Programme PGP Term VI Academic Year 2021-22

Course title Driving Better Business Decisions Through Superior Customer Insights and Sensemaking Area Marketing Credits 1.00

Prof. Arvind Sahay,
Prof. Srikumar Krishanamurthy,
Prof. Rama Bijapurkar (VF),
Prof. Mathangi Krishnamurthy (VF)

Course Description & Objectives
Many business decisions, no matter which sector they are in, require an input from the world of customers. To name a few: pricing, investment in new capacity, strategies for business differentiation, market expansion (of the blue ocean kind), improving profitability, accelerating growth, strengthening market position through segmented strategies, extracting more value from an existing customer base, increasing or improving quality of market share, etc.

This input is getting harder to obtain because the world of customers is getting harder to understand. Living and working environments are a rapidly changing as are social and cultural drivers of how people think and behave Technology and the digital world are mega transformers of not only their own lives but also of consumption choices available to them (Think sharing economy, IOT based purchases, credit on tap etc.). This leads to enormous complexity in how people think and behave, process value, and make decisions, and requires a broad and sophisticated array of methods to understand it better.

Fortunately, developments in neuroscience now give us a better fix on decision making inside the brain, digitally enabled “always-on” automatic capture of a wealth of customer data is now available with computing power to match and more social scientists like anthropologists are applying their disciplines to business contexts to help us make sense of the world of customers.
    This course deals with how to use three diverse leading edge methods neuroscience, anthropology and big data — for gaining better customer insight thereby leading to better business decisions.

  • To familiarize participants with the conceptual foundations and practice related issues of the three methodologies – anthropology, neuroscience and big data.
  • To enable participants to make the link between analyzing business decisions- identifying relevant areas of consumer insight – deploying relevant methodologies or combination of methodologies.
1. Anthropology offers a unique way to understand consumers, with its focus on culture rather than individuals and on understanding the texture of consumer experience rather than measurement of attitude, behaviour or demographics, hence adding new dimensions and possibilities to business problem solving. In this module student will get exposed to some key anthropological frameworks and concepts and their use in business problem solving. Motivation for this module comes from the fact that certain problems in business benefit from a linear and rational approach, while other, less straightforward challenges benefit from the kind of insights that anthropology can provide via explorative inquiry rather than hypothesis-based inquiry; qualitative evidence rather than just quantitative evidence; contextual, “thick” data about consumers rather than just “thin” (big) data. This module develops this line of enquiry to develop in the students the understanding and skills to evaluate behavior through an anthropological lens.

2. Ever, since neuroscience research in the 1990s has demonstrated that human decision making is a combination of reason and emotion, conscious and unconscious, neuroscience has had the potential to offer a lens to generate consumer insights by directly peering into the working of the human brain. With the development of different methods, there are now ways to understand the working of the brain that allow us to develop a framework to understand how the brain works through high level brain operating principles and through a mapping of neurological substrates, areas of the brain, and activity levels of various areas of the brain into attitudes and actions of consumers. This module will help students to understand brain operating principles, the neuro-physiological activities and substrates of the brain that lead to attitudes and behavior and the methods to generate these insights; development of the insights would help managers to generate managerial actions that are more likely to be successful with customers.

3. Big data is now becoming increasingly ubiquitous in areas as diverse as fintech, telecom, retail, healthcare, and others. With the ubiquitousness of technology, there is a mass of data automatically captured from several sources and all talking to each other. This enables patterns to be detected that can be used to discover new insights that is not limited by the problem solver’s ability and knowledge to hypothesise. Big data, therefore, offers another approach to generating customer insights and is the third lens, in this course to generate customer insights that can generate an understanding of the patterns in customer behavior. This module will introduce students to the analysis of big data, to using big data to generate patterns and insights that can be used for managerial insights.

Having gone through the three lenses, we will then integrate the approaches to develop a framework for arriving at better business decisions through deeper and better customer insights.

  • Four modules - Business decision analysis, Behavioral science / Neuroscience, Ethnography, Big data
  • Lecture discussions, case studies, student group project spanning all three modules
  • The big data project component will use a data set from Airtel / Mahindra Finance / Other