Management In The Workplace Management Essay

Sony is arguably Japans best known company and one of the worlds largest and most well respected brand with revenue of 89.6 billion in its fiscal 2008. Sony has been very successful over several decades and has used its innovation to create a multibillion and multinational electronic empire. The three biggest markets for Sony are Europe with 25.7 % of operating revenue, Japan with 24.2 % and USA with 23.6% (Gershon and Kanayama, 2002:111).Harris Poll Survey (2004) shows that Sony is the most recognised brand name (ahead of General Electric, Coca Cola and General Motors) (Hays, 2009; cited in Sony, 2012) and is in thirty fifth position in 100 best global brands after Apple, Microsoft and Samsung (Interbrand, 2011). (See Appendix 1)

Since 2008 Sony has not turned a profit: in 2004 net income of Sony had fallen to $851 million from $1.51 billion in 1999(Gruley and Edwards, 2011) and company expects to lose $6.4 billion in 2012 (Tabuchi, 2012). Could be arguing that the amount of the Sony losses is the result of specific missteps, unwillingness from huge investments in the wrong technologies to an unwillingness to exit loss-making businesses (Adelstein and Stucky, 2012).

However, the current economical recession, the strong yen, the earthquake and tsunami in 2011 (losses about $1.8 billion) and the decline of Japanese stock market had forced Sony to reassess its current business approach (Sony, 2009). Chang (2012) suggests that “… Sony just needs some strategy, any strategy, because that is better than no strategy at all” (Tabuchi, 2012).

The purpose of the report is to analyse the strategic capability of a Sony company and evaluate the most important tools such as SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats), PESTLE (political, economic, social, technological, legislation, environmental), Resources Based-View (RBV),Value Chains and Porter’s Five Forces which give the greatest insight into the strategy.(See Appendixes 1,2,3)

Practical and strategic recommendations of the best way forward for the company will be given throughout the report along with a summary in the conclusions. Furthermore, analyses on the possible steps taken by Sony are also discussed.

Factors Affecting The Future

Strategy of Sony

According to Kourdi (2009:3) “business strategy is the plans, choices and decisions used to guide a company to greater profitability and success”. Thomas and Pruett (1993:4) added that strategy is what makes a company unique, survivor or a winner (Cunningham and Harney, 2012:4). This means, in an order to be unique and regain its global competitive advantage, Sony needs to develop effective business strategy by doing something different , something that does not fit within the current rules of ‘the game’, called competition (De Wit and Meyer, 2010:196).

The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011 have had a colossal impact on Sony Corporation. As result of these catastrophic disasters more than 18,000 people were dead or missing (Saporito, 2011); 10 Sony Japanese factories were temporary closed and Blu-ray discs production was interrupted (Gruley and Edwards, 2011). Sony (cited in Saporito, 2011) suffered direct losses of about $270 million from the quake and an expected $2 billion in operating profit turned in to a net loss of $3.1 billion, the company’s largest deficit in 16 years (Gruley and Edwards,2011;Sony, 2012). According to PESTLE analysis (See Appendix 2) could be concluded that repeat of these external issues in future could have even more disruption of Sony’s operations, shipments, delay production and postpone the recording of revenue and large expenses to repair or replace damaged facilities and offices (Levenson ,2009:9).  

From PESTLE and Porter’s five forces analysis (See Appendix 2,3) could be seen that technology development is very important driver of change. Increase of information technology and the internet has changed the way organisations manage production and ever more allowing services as well as manufacturing to be globalised (Schifferes, 2007). Sony has established a broad sales network, registered in around 200 countries. As stated in Sony (2009) the Europe market is accounted for 13.9% of the revenues, United States 17.9% and others 25.8%, while Japan consisted of the largest segment at 42% (See Appendix 1). Furthermore, according to Hitachi (2012), could be concluded that the development of advanced technologies, timely and cost-effective assimilation of such technologies into products and services and the effective promotion of such products and services are vital to stay competitive. Sony has been left behind by a world that’s changed its relationship with technology (Vossoughi, 2012), the company was too confident about their technology and very slow in developing innovations while companies like Apple deliver faster improvements and integrate the products with easy-to-use software and online services. According to Tsuga (2012, cited in Williams, 2012) Sony like Panasonic company “lost sight of the products from the consumer’s point of view” (see Appendix 1). Sony’s slide from tech titan to a virtual ‘passer-by’ in the new global market has revealed deep weaknesses in its technology culture. Digitisation and globalisation has had further affect on Sony(Pope,2012). As result, Sony is no longer leader in the global market; Apple, Samsung and LG now lead in markets (Boudreau, 2012).

However, Stringer and Hirai have recognised the needs of revival plan which could include intensify its core businesses and, specially, bringing TV business back to profitability and on the top lead of TV industry (Gruley, 2012; Tabuchi and Wassener, 2012).

The Value Chain Analysis

The primary purpose of any business is to make a profit (Hill, 2001:379). In 21st century consumers demand higher levels of quality, much greater product differentiation and faster rates of product innovation (Pine, 1993; cited in Cattaneo et al., 2010:127), Variety and low-cost flexibility (from “just-in-case” mass-production to “just-in-time” mass customisation production), with little trade off in costs, became vital in competitive production (Kaplinsky, 1994; cited in Cattaneo et al., 2010:127). According to Henry (2011:107), the value chain analysis supports organisation to establish the costs and value that emanate from primary and support activities and help to identify profitable opportunities for differentiation. To create advantages within the value chain both primary activities and support activities need to be clearly identified (Grant, 1998:233): primary activities are directly involved in the creation and sale of product or service; support activities ensure that the primaries are carried out efficiently and effectively (Henry, 2011:109). Allnoch (1997) states that resourceful and appropriate value chain management is vital for providing best products and services to the market place (cited in Bose, 2012:40). van Deventer(2012) states that “Sony has lost power to innovate to Apple and the Koreans; high overheads; no new products” (cited in Kelly,2012). For example, if Sony is planning to return TV business to profit, control of the value chain would be vital (Wilson and Gilligan, 1997:333); consequently, company should begin to manage its organisational resources (Henry, 2011:107-108).

In addition, Porter (1985) suggests looking outside of organisation and improving the value chains of suppliers, distributors and customers could help the company in the search for an advantage (cited in Wilson and Gilligan, 1997:333). For example, supplier or distributor may help Sony to reduce costs or achieve a quality or service standards as one of the company’s policy is to procure parts and materials for Sony products with “high quality, competitive prices and a stable supply” from various suppliers worldwide (Sony, 2012).

Sony was criticised for being very bureaucratic organisation, where executives are very territorial and competitive. Company has the duplication of functions at different “levels” and as a result: a very high cost of maintaining the management structure (Newman, 2009). For example, many of the divisions are so competitive that they refuse to share software and other things with other divisions and this could lead to crisis control and as result loss in profit. As Tabuchi (2012) states: “for many of them, cost-cutting is the enemy of creativity”. Furthermore, Sony’s ‘revival’ plan involved cutting 10 000 jobs or about six percent of across its global business, including 2000 more jobs in Japan by March 2013 in an attempt to remain competitive in the market by further restructuring its operations, (Duncan,2012; Osborne, 2012). Would be recommended for Sony to continue with headcount reductions, early retirement program, outsourcing of non-core activities (Sony, 2012), relocating some of divisions and closing non-profitable production facilities (Duncan, 2012). These long-term cost savings would benefit Sony in future of business successes. Overall, continue with restructuring its business activities could create rapid and optimised decision making processes that would reinforce and accelerate Sony’s progress, development and competitive advantage (Sony, 2012).

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Could be suggested that Sony in future strategies may include an importance on externally focused supply chain innovation. Sony needs to consider the implications of more external faced value chain activities and their implications for more advanced supply chain capabilities (Ferrari, 2012). A previous culture of inflexibility in product demand could to be replaced with low-cost flexibility in product. In televisions industry Sony has a brand reputation for innovation and quality, but unfortunately has lost market leadership to its competitors Apple, Samsung and LG (Tabuchi,2012)  Ferrari (2012) pointed out that with competitors like Apple and with their enormous flexibilities in supply chain, Sony has no choice but to move quickly.  Soft demand and a declining yen have had their toll.  But there is a positive aspect to this pending change. Sony’s may learn what has and has not worked well in its competitor’s high tech value chains (Ferrari, 2012).

Resource Based View

Sony are implementing emergent strategies from both “inside out”, Resources Based View (RBV) (Barney, 1991; Rumelt, 1991; Grant, 1991) and “outside in” (Porter, 1980), based on Porter’s five forces analysis (see Appendix 3), to secure its current position on marketplace(cited in Henry,2011:129-130). According to Mintzberg et al. (2009:293) the RBV, classified on tangible(e.g. equipment, financial recourses and human resources), and intangible recourses(e.g. intellectual and technological resources, reputation), can maximise the capabilities of organisation and sustaining more competitive advantages. Barney(1991) argues that resources which the organisation has access to may not be strategically relevant, since some may prevent an organisation from conceiving and implementing a valuable strategy (Henry, 2011:144). For example , some resources may lead Sony to implement strategies that reduce its effectiveness and efficiency. What makes one company different from another is its ability to appropriate(Hax and Wilde,2003:3) resources that are valuable, rare, difficult to imitate and no strategic substitute for it (Mintzberg et al.,2009:294) . However, Priem and Butler (2001; cited in Henry,2011:150) suggest that the RBV of strategy is difficult for organisations to implement.

Tangible Resources

Schumpeter (1942) argued that industries , rich in resources, are better able to survive environmental turbulence than their competitors (Bryson et al.,2007:702). Sony has valuable tangible global non-core assets. As result, Sony could take to thought, that if the company does fail or as a part of its restructuring plan , some of its assets may hold some value…for a while. Sony could consider that by selling off some of non-core assets or unprofitable assets could help ‘fuel’ its survival. For example, in order to  “revitalise and grow” TV business, Sony is planning to close a lens factory and shed 2,000 jobs what would help to save $378 million (Russell,2012) while its competitor Sharp is seeking a bailout from Japanese government(Cheng,2012). Would be recommended for Sony, to continue capitalising tangible resources in order to strengthen its position in the growing TV market and continue moving the engineering resources out of Japan into company’s operations down in Malaysia what could help in cutting costs(Gruley,2012).

Intangible Resources

Arguably, Sony may be the most recognised brand name in the world, regardless of industry, holding market leadership and the rare distinction of achieving not only incredible financial success, but also pioneering innovation(e.g. Trinitron, VAIO and Walkman) dating back to its very inception (Home Theatre Review ,2012). However, Sony was too confident about their technological skills and very slow in developing innovations. As result, Sony, according to Tabuchi (2012), is struggling to catch up with fast developing competitors like Apple and Samsung (Cheng,2012; see Appendix 1).Tsuga(2012, cited in Williams,2012) added that Sony “lost sight of the products from the consumer’s point of view”. Then again, Sony has a lot of opportunities which could help to utilise their strengths of innovation. The company could take advantage of its potential to create beautiful and innovative gadgets by using four-screen strategy (Davies,2012). Furthermore, would be recommended implementing collaborative work within the industry(See Appendix 1).

Recommendations of Future Strategic Decisions of Sony

Sony departments well recognise their role in divisions as well as their role in the overall Sony Group umbrella. These divisions operate as independent businesses and mislay out on possible cooperation in inter-divisional unity (Afuah, 2009). Sony’s recent leaders have had a problem using authority over the company as proud, territorial engineers often avoid cooperation (Tabuchi, 2012; See Appendix 1). From the case study could be seen that people in the media and entertainment field are different from the solid engineering culture of Sony’s Tokyo headquarters. Blagdon (2012) states that technology-producing companies are culturally very different from information and entertainment companies. Furthermore, Cheng’s (1991) states that a strong science and engineering professional culture is a key influence on the organisational behaviour of technology (cited in Gershon and Kanayama, 2002:115).

Gershon and Kanayama (2002:113) state that traditional Japanese decision making process is often characterised by a strong sense of organisational hierarchy. According to Ouchi (1981) in Sony decisions are made very slowly and carefully by a management board. Inside Sony management and staff have communication problems and stick to formal hierarchical relationships. Could be recommended that digital communications should be at the centre of Sony’s competitive business strategy (Idei, 1996; cited in Gershon and Kanayama, 2002:113).

Furthermore, Sony could join together its different divisions; red-tape organisation (Tabuchi, 2012); change its culture and rid off a rigid bureaucracy that kills initiative and creative thinking and encourage an entrepreneurial spirit that support innovation. Could be arguing that Sony with bound mentality requires leader who is very gifted in his interpersonal skills (Peterson, 2011; cited in Gruley and Edwards, 2011). In order to achieve these changes Sony may require providing training for all levels of management, restrategy, to develop team work and reduce bureaucracy.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Sony should learn from their mistakes in past and implement more effective and resourceful strategies to effectively rebuilt its poor reputation and to gain competitive advantage. Strategies should highlight something that would make Sony as unique as possible and delivers as much value to the customers as possible today and more importantly, tomorrow (Burns, 2007: 268).

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