SHAISTA BANU HARRIS
ASST PROFESSOR, DEPARTMENT: MBA
The success or failures of companies depend on the strategies planned by them. The management of strategies can thus be explained as an ongoing process that evaluates the business and the industry in which a company is involved so as to assess its competitors and sets goals and long term plans to meet all existing and potential demands of consumer. It is ongoing because companies need to be reassessing its strategies regularly.
Although Strategic Management has a wide range of concepts that are used by companies and taught in business schools, “Strategic Decay” is a comparatively new concept introduced by Gary Hamel. Strategic Decay is the understanding that the value of every strategy, no matter how brilliant, decays over time. Thus no company can have a fixed strategy for extended periods of time, no matter how successful the strategy, because with the passage of time, new challenges and market changes will ensure that the selected strategy will lose its competitive advantage.
The problem with most companies that have ruled the market earlier but end up losing their hold later is that they miss the signs when business strategies start to decay. A good example is Mircrosoft, who were the world leaders in PC software. Its Windows operating system was the OS of almost every computer on the planet. The company held the strong belief that its strategy of selling software and getting revenue from computing hardware manufacturers was the best way to do business. The company never realised the small changes in the market where underdogs like Apple changed the game would result in disastrous consequences. The visionary Steve Jobs turned Apple into a fashionable, innovative, trendsetting designer of a series of new computing products that began leading the whole PC industry. Microsoft was too late to react to its strategic decay. Today Apple dominates the tech industry with its iphones and ipads and Microsoft is slowly trying to correct its strategic mistakes by introducing hardware and software integrated products such as the ‘Surface’ designed to do what Apple is doing. But unfortunately, the company has not yet seen any success as it is a late entrant in the industry, with Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS dominating the market.
According to Gary Hamel a business needs to answer some questions honestly to recognize strategic decay in the business while there's still time to do correct the situation. These questions include:
· Does the company strategy defy industry norms and provide competitive advantages and high profits?
The company cannot lie back and relax on its success. The industry keeps changing depending on the changes in consumer tastes and trends, new technological breakthroughs and branding of competitors. A strategy selected by a company that worked last year may be a failure this year. Thus the firm needs to keep monitoring the industry conditions to maintain its competitive advantage.
· Are changes in the political, social or business markets affecting the company strategy to make it less powerful or less relevant in the market?
When Gaddafi lost power in Libya, all the major businesses that ruled the market shattered. The transition was absolutely upsetting to their plans as they were not ready for such a political change. Thus companies need to always have a contingency plan in the markets in which it operates.
· Is the pace of improvement in key performance criteria slowing down?
Apple may still be the number one desirable smart phone maker in the world. But recent studies show that consumers are losing their interest in Apple iphones as the product seems to have nothing new or exciting to offer. Apple’s key advantage is its branding and easy user-interface but with powerful competitors like Samsung already flooding the market with similar or in some cases even better devices, the company may need to make sure that it is not facing strategic decay.
· Is increasing customer power reducing profits?
This is one of the key questions that affect social media sites like Facebook. When the company went public, its share value fell down drastically because of lack in investor confidence about the ability for the company to generate revenue. One of the reasons for this lack of confidence is the fact that Facebook does not have much power over its consumers. If the users feel any threat or discomfort in Facebook user policies, like advertisements that seem too in-your-face or stealing of their personal information to be sold to third-party companies, Facebook is in danger of losing its customer base who would simply migrate to another networking website. Thus it is a tricky play for Facebook to avoid strategic decay.
In a world where the usual 4P’s of classic marketing strategy (product, price, promotions and place) are facing strategic decay, companies are looking at doing something that can create true differentiation and gain commitment from its stakeholders. This is where a new set of Ps come into play.
Companies need to focus more on how the brand can be humanized to a make a ‘real’ difference, using the below 4 new Ps to create the differentiation.
1) People: This is most important in service-related categories, whether a retail outlet, restaurant, banking, or airline – the People who are basically the “customer facing employees” represent the brand to customers. These people must be trained to bridge the gap between brand promise and brand delivery. Eg. KFC, Eureka Forbes
2) Personality: In cases where the “front liner people” are invisible to the end consumer, brands need to create a strong and attractive Personality that can help their consumers feel connected to the company and express their own self identities. Examples: Coke, Apple, BMW
3) Participate: Brands must try to allow consumers to Participate in creating meanings for the brand that are symbolic in representing themselves – Examples: Apple, Google, Facebook are companies that are defined by what the user wants it to be.