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Tag Archives: operations strategy

Can the cab industry innovate?

Those of us who work and/or live in Cambridge are quite familiar with the controversies stirred up by the wildly successful business, Uber Technologies, Inc. Uber considers itself a technology company, offering a mobile app that connects riders with drivers. The company has taken an innovative approach to making it easier to get from one point to another, eliminating the need to hail a cab on the street.

But most cab companies—from those here in Cambridge and Boston to those in London and Paris—view Uber as an unregulated, competing cab company. Recently, Cambridge License Commission proposed making Uber and other related services subject to the same regulations as taxi cabs; this proposal was met with outrage by locals. Back in May, taxis and taxi drivers from Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline staged a protest outside of Uber’s local headquarters. Cab drivers have also protested in London, Madrid, France, Berlin, and other cities in Europe.

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It’s time to rethink wages

For the last year or so, there’s been a significant amount of news coverage around the wages paid to low-income earners, such as those working at fast food outlets and in retail stores. There have been public protests, calls for boycotts, and legislation to raise the minimum wage in some states.

Most recently, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urged the U.S. to raise the minimum wage. The IMF said “Increasing the minimum wage … would help raise the incomes of millions of poor, working Americans,” and that it “would be helpful from a macroeconomic point of view.”

It would be easy for business owners (or shareholders) to dismiss any discussion of raising wages as being just an altruistic effort, insisting that low wages help companies keep costs down and prices low, resulting in better profits. But that thinking is, in fact, wrong.  Continue reading

Clients and their perceptions can prevent successful diversification

Why is it that some organizations can successfully diversify, while others cannot? Some businesses can increase their complexity by expanding into new markets, creating new products or services for new audiences and succeed, while others seek to do so, and fail.

Ezra Zuckerman, Professor of Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management at MIT Sloan, claims that there are identity-based limits to diversification that have more to do with a client’s perception of the organization than the actual integrity of the services delivered by the organization. In other words, an organization can have superior talent, the best operations, and a delivery of new services or products that is top notch, but if somehow this new direction clashes with a client’s perception of the firm, they may lose the client. These factors should be closely examined prior to a company’s diversification.  Continue reading

How the digital marketplace is redefining customer relationships

Many people today buy their household telecommunications services—house landlines, Internet access, and digital TV—in bundles. Yet go to the average telecommunications services provider’s website and you have to select which product you are inquiring about or need fixed.

From an organization’s perspective, this makes complete sense. There’s a division for phone service, a division for Internet service, and a division for television. Specialists and technicians exist in each department to help you with whatever you need. But you get one bill each month, so why can’t the company recognize you as one customer with multiple products, instead of three separate customers?

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Three ways to profit from business complexity

Business complexity is usually seen as an obstacle to increased profit margins. A publication of The Global Simplicity Index revealed that complexity is costing 200 of the biggest companies in the world 10.2% of their annual profits—which, collectively, totals over $237 billion. But other recent studies show there is a profitable flipside to business complexity—a relatively unexplored area of opportunity hiding in plain site. For some companies, managing business complexity can be a unique opportunity to grow their market share.

Not All Complexity in Business is Value Destroying

According to Martin Mocker, Research Scientist at MIT’s Sloan Center for Information Systems Research (CISR), not all complexity in business is value destroying. In fact, in some instances business complexity can be value-adding, offering companies an opportunity to grow their market share. The key, says Mocker, is to focus on complexity that delivers “variety seeking, one-stop-shopping, customization, or seamless integration.” Finding balance, “keeping the complexity of their processes and systems—both internal and customer-facing—under control,” is the way to manage business complexity toward a profitable advantage.

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