The Winners' List

Dean Lataif's (Boston University School of Management) explained his mathematics on the value of this competition: "If you pay $400 per hour per consultant to evaluate the issues that were presented in this case = $400 per hour x 60 participants x 24 hours = $576,000. So Ericsson, what you're contributing towards this competition is very little compared to the tremendous value you're getting".

After dinner and a round of speeches from Angel Ruiz (President and CEO of Ericsson North America) who noted that he was impressed with "the flavour of the issues that Ericsson are struggling with that were identified by the students in the short 24 hours".

Keeping us in suspense, one of the judges for the final round, Per Jomer (VP, Group Strategy, Ericsson) annouced the list of winners:
First Place: Ericsson Manila - Queens School of Business, Queen's University, Canada

"Queen's delivered the most logical, reasonable and possible strategy that was delivered crisply and clearly. Showing tremendous team alignment and spirit" Per Jomer (VP, Group Strategy, Ericsson)

Second Place: Ericsson Buenos Aires - IESE Business School – University of Navarra, Spain

Third Place: Ericsson Stockholm - McCombs School of Business – University of Texas, Austin

Fourth Place: Ericsson Nanjing - Sloan School of Management – Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Congratulations Queen's University and all the participating teams for a fantastic job well done!!

Judges' Deliberation

The final applause were made indicating the conclusion of the final round of presentations. Ericsson Buneos Aires, the last team to present ended on a excellent note. The judges now have the unenviable job of deliberating on the winning positions of the final 4 competing teams.

The entire congregation in the Boston University School of Management waits with baited breadth for the results, that will be revealed shortly. Watch this blog closely for our top team!

Ericsson Buenos Aires

Ericsson Buenos Aires started off with a key point that gripped me initially. The team was adamant that it doesn't matter who the customer really is - whether he is a farmer in India receiving a text message about commodity prices in the stock market or whether he is a user like you and me where communication and making our lives easier is what IP is all about.

Ericsson Buenos Aires is of the opinion that it is "all about data". And where the relevant industries are involved, Ericsson can capture the most space. As explained by Ericsson Buenos Aires, as we "move data from A to B, we can capture the most along the value chain". And how Ericsson can do this is from alliances with strategic IT partners - "It convergence leads to business convergence".

Ericsson Buenos Aires looked at the user today and the user in the future. What the cosumer was ultimately interested in was to enjoy a seemless experience, currently not provided in the market place.

Another interesting point provided by this team was the proposition that the now widely used and available mobile devices are considered "dumb terminals". The data storage in the future will not be confined to these "dumb terminals" but storage will be located in the grid that can be controlled and contained by Ericsson.

The team encouraged Ericsson to be proactive in leading and driving standards instead of being reactive to the new innovations when Ericsson clearly has the advantage of being a leader in infrastructure and a strong global presence.

Ericsson Manila

Shaking hands with the judges and introducing themselves, Ericsson Manila gets politeness points right off the bat.

Ericsson Manila’s initial assessment of the landscape emphasizes the expanding nature of all different competitors… network companies moving towards solutions, device companies moving towards networks, etc. They also identify markets in Asia and Africa, Smart Products, and Energy Efficiency as the main opportunities. Ericsson Manila creates a great user anecdotes to illustrate the mobile convergence we expect in the future. These examples—one in the developed world and one in the developing world—demonstrate the value and the opportunities for profit available. They are great on product and services ideas, including the “dumb phone,” a bare bones device that runs off of hand crank or solar power. Cash flow from targeted advertising—a big theme seen both last year and this year… The GANTT chart scheduling the roll out of all of these plans was a nice touch.

The Q&A is a little uncomfortable at first… sometimes there’s a danger in using too many specifics! Once they got going though, they really had solid responses to the very tough challenges from the judges…

This is really going to be a tough decision for the judges!

Ericsson Stockholm

Very different delivery style from Ericsson Stockholm. Simpler slides, slower paced delivery. “Solutions are the new products” is a similar theme to the Ericsson Nanjing theme—the addition of the CSR theme though, was novel. Ericsson will enhance its brand equity by making energy use smarter and the consumer more efficient as individuals. Also it will lead to market penetration in emerging countries if Ericsson becomes more energy efficient.

Ericsson Stockholm's main ideas addressed:
· Interoperability of all systems to create a stronger, more powerful consumer
· Ericsson must enable interoperability
· Mesh networking with a bandwidth or usage revenue model
· Forming partnerships with governments

Ericsson Nanjing

Dean Chalykoff provided a round of introductions of the panel of judges:

Per Jomer, VP Group Strategy, Ericsson
Par-Anders Pherson, VP Human Resources and Organization Market, Ericsson
Peter Seremetis, COO, Lloyds America

Ericsson Nanjing was the first team to present. Their proposal "Project Aether", was inspired by Aether, the Greek God of air. The team's rationale is that the element of air is always present but not always noticeable. Ericsson can employ the same concept and be noticeable but not always visible.

The key question that Ericsson Nanjing addressed was "how to continue sustainable profitable growth in an already competitive environment".

Ericsson Nanjing painted a storyline of Kevin the urbanite in 2020. Kevin, instead of having to connect via different standards is able to enjoy an inter-connected environment, a world without wires. Kwasi in Botswana, however has different needs, where health, banking, learning are crucial differences. In an all IP encompassing world where Ericsson plays and hopes to win, Ericsson must exploit the ability to cross applications to drive profitability.

Ericsson enjoys a strong brand in B to B space and its opportunity is to take advantage of the existing infrastructure and keep innovating not just in the technical environment but allow innovation from its consumers. Ericsson Nanjing used Starbucks as an example where the average customer can provide feedback to the company.

Comments from Ericsson Executives, Global Perspectives Program

I spoke with Ericsson's executives from the Global Perspective Program, having no idea what the case question was, Chris Byford, Ericsson was "open to the ideas and creativity".

I was delighted to find out that that Amitabh Pandey (Director, Business Strategies, Ericsson) and David Ekberg (Director, Ericsson) were tasked with "compling the key ideas from the 15 presentations and presenting them during a management meeting for the top 200 managers in Ericsson 2 months from now.

Anna Bostrom (General Manager, Head of PDU Multimedia Enablers & Clients, Ericsson) had " the highest of expectations just by looking around the room".

Ozgur Tohumcu (Vice President, KAM Avea & Turk Telekom, Ericsson) commented that he was "looking more for a provocative view-point and to push the bar because the paticipants coming from a new perspective could add value to this competition from a different angle".

Cecilia de Leeuw (Director, Sales Support, Ericsson) - picture below

The 4 Finalists

After much deliberation, the 4 finalists were annouced after lunch. The air was buzzing with excitement and anticipation. Judges from each group provided a few comments on the overall presentations.


Group 1: Stain Kildal, Ericsson - "It was a great experience and were impressed with the comprehensive package and story in 24 hours. Questions around Ericsson's business model is highly relevant to Ericsson".

It was Ericsson Stockholm that took victory in Group 1.


Group 2: Gabriela Styf-Sjoman, Ericsson - "I wish I can take the 4 teams, combine them and give them a new task". Gabriela provided a few words for each team in Group 2. Ericsson Beijng: "interesting and intelligent ideas to drive traffic" Ericsson Tokyo: "I was very touched by Maria's personal story of a mother's perspective in 2020 being a mother myself. Ericsson Manila: "excellent presentation, great overall picture and the team differentiated what we need to do to establish ourselves in the emerging markets". Ericsson Montreal: "presented Ericsson's strengths and weaknesses and took the judges along with them by "thinking out of the box".

"It was a very very tough decision" but Ericsson Manila took the spot.


Group 3: Panel of judges commented that they were "impressed by the foresights and the insights" provided. They might employ the same 24 hour time period for their employees at Ericsson because "even with months of preparation, some plans are not as good as the ones we've seen today".

Ericsson Buenos Aires was in the words of Cecilia de Leeuw, Ericsson "might have worked for Ericsson before".


Group 4: The panel of judges commented how "refreshing it was to see the new perspectives in such a short time". But provided a few comments for all the teams: "(1) given the opportunities, to make the best of them, (2) challenge the corporation to make the corporation better (3) change is constant, what you do today is not enough".

Ericsson Nanjing took home the sweet spot.


The schedule of events for the next few hours follows:

Ericsson Nanjing - 2.30pm
Ericsson Stockholm - 3.15pm
Ericsson Manila - 4.00pm
Ericsson Buneos Aires - 4.45pm

A cocktail reception after the end of the 4 presentations will be held in the atrium for all to enjoy.

Final Round of Presentations! DONE and DONE!!!

So *phew*, we've got though the final round of presentations, the teams have said what they have to say.

Ericsson Delhi - were reluctant with comments after their presentations. Providing a good explanation, they were hurrying off to "prepare for the next round".

Ericsson Dallas - "PHEW", thought that they did a good job in the Q&A given that the team has no time to prepare for the Q&A session.

Ericsson Montreal - "We thought we did well and their back-up slides came in useful during the Q&A". Montreal as were all teams "excited to know the results", at the same time, "happy to either way get to the next round or get some sleep".

Midway Presentation Comments from the Judges

The judges were asking many clarifying questions and were digging deeper into the quality of analysis and the recommendations that the teams provided. However, the judges that I spoke with were "impressed by the good understanding of the issues" Ericsson faced. Stain Kildal, Product Manager, Ericsson "the teams were innovative and constructive with their suggestions".

Joanna Lau, President and Founder, Lau Technologies commented that "the participants were in tune with the environment in the IT world".

Round 3 Presentations - DONE!

Ericsson Sao Paolo "whatever the outcome, we achieved it as a team". The team worked together as a cohesive structure and complimented each other during the Q&A session. The team added that they did "anticipate most of the questions except for one".

Overheard in the grad lounge - "one of the best things the judges did when we began the Q&A is hearing the judges say they "wanted a conversation"".

Ericsson Manila - achieved "professional poise" and "the judges were genuinely curious about our ideas instead of poking holes in our presentation". When asked about how confident they were about going into the finals, - Ericsson Manila replied - "we'll wait and watch".

Ericsson Johannesburg, complete with their chaperone in tow (see first picture below, lady in red). One member commented "after 48 hours of no sleep because of someone who was snoring like a rhino from Johannesburg..... we are here in one piece".

Ericsson Buenos Aires

Second Round Presentations

Starting promptly at 9.50am, the teams were presented with the same 20 minute presentation time and 20 minute Q&A format. Teams Bangalore, Tokyo, Madrid and Najing are done with their presentations. I sat with Ericsson Madrid's team and were "happy with our presentation given the time we had, we thought we did a fair job". Ericsson Madrid thought that the questions were fair and "the judges asked good questions" that "articulated holes in the presentation".

However, at the end of the allocated 40 minutes, Ericsson Madrid emerged satisfied and relieved.

Ericsson Nanjing, Ericsson Tokyo and Ericsson Banglore are all, at the time of reporting finished with their presentations.

Ericsson Nanjing - thought that they did a better job in Q&A

Ericsson Bangalore - "ready for the second round"

Ericsson Tokyo

The first of 9am presentations

After a full breakfast in the 4th floor dining hall, the 4 teams with the 9am presentations are well underway. The teams look fresh and ready to roll after their 24-hour marathon preparation despite many not being able to get any sleep. Starting promptly at the strike of 9, this is it guys!

I am in the presentation room with Ericsson Rome, after formal handshakes and brief introductions, Ericsson Rome are forging ahead with their presentatons and are off to a strong start

The judges are listening intently and are making furious hand-written comments on their handouts.

Ericsson Zagreb, Ericsson Beijing and Ericsson Stockholm were all part of the first round 9am presentations.

Post 1st round presentation pictures:

Ericsson Rome - "It's over!!!"
Ericsson Stockholm - hanging out in the lounge looking relaxed after a long time...

Ericsson Zagreb - "happy overall and with the quality of work. We worked very hard and choose the position that was best and relevant for Ericsson within such a broad case subject matter".

Ericsson Beijing - "we did reasonably well"

Pre-Presentation Comments from the Judges

After the judges were briefed during breakfast by Professor Venkat on the case question, I managed to get a few brief comments from the panel of judges.

Pictures during the briefing for the panel of judges

"Good insights from an outside perspective because we (Ericsson) are looking at the same questions" - Ozgur Tohumcu, Ericsson. "The question is complex and we hope to be impressed by the participants."

Gabriela Styf-Sjoman, Ericsson flew in for the event and is looking forward to the "passion and innovation" that will be embodied in the presentations. She is eager to find out what "areas the teams will choose to focus on" given such a "broad" case question.

Bill Hewitt,President and CEO, Kalido, is back again as a judge at this competition for the second time and is looking forward to some "insights to the issues" at hand. "The world is moving at such a fast pace that the strategies executed must be much faster", therefore this competition is very relevant to the "practical matters facing many companies" today.

Tim Wright, General Partner, GrandBanks Capital, a true venture capitalist is here "looking for the next deal". Here with a slightly biased motivation, Tim is here to find the "next wave of entrepreneurs".

The big post-midnight present

Ericsson Johannesburg made us this huge banner and hung it in front of the Grad Lounge at 4:30 AM. How they did that, was balance themselves on a tall trash can and really risk their lives to pin it up. It is an acknowledgment of the efforts of the volunteers and staff at BU (SMG) to make this case competition happen. In the words of one of their team-members "You guys don't even have adrenalin to run on, like the rest of us". Aren't we glad someone realizes that and thanks us for it? Ericsson Johannesburg, you are the best.
PS: Sorry about the bad picture, its the best my camera phone could do.

The night drags along

Ericsson Dallas has some strange dynamics - team members were, at one point, closely collaborating, now they are as far from each other as they can be. Can it be that the pressure is getting to them? They do seem fairly comfortable with their position at this point and are aiming for 6 hours of sleep. I hope that works out for you guys.

Ericsson Tokyo is one confident team. Despite being super tired after their long flight, they are actually almost done drafting their strategy. A few rehearsals and off they go to bed. Good luck team Tokyo!

JetLag Bonus

Ericsson Delhi's 4th member is suspiciously MIA. Then I found him in a corner, passed out on the floor. I highly suspect it was Morton's causing the comatose effect. The rest of this team has still not recovered from the jet lag- they are wide awake; after all, "it's still afternoon" from where they are.

First team to present

Ericsson Stockholm like Ericsson Johannesburg aims to be out of the building by 2 or 3am since the team will be the first to present tomorrow.

I hope these energy drinks are keeping the team sustained.

Volunteer on night duty

At this point, we have some volunteers that are probably more tired than the teams that are strategizing away. I did not expect all of these volunteers to hang out post midnight but here they are, braving sleep. Kudos guys, I can use some company.

Goal of 2-3 hours sleep

Ericsson Johannesburg is still looking forward to 2-3 hours of sleep. However, I suspect they are more likely to achieve this goal if they spent less time gossipping about the organizing committee! By the way, it was their idea to vote for the Best/Worst volunteer.

"Still Surviving"

"Still surviving" is a phrase I am hearing a lot these past few hours. Ericsson Manila, was also, like other teams "surviving". Their previous comment about getting sufficient sleep is being hotly debated by the organizing committee. Will Ericsson Manila surprise us by leaving early for the hotel?