is your online offering and what part does it play in the business?
What are the main elements of the resource system required and how do they relate to each other?
o How does this appear online and offline?
o Are partnerships, sub-contractors, etc, involved?
How are you generating revenue?
o Is this from a single source or (preferably) from several different methods?
Communicating Value and Marketplace Development
You must identify how you intend to communicate value to potential customers, that is, get over the potential value of your product or service to the customer. From that how do you intend to acquire new customers and maintain a profitable relationship with them through repeat business or extensions of value? Think about concerns such as:
Are you offering a single or cluster of benefits that can be easily understood by potential customers?
How are you translating the value proposition of your product or service into something that your customer(s) can easily understand?
How are you marketing your value proposition and advertising your business?
What brand image(s) are you developing and how?
o What are the core elements of the brand and what are wraparounds or extensions?
How are you acquiring customers?
How are you maintaining a relationship with your customers?
o (How) is this relationship different online versus offline?
How are you encouraging repeat business (if possible)?
How are you extending these transactions (e.g., consumables)?
Organisational Design and Start-up Considerations
You must identify how you intend to structure the business, and what start-up considerations you think are most pertinent and worth prioritising. Think about concerns such as:
Is this a completely new business or an offshoot from an existing one?
Are you using a single location or a multinational approach?
Do you need to involve other organisations and what is your relationship to them? E.g.
o Capabilities you need to buy in (outsourcing)
What are your biggest and most likely risks? And what are your contingencies for these?
What areas of your strategy are you prioritising in the short term vs medium to long term? E.g.
o Sustainable growth rather than large profits
o Targeting specific locations or customers
o Establishing relationships
Ensure that you include all references in Harvard format cited in author surname order. A NBS guide to referencing is found on the NOW site.
You should include appendices that are relevant and appropriate to your argument. Ensure that they are referred to in the main body of your assignment. The appendices should not be excessive in length nor number. Examples of relevant appendices are activity maps, egg diagrams, financial data, etc, if they are too large to fit into the main body. These are not included in the word count (but this does not mean that you should use appendices as a crutch for poor organisation of your report!)
The next section explores the marking criteria that we will use to assess your submission.
Marks will be allocated reflecting two areas; Content (80%) and Presentation (20%). The content of the assignment is more important than its presentation. However, work that is unclear, unreadable or generally not well presented is more difficult to mark and understand. Poor grammar, sentence structure and similar errors will reduce the mark granted to the presentation element of the assessment. Additionally, the credibility of your argument is reduced in the mind of the reader if your work appears rushed, is inappropriately or sloppily presented.
The content of the assignment will be marked upon these criteria:
Clarity of the market opportunity and proposed business strategy
It is crucial that you clearly identify and describe the market opportunity that you are focusing upon and the proposed business strategy. You must clearly demonstrate the relevance of the business strategy to the market opportunity that you have identified. Reports that identify and justify a clear and relevant opportunity and demonstrate a congruent strategy will gain high marks whereas unclear, illogical or groundless opportunities and strategies will not.
Feasibility of the business strategy
A flawed business strategy is dangerous to the business and potential investors; it will lose money and damage the credibility and reputation of the business, the directors and investors, in addition to negative impact on customers and suppliers. You need to convince the reader that the business strategy you are proposing is considered, feasible, and that you can a) satisfy customers’ unmet/under-served needs, b) be profitable and (hopefully) c) be sustainable. We will reward reports that are demonstrably feasible; reports that are not will gain low marks.
Innovation of approach
We are looking for innovation in your report. Rather than simply replicating someone else’s business approach, we will reward innovation in your approach and business strategy, value proposition, functionality, and similar ideas. This also extends to presenting the market opportunities and your business strategy. Reports that demonstrate innovation will attract higher marks than those that do not.
Utilisation of supporting material (including theory)
We are looking for your ability to support your approach with relevant supporting material and theory from the module and indicate material that helped structure your thinking. The appropriateness of different sources from industrial, governmental and academic perspectives (and being of appropriate quality) will be considered. We are expecting you to think critically about the appropriateness and validity of the evidence presented, and the context within which it was presented. Remember that an argument has a claim which is logically linked to evidence and the context of that evidence:
Argument = [claim + context of claim + logically linked evidence + context of evidence]
To achieve higher marks it is important that you argue your case, demonstrate your understanding of theory, and apply it with reference to context and the subtleties of your market opportunities and business strategy.
This concludes the Content criteria which constitutes 80% of the grade. The second element to the marking criteria is the Presentation criteria, which constitutes 20% of the grade.
All assignments will be judged on the extent to which they meet the following presentation criteria. Failure to meet the criteria will result in the loss of marks, depending on the material and the impact on the assignment. The following are guides to structure your thinking on these criteria:
The review should have an introduction, which lays out the nature and purpose of the review. The main body should be clearly sub-headed with a logical structure and a conclusion, which draws upon the evidence presented and summarises the main arguments.
The written style should be clear and appropriate. Sentences should be easy to understand and grammatically correct. The use of gender-specific language should be avoided. There should be no spelling, grammatical or similar errors; ensure that you proof-read your work. If you have problems with spelling and grammar use the grammar and spelling checker within your word processor.
c) Graphical and Tabular Representations
If graphics or tabular representations are included they should be clear to the reader. This includes providing appropriate axis titles, colour-coding of data, legends where necessary, and integrating them using an appropriate systematic labelling system, figure numbers and titles for graphical and table numbers and titles for tabular data. If you are using conceptual representations, such as models, rich pictures, etc., ensure that they are easily readable and understandable. Ensure that all graphical representations and tables are appropriately integrated and explained in the body of the text. Please bear in mind that although graphical or tabular data using colours may appear satisfactory onscreen, they may become unclear if printed on a black and white printer.
Referenced material should have its source indicated in a consistent manner adhering to the Harvard convention. There should be a list of works cited in author order.
This concludes the Presentation criteria, which constitutes 20% of the grade.
You should bear in mind certain issues when attempting the assignment:
Your report will be assessed for its coherence and quality to deliver what you have been required to do.
This is a management report rather than an academic text but it is important to demonstrate that you understand the theory or approach that you are examining.
Ensure that you critically examine the approach or theory rather than merely describe it. In doing this, you may wish to make reference to alternative theories or approaches which you have found of use and are relevant to the argument you are making.
Material which is purely descriptive or generic will not gain high marks, but evidenced/reasoned explanation, clarity, focus and attention to detail will be rewarded.
In all sections, relevant explanations, instances and illustrations will be important.
We expect to see evidence of wider reading and ensure that your work brings together strands from the lecture/workshop series in a meaningful way.
Sources of evidence must be appropriately attributed using Harvard referencing.
This is an individual assignment and the submission must be your own work.
Deadlines and Submission
The data gathering component for this is team-based, and the assignment should be written as an individual assignment. To fulfil the submission requirements for this module, your assignment must be submitted in these formats:
In printed format to the NBS Information Desk on Newton Level 7 and in electronic format to the NOW Module Dropbox by
12.00 noon on Friday 13th May 2016.
This submission should be a single document that includes all elements of your assignment (such as references list, appendices); electronic submissions that are made up of multiple files will not be accepted. Please note:
Your assignment should be in MS Word using your student number and module code and the deadline date as the file name separated by an underscore (“_” which is next to the 0 key:
You must use this naming format; do NOT name your assignment digital entrepreneurship report, report, or something similar. Firstly we mark several hundred assignments a year. Secondly, and more importantly similar named files may cause problems with the online system, resulting in staff being unable to mark your work.
If you are using a package other than Microsoft Word, please contact the module leader.
Why am I submitting my assignment electronically?
There are three main reasons:
1. To enable content, semantic and other relevant forms of analysis of the assignments to allow us to identify generic areas of best practice and improvement (with requisite examples) that can be fed back to you and help the evolution of the module to better serve student needs. This allows us to provide better modules in the future and to target areas that students are having problems with, plus enhance areas of best practice within the student body.
2. To enable electronic checks for plagiarism, collusion and other academic irregularities. This ensures that the degree that you will potentially obtain at NTU is of high integrity, and that all students have a level playing field in their undertaking of the assignment.
Extensions to the deadline are awarded only in exceptional circumstances where agreement is reached by the module and programme leader that a student is unable to submit because of unforeseen circumstances beyond his/her control. In accordance with Nottingham Business School policy, extension requests are only valid if a student has tendered a) a completed NEC form and b) appropriate evidence, e.g. if illness is the reason for an extension, a doctor’s note is appropriate evidence. Student-produced time management issues or information technology failures are not appropriate reasons for extensions, as these are foreseeable events. Indeed, it would be ironic and reflect unfavourably upon a student if technological failure was cited as a reason for an extension given that this module includes some discussion of contingency planning and information systems failure. Therefore:
Ensure your work and data is backed up on at least two data storage mechanisms:
Solid-State based (USB flash drives, flash cards); Networked (e.g. student network H: drive); Internet based (e.g. Online briefcase); and Non-Electronic/Hard Format (e.g. paper printout).