Finding Applications for Technologies Beyond the Core Business Net Present Value (NPV) / MBA Resources

Introduction to Net Present Value (NPV) - What is Net Present Value (NPV) ? How it impacts financial decisions regarding project management?

NPV solution for Finding Applications for Technologies Beyond the Core Business case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. Finding Applications for Technologies Beyond the Core Business case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Erwin Danneels, Federico Frattini. The Finding Applications for Technologies Beyond the Core Business (referred as “Technology Authors” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Technology & Operations. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Research & development.

The net present value (NPV) of an investment proposal is the present value of the proposal’s net cash flows less the proposal’s initial cash outflow. If a project’s NPV is greater than or equal to zero, the project should be accepted.

NPV = Present Value of Future Cash Flows LESS Project’s Initial Investment

Case Description of Finding Applications for Technologies Beyond the Core Business Case Study

Typically, authors Erwin Danneels and Federico Frattini observe, companies are more comfortable developing new products for the customers they already serve than they are with applying their technologies in new markets (a process they call "technology leveraging"). Only a small number of companies make a deliberate effort to tap the potential for business outside their core markets.Using examples from companies the authors have studied or advised, the article describes a four-step process for leveraging technology that involves: (1) characterizing the technology, (2) identifying potential applications, (3) choosing from among the identified applications, and (4) selecting the best entry mode. The first step involves "de-linking"the technology from the specific products in which it is currently used. To do this, the authors explain, companies need to identify the functions the technology can perform. A good characterization can broaden the scope of the potential opportunities and allow people to focus clearly on the technology's abilities and limits. In many settings, this step requires extensive testing and R&D investment. As they explain, "You can't look for new applications until you know what your technology can do vis-a-vis what competing solutions do." Once companies have specified what the technology is, they can begin exploring new settings where it might be applied. Although the authors recommend starting with desk research, the biggest benefits often come from getting out of the office and interacting with people. Trade shows, they say, provide an excellent way to see firsthand where the technology and its alternatives might be applied, and to hear about the pain points of the existing technologies. Another approach is to tap into communities of problem-solvers who might be able to provide suggestions. Although identifying opportunities with the most promise may appear to be straightforward, in practice, the authors note, it can be more involved. Companies often underestimate the challenges of applying the technology, which may be revealed only by building early prototypes. In bringing technology to new markets, the goal should be to find new application areas where your technology performs better on existing performance dimensions, introduces a new performance dimension, or delivers the desired outcome at a lower cost. The fourth and final step in leveraging technology involves determining the best way to develop and commercialize the products that use the technology. In bringing technology to market, companies need to decide whether to develop products themselves or work with a third party. This decision can have significant implications in terms of capital requirements, time to market, level of control, and required commitment. However, there are no universal guidelines that apply in every situation.

Case Authors : Erwin Danneels, Federico Frattini

Topic : Technology & Operations

Related Areas : Research & development

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for Finding Applications for Technologies Beyond the Core Business Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10022860) -10022860 - -
Year 1 3468628 -6554232 3468628 0.9434 3272291
Year 2 3954246 -2599986 7422874 0.89 3519265
Year 3 3975354 1375368 11398228 0.8396 3337784
Year 4 3239756 4615124 14637984 0.7921 2566190
TOTAL 14637984 12695530

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2672670

In isolation the NPV number doesn't mean much but put in right context then it is one of the best method to evaluate project returns. In this article we will cover -

Different methods of capital budgeting

What is NPV & Formula of NPV,
How it is calculated,
How to use NPV number for project evaluation, and
Scenario Planning given risks and management priorities.

Capital Budgeting Approaches

Methods of Capital Budgeting

There are four types of capital budgeting techniques that are widely used in the corporate world –

1. Internal Rate of Return
2. Profitability Index
3. Payback Period
4. Net Present Value

Apart from the Payback period method which is an additive method, rest of the methods are based on Discounted Cash Flow technique. Even though cash flow can be calculated based on the nature of the project, for the simplicity of the article we are assuming that all the expected cash flows are realized at the end of the year.

Discounted Cash Flow approaches provide a more objective basis for evaluating and selecting investment projects. They take into consideration both –

1. Timing of the expected cash flows – stockholders of Technology Authors have higher preference for cash returns over 4-5 years rather than 10-15 years given the nature of the volatility in the industry.
2. Magnitude of both incoming and outgoing cash flows – Projects can be capital intensive, time intensive, or both. Technology Authors shareholders have preference for diversified projects investment rather than prospective high income from a single capital intensive project.

Formula and Steps to Calculate Net Present Value (NPV) of Finding Applications for Technologies Beyond the Core Business

NPV = Net Cash In Flowt1 / (1+r)t1 + Net Cash In Flowt2 / (1+r)t2 + … Net Cash In Flowtn / (1+r)tn
Less Net Cash Out Flowt0 / (1+r)t0

Where t = time period, in this case year 1, year 2 and so on.
r = discount rate or return that could be earned using other safe proposition such as fixed deposit or treasury bond rate. Net Cash In Flow – What the firm will get each year.
Net Cash Out Flow – What the firm needs to invest initially in the project.

Step 1 – Understand the nature of the project and calculate cash flow for each year.
Step 2 – Discount those cash flow based on the discount rate.
Step 3 – Add all the discounted cash flow.
Step 4 – Selection of the project

Why Technology & Operations Managers need to know Financial Tools such as Net Present Value (NPV)?

In our daily workplace we often come across people and colleagues who are just focused on their core competency and targets they have to deliver. For example marketing managers at Technology Authors often design programs whose objective is to drive brand awareness and customer reach. But how that 30 point increase in brand awareness or 10 point increase in customer touch points will result into shareholders’ value is not specified.

To overcome such scenarios managers at Technology Authors needs to not only know the financial aspect of project management but also needs to have tools to integrate them into part of the project development and monitoring plan.

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 15%

After working through various assumptions we reached a conclusion that risk is far higher than 6%. In a reasonably stable industry with weak competition - 15% discount rate can be a good benchmark.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 15 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10022860) -10022860 - -
Year 1 3468628 -6554232 3468628 0.8696 3016198
Year 2 3954246 -2599986 7422874 0.7561 2989978
Year 3 3975354 1375368 11398228 0.6575 2613860
Year 4 3239756 4615124 14637984 0.5718 1852341
TOTAL 10472377

The Net NPV after 4 years is 449517

(10472377 - 10022860 )

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 20%

If the risk component is high in the industry then we should go for a higher hurdle rate / discount rate of 20%.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 20 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10022860) -10022860 - -
Year 1 3468628 -6554232 3468628 0.8333 2890523
Year 2 3954246 -2599986 7422874 0.6944 2746004
Year 3 3975354 1375368 11398228 0.5787 2300552
Year 4 3239756 4615124 14637984 0.4823 1562382
TOTAL 9499462

The Net NPV after 4 years is -523398

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9499462 - 10022860 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Technology Authors to discount cash flow at lower discount rates such as 15%.

Acceptance Criteria of a Project based on NPV

Simplest Approach – If the investment project of Technology Authors has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Technology Authors can ACCEPT the project, otherwise they can reject the project. This means that project will deliver higher returns over the period of time than any alternate investment strategy.

In theory if the required rate of return or discount rate is chosen correctly by finance managers at Technology Authors, then the stock price of the Technology Authors should change by same amount of the NPV. In real world we know that share price also reflects various other factors that can be related to both macro and micro environment.

In the same vein – accepting the project with zero NPV should result in stagnant share price. Finance managers use discount rates as a measure of risk components in the project execution process.

Sensitivity Analysis

Project selection is often a far more complex decision than just choosing it based on the NPV number. Finance managers at Technology Authors should conduct a sensitivity analysis to better understand not only the inherent risk of the projects but also how those risks can be either factored in or mitigated during the project execution. Sensitivity analysis helps in –

What can impact the cash flow of the project.

What are the uncertainties surrounding the project Initial Cash Outlay (ICO’s). ICO’s often have several different components such as land, machinery, building, and other equipment.

What are the key aspects of the projects that need to be monitored, refined, and retuned for continuous delivery of projected cash flows.

Understanding of risks involved in the project.

What will be a multi year spillover effect of various taxation regulations.

Some of the assumptions while using the Discounted Cash Flow Methods –

Projects are assumed to be Mutually Exclusive – This is seldom the came in modern day giant organizations where projects are often inter-related and rejecting a project solely based on NPV can result in sunk cost from a related project.

Independent projects have independent cash flows – As explained in the marketing project – though the project may look independent but in reality it is not as the brand awareness project can be closely associated with the spending on sales promotions and product specific advertising.

References & Further Readings

Erwin Danneels, Federico Frattini (2018), "Finding Applications for Technologies Beyond the Core Business Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.