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Training and Development as a Business Strategy, Essay Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1274

Essay

Business Strategy

Apple’s success is puzzling for the competitors because the company has defied rules of success in the industry to not only become a top market player but also earn record profit margins on a continuous basis. Apple has done so by identifying its unique strengths and weaknesses and designing customized training programs to take advantage of those unique strengths  as well as minimize weaknesses. Apple realizes it has a unique culture as well as a unique perception among the customers. Thus, only an internal approach to designing and implementing training programs will help its employees acquire skills and knowledge necessary to implement the management’s strategies and achieve the organizational goals.

The success of Microsoft Windows operating system almost convinced the technology industry that specialization and volume is the key to success. Businesses can either be good in hardware or software but not both due to limited financial and human resources as well as the intensity of competition that keeps driving down profit margins. In addition, volume is the most effective solution to declining profit margins. The seeds for Microsoft’s early success were planted by widespread licensing of its operating system to all the hardware manufacturers unlike Apple which refused to cede control over either hardware of software because its co-founder Steve Jobs believed in close integration of both. Currently, Apple is the only technology company that remains highly profitable despite the fact that it maintains tight control over both the hardware and software and refuses to license its products in order to increase market share. Apple has a very loyal customer base who don’t mind premium prices for Apple’s products because Apple outcompetes its competitors in terms of product quality, design, innovative features, and ease of use. Instead of volume, Apple competes on the basis of product and service differentiation.

The company’s official mission statement claims that the company designs the best personal computers as well as software in the world and leads the digital music revolution. In addition, the company has also reinvented mobile phone and tablet computer through whom it is shaping the future of mobile media and computing devices (Apple Inc.). In addition to providing the best hardware and software products to its customers, the company’s values also include minimizing the impact of its operations on the environment(Apple Inc.) as well as ensuring the highest standards of safe working conditions and respect for workers at the production facilities managed by its suppliers(Apple Inc.). Steve Jobs described Apple’s goals as accurately as possible in an interview that it is not to achieve maximum sales or become the biggest company but instead to make the best products (Bloomberg Businessweek, 2004).

SWOT Analysis

Apple’s strengths include brand recognition, loyal customer base, innovative organizational culture, and the ability to command premium prices for its products. In addition, the company maintains tight control over its hardware and software which gives it greater control over the total user experience of its products as compared to the competitors. Apple is a market leader in various product categories in which it competes which gives it strong negotiation power against the suppliers. The company’s weaknesses include a more limited growth potential against competitors who often generously license their technologies such as Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows operating system. In addition, because the company’s products have premium prices, they are outside the reach of the majority of the population in many high growth countries such as China and India.

As far as opportunities are concerned, Apple has established a reputation for unbeatable quality and can branch out into low priced versions of its products such as iPhone and iPad just as it has done with iPod. This will help the company gain market shares in fast-growing economies like India and China and ensure continuous profitability for many years to come. Another opportunity for Apple is to market more to businesses who often make huge purchases and update their products at regular time intervals. The main threat to Apple is from competitors with generous licensing policies such as Google’s Android because due to their open source nature, they have a higher growth rates than Apple’s technologies. In addition, Apple has lost its visionary founder, Steve Jobs which may make the customers less enthusiastic about Apple’s future releases.

Implications of Business Strategy for Training

Apple has a unique culture unlike any other company because of the leadership’s insistence on having overall control of total users’ experience. This means that Apple cannot outsource training courses and should develop in-house training programs. Because customer is at the center of Apple’s product development activities, this means that the training program should teach customer analysis and customer service skills to all of the company’s employees. Since Apple’s major goal is to make the best products, this means that employees’ training would have to be an on-going process in order to ensure that they are all familiar with the latest technological trends. The training should also incorporate skills to engage in informal learning as well as information sharing.

One of Apple’s core strengths is its employees, thus, the training program should teach the employees how to successfully manage their career path within the organization in order to ensure they don’t leave for the competitors. Because the company focuses on the overall users’ experiences,the training program should ensure all the employees are proficient incompany’s hardware and software products. The company should also teach employees how to take advantage of the organization’s knowledge management system so that the employees stay ahead of the competition and continue to develop better products than the competition. The training programs should also include team building skills because hardware and software developers at Apple can only achieve an effective integration between their products if they work with each other and understand each other’s perspectives.

Needs Assessment

As far as Apple is concerned, the most important is task analysis. Apple is ahead of the competition because of its unique core competencies such as innovative culture and skilled employees, which are harder for the competitors to replicate. Thus, the key to maintain edge over the competition is to ensure that all the employees have the necessary skills and knowledge to do their job properly. Thus, task analysis will reveal the training needs of the employees and thus, ensure that all of the employees can fulfill their responsibilities effectively.The least important for Apple is organizational analysis because it is a no-brainer that the company needs continuous training to stay at the competitive edge. The company competes on the basis of superior products and the only way to ensure that is a workforce with superior skills and knowledge than the competitors. Thus, given Apple’s history of cutting-edge products, training is an evitable part of the Apple’s culture.

Apple has achieved the leadership position because of its strong leadership. Thus, it is important to include the company’s senior managers in the task analysis because they are the ones who formulate competitive strategies and thus, know better what skills will be needed to achieve those strategies and how the company can continue to maintain its leadership position. In addition, the company’s senior managers spend a lot of time with the company’s external stakeholders’ and other industry professionals so they have a better knowledge of the emerging technologies and trends. Thus, they can identify new skills that the employees will need to learn in order to take advantage of the latest technologies.

References

Apple Inc. (n.d.). Apple Corporate Information. Retrieved October 9, 2011, from http://investor.apple.com/faq.cfm?FaqSetID=6

Apple Inc. (n.d.). Supplier Responsibility. Retrieved October 9, 2011, from http://www.apple.com/supplierresponsibility/

Apple Inc. (n.d.). The story behind Apple’s environmental footprint. Retrieved October 9, 2011, from http://www.apple.com/environment/

Bloomberg Businessweek. (2004, October 12). The Seed of Apple’s Innovation. Retrieved October 9, 2011, from http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/oct2004/nf20041012_4018_db083.htm

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