Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Microsoft's Strategy Shift

As a future manager with expertise at the intersection of strategy and IT, it is important to understand how Microsoft's adapting its strategy.

In addition to reading the latest memos from Bill Gates and Ray Ozzie, it is useful to go back and read how Microsoft first missed the emergence of the Net but quickly adapted its strategy to embrace it.

Bill Gates' original Internet Tidal Wave Memo is located here.

I have also provided a schematic of MSFT's performace and tagged the different regimes of strategic changes as the basis for discussion.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


BusinessWeek MBA Blog

Just an idea: May be one or more of the students could consider contributing to the MBA Blog on BusinessWeek..



Wednesday, January 25, 2006


3 Value disciplines

For those of you in IS714, we have an optional reading assignment by Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema called "Customer Intimacy and Other Value Disciplines". Strangely, I found that the content overlapped with our Ford vs. Toyota class discussion. The authors speak about a value triangle (similar to the project management: cost, time and functionality triangle) that is comprised by three values: operational excellence, customer intimacy and product leadership. The theory is that because you can only be a slave to one master, you can only excel at one value (it is a rare company that excels at two). However, you must meet industry standards on the other two values or you will be at a disadvantage to your competition. In order to excel on one value, everything you do with your company must be built to support that one core value. After introducing the three Values, the authors go on to compare and contrast a few companies and even describe the types of customers that each value will appeal to (price - operational excellence, personal taste - customer intimacy, trends - product leadership).

When you compare this reading to our Ford vs. Toyota discussion you can see that operation excellence is a concept from the industrial age. You identify a product, you build a process and you refine that process until the operation runs smooth as silk. Operational excellence drives efficiency, which should drive low cost production. Ford is (or was) in this realm.

A consumption centric approach however is more centered on Customer Intimacy. The article describes how, if you can understand your customer you can better meet their needs. This concept is still valid but it may have evolved over the past 10 years. In today's environment, maybe a better practice would be to create a situation where your customers tell you their needs and help other customers with their needs.

We could argue that Toyota was able to shift to Customer Intimacy because their company wasn't as tied to operational excellence as Ford was, but that may not be entirely true. Maybe Toyota was built to be a Product Leader, developed an operational excellence that enabled them to be a product leader and just stumbled on Customer Intimacy as a by product. After writing this I am not really sure anymore.

However, one thing I am still sure of is that concept of dominance in one area can make it difficult to shift to another. If your systems and support structures are built to perform one function and perform it really well, even if you are able to read the "weak" signals, you may not be able to shift gears fast enough.


Here is snipet of the article I mentioned (it was published in the Jan-Feb 1993 edition of the Harvard Business Review):


Web 2.0 deconstructed

For those of you still struggling to get your arms around Web 2.0, here is an article by Tim OReilly that attempts to straighten out the confusion. In the article he compares and contrasts Web 1.0 companies and Web 2.0 companies. He makes a few interesting points; first - adserving could be viewed as the first web mashup, second - the companies that are doing well are engaging their customers in ways that their competition is not. For Tim, the main point of difference between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 companies is that the Web 2.0 companies were not locked into traditional business models. That sounds strikingly similar to our Toyota vs. Ford conversation from class on the 24th.


or here: http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html

This page is somewhat of a summary of the article (the OReilly article is better):

or here:

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Horizontal Capability Layers in the Music Industry

Here, I have posted the final schematic representation of how music is piped in the network (including the cellular network).

Again, treat this as a starting point of the schematic representation and find ways to refine and embellish the diagram.

What links and blogs help us better understand the network era in music?


Horizontal Capability Layers in the Photography Industry

One of the useful ways to understand the shift away from the industrial age is to develop distinct capability layers that are interconnected through business relationships to knit together the offering for end customers.

I have used the same set of capability layers as a starting point to understand the shifts.
The two figures are schematic representation of the key players (with no order of placement for the sizes of the companies).

What are the distinct layers of the photography network today? Can you develop a schematic representation that brings more insights into the transformation enabled by digitization and delayering of value?

What other blogs and links are relevant and important for us to gain insights here?

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