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Retrenchment - Lexmark Exits the Inkjet Printer Market

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Do you still use an inkjet printer at home or at school? If so, you’re one of a dwindling customer base for the manufacturers and retailers of inkjet printers and accessories. And now there will be one fewer inkjet brands competing for the remaining demand. Lexmark has decided to exit the market; the move represents a significant retrenchment for Lexmark as it aims to refocus its business on more profitable market segments.

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Technological Change & Innovation - Insights and Quotes

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I have a hunch that technological innovation and change is going to be a key area of focus for business teachers and students this year. So this resource from the Economist - which contains some great quotes on the nature and purpose of innovation - is a handy addition.

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Leadership at Apple - Tim Cook’s First Year

Monday, August 27, 2012

It’s just a year since Tim Cook took over as CEO of Apple when Steve Jobs stepped down from the role ahead of his untimely passing.  Succession planning at Apple had been carefully planned, but at the time many analysts, investors and the media questioned whether Tim Cook would be able to sustain the incredible growth story that had been masterminded by Jobs. So how has Cook got on?

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Technology, Culture & Innovation: What’s Gone Wrong with Microsoft?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A fascinating article here from John Naughton in the Observer which asks whether Microsoft has lost the key competitive edge that made it so successful for so long - innovation.

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Takeovers and Mergers - Google Takes the Knife to Motorola Mobility

Monday, August 13, 2012

​This is a good example of significant cost synergies being squeezed from a major takeover.  Google, which acquired Motorola Mobility (a manufacturer of mobile phones) for $12.5bn, has decided to make 20% of Motorola’s workforce redundant. That’s around 4,000 employees who will lose their jobs.

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Gold Medals, Kaizen and the Aggregation of Marginal Gains

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The French are worried - in fact they can’t work it out. Just how are the TeamGB cycling team managing to dominate every other nation in winning 70% of the gold medals on offer at the Velodrome? Do TeamGB use “magic wheels”?

If they look carefully, the French will discover that the answer lies in a potent combination of factors that make TeamGB virtually unbeatable - great leadership (coaching); talented riders (raw materials) and an approach to gaining competitive advantage that is based on Kaizen - the concept of continuous improvement.

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Price Cuts, Life Cycle and the Woes of Nokia

Monday, July 16, 2012

When a global brand is forced to cut the selling price of its flagship product by 50% just three months after launch, you just know something is badly wrong!

That is what Nokia has done in the crucual US smartphone market. The price of the Lumia 900 Windows Phone (first released in April 2012) has been cut from $99 to $49.99.

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Takeovers and Mergers - How to Destroy 99% of a Takeover’s Value

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Microsoft’s takeover of AQuantive for $6.3bn in 2007 must now go down as one of the least successful acquisitions in recent history. In its most recent quarterly results, Microsoft has announced that it is “writing down” the value of its investment in AQuantive by $6.2bn (i.e. just about all of it), to reflect the significantly lower value of the business just five years on.

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Bank computer glitch gives an insight into contingency planning and the importance of cash flow

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

There have been some real difficulties handling transactions at RBS, with warnings that disruption to normal banking services may last for several weeks.  This is a real headache – not just for RBS who stand to lose millions because of the problem, but for their customers who face a host of difficulties.

Here’s a good opportunity to think through what some of the issues might be.

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Adding Value - How Much Profit is Made by the iPhone?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A simply fascinating piece of analysis by the respected Asymco website here which breaks down the costs of each individual element of what goes into an iPhone. Has there ever been a better example of added value to show students - though they may be somewhat surprised by how much contribution is made on each iPhone shipped!

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Sony - Can Hirai Turn the Business Around?

A good article here which analyses the strategic challenges facing Sony and its new CEO Kazou Hirai.

As we’ve reported recently on the Blog, Sony is now undertaking a significant retrenchment strategy, including the loss of over 10,000 jobs (or 6 per cent of its global workforce) over the next 12 months. That sounds a lot, although it ought to be put in some context - Nokia has made over 30,000 job losses since Stephen Elop began his retrenchment strategy!

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AQA BUSS4 Revision Presentations

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Our BUSS4 blog has a series of streamed revision presentations which students may find helpful in supporting their studies ahead of the exam. They are listed below:

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More Retrenchment at Nokia (June 2012)

The problems facing Stephen Elop at Nokia just seem to get worse. His retrenchment strategy has been notched up another level with the announcement this morning of 10,000 further job losses (that’s about one fifth of the total at Nokia, excluding those who work at the joint venture with Siemens AG). Will this latest, dramatic move be enough to ensure Nokia’s survival?

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Mazda make light of formal tie up with Fiat

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In the 1980s and 1990s, Ford embarked on a series of takeovers Jaguar, Volvo, Land Rover, all of which were sold off to meet the firm’s liabilities. It also had built up a substantial stake in the Japanese Mazda company, holding almost 1/3 of the share capital, making a successful bid by rival multinational car makers less likely.

Today’s business news included an announcement that Mazda was forming an alliance with Alfa Romeo develop a new two-seater rear-wheel-drive sports car.

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A neat interactive tool for students to analyse the smartphone market

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

This is a great classroom resource - Our Mobile Planet. It provide students with an interactive chart generator where they can select data sets and undertake analysis of the demand for, and use of, smartphones in various national markets.  Great for illustrating market share and for providing students with some raw chart data they can interpret. Have fun…!

Should you buy Facebook shares?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Most of you will be familiar with the crucial concept of appraising business investments.  This means taking a cold, hard look at a business proposal (in this case buying Facebook shares) and seeing what kind of return you are likely to get on that investment.
With Facebook shares only days away from public sale, analysts are busy trying to piece together the information that’s necessary to advise people one way or another.  This seems like a great opportunity to get you thinking.  What do you need to know before deciding whether to invest?  Here are a few links to get you started…

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Revision Presentation - Operations and Technology

This brief revision presentation introduces the role of technology in operations. It looks at some of the main established types of technology and how technology supports the effective management of operations. It also examines the link between the use of technology and productivity and quality.

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A cracking business lesson video on my favourite product - Jaffa Cakes!

Monday, May 07, 2012

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!

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Predictions of a dramatic change in the way goods are produced - and how it may change business

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Those of you who are looking at business production, or operations management, (especially in A2 courses) will certainly want to read this week’s Economist either in the library, or by getting their own copy from the newsstand.
They are predicting a new industrial revolution, with a potentially enormous impact on all industries.

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A detailed look inside Apple’s Foxconn factory

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

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.

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Technological change - manufacturing and innovation

Friday, April 20, 2012

This is well worth watching - for business as well as economics students. An 8 minute discussion from the Economist which examines what is being called “The Third Industrial Revolution” - based around the digitisation of manufacturing processes. Concepts such as 3d printing and advanced robotics are discussed, as are concepts such as competitiveness, productivity and product personalisation. One possible consequence of these changes might be that high quality manufacturing may begin to move back from low-wage economies such as China and back to economies like the USA.

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Strategy - How Nokia was overtaken by Apple and Samsung

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I like this short article from Channel 4 News which examines how Nokia’s competitive position has been severely weakened by the success of firms like Apple and Nokia.

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Apple under fire for e-book deals

A great example here of the role of competition legislation and regulation here - which involves everyone’s favourite A2 case study - Apple…

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Takeovers and Mergers: Facebook & Instagram in News Clips

Saturday, April 14, 2012

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.

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Enterprise, Location and Culture - Inside the new Google Campus in London

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

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Strategy & Technological Change - Whatever Happened to BlackBerry?

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…

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Sony - Hirai’s Turnaround Strategy - in Video Clips

Friday, April 13, 2012

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 losses

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Instagram - the business with no revenues, worth $1bn

Monday, April 09, 2012

Simply stunning. There’s no other way to describe the takeover by Facebook of Instagram…for a cool $1bn. This takeover has really made the technology market sit up and notice.

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Organisational culture, strategy and performance in fewer than 1000 words

Tuning into the news last week I was not surprised to see the Met Police once again under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-17636776).  Described as suffering from ‘institutional racism’ by the MacPherson Report in 1999 it appears not a lot has changed at the Met police in the almost 20 years since the racially motivated murder of teenager Stephen Lawrence.  So what exactly is going on?

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Revision Presentation - Business & the Technological Environment

This new revision presentation focuses on the “T” in PESTEL - technology. The role of technological change as an opportunity or threat is examined as are the drivers of innovation and the process of diffusion.

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Move over Apple, Samsung, Sony & Nokia. Here Comes China’s Huawei

Saturday, April 07, 2012

A great article here for students researching the competitive environment in the consumer electronics industry. Students should certainly be familiar with the strategies of Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Sony and others. But have they heard of Huawei? It looks like they might soon, if Huawei is successful in its objective of grabbing a significant share of the smartphone and tablet markets.

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Google and YouTube - a backward step?

Monday, April 02, 2012

Is this a good move by Google-owned YouTube? Well it might be - particularly for school or college IT technicians who still block student and teacher access to the treasure trove of educational materials contained on YouTube. However, the school librarian might end up a little annoyed with the regularly deliveries of new YouTube DVDs that are offered as part of the new service…

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Game Over?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sometimes the decline of a business enters a spiral.  Conditions in the marketplace change.  New competitors emerge.  Poor trading conditions lead to disappointing revenues.  Cash flow dries up.  Suppliers become reluctant to supply.  Shareholders begin to pull out, and it gets progressively harder to raise finance to reverse the decline.  That seems to be a fair summary of the current woes of Game Group, which is looking increasingly like the latest casualty on the troubled UK High Street.

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Two Lesson Videos on Nokia - Will their Strategy Work?

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.

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Lesson Video on Patent Protection - the Battle for Smartphone Advantage

Monday, March 12, 2012

Don’t try this at home - but watch this expert open up his smartphone to illustrate the use of patents and patent protection…

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Sony - All Change at the Top with a new CEO

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…

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Apple’s new CEO and a new iPad - A Change in Leadership

Friday, March 09, 2012

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.

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Start-ups - the Wooden Smartphone?

Sunday, March 04, 2012

If smartphones have become mass-market, then is there now a gap in the market for a niche phone - perhaps one made from bamboo? This excellent video examines the innovative idea of Kieron-Scott Woodhouse, a final year Product & Design student at the Middlesex University in London. He’s just turned 24 and is already running his own company. This is his debut design - the world’s first smartphone made from wood….

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MU folding electric plug

Thursday, February 23, 2012

“When I’m walking down the street I see everyday objects and ask myself why that object exists. If I can find any possibility for improvement, I start to design it.” Min-Kyu Choi.

The newly launched folding MU plug uses less materials, less space yet meets current UK regulations for electric equipment, and will appeal to users of tablets, smartphones and ipods, which require a slim USB adapter.

It is a great case study for consideration of all aspects of entrepreneurship - risk taking, design, development, finance, marketing production and profits.

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Google’s takeover of Motorola Mobility is given regulatory seal of approval

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Google’s biggest-ever takeover has been given approval by competition regulators in both the EU and USA, paving the way for the takeover to be legally completed.

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Video starter - Inside the iPad factory

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The first time that any reporters have been allowed inside the iPad factory in China - and what an insight!  This clip has it all for superb business studies lesson starter.  Technology in production of course; but much more interesting is the issue of people management. Thought-provoking…

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Vestas – has the wind gone out of their sales.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Last Wednesday, Vestas the leading supplier of wind turbines posted a substantial operating loss of €166m on its operations. This has led to the resignation of the Chief Financial Officer Henrik Norremark, and the Chairman Bent Carlsen and two other main board directors. Norremark was about to be promoted to Chief Operating Officer, in control of the firm’s manufacturing operations.

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Innovation in Business - Perspectives from Stephen Elop (CEO of Nokia)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Nokia is an essential research case study for business students and teachers and I highly recommend this excellent, longer video interview with Nokia CEO Stephen Elop.  The discussion focuses on the role of innovation in business, but you also get a sense of the character of Elop, a key case study in leadership and business strategy. This is a wide-ranging and accessible discussion that also focuses on the effect of technological disruption in business, with a specific analysis of the effect/influence of disruption on innovation strategy.

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The history of Apple’s product innovation - in 30 seconds

Friday, February 10, 2012

Short and sweet - this 30 second video that showcases the progression of Apple’s product portfolio. A journey that takes us from the very first Apple prototype computer through to the iPad. Great for illustrating the process of product innovation.  You can always pause the video (if you’re quick) to look at the individual products.

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Happiness in the workplace still proving elusive

Monday, February 06, 2012

60 years ago we worked 30% longer and took half as many holidays.  For most, pay was poor.  Discrimination in the workplace was widespread, and permitted by law.  Work was often hard, and for working class men it was often dangerous too.  So it’s a sobering thought to think that several decades later, measures of anxiety in the workplace have risen, to the point that stress has replaced back pain as the most common cause of long-term sick leave, according to The Guardian.  What’s going wrong?

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Integration, integration, integration

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

HP is an example of a firm which is struggling to integrate acquisitions, and the perils of diversification.

Great news for Autonomy shareholders but…

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Success for the Daily Mail’s online strategy

Monday, January 30, 2012

Last year I started my A2 students on the topic of business strategy by looking at the UK newspaper market.  Analysis of their position paints a pretty bleak picture, but the industry has a successful record of innovation, so it was interesting to compare their strategies for survival.  A year later, and the success of one paper’s strategy is becoming apparent.

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Technological change - the “consumerisation of technology”

This is a neat two-minute video from The Economist (in October 2011) which provides an ideal introduction to a key concept - the “consumerisation of technology”.  Essentially this is about the integration of consumer tech products into the world of work. The main example provided is that of the smartphone, but you can apply the same concept to other hardware products such as tablets and also to software as a service (“SaaS”) such as cloud-based storage.

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Strategic choice: What should Facebook do with cash from the IPO?

The business pages are buzzing about the impending flotation of Facebook, with some analysts speculating that the implied valuation of Facebook based on the flotation share price will be up to $100billion.  It is thought that Facebook will seek to raise approximately $10billion of new share capital through the IPO.  But, what should Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook Board do with the cash raised?

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Technological change: 3-D printing promises a new industrial revolution

Saturday, January 28, 2012

I’m going to show you a technology that may simply blow you away.  This isn’t a make-believe technology; it’s real and it’s here now.  The possibilities are endless; the implications for the future of manufacturing, business investment and business models could be hugely significant.

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