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John Deere - Market Intelligence Tool MBA 541 | Spring 2017

John Deere's challenge

Four years ago, companies that produced tractor attachment products had not yet developed a method for centrally storing market and supplier information. As a result, many companies relied on years of sales expertise and recordkeeping to identify their best suppliers.

For this reason, John Deere sought a tool that would allow it to pioneer managing competitor data by using a centralized database to collect and analyze different product lines.

The assignment

A team of MBA students took on the task of developing a tool John Deere could use to collect, store and manage marketplace intelligence for agricultural tractors and tractor attachment products.

They were asked to focus on designing the tool around the company’s Tractor Platform and ensure it could be easily adapted to other John Deere platforms or functional areas in the future.

The students' approach

The team conducted extensive online research to identify the database resources and coding techniques that would allow for the maximum amount of user flexibility.

They determined Microsoft Excel would be the best option for building the tool.

The team based the structure of the tool on a compilation of competitor information John Deere had collected, including a list of product offerings from different suppliers, their equipment specifications and the types of features offered for each product group.

With this information, the team was able to design features for the tool that could provide quantitative and graphical outputs that would aid John Deere in business analytics and decision-making.

Outcomes

The team produced a tool in which users could input data for up to 10 equipment features for all of John Deere's tractor attachment products, as well as search and filter by product group and supplier name.

John Deere could now use the tool to compare large amounts of supplier data related to equipment specifications and features, and potentially reduce their lead times in new product development as a result.

With a better understanding of its competitors, John Deere would be able to increase their revenue by offering a more comprehensive set of high-quality attachments for their existing line of tractors.

“John Deere had a tremendous amount of valuable market research data. Through the project, we built a tool that had the capability to capture the market intelligence data in a clean, structured format, search through the data, and eventually build reports using the data. The most valuable part of the experience was the amazing exposure to work on a challenging real-world problem, which is generally impossible to simulate in a classroom setting. The project gave us the opportunity to learn and explore multiple tools that could have been leveraged to build the solution and eventually identify the most user-friendly and optimum option for our use case.” — Sumant Gupta, Jenkins MBA alumnus
Sumant Gupta, Jenkins MBA alumnus
“Quality market intelligence can be invaluable to organizations as they compete. With strong leadership from John Deere, the students were able to recognize the value gathering this information would have to John Deere’s business. This energized them to dig deeper and gather competitive intelligence which could be added to the tool. This enabled the team to build a flexible tool which provided useful information in multiple formats. Keys to success included clear, concise direction from the client combined with an understanding of how the information would be used on a daily basis. The team was focused and motivated to provide value which is also a key to success.” — Tom Donahue, SCRC Executive Advisor
Tom Donahue, SCRC Executive Advisor

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The NC State team

Sumant Gupta

Pulkit Sreshth

Richard Wayland

Tom Donahue (faculty advisor)

The John Deere team

Mike Schobert