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  • What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods

What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods

Published on May 8, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on November 20, 2023.

A case study is a detailed study of a specific subject, such as a person, group, place, event, organization, or phenomenon. Case studies are commonly used in social, educational, clinical, and business research.

A case study research design usually involves qualitative methods , but quantitative methods are sometimes also used. Case studies are good for describing , comparing, evaluating and understanding different aspects of a research problem .

Table of contents

When to do a case study, step 1: select a case, step 2: build a theoretical framework, step 3: collect your data, step 4: describe and analyze the case, other interesting articles.

A case study is an appropriate research design when you want to gain concrete, contextual, in-depth knowledge about a specific real-world subject. It allows you to explore the key characteristics, meanings, and implications of the case.

Case studies are often a good choice in a thesis or dissertation . They keep your project focused and manageable when you don’t have the time or resources to do large-scale research.

You might use just one complex case study where you explore a single subject in depth, or conduct multiple case studies to compare and illuminate different aspects of your research problem.

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Once you have developed your problem statement and research questions , you should be ready to choose the specific case that you want to focus on. A good case study should have the potential to:

  • Provide new or unexpected insights into the subject
  • Challenge or complicate existing assumptions and theories
  • Propose practical courses of action to resolve a problem
  • Open up new directions for future research

TipIf your research is more practical in nature and aims to simultaneously investigate an issue as you solve it, consider conducting action research instead.

Unlike quantitative or experimental research , a strong case study does not require a random or representative sample. In fact, case studies often deliberately focus on unusual, neglected, or outlying cases which may shed new light on the research problem.

Example of an outlying case studyIn the 1960s the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania was discovered to have extremely low rates of heart disease compared to the US average. It became an important case study for understanding previously neglected causes of heart disease.

However, you can also choose a more common or representative case to exemplify a particular category, experience or phenomenon.

Example of a representative case studyIn the 1920s, two sociologists used Muncie, Indiana as a case study of a typical American city that supposedly exemplified the changing culture of the US at the time.

While case studies focus more on concrete details than general theories, they should usually have some connection with theory in the field. This way the case study is not just an isolated description, but is integrated into existing knowledge about the topic. It might aim to:

  • Exemplify a theory by showing how it explains the case under investigation
  • Expand on a theory by uncovering new concepts and ideas that need to be incorporated
  • Challenge a theory by exploring an outlier case that doesn’t fit with established assumptions

To ensure that your analysis of the case has a solid academic grounding, you should conduct a literature review of sources related to the topic and develop a theoretical framework . This means identifying key concepts and theories to guide your analysis and interpretation.

There are many different research methods you can use to collect data on your subject. Case studies tend to focus on qualitative data using methods such as interviews , observations , and analysis of primary and secondary sources (e.g., newspaper articles, photographs, official records). Sometimes a case study will also collect quantitative data.

Example of a mixed methods case studyFor a case study of a wind farm development in a rural area, you could collect quantitative data on employment rates and business revenue, collect qualitative data on local people’s perceptions and experiences, and analyze local and national media coverage of the development.

The aim is to gain as thorough an understanding as possible of the case and its context.

In writing up the case study, you need to bring together all the relevant aspects to give as complete a picture as possible of the subject.

How you report your findings depends on the type of research you are doing. Some case studies are structured like a standard scientific paper or thesis , with separate sections or chapters for the methods , results and discussion .

Others are written in a more narrative style, aiming to explore the case from various angles and analyze its meanings and implications (for example, by using textual analysis or discourse analysis ).

In all cases, though, make sure to give contextual details about the case, connect it back to the literature and theory, and discuss how it fits into wider patterns or debates.

If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Normal distribution
  • Degrees of freedom
  • Null hypothesis
  • Discourse analysis
  • Control groups
  • Mixed methods research
  • Non-probability sampling
  • Quantitative research
  • Ecological validity

Research bias

  • Rosenthal effect
  • Implicit bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Selection bias
  • Negativity bias
  • Status quo bias

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How to write a case study — examples, templates, and tools

what is a case study in technology

It’s a marketer’s job to communicate the effectiveness of a product or service to potential and current customers to convince them to buy and keep business moving. One of the best methods for doing this is to share success stories that are relatable to prospects and customers based on their pain points, experiences, and overall needs.

That’s where case studies come in. Case studies are an essential part of a content marketing plan. These in-depth stories of customer experiences are some of the most effective at demonstrating the value of a product or service. Yet many marketers don’t use them, whether because of their regimented formats or the process of customer involvement and approval.

A case study is a powerful tool for showcasing your hard work and the success your customer achieved. But writing a great case study can be difficult if you’ve never done it before or if it’s been a while. This guide will show you how to write an effective case study and provide real-world examples and templates that will keep readers engaged and support your business.

In this article, you’ll learn:

What is a case study?

How to write a case study, case study templates, case study examples, case study tools.

A case study is the detailed story of a customer’s experience with a product or service that demonstrates their success and often includes measurable outcomes. Case studies are used in a range of fields and for various reasons, from business to academic research. They’re especially impactful in marketing as brands work to convince and convert consumers with relatable, real-world stories of actual customer experiences.

The best case studies tell the story of a customer’s success, including the steps they took, the results they achieved, and the support they received from a brand along the way. To write a great case study, you need to:

  • Celebrate the customer and make them — not a product or service — the star of the story.
  • Craft the story with specific audiences or target segments in mind so that the story of one customer will be viewed as relatable and actionable for another customer.
  • Write copy that is easy to read and engaging so that readers will gain the insights and messages intended.
  • Follow a standardized format that includes all of the essentials a potential customer would find interesting and useful.
  • Support all of the claims for success made in the story with data in the forms of hard numbers and customer statements.

Case studies are a type of review but more in depth, aiming to show — rather than just tell — the positive experiences that customers have with a brand. Notably, 89% of consumers read reviews before deciding to buy, and 79% view case study content as part of their purchasing process. When it comes to B2B sales, 52% of buyers rank case studies as an important part of their evaluation process.

Telling a brand story through the experience of a tried-and-true customer matters. The story is relatable to potential new customers as they imagine themselves in the shoes of the company or individual featured in the case study. Showcasing previous customers can help new ones see themselves engaging with your brand in the ways that are most meaningful to them.

Besides sharing the perspective of another customer, case studies stand out from other content marketing forms because they are based on evidence. Whether pulling from client testimonials or data-driven results, case studies tend to have more impact on new business because the story contains information that is both objective (data) and subjective (customer experience) — and the brand doesn’t sound too self-promotional.

89% of consumers read reviews before buying, 79% view case studies, and 52% of B2B buyers prioritize case studies in the evaluation process.

Case studies are unique in that there’s a fairly standardized format for telling a customer’s story. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for creativity. It’s all about making sure that teams are clear on the goals for the case study — along with strategies for supporting content and channels — and understanding how the story fits within the framework of the company’s overall marketing goals.

Here are the basic steps to writing a good case study.

1. Identify your goal

Start by defining exactly who your case study will be designed to help. Case studies are about specific instances where a company works with a customer to achieve a goal. Identify which customers are likely to have these goals, as well as other needs the story should cover to appeal to them.

The answer is often found in one of the buyer personas that have been constructed as part of your larger marketing strategy. This can include anything from new leads generated by the marketing team to long-term customers that are being pressed for cross-sell opportunities. In all of these cases, demonstrating value through a relatable customer success story can be part of the solution to conversion.

2. Choose your client or subject

Who you highlight matters. Case studies tie brands together that might otherwise not cross paths. A writer will want to ensure that the highlighted customer aligns with their own company’s brand identity and offerings. Look for a customer with positive name recognition who has had great success with a product or service and is willing to be an advocate.

The client should also match up with the identified target audience. Whichever company or individual is selected should be a reflection of other potential customers who can see themselves in similar circumstances, having the same problems and possible solutions.

Some of the most compelling case studies feature customers who:

  • Switch from one product or service to another while naming competitors that missed the mark.
  • Experience measurable results that are relatable to others in a specific industry.
  • Represent well-known brands and recognizable names that are likely to compel action.
  • Advocate for a product or service as a champion and are well-versed in its advantages.

Whoever or whatever customer is selected, marketers must ensure they have the permission of the company involved before getting started. Some brands have strict review and approval procedures for any official marketing or promotional materials that include their name. Acquiring those approvals in advance will prevent any miscommunication or wasted effort if there is an issue with their legal or compliance teams.

3. Conduct research and compile data

Substantiating the claims made in a case study — either by the marketing team or customers themselves — adds validity to the story. To do this, include data and feedback from the client that defines what success looks like. This can be anything from demonstrating return on investment (ROI) to a specific metric the customer was striving to improve. Case studies should prove how an outcome was achieved and show tangible results that indicate to the customer that your solution is the right one.

This step could also include customer interviews. Make sure that the people being interviewed are key stakeholders in the purchase decision or deployment and use of the product or service that is being highlighted. Content writers should work off a set list of questions prepared in advance. It can be helpful to share these with the interviewees beforehand so they have time to consider and craft their responses. One of the best interview tactics to keep in mind is to ask questions where yes and no are not natural answers. This way, your subject will provide more open-ended responses that produce more meaningful content.

4. Choose the right format

There are a number of different ways to format a case study. Depending on what you hope to achieve, one style will be better than another. However, there are some common elements to include, such as:

  • An engaging headline
  • A subject and customer introduction
  • The unique challenge or challenges the customer faced
  • The solution the customer used to solve the problem
  • The results achieved
  • Data and statistics to back up claims of success
  • A strong call to action (CTA) to engage with the vendor

It’s also important to note that while case studies are traditionally written as stories, they don’t have to be in a written format. Some companies choose to get more creative with their case studies and produce multimedia content, depending on their audience and objectives. Case study formats can include traditional print stories, interactive web or social content, data-heavy infographics, professionally shot videos, podcasts, and more.

5. Write your case study

We’ll go into more detail later about how exactly to write a case study, including templates and examples. Generally speaking, though, there are a few things to keep in mind when writing your case study.

  • Be clear and concise. Readers want to get to the point of the story quickly and easily, and they’ll be looking to see themselves reflected in the story right from the start.
  • Provide a big picture. Always make sure to explain who the client is, their goals, and how they achieved success in a short introduction to engage the reader.
  • Construct a clear narrative. Stick to the story from the perspective of the customer and what they needed to solve instead of just listing product features or benefits.
  • Leverage graphics. Incorporating infographics, charts, and sidebars can be a more engaging and eye-catching way to share key statistics and data in readable ways.
  • Offer the right amount of detail. Most case studies are one or two pages with clear sections that a reader can skim to find the information most important to them.
  • Include data to support claims. Show real results — both facts and figures and customer quotes — to demonstrate credibility and prove the solution works.

6. Promote your story

Marketers have a number of options for distribution of a freshly minted case study. Many brands choose to publish case studies on their website and post them on social media. This can help support SEO and organic content strategies while also boosting company credibility and trust as visitors see that other businesses have used the product or service.

Marketers are always looking for quality content they can use for lead generation. Consider offering a case study as gated content behind a form on a landing page or as an offer in an email message. One great way to do this is to summarize the content and tease the full story available for download after the user takes an action.

Sales teams can also leverage case studies, so be sure they are aware that the assets exist once they’re published. Especially when it comes to larger B2B sales, companies often ask for examples of similar customer challenges that have been solved.

Now that you’ve learned a bit about case studies and what they should include, you may be wondering how to start creating great customer story content. Here are a couple of templates you can use to structure your case study.

Template 1 — Challenge-solution-result format

  • Start with an engaging title. This should be fewer than 70 characters long for SEO best practices. One of the best ways to approach the title is to include the customer’s name and a hint at the challenge they overcame in the end.
  • Create an introduction. Lead with an explanation as to who the customer is, the need they had, and the opportunity they found with a specific product or solution. Writers can also suggest the success the customer experienced with the solution they chose.
  • Present the challenge. This should be several paragraphs long and explain the problem the customer faced and the issues they were trying to solve. Details should tie into the company’s products and services naturally. This section needs to be the most relatable to the reader so they can picture themselves in a similar situation.
  • Share the solution. Explain which product or service offered was the ideal fit for the customer and why. Feel free to delve into their experience setting up, purchasing, and onboarding the solution.
  • Explain the results. Demonstrate the impact of the solution they chose by backing up their positive experience with data. Fill in with customer quotes and tangible, measurable results that show the effect of their choice.
  • Ask for action. Include a CTA at the end of the case study that invites readers to reach out for more information, try a demo, or learn more — to nurture them further in the marketing pipeline. What you ask of the reader should tie directly into the goals that were established for the case study in the first place.

Template 2 — Data-driven format

  • Start with an engaging title. Be sure to include a statistic or data point in the first 70 characters. Again, it’s best to include the customer’s name as part of the title.
  • Create an overview. Share the customer’s background and a short version of the challenge they faced. Present the reason a particular product or service was chosen, and feel free to include quotes from the customer about their selection process.
  • Present data point 1. Isolate the first metric that the customer used to define success and explain how the product or solution helped to achieve this goal. Provide data points and quotes to substantiate the claim that success was achieved.
  • Present data point 2. Isolate the second metric that the customer used to define success and explain what the product or solution did to achieve this goal. Provide data points and quotes to substantiate the claim that success was achieved.
  • Present data point 3. Isolate the final metric that the customer used to define success and explain what the product or solution did to achieve this goal. Provide data points and quotes to substantiate the claim that success was achieved.
  • Summarize the results. Reiterate the fact that the customer was able to achieve success thanks to a specific product or service. Include quotes and statements that reflect customer satisfaction and suggest they plan to continue using the solution.
  • Ask for action. Include a CTA at the end of the case study that asks readers to reach out for more information, try a demo, or learn more — to further nurture them in the marketing pipeline. Again, remember that this is where marketers can look to convert their content into action with the customer.

While templates are helpful, seeing a case study in action can also be a great way to learn. Here are some examples of how Adobe customers have experienced success.

Juniper Networks

One example is the Adobe and Juniper Networks case study , which puts the reader in the customer’s shoes. The beginning of the story quickly orients the reader so that they know exactly who the article is about and what they were trying to achieve. Solutions are outlined in a way that shows Adobe Experience Manager is the best choice and a natural fit for the customer. Along the way, quotes from the client are incorporated to help add validity to the statements. The results in the case study are conveyed with clear evidence of scale and volume using tangible data.

A Lenovo case study showing statistics, a pull quote and featured headshot, the headline "The customer is king.," and Adobe product links.

The story of Lenovo’s journey with Adobe is one that spans years of planning, implementation, and rollout. The Lenovo case study does a great job of consolidating all of this into a relatable journey that other enterprise organizations can see themselves taking, despite the project size. This case study also features descriptive headers and compelling visual elements that engage the reader and strengthen the content.

Tata Consulting

When it comes to using data to show customer results, this case study does an excellent job of conveying details and numbers in an easy-to-digest manner. Bullet points at the start break up the content while also helping the reader understand exactly what the case study will be about. Tata Consulting used Adobe to deliver elevated, engaging content experiences for a large telecommunications client of its own — an objective that’s relatable for a lot of companies.

Case studies are a vital tool for any marketing team as they enable you to demonstrate the value of your company’s products and services to others. They help marketers do their job and add credibility to a brand trying to promote its solutions by using the experiences and stories of real customers.

When you’re ready to get started with a case study:

  • Think about a few goals you’d like to accomplish with your content.
  • Make a list of successful clients that would be strong candidates for a case study.
  • Reach out to the client to get their approval and conduct an interview.
  • Gather the data to present an engaging and effective customer story.

Adobe can help

There are several Adobe products that can help you craft compelling case studies. Adobe Experience Platform helps you collect data and deliver great customer experiences across every channel. Once you’ve created your case studies, Experience Platform will help you deliver the right information to the right customer at the right time for maximum impact.

To learn more, watch the Adobe Experience Platform story .

Keep in mind that the best case studies are backed by data. That’s where Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform and Adobe Analytics come into play. With Real-Time CDP, you can gather the data you need to build a great case study and target specific customers to deliver the content to the right audience at the perfect moment.

Watch the Real-Time CDP overview video to learn more.

Finally, Adobe Analytics turns real-time data into real-time insights. It helps your business collect and synthesize data from multiple platforms to make more informed decisions and create the best case study possible.

Request a demo to learn more about Adobe Analytics.

https://business.adobe.com/blog/perspectives/b2b-ecommerce-10-case-studies-inspire-you

https://business.adobe.com/blog/basics/business-case

https://business.adobe.com/blog/basics/what-is-real-time-analytics

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Research Method

Home » Case Study – Methods, Examples and Guide

Case Study – Methods, Examples and Guide

Table of Contents

Case Study Research

A case study is a research method that involves an in-depth examination and analysis of a particular phenomenon or case, such as an individual, organization, community, event, or situation.

It is a qualitative research approach that aims to provide a detailed and comprehensive understanding of the case being studied. Case studies typically involve multiple sources of data, including interviews, observations, documents, and artifacts, which are analyzed using various techniques, such as content analysis, thematic analysis, and grounded theory. The findings of a case study are often used to develop theories, inform policy or practice, or generate new research questions.

Types of Case Study

Types and Methods of Case Study are as follows:

Single-Case Study

A single-case study is an in-depth analysis of a single case. This type of case study is useful when the researcher wants to understand a specific phenomenon in detail.

For Example , A researcher might conduct a single-case study on a particular individual to understand their experiences with a particular health condition or a specific organization to explore their management practices. The researcher collects data from multiple sources, such as interviews, observations, and documents, and uses various techniques to analyze the data, such as content analysis or thematic analysis. The findings of a single-case study are often used to generate new research questions, develop theories, or inform policy or practice.

Multiple-Case Study

A multiple-case study involves the analysis of several cases that are similar in nature. This type of case study is useful when the researcher wants to identify similarities and differences between the cases.

For Example, a researcher might conduct a multiple-case study on several companies to explore the factors that contribute to their success or failure. The researcher collects data from each case, compares and contrasts the findings, and uses various techniques to analyze the data, such as comparative analysis or pattern-matching. The findings of a multiple-case study can be used to develop theories, inform policy or practice, or generate new research questions.

Exploratory Case Study

An exploratory case study is used to explore a new or understudied phenomenon. This type of case study is useful when the researcher wants to generate hypotheses or theories about the phenomenon.

For Example, a researcher might conduct an exploratory case study on a new technology to understand its potential impact on society. The researcher collects data from multiple sources, such as interviews, observations, and documents, and uses various techniques to analyze the data, such as grounded theory or content analysis. The findings of an exploratory case study can be used to generate new research questions, develop theories, or inform policy or practice.

Descriptive Case Study

A descriptive case study is used to describe a particular phenomenon in detail. This type of case study is useful when the researcher wants to provide a comprehensive account of the phenomenon.

For Example, a researcher might conduct a descriptive case study on a particular community to understand its social and economic characteristics. The researcher collects data from multiple sources, such as interviews, observations, and documents, and uses various techniques to analyze the data, such as content analysis or thematic analysis. The findings of a descriptive case study can be used to inform policy or practice or generate new research questions.

Instrumental Case Study

An instrumental case study is used to understand a particular phenomenon that is instrumental in achieving a particular goal. This type of case study is useful when the researcher wants to understand the role of the phenomenon in achieving the goal.

For Example, a researcher might conduct an instrumental case study on a particular policy to understand its impact on achieving a particular goal, such as reducing poverty. The researcher collects data from multiple sources, such as interviews, observations, and documents, and uses various techniques to analyze the data, such as content analysis or thematic analysis. The findings of an instrumental case study can be used to inform policy or practice or generate new research questions.

Case Study Data Collection Methods

Here are some common data collection methods for case studies:

Interviews involve asking questions to individuals who have knowledge or experience relevant to the case study. Interviews can be structured (where the same questions are asked to all participants) or unstructured (where the interviewer follows up on the responses with further questions). Interviews can be conducted in person, over the phone, or through video conferencing.

Observations

Observations involve watching and recording the behavior and activities of individuals or groups relevant to the case study. Observations can be participant (where the researcher actively participates in the activities) or non-participant (where the researcher observes from a distance). Observations can be recorded using notes, audio or video recordings, or photographs.

Documents can be used as a source of information for case studies. Documents can include reports, memos, emails, letters, and other written materials related to the case study. Documents can be collected from the case study participants or from public sources.

Surveys involve asking a set of questions to a sample of individuals relevant to the case study. Surveys can be administered in person, over the phone, through mail or email, or online. Surveys can be used to gather information on attitudes, opinions, or behaviors related to the case study.

Artifacts are physical objects relevant to the case study. Artifacts can include tools, equipment, products, or other objects that provide insights into the case study phenomenon.

How to conduct Case Study Research

Conducting a case study research involves several steps that need to be followed to ensure the quality and rigor of the study. Here are the steps to conduct case study research:

  • Define the research questions: The first step in conducting a case study research is to define the research questions. The research questions should be specific, measurable, and relevant to the case study phenomenon under investigation.
  • Select the case: The next step is to select the case or cases to be studied. The case should be relevant to the research questions and should provide rich and diverse data that can be used to answer the research questions.
  • Collect data: Data can be collected using various methods, such as interviews, observations, documents, surveys, and artifacts. The data collection method should be selected based on the research questions and the nature of the case study phenomenon.
  • Analyze the data: The data collected from the case study should be analyzed using various techniques, such as content analysis, thematic analysis, or grounded theory. The analysis should be guided by the research questions and should aim to provide insights and conclusions relevant to the research questions.
  • Draw conclusions: The conclusions drawn from the case study should be based on the data analysis and should be relevant to the research questions. The conclusions should be supported by evidence and should be clearly stated.
  • Validate the findings: The findings of the case study should be validated by reviewing the data and the analysis with participants or other experts in the field. This helps to ensure the validity and reliability of the findings.
  • Write the report: The final step is to write the report of the case study research. The report should provide a clear description of the case study phenomenon, the research questions, the data collection methods, the data analysis, the findings, and the conclusions. The report should be written in a clear and concise manner and should follow the guidelines for academic writing.

Examples of Case Study

Here are some examples of case study research:

  • The Hawthorne Studies : Conducted between 1924 and 1932, the Hawthorne Studies were a series of case studies conducted by Elton Mayo and his colleagues to examine the impact of work environment on employee productivity. The studies were conducted at the Hawthorne Works plant of the Western Electric Company in Chicago and included interviews, observations, and experiments.
  • The Stanford Prison Experiment: Conducted in 1971, the Stanford Prison Experiment was a case study conducted by Philip Zimbardo to examine the psychological effects of power and authority. The study involved simulating a prison environment and assigning participants to the role of guards or prisoners. The study was controversial due to the ethical issues it raised.
  • The Challenger Disaster: The Challenger Disaster was a case study conducted to examine the causes of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion in 1986. The study included interviews, observations, and analysis of data to identify the technical, organizational, and cultural factors that contributed to the disaster.
  • The Enron Scandal: The Enron Scandal was a case study conducted to examine the causes of the Enron Corporation’s bankruptcy in 2001. The study included interviews, analysis of financial data, and review of documents to identify the accounting practices, corporate culture, and ethical issues that led to the company’s downfall.
  • The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster : The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster was a case study conducted to examine the causes of the nuclear accident that occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan in 2011. The study included interviews, analysis of data, and review of documents to identify the technical, organizational, and cultural factors that contributed to the disaster.

Application of Case Study

Case studies have a wide range of applications across various fields and industries. Here are some examples:

Business and Management

Case studies are widely used in business and management to examine real-life situations and develop problem-solving skills. Case studies can help students and professionals to develop a deep understanding of business concepts, theories, and best practices.

Case studies are used in healthcare to examine patient care, treatment options, and outcomes. Case studies can help healthcare professionals to develop critical thinking skills, diagnose complex medical conditions, and develop effective treatment plans.

Case studies are used in education to examine teaching and learning practices. Case studies can help educators to develop effective teaching strategies, evaluate student progress, and identify areas for improvement.

Social Sciences

Case studies are widely used in social sciences to examine human behavior, social phenomena, and cultural practices. Case studies can help researchers to develop theories, test hypotheses, and gain insights into complex social issues.

Law and Ethics

Case studies are used in law and ethics to examine legal and ethical dilemmas. Case studies can help lawyers, policymakers, and ethical professionals to develop critical thinking skills, analyze complex cases, and make informed decisions.

Purpose of Case Study

The purpose of a case study is to provide a detailed analysis of a specific phenomenon, issue, or problem in its real-life context. A case study is a qualitative research method that involves the in-depth exploration and analysis of a particular case, which can be an individual, group, organization, event, or community.

The primary purpose of a case study is to generate a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the case, including its history, context, and dynamics. Case studies can help researchers to identify and examine the underlying factors, processes, and mechanisms that contribute to the case and its outcomes. This can help to develop a more accurate and detailed understanding of the case, which can inform future research, practice, or policy.

Case studies can also serve other purposes, including:

  • Illustrating a theory or concept: Case studies can be used to illustrate and explain theoretical concepts and frameworks, providing concrete examples of how they can be applied in real-life situations.
  • Developing hypotheses: Case studies can help to generate hypotheses about the causal relationships between different factors and outcomes, which can be tested through further research.
  • Providing insight into complex issues: Case studies can provide insights into complex and multifaceted issues, which may be difficult to understand through other research methods.
  • Informing practice or policy: Case studies can be used to inform practice or policy by identifying best practices, lessons learned, or areas for improvement.

Advantages of Case Study Research

There are several advantages of case study research, including:

  • In-depth exploration: Case study research allows for a detailed exploration and analysis of a specific phenomenon, issue, or problem in its real-life context. This can provide a comprehensive understanding of the case and its dynamics, which may not be possible through other research methods.
  • Rich data: Case study research can generate rich and detailed data, including qualitative data such as interviews, observations, and documents. This can provide a nuanced understanding of the case and its complexity.
  • Holistic perspective: Case study research allows for a holistic perspective of the case, taking into account the various factors, processes, and mechanisms that contribute to the case and its outcomes. This can help to develop a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of the case.
  • Theory development: Case study research can help to develop and refine theories and concepts by providing empirical evidence and concrete examples of how they can be applied in real-life situations.
  • Practical application: Case study research can inform practice or policy by identifying best practices, lessons learned, or areas for improvement.
  • Contextualization: Case study research takes into account the specific context in which the case is situated, which can help to understand how the case is influenced by the social, cultural, and historical factors of its environment.

Limitations of Case Study Research

There are several limitations of case study research, including:

  • Limited generalizability : Case studies are typically focused on a single case or a small number of cases, which limits the generalizability of the findings. The unique characteristics of the case may not be applicable to other contexts or populations, which may limit the external validity of the research.
  • Biased sampling: Case studies may rely on purposive or convenience sampling, which can introduce bias into the sample selection process. This may limit the representativeness of the sample and the generalizability of the findings.
  • Subjectivity: Case studies rely on the interpretation of the researcher, which can introduce subjectivity into the analysis. The researcher’s own biases, assumptions, and perspectives may influence the findings, which may limit the objectivity of the research.
  • Limited control: Case studies are typically conducted in naturalistic settings, which limits the control that the researcher has over the environment and the variables being studied. This may limit the ability to establish causal relationships between variables.
  • Time-consuming: Case studies can be time-consuming to conduct, as they typically involve a detailed exploration and analysis of a specific case. This may limit the feasibility of conducting multiple case studies or conducting case studies in a timely manner.
  • Resource-intensive: Case studies may require significant resources, including time, funding, and expertise. This may limit the ability of researchers to conduct case studies in resource-constrained settings.

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The case study approach

Sarah crowe.

1 Division of Primary Care, The University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

Kathrin Cresswell

2 Centre for Population Health Sciences, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

Ann Robertson

3 School of Health in Social Science, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

Anthony Avery

Aziz sheikh.

The case study approach allows in-depth, multi-faceted explorations of complex issues in their real-life settings. The value of the case study approach is well recognised in the fields of business, law and policy, but somewhat less so in health services research. Based on our experiences of conducting several health-related case studies, we reflect on the different types of case study design, the specific research questions this approach can help answer, the data sources that tend to be used, and the particular advantages and disadvantages of employing this methodological approach. The paper concludes with key pointers to aid those designing and appraising proposals for conducting case study research, and a checklist to help readers assess the quality of case study reports.

Introduction

The case study approach is particularly useful to employ when there is a need to obtain an in-depth appreciation of an issue, event or phenomenon of interest, in its natural real-life context. Our aim in writing this piece is to provide insights into when to consider employing this approach and an overview of key methodological considerations in relation to the design, planning, analysis, interpretation and reporting of case studies.

The illustrative 'grand round', 'case report' and 'case series' have a long tradition in clinical practice and research. Presenting detailed critiques, typically of one or more patients, aims to provide insights into aspects of the clinical case and, in doing so, illustrate broader lessons that may be learnt. In research, the conceptually-related case study approach can be used, for example, to describe in detail a patient's episode of care, explore professional attitudes to and experiences of a new policy initiative or service development or more generally to 'investigate contemporary phenomena within its real-life context' [ 1 ]. Based on our experiences of conducting a range of case studies, we reflect on when to consider using this approach, discuss the key steps involved and illustrate, with examples, some of the practical challenges of attaining an in-depth understanding of a 'case' as an integrated whole. In keeping with previously published work, we acknowledge the importance of theory to underpin the design, selection, conduct and interpretation of case studies[ 2 ]. In so doing, we make passing reference to the different epistemological approaches used in case study research by key theoreticians and methodologists in this field of enquiry.

This paper is structured around the following main questions: What is a case study? What are case studies used for? How are case studies conducted? What are the potential pitfalls and how can these be avoided? We draw in particular on four of our own recently published examples of case studies (see Tables ​ Tables1, 1 , ​ ,2, 2 , ​ ,3 3 and ​ and4) 4 ) and those of others to illustrate our discussion[ 3 - 7 ].

Example of a case study investigating the reasons for differences in recruitment rates of minority ethnic people in asthma research[ 3 ]

Example of a case study investigating the process of planning and implementing a service in Primary Care Organisations[ 4 ]

Example of a case study investigating the introduction of the electronic health records[ 5 ]

Example of a case study investigating the formal and informal ways students learn about patient safety[ 6 ]

What is a case study?

A case study is a research approach that is used to generate an in-depth, multi-faceted understanding of a complex issue in its real-life context. It is an established research design that is used extensively in a wide variety of disciplines, particularly in the social sciences. A case study can be defined in a variety of ways (Table ​ (Table5), 5 ), the central tenet being the need to explore an event or phenomenon in depth and in its natural context. It is for this reason sometimes referred to as a "naturalistic" design; this is in contrast to an "experimental" design (such as a randomised controlled trial) in which the investigator seeks to exert control over and manipulate the variable(s) of interest.

Definitions of a case study

Stake's work has been particularly influential in defining the case study approach to scientific enquiry. He has helpfully characterised three main types of case study: intrinsic , instrumental and collective [ 8 ]. An intrinsic case study is typically undertaken to learn about a unique phenomenon. The researcher should define the uniqueness of the phenomenon, which distinguishes it from all others. In contrast, the instrumental case study uses a particular case (some of which may be better than others) to gain a broader appreciation of an issue or phenomenon. The collective case study involves studying multiple cases simultaneously or sequentially in an attempt to generate a still broader appreciation of a particular issue.

These are however not necessarily mutually exclusive categories. In the first of our examples (Table ​ (Table1), 1 ), we undertook an intrinsic case study to investigate the issue of recruitment of minority ethnic people into the specific context of asthma research studies, but it developed into a instrumental case study through seeking to understand the issue of recruitment of these marginalised populations more generally, generating a number of the findings that are potentially transferable to other disease contexts[ 3 ]. In contrast, the other three examples (see Tables ​ Tables2, 2 , ​ ,3 3 and ​ and4) 4 ) employed collective case study designs to study the introduction of workforce reconfiguration in primary care, the implementation of electronic health records into hospitals, and to understand the ways in which healthcare students learn about patient safety considerations[ 4 - 6 ]. Although our study focusing on the introduction of General Practitioners with Specialist Interests (Table ​ (Table2) 2 ) was explicitly collective in design (four contrasting primary care organisations were studied), is was also instrumental in that this particular professional group was studied as an exemplar of the more general phenomenon of workforce redesign[ 4 ].

What are case studies used for?

According to Yin, case studies can be used to explain, describe or explore events or phenomena in the everyday contexts in which they occur[ 1 ]. These can, for example, help to understand and explain causal links and pathways resulting from a new policy initiative or service development (see Tables ​ Tables2 2 and ​ and3, 3 , for example)[ 1 ]. In contrast to experimental designs, which seek to test a specific hypothesis through deliberately manipulating the environment (like, for example, in a randomised controlled trial giving a new drug to randomly selected individuals and then comparing outcomes with controls),[ 9 ] the case study approach lends itself well to capturing information on more explanatory ' how ', 'what' and ' why ' questions, such as ' how is the intervention being implemented and received on the ground?'. The case study approach can offer additional insights into what gaps exist in its delivery or why one implementation strategy might be chosen over another. This in turn can help develop or refine theory, as shown in our study of the teaching of patient safety in undergraduate curricula (Table ​ (Table4 4 )[ 6 , 10 ]. Key questions to consider when selecting the most appropriate study design are whether it is desirable or indeed possible to undertake a formal experimental investigation in which individuals and/or organisations are allocated to an intervention or control arm? Or whether the wish is to obtain a more naturalistic understanding of an issue? The former is ideally studied using a controlled experimental design, whereas the latter is more appropriately studied using a case study design.

Case studies may be approached in different ways depending on the epistemological standpoint of the researcher, that is, whether they take a critical (questioning one's own and others' assumptions), interpretivist (trying to understand individual and shared social meanings) or positivist approach (orientating towards the criteria of natural sciences, such as focusing on generalisability considerations) (Table ​ (Table6). 6 ). Whilst such a schema can be conceptually helpful, it may be appropriate to draw on more than one approach in any case study, particularly in the context of conducting health services research. Doolin has, for example, noted that in the context of undertaking interpretative case studies, researchers can usefully draw on a critical, reflective perspective which seeks to take into account the wider social and political environment that has shaped the case[ 11 ].

Example of epistemological approaches that may be used in case study research

How are case studies conducted?

Here, we focus on the main stages of research activity when planning and undertaking a case study; the crucial stages are: defining the case; selecting the case(s); collecting and analysing the data; interpreting data; and reporting the findings.

Defining the case

Carefully formulated research question(s), informed by the existing literature and a prior appreciation of the theoretical issues and setting(s), are all important in appropriately and succinctly defining the case[ 8 , 12 ]. Crucially, each case should have a pre-defined boundary which clarifies the nature and time period covered by the case study (i.e. its scope, beginning and end), the relevant social group, organisation or geographical area of interest to the investigator, the types of evidence to be collected, and the priorities for data collection and analysis (see Table ​ Table7 7 )[ 1 ]. A theory driven approach to defining the case may help generate knowledge that is potentially transferable to a range of clinical contexts and behaviours; using theory is also likely to result in a more informed appreciation of, for example, how and why interventions have succeeded or failed[ 13 ].

Example of a checklist for rating a case study proposal[ 8 ]

For example, in our evaluation of the introduction of electronic health records in English hospitals (Table ​ (Table3), 3 ), we defined our cases as the NHS Trusts that were receiving the new technology[ 5 ]. Our focus was on how the technology was being implemented. However, if the primary research interest had been on the social and organisational dimensions of implementation, we might have defined our case differently as a grouping of healthcare professionals (e.g. doctors and/or nurses). The precise beginning and end of the case may however prove difficult to define. Pursuing this same example, when does the process of implementation and adoption of an electronic health record system really begin or end? Such judgements will inevitably be influenced by a range of factors, including the research question, theory of interest, the scope and richness of the gathered data and the resources available to the research team.

Selecting the case(s)

The decision on how to select the case(s) to study is a very important one that merits some reflection. In an intrinsic case study, the case is selected on its own merits[ 8 ]. The case is selected not because it is representative of other cases, but because of its uniqueness, which is of genuine interest to the researchers. This was, for example, the case in our study of the recruitment of minority ethnic participants into asthma research (Table ​ (Table1) 1 ) as our earlier work had demonstrated the marginalisation of minority ethnic people with asthma, despite evidence of disproportionate asthma morbidity[ 14 , 15 ]. In another example of an intrinsic case study, Hellstrom et al.[ 16 ] studied an elderly married couple living with dementia to explore how dementia had impacted on their understanding of home, their everyday life and their relationships.

For an instrumental case study, selecting a "typical" case can work well[ 8 ]. In contrast to the intrinsic case study, the particular case which is chosen is of less importance than selecting a case that allows the researcher to investigate an issue or phenomenon. For example, in order to gain an understanding of doctors' responses to health policy initiatives, Som undertook an instrumental case study interviewing clinicians who had a range of responsibilities for clinical governance in one NHS acute hospital trust[ 17 ]. Sampling a "deviant" or "atypical" case may however prove even more informative, potentially enabling the researcher to identify causal processes, generate hypotheses and develop theory.

In collective or multiple case studies, a number of cases are carefully selected. This offers the advantage of allowing comparisons to be made across several cases and/or replication. Choosing a "typical" case may enable the findings to be generalised to theory (i.e. analytical generalisation) or to test theory by replicating the findings in a second or even a third case (i.e. replication logic)[ 1 ]. Yin suggests two or three literal replications (i.e. predicting similar results) if the theory is straightforward and five or more if the theory is more subtle. However, critics might argue that selecting 'cases' in this way is insufficiently reflexive and ill-suited to the complexities of contemporary healthcare organisations.

The selected case study site(s) should allow the research team access to the group of individuals, the organisation, the processes or whatever else constitutes the chosen unit of analysis for the study. Access is therefore a central consideration; the researcher needs to come to know the case study site(s) well and to work cooperatively with them. Selected cases need to be not only interesting but also hospitable to the inquiry [ 8 ] if they are to be informative and answer the research question(s). Case study sites may also be pre-selected for the researcher, with decisions being influenced by key stakeholders. For example, our selection of case study sites in the evaluation of the implementation and adoption of electronic health record systems (see Table ​ Table3) 3 ) was heavily influenced by NHS Connecting for Health, the government agency that was responsible for overseeing the National Programme for Information Technology (NPfIT)[ 5 ]. This prominent stakeholder had already selected the NHS sites (through a competitive bidding process) to be early adopters of the electronic health record systems and had negotiated contracts that detailed the deployment timelines.

It is also important to consider in advance the likely burden and risks associated with participation for those who (or the site(s) which) comprise the case study. Of particular importance is the obligation for the researcher to think through the ethical implications of the study (e.g. the risk of inadvertently breaching anonymity or confidentiality) and to ensure that potential participants/participating sites are provided with sufficient information to make an informed choice about joining the study. The outcome of providing this information might be that the emotive burden associated with participation, or the organisational disruption associated with supporting the fieldwork, is considered so high that the individuals or sites decide against participation.

In our example of evaluating implementations of electronic health record systems, given the restricted number of early adopter sites available to us, we sought purposively to select a diverse range of implementation cases among those that were available[ 5 ]. We chose a mixture of teaching, non-teaching and Foundation Trust hospitals, and examples of each of the three electronic health record systems procured centrally by the NPfIT. At one recruited site, it quickly became apparent that access was problematic because of competing demands on that organisation. Recognising the importance of full access and co-operative working for generating rich data, the research team decided not to pursue work at that site and instead to focus on other recruited sites.

Collecting the data

In order to develop a thorough understanding of the case, the case study approach usually involves the collection of multiple sources of evidence, using a range of quantitative (e.g. questionnaires, audits and analysis of routinely collected healthcare data) and more commonly qualitative techniques (e.g. interviews, focus groups and observations). The use of multiple sources of data (data triangulation) has been advocated as a way of increasing the internal validity of a study (i.e. the extent to which the method is appropriate to answer the research question)[ 8 , 18 - 21 ]. An underlying assumption is that data collected in different ways should lead to similar conclusions, and approaching the same issue from different angles can help develop a holistic picture of the phenomenon (Table ​ (Table2 2 )[ 4 ].

Brazier and colleagues used a mixed-methods case study approach to investigate the impact of a cancer care programme[ 22 ]. Here, quantitative measures were collected with questionnaires before, and five months after, the start of the intervention which did not yield any statistically significant results. Qualitative interviews with patients however helped provide an insight into potentially beneficial process-related aspects of the programme, such as greater, perceived patient involvement in care. The authors reported how this case study approach provided a number of contextual factors likely to influence the effectiveness of the intervention and which were not likely to have been obtained from quantitative methods alone.

In collective or multiple case studies, data collection needs to be flexible enough to allow a detailed description of each individual case to be developed (e.g. the nature of different cancer care programmes), before considering the emerging similarities and differences in cross-case comparisons (e.g. to explore why one programme is more effective than another). It is important that data sources from different cases are, where possible, broadly comparable for this purpose even though they may vary in nature and depth.

Analysing, interpreting and reporting case studies

Making sense and offering a coherent interpretation of the typically disparate sources of data (whether qualitative alone or together with quantitative) is far from straightforward. Repeated reviewing and sorting of the voluminous and detail-rich data are integral to the process of analysis. In collective case studies, it is helpful to analyse data relating to the individual component cases first, before making comparisons across cases. Attention needs to be paid to variations within each case and, where relevant, the relationship between different causes, effects and outcomes[ 23 ]. Data will need to be organised and coded to allow the key issues, both derived from the literature and emerging from the dataset, to be easily retrieved at a later stage. An initial coding frame can help capture these issues and can be applied systematically to the whole dataset with the aid of a qualitative data analysis software package.

The Framework approach is a practical approach, comprising of five stages (familiarisation; identifying a thematic framework; indexing; charting; mapping and interpretation) , to managing and analysing large datasets particularly if time is limited, as was the case in our study of recruitment of South Asians into asthma research (Table ​ (Table1 1 )[ 3 , 24 ]. Theoretical frameworks may also play an important role in integrating different sources of data and examining emerging themes. For example, we drew on a socio-technical framework to help explain the connections between different elements - technology; people; and the organisational settings within which they worked - in our study of the introduction of electronic health record systems (Table ​ (Table3 3 )[ 5 ]. Our study of patient safety in undergraduate curricula drew on an evaluation-based approach to design and analysis, which emphasised the importance of the academic, organisational and practice contexts through which students learn (Table ​ (Table4 4 )[ 6 ].

Case study findings can have implications both for theory development and theory testing. They may establish, strengthen or weaken historical explanations of a case and, in certain circumstances, allow theoretical (as opposed to statistical) generalisation beyond the particular cases studied[ 12 ]. These theoretical lenses should not, however, constitute a strait-jacket and the cases should not be "forced to fit" the particular theoretical framework that is being employed.

When reporting findings, it is important to provide the reader with enough contextual information to understand the processes that were followed and how the conclusions were reached. In a collective case study, researchers may choose to present the findings from individual cases separately before amalgamating across cases. Care must be taken to ensure the anonymity of both case sites and individual participants (if agreed in advance) by allocating appropriate codes or withholding descriptors. In the example given in Table ​ Table3, 3 , we decided against providing detailed information on the NHS sites and individual participants in order to avoid the risk of inadvertent disclosure of identities[ 5 , 25 ].

What are the potential pitfalls and how can these be avoided?

The case study approach is, as with all research, not without its limitations. When investigating the formal and informal ways undergraduate students learn about patient safety (Table ​ (Table4), 4 ), for example, we rapidly accumulated a large quantity of data. The volume of data, together with the time restrictions in place, impacted on the depth of analysis that was possible within the available resources. This highlights a more general point of the importance of avoiding the temptation to collect as much data as possible; adequate time also needs to be set aside for data analysis and interpretation of what are often highly complex datasets.

Case study research has sometimes been criticised for lacking scientific rigour and providing little basis for generalisation (i.e. producing findings that may be transferable to other settings)[ 1 ]. There are several ways to address these concerns, including: the use of theoretical sampling (i.e. drawing on a particular conceptual framework); respondent validation (i.e. participants checking emerging findings and the researcher's interpretation, and providing an opinion as to whether they feel these are accurate); and transparency throughout the research process (see Table ​ Table8 8 )[ 8 , 18 - 21 , 23 , 26 ]. Transparency can be achieved by describing in detail the steps involved in case selection, data collection, the reasons for the particular methods chosen, and the researcher's background and level of involvement (i.e. being explicit about how the researcher has influenced data collection and interpretation). Seeking potential, alternative explanations, and being explicit about how interpretations and conclusions were reached, help readers to judge the trustworthiness of the case study report. Stake provides a critique checklist for a case study report (Table ​ (Table9 9 )[ 8 ].

Potential pitfalls and mitigating actions when undertaking case study research

Stake's checklist for assessing the quality of a case study report[ 8 ]

Conclusions

The case study approach allows, amongst other things, critical events, interventions, policy developments and programme-based service reforms to be studied in detail in a real-life context. It should therefore be considered when an experimental design is either inappropriate to answer the research questions posed or impossible to undertake. Considering the frequency with which implementations of innovations are now taking place in healthcare settings and how well the case study approach lends itself to in-depth, complex health service research, we believe this approach should be more widely considered by researchers. Though inherently challenging, the research case study can, if carefully conceptualised and thoughtfully undertaken and reported, yield powerful insights into many important aspects of health and healthcare delivery.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors' contributions

AS conceived this article. SC, KC and AR wrote this paper with GH, AA and AS all commenting on various drafts. SC and AS are guarantors.

Pre-publication history

The pre-publication history for this paper can be accessed here:

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2288/11/100/prepub

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the participants and colleagues who contributed to the individual case studies that we have drawn on. This work received no direct funding, but it has been informed by projects funded by Asthma UK, the NHS Service Delivery Organisation, NHS Connecting for Health Evaluation Programme, and Patient Safety Research Portfolio. We would also like to thank the expert reviewers for their insightful and constructive feedback. Our thanks are also due to Dr. Allison Worth who commented on an earlier draft of this manuscript.

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Case Study | Definition, Examples & Methods

Published on 5 May 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on 30 January 2023.

A case study is a detailed study of a specific subject, such as a person, group, place, event, organisation, or phenomenon. Case studies are commonly used in social, educational, clinical, and business research.

A case study research design usually involves qualitative methods , but quantitative methods are sometimes also used. Case studies are good for describing , comparing, evaluating, and understanding different aspects of a research problem .

Table of contents

When to do a case study, step 1: select a case, step 2: build a theoretical framework, step 3: collect your data, step 4: describe and analyse the case.

A case study is an appropriate research design when you want to gain concrete, contextual, in-depth knowledge about a specific real-world subject. It allows you to explore the key characteristics, meanings, and implications of the case.

Case studies are often a good choice in a thesis or dissertation . They keep your project focused and manageable when you don’t have the time or resources to do large-scale research.

You might use just one complex case study where you explore a single subject in depth, or conduct multiple case studies to compare and illuminate different aspects of your research problem.

Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.

Once you have developed your problem statement and research questions , you should be ready to choose the specific case that you want to focus on. A good case study should have the potential to:

  • Provide new or unexpected insights into the subject
  • Challenge or complicate existing assumptions and theories
  • Propose practical courses of action to resolve a problem
  • Open up new directions for future research

Unlike quantitative or experimental research, a strong case study does not require a random or representative sample. In fact, case studies often deliberately focus on unusual, neglected, or outlying cases which may shed new light on the research problem.

If you find yourself aiming to simultaneously investigate and solve an issue, consider conducting action research . As its name suggests, action research conducts research and takes action at the same time, and is highly iterative and flexible. 

However, you can also choose a more common or representative case to exemplify a particular category, experience, or phenomenon.

While case studies focus more on concrete details than general theories, they should usually have some connection with theory in the field. This way the case study is not just an isolated description, but is integrated into existing knowledge about the topic. It might aim to:

  • Exemplify a theory by showing how it explains the case under investigation
  • Expand on a theory by uncovering new concepts and ideas that need to be incorporated
  • Challenge a theory by exploring an outlier case that doesn’t fit with established assumptions

To ensure that your analysis of the case has a solid academic grounding, you should conduct a literature review of sources related to the topic and develop a theoretical framework . This means identifying key concepts and theories to guide your analysis and interpretation.

There are many different research methods you can use to collect data on your subject. Case studies tend to focus on qualitative data using methods such as interviews, observations, and analysis of primary and secondary sources (e.g., newspaper articles, photographs, official records). Sometimes a case study will also collect quantitative data .

The aim is to gain as thorough an understanding as possible of the case and its context.

In writing up the case study, you need to bring together all the relevant aspects to give as complete a picture as possible of the subject.

How you report your findings depends on the type of research you are doing. Some case studies are structured like a standard scientific paper or thesis, with separate sections or chapters for the methods , results , and discussion .

Others are written in a more narrative style, aiming to explore the case from various angles and analyse its meanings and implications (for example, by using textual analysis or discourse analysis ).

In all cases, though, make sure to give contextual details about the case, connect it back to the literature and theory, and discuss how it fits into wider patterns or debates.

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Case study on adoption of new technology for innovation: Perspective of institutional and corporate entrepreneurship

Asia Pacific Journal of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

ISSN : 2398-7812

Article publication date: 7 August 2017

This paper aims at investigating the role of institutional entrepreneurship and corporate entrepreneurship to cope with firm’ impasses by adoption of the new technology ahead of other firms. Also, this paper elucidates the importance of own specific institutional and corporate entrepreneurship created from firm’s norm.

Design/methodology/approach

The utilized research frame is as follows: first, perspective of studies on institutional and corporate entrepreneurship are performed using prior literature and preliminary references; second, analytical research frame was proposed; finally, phase-based cases are conducted so as to identify research objective.

Kumho Tire was the first tire manufacturer in the world to exploit the utilization of radio-frequency identification for passenger carâ’s tire. Kumho Tire takes great satisfaction in lots of failures to develop the cutting edge technology using advanced information and communication technology cultivated by heterogeneous institution and corporate entrepreneurship.

Originality/value

The firm concentrated its resources into building the organization’s communication process and enhancing the quality of its human resources from the early stages of their birth so as to create distinguishable corporate entrepreneurship.

  • Corporate entrepreneurship
  • Institutional entrepreneurship

Han, J. and Park, C.-m. (2017), "Case study on adoption of new technology for innovation: Perspective of institutional and corporate entrepreneurship", Asia Pacific Journal of Innovation and Entrepreneurship , Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 144-158. https://doi.org/10.1108/APJIE-08-2017-031

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Junghee Han and Chang-min Park.

Published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Innovation and Entrepreneurship . Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial & non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode

1. Introduction

Without the entrepreneur, invention and new knowledge possibly have lain dormant in the memory of persons or in the pages of literature. There is a Korean saying, “Even if the beads are too much, they become treasure after sewn”. This implies importance of entrepreneurship. In general, innovativeness and risk-taking are associated with entrepreneurial activity and, more importantly, are considered to be important attributes that impact the implementation of new knowledge pursuing.

Implementation of cutting edge technology ahead of other firms is an important mechanism for firms to achieve competitive advantage ( Capon et al. , 1990 ; D’Aveni, 1994 ). Certainly, new product innovation continues to play a vital role in competitive business environment and is considered to be a key driver of firm performance, especially as a significant form of corporate entrepreneurship ( Srivastava and Lee, 2005 ). Corporate entrepreneurship is critical success factor for a firm’s survival, profitability and growth ( Phan et al. , 2009 ).

The first-mover has identified innovativeness and risk-taking as important attributes of first movers. Lumpkin and Dess (1996) argued that proactiveness is a key entrepreneurial characteristic related to new technology adoption and product. This study aims to investigate the importance of corporate and institutional entrepreneurship through analyzing the K Tire’s first adaptation of Radio-frequency identification (RFID) among the world tire manufactures. Also, this paper can contribute to start ups’ readiness for cultivating of corporate and institutional entrepreneurship from initial stage to grow and survive.

K Tire is the Korean company that, for the first time in the world, applied RFID to manufacturing passenger vehicle tires in 2013. Through such efforts, the company has built an innovation model that utilizes ICTs. The adoption of the technology distinguishes K Tire from other competitors, which usually rely on bar codes. None of the global tire manufacturers have applied the RFID technology to passenger vehicle tires. K Tire’s decision to apply RFID to passenger vehicle tires for the first time in the global tire industry, despite the uncertainties associated with the adoption of innovative technologies, is being lauded as a successful case of innovation. In the global tire market, K Tire belongs to the second tier, rather than the leader group consisting of manufacturers with large market shares. Then, what led K Tire to apply RFID technology to the innovation of its manufacturing process? A company that adopts innovative technologies ahead of others, even if the company is a latecomer, demonstrates its distinguishing characteristics in terms of innovation. As such, this study was motivated by the following questions. With regard to the factors that facilitate innovation, first, what kind of the corporate and institutional situations that make a company more pursue innovation? Second, what are the technological situations? Third, how do the environmental situations affect innovation? A case study offers the benefit of a closer insight into the entrepreneurship frame of a specific company. This study has its frame work rooted in corporate entrepreneurship ( Guth and Ginsberg, 1990 ; Shane and Venkataraman, 2000 ) and institutional entrepreneurship ( Battilana, 2006 ; Fligstein, 1997 ; Rojas, 2010 ). As mentioned, we utilized qualitative research method ( Yin, 2008 ). This paper is structured as follows. Section two presents the literature review, and section three present the methodology and a research case. Four and five presents discussion and conclusions and implications, respectively.

2. Theoretical review and analysis model

RFID technology is to be considered as not high technology; however, it is an entirely cutting edged skills when combined with automotive tire manufacturing. To examine why and how the firm behaves like the first movers, taking incomparable high risks to achieve aims unlike others, we review three kinds of prior literature. As firms move from stage to stage, they have to revamp innovative capabilities to survive and ceaseless stimulate growth.

2.1 Nature of corporate entrepreneurship

Before reviewing the corporate entrepreneurship, it is needed to understand what entrepreneurship is. To more understand the role that entrepreneurship plays in modern economy, one need refer to insights given by Schumpeter (1942) or Kirzner (1997) . Schumpeter suggests that entrepreneurship is an engine of economic growth by utilization of new technologies. He also insists potential for serving to discipline firms in their struggle to survive gale of creative destruction. While Schumper argued principle of entrepreneurship, Kirzner explains the importance of opportunities. The disruptions generated by creative destruction are exploited by individuals who are alert enough to exploit the opportunities that arise ( Kirzner, 1997 ; Shane and Venkataraman, 2000 ).

Commonly all these perspectives on entrepreneurship is an appreciation that the emergence of novelty is not an easy or predictable process. Based on literature review, we note that entrepreneurship is heterogeneous interests and seek “something new” associated with novel outcomes. Considering the literature review, we can observe that entrepreneurship is the belief in individual autonomy and discretion, and a mindset that locates agency in individuals for creating new activities ( Meyer et al. ,1994 ; Jepperson and Meyer, 2001 ).

the firm’s commitment to innovation (including creation and introduction of products, emphasis on R&D investments and commitment to patenting);

the firm’s venturing activities, such as entry into new business fields by sponsoring new ventures and creating new businesses; and

strategic renewal efforts aimed at revitalizing the firm’s ability to compete.

developing innovation an organizational tool;

allowing the employees to propose ideas; and

encouraging and nurturing the new knowledge ( Hisrich, 1986 ; Kuratko, 2007 ).

Consistent with the above stream of research, our paper focuses on a firm’s new adaptation of RFID as a significant form of corporate entrepreneurial activity. Thus, CE refers to the activities a firm undertakes to stimulate innovation and encourage calculated risk taking throughout its operations. Considering prior literature reviews, we propose that corporate entrepreneurship is the process by which individuals inside the organization pursuing opportunities without regards to the resources they control.

If a firm has corporate entrepreneurship, innovation (i.e. transformation of the existing firm, the birth of new business organization and innovation) happens. In sum, corporate entrepreneurship plays a role to pursue to be a first mover from a latecomer by encompassing the three phenomena.

2.2 Institution and institutional entrepreneurship

Most literature regarding entrepreneurship deals with the attribute of individual behavior. More recently, scholars have attended to the wider ecosystem that serves to reinforce risk-taking behavior. Institution and institutional entrepreneurship is one way to look at ecosystem that how individuals and groups attempt to try to become entrepreneurial activities and innovation.

Each organization has original norm and intangible rules. According to the suggestion by Scott (1995) , institutions constrain behavior as a result of processes associated with institutional pillars. The question how actors within the organizations become motivated and enabled to transform the taken-for-granted structures has attracted substantial attention for institutionalist. To understand why some firms are more likely to seek innovation activities despite numerous difficulties and obstacles, we should take look at the institutional entrepreneurship.

the regulative, which induces worker’s action through coercion and formal sanction;

the normative, which induces worker’s action through norms of acceptability and ethics; and

the cognitive, which induces worker’s action through categories and frames by which actors know and interpret their world.

North (1990) defines institutions as the humanly devised constraints that structure human action. Actors within some organization with sufficient resources have intend to look at them an opportunity to realize interests that they value highly ( DiMaggio, 1988 ).

It opened institutional arguments to ideas from the co-evolving entrepreneurship literature ( Aldrich and Fiol, 1994 ; Aldrich and Martinez, 2001 ). The core argument of the institutional entrepreneurship is mechanisms enabling force to motivate for actors to act difficult task based on norm, culture and shared value. The innovation, adopting RFID, a technology not verified in terms of its effectiveness for tires, can be influenced by the institution of the society.

A firm is the organizations. An organization is situated within an institution that has social and economic norms. Opportunity is important for entrepreneurship. The concept of institutional entrepreneurship refer to the activities of worker or actor who have new opportunity to realize interest that they values highly ( DiMaggio, 1988 ). DiMaggio (1988) argues that opportunity for institutional entrepreneurship will be “seen” and “exploited” by within workers and not others depending on their resources and interests respectively.

Despite that ambiguity for success was given, opportunity and motivation for entrepreneurs to act strategically, shape emerging institutional arrangements or standards to their interests ( Fligstein and Mara-Drita, 1996 ; Garud et al. , 2002 ; Hargadon and Douglas, 2001 ; Maguire et al. , 2004 ).

Resource related to opportunity within institutional entrepreneurship include formal or informal authority and power ( Battilana, 2006 ; Rojas, 2010 ). Maguire et al. (2004) suggest legitimacy as an important ingredient related to opportunity for institutional entrepreneurship. Some scholars suggest opportunity resources for institutional entrepreneurship as various aspects. For instance, Marquire and Hardy (2009) show that knowledge and expertise is more crucial resources. Social capital, including market leadership and social network, is importance resource related to opportunity ( Garud et al. , 2002 ; Lawrence et al. , 2005 ; Townley, 2002 ). From a sociological perspective, change associated with entrepreneurship implies deviations from some norm ( Garud and Karnøe, 2003 ).

Institutional entrepreneurship is therefore a concept that reintroduces agency, interests and power into institutional analyses of organizations. Based on the previous discussion, this study defines institution as three processes of network activity; coercion and formal sanction, normative and cognitive, to acquire the external knowledge from adopting common goals and rules inside an organization. It would be an interesting approach to look into a specific company to see whether it is proactive towards adopting ICTs (e.g. RFID) and innovation on the basis of such theoretical background.

2.3. Theoretical analysis frame

Companies innovate themselves in response to the challenges of the ever-changing markets and technologies, so as to ensure their survival and growth ( Tushman and Anderson, 1986 ; Tidd and Bessant, 2009 ; Teece, 2014 ). As illustrated above, to achieve the purpose of this study, the researcher provides the following frames of analyses based on the theoretical background discussed above ( Figure 1 ).

3. Case study

3.1 methodology.

It is a highly complicated and tough task to analyze the long process of innovation at a company. In this paper, we used analytical approach rather than the problem-oriented method because the case is examined to find and understand what has happened and why. It is not necessary to identify problems or suggest solutions. Namely, this paper analyzes that “why K Tire becomes a first mover from a late comer through first adoption of RFID technology for automotive tire manufacture with regards to process and production innovations”.

To study the organizational characteristics such as corporate entrepreneurship, institutional entrepreneurship, innovation process of companies, the qualitative case study is the suitable method. This is because a case study is a useful method when verifying or expanding well-known theories or challenging a specific theory ( Yin, 2008 ). This study seeks to state the frame of analysis established, based on previously established theories through a single case. K Tire was selected as the sample because it is the first global tire manufacturer, first mover to achieve innovation by developing and applying RFID.

The data for the case study were collected as follows. First, this study was conducted from April 2015 to the end of December 2015. Additional expanded data also were collected from September 12 to November 22, 2016, to pursue the goal of this paper. Coauthor worked for K Tire for more than 30 year, and currently serves as the CEO of an affiliate company. As such, we had the most hands-on knowledge and directed data in the process of adoption RFID. This makes this case study a form of participant observation ( Yin, 2008 ). To secure data on institutional entrepreneurship, in-depth interviews were conducted with the vice president of K Tire. The required data were secured using e-mail, and the researchers accepted the interviewees’ demand to keep certain sensitive matters confidential. The interviewees agreed to record the interview sessions. In this way, a 20-min interview data were secured for each interviewee. In addition, apart from the internal data of the subject company, other objective data were obtained by investigating various literatures published through the press.

3.2 Company overview

In September 1960, K Tire was established in South Korea as the name of Samyang Tire. In that time, the domestic automobile industry in Korea was at a primitive stage, as were auto motive parts industries like the tire industry. K Tire products 20 tires a day, depending on manual labor because of our backward technology and shortage of facilities.

The growth of K Tire was astonishment. Despite the 1974 oil shock and difficulties in procuring raw materials, K Tire managed to achieve remarkable growth. In 1976, K Tire became the leader in the tire sector and was listed on the Korea Stock Exchange. Songjung plant II was added in 1977. Receiving the grand prize of the Korea Quality Control Award in 1979, K Tire sharpened its corporate image with the public. The turmoil of political instability and feverish democratization in the 1980s worsened the business environment. K Tire also underwent labor-management struggles but succeeded in straightening out one issue after another. In the meantime, the company chalked up a total output of 50 million tires, broke ground for its Koksung plant and completed its proving ground in preparation for a new takeoff.

In the 1990s, K Tire expanded its research capability and founded technical research centers in the USA and the United Kingdom to establish a global R&D network. It also concentrated its capabilities in securing the foundation as a global brand, by building world-class R&D capabilities and production systems. Even in the 2000s, the company maintained its growth as a global company through continued R&D efforts by securing its production and quality capabilities, supplying tires for new models to Mercedes, Benz, Volkswagen and other global auto manufacturers.

3.3 Implementation of radio-frequency identification technology

RFID is radio-frequency identification technology to recognize stored information by using a magnetic carrier wave. RFID tags can be either passive, active or battery-assisted passive (BAP). An active tag has an on-board battery and periodically transmits its ID signal. A BAP has a small battery on board and is activated when in the presence of an RFID reader. A passive tag is cheaper and smaller because it has no battery; instead, the tag uses the radio energy transmitted by the reader. However, to operate a passive tag, it must be illuminated with a power level roughly a thousand times stronger than for signal transmission. That makes a difference in interference and in exposure to radiation.

an integrated circuit for storing and processing information, modulating and demodulating a radio frequency signal, collecting DC power from the incident reader signal, and other specialized functions; and

an antenna for receiving and transmitting the signal.

capable of recognizing information without contact;

capable of recognizing information regardless of the direction;

capable of reading and saving a large amount of data;

requires less time to recognize information;

can be designed or manufactured in accordance with the system or environmental requirements;

capable of recognizing data unaffected by contamination or the environment;

not easily damaged and cheaper to maintain, compared with the bar code system; and

tags are reusable.

3.3.1 Phase 1. Background of exploitation of radio-frequency identification (2005-2010).

Despite rapid growth of K Tire since 1960, K Tire ranked at the 13th place in the global market (around 2 per cent of the global market share) as of 2012. To enlarge global market share is desperate homework. K Tire was indispensable to develop the discriminated technologies. When bar code system commonly used by the competitors, and the industry leaders, K Tire had a decision for adoption of RFID technology instead of bar code system for tires as a first mover strategy instead of a late comer with regard to manufacture tires for personal vehicle. In fact, K Tire met two kinds of hardship. Among the top 20, the second-tier companies with market shares of 1-2 per cent are immersed in fiercer competitions to advance their ranks. The fierceness of the competition is reflected in the fact that of the companies ranked between the 11th and 20th place, only two maintained their rank from 2013.

With the demand for stricter product quality control and manufacture history tracking expanding among the auto manufacturers, tire manufacturers have come to face the need to change their way of production and logistics management. Furthermore, a tire manufacturer cannot survive if it does not properly respond to the ever stricter and exacting demand for safe passenger vehicle tires of higher quality from customers and auto manufacturers. As mentioned above, K Tire became one of the top 10 companies in the global markets, recording fast growth until the early 2000. During this period, K Tire drew the attention of the global markets with a series of new technologies and innovative technologies through active R&D efforts. Of those new products, innovative products – such as ultra-high-performance tires – led the global markets and spurred the company’s growth. However, into the 2010s, the propriety of the UHP tire technology was gradually lost, and the effect of the innovation grew weaker as the global leading companies stepped forward to take the reign in the markets. Subsequently, K Tire suffered from difficulties across its businesses, owing to the failure to develop follow-up innovative products or market-leading products, as well as the aggressive activities by the company’s hardline labor union. Such difficulties pushed K Tire down to the 13th position in 2014, which sparked the dire need to bring about innovative changes within the company.

3.3.2 Phase 2. Ceaseless endeavor and its failure (2011-2012).

It needs to be lightweight : An RFID tag attached inside a vehicle may adversely affect the weight balance of the tires. A heavier tag has greater adverse impact on the tire performance. Therefore, a tag needs to be as light as possible.

It needs to be durable : Passenger vehicle tires are exposed to extensive bending and stretching, as well as high levels of momentum, which may damage a tag, particularly causing damage to or even loss of the antenna section.

It needs to maintain adhesiveness : Tags are attached on the inner surface, which increase the possibility of the tags falling off from the surface while the vehicle is in motion.

It needs to be resistant to high temperature and high pressure : While going through the tire manufacture process, a tag is exposed to a high temperature of around 200°C and high pressure of around 30 bars. Therefore, a tag should maintain its physical integrity and function at such high pressure and temperature.

It needs to be less costly : A passenger vehicle tire is smaller, and therefore cheaper than truck/bus tires. As a result, an RFID tag places are greater burden on the production cost.

Uncountable tag prototypes, were applied to around 200 test tires in South Korea for actual driving tests. Around 150 prototypes were sent to extremely hot regions overseas for actual driving tests. However, the driving tests revealed damage to the antenna sections of the tags embedded in tires, as the tires reached the end of their wear life. Also, there was separation of the embedded tags from the rubber layers. This confirmed the risk of tire separation, resulting in the failure of the tag development attempt.

3.3.3 Phase 3. Success of adoption RFID (2013-2014).

Despite the numerous difficulties and failures in the course of development, the company ultimately emerged successful, owing to its institutional entrepreneurship and corporate entrepreneurship the government’s support. Owing to the government-led support project, K Tire resumed its RFID development efforts in 2011. This time, the company discarded the idea of the embedded-type tag, which was attempted during the first development. Instead, the company turned to attached-type tag. The initial stages were marked with numerous failures: the size of a tag was large at 20 × 70 mm, which had adverse impact on the rotation balance of the tires, and the attached area was too large, causing the attached sections to fall off as the tire stretched and bent. That was when all personnel from the technical, manufacturing, and logistics department participated in creating ideas to resolve the tag size and adhesiveness issues. Through cooperation across the different departments and repeated tests, K Tire successfully developed its RFID tag by coming up with new methods to minimize the tag size to its current size (9 × 45 mm), maintain adhesiveness and lower the tag price. Finally, K Tire was success the adoption RFID.

3.3.4 Phase 4. Establishment of the manufacture, logistics and marketing tracking system.

Whenever subtle and problematic innovation difficulties arise, every worker and board member moves forward through networking and knowledge sharing within intra and external.

While a bar code is only capable of storing the information on the nationality, manufacturer and category of a product, an RFID tag is capable of storing a far wider scope of information: nationality, manufacturer, category, manufacturing date, machines used, lot number, size, color, quantity, date and place of delivery and recipient. In addition, while the data stored in a bar code cannot be revised or expanded once the code is generated, an RFID tag allows for revisions, additions and removal of data. As for the recognition capability, a bar code recognizes 95per cent of the data at the maximum temperature of 70°C. An RFID tag, on the other hand, recognizes 99.9 per cent of the data at 120°C.

The manufacture and transportation information during the semi-finished product process before the shaping process is stored in the RFID tags, which is attached to the delivery equipment to be provided to the MLMTS;

Logistics Products released from the manufacture process are stored in the warehouses, to be released and transported again to logistics centers inside and outside of South Korea. The RFID tags record the warehousing information, as the products are stored into the warehouses, as well as the release information as the products are released. The information is instantly delivered to the MLMTS;

As a marketing, the RFID tags record the warehousing information of the products supplied and received by sales branches from the logistics centers, as well as the sales information of the products sold to consumers. The information is instantly delivered to the MLMTS; and

As a role of integrative Server, MLM Integrative Server manages the overall information transmitted from the infrastructures for each section (production information, inventory status and release information, product position and inventory information, consumer sales information, etc.).

The MLMTS provides the company with various systemic functions to integrate and manage such information: foolproof against manufacture process errors, manufacture history and quality tracking for each individual product, warehousing/releasing and inventory status control for each process, product position control between processes, real-time warehouse monitoring, release control and history information tracking across products of different sizes, as well as link/control of sales and customer information. To consumers, the system provides convenience services by providing production and quality information of the products, provision of the product history through full tracking in the case of a claim, as well as a tire pressure monitoring system:

“South korea’s K Tire Co. Inc. has begun applying radio-frequency identification (RFID) system tags on: half-finished” tire since June 16. We are now using an IoT based production and distribution integrated management system to apply RFID system on our “half-finished products” the tire maker said, claiming this is a world-first in the industry. The technology will enable K Tire to manage products more efficiently than its competitors, according to the company. RFID allows access to information about a product’s location, storage and release history, as well as its inventory management (London, 22, 2015 Tire Business).

4. Discussions

Originally, aims of RFID adoption for passenger car “half-finished product” is to chase the front runners, Hankook Tire in Korea including global leading companies like Bridgestone, Michaelin and Goodyear. In particular, Hankook Tire, established in 1941 has dominated domestic passenger tire market by using the first mover’s advantage. As a late comer, K Tire needs distinguishable innovation strategy which is RFID adoption for passenger car’s tire, “half-finished product” to overcome shortage of number of distribution channels. Adoption of RFID technology for passenger car’s tire has been known as infeasible methodologies according to explanation by Changmin Park, vice-CTO (chief technology officer) until K Tire’s success.

We lensed success factors as three perspectives; institutional entrepreneurship, corporate entrepreneurship and innovation. First, as a corporate entrepreneurship perspective, adopting innovative technologies having uncertainties accompanies by a certain risk of failure. Corporate entrepreneurship refers to firm’s effort that inculcate and promote innovation and risk taking throughout its operations ( Burgelman, 1983 ; Guth and Ginsberg, 1990 ). K Tire’s success was made possible by overcome the uncountable difficulties based on shared value and norms (e.g. Fligstein and Mara-Drita, 1996 ; Garud et al. , 2002 ; Hargadon and Douglas, 2001 ; Maguire et al. , 2004 ).

An unsuccessful attempt at developing innovative technologies causes direct loss, as well as loss of the opportunity costs. This is why many companies try to avoid risks by adopting or following the leading companies’ technologies or the dominant technologies. Stimulating corporate entrepreneurship requires firms to acquire and use new knowledge to exploit emerging opportunities. This knowledge could be obtained by joining alliances, selectively hiring key personnel, changing the composition or decision-making processes of a company’s board of directors or investing in R&D activities. When the firm uses multiple sources of knowledge ( Branzei and Vertinsky, 2006 ; Thornhill, 2006 ), some of these sources may complement one another, while others may substitute each other ( Zahra and George, 2002 ). Boards also provide managers with appropriate incentives that better align their interests with those of the firm. Given the findings, K Tire seeks new knowledge from external organizations through its discriminative corporate entrepreneurship.

When adopting the RFID system for its passenger vehicle tires, K Tire also had to develop new RFID tags suitable for the specific type of tire. The company’s capabilities were limited by the surrounding conditions, which prevented the application of existing tire RFID tag technologies, such as certain issues with the tire manufacturing process, the characteristic of its tires and the price of RFID tags per tire. Taking risks and confronting challenges are made from board member’s accountability. From the findings, we find that entrepreneurship leadership can be encouraged in case of within the accountability frame work.

Despite its status as a second-tier company, K Tire attempted to adopt the RFID system to its passenger vehicle tires, a feat not achieved even by the leading companies. Thus, the company ultimately built and settled the system through numerous trials and errors. Such success was made possible by the entrepreneurship of K Tire’s management, who took the risk of failure inherent in adopting innovative technologies and confronting challenges head on.

Second, institutional entrepreneurship not only involves the “capacity to imagine alternative possibilities”, it also requires the ability “to contextualize past habits and future projects within the contingencies of the moment” if existing institutions are to be transformed ( Emirbayer and Mische, 1998 ). New technologies, the technical infrastructure, network activities to acquire the new knowledge, learning capabilities, creating a new organization such as Pioneer Lab and new rules to create new technologies are the features. To qualify as institutional entrepreneurs, individuals must break with existing rules and practices associated with the dominant institutional logic(s) and institutionalize the alternative rules, practices or logics they are championing ( Garud and Karnøe, 2003 ; Battilana, 2006 ). K Tire established new organization, “Special lab” to obtain the know technology and information as CEO’s direct sub-committees. Institutional entrepreneurship arise when actors, through their filed position, recognize the opportunity circumstance so called “norms” ( Battilana et al. , 2009 ). To make up the deficit of technologies for RFID, knowledge stream among workers is more needed. Destruction of hierarch ranking system is proxy of the institutional entrepreneurship. Also, K Tire has peculiar norms. Namely, if one requires the further study such as degree course or non-degree course education services, grant systems operated via short screen process. Third, as innovation perspectives, before adopting the RFID system, the majority of K Tire’s researchers insisted that the company use the bar code technology, which had been widely used by the competitors. Such decision was predicated on the prediction that RFID technology would see wider use in the future, as well as the expected effect coming from taking the leading position, with regard to the technology.

Finally, K Tire’s adoption of the RFID technology cannot be understood without government support. The South Korean government has been implementing the “Verification and Dissemination Project for New u-IT Technologies” since 2008. Owing to policy support, K Tire can provide worker with educational service including oversea universities.

5. Conclusions and implications

To cope with various technological impasses, K Tire demonstrated the importance of institutional and corporate entrepreneurship. What a firm pursues more positive act for innovation is a research question.

Unlike firms, K Tire has strongly emphasized IT technology since establishment in 1960. To be promotion, every worker should get certification of IT sectors after recruiting. This has become the firm’s norm. This norm was spontaneously embedded for firm’s culture. K Tire has sought new ICT technology become a first mover. This norm can galvanize to take risk to catch up the first movers in view of institutional entrepreneurship.

That can be cultivated both by corporate entrepreneurship, referred to the activities a firm undertakes to stimulate innovation and encourage calculated risk taking throughout its operations within accountabilities and institutional entrepreneurship, referred to create its own peculiar norm. Contribution of our paper shows both importance of board members of directors in cultivating corporate entrepreneurship and importance of norm and rules in inducing institutional entrepreneurship.

In conclusion, many of them were skeptical about adopting RFID for its passenger vehicle tires at a time when even the global market and technology leaders were not risking such innovation, citing reasons such as risk of failure and development costs. However, enthusiasm and entrepreneurship across the organization towards technical innovation was achieved through the experience of developing leading technologies, as well as the resolve of the company’s management and its institutional entrepreneurship, which resulted in the company’s decision to adopt the RFID technology for small tires, a technology with unverified effects that had not been widely used in the markets. Introduction of new organization which “Special lab” is compelling example of institutional entrepreneurship. Also, to pursue RFID technology, board members unanimously agree to make new organization in the middle of failing and unpredictable success. This decision was possible since K Tire’s cultivated norm which was to boost ICT technologies. In addition, at that time, board of director’s behavior can be explained by corporate entrepreneurship.

From the findings, this paper also suggests importance of firms’ visions or culture from startup stage because they can become a peculiar norm and become firm’s institutional entrepreneurship. In much contemporary research, professionals and experts are identified as key institutional entrepreneurs, who rely on their legitimated claim to authoritative knowledge or particular issue domains. This case study shows that authoritative knowledge by using their peculiar norm, and culture as well as corporate entrepreneurship.

This paper has some limitations. Despite the fact that paper shows various fruitful findings, this study is not free from that our findings are limited to a single exploratory case study. Overcoming such limitation requires securing more samples, including the group of companies that attempt unprecedented innovations across various industries. In this paper, we can’t release all findings through in-depth interview and face-to-face meetings because of promise for preventing the secret tissues.

Nevertheless, the contribution of this study lies in that it shows the importance of corporate entrepreneurship and institutional entrepreneurship for firm’s innovative capabilities to grow ceaselessly.

what is a case study in technology

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Further reading

Bresnahan , T.F. , Brynjolfsson , E. and Hitt , L.M. ( 2002 ), “ Information technology, workplace organization, and the demand for skilled labor: firm-level evidence ”, The Quarterly Journal of Economics , Vol. 117 No. 1 , pp. 339 - 376 .

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Acknowledgements

 This work was supported by 2017 Hongik University Research Fund.

Corresponding author

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The ultimate guide to writing a good case study

what is a case study in technology

Your prospect has done their research. They’ve made a list of requirements. They’ve compared several possible solutions (including yours). They’ve been to your website and had conversations with a salesperson. And they’ve narrowed their search down to your product and your competitor. On paper, both products look similar. But your prospect is still on the fence.

So what’s it going to take for them to go with yours? 

Probably something that convinces them that your product gets results. 

Enter the case study—tiebreaker extraordinaire, and your best friend. 

In this post, we’ll look at:

  • What a case study is and why you need one
  • 3 elements of a good case study
  • How to prep for a case study
  • 5 steps to writing your case study
  • Tips for making a good case study great
  • 5 real-life case study examples

🔍  Are you looking for some case study examples? Check out this free eBook housing five case study examples.

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What is a case study and why should you create one?

A case study is basically a document (it can be a video too) that outlines how a customer used your product to overcome a problem. It’s real-world proof that your product works and gets results.

If your product or service has helped customers get great results, a case study will help you showcase those results to your future customers. They’re an excellent way to attract more business, and can mean the difference between a lost opportunity and a really good end-of-quarter. 

What makes a good case study? 

First, it’s helpful to highlight what makes case studies bad: most are painfully boring. What they have in research and detail, they lack in a cohesive, consumable story. They list numbers and contain data, but the reader isn’t sure what it all means or why it’s relevant to their problem. They end up existing as technical documents that do little to persuade or excite anyone—and that’s unfortunate because they have the potential to be a powerful sales tool that can help you close big deals in the decision-making phase. 

So how do you write a good one, then? Here are three characteristics every good case study should have:

It’s digestible

There’s no hard rule on how long a case study should be. But it’s always a good idea to ask “ How short can we make it? ” A good case study avoids the unnecessary minutiae, knows what it’s trying to say, and communicates it quickly and without ambiguity. With a few exceptions, effective case studies are concise and, clear. 

It’s thorough

On the other side of the length equation, being thorough is also important. While the case study is all about making impressive claims about how a product helped someone achieve a certain result, it also needs to explain how it happened. Good case studies include key details that show how the customer got from A to B using the product—something you don’t get with customer reviews . Don’t make your reader work too hard to visualize the story. If you can use images and videos, use them!

It’s a story

Yes, case studies are sales tools. But the ones really worth reading tell a compelling story with a beginning, middle, and end. They beg to be read all the way through. Often, they present a problem that creates tension and demands a solution. And remember, in this story, the customer is the hero—not you. 

6 steps to find a good case study

Before you start actually writing, there’s a bit of prep work you’ll need to do to make sure your case study is amazing. (This is where good customer service teamwork will really come in handy since your customer support team will have the best intel.)

1. Choose your customer

You may have many customers who’ve seen great results using your product. But you can’t just pick a name out of a hat and showcase their results; they may not be right for your audience or their results may not be typical. For example, don’t feature an enterprise company when most of your customers are small businesses. Or claiming that your clients have a 90% customer retention rate when most of them see 70% on average (still impressive, though).  When considering which customer to use, start by creating a list of customers that meet these criteria:

They’ve seen good results with your product or service

The numbers are what really matter. So choose customers that have seen strong results using your product. But be careful about showcasing exceptionally good results if they’re not likely to be repeated by most.

The benefits of moving to RingCentral: cost savings and a measurable boost in team productivity

RingCentral: W2O

They have a respected and recognizable brand

Strong brands give your product instant social proof. They prove that you’re established and trustworthy. That alone can make you a front-runner in the decision-making process. After all, if Big Brand X trusts you, so can a prospect.

They’re a typical customer

Good results don’t carry as much weight when they’re achieved by companies in other industries or verticals. Identify current customers that are similar to your target audience. If you sell enterprise software, choose enterprise customers. If you’re a consultant in the healthcare industry, choose a customer that works in healthcare. 

With your list in hand, you can start reaching out. Picking up the phone can be a lot more effective than sending an email. It’s more personal, lets you build rapport, and is harder to ignore than an email. 

Try to get in touch with customers who use or are very familiar with your product or service—someone who can speak to results. Tell them you’re interested in writing a case study and you’d love to hear more about the results they’ve achieved. Be clear about what the process involves on their part—whether it’s a list of questions in an email, a phone call, or if it involves a camera and crew.  

If you’ve provided value, your customer is more likely to see you as a partner rather than a vendor and, hopefully, will be happy to participate. Remember, you’re also shining a spotlight on their own success. So it’s a win-win.  

That said, you may hear “no” a few times, too. Don’t get discouraged. Some customers will decline for different reasons, regardless of the results they’ve achieved with your product. 

Don’t just use a personal phone to call your customers and interview them. Use a communications app that has a phone calling feature instead. Not only would it show your business as the caller ID (instead of a shady phone number they’re not familiar with), some apps let you record conversations too to make it easy to go back and analyze your conversations (just remember to ask first).

2. Begin your research

Start collecting information about your customer. This is easier if you work as a team. From sales to marketing to customer service, everyone who’s been in touch with customer will have insight about their experience. They can help you understand what your customers do and sell, and what challenges they’re facing. Identify the stakeholders you need to speak with—anyone in the company who uses your product—from the CEO to the marketing intern. Collect stats, even ones you don’t think are relevant—they may be later. 

3. Ask the right questions

Smart questions get insightful answers. Here are some examples of great questions to start with: 

“What were some of the bigger challenges you faced before using our product?”

“How does our product help you reach your individual goals?”

“Which key metrics have improved most since using our product/service?”

“Which parts of your business have been impacted most, and how?”

“How long did it take to roll out our product?”

But don’t stop there. Use these questions to segue into deeper, more targeted questions that underscore the real-world benefits of your product. Let the conversation flow naturally—this is the magic of interviews. You can’t always plan for what interesting topics come up next.

4. Identify your target audience

Beyond your customer’s industry, consider who the target audience of the case study is. Who will see it? Who does it need to influence? While it’s often high-level executives who make large purchase decisions, employees at all levels can act as a champion for your product or brand. Your case study may have to persuade an IT worker that your product or service is going to make their job easier, while it needs to convince the CFO that they’ll see a real return on investment. 

5. Identify the top three things you want to highlight

During the initial research phase, you’ve likely uncovered a lot of interesting information about your customer and their experiences with your product. While it might be tempting to use it all, your case study should quickly and clearly communicate the value of your product. Go through this information and identify the three most important business results you want to communicate in the case study. 

Stats and key performance indicators (KPIs) to consider using in your case study:

  • Ramp up time: How long did it take to get started with your product? Did it improve any other facet of their workflow? 
  • Sales results: How did the product impact your customer’s bottom line?
  • Total return on investment (ROI): How long did it take to earn more than they spent on your product? 
  • Productivity increases: Which teams saw improvements in process and workflow? And now much? 

Case study about how Payscale saw 6x ROI in revenue with their ABM Program

Here’s how RollWorks shows off the amazing ROI that their customers, Payscale, got with them .

6. Choose your format

A case study doesn’t have to exist only as a PDF attachment in a late-stage deal email (although there’s nothing wrong with that). Consider the format. Think about who’s going to read it (or watch it). Do you want to turn this into fancy interactive content ? Does your prospect have the time and interest to dig into the details? Or do they just want the facts? Choose the format that you think best engages the audience that you’re selling to.

Report format

This long-form document has been the gold standard for B2B case studies for many years. This format is effective when the subject matter is complex and demands detail. Remember, a CTO who’s evaluating large-scale business communications platforms for a multi-year deal is going to want more information than a marketing manager who’s evaluating a new social media ad platform:

Zendesk case study with IDC

Here’s how Zendesk presented their case study with IDC as a report .

Keeping things short and sweet is often the best way to get your message heard. By focusing on the key points, you can highlight the biggest wins at just a glance. Most report format case studies can be easily condensed into a one-page document. This is ideal for prospects (and salespeople) who are short on time and prefer something they can quickly scan—like this Adzerk case study with Reddit :

LinkedIn case study about Adobe

Few things can tell a story the way that video can, and case studies are no exception. They give you an unmatched level of creative freedom and storytelling using music, lighting, pacing, and voice that can evoke emotions and persuade someone using more than just numbers and facts. And at just a couple of minutes long, they can do a lot of heavy lifting in not a lot of time. 

Dropbox case study about Expedia

Dropbox: Expedia

Infographic

People love infographics. They’re an excellent way to convey important data in a simple, eye-pleasing way. If your case study requires you to use a lot of data to prove a point—or if visualizing data can make the results more clear—building an infographic case study can be a great investment. 

Case study infographic

5 key steps for writing your case study

Congrats. You’ve done the research. You’ve made the calls. You’ve pored over all the details. Now, all you have to do is write. Here are five simple steps that’ll help you create a powerful case study that champions your customer and clearly showcases the real-world value of your products or services. 

1. Introduce the customer

Set the stage for your case study with an introduction. Briefly explain who your customer is with a bit of background information that can include their industry, product, company size, and location. You don’t have to dig into the nuts and bolts of their business, but you do want the reader to understand who they are and what they do. The more color you can provide here, the more impactful it’ll be when you show the awesome results this customer saw because they chose you.

2. State the problem

Every product or service is a solution to a problem. Explain the problem (or problems) that you helped your customer overcome. Describe the larger impact of the issue. Maybe it was customers leaving. Perhaps it was bad leads—or good leads that were never followed up on. Use this as an opportunity to clearly show what was at stake, and make sure you leave the jargon out of it. Frame the problem in simple terms that any reader can understand. 

3. Introduce your product

This is where you begin solving the problem. Briefly introduce your product and what it does. Start on a general level, then apply it to the challenge the customer was experiencing. Talk about which teams or individuals used your product and how they used it. Be sure to make the connection between the customer’s problem and your solution crystal clear. 

4. Show results

The big reveal. What kind of results was your customer able to achieve using your product or service? Speak to how they solved the problem descriptively, but also with cold, hard numbers. Not everything can be measured in numbers (sometimes, peace of mind is a powerful benefit all on its own), but whenever you can, back up your story with the stats. At the very least, this will make it easy for a CFO—or a prospect who wants to buy—to justify buying your product.

For example: 

The customer saw a 33% increase in web traffic, a large influx of social media activity, and a 10% boost in revenue over the duration of the campaign . 

5. Prove it

Don’t forget to show your math. How you get the results is just as important as the results themselves.  What specific steps were taken to get those results? Not only will this help validate your claims, it makes it easier to envision how the reader may be able to achieve them, too. 

8 tips to write a great case study

1. avoid jargon .

As a subject matter expert in your line of work, it can be tempting to go into as much jargony detail as possible. This is normal as it’s often the language we use at work every day. But remember that your customer probably doesn’t speak that language. When in doubt, use an app like Hemingway to make sure you’re writing at a level that most people can understand.  

2. Spend time on your title

It’s tempting to use the case study’s most interesting or impressive KPI as your title. But that also gives away the ending before the story begins, and skips details that are important for context in the process. Try writing a title that piques interest without being a spoiler. 

3. Edit. Then edit again. 

Once you’ve got your first draft completed (and the jargon removed), edit the case study. A few best practices here:

  • Look for and eliminate unnecessary adjectives. 
  • Speak in an active voice. 
  • Look for details that get in the way of the story. 

And then do it all over again until you can’t edit it down anymore without losing the essence of the story. 

4. A picture is worth a thousand words

This is especially true when you’re talking about a block of text that’s trying to communicate a chunk of data. Well-designed charts, graphs, images, or infographics can do the heavy lifting of several pages of text in just seconds. They can also help break up large pieces of text, making the case study easier to read—and nicer to look at. After all, the end goal is to have these read all the way through.

Here’s an example of a graphic from a longer CPA Canada infographic (that includes a short case study embedded inside it): 

CPA Canada infographic (that includes a short case study embedded inside it)

5. Pull quotes

Hard data and results are good. But a customer quote is a great piece of social proof and adds a human element to your case study. And that makes your results more believable. Customer quotes can also be used outside of your testimonial too—try adding it on your website, landing pages, or email marketing campaigns or welcome emails to get more people to check out your products and buy online. Here’s an example of what that looks like:

Example of a customer quote

6. Make it scannable

Some people will take the time to read your case study front to back and absorb every detail. Some won’t give it more than a single glance. And sometimes, that person is the decision-maker. Make the most important results easy to spot, read, and retain at a glance. Write headings that are descriptive—if someone just scanned them, would they be able to get the gist of the story? Consider putting a summary at the very beginning of the study, or call out impressive results in a larger font size. 

7. Record your interviews

Ditch the pen and paper. If you’re conducting one-on-one interviews over the phone, you can save yourself a lot of time and energy by recording the conversation (with your customer’s consent, of course). There are tools that can make this easier too—you might find one or two in your marketing stack . For example, you could use RingCentral’s Zapier integration to transcribe your conversation into a text file. 

8. Don’t forget the call to action (CTA)

Your prospect is excited because your case study has done an excellent job of showing how your product or service can help drive results for customers. Now, how do they get in touch with you to learn more? Whether it’s a button that links to your website, an email address, or a phone number, make sure there’s an easy way of getting in touch with you in the case study. 

5 examples of great case studies from real-life companies

Mailchimp: make a connection in real life with postcards.

What we like about it: The title doesn’t give everything away all at once, and the case study tells a story with a beginning, middle, and end. The sections are clearly titled and organized, and the results are easy to find. As a bonus: the video adds a believable human element.

How to write a case study: Mailchimp example

LinkedIn: How Adobe achieves alignment and ABM success with LinkedIn

What we like about it: It’s detailed without being a novella. It understands and speaks to the enterprise customer. The key points are in bullet format and easy to read. The important wins are highlighted. And the video makes the content easy to engage with. 

How to write a case study: LinkedIn example

Hootsuite: How Meliá became one of the most influential hotel chains on social media

What we like about it: The title makes you want to read the whole customer story. They’ve embdedded a well-produced video high on the page, so you can choose to watch it before you read on. The design and layout of the page makes the content and images easy to consume, and the results can’t be missed. Also, they weren’t shy about adding CTAs. 

How to write a case study: Hootsuite example

Slack: So yeah, we tried Slack

What we like about it: This case study follows the tried and true format of customer, problem, solution, and results. It uses humor and relatable characters throughout to support the story and keep your attention. And it’s only two minutes long so it gets the point across quickly. 

How to write a case study: Slack example

Assetworks: South Carolina School Board Insurance Trust

What we like about it: This case study tackles the otherwise complex and technical topic, and simplifies it as an infographic using images to make the results clear. It’s concise and easy to follow because you can see the math without actually doing any math. 

How to write a case study: South Carolina School Board Insurance Trust example

The final word on building a great case study…

Sure, an ad or boosted social media post (more on social media best practices here) can make someone aware of your brand or that your product exists, and a landing page can tell them how your product can solve their problem. 

But there’s nothing quite as powerful as someone else singing your praises. 

And that’s exactly what a case study does. Spend the time to do it right and it has the potential to deliver huge ROI no matter how big or small your company is. And not just once—but over and over again.

Originally published Feb 05, 2020, updated Oct 19, 2022

what is a case study in technology

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16 case study examples (+ 3 templates to make your own)

Hero image with an icon representing a case study

I like to think of case studies as a business's version of a resume. It highlights what the business can do, lends credibility to its offer, and contains only the positive bullet points that paint it in the best light possible.

Imagine if the guy running your favorite taco truck followed you home so that he could "really dig into how that burrito changed your life." I see the value in the practice. People naturally prefer a tried-and-true burrito just as they prefer tried-and-true products or services.

To help you showcase your success and flesh out your burrito questionnaire, I've put together some case study examples and key takeaways.

What is a case study?

A case study is an in-depth analysis of how your business, product, or service has helped past clients. It can be a document, a webpage, or a slide deck that showcases measurable, real-life results.

For example, if you're a SaaS company, you can analyze your customers' results after a few months of using your product to measure its effectiveness. You can then turn this analysis into a case study that further proves to potential customers what your product can do and how it can help them overcome their challenges.

It changes the narrative from "I promise that we can do X and Y for you" to "Here's what we've done for businesses like yours, and we can do it for you, too."

16 case study examples 

While most case studies follow the same structure, quite a few try to break the mold and create something unique. Some businesses lean heavily on design and presentation, while others pursue a detailed, stat-oriented approach. Some businesses try to mix both.

There's no set formula to follow, but I've found that the best case studies utilize impactful design to engage readers and leverage statistics and case details to drive the point home. A case study typically highlights the companies, the challenges, the solution, and the results. The examples below will help inspire you to do it, too.

1. .css-1l9i3yq-Link[class][class][class][class][class]{all:unset;box-sizing:border-box;-webkit-text-fill-color:currentColor;cursor:pointer;}.css-1l9i3yq-Link[class][class][class][class][class]{all:unset;box-sizing:border-box;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;cursor:pointer;-webkit-transition:all 300ms ease-in-out;transition:all 300ms ease-in-out;outline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-fill-color:currentColor;outline:1px solid transparent;}.css-1l9i3yq-Link[class][class][class][class][class][data-color='ocean']{color:#3d4592;}.css-1l9i3yq-Link[class][class][class][class][class][data-color='ocean']:hover{color:#2b2358;}.css-1l9i3yq-Link[class][class][class][class][class][data-color='ocean']:focus{color:#3d4592;outline-color:#3d4592;}.css-1l9i3yq-Link[class][class][class][class][class][data-color='white']{color:#fffdf9;}.css-1l9i3yq-Link[class][class][class][class][class][data-color='white']:hover{color:#a8a5a0;}.css-1l9i3yq-Link[class][class][class][class][class][data-color='white']:focus{color:#fffdf9;outline-color:#fffdf9;}.css-1l9i3yq-Link[class][class][class][class][class][data-color='primary']{color:#3d4592;}.css-1l9i3yq-Link[class][class][class][class][class][data-color='primary']:hover{color:#2b2358;}.css-1l9i3yq-Link[class][class][class][class][class][data-color='primary']:focus{color:#3d4592;outline-color:#3d4592;}.css-1l9i3yq-Link[class][class][class][class][class][data-color='secondary']{color:#fffdf9;}.css-1l9i3yq-Link[class][class][class][class][class][data-color='secondary']:hover{color:#a8a5a0;}.css-1l9i3yq-Link[class][class][class][class][class][data-color='secondary']:focus{color:#fffdf9;outline-color:#fffdf9;}.css-1l9i3yq-Link[class][class][class][class][class][data-weight='inherit']{font-weight:inherit;}.css-1l9i3yq-Link[class][class][class][class][class][data-weight='normal']{font-weight:400;}.css-1l9i3yq-Link[class][class][class][class][class][data-weight='bold']{font-weight:700;} Volcanica Coffee and AdRoll

On top of a background of coffee beans, a block of text with percentage growth statistics for how AdRoll nitro-fueled Volcanica coffee.

People love a good farm-to-table coffee story, and boy am I one of them. But I've shared this case study with you for more reasons than my love of coffee. I enjoyed this study because it was written as though it was a letter.

In this case study, the founder of Volcanica Coffee talks about the journey from founding the company to personally struggling with learning and applying digital marketing to finding and enlisting AdRoll's services.

It felt more authentic, less about AdRoll showcasing their worth and more like a testimonial from a grateful and appreciative client. After the story, the case study wraps up with successes, milestones, and achievements. Note that quite a few percentages are prominently displayed at the top, providing supporting evidence that backs up an inspiring story.

Takeaway: Highlight your goals and measurable results to draw the reader in and provide concise, easily digestible information.

2. Taylor Guitars and Airtable

Screenshot of the Taylor Guitars and Airtable case study, with the title: Taylor Guitars brings more music into the world with Airtable

This Airtable case study on Taylor Guitars comes as close as one can to an optimal structure. It features a video that represents the artistic nature of the client, highlighting key achievements and dissecting each element of Airtable's influence.

It also supplements each section with a testimonial or quote from the client, using their insights as a catalyst for the case study's narrative. For example, the case study quotes the social media manager and project manager's insights regarding team-wide communication and access before explaining in greater detail.

Takeaway: Highlight pain points your business solves for its client, and explore that influence in greater detail.

3. EndeavourX and Figma

Screenshot of the Endeavour and Figma case study, showing a bulleted list about why EndeavourX chose Figma followed by an image of EndeavourX's workspace on Figma

My favorite part of Figma's case study is highlighting why EndeavourX chose its solution. You'll notice an entire section on what Figma does for teams and then specifically for EndeavourX.

It also places a heavy emphasis on numbers and stats. The study, as brief as it is, still manages to pack in a lot of compelling statistics about what's possible with Figma.

Takeaway: Showcase the "how" and "why" of your product's differentiators and how they benefit your customers.

4. ActiveCampaign and Zapier

Screenshot of Zapier's case study with ActiveCampaign, showing three data visualizations on purple backgrounds

Zapier's case study leans heavily on design, using graphics to present statistics and goals in a manner that not only remains consistent with the branding but also actively pushes it forward, drawing users' eyes to the information most important to them. 

The graphics, emphasis on branding elements, and cause/effect style tell the story without requiring long, drawn-out copy that risks boring readers. Instead, the cause and effect are concisely portrayed alongside the client company's information for a brief and easily scannable case study.

Takeaway: Lean on design to call attention to the most important elements of your case study, and make sure it stays consistent with your branding.

5. Ironclad and OpenAI

Screenshot of a video from the Ironclad and OpenAI case study showing the Ironclad AI Assist feature

In true OpenAI fashion, this case study is a block of text. There's a distinct lack of imagery, but the study features a narrated video walking readers through the product.

The lack of imagery and color may not be the most inviting, but utilizing video format is commendable. It helps thoroughly communicate how OpenAI supported Ironclad in a way that allows the user to sit back, relax, listen, and be impressed. 

Takeaway: Get creative with the media you implement in your case study. Videos can be a very powerful addition when a case study requires more detailed storytelling.

6. Shopify and GitHub

Screenshot of the Shopify and GitHub case study, with the title "Shopify keeps pushing ecommerce forward with help from GitHub tools," followed by a photo of a plant and a Shopify bag on a table on a dark background

GitHub's case study on Shopify is a light read. It addresses client pain points and discusses the different aspects its product considers and improves for clients. It touches on workflow issues, internal systems, automation, and security. It does a great job of representing what one company can do with GitHub.

To drive the point home, the case study features colorful quote callouts from the Shopify team, sharing their insights and perspectives on the partnership, the key issues, and how they were addressed.

Takeaway: Leverage quotes to boost the authoritativeness and trustworthiness of your case study. 

7 . Audible and Contentful

Screenshot of the Audible and Contentful case study showing images of titles on Audible

Contentful's case study on Audible features almost every element a case study should. It includes not one but two videos and clearly outlines the challenge, solution, and outcome before diving deeper into what Contentful did for Audible. The language is simple, and the writing is heavy with quotes and personal insights.

This case study is a uniquely original experience. The fact that the companies in question are perhaps two of the most creative brands out there may be the reason. I expected nothing short of a detailed analysis, a compelling story, and video content. 

Takeaway: Inject some brand voice into the case study, and create assets that tell the story for you.

8 . Zoom and Asana

Screenshot of Zoom and Asana's case study on a navy blue background and an image of someone sitting on a Zoom call at a desk with the title "Zoom saves 133 work weeks per year with Asana"

Asana's case study on Zoom is longer than the average piece and features detailed data on Zoom's growth since 2020. Instead of relying on imagery and graphics, it features several quotes and testimonials. 

It's designed to be direct, informative, and promotional. At some point, the case study reads more like a feature list. There were a few sections that felt a tad too promotional for my liking, but to each their own burrito.

Takeaway: Maintain a balance between promotional and informative. You want to showcase the high-level goals your product helped achieve without losing the reader.

9 . Hickies and Mailchimp

Screenshot of the Hickies and Mailchimp case study with the title in a fun orange font, followed by a paragraph of text and a photo of a couple sitting on a couch looking at each other and smiling

I've always been a fan of Mailchimp's comic-like branding, and this case study does an excellent job of sticking to their tradition of making information easy to understand, casual, and inviting.

It features a short video that briefly covers Hickies as a company and Mailchimp's efforts to serve its needs for customer relationships and education processes. Overall, this case study is a concise overview of the partnership that manages to convey success data and tell a story at the same time. What sets it apart is that it does so in a uniquely colorful and brand-consistent manner.

Takeaway: Be concise to provide as much value in as little text as possible.

10. NVIDIA and Workday

Screenshot of NVIDIA and Workday's case study with a photo of a group of people standing around a tall desk and smiling and the title "NVIDIA hires game changers"

The gaming industry is notoriously difficult to recruit for, as it requires a very specific set of skills and experience. This case study focuses on how Workday was able to help fill that recruitment gap for NVIDIA, one of the biggest names in the gaming world.

Though it doesn't feature videos or graphics, this case study stood out to me in how it structures information like "key products used" to give readers insight into which tools helped achieve these results.

Takeaway: If your company offers multiple products or services, outline exactly which ones were involved in your case study, so readers can assess each tool.

11. KFC and Contentful

Screenshot of KFC and Contentful's case study showing the outcome of the study, showing two stats: 43% increase in YoY digital sales and 50%+ increase in AU digital sales YoY

I'm personally not a big KFC fan, but that's only because I refuse to eat out of a bucket. My aversion to the bucket format aside, Contentful follows its consistent case study format in this one, outlining challenges, solutions, and outcomes before diving into the nitty-gritty details of the project.

Say what you will about KFC, but their primary product (chicken) does present a unique opportunity for wordplay like "Continuing to march to the beat of a digital-first drum(stick)" or "Delivering deep-fried goodness to every channel."

Takeaway: Inject humor into your case study if there's room for it and if it fits your brand. 

12. Intuit and Twilio

Screenshot of the Intuit and Twilio case study on a dark background with three small, light green icons illustrating three important data points

Twilio does an excellent job of delivering achievements at the very beginning of the case study and going into detail in this two-minute read. While there aren't many graphics, the way quotes from the Intuit team are implemented adds a certain flair to the study and breaks up the sections nicely.

It's simple, concise, and manages to fit a lot of information in easily digestible sections.

Takeaway: Make sure each section is long enough to inform but brief enough to avoid boring readers. Break down information for each section, and don't go into so much detail that you lose the reader halfway through.

13. Spotify and Salesforce

Screenshot of Spotify and Salesforce's case study showing a still of a video with the title "Automation keeps Spotify's ad business growing year over year"

Salesforce created a video that accurately summarizes the key points of the case study. Beyond that, the page itself is very light on content, and sections are as short as one paragraph.

I especially like how information is broken down into "What you need to know," "Why it matters," and "What the difference looks like." I'm not ashamed of being spoon-fed information. When it's structured so well and so simply, it makes for an entertaining read.

Takeaway: Invest in videos that capture and promote your partnership with your case study subject. Video content plays a promotional role that extends beyond the case study in social media and marketing initiatives .

14. Benchling and Airtable

Screenshot of the Benchling and Airtable case study with the title: How Benchling achieves scientific breakthroughs via efficiency

Benchling is an impressive entity in its own right. Biotech R&D and health care nuances go right over my head. But the research and digging I've been doing in the name of these burritos (case studies) revealed that these products are immensely complex. 

And that's precisely why this case study deserves a read—it succeeds at explaining a complex project that readers outside the industry wouldn't know much about.

Takeaway: Simplify complex information, and walk readers through the company's operations and how your business helped streamline them.

15. Chipotle and Hubble

Screenshot of the Chipotle and Hubble case study with the title "Mexican food chain replaces Discoverer with Hubble and sees major efficiency improvements," followed by a photo of the outside of a Chipotle restaurant

The concision of this case study is refreshing. It features two sections—the challenge and the solution—all in 316 words. This goes to show that your case study doesn't necessarily need to be a four-figure investment with video shoots and studio time. 

Sometimes, the message is simple and short enough to convey in a handful of paragraphs.

Takeaway: Consider what you should include instead of what you can include. Assess the time, resources, and effort you're able and willing to invest in a case study, and choose which elements you want to include from there.

16. Hudl and Zapier

Screenshot of Hudl and Zapier's case study, showing data visualizations at the bottom, two photos of people playing sports on the top right , and a quote from the Hudl team on the topleft

I may be biased, but I'm a big fan of seeing metrics and achievements represented in branded graphics. It can be a jarring experience to navigate a website, then visit a case study page and feel as though you've gone to a completely different website.

The Zapier format provides nuggets of high-level insights, milestones, and achievements, as well as the challenge, solution, and results. My favorite part of this case study is how it's supplemented with a blog post detailing how Hudl uses Zapier automation to build a seamless user experience.

The case study is essentially the summary, and the blog article is the detailed analysis that provides context beyond X achievement or Y goal.

Takeaway: Keep your case study concise and informative. Create other resources to provide context under your blog, media or press, and product pages.

3 case study templates

Now that you've had your fill of case studies (if that's possible), I've got just what you need: an infinite number of case studies, which you can create yourself with these case study templates.

Case study template 1

Screenshot of Zapier's first case study template, with the title and three spots for data callouts at the top on a light peach-colored background, followed by a place to write the main success of the case study on a dark green background

If you've got a quick hit of stats you want to show off, try this template. The opening section gives space for a short summary and three visually appealing stats you can highlight, followed by a headline and body where you can break the case study down more thoroughly. This one's pretty simple, with only sections for solutions and results, but you can easily continue the formatting to add more sections as needed.

Case study template 2

Screenshot of Zapier's second case study template, with the title, objectives, and overview on a dark blue background with an orange strip in the middle with a place to write the main success of the case study

For a case study template with a little more detail, use this one. Opening with a striking cover page for a quick overview, this one goes on to include context, stakeholders, challenges, multiple quote callouts, and quick-hit stats. 

Case study template 3

Screenshot of Zapier's third case study template, with the places for title, objectives, and about the business on a dark green background followed by three spots for data callouts in orange boxes

Whether you want a little structural variation or just like a nice dark green, this template has similar components to the last template but is designed to help tell a story. Move from the client overview through a description of your company before getting to the details of how you fixed said company's problems.

Tips for writing a case study

Examples are all well and good, but you don't learn how to make a burrito just by watching tutorials on YouTube without knowing what any of the ingredients are. You could , but it probably wouldn't be all that good.

Writing a good case study comes down to a mix of creativity, branding, and the capacity to invest in the project. With those details in mind, here are some case study tips to follow:

Have an objective: Define your objective by identifying the challenge, solution, and results. Assess your work with the client and focus on the most prominent wins. You're speaking to multiple businesses and industries through the case study, so make sure you know what you want to say to them.

Focus on persuasive data: Growth percentages and measurable results are your best friends. Extract your most compelling data and highlight it in your case study.

Use eye-grabbing graphics: Branded design goes a long way in accurately representing your brand and retaining readers as they review the study. Leverage unique and eye-catching graphics to keep readers engaged. 

Simplify data presentation: Some industries are more complex than others, and sometimes, data can be difficult to understand at a glance. Make sure you present your data in the simplest way possible. Make it concise, informative, and easy to understand.

Use automation to drive results for your case study

A case study example is a source of inspiration you can leverage to determine how to best position your brand's work. Find your unique angle, and refine it over time to help your business stand out. Ask anyone: the best burrito in town doesn't just appear at the number one spot. They find their angle (usually the house sauce) and leverage it to stand out.

In fact, with the right technology, it can be refined to work better . Explore how Zapier's automation features can help drive results for your case study by making your case study a part of a developed workflow that creates a user journey through your website, your case studies, and into the pipeline.

Case study FAQ

Got your case study template? Great—it's time to gather the team for an awkward semi-vague data collection task. While you do that, here are some case study quick answers for you to skim through while you contemplate what to call your team meeting.

What is an example of a case study?

An example of a case study is when a software company analyzes its results from a client project and creates a webpage, presentation, or document that focuses on high-level results, challenges, and solutions in an attempt to showcase effectiveness and promote the software.

How do you write a case study?

To write a good case study, you should have an objective, identify persuasive and compelling data, leverage graphics, and simplify data. Case studies typically include an analysis of the challenge, solution, and results of the partnership.

What is the format of a case study?

While case studies don't have a set format, they're often portrayed as reports or essays that inform readers about the partnership and its results. 

Related reading:

How Hudl uses automation to create a seamless user experience

How to make your case studies high-stakes—and why it matters

How experts write case studies that convert, not bore

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Hachem Ramki

Hachem is a writer and digital marketer from Montreal. After graduating with a degree in English, Hachem spent seven years traveling around the world before moving to Canada. When he's not writing, he enjoys Basketball, Dungeons and Dragons, and playing music for friends and family.

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what is a case study in technology

How to write the perfect tech case study

Case studies are an excellent way for tech brands to demonstrate their value and attract fresh prospects. But to get results, you need to make sure it is written in a way that makes it readable and actionable. Learn how here.

The tech case study works as a multi-purpose piece of content.

It's a digital marketing tool that also boosts your brand, builds and reinforces customer relationships, and provides proof of your product’s effectiveness. But it can only do these things if you put it together in the right way.

The perfect tech case study combines a compelling, storytelling structure with useful data, customer testimonials, and a clear call to action.

Selecting a subject for your case study

First, you need to choose which case study to write up.

But how to choose? You need a case study with the right outcome and evidence, obviously. But also consider what type of customer it involves and how they compare with the audience you want to target. Ideally, the customer you’ve helped will have something in common with the prospective customer you want to attract.

Always think strategically. Yes, it’s important to focus on a satisfied customer and a good outcome, but how can you use these elements as effective leverage in your case study?

Lastly, but importantly, make sure you have the customer's approval if you're going to publish details about the work you've done for them. Otherwise, if you have to leave too much information out, the finished content can be too vague to appear convincing.

How to structure your case study

The name, case study, is deceptive. It sounds like it should be something a bit dry and matter of fact. Don’t fall into this trap.

In crime fiction , whether in books, films or television, the narrative usually centres on a case. Yes, it will contain evidence, but presented in such a way as to drive the story forward and suck you into the plot.

Bear this in mind when you structure your case study.

Here are the four chief elements:

What does a crime story begin with? A crime. Similarly, start your tech case study by outlining the problem.

What was the issue that your client was looking to solve? Look for the most dramatic angle here. If, for example, they needed an app to make certain processes more efficient, what were the consequences of not having this?

Were they losing their market share to competitors, or finding their margins eroding?

Next is the discovery stage. The detective work. How did you investigate the issue? What insights did this investigation provide?

This stuff is vital because it demonstrates your methodology and how you empathise with your customers.

Then you come to the solution. What did you develop that would solve the customer’s problem? How did you do it and were there any obstacles you needed to overcome?

Obstacles are good for adding drama to the narrative. Think back to the detective story comparison. There's always a degree of uncertainty and jeopardy that the protagonist experiences while solving the case.

Finally, there's the outcome. Ideally, you need more than a satisfied customer here. You want this to be something that resonates. Did your solution save them money, or enable them to invest in fresh talent or equipment? How did it improve their standing in the marketplace?

The outcome and legacy provide proof of the effectiveness of your product or service.

Making your case study more dramatic

There are plenty of examples of successful films that begin with the ending . Some screenwriters favour this approach because it provides an instant hook for the viewer. It also builds anticipation from the outset.

You can apply this structure to a case study:

  • How company x became a market leader in y
  • How this app helped company x save thousands in lost revenue
  • Why company x has been able to invest in tech apprenticeships.

Begin with the legacy, even including it in the title of your case study. Then go back to the beginning to explain the problem and how you helped your customer overcome it.

How important is data?

Including data adds meat to the bones of your case study.

If you can provide figures to show how much money your tech solution has saved a customer, for example, then this offers excellent supporting evidence.

Where you can run into difficulties is if the customer doesn’t want to reveal this information.

Confidentiality is crucial for some companies, but it doesn’t have to hamper your case study.

Remember, if you can't publish figures, you shouldn’t over-compensate by padding out the story.

You can still make the business case for your solution, and for many prospects, this will still be highly relatable. Always highlight the problem and shape it in terms that have an appeal beyond the specific customer you helped.

Why should you include testimonials?

Quotes from the customer add an extra element of proof to your case study.

Providing you select these carefully, they can also help the reader empathise more strongly with the customer and their issues.

This is a critical aspect of writing a tech case study. You want the reader to see things from the customer’s viewpoint. Ultimately, they should see how you could help them in the same way you've helped the customer in the case study.

Try to encourage your customer to give testimonials that have some detail and go beyond stating how good you’ve been. You don’t want them to come across as vanity elements that detract from the credibility of your case study.

Your call to action

This is the bit where you step out of the narrative and address your audience directly.

Once you’ve gone to the effort of piecing together your case study, you must maximise its effectiveness.

You can’t do this unless you’re clear about what you want your reader to do once they’ve read it.

It provides a natural end to your story but should plant the seed of suggestion in the minds of your audience that they can find out more about your work and how it might benefit them.

Be bold, and consider adding a call to action earlier in the case study, after your introductory paragraphs.

Your case study shouldn’t be simply a routine piece of content, but something that will support you strategically. Writing it requires a considered, professional approach to maximise its impact.

How can you transform your content into effective tools for marketing and brand building? Talk to the Prize Content team.

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28 Case Study Examples Every Marketer Should See

Caroline Forsey

Published: March 08, 2023

Putting together a compelling case study is one of the most powerful strategies for showcasing your product and attracting future customers. But it's not easy to create case studies that your audience can’t wait to read.

marketer reviewing case study examples

In this post, we’ll go over the definition of a case study and the best examples to inspire you.

Download Now: 3 Free Case Study Templates

What is a case study?

A case study is a detailed story of something your company did. It includes a beginning — often discussing a conflict, an explanation of what happened next, and a resolution that explains how the company solved or improved on something.

A case study proves how your product has helped other companies by demonstrating real-life results. Not only that, but marketing case studies with solutions typically contain quotes from the customer. This means that they’re not just ads where you praise your own product. Rather, other companies are praising your company — and there’s no stronger marketing material than a verbal recommendation or testimonial. A great case study is also filled with research and stats to back up points made about a project's results.

There are myriad ways to use case studies in your marketing strategy . From featuring them on your website to including them in a sales presentation, a case study is a strong, persuasive tool that shows customers why they should work with you — straight from another customer. Writing one from scratch is hard, though, which is why we’ve created a collection of case study templates for you to get started.

Fill out the form below to access the free case study templates.

what is a case study in technology

Free Case Study Templates

Showcase your company's success using these three free case study templates.

  • Data-Driven Case Study Template
  • Product-Specific Case Study Template
  • General Case Study Template

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

There’s no better way to generate more leads than by writing case studies . But without case study examples to draw inspiration from, it can be difficult to write impactful studies that convince visitors to submit a form.

Marketing Case Study Examples

To help you create an attractive and high-converting case study, we've put together a list of some of our favorites. This list includes famous case studies in marketing, technology, and business.

These studies can show you how to frame your company offers in a way that is both meaningful and useful to your audience. So, take a look, and let these examples inspire your next brilliant case study design.

These marketing case studies with solutions show the value proposition of each product. They also show how each company benefited in both the short and long term using quantitative data. In other words, you don’t get just nice statements, like "This company helped us a lot." You see actual change within the firm through numbers and figures.

You can put your learnings into action with HubSpot's Free Case Study Templates . Available as custom designs and text-based documents, you can upload these templates to your CMS or send them to prospects as you see fit.

case study template

1. " How Handled Scaled from Zero to 121 Locations with the Help of HubSpot ," by HubSpot

Case study examples: Handled and HubSpot

What's interesting about this case study is the way it leads with the customer. That reflects a major HubSpot cornerstone, which is to always solve for the customer first. The copy leads with a brief description of why the CEO of Handled founded the company and why he thought Handled could benefit from adopting a CRM. The case study also opens up with one key data point about Handled’s success using HubSpot, namely that it grew to 121 locations.

Notice that this case study uses mixed media. Yes, there is a short video, but it's elaborated upon in the other text on the page. So while your case studies can use one or the other, don't be afraid to combine written copy with visuals to emphasize the project's success.

Key Learnings from the HubSpot Case Study Example

  • Give the case study a personal touch by focusing on the CEO rather than the company itself.
  • Use multimedia to engage website visitors as they read the case study.

2. " The Whole Package ," by IDEO

Case study examples: IDEO and H&M

Here's a design company that knows how to lead with simplicity in its case studies. As soon as the visitor arrives at the page, they’re greeted with a big, bold photo and the title of the case study — which just so happens to summarize how IDEO helped its client. It summarizes the case study in three snippets: The challenge, the impact, and the outcome.

Immediately, IDEO communicates its impact — the company partnered with H&M to remove plastic from its packaging — but it doesn't stop there. As the user scrolls down, the challenge, impact, and progress are elaborated upon with comprehensive (but not overwhelming) copy that outlines what that process looked like, replete with quotes and intriguing visuals.

Key Learnings from the IDEO Case Study Example

  • Split up the takeaways of your case studies into bite-sized sections.
  • Always use visuals and images to enrich the case study experience, especially if it’s a comprehensive case study.

3. " Rozum Robotics intensifies its PR game with Awario ," by Awario

Case study example from Awario

In this case study, Awario greets the user with a summary straight away — so if you’re feeling up to reading the entire case study, you can scan the snapshot and understand how the company serves its customers. The case study then includes jump links to several sections, such as "Company Profile," "Rozum Robotics' Pains," "Challenge," "Solution," and "Results and Improvements."

The sparse copy and prominent headings show that you don’t need a lot of elaborate information to show the value of your products and services. Like the other case study examples on this list, it includes visuals and quotes to demonstrate the effectiveness of the company’s efforts. The case study ends with a bulleted list that shows the results.

Key Learnings from the Awario Robotics Case Study Example

  • Create a table of contents to make your case study easier to navigate.
  • Include a bulleted list of the results you achieved for your client.

4. " Chevrolet DTU ," by Carol H. Williams

Case study examples: Carol H. Williams and Chevrolet DTU

If you’ve worked with a company that’s well-known, use only the name in the title — like Carol H. Williams, one of the nation’s top advertising agencies, does here. The "DTU," stands for "Discover the Unexpected." It generates interest because you want to find out what the initials mean.

They keep your interest in this case study by using a mixture of headings, images, and videos to describe the challenges, objectives, and solutions of the project. The case study closes with a summary of the key achievements that Chevrolet’s DTU Journalism Fellows reached during the project.

Key Learnings from the Carol H. Williams Case Study Example

  • If you’ve worked with a big brand before, consider only using the name in the title — just enough to pique interest.
  • Use a mixture of headings and subheadings to guide users through the case study.

5. " How Fractl Earned Links from 931 Unique Domains for Porch.com in a Single Year ," by Fractl

Case study example from Fractl

Fractl uses both text and graphic design in their Porch.com case study to immerse the viewer in a more interesting user experience. For instance, as you scroll, you'll see the results are illustrated in an infographic-design form as well as the text itself.

Further down the page, they use icons like a heart and a circle to illustrate their pitch angles, and graphs to showcase their results. Rather than writing which publications have mentioned Porch.com during Fractl’s campaign, they incorporated the media outlets’ icons for further visual diversity.

Key Learnings from the Fractl Case Study Example

  • Let pictures speak for you by incorporating graphs, logos, and icons all throughout the case study.
  • Start the case study by right away stating the key results, like Fractl does, instead of putting the results all the way at the bottom.

6. " The Met ," by Fantasy

Case study example from Fantasy

What's the best way to showcase the responsiveness and user interface of a website? Probably by diving right into it with a series of simple showcases— which is exactly what Fantasy does on their case study page for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They keep the page simple and clean, inviting you to review their redesign of the Met’s website feature-by-feature.

Each section is simple, showing a single piece of the new website's interface so that users aren’t overwhelmed with information and can focus on what matters most.

If you're more interested in text, you can read the objective for each feature. Fantasy understands that, as a potential customer, this is all you need to know. Scrolling further, you're greeted with a simple "Contact Us" CTA.

Key Learnings from the Fantasy Case Study Example

  • You don’t have to write a ton of text to create a great case study. Focus on the solution you delivered itself.
  • Include a CTA at the bottom inviting visitors to contact you.

7. " Rovio: How Rovio Grew Into a Gaming Superpower ," by App Annie

Case study example from App Annie

If your client had a lot of positive things to say about you, take a note from App Annie’s Rovio case study and open up with a quote from your client. The case study also closes with a quote, so that the case study doesn’t seem like a promotion written by your marketing team but a story that’s taken straight from your client’s mouth. It includes a photo of a Rovio employee, too.

Another thing this example does well? It immediately includes a link to the product that Rovio used (namely, App Annie Intelligence) at the top of the case study. The case study closes with a call-to-action button prompting users to book a demo.

Key Learnings from the App Annie Case Study Example

  • Feature quotes from your client at the beginning and end of the case study.
  • Include a mention of the product right at the beginning and prompt users to learn more about the product.

8. " Embracing first-party data: 3 success stories from HubSpot ," by Think with Google

Case study examples: Think with Google and HubSpot

Google takes a different approach to text-focused case studies by choosing three different companies to highlight.

The case study is clean and easily scannable. It has sections for each company, with quotes and headers that clarify the way these three distinct stories connect. The simple format also uses colors and text that align with the Google brand.

Another differentiator is the focus on data. This case study is less than a thousand words, but it's packed with useful data points. Data-driven insights quickly and clearly show how the value of leveraging first-party data while prioritizing consumer privacy.

Case studies example: Data focus, Think with Google

Key Learnings from the Think with Google Case Study Example

  • A case study doesn’t need to be long or complex to be powerful.
  • Clear data points are a quick and effective way to prove value.

9. " In-Depth Performance Marketing Case Study ," by Switch

Case study example from Switch

Switch is an international marketing agency based in Malta that knocks it out of the park with this case study. Its biggest challenge is effectively communicating what it did for its client without ever revealing the client’s name. It also effectively keeps non-marketers in the loop by including a glossary of terms on page 4.

The PDF case study reads like a compelling research article, including titles like "In-Depth Performance Marketing Case Study," "Scenario," and "Approach," so that readers get a high-level overview of what the client needed and why they approached Switch. It also includes a different page for each strategy. For instance, if you’d only be interested in hiring Switch for optimizing your Facebook ads, you can skip to page 10 to see how they did it.

The PDF is fourteen pages long but features big fonts and plenty of white space, so viewers can easily skim it in only a few minutes.

Key Learnings from the Switch Case Study Example

  • If you want to go into specialized information, include a glossary of terms so that non-specialists can easily understand.
  • Close with a CTA page in your case study PDF and include contact information for prospective clients.

10. " Gila River ," by OH Partners

Case study example from OH Partners

Let pictures speak for you, like OH Partners did in this case study. While you’ll quickly come across a heading and some text when you land on this case study page, you’ll get the bulk of the case study through examples of actual work OH Partners did for its client. You will see OH Partners’ work in a billboard, magazine, and video. This communicates to website visitors that if they work with OH Partners, their business will be visible everywhere.

And like the other case studies here, it closes with a summary of what the firm achieved for its client in an eye-catching way.

Key Learnings from the OH Partners Case Study Example

  • Let the visuals speak by including examples of the actual work you did for your client — which is especially useful for branding and marketing agencies.
  • Always close out with your achievements and how they impacted your client.

11. " Facing a Hater ," by Digitas

Case study example from Digitas

Digitas' case study page for Sprite’s #ILOVEYOUHATER campaign keeps it brief while communicating the key facts of Digitas’ work for the popular soda brand. The page opens with an impactful image of a hundred people facing a single man. It turns out, that man is the biggest "bully" in Argentina, and the people facing him are those whom he’s bullied before.

Scrolling down, it's obvious that Digitas kept Sprite at the forefront of their strategy, but more than that, they used real people as their focal point. They leveraged the Twitter API to pull data from Tweets that people had actually tweeted to find the identity of the biggest "hater" in the country. That turned out to be @AguanteElCofler, a Twitter user who has since been suspended.

Key Learnings from the Digitas Case Study Example

  • If a video was part of your work for your client, be sure to include the most impactful screenshot as the heading.
  • Don’t be afraid to provide details on how you helped your client achieve their goals, including the tools you leveraged.

12. " Better Experiences for All ," by HermanMiller

Case study example from HermanMiller

HermanMiller sells sleek, utilitarian furniture with no frills and extreme functionality, and that ethos extends to its case study page for a hospital in Dubai.

What first attracted me to this case study was the beautiful video at the top and the clean user experience. User experience matters a lot in a case study. It determines whether users will keep reading or leave. Another notable aspect of this case study is that the video includes closed-captioning for greater accessibility, and users have the option of expanding the CC and searching through the text.

HermanMiller’s case study also offers an impressive amount of information packed in just a few short paragraphs for those wanting to understand the nuances of their strategy. It closes out with a quote from their client and, most importantly, the list of furniture products that the hospital purchased from the brand.

Key Learnings from the HermanMiller Case Study Example

  • Close out with a list of products that users can buy after reading the case study.
  • Include accessibility features such as closed captioning and night mode to make your case study more user-friendly.

13. " Capital One on AWS ," by Amazon

Case study example from Amazon AWS

Do you work continuously with your clients? Consider structuring your case study page like Amazon did in this stellar case study example. Instead of just featuring one article about Capital One and how it benefited from using AWS, Amazon features a series of articles that you can then access if you’re interested in reading more. It goes all the way back to 2016, all with different stories that feature Capital One’s achievements using AWS.

This may look unattainable for a small firm, but you don’t have to go to extreme measures and do it for every single one of your clients. You could choose the one you most wish to focus on and establish a contact both on your side and your client’s for coming up with the content. Check in every year and write a new piece. These don’t have to be long, either — five hundred to eight hundred words will do.

Key Learnings from the Amazon AWS Case Study Example

  • Write a new article each year featuring one of your clients, then include links to those articles in one big case study page.
  • Consider including external articles as well that emphasize your client’s success in their industry.

14. " HackReactor teaches the world to code #withAsana ," by Asana

Case study examples: Asana and HackReactor

While Asana's case study design looks text-heavy, there's a good reason. It reads like a creative story, told entirely from the customer's perspective.

For instance, Asana knows you won't trust its word alone on why this product is useful. So, they let Tony Phillips, HackReactor CEO, tell you instead: "We take in a lot of information. Our brains are awful at storage but very good at thinking; you really start to want some third party to store your information so you can do something with it."

Asana features frequent quotes from Phillips to break up the wall of text and humanize the case study. It reads like an in-depth interview and captivates the reader through creative storytelling. Even more, Asana includes in-depth detail about how HackReactor uses Asana. This includes how they build templates and workflows:

"There's a huge differentiator between Asana and other tools, and that’s the very easy API access. Even if Asana isn’t the perfect fit for a workflow, someone like me— a relatively mediocre software engineer—can add functionality via the API to build a custom solution that helps a team get more done."

Key Learnings from the Asana Example

  • Include quotes from your client throughout the case study.
  • Provide extensive detail on how your client worked with you or used your product.

15. " Rips Sewed, Brand Love Reaped ," by Amp Agency

Case study example from Amp Agency

Amp Agency's Patagonia marketing strategy aimed to appeal to a new audience through guerrilla marketing efforts and a coast-to-coast road trip. Their case study page effectively conveys a voyager theme, complete with real photos of Patagonia customers from across the U.S., and a map of the expedition. I liked Amp Agency's storytelling approach best. It captures viewers' attention from start to finish simply because it's an intriguing and unique approach to marketing.

Key Learnings from the Amp Agency Example

  • Open up with a summary that communicates who your client is and why they reached out to you.
  • Like in the other case study examples, you’ll want to close out with a quantitative list of your achievements.

16. " NetApp ," by Evisort

Case study examples: Evisort and NetApp

Evisort opens up its NetApp case study with an at-a-glance overview of the client. It’s imperative to always focus on the client in your case study — not on your amazing product and equally amazing team. By opening up with a snapshot of the client’s company, Evisort places the focus on the client.

This case study example checks all the boxes for a great case study that’s informative, thorough, and compelling. It includes quotes from the client and details about the challenges NetApp faced during the COVID pandemic. It closes out with a quote from the client and with a link to download the case study in PDF format, which is incredibly important if you want your case study to be accessible in a wider variety of formats.

Key Learnings from the Evisort Example

  • Place the focus immediately on your client by including a snapshot of their company.
  • Mention challenging eras, such as a pandemic or recession, to show how your company can help your client succeed even during difficult times.

17. " Copernicus Land Monitoring – CLC+ Core ," by Cloudflight

Case study example from Cloudflight

Including highly specialized information in your case study is an effective way to show prospects that you’re not just trying to get their business. You’re deep within their industry, too, and willing to learn everything you need to learn to create a solution that works specifically for them.

Cloudflight does a splendid job at that in its Copernicus Land Monitoring case study. While the information may be difficult to read at first glance, it will capture the interest of prospects who are in the environmental industry. It thus shows Cloudflight’s value as a partner much more effectively than a general case study would.

The page is comprehensive and ends with a compelling call-to-action — "Looking for a solution that automates, and enhances your Big Data system? Are you struggling with large datasets and accessibility? We would be happy to advise and support you!" The clean, whitespace-heavy page is an effective example of using a case study to capture future leads.

Key Learnings from the Cloudflight Case Study Example

  • Don’t be afraid to get technical in your explanation of what you did for your client.
  • Include a snapshot of the sales representative prospects should contact, especially if you have different sales reps for different industries, like Cloudflight does.

18. " Valvoline Increases Coupon Send Rate by 76% with Textel’s MMS Picture Texting ," by Textel

Case study example from Textel

If you’re targeting large enterprises with a long purchasing cycle, you’ll want to include a wealth of information in an easily transferable format. That’s what Textel does here in its PDF case study for Valvoline. It greets the user with an eye-catching headline that shows the value of using Textel. Valvoline saw a significant return on investment from using the platform.

Another smart decision in this case study is highlighting the client’s quote by putting it in green font and doing the same thing for the client’s results because it helps the reader quickly connect the two pieces of information. If you’re in a hurry, you can also take a look at the "At a Glance" column to get the key facts of the case study, starting with information about Valvoline.

Key Learnings from the Textel Case Study Example

  • Include your client’s ROI right in the title of the case study.
  • Add an "At a Glance" column to your case study PDF to make it easy to get insights without needing to read all the text.

19. " Hunt Club and Happeo — a tech-enabled love story ," by Happeo

Case study example from Happeo

In this blog-post-like case study, Happeo opens with a quote from the client, then dives into a compelling heading: "Technology at the forefront of Hunt Club's strategy." Say you’re investigating Happeo as a solution and consider your firm to be technology-driven. This approach would spark your curiosity about why the client chose to work with Happeo. It also effectively communicates the software’s value proposition without sounding like it’s coming from an in-house marketing team.

Every paragraph is a quote written from the customer’s perspective. Later down the page, the case study also dives into "the features that changed the game for Hunt Club," giving Happeo a chance to highlight some of the platform’s most salient features.

Key Learnings from the Happeo Case Study Example

  • Consider writing the entirety of the case study from the perspective of the customer.
  • Include a list of the features that convinced your client to go with you.

20. " Red Sox Season Campaign ," by CTP Boston

Case study example from CTP Boston

What's great about CTP's case study page for their Red Sox Season Campaign is their combination of video, images, and text. A video automatically begins playing when you visit the page, and as you scroll, you'll see more embedded videos of Red Sox players, a compilation of print ads, and social media images you can click to enlarge.

At the bottom, it says "Find out how we can do something similar for your brand." The page is clean, cohesive, and aesthetically pleasing. It invites viewers to appreciate the well-roundedness of CTP's campaign for Boston's beloved baseball team.

Key Learnings from the CTP Case Study Example

  • Include a video in the heading of the case study.
  • Close with a call-to-action that makes leads want to turn into prospects.

21. " Acoustic ," by Genuine

Case study example from Genuine

Sometimes, simple is key. Genuine's case study for Acoustic is straightforward and minimal, with just a few short paragraphs, including "Reimagining the B2B website experience," "Speaking to marketers 1:1," and "Inventing Together." After the core of the case study, we then see a quote from Acoustic’s CMO and the results Genuine achieved for the company.

The simplicity of the page allows the reader to focus on both the visual aspects and the copy. The page displays Genuine's brand personality while offering the viewer all the necessary information they need.

  • You don’t need to write a lot to create a great case study. Keep it simple.
  • Always include quantifiable data to illustrate the results you achieved for your client.

22. " Using Apptio Targetprocess Automated Rules in Wargaming ," by Apptio

Case study example from Apptio

Apptio’s case study for Wargaming summarizes three key pieces of information right at the beginning: The goals, the obstacles, and the results.

Readers then have the opportunity to continue reading — or they can walk away right then with the information they need. This case study also excels in keeping the human interest factor by formatting the information like an interview.

The piece is well-organized and uses compelling headers to keep the reader engaged. Despite its length, Apptio's case study is appealing enough to keep the viewer's attention. Every Apptio case study ends with a "recommendation for other companies" section, where the client can give advice for other companies that are looking for a similar solution but aren’t sure how to get started.

Key Learnings from the Apptio Case Study Example

  • Put your client in an advisory role by giving them the opportunity to give recommendations to other companies that are reading the case study.
  • Include the takeaways from the case study right at the beginning so prospects quickly get what they need.

23. " Airbnb + Zendesk: building a powerful solution together ," by Zendesk

Case study example from Zendesk

Zendesk's Airbnb case study reads like a blog post, and focuses equally on Zendesk and Airbnb, highlighting a true partnership between the companies. To captivate readers, it begins like this: "Halfway around the globe is a place to stay with your name on it. At least for a weekend."

The piece focuses on telling a good story and provides photographs of beautiful Airbnb locations. In a case study meant to highlight Zendesk's helpfulness, nothing could be more authentic than their decision to focus on Airbnb's service in such great detail.

Key Learnings from the Zendesk Case Study Example

  • Include images of your client’s offerings — not necessarily of the service or product you provided. Notice how Zendesk doesn’t include screenshots of its product.
  • Include a call-to-action right at the beginning of the case study. Zendesk gives you two options: to find a solution or start a trial.

24. " Biobot Customer Success Story: Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida ," by Biobot

Case study example from Biobot

Like some of the other top examples in this list, Biobot opens its case study with a quote from its client, which captures the value proposition of working with Biobot. It mentions the COVID pandemic and goes into detail about the challenges the client faced during this time.

This case study is structured more like a news article than a traditional case study. This format can work in more formal industries where decision-makers need to see in-depth information about the case. Be sure to test different methods and measure engagement .

Key Learnings from the Biobot Case Study Example

  • Mention environmental, public health, or economic emergencies and how you helped your client get past such difficult times.
  • Feel free to write the case study like a normal blog post, but be sure to test different methods to find the one that best works for you.

25. " Discovering Cost Savings With Efficient Decision Making ," by Gartner

Case study example from Gartner

You don't always need a ton of text or a video to convey your message — sometimes, you just need a few paragraphs and bullet points. Gartner does a fantastic job of quickly providing the fundamental statistics a potential customer would need to know, without boggling down their readers with dense paragraphs. The case study closes with a shaded box that summarizes the impact that Gartner had on its client. It includes a quote and a call-to-action to "Learn More."

Key Learnings from the Gartner Case Study Example

  • Feel free to keep the case study short.
  • Include a call-to-action at the bottom that takes the reader to a page that most relates to them.

26. " Bringing an Operator to the Game ," by Redapt

Case study example from Redapt

This case study example by Redapt is another great demonstration of the power of summarizing your case study’s takeaways right at the start of the study. Redapt includes three easy-to-scan columns: "The problem," "the solution," and "the outcome." But its most notable feature is a section titled "Moment of clarity," which shows why this particular project was difficult or challenging.

The section is shaded in green, making it impossible to miss. Redapt does the same thing for each case study. In the same way, you should highlight the "turning point" for both you and your client when you were working toward a solution.

Key Learnings from the Redapt Case Study Example

  • Highlight the turning point for both you and your client during the solution-seeking process.
  • Use the same structure (including the same headings) for your case studies to make them easy to scan and read.

27. " Virtual Call Center Sees 300% Boost In Contact Rate ," by Convoso

Case study example from Convoso

Convoso’s PDF case study for Digital Market Media immediately mentions the results that the client achieved and takes advantage of white space. On the second page, the case study presents more influential results. It’s colorful and engaging and closes with a spread that prompts readers to request a demo.

Key Learnings from the Convoso Case Study Example

  • List the results of your work right at the beginning of the case study.
  • Use color to differentiate your case study from others. Convoso’s example is one of the most colorful ones on this list.

28. " Ensuring quality of service during a pandemic ," by Ericsson

Case study example from Ericsson

Ericsson’s case study page for Orange Spain is an excellent example of using diverse written and visual media — such as videos, graphs, and quotes — to showcase the success a client experienced. Throughout the case study, Ericsson provides links to product and service pages users might find relevant as they’re reading the study.

For instance, under the heading "Preloaded with the power of automation," Ericsson mentions its Ericsson Operations Engine product, then links to that product page. It closes the case study with a link to another product page.

Key Learnings from the Ericsson Case Study Example

  • Link to product pages throughout the case study so that readers can learn more about the solution you offer.
  • Use multimedia to engage users as they read the case study.

Start creating your case study.

Now that you've got a great list of examples of case studies, think about a topic you'd like to write about that highlights your company or work you did with a customer.

A customer’s success story is the most persuasive marketing material you could ever create. With a strong portfolio of case studies, you can ensure prospects know why they should give you their business.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in August 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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What is a technical case study?

Oana Baetica

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, chances are you’ve heard all about case studies and application stories being used for marketing purposes, especially in a technical, industrial and engineering context. But the mere idea of producing almost a thousand words of good quality copy and then getting them approved by all parties involved sounds like an insurmountable amount of work. Nonetheless, the task can be easily managed if you know what exactly a case study is and how to tackle each step in developing one.

What is a technical case study?

A technical case study is an analysis of a customer project that used your company’s products and services. It tells the story of how the customer approached the company, what the situation was and what issue they wanted to solve. The foundation of the case study is identifying the customer problem and then recommending and implementing the solution. The conclusion focuses on how the solution was implemented, talks about improvements and overall results and shows why the project was successful.

Characteristics:

  • They require approval from other parties involved. Unlike other types of content you create, case studies require that third party endorsement. This is why before putting pen to paper you should first speak to the customer or the end user and get their approval to proceed with the case study. This prior approval is essential, as without explicit approval from the customer the case study does not have a leg to stand on.
  • They are longer than other pieces of content and structured to tell a compelling story. Normally case studies contain more information than press releases and as such, they are double in size and require details about the context, the problem you company solved on behalf of the clients, installation journey, outcomes and long-term results.
  • They focus on two paradigms: problem-solution-conclusion and feature-benefit relationships. These two facets are the most interesting to your target audience.

Every good case study should be built around the third-party endorsement and as such, quotes and personal testimonies from decision makers are crucial. They give extra weight to the story and allow the reader to put themselves into your customer’s shoes. 

Size/format

As explained before, written case studies are about 700-1000 words long and they follow the traditional story format: introduction, problem and context, discussion, solution and outcomes. For information that is not essential to the case study but adds additional details, box outs and graphs are suitable. They can contain facts and figures, information about the customer, the boiler plate (information about your company), quotes and useful website links. Essential for any application story are pictures and if possible videos of the product in action. Some companies use interview-style videos with talking heads explaining the technology or even giving verbal testimonies. 

We've created a roadmap to help you share your company's customer success stories. 

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Remember how cool it felt when you first held a smartphone in your hand? The compact design and touch-based interactivity seemed like a leap into the future. Before long, smartphones became a way of life for organizations worldwide because of all they offer for business productivity and communication. Generative AI ( artificial intelligence ) promises a similar leap in productivity and the emergence of new modes of working and creating.

Tools such as Midjourney and ChatGPT are gaining attention for their capabilities in generating realistic images, video and sophisticated, human-like text, extending the limits of AI’s creative potential. Generative AI represents a significant advancement in deep learning and AI development, with some suggesting it’s a move towards developing “ strong AI .” This evolution demonstrates that computers have moved beyond mere number-crunching devices. They are now capable of natural language processing ( NLP ), grasping context and exhibiting elements of creativity.

For example, organizations can use generative AI to: 

  • Quickly turn mountains of unstructured text into specific and usable document summaries, paving the way for more informed decision-making.
  • Automate tedious, repetitive tasks.
  • Streamline workflows with personalized content creation, tailored product descriptions and market-ready copy.
  • Design content, ad campaigns and innovative products that build better customer experiences.

Demystifying generative AI

At the heart of Generative AI lie massive databases of texts, images, code and other data types. This data is fed into generational models, and there are a few to choose from, each developed to excel at a specific task. Generative adversarial networks (GANs) or variational autoencoders (VAEs) are used for images, videos, 3D models and music. Autoregressive models or large language models (LLMs) are used for text and language.

Like diligent students, these generative models soak up information and identify patterns, structures and relationships between data points, which is how they learn the grammar of poetry, artistic brushstrokes and musical melodies.

Generative AI uses advanced machine learning algorithms and techniques to analyze patterns and build statistical models. Imagine each data point as a glowing orb placed on a vast, multi-dimensional landscape. The model meticulously maps these orbs, calculating the relative heights, valleys, smooth slopes and jagged cliffs to create a probability map, a guidebook for predicting where the next orb (i.e., the generated content) should most likely land.

Now, when the user provides a prompt—a word, a sketch, a musical snippet or a line of code—the prompt acts like a beacon, drawing the model towards a specific region on that probability map; the model then navigates this landscape, probabilistically choosing the next element, the next and the next, guided by the patterns it learned and the nudge of the users’ prompt.

Each output is unique yet statistically tethered to the data the model learned from. It’s not just copying and pasting; it’s creatively building upon a foundation of knowledge fueled by probability and the guiding prompt. While advanced models can handle diverse data types, some excel at specific tasks, like text generation, information summary or image creation.

The quality of outputs depends heavily on training data, adjusting the model’s parameters and prompt engineering, so responsible data sourcing and bias mitigation are crucial. Imagine training a generative AI model on a dataset of only romance novels. The result will be unusable if a user prompts the model to write a factual news article.

Harnessing the value of generative AI

Generative AI is a potent tool, but how do organizations harness this power? There are two paths most businesses are traveling to realize the value of generative AI:

Ready-to-launch tools:

The “AI for everyone” option: Platforms like ChatGPT and Synthesia.io come pre-trained on vast datasets, allowing users to tap into their generative capabilities without building and training models from scratch. Organizations can fine-tune these models with specific data, nudging them towards outputs tailored to particular business needs. User-friendly interfaces and integration tools make them accessible even for non-technical folks.

These public options offer limited control, less customization of model behavior and outputs and the potential for bias inherited from the pre-trained models.

Custom-trained models:

Most organizations can’t produce or support AI without a strong partnership. Innovators who want a custom AI can pick a “foundation model” like OpenAI’s GPT-3 or BERT and feed it their data. This personalized training sculpts the model into bespoke generative AI perfectly aligned with business goals. The process demands high-level skills and resources, but the results are more likely to be compliant, custom-tailored and business-specific.

The best option for an enterprise organization depends on its specific needs, resources and technical capabilities. If speed, affordability and ease of use are priorities, ready-to-launch tools might be the best choice. Custom-trained models might improve if customization, control and bias mitigation are critical.

Adopt a use-case-driven approach to generative AI

The key to success lies in adopting a use-case-driven approach, focusing on your company’s problems and how generative AI can solve them.

Key considerations:

  • Tech stack: Ensure your existing technology infrastructure can handle the demands of AI models and data processing.
  • Model matchmaking: Choose a suitable generative AI model for your specific needs.
  • Teamwork: Assemble a team with expertise in AI, data science and your industry. This interdisciplinary team will help to ensure your generative AI is a success.
  • Data: High-quality, relevant data is the fuel that powers generative AI success. Invest in data hygiene and collection strategies to keep your engine running smoothly. Garbage in, garbage out.

Generative AI use cases

Excitement about this new technology has spread quickly throughout various industries and departments. Many marketing and sales leaders acted rapidly and are already infusing generative AI into their workflows. The speed and scale of generative AI’s ability to create new content and useful assets is difficult to pass up for any discipline that relies on producing high volumes of written or designed content. Healthcare, insurance and education are more hesitant due to the legal and compliance efforts to which they must adhere—and the lack of insight, transparency and regulation in generative AI.

  • Code generation : Software developers and programmers use generative AI to write code. Experienced developers are leaning on generative AI to advance complex coding tasks more efficiently. Generative AI is being used to automatically update and maintain code across different platforms. It also plays a significant role in identifying and fixing bugs in the code and to automate the testing of code; helping ensure the code works as intended and meets quality standards without requiring extensive manual testing. Generative AI proves highly useful in rapidly creating various types of documentation required by coders. This includes technical documentation, user manuals and other relevant materials that accompany software development.
  • Product development : Generative AI is increasingly utilized by product designers for optimizing design concepts on a large scale. This technology enables rapid evaluation and automatic adjustments, streamlining the design process significantly. It assists in structural optimization which ensures that products are strong, durable and use minimal material, leading to considerable cost reductions. To have the greatest impact, generative design must be integrated throughout the product development cycle, from the initial concept to manufacturing and procurement. Additionally, product managers are employing generative AI to synthesize user feedback, allowing for product improvements that are directly influenced by user needs and preferences.
  • Sales and marketing : Generative AI is assisting marketing campaigns by enabling hyper-personalized communication with both potential and existing customers across a variety of channels, including email, social media and SMS. This technology not only streamlines campaign execution but also enhances the ability to scale up content creation without sacrificing quality. In the realm of sales, generative AI boosts team performance by providing deep analytics and insights into customer behavior. Marketing departments are harnessing this technology to sift through data, understand consumer behavior patterns and craft content that truly connects with their audience, which often involves suggesting news stories or best practices that align with audience interests. Generative AI plays a crucial role in dynamically targeting and segmenting audiences and identifying high-quality leads, significantly improving the effectiveness of marketing strategies and outreach efforts. In addition, Well-developed prompts and inputs direct generative models to output creative content for emails, blogs, social media posts and websites. Existing content can be reimagined and edited using AI tools. Organizations can also create custom generative AI language generators trained on their brand’s tone and voice to match previous brand content more accurately. 
  • Project management and operations : Generative AI tools can support project managers with automation within their platforms. Benefits include automatic task and subtask generation, leveraging historical project data to forecast timelines and requirements, note taking and risk prediction. Generative AI allows project managers to search through and create instant summaries of essential business documents. This use case saves time and enables users to focus on higher-level strategy rather than daily business management.
  • Graphic design and video : With its ability to create realistic images and streamline animation, generative AI will be the go-to tool for creating videos without needing actors, video equipment or editing expertise. AI video generators can instantly create videos in whatever languages they need to serve each region. It will be a while before generative AI-created videos can effectively replace human actors and directors, but organizations are already experimenting with the technology. Users also use image generators to edit personal photos to create professional-looking business headshots for business use on Slack or LinkedIn.
  • Business and employee management : In customer service, generative AI can be used throughout the call center. It can make necessary documentation easy to access and search, putting case-resolving information at the fingertips of support agents. Generative AI-powered tools can significantly improve employee-manager interactions. They can structure performance reviews, offering managers and employees a more transparent framework for feedback and growth. Additionally, generative conversational AI portals can provide employees with feedback and identify areas for improvement without involving management.
  • Customer support and customer service : While chatbots are still widely used, organizations have started merging technologies to change how chatbots work. Generative AI advancements aid the creation of more innovative chatbots that can engage in naturally flowing conversations, enabling them to understand context and nuance similar to how a human representative would. Generative AI-powered chatbots can access and process vast amounts of information to answer customer and agent queries accurately; unlike human agents, AI chatbots can handle customer inquiries around the clock to provide a seamless user experience, night or day. The shift from traditional chatbots to generative AI-powered companions is still in its early stages, but the potential is undeniable. As technology evolves, we can expect even more sophisticated and engaging AI interactions, blurring the lines between virtual and human assistance.
  • Fraud detection and risk management : Generative AI can quickly scan and summarize large amounts of data to identify patterns or anomalies. Underwriters and claims adjusters can use generative AI tools to scour policies and claims to optimize client outcomes. Generative AI can generate custom reports and summaries tailored to specific needs and provide relevant information directly to underwriters, adjusters and risk managers, saving time and simplifying decision-making. However, human judgment and oversight are still necessary for making final decisions and ensuring fair outcomes.
  • Generating synthetic data for training and testing : Enterprises can leverage AI to generate synthetic data for training AI models, testing new products and simulating real-world scenarios. This can reduce reliance on actual data, which may be sensitive and must remain private or come from an expensive external data source. No longer bound by the limitations of gathering and preparing real-world data, development cycles can be accelerated. With readily available synthetic data sets, companies can rapidly iterate on AI models, test new features and bring solutions to market faster.

Here are key takeaways for the ethical implementation of your organization’s generative AI use cases:

  • Protect sensitive data: Use only depersonalized and nonsensitive data to avoid exposing vulnerable information and comply with regulations.
  • Stay informed: Follow industry news to identify reliable tools and avoid unethical AI practices.
  • Develop an AI policy: Create guidelines for internal AI use and investments in third-party tools, drawing from available templates.
  • Invest in upskilling: Investment in reskilling and upskilling programs is crucial, empowering workers to develop skills resistant to automation.

Best practices are evolving rapidly. While the potential of generative AI is exciting for many organizations, navigating this landscape requires a balancing act between progress and prudence.

Future of generative AI

According to McKinsey, 1 generative AI will not likely outperform humans anytime this decade. However, we may see a significant leap in generative AI capabilities by 2040. McKinsey expects AI to reach a level where it can compete with the top 25% of human performers across a wide range of tasks. Meaning, AI will write high-quality creative content, solve complex scientific problems or make insightful business decisions on par with skilled professionals. Jobs that have historically been automation-proof will be further affected by generative AI. Professionals in education, law, technology and the arts will likely see generative AI touch their profession sooner. 

Panelists at an MIT symposium 2 on AI tools explored various future research avenues in generative AI. One significant area of interest is the integration of perceptual systems into AI. This approach would enable AI to mimic human senses like touch and smell, moving beyond the conventional focus on language and imagery. The potential for generative AI models to surpass human capabilities was also discussed, particularly in the context of emotional recognition. These advanced models might use electromagnetic signals to interpret changes in a person’s breathing and heart rate, offering a deeper understanding of their emotional state.

Experts anticipate that bias will remain a persistent aspect of most generative AI models. This challenge is expected to give rise to new marketplaces centered around ethical data sets. Moreover, a dynamic scenario will likely unfold, characterized by ongoing competition between companies and content creators using generative tools.

As these tools become more widespread in the workplace, they will inevitably bring changes to job roles and necessitate new skills. Alongside these developments invariably comes increased misuse of generative capabilities. As users gain the power to create diverse forms of content, including images, audio, text and video, the likelihood of malicious misuse is anticipated to rise. This scenario underscores the importance of developing robust mechanisms to mitigate such risks and ensuring the responsible use of generative AI technologies.

Generative AI will continue transforming enterprise operations across various industries, much like the smartphone transformed business communication and productivity. From automating mundane tasks to fostering creativity in content creation and beyond, the potential of generative AI is vast and varied.

However, navigating ethical considerations, maximizing data security and adapting to evolving best practices are paramount. For enterprises ready to explore the full spectrum of possibilities that generative AI offers, guidance and insights are just a click away. Learn more about harnessing the power of generative AI for your business by exploring IBM watsonx , the AI and data platform built for business.

1 https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/mckinsey-explainers/whats-the-future-of-generative-ai-an-early-view-in-15-charts

2 https://news.mit.edu/2023/what-does-future-hold-generative-ai-1129

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What to expect from medtech in 2024

The medtech industry posted an uneven year in 2023. Among the reasons for celebration were expectation-beating revenue growth, a record number of novel-product approvals, and a spate of divestitures that helped companies refocus on their core capabilities.

On the flip side, the growing popularity of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) drugs for weight loss led investors to move away from many obesity-related-device stocks. Profitability did not meet investor expectations in an environment where margins increasingly became a key point of focus for valuations. And companies continued to struggle to perform consistently across geographies, especially outside the United States.

Indeed, 2023 marked the fourth consecutive challenging year for medtech, following a boom from 2012 to 2019. 1 S&P Capital IQ, S&P Global Market Intelligence, accessed on November 15, 2023. Despite many advances, a value creation slowdown may force companies to make bold moves to reset their trajectories in response to investor skepticism and other macroeconomic headwinds.

Since the September 2023 publication of our comprehensive report Medtech Pulse: Thriving in the next decade , we have spoken to more than 200 medtech executives. In this article, we draw from the insights and questions that emerged from those conversations and offer seven predictions about the evolving industry landscape in the coming year.

1. Industry growth will likely stabilize at a higher level than the prepandemic average

Growth in medtech has accelerated since the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing with it higher expectations for medtech companies. The uptick in patient volumes due to the pandemic dampened in 2023. Other underlying growth factors driving patient volumes continue to persist, though, including demographic shifts because of aging populations and the availability of innovative technologies that address high unmet needs across such disease areas as diabetes, heart failure, and stroke. Growth is also being fueled by patients accessing new and nontraditional sites of care, including alternative surgery centers (ASCs), medical offices, and outpatient settings.

Going into 2024, we expect overall medtech revenue growth to stabilize at 100 to 150 basis points above prepandemic rates (Exhibit 1). And as industry leaders look forward to the next five years, cardiovascular health, digital healthcare, and robotics are expected to be among the fastest-growing segments. 2 “Global medtech market analysis & projections (MAP),” Life Science Intelligence, accessed on December 4, 2023.

These trends present several hurdles for medtech companies. First, as market growth rises, companies will find it more challenging to outperform expectations. Second, the widening growth rates between segments will require conglomerates to reallocate resources more thoughtfully. And third, the race to serve ASCs, medical offices, and outpatient settings will continue to intensify.

2. Investors will continue to seek profitable growth

While sales growth remains chief in value creation, profitability and cash flow are increasingly coming into focus. The correlation between profit margin improvement and valuation has almost tripled since 2019. 3 S&P Capital IQ, S&P Global Market Intelligence, accessed on November 15, 2023. The top-quartile value creators in medtech improved their profitability in the past two years and are expected to continue expanding EBITA margins by at least 200 basis points over the next two years.

In conversations with medtech executives on profitability, we heard a common refrain: margin expansion will decrease in importance when interest rates decline. Historically, this line of thinking has been true. From 2014 to 2022, medtech valuations were inversely correlated with real treasury rates (Exhibit 2); as interest rates declined, investors focused more on revenue growth than on earnings growth, and valuations rose.

However, valuations have never been as disconnected from real rates as they have been in the past 18 months: even as interest rates rose dramatically, medtech valuations declined only modestly. As such, the expected decline in interest rates in 2024 may not necessarily boost medtech valuations. Against this macrodynamic, investors will remain keenly focused on companies’ ability to expand margins.

3. The industry will deliver another banner year for innovation

In 2023, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved more novel medical technologies than it has in any single year ever before (Exhibit 3). Several factors contributed: approvals of AI and machine-learning-enabled medtech products reached an all-time high; miniaturization and improved visualization continued to drive approvals in cardiovascular and urology segments, among others; and digitally enabled categories, such as neuromodulation and robotics, continued to grow steadily. Also, waiting times for FDA reviews receded by almost 15 percent from 2020 to 2022. 4 “2023 device approvals,” US Food and Drug Administration, updated on December 22, 2023.

Based on our conversations with medtech executives, we expect the pace of innovation in 2024 to exceed 2020 to 2022 levels, with cardiovascular, digital-health-device, and neuromodulation segments gaining momentum. Advanced imaging, microelectronics, miniaturization, and new treatment modalities, such as renal denervation, are spurring innovation in underserved disease areas. These exciting advances can fuel the next wave of growth and improvements in patients’ quality of life. The pace of innovation also means more competition for medtech companies. Increasingly, it’s the big, novel innovations that will drive commercial relevance and growth—incrementalism won’t be enough.

4. Performance across geographies will continue to be lumpy

In 2024, we project that China, Japan, and the United States will contribute two-thirds of near-term industry growth in medtech. Across more established markets, such as Japan and the United States, growth continues to be driven by innovation and the adoption of innovative technologies. In the United States, commercial execution and innovation will be the hallmarks of growth.

The market in Japan will likely behave similarly, though CFOs and finance leaders there will need to be thoughtful about managing currency risk (for example, through hedging strategies). Domestic and international companies are facing foreign-exchange challenges in Japan, making the US market even more critical to overall industry growth.

Growth in Europe will likely slow after a year in which price increases saw a step-up in the underlying growth rate. Medtech companies that thrive in the European market will tap fresh solutions to help providers manage workforce shortages and improve health economics through reduced readmissions and shorter hospital stays.

Elsewhere, medtech leaders are tackling difficult strategic choices. China has delivered tremendous growth over the past decade. However, increasing complexity, local competition, and volume-based procurement have posed challenges for multinational corporations. India will begin to make a bigger splash, thanks to favorable governmental-policy changes, increased investment flow, a maturing tech ecosystem, and the emergence of growing local businesses that are increasing provider access to technology and training.

5. Leaders in AI adoption will start to see benefits of scale

The underlying technologies of generative AI (gen AI)—namely, foundational models—have a long history in life sciences  and medtech. Foundational models representing complex structures have already been used in many insight-generating tasks, particularly in product development. For example, digital-twin technologies (virtual representations of physical medtech devices paired with deep-learning models) have been used to validate alternative, and more effective, device designs. Most of the gen-AI-related activity in medtech to date has focused on device enablement, functionality, and R&D, with untapped opportunities in commercial, supply chain, and other business functions.

Medtech companies that adopt gen AI are starting to gain productivity benefits, starting with low-hanging fruit such as “copilots” for workers in HR, IT, finance, and legal roles. Companies are beginning to explore the impact of gen AI on commercial and operational roles. Because of regulatory requirements, the deep integration of AI in medical products and services remains years away. However, some companies will start integrating gen AI into their products and software, such as by leveraging voice prompts. New capabilities and talent will be needed to capture the business value fully. Given the rapid pace of innovation, early adopters are likely to have an advantage over the competition.

6. M&A deal volumes will likely remain stable, with a continued balance of growth and at-scale transactions

Medtech M&A slowed in 2023 amid earnings challenges, macroeconomic uncertainty, and rising interest rates. Meanwhile, large buyers set a precedent of paying premiums at or above 52-week highs. 5 LSEG Data & Analytics, London Stock Exchange, accessed on August 28, 2023; S&P Capital IQ, S&P Global Market Intelligence, accessed on August 28, 2023. Many of these buyers were in pursuit of meeting rising growth expectations and unlocking margin expansion.

While growth-focused tuck-in deals will remain critical to value creation, they are not always available to companies at attractive valuations. Another tool that companies are increasingly exploring is at-scale transactions. Larger acquisitions can offer operating leverage, which can help medtech companies improve margins that currently sit near 2018 levels (Exhibit 4); they can also help companies in lower-growth markets improve their commercial presence with more end-to-end solutions that help care teams streamline operations and focus on patient care.

We anticipate that the volume of M&A activity will remain low but that the deals that are executed will show more balance across deal sizes. Medtech companies continue to have “dry powder” that accumulated during the COVID-19 pandemic, with approximately $55 billion of cash and cash equivalents. 6 LSEG Data & Analytics, London Stock Exchange, accessed on August 28, 2023; S&P Capital IQ, S&P Global Market Intelligence, accessed on August 28, 2023. However, high-growth, at-scale, and profitable targets remain scarce. Interested acquirers will need to act quickly, given the scarcity of options.

7. Penetration of GLP-1 drugs will continue but is unlikely to have meaningful impact on medtech growth

GLP-1 therapies have been deployed to treat type 2 diabetes since 2005. Recently, their indications have expanded to obesity, and emerging data suggest that these drugs could help even more patients, including those with cardiovascular or chronic kidney disease. The market has responded, with shares of GLP-1 drug manufacturers rising 26 percent in two months after trial readouts. 7 S&P Capital IQ, S&P Global Market Intelligence, accessed on October 13, 2023. At the same time, medtech stocks, particularly those that are obesity related and in adjacent categories (such as cardiovascular health, diabetes, orthopedics, sleep apnea, and surgery), dipped 17 percent amid concerns that GLP-1 therapy adoption will dramatically reduce the need for device-enabled diagnostics and interventions. 8 S&P Capital IQ, S&P Global Market Intelligence, accessed on October 13, 2023.

Indeed, GLP-1 drugs may meaningfully aid many patients, but they will likely have minimal effect on most medtech markets. Long-term use of GLP-1 therapy will depend on patient adherence to the prescription, payer coverage, and prescription rates. Our analysis across scenarios suggests that, for most indications across medtech sectors, low-single-digit percentages of patient populations will become long-term users of the therapy. In the meantime, GLP-1 drugs are much on the mind of analysts, executives, investors, and patients, so medtech companies will need proactive, fact-based narratives to describe the potential business impacts.

While reflecting on the past year’s growth and challenges, industry leaders have reason to be energized by the promise of 2024. The new year will bring innovations that improve more lives, opportunities to create value, and fresh approaches that adapt to market-shaping trends. Although obstacles remain, the medtech industry is poised to continue to deliver benefits to all its stakeholders.

Karsten Dalgaard is a senior partner in McKinsey’s Stockholm office; Gerti Pellumbi is a senior partner in the Washington, DC, office; Peter Pfeiffer is a senior partner in the New Jersey office; and Tommy Reid is a partner in the Austin office.

The authors wish to thank Helen Hultin, Brett Klosterhoff, and Elea Medina for their contributions to this article.

This article was edited by Jermey Matthews, an editor in the Boston office.

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Case study: The evolution of a series of participant-centered workshops

by University of Massachusetts Amherst

Case study: The evolution of a series of participant-centered workshops

Ludmila Tyler, senior lecturer in the biochemistry and molecular biology (BMB) department, is co-first author of a paper in the journal Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education that reflects on the lessons learned from the first full year of Inclusive Community for the Assessment of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology/BMB Learning (ICABL) workshops.

Titled "Evolution of a self-renewing, participant-centered workshop series in BMB assessment," the case study published in the journal's January/February 2024 edition identifies factors that can contribute to an effective workshop series and looks ahead to the growth of the community. It addresses two of the most central questions in education: "How do we know what students have learned?" and "What are effective ways to give students feedback about their progress?"

"Collecting accurate information about what students have (and have not) learned allows teachers to see what is (and is not) working for students and then to make adjustments as needed," Tyler says.

ICABL offers a series of workshops designed to help teachers measure what students have learned. Tyler is a member of the ICABL steering committee, which brings BMB faculty, postdoctoral scientists and graduate students together from across the country to discuss best practices in measuring student learning. ICABL also partnered with hosts at minority-serving institutions throughout the country to offer these workshops on summative and alternative assessment.

"ICABL aims to build a diverse, inclusive community of scientist-educators, where everyone can learn and thrive," Tyler says.

"Workshops on measuring learning in the discipline meet a need for training in assessment and thus support educators in teaching more effectively. Partnerships with minority-serving institutions and pathways to leadership for workshop participants expand the diversity of perspectives, to the benefit of all."

Provided by University of Massachusetts Amherst

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How Machine Learning Will Transform Supply Chain Management

  • Narendra Agrawal,
  • Morris A. Cohen,
  • Rohan Deshpande,
  • Vinayak Deshpande

what is a case study in technology

Businesses need better planning to make their supply chains more agile and resilient. After explaining the shortcomings of traditional planning systems, the authors describe their new approach, optimal machine learning (OML), which has proved effective in a range of industries. A central feature is its decision-support engine that can process a vast amount of historical and current supply-and-demand data, take into account a company’s priorities, and rapidly produce recommendations for ideal production quantities, shipping arrangements, and so on. The authors explain the underpinnings of OML and provide concrete examples of how two large companies implemented it and improved their supply chains’ performance.

It does a better job of using data and forecasts to make decisions.

Idea in Brief

The problem.

Flawed planning methods make it extremely difficult for companies to protect themselves against supply chain disruptions.

A new approach, called optimal machine learning (OML), can enable better decisions, without the mystery surrounding the planning recommendations produced by current machine-learning models.

The Elements

OML relies on a decision-support engine that connects input data directly to supply chain decisions and takes into account a firm’s performance priorities. Other features are a “digital twin” representation of the entire supply chain and a data storage system that integrates information throughout the supply chain and allows for quick data access and updating.

The Covid-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, trade wars, and other events in recent years have disrupted supply chains and highlighted the critical need for businesses to improve planning in order to be more agile and resilient. Yet companies struggle with this challenge. One major cause is flawed forecasting, which results in delivery delays, inventory levels that are woefully out of sync with demand, and disappointing financial performance. Those consequences are hardly surprising. After all, how can inventory and production decisions be made effectively when demand forecasts are widely off?

  • Narendra Agrawal is the Benjamin and Mae Swig Professor of Information Systems and Analytics at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business.
  • Morris A. Cohen is the Panasonic Professor Emeritus of Manufacturing & Logistics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. He is also the founder of AD3 Analytics, a start-up that developed the OML methodology for supply chain management.
  • Rohan Deshpande is a machine learning scientist at Cerebras Systems and a former chief technology officer at AD3 Analytics.
  • Vinayak Deshpande is the Mann Family Distinguished Professor of Operations at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.

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