Sales & Marketing
By 2015, Amazon had become one of the world’s largest e-commerce players with nearly $90 billion in annual sales. Although its profitability had been uneven in the 20 years since its inception, its stock price had risen almost 24,000% since the company went public. During this time Amazon has spread its business across a variety of products and services that some see as unrelated. Was Amazon spreading itself too thin or were its investments positioning the company for the future?
Strategy & Execution
Ulrich Simon, the head of the Microscopy business group at Carl Zeiss AG knew that his unit was facing a disruptive threat, so he chartered a special team to tackle the industrial segment. Given a high degree of autonomy, the project team developed an understanding of the marketplace challenge and proceeded to develop and execute on a new business plan. Simon gave the team ample freedom to develop new processes and priorities appropriate to the market segment needs, but he couldn’t help but wonder whether it would continue as a stand-alone unit or he would need to reintegrate it into the mainline business. He also was nervous about the plan itself. The team had established timelines and milestones, but now they had to execute and deliver thjeir first product next year.
Disruptive innovation, Marketing, Product development, Supply chain, Technology
Leadership & Managing People
This case focuses on the Ford Motor Company in Spring 2016 and how its current CEO, Mark Fields, and his senior management team should best respond to several emerging disruptive technologies that will ultimately force the automaker to modify its current business model. These disruptive technologies includes electric vehicles, connectivity autonomous vehicles, car ownership and use, and emergence of subcompact cars. Having experienced a successful financial turnaround under the leadership of its prior CEO, Alan Mulally, during and after the 2008-09 recession, Ford must now decide whether its current investment in responding to these new emerging technologies is too much, too little or just right. As Ford considers the degree of its response, it also faces new competitors in the fast-changing automotive landscape — besides its traditional automaker rivals like General Motors, Toyota and Hyundai — that now includes the Google, Apple and Tesla from the Silicon Valley as well as BYD and LeEco from China. Ford’s history of innovation in response to past opportunities and challenges during its history is also discussed.
Change management, Disruptive innovation, Leadership, Technology
Michael Beer, Sunru Yong
When students have the English-language PDF of this Brief Case in a coursepack, they will also have the option to purchase an audio version.TerraCog, a successful privately held high-tech firm that develops GPS (global positioning system) and similar products for consumer markets, has recently been caught off-guard by a competitor’s new product that makes novel use of satellite imagery. When TerraCog pursues development of a directly competing product, dubbed Aerial, the projected costs threaten to scuttle the project. The key unit managers gather in a pair of contentious meetings that feature anger, blame, and bewilderment, but produce no effective conclusion. At the end of the case it falls to Emma Richardson, a newly-promoted executive vice-president, to push the group toward a go/no-go decision.
Conflict, Crisis management, Decision making, Human resource management , Leadership, Leading teams, Meetings, Organizational culture, Technology
Myra M. Hart, Michael J. Roberts, Julia D. Stevens
Innovation & Entrepreneurship
This case is accompanied by a Video Short that can be shown in class or included in a digital coursepack. Instructors should consider the timing of making the video available to students, as it may reveal key case details.Zipcar is a start-up organized around the idea of “sharing” car usage via a membership organization. This case describes several iterations of the Zipcar business model and financial plan. These iterations include a very early version and a version developed just prior to the launch of the business, as well as data from the first few months of operations. Students are called on to analyze the underlying economics and business model for the venture and to discover how these assumptions are holding up as the business is actually rolled out.
Business models, Costs, Entrepreneurship, Gender, Growth strategy, Strategic planning, Technology
Willy Shih, Stephen P. Kaufman, David Spinola
Strategy & Execution
Reed Hastings founded Netflix with a vision to provide a home movie service that would do a better job satisfying customers than the traditional retail rental model. But as it encouraged challenges it underwent several major strategy shifts, ultimately developing a business model and an operational strategy that were highly disruptive to retail video rental chains. The combination of a large national inventory, a recommendation system that drove viewership across the broad catalog, and a large customer base made Netflix a force to be reckoned with, especially as a distribution channel for lower-profile and independent films. Blockbuster, the nation’s largest retail video rental firm, was initially slow to respond, but ultimately rolled out a hybrid retail/online response in the form of Blockbuster Online. Aggressive pricing pulled in subscribers, but at a price to both it and Netflix. But a new challenge was on the horizon: video-on-demand. How should Netflix respond?
Customer service, Disruptive innovation, Operations management, Technology
Willy Shih, Stephen P. Kaufman
Strategy & Execution
Reed Hastings founded Netflix to provide a home movie service that would do a better job satisfying customers than the traditional retail rental model. But as it encountered challenges it underwent several major strategy shifts, ultimately developing a business model and an operational strategy that were highly disruptive to retail video rental chains. The combination of a large national inventory, a recommendation system that drove viewership across a broad catalog, and a large customer base made Netflix a force to be reckoned with, especially as a distribution channel for lower-profile and independent films. Blockbuster, the nation’s largest retail video rental firm, was initially slow to respond, but ultimately rolled out a hybrid retail/online response in the form of Blockbuster Online. Aggressive pricing pulled in subscribers, but at a price to both it and Netflix. But a new challenge was on the horizon – the rapid growth of the company’s online streaming service, which had a very different business model. Hastings’ efforts to separate the activity into two separate companies met with strong pushback from consumers and the press. What was the best path forward?
Disruptive innovation, Growth strategy, Operations management, Technology
Stefan Thomke, Barbara Feinberg
Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Winner of a 2013 ecch Case AwardDescribes Apple’s approach to innovation, management, and design thinking. For several years, Apple has been ranked as the most innovative company in the world, but how it has achieved such success remains mysterious because of the company’s obsession with secrecy. This note considers the ingredients of Apple’s success and its quest to develop, in the words of CEO Steve Jobs, insanely great products. Focuses on: 1) design thinking; 2) product development strategy and execution; 3) CEO as chief innovator; and 4) bold business experimentation.
Creativity, Experimentation, Product development, Productivity, Strategy, Technology