Last night, I had the opportunity to meet with a student team from the Illinois Institute of Technology - Stuart School of Business MBA program strategic marketing class. While I am not quite ready to talk about the project I've given these students, it obviously relates to Lotus Notes and Domino and some analysis that I think would benefit my team (and thus the market). It's quite enjoyable to get some fresh, unbiased eyes in front of some of the opportunities in this space, so I'm looking forward to the project outcome.

My team has five students, all with different backgrounds. When we met, we talked about the history of Notes, the marketplace today, what are collaborative applications, unique differentiators for Notes/Domino technologically, and competition.

In a sign of where we are today, one of the first questions I got was "how does Lotus relate to 1-2-3?" But putting that aside, we also talked a lot about how companies deploy Notes - intranet vs. public-facing applications, centralized vs. decentralized, desktop vs. mobile access. We talked about XPages, OpenNTF.org, and ideajam.net.

It was fascinating to be on the sponsor/host side of this equation. As I told the group last night, I think learning through case study is one of the best parts of business school. When I did my first class in marketing -- 23 years ago -- our first case study was about Perdue chicken hot dogs. The company had introduced them in 1983 but were not having a ton of success, despite having a solid brand name and reputation, and entering the market as Americans were becoming more conscious about fat content and healthy eating. Chicken hot dogs seemingly should have been a natural success, but they weren't. The case study identified that Perdue had priced the hot dogs as if they were a premium product, while people buying hot dogs tended to think of them as a very inexpensive food.

It seems to me that Perdue was ahead of their time. Today, visit the meat counter at any American supermarket, especially someplace like Whole Foods, and you'll see a ton of premium encased meats. We now call them fancy names like "Sausages by Amylu", and they command premium prices. If they were still hot dogs, though, we'd be looking for the 99ยข version.

I'm sure the learnings from working with the Stuart MBA students will be worthwhile and useful. A great opportunity, and I'll try to blog what I can about our work together as the students progress towards their May report.

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