AUM Strategic Evaluation & Recommendations Case 2-4pages. format is listed as followed. Steps 1 2 3 4. Strategic Evaluation & Recommendations 1.Define Com

AUM Strategic Evaluation & Recommendations Case 2-4pages. format is listed as followed. Steps 1 2 3 4.

Strategic Evaluation & Recommendations
1.Define Company Strategy
Customer Target Strategies:who is the company targeting?
Product Line and positioning strategies:what are the offerings of the firm. What are the price ranges and varieties?
Technology:basic capabilities
Strategic process:competitive capabilities
Market access:what is the approach used to reach the market?
2.Evaluate: SWOT – derived form your analysis
3.State the critical issues you have observed
4.Make recommendations

Internal Issues

Strategic evaluation

External Issues






Key Success Factors

Product-related skills






Market-Related Skills




Critical issues and priorities


What are





Manufacturing efficiency

Outdated Facilities

Internal or External

Internal or external

Good Market Share

Inadequate R&D

Possible new markets

New competitors

Strong Financial Picture

Obsolete Technologies

Strong economy

Shortage of resources

Superior Reputation

Weak Management

Weak market rivals

Changing market tastes

Past Planning Failures

Emerging technologies

New regulations

Growth in existing markets

Substitute products

Critical issues and priorities

The SWOT analysis should lead to critical issues that a firm must address to maintain its competitive and financial performance


Help achieve good fit with the overall situation

Help build competitive advantage

Contribute to higher company performance or a better situation rP
Deepa Ray and L. S. Subramanian wrote this case solely to provide material for class discussion. The authors do not intend to illustrate
either effective or ineffective handling of a managerial situation. The authors may have disguised certain names and other identifying
information to protect confidentiality.
This publication may not be transmitted, photocopied, digitized, or otherwise reproduced in any form or by any means without the
permission of the copyright holder. Reproduction of this material is not covered under authorization by any reproduction rights
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University, London, Ontario, Canada, N6G 0N1; (t) 519.661.3208; (e);
Copyright © 2016, Richard Ivey School of Business Foundation
Version: 2016-02-26
It was late at night, and one of the market research projects that Deepa Soman, chief executive officer
(CEO) at Lumière, had been monitoring was finally coming to an end. In fact, she had just finished signing
off on one of the key deliverables. The clients were very happy with the results and with the solutions that
Soman and her team had provided. Additionally, they were very impressed with the way Lumière had used
technology to give them 24/7 access to project progress and documentation. The clients appreciated the fact
that, despite being a small firm, Lumière was as competitive and quick to respond as any other big marketresearch company. Milind Soman, the chief information officer (CIO) and director of the company
remarked that this kind of service was the reason 80 per cent of Lumière’s business came from repeat
The firm’s journey to adopt cloud technology had begun in 2011, and now, in early 2015, Milind reflected
on the impact of the technology on Lumière’s business performance. What were the factors that had made
this adoption easy? How much of the firm’s efficiency could be attributed to the cloud? So far, most of
Lumière’s applications on the cloud had been sourced from Google Marketplace, but with other players
like Microsoft getting into cloud technology aggressively, should Lumière start to explore these new
offerings as well? Given the trade-offs that Milind had made while choosing the cloud, would this
technology continue to pay off in the future?
Lumière Business Solutions was a research and consulting firm that worked closely with clients in the areas
of market research (both quantitative and qualitative), online research, and consulting. The company
positioned itself as a partner to its clients in providing insightful and innovative business solutions. Soman,
an MBA graduate from one of India’s top business schools, founded Lumière Business Solutions in 1996
to give women professionals the option to have both a career and a family, instead of choosing just one of
these paths. Lumière’s mission statement stated exactly that: “To provide customized business solutions
This document is authorized for educator review use only by JIM RYAN, Auburn University at Montgomery until May 2018. Copying or posting is an infringement of copyright. or 617.783.7860
Page 2
that enable our clients’ growth, while providing a platform to attract, develop, excite, and retain professional
talent who seek to integrate work and life” (see Exhibit 1).1
Lumière’s foundations were based on flexible work processes that allowed women with specific
competencies to receive training and then work in the field of market research. Most team members at
Lumière were women who worked remotely, taking advantage of flexible work hours. In fact, Lumière had
only one corporate office. Since Lumière provided virtual workspaces, the concept of a “branch” did not
exist. Still, Lumière had expanded its presence in terms of virtual teams to multiple locations all over India
(see Exhibit 2), and the company was rapidly expanding to international locations as well.
The Business Need
Although Lumière belonged to the small-to-medium enterprises (SME) bracket, it competed on par with
other big market-research companies. But Lumière was much more than just a small business. At its
foundation, Lumière supported the social cause of giving women the chance to have a career by providing
them with flexible work practices. The senior management at Lumière knew that this opportunity could not
come at the cost of quality, and for that reason, Lumière had to overstaff its projects by 30 per cent
(compared to the rest of the industry) in order to provide quality work and efficiency that equalled that of
its competitors. Where could the company offset this cost? To stay competitive, Lumière had to improve
its cost margins in other places.
A second issue related to the industry in which Lumière competed. Milind explained,
Lumière . . . does qualitative research. This is said to be an art and is generally people-centric. If Lumière,
as a company, has to churn out great research, it is necessary to convert the art of qualitative research
into a science. This can be done using structures, frameworks, and processes to ensure 80 per cent of
what is expected of good qualitative research can be delivered. Twenty per cent can be left to divine
A lot of information was already being stored on the company’s intranet. There was a huge knowledge base
that existed in the form of digital repository of documents, information, etc., which meant that the
infrastructure that was needed to convert the art of research into a scientific process was already in place.
To enable its use, however, Lumière’s work processes had to be restructured. For example, because the
workforce was geographically dispersed, excuses such as “already e-mailed it,” “forgot about it,” “did not
see it,” and “did not receive it” often came up. These were not acceptable. Links had to be put into the work
process that connected the workflows for better management and transparency.
Initially, Lumière’s information technology (IT) solutions were based on using traditional data centres, a
practice that came with additional fixed costs, like licensing fees and leased lines for connectivity. On an
ongoing basis, Lumière built its own solutions to accommodate the changing needs and demands of the
organization, but this approach resulted in some monstrous home-grown solutions that could not keep pace
with the customers’ changing demands in the effervescent and creative domain of market research. Milind
knew that technology could be leveraged to reduce the firm’s spending and improve its access to resources
across geographies. He also knew that IT was not core to their business. Lumière needed to identify a way
for IT to solve its problems without becoming resource-intensive.
“About Lumière,” Lumière Business Solutions, accessed March 30, 2014,
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Page 3
Cloud Computing: “Software as a Service” as a Solution to Business Needs
Simply put, cloud computing is the use of shared computing resources by multiple organizations to fulfil
their IT requirements. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST),2 the
“cloud” referred to actual hardware and software provided on a common platform that could be accessed
from anywhere using the Internet. This technology had five important characteristics:
1. On-demand self-service: Any consumer could obtain the computing capabilities as needed, with zero
to minimal human intervention.
2. Accessibility: All cloud-based services were available over the network and could be accessed using
multiple network-enabled devices.
3. Elasticity: Cloud computing resources could expand or contract to closely match the actual
requirements of an organization.
4. Pay-per-use: The services consumed on the cloud could be measured and billed on a pay-per-use basis
without a huge upfront commitment.
5. Resource pooling: Resources owned by the vendor were pooled and allocated among multiple users,
thus providing efficiencies of scale.
Cloud computing was a form of utility-based computing, where companies could use and pay for
technology services as needed. Cloud computing enabled organizations to concentrate on their core
business processes without worrying about how to manage the technology.
IT providers offered cloud computing through a variety of service models, depending on the organization’s
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), where users within the organization accessed application-level services
hosted on the cloud using the Internet.
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), where infrastructure as well as a development platform was provided, on
which applications could then be developed by the individual organizations.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), where basic computing services were provided to the organization
on a pay-per-use basis.
Among these options, SaaS was the most popular in terms of adoption. SaaS applications were nothing but
web-based software — applications that resided on the provider’s servers and that could be accessed by
using the Internet.4 The provider managed the application, including the aspects of access, security,
availability, and performance. SaaS had significant advantages for SMEs.5 It helped SMEs to quickly
change and adapt tools to satisfy their firm-specific business needs. It led to lower costs (both in terms of
software and hardware) because the organization paid only a monthly fee. It also improved accessibility
because a mobile workforce could now access relevant information from anywhere, which led to greater
efficiency and productivity. However, the cloud also had its own set of challenges. For one, using
applications on the cloud meant that good Internet connectivity was always needed but was not always
available. Also, security and lack of understanding of the legal aspects of data control represented a concern.
Peter Mell and Timothy Grance, “The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing,” National Institute of Standards and Technology,
accessed March 31, 2015,
“IBM Cloud Computing: What Is Cloud Computing?” IBM, accessed April 2, 2015,
“What Is Software as a Service?” Salesforce, accessed April 2, 2015,
“How Small Businesses Can Use Saas Apps for Competitive Advantage,” Sysnet, accessed April 2, 2015,
This document is authorized for educator review use only by JIM RYAN, Auburn University at Montgomery until May 2018. Copying or posting is an infringement of copyright. or 617.783.7860
Page 4
Additionally, the process of understanding and negotiating contracts related to cloud deployment could be
As Lumière’s CIO, Milind kept abreast of the latest technology trends. He understood the pros and cons of
cloud computing, and, even more importantly, he saw the cloud as an opportunity to reduce the operational
costs of keeping the company’s IT going. Cloud computing — and, more specifically, SaaS applications
— could help Milind leverage technology to gain the efficiency and productivity he sought.
Some of the drivers for cloud adoption at Lumière included its provision of a virtual workplace and the fact
that cloud technology reduced the time and effort required to deploy applications. The cost of bandwidth
had also gone down significantly over the past few years, a condition that would improve the connectivity
issues normally associated with cloud computing. As a result, cloud computing could improve the agility
of the business, offering chances for better business development and growth.
Beginning of the Journey to the Cloud
As Milind recalled, “Our journey began when Google announced its free pilot of a cloud-based e-mail
system for small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs). We had challenges with our e-mail provider with respect
to junk and spamming.” As the CIO, Milind saw no harm in exploring cloud-based e-mail services for free
simply as a way to understand the use of the cloud as an ecosystem. After the success of this experiment,
the company moved to Google as a messaging system as well.
Milind explained:
Until 2011, we used only sharing space, but now we wanted to explore the use of this cloud-based
ecosystem to work for our internal processes as well. For example, in an organization like ours, it
was traditionally very hard to assess who had done what. Also, once individuals had filled out their
timesheets, [the information] had to be consolidated. Was there a way to make things independent
of people? Could we go beyond just messaging and look at collaboration? Also, could we support
our work practices using apps on the Google Marketplace?
An application called Manymoon offered an example of what Milind was talking about. Manymoon was a
social productivity application that made it simple to securely share information. It was a team-centric
project management system that provided a workspace that integrated the team members and made life
easier for the project manager. Further, Manymoon helped to manage tasks effectively, track progress, and
organize complex task-sets into manageable milestones. Lumière’s team found the interface similar to that
of a social networking site, and there was scope for customization. By using Manymoon, the team members
could avoid the chaos of e-mail and were able to communicate more effectively.
Lumière tested the Manymoon app in 2011, during a month-long trial run. The team received training on
usage of the app and then went on to test live projects to assess its feasibility. Manymoon was the first
social productivity application to which the team was exposed, and the members found it exciting to work
together on a virtual set-up that enabled them to feel connected and to instantly know the work status of
others. However, the team soon realized that the application could not provide a complete solution for the
nature of their work; it did not completely support their project cycle and teamwork management processes.
Additionally, Manymoon was being taken over by a bigger company and was undergoing functional
updates, which resulted in the unavailability of certain necessary features. As a result, Lumière eventually
dropped Manymoon in favour of other apps that provided better support.
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Page 5
By then, Lumière had also progressed to using the storage space as a way to store documents. Once the
marketplace developed (i.e., around 2012), the company started wondering what else could be done on the
cloud. For example, a lot of Lumière’s research was stored in an internal repository, which meant that the
knowledge that resided on the intranet could be leveraged for future projects. Clients could access this
repository to view past projects and performance. Lumière wanted to use this strong, complementary
knowledge base to help its clients as well as its internal employees, but with some of the information on the
intranet and some on its website, Lumière wanted to look at possibly integrating the two. Thus, the firm
wanted something that could help it move from a “brochure website” to a “public content management
Just like most organizations, Lumière could choose between building or buying solutions to help its
business. Milind explained, “For SMEs, building is not an option. We had a higher cost structure. We
decided it was better to explore the best of breed and take it. This [decision] helped us retain focus on our
core business.”
Milind also explained his rationale behind adopting any solution to suit Lumière’s needs:
Cost was not a deterrent. It was the quality of service that mattered. For example, we renegotiated
our contract with our website provider to make sure that customers and internal employees could
get more functionality and interactive options. This [process] was in line with our core value
proposition of looking at “customer solutioning” rather than mere servicing. We retired a lot of
non-value-adding features of our website, retaining only those that directly contributed to our goals.
Cloud Adoption: The Actual Move
The cloud adoption journey for Lumière began with selecting the right application. Next, the rationalization
of the infrastructure and applications took place to foster an understanding of their compatibility with the
cloud. Business needs had been identified and had to be satisfied before an application could be short-listed.
Milind emphasized, “We did two or three trials before selecting any application.”
Next, Lumière selected the cloud architecture, after which the costing and budgeting for cloud
implementation and maintenance was performed to assess the value it would provide. Once justified,
Lumière selected an appropriate vendor by using a very simple approach. Milind explained, “We had
always used the Google Marketplace, and we were happy with it. We looked to apps listed on the Google
Marketplace and how [they] would fit with our business needs. We also used a lot of trial and error to see
what worked for us and what didn’t.”
Initially, Lumière chose three applications for cloud adoption, all of which seemed to be a good fit with the
company’s business needs. In terms of the completion of the entire project cycle, the applications that made
sense were KShare, Mavenlink, and KiSSFLOW.
The members of Lumière’s virtual team had two specific needs: to feel connected and to have instant access
to information. It was necessary for each person to be aware of the latest projects and processes and to stay
up-to-date with new formats and new templates; they needed a one-stop-shop for all information. KShare,
or “Knowledge Share,” offered a platform for storing and sharing important documents with the entire
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Page 6
team. It provided a repository of information and reports on past projects and it answered frequently asked
questions (FAQs) on qualitative research, project cycles, and back-end processes. It also contained various
other documents related to desktop research, templates, and formats.
Most of Lumière’s work involved market research projects whose payments were based on deliverables,
and these deliverables had to be tracked in order to measure individual productivity as well as project
completion and performance. To achieve these objectives, Lumière chose an SaaS-based application called
Mavenlink (, which was an online project-management tool that Lumière believed
would work for its business. However, within a few weeks, the team members realized that Mavenlink did
not adapt well to Lumière’s business needs, so th…
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