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IBM and Best Buy Corporate partner with Illinois State University

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IBM and Best Buy Corporate are partnering with Illinois State University to give College of Business students “real world” experience this fall. “Working with these companies will expose students to marketing scenarios, digital analytics, web software use, and critical thinking skills that are typically not accessible in traditional introductory marketing courses,” said Professor of Marketing Steve Taylor.

Students will work on a case study about Best Buy. The case encompasses the concept of consumer engagement and “show-rooming.” “’Show-rooming’ is the idea that consumers go into a business, play with the technology on display, then buy it on Amazon or wherever they can find it for the cheapest price,” explained Taylor.

Best Buy’s Vice President of Customer Relationship Management Matt Smith will explain the company’s marketing dilemma in short video clips. Smith will talk about consumer behaviors, general retailing trends, and Best Buy’s SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) perspective. “Once the students have watched the videos, and reviewed the emerging marketing literature, they will evaluate the problem and come up with ways to fix it,” said Taylor.

The students will present proposed solutions to help Best Buy solve their “show-rooming” problem. “What is happening to Best Buy is a new marketing predicament in the retail industry,” noted Taylor. “It is even possible Best Buy will use some of the students’ marketing ideas.”

Students will also have an opportunity to work with IBM’s multi-million dollar Websphere software to learn how to solve problems in a new world of marketing.  The software is used to create and manage websites for businesses. “Students will use Websphere on an independent website where they can actually make changes to the webpage,” explained Taylor.  Students will learn how to increase value to the website, create customer loyalty programs and use the website to speak to the consumer.

“For example, the students will use basic marketing tools to create an advertisement to get customers to the website,” said Taylor. They will also learn how to close the sale when a consumer has “basket abandonment,” which is when the customer places items in their cart online, but does not check-out.

“The project will involve the practical side of theory with the software showing how it’s relevant in the real world,” added Marketing Professor Gary Hunter.

With over 8,000 marketing brands currently using IBM software, this will give students an edge when applying for jobs after graduation. “The students will also receive a certificate from IBM of introduction to the software,” said Taylor.

The case study will not only help students, but will market the University as a whole. Whenever IBM and Best Buy share the information, it will be displayed on an Illinois State University branded site.