"Nowadays every business is a digital business" claims the FT's Jonathan Moules in this useful video clip about the importance of fast broadband speed for UK business.
However, not every business has access to fast broadband and there is evidence presented here that the lack of acceptable bandwidth is reducing the competitiveness of businesses who rely on access to the Internet.read more...»
Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer best known for building Apple products, is increasingly adopting a strategy of diversification in response to rising labour costs in China.read more...»
We're all big fans and users of Dropbox here at tutor2u - and the story of how Dropbox has developed into a hugely valuable business is a great example of how failure can inform and inspire successful entrepreneurial activity.read more...»
This is a terrific article from BusinessWeek on the growth strategy of Xiaomi, a Chinese business that is fast-becoming one of the countries best-known global brands.
Lots in the article (and the related video which I have added further below) for business students to note - I have jotted down some of the things I spotted below.
We've written before about Xiaomi and it is certainly an important business to watch - take a look at the other business blog articles on Xiaomi.read more...»
Virgin Galactic is Richard Branson's dream to provide suborbital space flights to space tourists by 2015, and it provides a wealth of Business Studies concepts for AS and A2.
Firstly, the premium price of £150,000 to £250,000 (the cost of decent Rolls Royce to you or me) means it has a very specific target market; over 700 space tourists have signed up, with one third from America (the other two thirds come from over 50 different countries), most are millionaire men in their 50s and are definitely not risk-averse. Akin to Branson, many stated the moon landing of 1969 as the reason for their purchase.
In her quest for a new USP, Lady Gaga will be swapping her meat suit for a space one and be first earthling to sing live from space, ensuring that she maintains her outlandish, cutting edge image.
JLR & Virgin
These 2 iconic British brands are expanding the empire, and for BUSS4 students, the long-term partnership between JLR and Virgin, with their “shared vision of pioneering spirit, technological innovation and sense of adventure”, provides information for almost every section of the specification.
The CNBC article focuses on the technological innovations in JLRs new concept SUV.
In this short video, Richard Branson discusses his dream and vision, how JLR will aid Virgin in creating a completely new market and, to show that it’s not all about profit and pride, he hopes it will inspire future generations to pursue careers in engineering and science.
Abu Dhabi and beyond
Finally, Abu Dhabi state-controlled investment fund paid $280 million for a 32% stake in the business, in return for "regional rights to launch Virgin Galactic tourism and scientific research space flights from the United Arab Emirates capital". It sees this as an Investment opportunity to progress from an international tourism hub, to an inter-galactic one, with this article suggesting Virgin space hotels in galaxies far far away!
This article on Bloomberg Business about Xiaomi is perfectly timed for teachers and students wanting to update and extend their research on one of the fastest-growing consumer electronics brands in the world.
Back in September 2013 we wrote at some length about the growth strategy at Xiaomi which many in the media have labelled the "Apple" of China (and its founder and CEO Lei Jun the "Steve Jobs of China"). That's a label he rejects, by the way
Earlier this year we reported on how Lei Jun had set quite a challenging new corporate objective for Xiaomi - to sell 40 million smartphones during 2014.
The Bloomberg article suggests that Xiaomi may already be well on the way to achieving and possibly exceeding the 40 million phone objective, particularly as it has started to sell very well outside of China (a recent launch in Singapore sold out in just minutes). There is talk of trying to sell 100 million phones in 2015! Now Lei Jun's sights are set on nearby emerging markets such as Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Why is Xiaomi succeeding against strong competition?
The article argues that the attraction of the Xiaomi product is both from a design AND price perspective:
"Xiaomi’s appeal: It offers the technology and style of Apple or Samsung at less than half the cost." it claims, and this is supported by some comments from Xiaomi customers.
The article also provides some important background information on Lei Jun who is described as being "a world-class entrepreneur with vision, leadership and ambition to really build up a global company".
The comparison towards the end of the article between Xiaomi and Apple is also well worth a read - top evidence for a compare and contrast point for BUSS4 students.
A great BBC article and video highlighting why China’s domestic mobile phone companies are now the greatest threat to Apple and Samsung’s success.
The extracts below will add weight to any argument that foreign mobile companies will struggle to succeed in the Chinese market.
- Shenzhen, once a fishing village is now referred to as China’s Silicon Valley. It is home to Huawei, Lenovo and ZTE (three of the five largest mobile handset companies in the world) and a further 6000 handset manufacturers.
- China produces more than half of the 2.5 billion phones sold around the world annually.
- China now spends around $300bn (£182bn) a year on R&D, compared with a US spend of $450bn, and it is estimated to surpass Europe by 2018 and the US by 2022.
In the interview with Shi Lirong, Global President of ZTE (now the most innovative company in the world, filing 50,000 international patents last year), he lays out his three-pronged strategy of customer-focused innovation, recruitment of the best staff from around the world and the development of business partnerships.
Very impressive stuff!read more...»
Following on from Jim's blog updating us on Starbucks strategy, here is another great 4 minute CNN video interview with Howard Schultz in which he talks about his app that allows customers to order on-line. The factors leading to this are the rise in internet shopping and subsequent reduction in footfall in shopping centres, but will online-ordering reduce the impact of this? Schultz talks about the need for all retail businesses to completely transform the way they do business, and as always, Starbucks seem to be ahead of the curve.
He explains the benefit of technology and data to help him better meet the needs of the customers (and ultimately shareholders), but is adamant that robots will never serve the coffee as this will detract from the customer experience instead of enhance it.
Another gem of a video that covers strategic planning, innovation, technology and customer service.
Starbucks - always one of the best BUSS4 research examples - continues to be a source of inspiration for business teachers and students. I picked up on this excellent Q&A interview between CEO Howard Schultz and Bloomberg Businessweek which is packed with useful research insights.read more...»
The global watch business is estimated to be worth around $22bn per year. It is still a big market, but the market leaders face some significant competitive threats from substitute products.
Can mechanical watchmakers compete effectively with the big smartphone brands? They need to find a way to do this soon unless their products are to be consigned to targeting a niche segment of older, wealthy customers.read more...»
Two very interesting stories regarding Google’s intentions of world domination (in a nice way) via innovation, product and market development.
Firstly, in an effort to “de-dorkify” the Google-Glass and appeal to a wider audience, Google have struck a deal with Luxottica (the makers of Ray-Bans and Oakley sunglasses) to design the wearable device. The deal looks promising and Luxottica’s share price increased 4% after the deal. At the same time, Google founder Sergey Brin has been denigrating mobile phones saying that they are socially isolating, with “people walking around hunched up, looking down, rubbing a featureless piece of glass”. This is a great example of how Google are trying to push what they hope is their next rising star by challenging accepted norms about how we currently interact.
Secondly, to “connect the two-thirds of the world's population which does not have affordable net connections”, Google has launched Project Loons, which consists of floating balloons laden with 3G equipment into the skies over lesser developed countries. The driving force behind this is of course altruistic, with an ancillary benefit being that billions more people will use Google services. Moved by this act of philanthropy, Facebook intend to do the same, but using solar-powered drones instead!
Perfect stimulus for discussions for Ansoff’s Matrix, Boston Matrix, Innovation, Competition, Overcoming barriers, CSR and Strategic planning.
A combination of excellent news articles from last week have helped my students and I to fully understand the size and scope of Alibaba. Former teacher (and self-confessed technophobe) Jack Ma’s online company has experienced exponential growth and led to fear and envy from some of China’s (and the world’s) biggest companies. However, in his modesty he has described himself as “a blind man riding on a blind tiger”, giving him instant legend-status in our eyes!
The attached presentation has videos, hyperlinks and infographics that allow students to focus on the various elements that have led to Alibaba’s potential $150bn valuation. Each slide focuses on a different section from the BUSS4 specification thus giving information on leadership, strategy, competition, diversification and the economic (electronic) environment.
Hope it helps.
Here’s a nice little example of Samsung’s customer-focus (no pun intended) and technological innovation.
Possibly inspired by 2013’s Word of the Year, Ellen DeGeneres’ most re-tweeted tweet, or just our general obsession with ourselves, the new Samsung NX mini camera has a rotating screen and is wink-activated, meaning the best selfie since the last selfie!
We perhaps assume that the concept of economies of scale apply when it comes to the generation of "green" energy from solar panels. However, as this excellent video from The Economist explains, the fastest growth in solar panel generating capacity does not come from large solar farms in the desert.
Instead, the utility industry is struggling to come to terms with the competitive threat from tens of thousands of small, individual installations which are able to sell their solar power into the energy grid. A great profile of a fast-growing industry and market that is making hay whilst the sun shines!read more...»
Does the inclusion of the image below breach copyright laws? Paramount Studios think so.
A young man (obviously with time on his hands) has had his Twitter account closed for tweeting individual frames of the film Top Gun, along with captions, every 20 minutes.
The BBC article explains that whilst it seems heavy-handed and mean-spirited, in terms of the law, even the frames are classed as the film. However, it does ask how the tweets could affect Paramount financially, and why YouTube accounts don’t face a similar fate.
In a previous blog I listed some other contentious copyright courtroom quarrels, could this be seen as the most absurd, as far from detracting from the studio finances, it potentially advertises and promotes the films further?
After Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp, I thought this made an interesting exam question. I've compiled a PowerPoint (Facebook_Whats_app.ppt) with graphs and hyper-links and asked students to research the facts behind the purchase. The main reasons seem to be:
- WhatsApp exponential growth was becoming a threat
- Facebook’s “determination to be the 'next' Facebook”!
- WhatsApp's comparative success in Europe
- Messaging companies becoming the social networks of choice for the young
- Google tried and failed
Whilst Facebook's share price fell and then recovered after the purchase, analyst Ian Maude stated "expensively buying every competitor does not feel like a long term strategy". Are Facebook, like Apple, losing their competitive edge?
Hope it helps.
I'd love to see the investment appraisal calculations on this investment project by Marks and Spencer. The Independent reports that M&S has invested around £150m as it relaunches its new website as part of a broader £1bn project to improve its logistics.read more...»
We have blogged about Huawei several times recently. Huawei is a terrific, though controversial example, of a fast-growing Chinese business with global ambitions which poses an increasing competitive threat to established multinationals.
For example, in this blog entry we reported on how Huawei is investing heavily in innovation and new product development: 62,000 of its 140,000 staff work in research and development, and it has 23 R&D centres around the world.
Two recent news articles highlight how this investment in R&D is starting to bear fruit, even if (in the case of 5G the returns are still a few years away)
There has been much media attention recently about the roll-out of 4G mobile networks (thing Kevin Bacon strolling through the streets extolling the virtues of EE). However, Huawei already has its eyes on the next (5G) generation of mobile networks which offer the prospect of data speeds up to 1,000 times faster than the current performance. That's some prize for the successful developers and Huawei is investing over $600m into the research necessary.
5G mobile networks might be 5-6 years away, but a more short-term opportunity looks like the impending competitive battle for wearable technology. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday on plans by Huawei to take on Samsung and (potentially) Apple by launching a smartwatch at an upcoming technology convention in Barcelona. Another example of Huawei's ambition to compete on the global stage, particularly in consumer electronics.
Does the combination of Apple’s falling sharing price and market share, their perceived lack of innovation post-Jobs and Samsung’s cross-licensing deal with Google spell trouble for Apple?
Attached is a 10 slide PowerPoint (Apple_V_Samsung_Research.ppt ) with infographics, hyperlinks, videos and questions that can be used to help students research the two tech giants.
As with the “Will Google rule the world” post, the lesson covers most of the following BUSS4 topics:
- Mission statements & corporate objectives
- Globalisation and emerging markets
- Technological change
Hope it helps!
Lenovo has agreed to buy smartphone manufacturer Motorola from Google for $2.9bn.
As Puneet Pal Singh from the BBC explains in his excellent analysis of the deal, this is not the first time that Lenovo has used an acquisition to accelerate its growth (a good example of "external growth).
Back in 2005 it acquired the desktop and laptop business of IBM which immediately catapulted it into the global top division of computer manufacturers. Now, Lenovo is the world's largest manufacturer of computers and it has set its sights on building global market share in mobile devices, particularly smartphones and tablets.
Overnight, the takeover of Motorola puts Lenovo into third place globally, overtaking Huawei, which itself also has global leadership ambitions. Regular readers of the business blog might also ask - where are Sony and Nokia? The answer, of course, is falling fast as competition intensifies.read more...»
OUP is one of the country's major academic book publishers, and naturally enough it has commissioned and published new studies on the outbreak of the First World War. A new book 'Saving the City', by Richard Roberts, covers the financial crisis which broke out in Britain, after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914.read more...»
Google’s $3.2 billion purchase of Nest and current shopping spree into all things futuristic has made for an excellent BUSS4 case study. Attached is a 10 slide PowerPoint (Google_mergers_and_acquisitions.pptx) with videos, articles, hyper links and questions that can either be used as a homework task to start students on the road of research, a lesson in which students work independently and focus on the sections they find most interesting, or a catalyst for discussion about the similarities of Google, 1984 and Brave New World.
Whilst it focuses on acquisitions, by the end of the lesson all students were able to analyse Google in relation to the following BUSS4 topics:
- Mission statements, corporate aims and strategy
- Government intervention (or Google’s intervention with the government)
- Managing change
Most amusing is the Daily Mash's vision of a world run by Google... as if we have a choice!
The announcement of Google's takeover of smart home-appliance maker Nest for $3.2bn is potentially hugely significant for Google.read more...»
In this six minute interview with The Economist, our good friend Tim Richards, CEO of Vue Cinemas, discusses the strategies the company has adopted as VUE has completed its massive investment in digital projection.read more...»
"I know what you're thinking. "Did he fire six shots or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself..,you've got to ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya, punk?"
A well known exchange from Dirty Harry led me to twist the title.
However, this presents an extreme by UK standards, example of niche marketing, from India, The Nirbheek revolver.read more...»
Retailing is a dynamic market, and firms which have been slow to adapt to changing technologies, falling real incomes, and different patterns of consumer behaviour have been losers rather than winners.read more...»
These two pieces of video evidence on South Korean multinational giant Samsung are pure business studies gold - particularly for students preparing their evidence for AQA BUSS4.
Samsung is a highly diversified multinational that is the most significant firm in the South Korean economy. It has achieved a strong record of improved profitability, quarter after quarter, as demand for its product portfolio has grown, particularly mobile devices. However, in January 2014 it announced that it expected to suffer a fall in profits, It expects to make an operating profit of 8.3 trillion won ($7.8bn; £4.8bn) for the last quarter of 2013, down 18% from the previous three months.read more...»
Here's a great Guardian article to bring you up-to-date: Seasonal trading news from Britain's biggest retailers have underlined the many radical changes that are taking place in the way we shop and buy.read more...»
How simple is this? Xiaomi - the Chinese manufacturer of smartphones - has set a challenging growth objective for 2014. It wants to double the number of phones it sells from just short of 20 million in 2013 to 40 million in 2014.read more...»
A perfectly-timed publicity stunt by e-commerce giant Amazon certainly had the media fooled last week. News outlets all fell for the story - first mentioned by Amazon CEO and Founder Jeff Bezos - that Amazon was testing the use of unmanned drones to carry out doorstep delivery services. The service - appropriately named Amazon Prime Air (Amazon Prime is the real service they wanted to promote) - was featured in the video below.
What are the potential downsides of allowing drones to make deliveries? Perhaps having hundreds of thousands of them in the air at the same time? And what if Amazon's drones accidentally come into contact with an alternative delivery service - OWLS from Waterstones?
Still - a great example of effective seasonal PRread more...»
Billboards are enjoying a new lease of life. By 2011 the first new digital billboards were beginning to become more widespread. These combine the advantages of a traditional approach with moving images, the ability to add updates and to reflect a current news story. Now British Airways have launched a new campaign to take the technology further.read more...»
Christmas is coming and it's time for the new generation of games consoles to be released. It's also a good time for students to refresh their coverage of the product life cycle concept.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...»
"The 20th Century was about dozens of markets of millions of consumers. The 21st Century is about millions of markets of dozens of consumers."
So said Joe Kraus, founder of a search engine called Excite in the middle of the 1990s. Never heard of it? That's not surprising; in 1999 it was a $6.7bn enterprise with hundreds of employees, but a year later the dot-com bubble burst and it disappeared from the market place. But this quote is one of in an article about Peter Day's Radio 4 Archive programme to be broadcast tonight, and already recommended by Michael Owen in his blog below; forgive me for this repetition, but this is such a brilliant article that it really merits a second look, and hopefully between us we will convince you of that!read more...»
Innovation turns business markets upside down, it alters the price and use of resources, it creates and destroys revenue flows and profitability as well as the way we work.
Peter Day a former BBC presenter considers a significant changes in a BBC Radio 4 series this weekend. Consider how the internet, search engines and 3D printing or additive manufacturing might alter market production processes, job opportunities marketing and economies.
There is much to discover and discuss in his superb introductory article linked above. The broadcasts are linked here.
Here's Lei Jun (on the left). Notice something familiar about him? The blue jeans; dark top and introducing a shiny new smartphone to present to the world's media. Uncanny.
Lei Jun is the founder and CEo of a firm called Xiaomi which the Chinese media have nicknamed the “Apple of the East."
Lei Jun himself is also increasingly being called the "Steve Jobs of China" - and not just for his dress sense and presentational style!read more...»
It looks to me like the last throw of the dice. A final attempt to cut costs, stem rising losses and rationlise a business so that a buyer can be found - even in its current distressed state. But will the announcement of 4,500 job losses be enough to save Blackberry?read more...»
Say the word e-commerce in the US, UK and many other developed economies and one word usually comes to mind – Amazon. The Seattle-based multinational claims to be the world's largest online retailer. It has highly diversified operations that have taken the business well beyond the original proposition - selling books online. CEO and Founder Jeff Bezos launched Amazon.com in 1995 and over the next two decades Amazon has expanded its retail websites to dominate the market in Canada, the UK, France, Germany and elsewhere.
However, in China, say e-commerce and a different "A" word is on everyone's lips. Alibaba is a private Chinese company that is now the largest business-to-business and consumer-to-consumer company in the world. Amazon might dominate global business-to-consumer online retailing. But, in China, Amazon has a very small market share and it is Alibaba that dominates.
In fact, Alibaba can legitimately claim to be the world’s leading e-commerce business. Reports suggest that Alibaba handled total sales of $170 billion in 2012 – which is more than the transaction value handled by Amazon ($96bn) and eBay ($75bn) combined!
After more than eight years of effort, Amazon has less than 1 per cent of China’s $196bn e-commerce market. Alibaba is estimated to have a market share of nearer 75 per cent.
To put this into perspective, China’s e-commerce market is already the largest in the world and by 2020 is forecast to be bigger than the existing markets in the USA, UK, Japan, Germany and France combined. So Alibaba’s market share of over 70% makes it a very big player indeed.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...»
We've featured Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins and the plight of smartphone brand Blackberry several times here on the Business Studies Blog and in our BUSS4 exam workshops. Over the summer of 2013, things have not gone well for Blackberry despite the launch of two crucial new products in March 2013 and now the future of Blackberry's parent company - RIM - is in doubt.read more...»
Imagine the scene. You've left what looks like your most promising Christmas present to open last. The package indicates something tablet-sized & the box feels pretty sturdy. You asked Santa for a tablet computer - so this looks promising....read more...»
I've been updating my records of large takeovers and mergers in recent years and looking at whether shareholder value was created or destroyed by each deal.
One takeover which strikes me as being highly successful is that of YouTube by Google. Here is some evidence that supports that view.read more...»
Here’s a nice summer concept to consider. Suppose the future is much brighter than we commonly imagine. In fact, so good that within a few years the common problems we associate with scarcity will be a thing of the past.
My holiday reading has taken me in this direction, and it’s a fantastic idea to grapple with. How will business and the economy adapt to deliver this Promised Land? And what will it mean when we get there?read more...»
I finished my academic year with a discussion of innovation, and new ideas. On an optimistic note, I've just seen that the UK comes second in a new ranking of global innovation.read more...»
A fascinating, short interview here with Tim Cook, CEO of Apple.
Cook compares Apple's performance to its competitors, and explains his product strategy in an onstage interview.
His argument is clear. Apple's strategy is one of differentiation, not cost leadership based on market-leading scale. For Apple, it is not about making the most of each of the product categories in which it has a presence - it is about making the best in the market.
So, Samsung is now the clear global market leader in mobile phones (including the fast-growing smartphone segment). But Cook argues that Apple makes the best phone. Compare the iPhone 5 with the Samsung Galaxy S4 - is he right?
For students, an important question to consider is this - what the key advantages that a successful strategy of product differentiation can bring? And can it be sustained against the intensive competition that Apple is facing from the likes of Samsung, Google and Huawei?read more...»
Could Google Glass have as transformational effect on our lives as the smartphone? Yes is the answer - according to leading venture capitalist Marc Andreessen - who explains why in the CNN video below.
Rory Cellan-Jones from the BBC has also been examining Google Glass. In this article Rory asks whether Google Glass is the most exciting technology product of recent years, or whether it might turn out to be the 21st Century equivalent of the Sinclair C5!read more...»
A couple of topics here: I’ve chosen to make the main focus one of stock control, but this blog is obviously about the rise of the online economy too.read more...»
Can Apple's CEO Tim Cook provide the right leadership to sustain the firm's reputation for innovation?
That's the question posed in this short Businessweek article which looks at three key factors which may determine whether Apple's innovative culture can be sustained and nurtured.
It's a good piece and well worth reading not just as an example of analysis and evaluation!read more...»
It is now six years since the global financial crisis triggered a prolonged downturn in economic activity. The UK economy, like other developed economies, has struggled to escape from a period of stagnant economic growth.
However, despite the weak economy, many UK firms have succeeded in significantly growing their revenues and profits.
Here are three examples of such businesses. Their strategies for success are different – but there are also some similarities.
Can you compare and contrast these three – and also identify some other businesses that have enjoyed similar success despite the tough economic environment?
You might also consider:
- What factors have driven revenue growth at each of the three
- Has their growth strategy been based on organic or external
- To what extent has their growth been driven by international
- Do you think their recent success can be sustained?
- What factors might that continued success depend on?
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...»