List of Case Studies
Since 1996, Open Options has worked in a wide variety of industries and helped solve many different complex issues. Over time we have removed identifying details about certain cases and created case studies to demonstrate the different types of problems we can help with.
Achieving Policy Targets – “For the Greater Good”
A government agency was frustrated by lack of progress on its key public policy targets. The agency recognized that achieving its goals was going to require cooperation from employers, unions, other government institutions, as well as the governing political party. The agency came to Open Options to help it make progress on its public policy target rates, taking into account all affected parties.
Carbon Sequestration – “It’s a Gas”
An oil and gas company wanted to respond to social and political pressures to control CO2 emissions through carbon sequestration. It also had an economic opportunity to recover large amounts of incremental oil from legacy fields through CO2 injection. Both of these objectives required a mechanism to transport the CO2 from the source location to an injection site. The Client wanted to determine its most effective strategy to address its need to transport CO2.
Civil Unrest – “Under Attack”
A large oil and gas company was facing challenges to its ability to operate in a politically unstable country due to insurgency and crime that was inadvertently being supported by other foreign firms. Client wanted to know what actions to take to preserve its assets in this militarized and politically unstable environment.
Competition from Generics – “Regulation and Reaction”
Facing an uncertain health policy environment and growing competition from generics, a large pharmaceutical company wanted to prioritize new commercial strategies, new product uses, new market segments and new partnerships with a focus on understanding the reactions of external players. The client needed a sustainable generics strategy over a three year time horizon to create new value throughout the distribution chain.
Competitive Positioning – “Backing the Right Horse”
The European division of a large multinational manufacturer needed to invest in and back the right technology to meet increasingly stringent EU based environmental regulations. During the Open Options process, the potential actions and preferences of the client, European competitors, multinational competitors, EU regulators, European and foreign customers, were modeled. The analysis led the client to drastically alter its investment strategy, and the result saw the client maintain its leadership position and market share.
Competitive Positioning – “Under Pressure”
A large consumer packaged goods company was suffering from intensifying competition and a loss of market equilibrium. The market dynamics were being driven by several factors including the actions of its two main competitors, the increased buying power being exercised by a major retailer, and the increased threat of substitution due to an economic downturn.
Conflicting Legislation – “Foreign Government Challenges”
The Client, a mining company, was faced with changing and conflicting rules at several levels of government in a developing country. Legal challenges could potentially lead to the closing of the mine. They needed to know what they had to do to keep operating profitably. The Client was being battered by local, state and federal government organisations, environmental non-government and government organisations, local unions and competitors.
Dealing with Disruptive Technology – “Leading from Behind”
This is a very unusual case study because Open Options can reveal the identity of our client - IBM - who has given Open Options permission to reveal details of the work that we did with them in relation to their strategy on dealing with the emergence of Linux several years ago. At the time, IBM saw Linux as a technology in which they had to have a strong presence. IBM faced lots of competition, a rapidly evolving technology market, a significantly different culture as compared with IBM’s traditional businesses, competing versions of similar technology, and uncertainty as to whether Linux would actually ever be widely adopted. Open Options helped IBM recognize that their path to success lay in strategic actions that were not in line with IBM’s typical way of acting, and the result was a successful outcome.
Dealing with Multiple Unions – “Take Off”
An Airline with several unions and a recent breakdown in management-union relations was preparing for upcoming negotiations with their pilots. The client worked with Open Options to model the available options and interests of pilots union executive, union rank and file, other related unions, the airline management, and the airline’s board. Analysis showed clear differences in the effectiveness of the various levers of influence available to management.
Dramatic Industry Changes – “Rough Water Ahead”
An industry leader was concerned about possible dramatic changes in the competitive landscape in the next 5 years. A large overseas competitor was suspected of contemplating entering the North American market with a low cost offering. While traditional competitors were happy with the status quo, non-traditional competitors were looking to aggressively introduce new technologies which would reduce the availability of core resources. To exacerbate the situation, large customers were very interested in reducing their need for the client’s traditional services.
Expansion Strategy – “The Sacrificial Lamb”
A large telecommunications company was looking to expand its wireless business into several new regional markets. However, competitive actions had surprised the client in the past and the future seemed uncertain. Analysis showed a unique opportunity in which the client could sacrifice entering one of its intended markets to preserve high profits in the other new regions.
Expensive Lawsuit – “Stop the Bleeding”
A large financial firm was sued over bankruptcy of one of its client companies. There were complex multi-jurisdictional issues, several classes of plaintiff and defendants, and political aspects. Settlement discussions had been ongoing for several years, without resolution, and legal costs for the Client were $1,000,000 per month, and rising…the bleeding had to stop!
Geopolitical Developments – “Enemy in the Ranks”
A large project managed by a mining company was threatened by international political positioning, as strong neighbors tried to gain influence in a developing country. At the same time, the Client was being undermined by an undisciplined joint venture partner.
Growth Strategy – “Finding the Right Path”
A business unit of a major manufacturer needed to grow 10% by making the right investments in 4 different and complex markets. It could see the challenges but not the path forward. The degree of complexity was daunting and the client had to manage its investments, different markets, regulators and its own corporate parent.
Industry Consolidation – “Dance Partners”
The media and entertainment industry was consolidating, with smaller companies merging or being bought by larger companies. The Client had established itself as a niche leader, and was concerned about how things would play out.
Industry Consolidation – “Feeding Frenzy”
A large technology company was facing a rapidly evolving market. Large, well-capitalized companies were making significant strategic investments to shape the industry and several smaller, weaker players were consolidating or being acquired. All this was happening in the context of current weak sales and an expected technological shift in the next two years.
Industry Consolidation – “Family Pack of Competitors”
A leading retailer wanted to understand how to best react to the potential industry consolidation with a particular focus on how other competitors, large national brand suppliers and regulators might react.
Interrelated Markets – “Missed the Boat”
A large multi-national chemical company had produced a specialty chemical for many years accounting for a third of their annual revenue. New technology bypassing the Client’s IP had eroded its competitive advantage. Direct Competitors had caught up to the Client’s capability and started to convert the specialty chemical into a commodity. With a high cost, high service culture, the Client did not know what to do in this new low cost, no service environment. At the same time, a new premium chemical was gaining acceptance in the marketplace and our Client had the ability to produce it. However, two other Multi-National conglomerates were looking to enter this new premium area. The Client was faced with deciding how best to grow in these two interrelated markets.
IP Licensing – “Standing Amongst Giants”
A small technology firm owned powerful intellectual property that entitled them to royalties from several companies. However, these licensees were pursuing legal action to delay paying these royalties. Analysis uncovered a significant danger for the small firm – it was at risk of being bought by the other companies to avoid paying the royalties – and the technology company needed to act boldly to precipitate a preferable legal settlement.
Joint Venture Partner Alignment –"Briar Patch”
A major oil and gas company wanted to develop a new multi-billion dollar greenfield site and it was not clear whether to seek a co-operative project with JV partners or to proceed stand-alone. Complicating matters further was internal disagreement within the company’s leadership on what should be done.
Joint Venture Partner Alignment – “Good Cop/Bad Cop”
An oil and gas company was trying to advance a JV project toward development but was concerned that the local government would make unreasonable demands, thereby rendering the project uneconomic. The Client wanted to determine its most effective strategy to secure favorable terms and a commitment to the project from its JV partner.
Labor Negotiations – “Window of Opportunity”
A major manufacturer was faced with difficult upcoming contract negotiations and at the same time as it was experiencing ongoing cost problems with a money-losing division. Open Options worked with the client to model the available options and interests of the union, the client, and its major competitor. Analysis showed there was a narrow window of opportunity to achieve a beneficial labor settlement and to significantly restructure itself and the industry.
Long Range Product Planning – “Crystal Ball”
Open Options helped a Fortune 50 manufacturer clarify its 15-year, $1 billion per annum, research budget plan, accounting for anticipated actions by developed and developing nations, established and emergent competitors, NGO’s, and several parallel industries.
Managing Feedstock Challenges – “Live to Fight Another Day”
A chemical company was facing challenges due to fluctuations in feedstock and finished product pricing that threatened the viability of a significant product line. However, strategic levers in the hands of the Client offered a way out that allowed the facility to stay in business until market conditions improved.
Managing Schedule Pressure and Regulators – “Course Correction”
A large natural resources company required a series of approvals for a multi-billion dollar project from government and project partners in a short time frame. The government and its regulatory agencies were pushing their preferred local contractors, and the client and its JV partners were not aligned on how to respond.
Mergers & Acquisitions – “Snatched from the Wolf’s Jaws”
A mid-tier company in a consolidating industry faced powerful predators. Likely acquirers included three major competitors and several outside firms, and no smaller firms were available for the Client to buy in order to inhibit acquirers. The solution was a big win for the client, and a surprise to the industry.
Negotiating Supply Agreements – “Three Way Showdown”
A large manufacturer was trying to end a history of subsidies to a supplier. However, a powerful union, who wanted continued prosperity at the supplier, represented the workers at both the manufacturer and the supplier. Meanwhile, the supplier was a subsidiary of a larger corporation who was not very interested in staying in the business of supplying the Client. Complicating the issue further, internal groups of the Client such as the Logistics and Labor Relations Departments, had differing opinions on what should be done.
New Competition – “Disintermediation - Supply Chain”
A component manufacturer was having its traditional relationships with its OEM customers threatened by sub-assemblers increasingly bypassing it in the supply chain. Something needed to be done. The degree of complexity was daunting, with several firms at each stage in the supply chain. The Client had to manage many players upstream and downstream, and competitors too.
New Revenue Growth – “Rattling the Chain”
A global entertainment player wanted to achieve significant profitable growth by expanding its presence through organic activities and/or inorganic acquisition. The Client’s management team came to Open Options to understand the implications of various strategies associated with vertical integration.
New technology – “Changing the Industry”
A natural resource company had developed a new technology, Product X, that would revolutionize its industry. However, 80% market share was held by another firm, who could either work with the Client, or against them. The Client’s industry primarily produces Ingredient Y. The innovation, Product X, allows Customers to save money by using more Ingredient Y in their products. Consequently, all of the Client’s competitors can potentially benefit from Product X. The Client was years ahead of its competition in X tech… but that could change.
Overseas Growth – “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Opportunity”
An American manufacturer wanted to establish an export base in China as well as capture the internal Chinese market. Their business model was premium priced products with value added services, and in this new arena they faced a complex mix of powerful players including other multi-nationals, Chinese competitors, multinational competitors, a Japanese partner, and the Chinese Government.
Partnering Alternatives – “Formulary for Success”
To manage escalating health benefit costs, a government had legislated changes that were expected to result in a massive shift in cash flows and behavior between employers, private insurers, pharmacies, branded pharmaceutical companies and others. The client approached Open Options to create a proactive strategy to prepare for the coming changes and explore possible partnering alternatives.
Pricing and Market Share – “The Rising Tide”
A client with one key competitor and a single product typically experienced very low margins because the firm had initiated price wars in the past. Introduction of an updated product created an opportunity to challenge the competitor and increase market share.
Pricing Strategy – “Fire a Warning Shot”
A utility was looking to anticipate competitive reactions and create pricing strategies to avoid losing more customers. They wanted to grow market share without triggering a price war but feared higher commodity prices and price aggression by competitors.
Product Launch Strategy – “Price it Right”
A Fortune 500 health care products manufacturer was launching a new segmented product line. The client’s business model was premium priced products. However, the client’s sales agents would regularly drop prices to match their price with basic-level products. In the Open Options process the client modeled the potential actions and interests of competitors, hospital administrators, sales reps, centralized buying organizations, and physicians.
Redevelopment Permits – “Seeing Green”
A major oil and gas company was looking to repurpose a mothballed operation in the extensively regulated state of California. Client wanted to know what actions would lead to a reasonable chance of obtaining the permits for redevelopment.
Regaining Market Share – “Head in the Sand”
A Fortune 50 consumer products company was quickly losing market share to a new competitor. Under pressure from both large retailers who were relentlessly squeezing margins and a competing brand which was targeting a particular ethnic market segment, the Client desperately wanted to save its market share and margins.
Regulatory Actions – “Call in the Ref”
A pharmaceutical company was finding its margins challenged in a regulated regional market. In recent years, the regulator had been imposing increasingly unsustainable constraints on the pharmaceutical industry. The management team came to Open Options to develop a strategy that would create a new stable and profitable operating environment.
Restructuring – “Divided we Fall”
A financial services company with numerous regional divisions and a strong tradition of local autonomy was deeply divided on how to re-structure the company to remain competitive. The company was divided along regional offices and between those who favored a strong centralized management and those who favored more regional autonomy. The firm was trying to come to an internal agreement on how best to serve large complex customers without losing the smaller customers.
Revitalizing Downtown – “Downtown Dominos”
A medium-sized city was trying to revitalize its downtown core. Several initiatives were being considered: convince a local university to locate a new health sciences building downtown, convince another smaller university to locate one of its faculties in an unused but city-owned building downtown, attempt to provide more city-operated parking, build a new library downtown. To achieve those initiatives, the interests and actions of two universities, other regional educational institutions, various levels of government and the community had to be considered.
Slow Legislative Change – “Lobbying for Change”
A large resource company needed a legislative solution to develop a valuable field. The interactions of the politicians were the important drivers for legislative success and the potential actions and interests of individual senators, the state
Strategic Alliances – “Renewing the Vows”
A joint venture, involving technology licensing and revenue sharing contracts, was coming up for renewal between an American company and a foreign competitor. Relationships were strained and the foreign competitor was aggressively pursuing control while the JV wanted greater autonomy.
Supply Chain Issues – “Weak Links”
A global manufacturer faced potentially large cost increases from a key segment of their supplier base. Government regulatory changes impacting the supplier base were the trigger for increased revenue demands aimed at our client. The Open Options game theory process took into consideration the actions and reactions of the client’s competitors, key existing suppliers, regulators, and alternative supplier companies.
Threatened by new technology - "Race for Scale"
Threatened by new fintech companies, a European bank wanted to how to best scale their new lower-cost solution. Was it best to go alone and possibly capture the greatest benefit? Or, was it best to start an alliance for greater scale?
Winning a Nomination – “Be the Monarch”
A potential candidate for an elected position needed to develop sufficient support among a variety of interest groups in order to secure his/her party nomination. Open Options helped the candidate find the right positions to take on critical issues and develop an effective communications plan, which allowed the candidate to secure the nomination and eventually win the election.