About Me

John Fahy is the Professor of Marketing in the University of Limerick and Adjunct Professor of Marketing at the University of Adelaide. He is an award winning author and speaker on marketing issues around the world.

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Entries in Success (3)

Wednesday
Oct102012

Who Will Be the Next Star?

It has been a bad few weeks for Apple. Despite being launched in September with a similar level of razzmatazz as its predecessors, the iPhone 5 has received many underwhelming reviews and its faulty Maps app has been one of the company’s first major fiascos. That said, its market performance continues to be unrivalled. Its share price is up three quarters year-on-year and it is now the largest company by market capitalisation that there has ever been. But if history is anything to go by its days in the spotlight are numbered.

 

 

Apple has now largely gone through the kind of scrutiny that many other firms have had in the past. It has been held up as a corporate mould breaker. Countless feature articles and leaders have been written on it and it has been discussed, dissected and diagnosed in the media and management training rooms around the world. Analysts have hung on every word of its former leader, Steve Jobs and when his biography was published in 2011, it immediately shot to the top of the best-seller lists despite (or maybe because of) its 656 pages in length. Has all of this happened before? Sure, many times.

 

Remember Microsoft, the company that nearly decimated Apple in the 1990s and its founder Bill Gates. They too were once ubiquitous in the media and management consulting rooms as businesspeople and scholars tried to learn the lessons of their unprecedented successes. Or what about Dell – a company whose share price trajectory in the 1990s would easily rival Apple’s today? Before them in the 1980s, telling it straight from the gut and answering business’ toughest questions was Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric who went on to become Fortune magazine’s ‘manager of the century’, no less. Those with longer memories will recall IBM’s heyday in the 1970s when Big Blue was the firm that was held up as the corporate shining light. Go back even further still and the most feted company in the world was General Motors and the memoirs of its chief executive, Alfred Sloan Jr. influenced a generation of management leaders and thinkers.

 

Is it time to stop analysing Apple? It probably is. All these mould breaking firms and corporate leaders have had much to teach us at particular points in time. Once those lessons are absorbed, the competitive climate throws up new challenges and it is time to look to the new innovators. So who is going to be the next star?

Monday
Jul162012

Means and Ends

In business, results are everything. For publically quoted companies quarterly results are fretted about internally, pored over by analysts and draw rapid responses, either good or bad, from investors. In small and medium sized businesses, the pressures may be less intense but are no less important. Rising sales and profits suggest that things are going well whereas the converse is a cause for concern. But is this fixation with the bottom line appropriate? Is it the outcome or how you get there that matters most?

 

 

Professional sport provides a very interesting parallel for business. Teams want to win but many of the best think less about the result and more about what needs to be done effectively to get there. In a sport like rugby union for example, percentage line outs won, number of line breaks, percentage of kicks converted combined with number of tackles missed on the defensive side are pretty good indicators of who is going to come out on top in the end. Banks of statistics are now available for team sports and they can be very revealing. Spain gloriously won the recent European Soccer Championships. The statistics behind their play are revealing. On average, they had possession of the ball for almost 60% off the time in their games – an average of 39 minutes compared with 22 minutes for the worst performing team in the competition. Renowned for their passing, they not surprisingly dominated the passing stakes making almost 5,000 passes (1,000 more than the next placed team) and successfully completing a staggering 80% of them (versus an average of 70% for the other 15 teams). The scored more goals than anyone else (12) and conceded less – just one. The more time you keep the ball and the more accurate you are with it the more chances to win you create. Means to ends!

 

Businesses need to operate in the same manner. What are the key means that we need to attend to in order to reach the desired ends? Win on these dimensions and the sales and profits take care of themselves.

 

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