Friday, May 31, 2013

Timing is Your Best Strategy: What Management Should Do.

One potential idea read that seems to remain constituted is that a shift has occurred in the global land scape. Most emerging organization have lost that cutting edge to remain focus on appropriate technologies for their industry. In Becker & Freeman, 2006, The McKinsey Quarterly: Going from Global Trends to Corporate Strategy says it best, “you can either ride the opportunity [or] paddle upstream against them.” The impact that statement has both a benefit to those companies keeping with the latest tech or be prepared to sink when they rely on reading markets reports, incorrectly, when analyzing global trends. This in most cases will have you behind padding much faster, upstream against the currents market trends.  

Becker & Freeman, says that in order to prepare for the challenges that await, leaders must understand and read the portfolios correctly, to identify with the new wave of global forces (Becker & Freeman, pp. 18-19). While the appropriate responses can and will vary by those having a stake in the matter. Most business environments still must look for certain competitive factor, like an up and coming emerging industry, that has the ability to process greater amounts of information and interact much more efficient than that of a company that’s been around much longer. 

The article, (Going From Global Trends to Corporate Strategy) mentions 10 trends that can have the biggest impact on a company in the coming 5 years. 

1. Growing number of consumers in emerging economies
2. Shift of economic between international countries
3. Greater ease of obtaining information
4. Labor and talents in those markets
5. Constraints in Supply or usage of natural resource
6. Communications and how we better interact with each other
7. Shifting industry
8. Scientific approaches to business approaches
9. More intense social “backlash” against business
10. Large increase in growth in the public sector

Managers, business leaders and executives should keep their organizational strategies updated in face of continually evolving technologies (Manyika, et al., 2013). We read in the (Ricadela, 2011) how a once front runner in the PC world has to do away with that which got them to the top of the industry. XP computers are or will be very soon, a “thing of the past.” What’s more alarming is that they are expected to compete with rivals Apple, Samsung, and Google.

To close, technology can change the game front for businesses. As well, the likes of many in upper level management must keep an ever watchful eye out the potential benefits of emerging technologies with the risks they sometimes pose. 

Cited
Becker, W. M., & Freeman, V. M. (2006, March). Going From Global Trends to Corporate Strategy. The McKinsey Quarterly, 3, 17-27.

Manyika, J., Chui, M., Bughin, J., Dobbs, R., Bisson, P., & Marrs, A. (2013).
Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy. McKinsey Global Institute. Retrieved May 29, 2013, from http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/business_technology/disruptive_technologies

Ricadela, A. (2011). Dell: The Erstwhile PC King Aims for the Middle.

San Francisco: Bloomberg Business.

Infosys 3.0 - Will the strategy work?



Thinking of the strategy of the company I was working for and why I’m not there anymore, I believe there is a relation between the two. When I was seriously considering a grad program, the strategic decisions of my company and how it was implemented propelled my decision to quit and start studying again.
Infosys Limited is an IT service provider with a global reach and is majorly into business consulting and technology solutions. As a company, Infosys was always considered a conservative company and they have made very few mistakes in terms of strategic decisions till 2010. There were some policy screw-ups which can be attributed to all companies as such, but apart from that, they had been #2 in the Indian IT industry for quite a while and that is when they declared the new strategy for the coming years.
The IT industry is fast paced and unpredictable. So, it needs an iterative approach for strategy. The latest strategic decision, which Infosys dubs as Infosys 3.0 (the earlier strategic change was called Infosys 2.0) has been a far-cry from the usual conservative policies associated with the company. One of the biggest standpoints of the company now is that, they want to transform from a technology solutions provider to a business solutions provider. The current point of focus is on cloud computing, mobile technology and other such areas of current trends in the software industry. All this is being done in an effort to make the company more sustainable.  They also surprised everyone by announcing that they wouldn’t hesitate on a takeover of a company operating in the areas where Infosys wants to innovate. Apart from these, one of the major points of the new strategy was that, they would move towards being a product and platform company. This was a welcome change considering that not many in the sector are looking at this approach for now and this could very well be a distinctive advantage that Infosys holds over its competitors.
Although there were many aggressive statements and declarations, not much came into fruition. There are certain strategic mistakes, which might be a strategy in themselves. For example, they have still not come out of mind-set that they are a technology solutions provider and the product-platform strategy in spite of initially gaining the company a lot of customers, seems to be waning of. Being in the technology solutions framework has actually helped them in the markets as their revenue has not gone down greatly when compared to the expectations. Also, the idea of a new company which worked like a start-up with out of the box thinking employees never worked out, probably, there is work going on, not something I know of. The revenues had not met their own guidelines over the past few years, since the introduction of Infosys 3.0 and now, they have stopped giving a guideline (since it is not a market norm). This has caused many critics in the markets to question Infosys' strategies

From a company which was margin oriented, and whose founder N.R. Narayanamurthy once famously said “Margins are better than revenues”, to a company that has stopped giving guidelines, it shows a decline in terms of the markets. But will this strategy work over the long term or is it time for Infosys 4.0? Now, this is a question only time can answer.

 References
1. Product and Platform Strategy
http://www.infosys.com/products-and-platforms/Pages/platforms.aspx#platforms
2. Infosys 3.0 unraveled
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/slideshow/infosys3-0/Product-strategy/Product-strategy/itslideshow/8648031.cms
3. About Infosys
http://www.infosys.com/about/Pages/index.aspx

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Big Data as the Pharmacuetical R&D Strategy

Big Data as the Pharmaceutical R&D Strategy
 
With rising of big data and data mining technologies, the analytics are providing opportunities to  cure of suffering pharma R&D productivity. In this end the pharmaceutical company who embraces the big data technologies and increases the R&D effectiveness can have unfair advantages over other competitors. That's because pharmaceutical companies fond it hard to capitalise on medical advances opportunities. Its core problem is lack of productivity in the lab. Several external factors have arguably exacerbated the  industry’s difficulties, but the inescapable truth is that it now spends far more on research and development (R&D) and produces far fewer new molecules than it did 20 years ago.

Specifically, by implementing eight technology-enabled measures, pharmaceutical companies can expand the data they collect and improve their approach to managing and analyzing these data. Here are some examples:

1. Integrate all data
Having data that are consistent, reliable, and well linked is one of the biggest challenges facing pharmaceutical R&D. The ability to manage and integrate data generated at all stages of the value chain, from discovery to real-world use after regulatory approval, is a fundamental requirement to allow companies to derive maximum benefit from the technology trends.

2. Collaborate internally and externally
Pharmaceutical R&D has been a secretive activity conducted within the confines of the R&D department, with little internal and external collaboration. By breaking the silos that separate internal functions and enhancing collaboration with external partners, pharmaceutical companies can extend their knowledge and data networks.

3. Employ IT-enabled portfolio-decision support
To ensure the appropriate allocation of scarce R&D funds, it is critical to enable expedited decision making for portfolio and pipeline progression. IT-enabled portfolio management allows data-driven decisions to be made quickly and seamlessly. Smart visual dashboards should be used whenever possible to allow rapid and effective decision making, including for the analysis of current projects, business-development opportunities, forecasting, and competitive information. These visual systems should provide high-level dashboards that permit users to deeply examine the data, including information to bolster managerial decision making as well as detailed tactical information, and that make asset performance and opportunities more transparent.

4. Leverage new discovery technologies
Pharmaceutical R&D must continue to use cutting-edge tools. These include sophisticated modeling techniques such as systems biology and high-throughput data-production technologies—that is, technologies that produce a lot of data quickly, for example, next-generation sequencing, which, within 18 to 24 months, will make it possible to sequence an entire human genome at a cost of roughly $100.

The wealth of new data and improved analytical techniques will enhance future innovation and feed the drug-development pipeline.
Integrating vast amounts of new data will test a pharmaceutical company’s analytical capabilities.

5. Deploy sensors and devices
Advances in instrumentation through miniaturized biosensors and the evolution in smartphones and their apps are resulting in increasingly sophisticated health-measurement devices. Pharmaceutical companies can deploy smart devices to gather large quantities of real-world data not previously available to scientists. Remote monitoring of patients through sensors and devices represents an immense opportunity. This kind of data could be used to facilitate R&D, analyze drug efficacy, enhance future drug sales, and create new economic models that combine the provision of drugs and services.

Remote-monitoring devices can also add value by increasing patients’ adherence to their prescriptions. Examples of devices that are under development include smart pills that can release drugs and relay patient data, as well as smart bottles that help track usage. Technology and mobile providers are offering services such as data feeds, tracking, and analysis to complement medical devices. These devices and services, combined with in-home visits, have the potential to decrease health-care costs through shortened hospital stays and earlier identification of health issues.

6. Raise clinical-trial efficiency
A combination of new, smarter devices and fluid data exchange will enable improvements in clinical-trial design and outcomes as well as greater efficiency. Clinical trials will become increasingly adaptable to react to drug-safety signals seen only in small but identifiable subpopulations of patients.

7. Improve safety and risk management
Pharmaceutical companies can use safety as a competitive advantage in regulatory submissions and after regulatory approval, once the drug is on the market.

8. Sharpen focus on real-world evidence
Real-world outcomes are becoming more important to pharmaceutical companies as payors increasingly impose value-based pricing. These companies should respond to this cost-benefit pressure by pursuing drugs for which they can show differentiation through real-world outcomes, such as therapies targeted at specific patient populations. In addition, the FDA and other government organizations have created incentives for research on health economics and outcomes.

To expand their data beyond clinical trials, some leading pharmaceutical companies are creating proprietary data networks to gather, analyze, share, and respond to real-world outcomes and claims data. Partnerships with payors, providers, and other institutions are critical to these efforts.

Challenges

Organizational silo is the major challenge. Functions typically have responsibility for their systems and the data they contain. Adopting a data-centric view, with a clear owner for each data type across functional silos and through the data life cycle, will greatly facilitate the ability to use and share data. The expertise gained by the data owner will be invaluable when developing ways to use existing information or to integrate internal and external data. Furthermore, having a single owner will enhance accountability for data quality. These organizational changes will be possible only if a company’s leadership understands the potential long-term value that can be unlocked through better use of internal and external data.


Reference:
How to improve R&D productivity: the pharmaceutical industry's grand challenge
(http://www.ohsu.edu/nod/documents/2012/04-05/Paul%20etal2010.pdf )
How big data can revolutionize pharmaceutical R&D
(http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/health_systems/How_big_data_can_revolutionize_pharmaceutical_R_and_D)

Risk And Strategy in Developing "King's Ascent"

Concept



Last Summer, over a meal of spicy curry and naan at an Indian restaurant, my friend and colleague Sharon pitched a game concept to me. She had come up with an idea for what she called a "Reverse Platformer", a game where the player runs upward and uses falling platforms to kill a large monster that chases you.


Sharon and I differ in terms of our game development strategies. Sharon is very concept-oriented. She believes in taking risks on an original idea that creates a feeling, with wacky characters and a unique artstyle. I have a more technical approach, focusing first on what is possible given the people and tools available to me, the time constraints, and the technologies. I would rather make a game based on a standard gameplay model and add a unique twist, whereas Sharon focuses on an emotion she wants the player to feel and then figures out how to get there. Together we make an argumentative but effective team.

After a heated discussion involving drawing on napkins, we both agreed that the concept was interesting. I concluded that, despite the existence of games like Doodle Jump and Catherine, the gameplay concept was novel enough to merit exploration, while being fairly low-risk. Neither Doodle Jump nor Catherine had explored the idea of falling blocks being weapons, and yet from my experience with run-and-guns like Metal Slug, the concept wasn't far-fetched. Sharon came up with a story concept that she felt linked up to the gameplay, about a morally ambiguous dictator being chased by manifestations of his inner demons who had to use the metaphorical building blocks of his own monuments as weapons.



Development Strategy

Sharon and I differed greatly in what we wanted out of the project. Sharon was tired of making low quality games with a short, 3-month development cycle. She wanted a long-term, fully-polished project that was thoroughly playtested, with lots of iteration. Frankly speaking, Sharon's vision of spending 1 or 2 years developing the game terrified me. As much as I wanted to make higher-quality games, if a 3-month long project failed at least you could pick up and start again without having wasted too much time.


We worked out a compromise. We would create a quick prototype of the game in one month. After thoroughly playtesting that game, we would decide how best to proceed with making a real, well-developed game engine. From there, we'd spend another 2 months making a polished, playable demo. At that stage, we'd take stock of what we'd accomplished and ask the team if they wanted to continue making the game. If they did, we'd spend a few more months polishing the game, creating additional levels, and additional art. If they didn't we'd at least have a nice demo to show for our time, and be able to move on to a new project.




The 1-Month Demo

Our first month's demo was decidedly primitive. Andrew Head, our programmer, and I hacked it together in a couple weeks. There was no sound and almost no graphics. But playing it was enough to determine if the concept was fun or not. We decided there was definitely something to the game concept, and it was worth continuing to explore. (You can click the image to play this demo.)

There were a lot of tough questions facing us at the end of one month. The biggest one: what happens when you reach the top of the level? The fundamental challenge we were trying to create here was a tension between escape and attack. You can't ascend without attacking, and you can't attack without ascending. What trade-offs did we want the player to have to make? I was of the mind that if the player reached the top of a level without doing enough damage, they would die, pure and simple. Andrew wanted the style of gameplay to change when reaching the top, with regenerating blocks that allowed the player to do extra damage even if they hadn't attacked effectively up until that point. Sharon was having doubts about the action-oriented gameplay and discussed explorative side passages sections and more expository game segments.





The 3-Month Demo


The next two months were hectic. Andrew worked long hard hours making a more robust game engine to support a bigger, longer game with actual graphics. Andrew and I often disagreed over whether to build for short-term playability or long-term structural elegance. In the field of gameplay, Andrew and I had made a decision that, if the player hadn't dealt enough damage to the boss before he reached the top of the level, he would die. If he did enough damage before he reached the top, he would magically fly upward until he shattered through a window of stained glass signifying the next segment. This in particular became a mystifying point of confusion for players.

At the same time, I stressed out over art and story integration. Sharon had composed an art team to handle creating the huge amount of background assets we needed for the game. Sharon's vision was to have a game with a similar visual style to Braid, which included elaborate hand drawn backgrounds, comic-style cutscenes and a script, full voice-acting, and 3-D animated boss monsters. We had a writer, a background artist, an artist creating "stained glass" pieces to break up levels, and Sharon trying to build these 3-D animated monsters while managing all these creative people. The whole process made me nervous. For one thing, the script that Matthew Glisson was composing called for at least 4 levels. If we didn't have that many (and it was clear that we wouldn't, by the end of the demo period) the story wouldn't make that much sense.


In early August, I had a chance to show our game (still titled just "Climb") to Mike Duke of EA. He gave us some pretty tough feedback. We didn't have enough to show for having worked for 3 months, the UI element looked like a collectible object, the game didn't have enough of a feeling of upwards motion. In particular, he hated the magical flying action. (Click the image to the left to play this version.) Sharon and Andrew and I had a meeting, discussing how we felt about the direction the game was going, and if there was a way to address these issues. We did the best we could in using art and exposition to make the more bizarre gameplay elements more obvious, but we couldn't fundamentally change the structure of the game if we wanted to release our demo on time.

Finally, on August 28, we completed a demo of "Climb", which you can play by clicking on the image. This demo had a number of problems: lag, some clunky platforming, extremely punishing gameplay. Our original intent had been to complete a demo we could post on Kongregate in August, and then finish the game within the next couple months. However, as proud as we were of the demo, I didn't feel that it was ready to subject to Kongregate. I had a feeling of accomplishment, but I was nervous about the weird mechanics, and wasn't sure if creating the next 3 levels would be worth it.




Stop or Continue?

Andrew, Sharon, the art team and I had a serious meeting around the end of August. I laid out what we had accomplished, and the barriers that lay in our way. We had 3 more levels to design, which meant that we had only accomplished about 1/4th of the required artwork and level design. The narrative end of the game had barely gotten off the ground. The script was unfinished, and only scratch audio had been recorded for the story. Although we had achieved gameplay, we were very far from any sort of narrative cohesion, and I was not confident in keeping the engagement of the team members for long enough to truly finish the project.

What really surprised me at this point was the dedication and perseverance of our artists. Andrew and I were pretty pessimistic about the project at this point, but Meagan, our concept and background artist, was still raring to go despite the massive amounts of work she had left to do. Carolyn, our stained glass artist, was quietly optimistic and showed no signs of wanting to stop. Sharon, despite having only completed one of the boss monsters, was insistent on persevering as long as it took to get the project done. As unoptimistic as I felt at this point, I couldn't let down such a dedicated team, and we decided to continue the project on until the end.




Fixing The Script 


The biggest barrier to finishing the game in my mind, was the script. If we didn't have the story finished, we couldn't record it, and if we didn't record it soon, we would lose the voice talent that had agreed to help us. I pushed our writer to get the first half of the script ready for a September recording session. The recording sessions were nerve-wracking. We had meetings with the voice actors, recording them over computer microphones and testing the script. Everyone was too busy to meet on-time, and as we started reading the dialog out loud, suddenly everything felt cheesy, forced, and overdone. Sharon and I pushed for a serious, straight-faced reading of the script, but our voice actors were confused by the material and had trouble taking it seriously. It took a lot of readings to get things even close to right. We had gotten the permission of Riccardo, a CMU audio guru, to use his professional recording studio for the voice acting. We could record in 2 sessions, and we had to get it right the first time because we wouldn't get another chance. Each of these 2 recording sessions was full of heart attack moments for me. The worst was during the 2nd session, when we discovered a piece of the script for the 4th level was completely missing, and our newest team member, Alex Moser, was forced to rewrite it from scratch 15 minutes before we recorded. The result of all this heartache and trouble was complete audio of all the game's dialogue. We couldn't change it, we couldn't modify it, but it was done.




No One Coded Anything For Months


The worst possible scenario occured in late 2012. Our main programmer, Andrew, got a girlfriend. This situation was almost as bad as if he had been hit by a bus. Suddenly, he had very little time for the project. I could tell he was thinking about quitting. As we began to see him less and less in meetings, I fretted that we would never be able to finish without him. I had been doing plenty of level design and tweaking, but we really relied on Andrew to solve major issues and do engine coding. If he left the project, simple tasks like reorganizing menus and reordering level segments would be beyond us. I made a drastic decision at this point. We needed to finish everything, all the coding for the entire game, in 7 days during Winter break.



On the 13th of December, Sharon, Andrew, Alex and I locked ourselves in a room and started coding. For the next 6 days, we would do nothing but code infrastructure for the game and build levels 2, 3, and 4. I won't tell you what horrors we endured to make this happen, but it worked. When we emerged, sweaty and exhausted, on the 19th of December, we had 4 levels of gameplay and a "to be concluded" screen at the end of the game. We had a system for displaying cutscene comics. We had 3 new bosses composed of clip art. Gameplay was tighter from playtesting and iteration. The game was done... except for the art.



Waiting For the Art



In some ways, January through May were the worst months for me. With main coding done, there was nothing left to do but playtest levels again. Without Andrew to fall back on, the small handful of major bugs fell to me to investigate, and despite Andrew's elegant code I often get stuck. However, most of these months I spent watching and waiting for the art to finish, putting faith in Sharon, Meagan, and Carolyn to see the project through to the end. 

Although these months were stressful for me, our artists delivered. Andrew had created a very elegant system for getting assets into the game, and including the art was easy (if time consuming).




Conclusion



As it stands, King's Ascent is just weeks away from being posted on Kongregate and judged by thousands of gamers. Only time will really tell how the project will be judged, but from what I've seen in playtests, the time we put into this project really paid off. Compared to our 3-month-long Game Creation Society projects, King's Ascent is head and shoulders above these games in terms of content, quality, and polish. We had a lot of bumpy moments in this project, but our long-term strategy of multiple prototypes helped mitigate risks and provided backing-out points that would have left us with nice deliverables had we decided to abandon the project at those points. We were able to adapt to and survive a number of production challenges, and continue forward constantly despite our varying workloads and time constraints. I stand behind our prototyping structure and would definitely use it again for my next project.

King's Ascent can be played at my blog by clicking the above image. Keep an eye out for our release on Kongregate next month!





What Worked
  • The 1-month, 3-month, 1-year model of prototype, demo, game, was effective.
  • Polishing a game for a long time really does make it better
  • "Outsourcing" the 3rd level and boss to another designer gave a fresh feeling to the 3rd level.
  • Google Hangout as a communication medium was effective for a distance-organized team.
  • Finishing the programming before finishing the art turned out well.


What Didn't
  • The game script and story is really important. Don't neglect it in the beginning of the design process!
  • Story and gameplay should be integrated.
  • Avoid illogical game mechanics! They're confusing and hard to design out later.
  • Don't book voice actors until you need them.

Google's Strategic Planning

The article 'The Real Value of Strategic Planning', Sarah Kaplan and Eric Beinhocker, highlights the findings on in-depth research done on over 30 companies, of which some have achieved strategic success while others have committed strategic blunders. It expands on specific considerations such as the exact definition of a strategic planning process, what it should achieve, and very clearly states details like who should be a part of the discussion, how long the discussion should be and where it should be held. It elaborates on what is done incorrectly, however, it also emphasizes on there being multiple ways to create the right environment. The sample questions allow for tailoring the discussion according to each company's culture, requirements and process. Great emphasis is put on the importance of preparation and follow-up.

The article talks about a general set of rules to judge the success or failure of the strategic planning process. It reiterates what the outcome of such a discussion should be, that is, the people (decision makers) should leave the meeting feeling more informed and better equipped for the real job of strategic decision making, post the planning. The planning process should be studied to form a baseline, which would aid the design of a new process. The redesign should be executed with practical assumptions and smart pilot phases, after which or rather during which, the fourth task of skill building to maximize the impact of the process should be launched.

The strategy behind Google's products –


In context of the article, we can take a look at the strategy behind Google’s corporate strategy. Google’s growth as a brand goes hand in hand with what may seem to be a confusing strategic approach. It is an established brand that still primarily relies on the profits generated by its search engine but it is also expanding into different businesses by making some perplexing yet complex decisions, such as giving away Android for free or investing heavily into a growing but thus far limited operating system.

Their choices are based on the behavior of competitors, and the definition of their market. Consequently, Google is all about advertising and to this effect, it is in Google’s interest to learn as much as possible about its users. Hence, Google reaches out to the users by giving everything for free, from free video hosting to free document management to free voice calls or video calls to free emails. This strategy works for cementing Google as a user-friendly brand meanwhile feeding its primary profit source, advertisers, with the data they need. Google always keeps this bigger picture in mind during strategy development even while foraying into newer pastures.

Keeping this in mind, Google uses the Android platform to their advantage although it may not seem so. By giving it away for free, Google is gifting itself an enormous user base and since smartphones are now used extensively for web services, they are ensuring that their model is preserved even in the mobile domain. Thus by rejecting the choice to earn through Android directly, Google has not only expanded their market but changed market trends.

Another point mentioned in the article regarding new uses for the product or technology and pursuing future growth aggressively is widely seen in Google’s strategy through ventures such as the Chrome OS and Google Glass. Chrome OS though useless if seen as an Operating system, is a big threat to Microsoft, as with the growth of cloud computing, the need for Windows will soon vanish. With Google Glass, Google is going to literally sit on your face providing them with a new level of access to data. The bottom line is that Google wants to get people on its web services so it can sell targeted ads. The big picture always remains intact.

References:








What We Could Learn From the Strategy of Tesla Motors



In the recent interview with TechCrunch, Tesla CEO Elon Musk Says He Got Into The Electric Car Business Because No One Else Would. “For many years, almost all people regarded it as either stupid or insane or both,” Musk said. “The reason for me to do it is not because I saw a huge market opportunity. It was clear that we were not going to see electric cars from major car manufacturers.”

Nobody tries to build the electric car. He built it and proved in certain level that it could be a profitable business (At least its stock price has quadrupled in six months recentlhy).

According to the article in the HBR "Your Strategy Needs a Strategy", which categorize the type of strategy by two factors predictability and malleability, we could categorize the strategy of electric car business into "VISIONARY" (Because the industry is similar with traditional car industry which makes it somehow predictable while we can greatly change the game of the rules because it is a brand new area with only 1 player now).

Elon Musk now received praises from people all over the world which are too much so I don't want to quote them here. Although personally I would critically look into the fancy stories of successful entrepreneurs because usually there are exaggerations to make them "greater & cooler" and some vital not-that-bright details would be deliberately omitted , we could still learn some valuable lessons from them.

1 Don't stick to certain strategy frameworks.
Elon Musk is the co-founder of paypal, it belongs to the Internet Software & Service industry which is the source of the most "shining" companies recently (Google Facebook Instagram etc..). Not following the bubbles and frenzies of the Internet Software & Service industry, he identified the business and focused on what he wants to do and what he is possibly good at: building electric cars. 

So when we are trying to open our own business, we don't have to find the most "popular" strategy or business model but should be adaptable and choose the most suitable strategy to realize our ideas. Just like in the war, sticking into only one kind of strategy would finally be destroyed.

2 In the "VISIONARY" style of strategy, build a flexible plan to execute through each step. 
There are numerous obstacles and uncertainties in a new industry, specifically saying in the electric car it might include the building of the electric station, the performance and driving experience of the car etc. So when the R&D investment is under a limited time & money, we should find the solution that customer would like under lowest cost and fastest time. 

So the strategy Tesla took is to build high-end edition on the first try, which could have relative abundant budget to tackle the technical difficulties and then after received enough feedback from costumer, they used the advantage of scale to produced the middle-end car around $60,000 to $70,000 and finally hope to manufacture the more affordable $30,000 to $40,000 car to satisfy the mass market.

This strategy seems worked pretty well because now they are in the phase of manufacturing middle-end car and gradually moving to the profit point which is a very important reason for their skyrocketing stock price this year.

At last, he pointed out his vision that he welcomes the traditional car manufacturer entering the electric car business because it will further prosper this industry and bring great products to customers. Salute!

References:



4 Your Strategy Needs a Strategy by Martin Reeves, Claire Love, and Philipp Tillmanns

5 The Real Value of Strategic Planning, Sarah Kaplan and Eric D. Beinhocker

Shaping Weight Loss with the Five Forces of Competitive Strategy


 



 I’m really into this health kick right now. So, I’m constantly thinking how I can burn fat faster, what workouts will show me quick results, or how do those celebrities stay so skinny?  Although, the weight loss industry is a billion dollar industry in here in America, it still is one of the most obese countries in the world.  In fact, according to USA Today, 20% of preschoolers in America are obese.

Which, made me began to think more about the strategy of the weight loss industry; how can they make so much money and the American public still be so obese? I could talk about all the factors of why America is an obese nation…but, I’m not.  

Instead I’m going to focus on Michael E. Porter’s article, The Five Competitive Forces That Shape Strategy in the weight loss industry. It’s clear that the weight loss industry is not shaping our bodies.
The weight loss industry has a gazillion diet products on the market today which, are looking to make a profit from their consumers and stay competitive in this ever evolving market.

Throughout the years, we have seen a whole lot of trends in the weight loss industry. Many diets and workout plans/routines are promoted to consumers through various mediums as methods of loosing weight. Rather, it be Jazzercise, Tae Bo, or P90X Insanity, Weight Watchers, The Dick Gregory Diet, or the South Beach diet, all of these products are trying to make a profit and stay current in this rapid industry of dropping pounds fast. With that being said, one of the diet plans that have a strong and effective strategy is Weight Watchers.

Now let’s take a quick look at some of the ways that Weight Watchers uses the Five Forces of Competitive Strategy in their company:

Weight Watchers was founded in 1963 helping people lose weight and count points. Fun Fact: In 1978 until 1999 Weight Watchers was owned by H.J. Heinz Company.
Five Forces of Competitive Strategy for Weight Watchers 

1.) Threat of New Entry: Government Policy - Obesity is a big problem in the United States which is becoming a government and healthcare issue. Weight Watchers has played a role in the development of a new national awareness of healthful eating, lifestyles changes, and weight control. Weight Watchers was asked to testified at the hearings and conference that led to the formulation of Dietary Guidelines for the country.
Switching Cost - Weight Watchers dropped their prices not because they focused on consumers, but because they are more focus on the health insurance business. Employers are giving incentives to employees to use weight watchers for health insurance purposes.
   2.)  Threat of Substitutes Switching Cost - In the weight loss industry there are lots of substitutes but Weight Watcher appears to be in the business of helping people make lifestyle changes. However, of course they want to make a profit. Weight Watchers is innovative and this is the reason they have been around for 50 years. Weight Watchers realizes the growth in health insurance and realizes their strength is their brand and reputation.
    3.)   Bargaining Power of Suppliers Presence of Substitute Inputs - Weight Watchers has the upper hand in regards to suppliers. They can turn to any alternative especially being an industry leader. 
   4.) Bargaining Power of Customers Brand Identify-Weight Watchers has a great brand identity being one of the leading diet plans and having 1.4 active members. Weight Watcher uses many celebrities to market their brand to consumers.  Spoiler Alert: Don’t be surprised if you see Kim Kardashian on a commercial for Weight Watchers.
   5.) Rivalry Among Existing Competitors- This force could be a big problem since new workout plans and diet products are always popping up on the market. Some diet plans are even using Weight Watchers’ formula for counting points and creating calculators. However, the PointPlus has been patented by Weight Watchers and they have tried to control this by sending cease and desist letters to websites and third party companies that are using Weight Watchers PointPlus formulas’. 

Closing, I believe that Weight Watchers has a great thing going and will be around for years to come unless someone makes that magic pill to have the fat shed off you overnight. It seems as if the 5 Forces of Competitive Strategy is really working for them. It also seems as if Weight Watchers understands its industry and where the industry is heading.  They found a niche and themselves in the position to create a profitable company without totally relying on consumers. Instead it relies on where the health care industry is headed to make them less vulnerable for attack. Will you allow the health care industry, The 5 Forces of Competitive Strategy, and companies like Weight Watchers determine if you loose weight? Me neither; I’m going to be Wise and Exercise!

 
 


"Why Is Weight Loss A Billion Dollar Industry?" Nutrition Research Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2013.
"Weight Watchers." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 05 Apr. 2013. Web. 30 May 2013.
"PRESS RELEASE." WeightWatchers.com: About Us. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2013.
https://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cbmp/asset/19572328