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...»
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...»
‘Feel free to browse’ often strikes me as an odd sign in many shop windows. Why wouldn’t I feel free to do so? Well, the answer should have struck me by now. Apparently, many ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers are feeling the pressure from ‘showrooming’ – when people see something they wanted in a shop, try it, check the price online on their smartphone, find it’s cheaper, and walk out.
I’ve just been reading about the phenomenon and was reminded of the sign I’ve used to illustrate this blog, which appeared in a shop window after the British camera chain went into administration. "The staff at Jessops would like to thank you for shopping with Amazon". (I think any discussion of tax avoidance can be saved for another occasion).read more...»
Kazou Hirai took over as CEO of Sony on 1 April 2012 replacing Howard Stringer. Hirai inherited a business with many problems and experiencing heavy losses. What has he done in his first year?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...»
Has Nokia got a problem with its product portfolio? The market seems to think so. Nokia's shares down 13% today on news of disappointing sales for the first three months of 2013.
Nokia has enjoyed some recent success with its Lumia smartphone range. However, sales of its traditional more basic feature phones are very weak and facing intense competition in emerging markets against low-cost competitors.
So, Nokia's smartphones are doing well, but Nokia has only a small market share in a fast-growing market. If we were applying this to the Boston Matrix, Nokia's smartphones would probably be considered to be "problem children" or "question marks".
What about Nokia's feature phones. A falling market share (once the market leader) but in a low-growth market. That looks like a "Dog" in the Boston Matrix - or at least on the way to becoming a dog (maybe a puppy?).
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...»
Bigger is better, or so it seemed to the UK supermarkets over the last 20 years. Size seemed to offer all kinds of advantages (or ‘economies of scale’ in business terms). Many of those economies are still very present for the larger chains (especially with purchasing and technical benefits), but I’ve been reading that this mood is shifting. Since the early 90s, the UK's £160bn a year grocery business has understood that one of the key routes to success has been the ability to open more and bigger shops.
Now it seems as though the major players have come round to thinking that size is not necessarily what matters, because shoppers are changing their habits fast. Has the “space race” run its course?read more...»
Will Google make a success of Google Glass? We're about to find out as more details of Google Glass emerge - including the two videos below.
Google Glass is a wearable computer with a head-mounted display (HMD). Google Glass displays information in a smartphone-like hands-free format that can interact with the Internet via natural language voice commands.
Would you like a pair? If so, why?read more...»
This is superb stimulus material for any business lesson strategic change and change management. The short animated video reports back on a recent Economist debate about whether businesses are too slow to adapt to change. It features some of our favourite examples and case studies, including Kodak and HMV. Some great quotes and simple, powerful ideas here.read more...»
Royal Mail is fast becoming a must-cover case study for advanced business students. Royal Mail is now well into a significant transformation programme under the leadership of CEO Moya Green. The business is preparing for and approaching privatisation and faces intense competition in the profitable parcels business.
So I thought I'd dig out a few links which might help students get started with exploring the Royal Mail case study.read more...»
A fascinating example here of product innovation which the world's largest car manufacturer hopes might revolutionise the way we travel (well, short journeys at least).
Toyota's new I-Road concept car was revealed last week. The video below shows it in action. What do you think? Might it take-off?
The three-wheeled i-Road is targeted at urban commuters and has a maximum range of 30 miles. It can be fully charged in just three hours using a domestic socket - which sounds a fully-charged I-Road lasts about as long as my fully-charged i-Phone!
If we all start using the I-Road (or the inevitably similar models that will appear from competitors if demand rises strongly), then one benefit might be less congestion on our roads. Toyota claims that four i-Roads can fit in a single parking bay.
The i-Road features a stability system called 'Active Lean', which allows the i-Road to lean into corners like a motorbike. Driver and passenger are completely enclosed so don't have to wear helmets. The i-Road's turning circle is just three metres. I'm not sure how much luggage the I-Road can carry: probably not a lot!
A superb short video here from the FT which examines ways in which high street retailers are exploiting advances in technology - specifically the capture, analysis and use of "big data" and smartphone apps - to add value to the retail process.read more...»
Many AS Business candidates are asked about this question, and perhaps one of the most helpful ways of looking at this topic is seeing what happens when things go wrong. The latest headache was a short disruption only this week at RBS, and is covered by the BBC and The Guardian.read more...»
Teleworking is a great concept to discuss in Business Studies, as the topic covers everything from organisation to leadership, motivation and business culture. Recently I wrote about trouble for teleworkers, following after the findings of a report that suggested that many potential teleworkers fret that time away from the office means missing out on promotion opportunities. Apparently, the report by the London Business School finds that companies still reward ‘presenteeism’; telecommuters are less likely to be promoted because they aren't present in the office.
Now we learn that Yahoo are to place severe restrictions on opportunities for teleworking, promoting more interesting debate and coverage. For one thing, the boss of Yahoo is female. You might think this point irrelevant, but to many commentators, this is yet another angle to a fascinating debate….read more...»
The market for operating systems that power mobile devices is dominated by two clear leaders - Android (owned by Google) and IOS (owned by Apple). So is there room in the market for a strong third-placed option? This video from the FT analyses the current state of play in the mobile operating market, which Nokia's Stephen Elop described as a "battle of ecosystems".read more...»
A good update here from the ever-excellent Andrew Hill at the FT on the strategic progress being made by Stephen Elop at Nokia.
Is it really two years since Stephen Elop issued his infamous "burning platform" memo to the employees and management of Nokia which explained the dire strategic position the business was in?
Days later Elop announced his decision to partner with Steve Ballmer's Microsoft to use the Windows mobile operating platform. Tens of thousands of Nokia employees have lost their jobs since as Elop has pursued a dual strategy of aggressive operational retrenchment, closing 200 of its 500 locations worldwide.
The Nokia organisation structure has been significantly streamlined to encourage more effective teamwork and collaboration. The share price has risen strongly in the last 6-9 months (after sharp falls in early 2012) and Nokia's new product ranges seem to be better received.
I sense a turning of the tide for Nokia - and for business students it remains one to watch closely.
Lots of hype this week around the announcement of the new PlayStation 4 by Sony - although the formal announcement didn't actually include sight of what the PS4 console will look like or the price it will be sold for!
Sony is a great case study for business students and the 7 year development phase for the PS4 is a crucial part of the strategy of Sony's new CEO Kazou Hirai (who originally made his name in Sony's gaming division).
Rory Cellan-Jones from the BBC has this good piece which questions whether console gaming has changed fundamentally since the launch of the PS3.
Below, I've provided some punchy video reports on the launch, which touch on the competitive issues that Sony faces as it "rolls the dice" on console gaming driving profit growth once more...read more...»
Big Data is becoming increasingly significant in business management and we're always on the look out for practical examples of how it is being used in large and small businesses.
This latest video guide from the FT is simply superb material for business lessons, highlighting some practical applications among UK retailers / etailers.read more...»
I've been researching the rapid growth of Chinese technology firm Huawei this week and came across a feature of Hauwei#s leadership structure which stopped me dead in my tracks. Most big companies have one CEO (Chief Executive Officer). But, Huawei has decided to do things differently. It has decide to have three!read more...»
Johnson & Scholes in their model of the Cultural Web of an Organisation point to the importance of stories as powerful descriptors and shapers of the culture of a business.
The more organisations you work in or with, the more you come across stories. They are told about a business to reinforce (or deny) a company's vision, values and way of doing business. Told well (and often) they help send strong messages to those who hear the stories, particularly those who work inside the business or customers who build loyalty to a business & brand.
One of the most famous "stories" in corporate culture is that of the Hewlett-Packard Garage at 367 Addison Avenue, Palo Alto, California. The HP Garage is known as the "birthplace of Silicon Valley".
As HP today describe the Garage:
Tucked away on a quiet, tree-lined residential street near Stanford University, the HP Garage stands today as the enduring symbol of innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit. It was in this humble 12x18 -foot building that college friends Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard first pursued the dream of a company of their own. Guided by an unwavering desire to develop innovative and useful products, the two men went on to blaze a trail at the forefront of the electronics revolution.
Take a look inside the Google campus here in this video which looks at how Google has approached the development of apps for the two key smartphone ecosystems - IOS and Android.
The video provides a useful and fascinating insight into the changing corporate culture of Google and the impact of Google CEO Larry Page who has transformed the business around the vision of innovative design (competing now with Apple?).
A good example of this is how Google redesigned the Gmail app that works on Apple's IOS operating system. It had to look like Gmail (Google) but have an Apple feel!
A real feature of this video is the importance of teamwork in app design - another strong feature of the Google culture.read more...»
Many seasoned industry observers believe that RIM's survival hopes rest on the recent launch of the Z10 - the new Blackberry smartphone designed to compete directly with the iPhone 5 and Samsung's range.
RIM needs the new phone to generate some pretty significant profits and a key part of that will be achieving a strong gross profit margin in a highly competitive, price-sensitive market.
In this video, the basic manufacturing unit costs of the Z10 have been analysed and compared with the iPhone 5. What are the results?read more...»
Is there a better example of a firm that failed to embrace the need for change in the face of rapid technological advances than Kodak?
Kodak is a great example to use with students to introduce the concept of technological change and this video provides a thought-provoking piece of stimulus material!read more...»
When firms set their strategic, long term aims, they need to have some kind of vision of what the future may hold.read more...»
Since it launched in 2008, the music streaming service Spotify has gained 20 million users, many of whom are prepared to pay for the premium service. Of this revenue, approximately 70% is paid back to the music industry by Spotify.
Spotify is one of several firms in the rapidly-growing music streaming industry. Can its business model work?
This video from the Wall Street Journal takes a look behind Spotify and discusses the issues with music industry stakeholders.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...»
Michael Dell founded Dell Computers back in 1984 with just $1,000 in capital. For the alst 25 years, shares in Dell have been traded publicly. But now Dell has taken the company "private" with the help of venture capital and Microsoft, paying $24.4bn for the privilege!
My students know that I love the radio. Many a spare half an hour can be whiled away with a podcast of The Bottom Line (which returns on Thursday/Saturday this week), or More or Less, or Peter Day’s World of Business. And the great thing about this form of learning is that it can overlap with other tasks – there’s no opportunity cost! Listen to a business/economics podcast whilst at the gym, going for a run, doing the washing-up, whatever…
But whilst Radio 4 is well-scouted territory, but one students might not be so familiar with is NPR’s Planet Money. This show, from America’s public radio, is quite close in style to R4’s More or Less with a more of a business focus. 2 fifteen minute shows are podcasted a week.
This edition is a great place to start.
Here’s a funny story to accompany a more serious post about the future of outsourcing – which is where a firm hires the services of outside companies to perform a business process currently completed ‘in house’.
Apparently one US worker hired people in China do his work. Having outsourced his job, 'Bob' would spend the day at work browsing sites on the internet. (If you believe it), the US-based software developer has been caught outsourcing his work to China for less than a fifth of his six figure salary - while he spent his time messing around on Facebook, LinkedIn, eBay and Reddit.read more...»
I adapted the title for this blog from an article and video clip I came across in the Telegraph, which contains the observation that "consumers forgot that Blockbusters still existed". I don't really think its demise was very hard to predict, and I think most of you will have seen this coming for some time.
But with the decline of Blockbusters - and so much other bad news on the High Street - I've decided to bundle together a lot of ideas and links to encourage students to work independently on this topic, to see if they can understand some of the forces putting pressure on our High Streets at the moment.read more...»
A directive from The US Federal Aviation Administration has stopped flights of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, until the plane maker has satisfied the regulator that it has resolved problems with the aircraft’s battery systems. Boeing’s shares had dropped by 2% $72.80 (£45.50) after the announcement. The share price of GS Yuasa the Japanese battery maker had fallen 11% since 7 January when an electrical fire broke out on a JAL 787 at Logan International Airport in Boston.
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.
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...»
This afternoon The High Court appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers as Administrators of Jessops the high street camera retailer. The company has debts of £80m.read more...»
The use of robots on production lines is well established. But this excellent video from the FT explains how sophisticated robotic devices are making the switch to other markets, particularly the medical market.read more...»
A nice example here to help explain and illustrate the impact of technological change on the product life cycle.
This article in the Telegraph reports a 20% decline in UK sales of MP3 players during 2012 compared with 2011. Total sales in 2012 were £381million, a fall of £110million. According to one Mintel market forecast, annual sales could slump further to around £25million within the next 5 years as the market penetration of smartphones continues to make the MP3 player less relevant to consumers.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...»
The huge rise in online shopping brings opportunities for new businesses - but also the imperative need for efficient and low-cost operations. Profit margins are squeezed for all businesses, and retailing online, rather than through expensive high street shops, provides a valuable way of achieving that cost objective - but only if the orders can be supplied efficiently. As Net-a-Porter chief executive Mark Sebba says, "If we don't focus on the customer, then we're lost. So what does the
customer want? The customer wants an absolutely impeccable service and
she or he wants the product really as soon as she or he can possibly get
I steered clear of the topic of Black Friday this year. Perhaps it’s not as hyped as it was. Instead, this year the media has been making a lot ‘Mega Monday’ or ‘Cyber Monday’, emphasising the growing role of internet retailing in the UK.read more...»
Royal Mail has reported a huge increase in half-year profits as growth in parcel deliveries made up for a continued fall in the number of letters being sent. This is something of a surprise to many as the business had looked to be in long term decline. The chief executive has summed up the way in which the firm has found success: "Royal Mail has experienced the negative impact of e-substitution, which is driving the structural decline in the traditional letters market. Conversely, we are seeing the positive impact that online retailing is having on our parcel volumes”.
Now that operations are in profit, this might speed up the business’ move from the public sector and into the private sector – a move referred to as privatisation. A future for the Royal Mail in the private sector was referred to in a previous blog. Here’s an update, and a reminder of some of the strategic issues at stake.read more...»
Followers of the Business Blog and attendees at our BUSS4 revision workshops will know that we're big fans of Sony as a case study in business strategy. And this resource - an interview by BusinessWeek with Sony's CEO Kazou Hirai - provides another useful addition to the research resources which students ought to use if they want to develop their understanding of the strategic challenges facing Sony and the options Hirai is choosing.read more...»
Amazon is increasing its share of many consumer retail segments in the UK and it is fast becoming an almost dominant player in the market for seasonal demand at Christmas. In this Telegraph article, we get a behind-the-scenes perspective on the scale and complexity of the Amazon retail opportunity here in the UK.
The capacity of Amazon to process so many orders so accurately really is quite staggering, particularly given the volume of customer orders that are processed at the busiest time in the run-up to Christmas. I particularly noted the role that complex search algorithms play in organising the way that orders are picked and despatched. A key economy of scale is that the same technology is used in all Amazon's distribution centres worldwide.
An earlier article in the Telegraph explained how Amazon UK is expected to recruit around 10,000 temporary staff this Christmas, with the best-performing staff being asked to become permanent employees as new distribution centres are opened.