Thesis Opportunity: Should You Disrupt Your Customers?

Herr Meier was staring at this quarter’s revenue numbers for their enterprise software product. He should be very happy: Substantial maintenance revenue from several large customers was making the product profitable. Yet he wasn’t. A deluge of one-off change requests from these large customers was stifling product innovation, threating to make the product fall behind the competition. Yet, they had to support their customers or face substantial revenue shortfalls. In this Master Thesis, you will retrace the steps of Herr Meier, the chief product strategist of a company local to the region, and analyze the situation. You will have to understand and describe the complex situation of a successful software product facing multiple options for future evolution and argue the pros and cons of any such option. Finally, you will write up the situation as a Business school case [1] to be used in future product management classes at our university.

  • Expected Work Results
  • Analysis of company situation
  • Interviews with chief product strategist and customers
  • Analysis and evaluation of interviews
  • Evaluation of company situation
    • Review of literature and concepts on sustaining and disruptive product innovation
    • Review of literature and concepts for handling large dominant customers
    • Application of learned concepts to situation at hand
  • Case writing of the situation
    • Lucid description (“story telling”) of situation company was facing
    • Creation of supplementary materials explaining concepts and decisions


    [1] See


    Prof. Dr. Dirk Riehle, M.B.A.
    University of Erlangen