Tag Archives: Strategy

Making the Right Energy Choices Can Benefit Your Business

Whether you’re looking to benefit your company’s bottom line or your overall image, energy and the choices you make pertaining to its use and generation can make a big impact. There are a lot of things businesses can do to be smart about energy use, especially when you consider that most businesses use a lot of energy in comparison to a single residence.

Everything from embracing green energy solutions to conservation programs can help drive down your expenses each month, and you might get some added PR if you let people know what you’re doing.

Start with a conservative mindset

The easiest way to make an impact on your energy expenses each month is to institute a conservation plan. It can be as simple as leaving lights off in areas of the building that aren’t constantly in use, or as aggressive as keeping the air conditioning system a few degrees warmer in the summer. You don’t want to generate a mutiny from your employees, but a few new policies that are easy to follow won’t create too much of a stir.

This conservation can even spread to other areas of the business. Are you using a lot of paper on a daily basis? Maybe it’s time to switch to an all email system for memos. Are you providing Styrofoam cups in the break room? Encourage your employees to bring in their own ceramic mugs to cut down on waste. No matter how small a conservation project is, it will add up.

Consider pursuing green energy solutions

Is your business in an area with a deregulated energy market? If so, going green is easier than you think. Sites like www.texaselectricityproviders.com make it simple to find energy suppliers that offer green energy options. Even if you aren’t located in a deregulated market, there are ways to embrace green energy solutions.

Thanks in part to how affordable green energy technology is today, there are many businesses across the country that lease green energy infrastructure. Depending on the size of your operation, leasing equipment may be more viable than purchasing your own solar array but either way, having onsite infrastructure is a big step.

Onsite green energy infrastructure means that you’ll be actively reducing your business’ energy bills each month, usually at a rate that will allow your investment in the technology to pay for itself within a few years. In terms of PR, having a solar array visible gives your company a bragging point. It shows that you care about your impact, and you’re smart enough to save yourself money on the energy you know your company is going to use. Just think about it.

Other ways to promote energy conservation

If the majority of your workforce drives each day, consider incentivizing the closest parking spots. Designate the best spots for those who carpool or drive hybrid cars. You could even further encourage carpooling by creating a bulletin board where employees can find rideshare opportunities across the business.

In the end, controlling your business’ energy consumption is one of the easiest ways to make a significant impact on your bottom line, and the public’s perception of your company. Consider implementing some of these suggestions, but know that there are plenty of other ways to achieve the same goal.

Comparison of Business Strategy Frameworks

Strategic management literature has established multiple popular frameworks which are used by decision makers to develop a roadmap for business strategy. Some of the popular frameworks for business strategy are Porter’s 5 forces model, BCG / GE McKinsey MatrixPEST analysis and the Ansoff Matrix. However, all these frameworks focus on factors which are external to the firm. In this article, however, we focus on the frameworks which are a mix of the external view of the macro-environment and the internal view of the strengths and weaknesses existing within the firm, namely the Industry Structure view, the Resource based view and the Relational view of the firm.

The Industrial Structure view is somewhat more macro-industry focused. It postulates that firms operate in an environment of competitive forces of rivalry and forces involving barrier of entry (even exit). In general industry structure refers to the distribution of firms in an industry. The existence of a large number of firms in an industry both reduces and increases opportunities for coordination among firms in the industry. Depending on the degree of consolidation or fragmentation in the industry, the macro-economical dynamics affect the firm’s competency in how it deals with the forces of competition.

In contrast, the Resource based view is somewhat more internal focused. It stresses that the competitive advantage of a firm lies primarily in the application of the bundle of valuable resources at the firm’s disposal. To transform a short-run of competitive advantage for a firm to a sustained competitive advantage is like winning both the battle and the war. It requires creation of resources which are heterogeneous in nature and not perfectly mobile across competing firms. This again translates into the fact that the value of these resources arise from the criticality that they are neither perfectly imitable nor substitutable without great effort.

Similarly, the Relational view is a theory for considering networks and dyads of firms interlinked within the daily intercourse of business transactions, as the unit of analysis to study and frame strategies for sustainable competitive advantage. The relational view argues that idiosyncratic inter-organizational linkages are the sources of competitive advantage, whereby relationships play a major role in development and exploitation of competencies in an industry that is traditionally highly competitive.

In the next diagram, a comparative analysis of these important theories has been presented., which present how these theories are not only different, but also complement each other by taking a different lens to view the competitive landscape for a strategic decision maker.

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BSC – The Balanced Scorecard

The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is a framework for strategic management, used to monitor and align performance of an organization or a division of the same. It is a semi-standard yet more or less structured report, supported by some established design methods and tools, that can be used by management executives to keep track of the execution of plans / assignments by the staff within their control and to evaluate the possible consequences arising from the execution of these plans. Introduced by Robert Kaplan (Harvard Business School) and popularized by Bain & Company, the Balanced Scorecard has become one of the most popular frameworks for project monitoring and management and align the same to the vision and mission of the organization, be it an industrial, government, or nonprofit organization.

Ref: Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton, “Using the Balanced Scorecard as a Strategic Management System”, 1996, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 76.

Balanced_Scorecard

There are 4  major process that needs to be balanced in BSC:

  1. The Learning & Growth process
  2. The Business process
  3. The Customer process
  4. The Financial process

The learning and growth process involves all the plans and programs an organization or a department is undertaking in terms of training and development related to both individual and corporate self-improvement. It extends the concept that in a knowledge based organization,people or the human resource is the most critical resource to organizational development.  This section posits the use of metrics to evaluate performance, progress and development of the human resources of an organization.

The Business Process takes into consideration to develop metrics to measure the performance of the internal processes of an organization. It helps to map development in process efficiencies with incremental changes in internal processes. Process management metrics and workflow management metrics are used in this process to evaluate performance vis-a-vis improvements. Incremental improvements the the processes in terms of meeting targets (say process efficiencies) are measured and how the implementation of plans to meet such targets were conducted, is scrutinized in this process.

The customer process takes into account the philosophy of customer orientation in an organization. In current times, there has been an increasing realization of the importance of customer focus and customer satisfaction in any business. The focus in this process is predominantly Customer Lifetime Value management and in the next stage, harness the Customer’s network value. Incremental improvements in each objectives in terms of meeting targets is measured and how the implementation to meet such targets were planned, is scrutinized in this process.

The financial process is another crucial dimension in the BSC. Although managers using the BSC do not have to rely solely on short-term financial measures as the most important indicators of the division’s performance, financial measures are none the less, extremely relevant and are often recognized as the most critical process by many practitioners. Measures such as financial ratios, total revenue from sales, total cost, cost structure improvements, and indirect sources of revenue are scrutinized against their targets, in this process.

These processes are mapped against each other to check how the organizational vision and mission are being adhered to within a division while implementing ploys and strategies. These help in providing a way to construct a concrete step-by-step path of development for the executives of a division or of an organization.

However, the limitation of the Balanced Scorecard is that it has been severely criticized by scholars  for its inability to link a company’s long-term strategy with its short-term ploy. It has become overused in many organizations, sometime not in the most desirable way, as it was conceived when developed.

 

industry, government, and nonprofit organizations

PEST Analysis

PEST analysis stands for “Political, Economic, Social, and Technological analysis“. It is a framework for Strategic analysis of markets to evaluate macro-environmental factors used in the environmental scanning component. Some analysts add the Legal factors to the analysis.

Thus when the PEST analysis is expanded to incorporate legal and environmental factors; this is called a PESTLE analysis or a PESTEL analysis.

  • Political factors pertain to how the government intervenes in the economic functioning of the country (market) and more specifically how it affects the firm strategic decision making. Political factors such as tariffs, tax policy, labor laws, trade restrictions,environmental law, and political stability. Political stability is a major factor which affect the firm’s strategic decision making and overall legal framework.
  • Economic factors consists of interest rates, government bond rates, risk free rate of interest, economic growth, inflation rate (adjusted) and exchange rates.  These factors have major impacts on how a firm can operate in a market. Inflation rate and potential GDP affect the demand and prices of goods.
  • Social factors include the cultural dimensions of the population in which the firm will operate and include gender consciousness, gender based product/service bias, population growth rate, age spread, health consciousness, career attitudes and risk appetite of the target segment.
  • Technological factors consists of factors such as research and development focus in general industries, intellectual property protection laws, technology adoption rates, change assimilation culture, automation and the rate of technological change. They affect entry barriers, technology enabled products and service assimilation,  product prices, quality, and innovation.
  • Environmental factors consists of factors like ecological and environmental aspects such as forestry  and  climatic conditions which may especially affect industries such as tourism, farming, and insurance.
  • Legal factors focus on discrimination laws, intellectual property protection laws, labor laws, consumer laws, antitrust laws, employment laws, health laws, safety laws and social security laws which can affect how a firm operates, its bottom-line (cost structure) and the demand and distribution for its products and services.

The PEST framework has been recognized as an extremely popular framework for market analysis. It is a part of the external analysis conducted while demonstrating an in-depth strategic analysis during new market entry or doing market research for a new product launch or even sometimes during a product extension, and gives an overview of the different macroenvironmental factors that the company has to take into consideration. It is a useful theoretical tool for estimating market growth or decline, business position, potential and direction for operations.

It is an important complementary extension of the Marketing Mix strategies and often it is used as an alternative analytical tool for Porter’s 5 forces model (although not appropriate for the same).

 

Services marketing strategy

Typically marketing of services is done following the services marketing mix using the 7 Ps framework unlike the marketing of products for which the marketing mix involves the 4 Ps framework. Today, marketing has evolved over time into a discipline of its own. Over time marketing managers have realized the sustainability of pull marketing than the traditional approach of push marketing strategies.

The initial movement in marketing strategies was from a direct marketing scenario to brand marketing. In direct marketing, the marketing managers typically had a role of sales managers and the most important strategic focus was to ensure a incentive structure for the sales force, both internal salesmen and external salesforce (dealers, retailers, distributors) such that the one-to-one marketing could be done at the point of sales. However, it was realized that if a fraction of the sales force deviated or moved to another firm, the entire customer segment was lost to the business. The face of the product or service was essentially the sales force. Now as services gained in importance, it was realized that the differentiation of services was even more difficult based on tangible features like that of a product. This was when brand marketing started getting its due importance, where a pull strategy was implemented so as to “pull” the customer to the product or service based on his perception of the quality of the same.

However, with services gaining prominence over time, it was realized that the very definition of services was evolving as more and more services were being focused on internet or info-tech based services where direct interaction with the customer was lost. While branding definitely ensured that the customers develop a brand association with the service, sometimes the nature of the service is such that the essence of the service is a transactional one. So brand marketing focus gradually started to shift towards customer engagement and the benefits of social networks started getting conceptualized. This paved the way for the next generation of marketing, namely marketing using social media.

Since services cannot be differentiated purely based on features on offer, the major differentiation to create a brand association and thus customer engagement, is through tapping the social networks. In the internet economy, social networks are getting increasingly dominated by social media and thus marketing managers of even larger traditional “brick and sell” firms have started recognizing this fact and focusing their efforts on social media marketing.

The 7 S framework for digital marketing started gaining in prominence for services marketing strategists. While the dynamics of a pure internet marketing strategy is slightly different, the essence of the same has been captured in more comprehensive frameworks on digital marketing, which have been derived purely through the theories based on economic rationality.

Over time, it was realized that social media is perhaps the biggest tool today to lead a brand marketing strategy for many of the services and product categories, since in both cases, the target segment often uses the internet as a source of information (through websites or though the personal social network) while deciding on a service vendor. It is at the point of information search that social media marketing can create the largest impact and thus builds its reputation for having a high impact on “brand recall” at the “point of purchase”.

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