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Sun Tzu’s The Art of Business

Sunday, February 09, 2014

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.

Globalisation Takes Another Step as McDonald’s Opens in Vietnam

It has arrived there somewhat later than its major competitors. However, McDonald's has finally open its first outlet in Vietnam. It is a significant moment for an icon of globalisation, not the least given the historical connection between the USA and Vietnam.

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Sony, More Retrenchment and the Boston Matrix

Sony’s embattled CEO Kazou Hirai and his Board have been reviewing their product portfolio in recent months and the result is a strategic choice to remove two “dogs”.

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Exiting China When the Risks Don’t Justify the Rewards

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

This article in Forbes is a useful example of a multinational that has decided that China is no longer an attractive business opportunity.

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OUP, Youtube, ebooks and PDFs

Saturday, February 01, 2014

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.  

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Will Google rule the Earth? An interactive case study on growth and change management

Friday, January 31, 2014

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
  • Globalisation
  • Government intervention (or Google’s intervention with the government)
  • CSR
  • Growth
  • Leadership
  • Culture
  • Managing change

Most amusing is the Daily Mash's vision of a world run by Google... as if we have a choice!

Google Buys Smoke Detectors, Thermostats…and Some of Apple’s Innovative Culture

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The announcement of Google's takeover of smart home-appliance maker Nest for $3.2bn is potentially hugely significant for Google.

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Retrenchment in China for Global Cosmetics Brands

The challenges for businesses outside China gaining a profitable share of fast-growing markets in China have been illustrated by two recent announcements by leading multinational cosmetics firms - L'Oreal and Revlon.

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Strategies for Success in the UK Cinema Industry - Product Innovation

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.

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Counter Revolution or Revolution?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

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.

Tom White covered some of these topics in his excellent recent blog post for tutor2u on the retailers' Christmas results. Reasons for these changes are covered in this BBC news clip.

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Samsung: Boston Matrix, Culture and Dividend Yield

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.

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Insights into the ‘Culture’ of business organisations

Thursday, January 16, 2014

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.

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Ansoff Meets Harry Potter

Friday, January 03, 2014

You read the books; you watched the movies; you've visited the theme park. Next up - the Harry Potter Musical?

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Wal-Mart in China - Refocuses Strategy on Affluent Consumers with Sam’s Club

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Wal-Mart - the world's biggest retailer - has struggled to establish itself in China. However, the world's second-largest economy must still remain an attractive and strategically important opportunity for Wal-Mart, particularly given its need to find better growth and returns to offset maturing performance in the US.

This FT article (and accompanying video below) describes how Wal-Mart is is refocusing its growth strategy in China by using its Sam's Club chain to target affluent Chinese consumers in the main Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities.

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Strategies for Success - a Retail Turnaround at Bonmarche

A terrific example here of how a return to core, basic retailing skills has enabled fashion retailer Bonmarche to turn around its performance and future.

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Apple (Finally) Signs the Deal with China Mobile - 700 Million New Potential Customers!

Monday, December 23, 2013

It has been along time coming (a six year negotiation), but Apple has finally signed the deal that enables it to connect to hundreds of millions of increasingly affluent consumers in China.

Apple has agreed a deal with China Mobile - the world's biggest network of mobile phone users - to sell iPhones to the network. China Mobile, which has about 760 million customers, will begin registering orders for iPhone from December 25 2013 in a deal that is likely to add many billions of dollars of annual revenues for Apple.

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Bring Him Home - UK Manufacturing Turns to Onshoring

Monday, November 25, 2013

A fascinating survey has been released by the UK's Manufacturing Advisory Service ("MAS"). It reports that a growing number of manufacturing SMEs are bringing production back to the UK from overseas. This is a process called "onshoring" which, of course, is the reverse process to "offshoring".

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Organisation - Structured for Success?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Tucked away in a dark corner of the #buss3 syllabus is a topic entitled ‘Competitive Organisational Structures’. It is my experience that there is a temptation for students to be fooled into thinking that this is simply a re-hash of the content they considered during #buss2. For most it probably is, but for those wishing to buy a ticket to ‘Success Ville’ and ride the A-train all the way to June 2014 the topic is, in fact, completely different.

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RIP The Co-Op’s Ethics - no flowers by request

Thursday, November 21, 2013

How far is corporate culture a source of strength and weakness?

Last week The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited One Angel Square in Manchester to open the world's "greenest" office, the new £100 m 14-storey headquarters of The Co-Operative Group. Yet within 72 hours, celebrations turned to dismay when The Mail on Sunday printed a story linking The Reverend Paul Flowers, a former Co-Op Bank Chairman with illicit drug use.

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BUSS4 - China: Opportunities, Threats, Success & Failure

Thursday, November 07, 2013

This revision presentation highlights the key opportunities and threats faced by firms outside China looking to do business in and with China. It also provides examples of businesses that have succeeded in China and those that have struggled!

A fully editable and printable version of this presentation is included in our AQA BUSS4 2014 Toolkit on China which is being published on 8 November 2013.

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BUSS4 - Market Entry Strategies for China

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

This revision presentation provides an overview of the key considerations and options facing businesses outside China looking to enter the Chinese market.

A fully editable and printable version of this presentation is included in our AQA BUSS4 2014 Toolkit on China which is being published on 8 November 2013.

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Strategic Choice - On What Should Japanese Camera Makers Focus?

Monday, October 28, 2013

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.

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Understanding Ansoff

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ansoff's Matrixis a key part of most business studies courses and on the face of it is an easy model for students to understand.

The model was created by Igor Ansoff and was first published in 'Strategies for diversification' in 1957.

The basic premise of the matrix is that there are 4 different strategies that a business can adopt with each one carrying a different degree of risk. At first glance this is simple to apply. For example, a business launching new products into new markets is a high risk strategy because it consists of both product and market development and the business may be operating outside of its comfort zone.

Where Ansoff can become tricky is correctly classifying which strategy the firm is adopting.

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Is luck an essential ingredient in entrepreneurship?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

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.

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Glocalisation: Would Ansoff Classify it as Diversification or Market development?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Students looking at international expansion strategies of multinationals will soon come across the term "glocalisation". It sounds similar to the idea of diversification and both are concerned with choices that businesses make about which products and services are offered and into which markets. Such choices are often analysed using the Ansoff Matrix. But is glocalisation the same as diversification? Or is it really a kind of market development?

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Haier Delayers to Encourage Innovation and Teamwork

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A fascinating and useful profile here from The Economist of Zhang Ruimin, the Chinese entrepreneur who has guided Haier through a successful strategy of international expansion.

Ruimin challenged the preconception that Chinese manufactured goods could be produced very cheaply but to a poor quality. His relentless focus on higher production quality has enabled Haier to become the world's largest producer of "white goods" such as washing machines, fridges and freezers.

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Innovation Innovation Innovation

Friday, October 11, 2013

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.

Investing in China’s Urbanisation Opportunities - KKR Takes a Stake in Haier

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

A strong sign here of the increasing competitive strength of businesses based in China that wish to expand into other markets around the world. US-based venture capitalist KKR has invested around $550m for a 10% stake in Qingdao Haier, China's largest refrigerator and washing machine maker.

We have mentioned Haier before on the Business Blog as a good example of an emerging markets multinational corporation (EMMC) and Haier is also recommended as a case study for students researching China & Emerging Markets for AQA BUSS4.

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Onshoring - Is China Losing its Competitiveness as a Low-Cost Location for Manufacturing

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

More than half of U.S.-based manufacturing executives at companies with sales greater than $1 billion are planning to bring back production to the U.S. from China or are actively considering it, according to a new survey by The Boston Consulting Group.

The share of executives who are planning to "onshore" or “reshore” or are considering it rose to 54 percent, compared with 37 percent of executives who responded to a similar BCG survey in February 2012.

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Xiaomi - The Apple of China?

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!

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Can Retrenchment Really Save Blackberry?

Monday, September 23, 2013

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?

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Abandoned Shopping Carts: Why did Tesco and Best Buy Fail in China?

Just why have so many Western retail giants struggled to succeed in China? If global retailers like Walmart, Tesco, Carrefour and Best Buy have struggled, what hope is there for the rest?

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Alibaba Beats Amazon to the E-Commerce Prize in China

Sunday, September 22, 2013

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 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.

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Why Localisation Is Important for Success in China – Yum! Brands and the Rapid Growth of KFC

Businesses from outside China trying to sell in China face a critical question as they try to enter China. How far should they go to adapt or redesign (“localise”) their products and services to meet the needs and wants of customers in China? Should they adapt existing products just enough to appeal to consumers in China? Or should they look to start again – rethinking the product or service from the ground up – in order to established a position in the market and then gain market share?

Yum! Brands is a multinational that operates or licenses Kentucky Fried Chicken ("KFC"), Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and other small restaurant brands worldwide. Yum! is the world's largest fast food restaurant company in terms of outlets with more than 39,000 restaurants around the world in over 125 countries and global sales of over $12bn.

For the last decade, Yum! Brands has relied upon international expansion as the main driver of revenue and profit growth. China in particular has proved to be a significant source of growth. For example, KFC has opened an average of one new outlet per day in China and has an objective of reaching 15,000 outlets.

KFC has achieved this high rate of growth by adopting the concept of localisation. It has largely ignored the traditional model of KFC outlets in the US and other developed economies - that of a franchise operation with a limited menu, low prices and an emphasis on customers taking-out their food and drink to consume. Instead, the KFC model in China was redesigned to meet local needs.

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How Did P&G Reach the Top in China?

In early 2013 the BBC asked global brand research company Millward Brown to identify the 20 most powerful foreign brands in China: the ones that have gone in and succeeded where many others have failed.

When the results came back one noticeable feature was that one company - Procter and Gamble ("P&G") - had three of the top 5 brands!

Of course you might expect P&G to be successful in China. After all, P&G is the world's largest maker of household and personal-care products. At the start of this decade P&G had set itself an ambitious corporate objective. It aimed to add 1 billion customers by 2015 (a 25% increase) and P&G were clear that emerging markets would be crucial in achieving that goal. Of all the emerging markets, P&G is strongest in China, which by 2012 had become its second-biggest national market with around 6% of the firm's worldwide sales.

So how has P&G managed to achieve such a strong position in China? Why had P&G succeeded when so many other Western brands had struggled to establish a leading position there?

To understand the achievement, you need to go right back to when foreign firms were first allowed to enter China. Here are some key features of the P&G approach to building its business in China.

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Emerging Markets - If You Want Growth - Go Where The Growth Is…

Monday, September 16, 2013

If they want to grow, multinationals based in developed economies have to make emerging markets their number 1 strategic priority.

That's the view of the CEO of Tupperware - Rick Goings.

"Customers that want growth simply must be where the growth is" said Rick Goings in his contribution to a major survey about multinational strategy in emerging markets.

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Growth Strategy - Under Armour Targets Nike and Adidas as it Aims to Become a $10bn Business

Thursday, September 12, 2013

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?

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Aims and Objectives for A2 - Suggested Lessons

Friday, September 06, 2013

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.

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Nokia: Elop Raises the White Flag and Sells to Microsoft

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

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.

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Retailing in the UK - Peston Goes Shopping

Monday, September 02, 2013

This looks like a must-watch and must-record series from Robert Peston. Robert's new three-part series takes us behind the scenes of some of Britain's most successful retailers and also explores their history, heritage and organisational culture. Robert Peston Goes Shopping is on at 9 p.m. on Monday nights starting 2 September. Fantastic

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Competing in Emerging Markets: Adidas Goes West in China

CK Prahalad once wrote of the "fortune at the bottom of the pyramid" - reflecting the commercial opportunities for businesses that can successfully connect and bring products to markets inhabited by low income consumers whose living standards are on the rise. China's fast-growing economy provides an enormous opportunity, but how can companies win sales in the Chinese interior, hundreds of miles away from the coastal centres of commerce?

As wealth and consumerism reach China's most remote cities, foreign brands are venturing far from Shanghai and Beijing hoping to win over millions of new consumers. The FT's Patti Waldmeir visits two lower tier cities in central China and looks at how Adidas is expanding in the far outposts of the Middle Kingdom.

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Competition for your Remote Control and Wallet: BT Sport takes on BSkyB

Sunday, September 01, 2013

For years, BSKYB has dominated the market for subscription-based television using the rights to broadcast high-profile sports to attract and retain household subscribers. However, the markets for consumer media consumption are converging and this has led to the emergence of a new, powerful competitor for BSkyB - BT Sports.

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Growing a Business: Cath Kidston’s International Success

An excellent case study here in how to grow a business through expansion into faster-growing international markets.

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Costs, Cash, Capital and Customers - Harriet Green’s Strategy for Success

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Harriet Green's strategy for Thomas Cook looks like it might become a classic case study in how to achieve a successful turnaround for a business with a strong brand and customer base but a weak balance sheet (gearing too high).

Before Green could get the balance sheet right through a refinancing, she had to get the business right first. She needed to change the organisational structure and improve profitability and medium-term cash flow through a strategy of retrenchment. This has been a painful process but it made it much easier when Thomas Cook approached the stock market to raise new share capital (equity) and reduce the amount of debt.

This short interview with Harriet Green is packed full with great A2 business studies materials as she explains the basics of her turnaround strategy.

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Technological Change - The Decline of Blackberry

Friday, August 30, 2013

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.

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Farewell Steve Ballmer - CEO of Microsoft

Friday, August 23, 2013

Microsoft has announced that its CEO Steve Ballmer will retire from the business within the next 12 months. The Microsoft share price rose 9% on news of the announcement which might tell you something about how investors feel about how Ballmer has performed as CEO in recent years!

Lots will be written about Ballmer's time at Microsoft and the resulting strategic review which the business will inevitably conduct when a new CEO is appointed.

However, for now, enjoy a selection of videos which show Steve Ballmer in action! He has certainly attracted lots of attention for his unusual leadership style!

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Maker Movements - Garage Manufacturing

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Collaboration and innovation are often fast-tracked by creating the right spaces for people and ideas to mingle.

This seven minute video from the Economist is deeply interesting - it looks at the Artisan's Asylum near Boston, Massachusetts in the USA which is host to a number of new hardware businesses. They are built around cheap work space, high-tech tools and crowd-sourced funding. The project has spawned some notable success stories many built around digital 3D printing - is there anything like an equivalent Maker Movement in the UK?

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Google and Youtube - One of the Best Takeovers in History?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

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.

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Friday, August 09, 2013

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?

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Measuring Innovation

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

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.

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