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One year on from the horse meat scandal, what has changed in the UK food industry to eliminate the problems exposed by the scandal?
The horse meat scandal highlighted the complexity and length of the UK food chain. Some supermarkets have responded by promising to source from closer to home. Others have introduced new supply chain controls.
But can we now trust what is in our food? And how important is it to us as consumers?read more...»
A superb short video here from the business team at Reuters which highlights a strategic challenge facing camera manufacturers in Japan.
Top-end cameras for professional use are almost all Japanese - Japan made 81% of all digital cameras in 2012.
However, the emergence of high quality photography features on smartphones has slowed down demand for mid-range digital cameras.
Camera makers are moving away from compact digital cameras and moving towards the high-end market segments where sales might be lower but profit margins are higher.read more...»
This might just be the best example of economies of scale to use with students.
Maersk, the Danish giant shipping line company, has just launched the biggest container ship ever made.read more...»
It's all over for Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and his 32,000 employees in the core of Nokia - their mobile phones (handset) business. After several years of struggling to turn the business around in the face of intensive competition from Apple, Samsung, Google, Huawei and others, Elop has decided the best option is to sell the business to Microsoft.read more...»
This looks like a must-watch and must-record series from Robert Peston. Robert's new three-part series takes us behind the scenes of some of Britain's most successful retailers and also explores their history, heritage and organisational culture. Robert Peston Goes Shopping is on at 9 p.m. on Monday nights starting 2 September. Fantasticread more...»
This 5 minute video from the excellent Andrew Hill of the FT should be required viewing for every advanced business student.
With an increasing number of companies refocusing their priorities beyond profit and towards the welfare of their suppliers, employees and the planet, Andrew Hill, management editor of the FT, asks what the repercussions are for business. Superb.read more...»
A great example here of a European manufacturing business that is attempting to compete based on product differentiation compared with the cost leadership approach adopted by competitors relying on mass production techniques.read more...»
Students looking for a great example of how a UK business can transform its fortunes by focusing on the opportunities in emerging markets need look no further than JCB.read more...»
This is a really useful two-minute video snippet of a conference presentation by Procter & Gamble's CEO Bob McDonald.
He explains that the aim of Procter & Gamble is to move to a zero waste production environment. He makes a clear link between sustainability and productivity. If P&G's factories can operate more efficiently with substantially reduced waste, then it ought to be a win-win arrangement for both shareholders and society stakeholders.
P&G is a multinational manufacturer of a diverse portfolio of product ranges including personal care, household cleaning, laundry detergents, prescription drugs and disposable nappies.read more...»
Pedal power has been around for a while. But are turbo-charged eBikes the way forward? The specifications of electric bikes are impressive - but will the price put potential customers off?read more...»
A terrific video here from Jonathan Moules, the Enterprise Editor of the FT, which showcases some creative choices of business location in London.
This would make a great stimulus piece for a lesson on startup business location - what are the attractions of some of the unusual locations featured?read more...»
Consumers around the world are falling in love with mobile devices, notably smartphones and tablets. However, as this excellent short FT video explains, many businesses (including leading brands) are struggling to adapt to the migration of consumers from desktops and laptops to mobile devices.read more...»
Let's face it. Nearly all of us associate Ikea with flatpack, affordable furniture. The Ikea brand has become a global success and, as we reported on the business blog recently, the Ikea format is well-positioned to achieve further success in key emerging markets.
However, Ikea's business portfolio is not just about furniture retailing.
In March 2013, Ikea announced that it is to partner with Marriott International to open a chain of three-star hotels. The chosen brand name for this joint venture between Marriott and Ikea is Moxy Hotels.read more...»
Lots of great information from Schultz here and insights into his business strategy. Many insights too into Schultz's personal background and his views on what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
Put simply, this interview has everything! Organisational culture; entrepreneurship; CSR; emerging markets; retrenchment; ethics.read more...»
Another fascinating interview with a tech CEO here. Some great insights into how technological change is providing opportunities for his business.read more...»
A simply stunning video here from the FT which is perfect for students wishing to gather some evidence on industries, firms and brands that have thrived despite the prolonged economic downturn in developed economies.read more...»
What happens when we pop our digital clogs?
I'd like to think that my collection of Tweets and Blogs might be acquired by the British Museum and placed in a special room that you could all visit. My collection of fascinating photos on Facebook are surely destined to become a national treasure - possibly.
Or possibly not.
But what happens to everything you do online once you've passed to a different kind of social network in the cloud?
There are an increasing number of businesses who spot an opportunity here. And now Google has decided that it has the ability to offer services to help people manage their "Digital Afterlife".read more...»
The effect of the economic downturn on small retailers, and how they are adapting, is explored in the powerful video below from the FT.
First up is a bespoke tailor trying to survive in a poor area that has been significantly affected by government spending cuts to welfare payments.
In the same location is a retailer of sporting goods. His business has changed dramatically in recent years, with demand much less predictable. Cash flow management has become much harder, so he has responded by cutting stocks and repositioning his retail product range. Can he survive against the likes of Sports Direct?
Finally, we see the effect on a furniture retailer of the emergence of pawnbrokers and other loan shops.
For these retailers, costs are rising but sales are falling. The future for these high street retailers looks bleak. Can they survive? And if so, how?read more...»
I love this behind the scenes look at the manufacturing process involved in the making of Steinway pianos. It's a great example of adding value through the production process and illustrates how a (very) highly skilled workforce can provide a competitive advantage, particularly in a premium niche market.
According to Steinway:
"Since 1853, Steinway pianos have set an uncompromising standard for sound, touch, beauty, and investment value. Handcrafting each Steinway requires up to one full year – creating an instrument of rare quality and global renown. Not surprisingly, Steinway remains the choice of 9 out of 10 concert artists, and countless pianists, composers, and performers around the world."
You can see why in this video:read more...»
At times, it seems that Yahoo has had more CEOs than Chelsea FC have had managers. Yahoo has tried several times to change strategic direction through new leadership but has struggled to compete with Google in search engine and email.
However the appointment of former Google director Marissa Mayer appears to be working. Yahoo's share price has risen 30% since her appointment and for the first time in four years, Yahoo's revenues are now growing.read more...»
You might have read that blog entry a recently where we tried to make the case for a business cutting the amounts paid to shareholders in dividends in order to conserve cash and/or invest in projects.
Well it looks like Stephen Elop must read the Business Studies blog (thanks Stephen) because that's exactly what he and the Nokia board have just decided to do!read more...»
In a way it's a shame that the market-leading business featured in this video needs to exist. But it does and for good reason - many customers are looking for the protection provided by the firm's products. A great story of a successful firm in a classic niche market, where the added value is all about "protection" and in which customers are prepared to pay a premium for their lives being saved...read more...»
This short video interview with Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is business studies gold dust.
Jeff Bezos was recently named Fortune Magazine Business Person of the Year for 2012. Here he talks about his long-term strategy for Amazon. Bezos has always maintained that the success of Amazon is based on long-term thinking, recognising that not every innovation or invention will work.
Bezos defines the success of Amazon as being based on the following cultures and beliefs:
- Start with the customer - Amazon's goal is to be the most customer-obsessed business in the world
- Have a willingness to invent
- Think long-term: allow 5,6,7 years before you expect to see financial returns on investment (Bezos is dismissive of short-term payback criteria)
- Be inspired by what competitors do, but don't be afraid of them ("your margin is my opportunity")
Do I sense a few green shoots emerging from Finland - the home of Nokia which recently lost its position as the world's largest maker of mobile phones (a position it had held for 14 years).
Readers of the business blog will be familiar with the story of Nokia in recent times. The arrival of a new CEO Stephen Elop and his famous "burning platform" speech which set out this new strategic direction for Nokia. We've documented the resulting strategy of retrenchment which led to the loss of 000's of jobs at Nokia around the world and Elop's decision to enter into a strategic partnership with Microsoft as he chose Windows 8 as the mobile operating system ("ecosystem") for Nokia's new range of smartphones.
2012 was a pretty bad year for Nokia in total. However, there is is some evidence that the launch of the Lumia smartphones may have heralded a change in fortunes for the business. The Guardian reports here about very strong sales for the Lumia phone over the crucial Christmas trading period. And in the short video interview with Stephen Elop below, you can sense the emergence of a quiet confidence that things might be getting better.read more...»
Have you ever looked out of your aircraft window and stared at the wing and thought: "I hope that doesn't fall off"? No? Well I have and I'm always reassured that the wing was probably made in a high quality factory in the UK.
Here's a chance to take a look behind the scenes of the wings being made by Airbus in the UK. A fantastic video here from the FT's Peter Marsh who kindly joined us for the recent tutor2u Global Economy CPD day.
Peter (well worth following on Twtter) visits the wing factory of Airbus/EADS at Broughton in north Wales. There he learns how the factory works on a process of continuous innovation in technology, and he assesses the impact on skills and jobs across the UK.
The Harvard Business Review provides some excellent resources on the role of strategic leadership and I was taken by this short video on the HBR Channel in which Gareth Jones from the London Business School considers what is required for "exceptional leadership".
Gareth Jones explains that there has been a general decline in trust in leaders - including business leaders. He goes to provide a definition of leadership and then outline the four attributes which he believes followers want from their exceptional leaders: These four are:
or CASE if you are looking for a simple acronym with which to remember the attributes!read more...»
Sony is one of our favourite case study businesses and fantastic source of research insights for A2 students wanting to improve their understanding of business strategy. So we were pleased to spot this short video from the FT which evaluates the potential success of Sony's new smartphone - a so-called "super smartphone". Given that Sony only has a single digit market share in the smart phone market, can this new product provide Sony with something which will compete with Apple and Samsung?read more...»
I love the annual CES (Consumer Electronics Show). Coming at the start of each calendar year, CES is a showcase for some major new product launches by global players like Sony as well as by smaller, niche manufacturers of consumer products. T
For example, take this new product: the iPotty. The Daily Mail has this description of the product which seeks to forge a creative link between a popular electronic item (the iPad) and a core need for parents - help with potty training.
Parents of toddlers will know that their offspring can spend a surprisingly long time "on the pot" waiting for some relevant output. So does it make sense to provide the little ones with some mental stimulation at the same time?
Priced at £25, the iPotty clearer doesn't come with an iPad. But will it take off? Of is this just another product innovation that proves to be a flush in the pan?read more...»
A fantastic video here from the team at the FT who explain the link between Big Data and the crucial role of design and innovation in creating products and services that people want.
Companies are battling to cope with an avalanche of valuable information as big data becomes fundamental to their business models. Ravi Mattu, the FT's business life editor, reports on how important good design is to getting consumers to give up their data and the benefits the numbers can bring.read more...»
Many of you will have met Mark Mitchell & Joe Corcoran - two of the fantastic Business & Economics team at Greenhead College. In addition to their outstanding work at Greenhead, Joe & Mark are part of the innovative TBBLE team and also help us deliver the student revision workshops.
Well, it seems that Joe might not have been performing quite as well at work as he thinks. Joe's innovative use of lego in the business classroom, BGT buzzers and option dice? Apparently its not what the newly hard-line HRM strategy at college might require. Joe's in for some disappointing news as he arrives for his annual performance appraisal from boss Mark. There are some attractive rewards for the staff who have performed best, but where is Joe in the performance league table?read more...»
This looks like a really useful series of short videos from the BBC which explore some of the challenges facing CEO's. The series covers:
This is pretty fundamental stuff, but essential background to an understanding of how digital technologies are changing the external environment facing businesses.
The increasing use of modern network technologies is changing people's daily social and economic lives. Today, anyone and everyone can engage interactively in digital spaces. This animated video from the research team at Deutsche Bank explains the major shifts in the use of digital technology which are helping to cultivate a more collaborative digital society. The implications for businesses are pretty profound, not the least in relation to innovation and the open sourcing of technologies and ideas.
Why and how should UK firms expand into international markets? Exporting provides a significant opportunity for UK firms to reduce dependency on demand from domestic markets. But exporting isn't straightforward and it carries risks if not implemented properly.
This short video features a UK business that has embraced the export opportunity. Selling overseas has made British skincare firm Eve Taylor stronger - their MD explains how.
Admittedly it's a bit of an advert for Barclays Bank (who made the video) but there are still some really useful insights for students.read more...»
From Father to Son. Long-term, generational succession is seen as key to the stability and success of businesses in Japan. This fascinating video from the BBC explains how the use of adoption has enabled Japanese businesses to maintain the process of succession.
A whole industry has evolved providing potential adoptees to businesses who are looking for suitable candidates to take on the family business ownership.read more...»
Bonus payments play an increasing role in the remuneration of employees in the UK. This video from the ONS provides an overview or, and analysis of, trends in the payment of bonuses. Data is displayed across different time periods and the incidence of bonuses between different sectors is also considered.
Lots of useful discussion points from the video, even if the method of delivery in the video is a little formal!read more...»
A great example here of a change in the nature of government regulation of business activity - this time focusing on the costs and procedures that firms experience when they want to fire someone. This excellent 2 minute video from the BBC's Hugh Pym explains how the maximum compensation workers can win for unfair dismissal will be cut, in proposals announced by the the Business Secretary Vince Cable. Cable has also announced the use of settlement agreements, where staff agree to leave with a pay-off but no option of a tribunal.
The UK Government is under great pressure from a variety of pressure groups and business organisations to reduce what is perceived as a burden of regulation and legislation that may inhibit business growth. These laws and regulations are commonly referred to as "red tape" and students ought to be able to see how the reduction of red tape might enable a business more freedom in its decision-making.
However, on the other hand, what might be seen as "red tape" to a business owner could also be viewed as essential protection for stakeholders such as employees (in this case), customers etc.
Quite a lot of coverage in the media today looking back at the first year of the Occupy Movement - a series of protests that started in Wall Street NYC and spread widely in certain developed economies. The Occupy campaign has changed and evolved during the year and has certainly attracted much less media attention in recent months. So has it worked? Is Occupy a significant external influence on the actions of big business? This BBC video provides a useful, brief retrospective on Occupy.read more...»
Entrepreneur Richard Reed looks for the next generation of start-up superstars, setting aside up to a million pounds to invest in three of the big ideas pitched by 500 hopefuls. Episode 1 of the excellent Be Your Own Boss was shown on BBC Three and well worth recording to use as part of any unit on entrepreneurship and enterprise.
500 people have been given £100 each by Richard Reed. That's a very speculative investment of £50,000 by Reed to gain some insights into potential business ideas that might start to generate a return on the risk he's already taken.
What do you think of some of the business ideas featuredread more...»
This edition of Channel 4's Dispatches programme looks like it will be well worth a watch - and even better, recording. Could be packed full with business studies discussion and learning opportunities.
Monday 17 September 2012 at 8pm is the screening date/time for this programme which investigates the business of booming discount retailer Dispatches.read more...»
This hilarious video clip perhaps proves just how strong Apple's reputation for product innovation is. The new iPhone 5 has been launched but is not yet available. So how will consumers respond when given an opportunity to hold and test it for the first time? There's only one catch - the phone they are given to examine is the iPhone 4s. Fascinating results...read more...»
The banks still refuse to lend. Venture capital (by and large) won’t touch startup finance with a bargepole. So should startups look to source the finance they need from complete strangers? The answer for many might now be yes - through crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding is a fast-growing approach to raising finance for business startups. This BBC article and video provides a great example of crowdfunding in action and also some data on the rise of crowdfunding in the UK.read more...»
Here’s a conundrum. Why is employment in the UK economy rising (and unemployment falling) at a time when the economy is still shrinking?
The number of people out of work fell by 46,000 to 2.56 million in the three months to June 2012, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). But in the same period the UK’s national output is supposed to have shrunk by 0.7% - so what is behind the puzzling statistics?read more...»
A good starter idea for enterprise - starting a business - cutting out the middle man.read more...»
A big hat tip to Bill Bethell for spotting this fascinating insight here in this new BBC video about how Google organises the workplace to encourage innovation and productivity. Packed full with superb business studies insights…
Wow - oh wow. They’ve only gone and made a video to explain how Jaffa cakes are made. Best of all - the video is packed full with little business studies nuggetts, as well as a really useful supporting article in the Telegraph!read more...»
Once again the BBC have posted up a clip that clearly and concisely (in two and a half minutes) neatly sums up the marketing challenges faced by the main UK supermarket chains: store locations, types of store, products, promotions, target markets … and prices.
On that point, there’s also more detailed news published recently about Waitrose matching Tesco prices, getting marketing mileage out of the John Lewis ‘never knowingly undersold’ pledge.read more...»
A fascinating and detailed look here at working conditions at Apple’s main supplier in China. This 15 minute video raises a lot of issues which students can develop; particularly useful for any discussion around CSR, but also excellent for operations and HRM. In the video, ABC News Nightline goes behind the scenes of the FoxConn factory - the operation which makes iPads and iPhones.read more...»
The Facebook takeover of Instagram for $1bn has generated a huge amount of media interest. The takeover is a great topical example for A2 business students looking at takeovers, and these video clips provide all they could possibly need in terms of looking at the motives for the deal and also the potential revenue synergies for Facebook.read more...»
France boasts some of the most famous fashion houses in the world, but there are few items of clothing more synonymous with the country than the beret. However, the nation’s last surviving factory that produces the item is now facing closure due to financial problems. With cheaper production costs, the iconic hat may in the future be made in Asia. A great example of the impact of emerging markets on the competitiveness of firms in developed economies. Some nice comments too in the video about the type of cash flow problems experienced by small manufacturers.read more...»
A downside of the prolonged economic downturn in the UK in recent years has been the rise of the pay day loan companies, particularly in locations that suffer from relatively low incomes and higher unemployment. In most countries, pay day lending is banned, but not in the UK where financial services of this kind are largely deregulated. This video examines the issue and asks some important questions about whether the activities of pay day loan companies are ethical - even if they are legal.read more...»
Google Campus, a building designed to offer technology start-ups desk space and mentoring in east London, was opened to much fanfare by UK chancellor George Osborne. But is the government right to look to the tech sector for economic growth? In this excellent FT video Daniel Garrahan reports from inside Google Campus. Some good teaching points here, including:
- The role of government support for technology startups
- Non-financial benefits of a suitable location for startup entrepreneurs and their employees
- Use of a location to bring together entrepreneurs and venture capitalists
- The cost savings for startups of locating in a venue like Google Campus
The revenues achieved in 2011 by RIM, the owner of BlackBerry, fell by 25% compared with 2010. It looks like customers have fallen out of love with BlackBerry. Apple, HTC, Samsung and other operator have grabbed a large share of BlackBerry’s customer base, so it must be that BlackBerry has seen its competitiveness deteriorate.
This excellent video from the FT examines some key strategic issues facing Rim and its BlackBerry brand. Could the business be a takeover target now that the firm is trying to achieve a turnaround? But, if so, who would want to buy it? Can new product development save BlackBerry before it loses further market share in key markets like the US? A fantastic lesson resource for A2 students…read more...»
At our A2 Business revision workshops in March we predicted that Sony would quickly become an essential research case study for students in 2012 and perhaps beyond, as we anticipated the strategic review being carried out by Hirai Kazou as he took over as CEO of Sony from Sir Howard Stringer. Events over recent days have supported that view. Sony’s plight - and proposed turnaround strategy - is packed full with fantastic business strategy materials. Perfect for comparing and contrasting with the likes of Apple, Samsung, Google & HTC.
Hirai’s announcement has been well covered in all the business media, particularly the online business television channels. Here is a selection of clips which help explain the strategy and also provide some examples of experts analysing and evaluating the likely success of the turnaround:
Update: BBC news, May 2012: Sony shares tumble to 31-year low amid record lossesread more...»
An excellent video here - part of Al Jazeera’s recent series on co-operatives, Sonia Gallego reports on a grassroots movement in the north of England, that provides an alternative to the dominant grocery supermarket and convenience store chains. Its goal: to provide fairness for both buyer and supplier, since it opened 15 years ago, this co-operative store has turned out profits and fair business practices as well.read more...»
Apple’s customer base is incredibly loyal, as demonstrated by the long queues outside Apple stores and other retail distributors for the launch of the new iPad. Are Apple’s consumers willing to overlook the many concerns that observers have about Apple’s track record of manufacturing in emerging markets? This short video addresses that question.read more...»
A superb 6-minute video here from the BBC technology team which analyses and evaluates the likely success of Nokia’s product and market strategy in mobile phones. Lots of details about mobile phone segments and operating platforms / ecosytems, but explained in a way that should certainly be accessible for students. I have also added a recent video interview with Nokia CEO Stephen Elop in which he explains his strategy further.read more...»
Don’t try this at home - but watch this expert open up his smartphone to illustrate the use of patents and patent protection…read more...»
After seven pretty disastrous years as CEO, Sir Howard Stringer is passing the baton of Sony’s CEO to Kazuo Hirai. Stringer will remain with Sony as Chairman. Will the new CEO achieve the turnaround in Sony’s fortunes that Stringer has been attempting in recent years? It’s a tough ask - but it will be fascinating to see how Hirai goes about things…read more...»
A huge hat tip to James Hazeldine for spotting this truly extraordinary 4-minute video on YouTube which illustrates quite beautifully the process of quality control…at the old Trabant car factory…read more...»
For those of you who watched the recent Apple special event (7 March 2012), you were witnessing an event which involved too kinds of leadership. First, Apple was aiming to secure its leadership of the global tablet computer market with the launch of the “new iPad”. Secondly, the event was a showcase for a new kind of leadership at Apple. It provided quite a few clues to the leadership style of Tim Cook, leading the presentation for the first time since the death of Steve Jobs.read more...»