SMU’s team – undergraduates Wong Qixuan, Megan Teo, Li Mingyang and Matthew Chan, all from the Bachelor of Business Management course – beat 15 other teams representing universities from Asia, Canada, Europe and the United States of America. Contestants had to try to crack three challenging business cases on 7–13 May 2023 at Maastricht University School of Business and Economics (SBE).
Team Cognitare was placed in the same division as last year’s winner, Copenhagen Business School, who proved to be tough competition as that team came out on top during the two initial four-hour cases. But the SMU team remained undeterred and took the win with third and final 24-hour case analysis.
This case featured the German airline conglomerate, Lufthansa Group, and teams were competing to devise a strategy that integrated digital assistants such as chatbots into the existing customer experience journey. They also had to consider the current trends and challenges that were posed by the different customers that comprise Lufthansa’s demographic.
Team Cognitare not only emerged as their division’s champions, their solution went on to triumph over other divisional finalists’, marking SMU’s first-ever podium finish at the ICC@M.
Ms Lyan EJ Ploumen, SBE’s Director for International Relations, commended the team for their achievement, saying, “It was a highly competitive event, with the participation of 16 triple-accredited, top business schools from around the globe, making your achievement all the more impressive.”
Going above and beyond while keeping it real
Team Cognitare’s strategy brought to light the need to integrate digital assistants into the start of the customer’s journey, and not just later in their interactions with the organisation. Judges also felt that, by taking into consideration how to target customers who were not enrolled in existing loyalty programmes, SMU’s team had gone above and beyond.
One of the judges, Mr Nick Allgaier, product manager for Digital Assistants at Lufthansa, expressed that Team Cognitare had an approach which was the most realistic for implementation. “They managed to step into the customer’s shoes and gained a better understanding of what the customers wanted and needed,” he said.
Sharing his thoughts on the win, team leader Matthew Chan affirmed his pride at the team’s efforts, and expressed the team’s gratitude for the support that they received from the Lee Kong Chain School of Business; their faculty advisor, Senior Lecturer of Organisational Behaviour & Human Dr Ma Kheng Min; and senior members of Cognitare who also helped to develop the team.
“I am proud of what we have achieved, particularly because it is our entire team’s first in-person case competition. We overcame the adversities that were before us and worked together to deliver our best. Given that this would be one of my last case competitions before I graduate, I am elated that we were able to make our university, our business school and our advisor proud,” he said.
“We also wish to express our profound gratitude for the opportunity to represent SMU and leave a lasting impression on the global stage.”