The race to produce the best driverless car is on! Most of the automotive “big boys” are working on their versions, but it’s interesting to see the varied approaches taken by Google and Audi. Attached is a PowerPoint task that ask students to watch the 2 car “adverts” and analyse the risks and rewards of the different strategies.
Google are playing it safe, perhaps heeding the Harris Poll of 2,039 adults, in which 88 percent said they would be worried about riding in an autonomous, driverless car. Their car is round, cute, friendly and slow.
Audi have chosen another path… a much faster path! Their “piloted” car achieved speeds of 149mph and completed a lap of the Hockenheim F1 track a few seconds faster than the manned car.
Intriguing stuff that is certain to create great debate.
Have a fantastic Christmas!
A fantastic documentary for the Section A Research Theme (bullets 2, 4 & 5), that also ticks a great many boxes for the BUSS1, 2 & 3 specifications.
Channel 4’s Inside Rolls Royce charts the production of the Celestial (a one-off showpiece car that has more bling than Liberace, as well as an optional £20,000 picnic hamper!). It covers many topics within Human Resources, Operations, and Marketing, but my highlights are as follows:
- The front of house manager who checks the length of the grass
- The relentless quality control that almost breaks a man
- The marketing of the new Rolls Royce Wraith in Abu Dhabi, which includes hand selected movers-and-shakers from the city getting to test drive it around the formula 1 track
The documentary is available via this link (if you don’t have a C4 account, it takes only 2 minutes to register) and I’ve created a worksheet with 29 questions (numbers correspond to the minutes) intended to promote discussion about a brand synonymous with British excellence.
Hope it helps
If a business sees a market segment in which sales are predicted to double to the scale of 15% of the total market in the next five years, you would expect them to be quick to find ways to enter it. However, if you are Sainsbury's, and have a carefully nurtured image and market position to protect, you might baulk at rushing into the discount segment of the market, in case it interfered with that image or cannibalised your market.read more...»
Tesco's share price slid again today, although the firm has announced that the new Finance Director Alan Stewart started work three months earlier than expected.read more...»
News about Tesco's troubles comes thick and fast, today's bad news about overstating profits has wiped off 11.59% of the share price. It fell by 26 pence to £2.03.read more...»
The story of Apple, from inception up until 2011, is told beautifully in this 50 minute BBC documentary (available on Netflix or via this link) and literally covers all 15 sections in the BUSS1 specification (and quite a few from BUSS2 too). As an added bonus, I’ve created this 30-question worksheet to keep students focused.
A fantastic insight into one of the biggest companies in the world, a ready-made lesson... and chance for you to put your feet up for an hour!
Hope it helps!
The headline above from the FT really caught my eye this morning. Tata Group, perhaps best known in the UK for its ownership of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and Corus, has set out ambitious plans to invest $35bn in capital spending over the next three years as part of its vision for the next 10 years.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 topic that is yet to be examined in the BUSS4 paper and one of the sections in the fantastic BUSS4 Revision Workshops is Retrenchment.
This 9 minute clip show the highlights of Ali and Foreman’s Rumble in the Jungle, and demonstrates the risks of over expansion, the necessity of retrenchment and the benefits of focus. It serves as a potential introduction to Retrenchment strategy and can be followed by research on Thomas Cook’s Harriot Green or Royal Mail’s Moya Green (two ladies who demonstrate Ali-esque strategic thinking). In the video, Muhammad Ali shows:
Ali believed that he could beat the market leader with an aggressive attack in the first 2 round. He was wrong! It led only to him expending lots of energy (money) and aggrevating his more powerful opponent.
Retrenchment (the rope-a-dope)
Ali went against the rope for the subsequent 5 rounds. Whilst this was a risky strategy, it allowed him to refocus and conserve vital energy (whilst Foreman went on the attack and expended most of his energy/funds). Despite being on the defensive, Ali still used his marketing/mind games to get the crowd on side and frustrate Foreman.
Focus and Success
In the 8th round, having regained his stregth and knowing that his opponent had lost his, Ali invested in a short, focused but powerful attack that floored Foreman and allowed him to achieve his objective of Champion of the world/market leader!
“students never really cognitively understand something until they can create a personal metaphor or model”
To help students understand how a business can overcome the many barriers to success in China, we used the metaphor of trying to gain the affections of a beautiful, foreign (but very high-maintenance) woman… called China! The analogy worked surprisingly well and we compiled the pros and cons on the attached PowerPoint.
To summarise, everybody loves China because…
- She’s beautiful
- She’s popular
- She’s rich (14% of global GDP in 2010)
- She has over 1 billion “things” to offer you
However, the problems are that…
- She’s very picky and discerning (48% of foreign businesses have failed within 2 years - WeberShandwick)
- She likes designer goods (“will purchase 20% of world’s luxury goods by 2015” - McKinsey)
- You don’t speak her language or know what she wants
- There are a lot of locals who do (35% of businesses feel comp from local is the 2nd biggest threat - The Economist )
- Her parents are strict and probably won’t like you (Hostile government - 32% see the Chinese government as the 3rd biggest threat)
- Her parents seem to prefer the locals (Protectionist approach – local businesses nurtured with fiscal and financial help)
So what do you do to succeed? The answer seems simple; learn why so many have failed, make sure you’re better than the rest, learn the language, culture and habits, give her what she wants and keep the parents happy!
This then led to application to businesses such as JLR, LinkedIn, KFC and Starbucks and what they did to build strong long-term relationships with the beautiful China.
My students were particularly interested in Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp for the ridiculously high $19billion. We used the previous blog, then delved deeper and found a few great related articles; one explaining why it was a good price ($42 dollars for each of the 450m customers) but bad strategy and the other predicting that WhatsApp will not help them succeed in China. To summarise the two:
- WhatsApp is pro-privacy and data-free
- WhatsApp CEO Jan Kuom is sticking to his “ad-ban”
- WeChat – China’s domestic messenger service already has 300m customers and better functionality
- WeChat helps China’s economy and is subject to Chinese law (meaning “they” can keep tabs on the content).
- Chinese government banned Facebook, linked them with an act of terrorism and state media claimed that “80 percent of China’s net users felt Facebook should be punished”
- The government don’t want Facebook siphoning money and talent away from China’s domestic social media industry, most notably Weibo (China’s Twitter), whose profits have just jumped from $2.4m to $44.5m!
Segueing seamlessly to a social networking firm that seems to have secured a way into China; LinkedIn is trialing it’s Chinese language site via joint ventures with Sequoia China, China Broadband Capital and the aforementioned Weibo and WeChat!
Chief Executive Jeff Weiner said the deal has raised “difficult questions” for him, and has been forced to make various concessions in order to adhere to the Chinese Government’s censorship requirements, but believes that “LinkedIn's absence in China would deny Chinese professionals a means to connect with others on our global platform,"
Overall, these combined articles give students relevant ammunition for each of the research “bullets” as it covers success, failure, methods of operation and ethical implications of entering the Chinese market.
It would appear that social network firms need to network with Chinese social network firms if they want to become social network firms that operate in China. Simple really.
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.
Whilst quoting Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is normally reserved for market traders and Gordon-Gekko-types, I’ve used the attached PowerPoint (Sun_Tzu_The_Art_of_Business.ppt) as a nice introduction to Strategic Planning (and, quite appropriately, expansion into China) with A2 students, and Business Planning with AS (a little tweaking may have to take place for the different year groups).
I’ve picked out a few choice quotes from the 2500 year old text and asked students to write down the business implications (or advice it gives) to businesses. Finally, students need to plot all of the factors a manager/general must take into account to ensure a strategy of success.
It can take as little or as long as required, but is an interesting way of getting students to understand that strategic planning is the key to success in war, competition, business and life.
Hope it helps.
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!
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...»
"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...»
There’s just been a terrific book review in The Economist picking up on a great topic: corporate culture. The term is on everybody’s lips at the moment, helped by the current Leonardo DiCaprio movie ‘Wolves of Wall Street’, which is said to present a damning picture of the behaviour of some US banks.read more...»
The recent trouble at the Co-Op Bank Group highlight numerous weaknesses amongst the management which have damaged its ethical reputation and USP. “Friendly” banks – that is, a wide variety of types owned by members and customers rather than shareholders – are hugely popular around the world, with an estimated 20 per cent of the market for deposits and loans in Europe alone.read more...»
Entrepreneurship, finance, research, corporate culture, marketing, product development, changing management structures are all part of the ingredients in this BBC entrepreneurship feature about the development of Charlie Bingham's Foods.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.
A useful article here in BusinessWeek for business teachers and students - particularly those interested in the sports wear market. The article analyses recent comments by the CEO of Under Arnour, a fast-growing and increasingly global sports wear brand.
Under Armour is a great example of a business that has been able to sustain high levels of revenue growth using an organic growth strategy. But can it sustain this growth?read more...»
As the new term welcome and induction activities draw to an end this week, our focus turns to 'chalk and talk'. I've just completed my first topic of teaching A2 (on the AQA spec) and the mix of research and discussion led to a group creation of the first essay for Upper Sixth.read more...»
Some of you will be starting a new business course soon, and looking at the concept of a limited company.
Stated simply, a company is a type of business in which ownership is split between shareholders. The more shares you own, the larger your cut of the profits the company makes. When a company makes profits, managers have to decide: should those earnings be retained (ploughed back into the business) or paid out to the shareholders as a dividend?read more...»
Hopefully as summer approaches you are looking optimistically into the future, and planning a fun (and not-so-fun) programme to help you achieve your goals. But how far ahead should you plan? Weeks? Months? Years? What about decades?
Firms face the same dilemma, and it’s worth asking if the best plan is to carefully focus on the next 2-3 years - or some more distant point in the future. Should directors focus on quick results, or on making really big riches for their shareholders several years, or even decades, down the line?read more...»
Excellent BBC2 business documentary last night on the growth of low cost airlines 'Flights and Fights: Inside the Low Cost Airlines'. The programme explores how Ryanair and Easyjet have transformed the European airline industry.
The Co-Op has keen to highlight their ethical credentials as a key part of its marketing and positioning strategies. Supporters claimed that its mutuality was a more desirable form of ownership than PLCs.
The Banking Division has run into difficulties, and there have been significant changes in personnel within the last few weeks, in part as a response to major financial problems. On Friday there were reports that it had stopped offering loans to new business customers, and today The Independent on Sunday reported that The Co-Op Group's Finance Director Steve Humes had resigned. This followed the recent resignation of Brian Tootell after Moody's downgraded the Bank's bonds.
Mr Humes The Group Finance Director for the last two years, had been involved in managing the Co-Ops food operations, and may have had insufficient experience of its banking operations. Euan Sutherland the Co-Op's new CEO who was appointed in May, could be about to make significant changes in other key management positions.
The decision to stop lending to new business customer may imply that the there may be insufficient capital to support current obligations let alone new loans. The ethical bank may be about to meet its most serious crisis.
How far did the management style of Roberto Mancini contribute to his removal after the FA Cup defeat?
Mancini was the most successful manager of Manchester City's 23 managers hired after the retirement of Joe Mercer in 1971. He took the club to 2 FA Cup Finals, and City thrashed Manchester United 6-1 on the way to winning the Premier League with almost the last kick of the 2011-12 season.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?
One of the strengths and a key component in the Co-Op Bank's USP after recent banking problems - sub-prime lending, collapse of Northern Rock and LIBOR rate fixing, was its emphasis of ethical banking.
Expect lots of coverage this week about the growth strategy being pursued by Whitbread plc.
Whitbread used to have a pretty diverse product portfolio including the brewing of beer and the operation of David Lloyd health clubs. However, in recent years Whitbread had rationalised its portfolio of businesses to focus on two markets where it believes it can achieve sustainable and high sales and profit growth. And it has backed that strategic focus with heavy investment. If only other UK firms would do that!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...»
A superb article here from Reuters which examines the challenges facing Ikea as it accelerates its expansion into key emerging markets, notably China and India.
On the one hand, Ikea aims to exploit its global brand by applying the core retailing concept (epitomized by the store racetrack layout, flatpack goods etc) and core values that have enabled to it to become the world's largest furniture retailer.
However, Ikea also needs to be sensitive to the specific customer needs and wants in each national market if it is to meet customer expectations and compete effectively.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...»
The stated mission, vision and values of a business should (in theory) provide a key insight into the strategy and culture of a business. Of course, it's not always the case that stated vision & values are consistent with the way a company does business (think...Enron). However, for many successful businesses there is a clear and sustained link between the two.
Set out below are a selection of web links that provide insights directly from the featured businesses into their vision, values and culture.read more...»
5 minutes of business studies gold here with an interview by Bloomberg with the CEO of global toy brand Lego. It is simply packed with core business concepts including market segmentation, innovation, competitive advantage and finance.
The growth story of Lego is an organic one. The business has never made an acquisition. It focuses on using new product development and innovation as the driver of revenues and profits - to great success. Since 2007, Lego has tripled its revenues globally and achieves an operating profit margin of almost 25%!
The strategy of Lego is summed up nicely by the quote: "We want to be the best, not the biggest".
In the video, Joergen Vig Knudstorp, chief executive officer of Lego, talks about the company's performance and the outlook for growth. Lego, Europe's biggest toymaker, boosted profit and market share in 2012 as demand for its new building block sets for girls propelled sales growth.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...»
The FT today publishes a great report on the culture at Amazon's Rugeley distribution centre. An interesting insight into the culture of a cost focussed and highly effiecient business that is described by founder Jeff Bezos as: "Our culture is friendly and intense but if push comes to shove, we'll settle for intense."read more...»
I had been guilty of listening to radio 1 in the past on my cycle in, very useful to get starter ideas or discussion points for GCSE business-Recent changes in the radio 1 product strategy has meant I have switched back to radio 4 (I wish 5 live was on FM!) so good news for my economics class, not so good for my GCSE class! In the Daily mirror today, was a very accessible rport on audience figures- I plan to use it for GCSE to consider segmentation and product extension, for As to support marketing and A2 to support strategy -In the document which I have had put onto TES I have also included some questions on the data to give A level students (and the quicker GCSE students) a chance to number crunch.
Answer are on the final page- Please check before use!
Investors vs Managers vs Employees - a classic example of stakeholder
conflict - is to be examined in a 30-minute radio programme on Monday
evening, spotted by my colleague David Wright and of potential value to teaching Business Studies as well as Economics. Radio 4’s Analysis series will be
looking at “...how the relative power of executives has grown and is now
reflected in their own
much higher financial rewards and enhanced esteem. And if both workers
and investors want to increase their influence and their share of the
rewards how might they go about it?”.
The programme will also look at the power that trades unions held in the 1960’s and 70’s, and how that power was lost. Looks like a useful half hour: BBC Radio 4 on Monday 21st January at 8.30pm.
Entrepreneurs taking calculated risks expect to enjoy suitable rewards for their endeavour. But what are these risks and rewards? And how can an entrepreneur minimise risk? This updated revision presentation provides an overview…read more...»
I’ve taken a lot of interest in Tesco’s overseas strategy, which took them to the United States in 2007 with their Fresh and Easy store chain. The set-up was bold; adding lots of capacity but high fixed costs, meaning the enterprise has consistently struggled to break even. Now Tesco have just confirmed that they are launching a strategic review that may lead to the sale or closure of its US operations. Dramatic news. What’s behind it?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...»
If you've noticed the high-profile Christmas campaign for Aldi this year (see the two example videos below) you may be interested in this article from Yahoo which gives a few pointers as to how the company have managed to turn the recession into a major profit-making opportunity.
Whilst the major TV campaign shows that Aldi are now in a position to market themselves to directly compete with Morrisons, Sainsbury's et al, the article shows how the key to their success lies in the 'Product' aspect of the marketing mix - their profits up by an incredible 200% over the last two years. By minimising the use of big-name brands and concentrating on giving value-for-money with their own home-branded products, Aldi have given cash-conscious consumers a genuine alternative to the more established supermarkets in the UK.read more...»
Here at Eltham College, we are fortunate enough to have our
own art gallery on site. Part of its purpose is to enrich learning across the
curriculum. Opened just 6 months ago, I decided that the gallery was an ideal
start-up case study for my Year 12 Business students to get their teeth into,
so I set them to work on a market research group task with each group focusing
on one of the gallery's key functions: exhibitions, art classes, and a cafe.
As the October 10th deadline approaches, the board of BAE face significant difficulties to
complete the proposed merger with EADS.
Sustainability is a great business topic for discussion. It’s a notoriously slippery and difficult term to define, as the idea means different things to different people. It’s also a concept that has been much refined since it appeared on Business Studies specifications about 10 years ago. When firms talk about environmental sustainability today, they tend to be more focused than just pursuing a vague notion of being ‘environmentally friendly’. Business activity is rarely friendly to the environment. Instead, businesses now talk more about ‘reducing resource use’, from energy to packaging, and water to widgets.
This has really pushed the sustainability concept into the mainstream. Now being ‘Green’ doesn’t have to be purely seen as an ethical or marketing position. Firms increasingly sell it to their shareholders as a way of cutting costs, and therefore boosting profit margins. Justin King, the boss of Sainsbury's, is determined to make the company Britain's most sustainable grocer. This could be a good start point into finding where the debate stands today.read more...»
Ah! If you’re roughly my age you’ll remember brands like Mr Kipling cakes, Bird’s custard, Ambrosia creamed rice – even Smash (a bizarre powdered potato product that somehow offered futuristic promise). These products are still around, but their owner, Premier Foods, is struggling for survival and badly needs a plan to manage its portfolio of brands – and even to survive.read more...»
British Aerospace (BAE Systems) and EADS announced that they are discussing a merger.