Archive for November, 2012

Technological Solution to Business

November 30, 2012

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Proposal ………………………………………………………………………………….. 3

Milestone 1 ……………………………………………………………………………….. 4

Benefits of VOIP for Businesses ………………………………………………………… 5

Milestone 2 ………………………………………………………………………………. 9

Milestone 3 ………………………………………………………………………………. 11

Proposal

Increasing fuel prices are putting an added pressure on business to keep their cost affordable to their employees. Fuel prices and other economic conditions are, day by day, increasing the cost of doing business and making businesses less competitive in international markets. That’s why businesses, now more than ever before, need to focus their attention on bringing their cost of doing business down, simply by making the business processes more efficient using the latest technology. Telecommunication costs are one of the major cost businesses incur in their day to day operations, representing a considerable amount in business expenditure.

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) refers to the technologies, methodologies, communication protocols and transmission techniques which are involved to deliver multi-media and voice communications session over IP (Internet Protocol) networks, such as Internet. Businesses are increasingly using VoIP as an alternate to traditional phones/mobiles to bring their telecommunication cost down, as well as increase the collaboration among employees, which eventually translate to improved productivity. Organizational structures have gone through an evolution in the last two decades which has shifted their focus from centralization to decentralization. Most of the organizations have decentralized the power by using teams to increase the cooperation and liaison among employees so that they can collaborate with each other and unify their efforts towards personal, as well as organizational goals. Communication is the most important factor in getting the employees or team members to collaborate effectively. The biggest advantage VoIP offers in this regard is that it can be used anywhere and anytime, which is allowing flexibility to employees in performing their jobs effectively and efficiently. This flexibility which employees are enjoying through VoIP is translating into improved productivity and reduced cost for the organizations throughout the world (Liu, 2000).

The economist group hired the service of Nortel to develop a full-scale converged voice-data network infrastructure. The Economist is one of the major publishers of a weekly newspaper that’s why the company needs the system that can accommodate their business model, which relies heavily on its ability to share and access timely, accurate information from remote locations. The core technology for the new VoIP system of The Economist was provided by Nortal. Nortel’s state-of-the-art WLAN access points and Ethernet routing switches support seamless wireless connectivity for data and voice. Network’s reliability and security is ensured by WLAN security switches. The highly mobile workforce of The Economist heavily relies on the remote access features of VoIP and gets their needs easily accommodated by using Nortel Softphones and the unified messaging features. In a nutshell, The Economist has reduced its total cost of ownership due to converged network and simplified maintenance (Thomsen & Jani, 2000)

Milestone 1

Manager through VoIP can receive important calls on the laptop, on their mobiles (using VoIP software like Skype) on the road, and receive an urgent voice mail in the box. This is offering managers a great flexibility in performing their jobs. They can collaborate with other employees in their organization instantly upon hatching a great idea or giving them instructions about their work without even stepping out of their beds. This is also possible in using mobile phone services but VoIP is not just limited to voice, it’s a multi-media thing which means managers can do video conferencing with the people sitting in other countries without even incurring an expense of going there actually (Mehta & Udani, 2001).

Your phone calls travel over internet using (VoIP service like Skype) just like your emails which dramatically decrease the telecommunication cost of a business while increase the productivity. VoIP also offers some other benefits in the form of useful capabilities and features which traditional phone technology cannot offer. Some business users are of the opinion that VoIP still need to do more in order to replace the traditional telephony. In their opinion, voice quality is sub-standard and need to be improved, technology is somehow now user-friendly that’s why difficult to implement, besides some other disadvantages like the interruption of phone service if electricity goes out.

It is true, however, that the benefits of VoIP for the businesses, especially small and medium enterprises, far outweigh its potential drawbacks.

Benefits of VoIP for Businesses

The core advantages business can have by using Voice over IP for their communication needs are increased productivity and decreased cost, a win-win situation for a business. This claim has its basis in the capability of VoIP which has converged data and voice into a single unified network. VoIP not only offers voice services, but offers multimedia services (particularly data) on the same network. Which means employees can have an easier access to information, more advanced functionality and greater flexibility. The infrastructure of VoIP is cheaper and easier to maintain unlike other data network which are highly cost to maintain and operate (Schwarz, 2004).

Increased Productivity

VoIP offers more agility than traditional telephony, specially wired phone circuitry. This efficiency is only offered by VoIP which eventually results in significant and meaningful productivity gains for the employees in the following ways.

Access

Employees with the help of using VoIP services can take their office with them at home or anywhere they go and can access the system using internet connection. This anywhere, anytime access is very crucial for a mobile workforce as it can accommodate employees who are in transit, stationed abroad or telecommuting while sitting at their homes. Using VoIP, employees can check their email and voice mail, place calls and access project data.

Integration

One of the best advantages of using VoIP is its capability to integrate with other communication devices or technology, such as email software like outlook or Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM). Empirical studies have shown that Integration of CRM with VoIP has resulted in increased productivity in sales and support functions. For instance, CRM integration will result in automatic retrieval of customer data on an upcoming call – thus provides them with all the necessary information which can help the sales people target a pitch or track customer’s order history by bringing all the relevant information and history of the customer at the fingertips of sales and support representative. VoIP can also be used to develop unified messaging system which delivers the voicemail directly in user’s email inbox. For instance:

1) Flexibility

Business VoIP–especially hosted service–scales immediately to a business’ needs. Without any reliance on specialized IT support, employees can make the necessary changes in the system by themselves. Employees can do it by either making changes directly in an internet dashboard or by placing a call to a hosted service provider. Employees by using online interface can set their preferences in call-routing, add new functionality or even install new phones. Desktop phones can be rearranged by simply unplugging them and moving them to another outlet. Which means there is no need of time consuming PBX re-wiring or circuit switching. This functionality results in the efficiency of customer and eliminates the need to host a specialized IT department consist of specialist who take care of all these apparently technical functions.

2) Functionality

Many advanced function which are not available on PBX systems and considered luxury come standard with VoIP. These features includes but not limited to electronic messaging, advanced call forwarding, three-way conferencing, custom auto-attendant, advanced call distribution, skill based call routing and video conferencing.

3) Lower Total Cost of Ownership

According to the estimates by US telecommunication industry, businesses can reduce their telecommunication cost up to 50% if they switch to VoIP. Some of the factors which contribute in cost reduction are as follows.

4) Lower startup costs

VoIP system does not require the heavy initial investment in other expensive telecommunication equipment like PBX. Hosted service providers offer the businesses the lowest possible cost of entry. Vendors like Speakeasy and Packet8 offer monthly subscriptions which are designed for growing and small businesses.

5) Lower maintenance costs

The maintenance costs can be dramatically reduced by a streamlined communications infrastructure. Businesses not only can benefit with the consolidation of communications into a single network, but they will incur significantly less cost by maintaining a cheaper and more flexible data network than phone lines and circuitry. Hosted service providers offer their services to take care of the VoIP hardware off-premises, and overall system offers a user-friendly web interfaces which can be maintained quite cheaply and easily.

6) Lower monthly phone bills

In VoIP, calls do not travel over the PSTN, rather over the broadband connection which eliminates the difference between the cost of long-distance and short distance calls. BluTrack Inc. reduced 77% of its cost on its monthly telecom bills when company switch to VoIP by using the services of Vocalcity (Hong, 2000).

VoIP is certainly the future of communication, especially business communication. Given the advantages it offers to the business. Businesses are not only reducing their costs, but also increasing their productivity and giving peace of mind to their employees by allowing them more flexibility in performing their jobs. The technology is used to augment business solutions in various ways.

Milestone 2:

Call Center and Voice Over IP (VOIP)

A call centre is a place where people and employees pick calls. This a simplistic form of the explanation but Pankaj (2005) enhances the description by stating that while a call centre is like any other office environment the primary job of people or staff operating in a call centre is to pick and make calls. From the explanation we can deduce that the call centre is a heavy user of the telephone. (Connell, 2006) Urges that a call centre is an ICT-based business to serve customers and supply services to them in an electronic media. In a call centre the main resource is a phone. Many services before was just offered at the Headquarters today these services are being taken outside the company to other companies (Connell, 2006).

In the industry the term contact centre is being used to indicate that web/email and other modes of communication is being used to offer services to customers (Connell, 2006). She continues to state that as long as the ICT requirements are met a call centre can be said to be set up. A call centre “is a hub of information collection and exchange” (Pankaj, 2005).

Call centre Services

The services offered by a call centre are of two types handling incoming calls and outgoing calls. For incoming call centers handle customer orders, customer care services, and other related services while in outgoing calls they are used for managing advertisements, selling of goods and services, reservation, political poling, customer satisfaction surveys etc (Pankaj, 2005). These services are offered via an ICT infrastructure.

The role of ICT in a Call Centre

A call centre’s first and most important tool is a computer terminal. The computer is used mostly to access customer information or product information. In the fields of medicine to computers are used to services the doctor with drug and other patient information. Some, or in the case today, call centers accept emails from customers and therefore making the computer the tool of contact. The internet is another ICT service that a call centre needs. Most of the communication in the call centre will be done via the internet.

Cost reduction by use of VoIP

Today there are many call centers that are web-based. Many sales agents will send web pages to customers to assist in placing an order and processing payments. Voice over IP has lower cost than conventional voice applications (Swale).

Elimination of Banking Halls

Companies operating banking halls to attend to their clients are eliminating them by introducing call centers using VoIP. Mainly these are routine items that can be resolved by instruction. Many companies reduce the cost of having a customer centre where they attend to clients directly. Many of these problems that arise can be resolved online and therefore do not need the customer to appear in a banking hall. This is a major cost cutting measure introduced by using call centers and VoIP.

Minimizing Travelling Cost

Sales agents reduce the time they use on the road and the cost associated with it by using call centers. The call centers become an area where the agents make pitches and also by extension respond to clients needs. Sale of intangible items does not need on to be on site with the client. Clients can get the services provided in real time without moving from where they are.

Multinationals do not need to spend millions in sending executive trainers abroad to train their staff. They only need a good internet connection and a call centre to conduct the training. Travelling and training being one of the leading costs in the services sector implementation of VoIP and use of call centres for this purpose can help improve profitability of an organization.

Training Cost

Customers using products can be trained to use the services from a call centre by VoIP. This usually eliminates the need for physical facilities and cost of housing a class in one point. The increase in webinars as caused this need. The capabilities of VoIP are on the increase and the multiple location training can be done by one tutor. This has an effect of reducing the number of hours a tutor uses on the road from one site to the next. Call centers in most economies are becoming an important tool of trade since full implementation will assist the client to cut down the cost associated to the business. Training is of particular importance.

Milestone 3:

Mobile Devices

Apart from adopting and implementing VOIP in businesses, most businesses in the current world find it easier to communicate with a wider target audience using smart phones, laptops, PDAs and tablet computers. Most of these being portable, employees in businesses can always stay connected while ensuring that there is continued and cheaper communication. Some of the frequently used applications in theses devices are GPS locators, productivity analysis and report writing. Both small and big businesses are able to acquire and use these types of technology because of its affordability, brands, prices and models (Aspect Software 2009).

Conclusions and Overall Recommendations

VOIP has emerged to be a more cost effective alternative to traditional phones and other fuel devices. It has come to offer considerable opportunities towards saving on costs while ensuring resource sharing and distribution. Application of technology and telecommunication in businesses has continued to evolve from fuel used devices, traditional phones/mobiles voice to the present multimodal (Aspect Software 2009). Thus it is no longer just going to be on how to preserve the revenues and costs but the lifetime of businesses in their operations and customer retention. Businesses that focus on implementing different kinds of telecommunication technologies will be able to manage costs and profits better. The inevitability and adoption of VOIP and mobile devices become pretty important in business succession. Operators in VOIP should treat voices as a platform that provides various functionalities, features, affordability along side empowering streams of revenue in businesses.

Properly designed VOIP and other mobile device technologies in the business environment will not just create an impact on network costs but also on diminishing traditional revenues. As discussed in the three milestones, adoption of VOIP will ensure heavy use of voice and data while yielding high margins and staying longer with the network service providers. There is a need to analyze and plan various communication technologies beyond traditional voice services.

High Level Implementation Plan

Completion into setting of up of a network plan is only half-way towards ensuring value addition for sellers and system integrations. In order for network migration to be more effective and successful, it must be based on long-term while remaining cost effective on its entire lifecycle. Migrating from the traditional telephone to VOIP should take considerable planning and implementation, which involves five key stages. This will ensure that companies and businesses are able to realize benefits as soon as implementation is completed.

  1. Completion of network assessment

Before moving, time and budget should be allocated. Vendor incorporation and infrastructure understanding will save on costs. Assessment is done by simulating the load in relation to maximum SIP call numbers on network together with delays. This is essential due to VOIP requirement of voice and data packets for network transfer and bandwidth completion. Besides, assessment should evaluate quality concerning service, (QoS) for voice packet precedence over data packets. All these assessments are corrective measures to the network before implementation.

  1. Provide agents with the right phones

This stage involves selection of types of phones to use security and conversation transmission over IP. Soft phones use software in Personal Computers (PC) to make calls. Such computers must have speakers/headphones for information transmission and hearing. Unlike the software in PC, hard phones use software and hardware to handle VOIP calls through plugging into Ethernet ports found on routers.

  1. Implement proper security measures

Proper security measures require an appropriate authentication, encryption and security. In addition to encrypted audio channels, controlling signals through the media will enable that all contact centers are identified.

  1. Prepare for redundancy to prevent data connection failure

Upon deployment of any network, it is also essential during planning time to put into consideration any failures. Point-to-point connectivity in two parties during data connectivity is a key point of failures. Such failures require movement of connectivity office to a different location or server. Which should be kept running for a shorter period of time. They should adopt multiple carriers, spare (N+) redundancy towards important components. Alongside this, backup network has to be employed incase of power failures for data network viability.

  1. Connect to the IP network: then get started

Deployment of VoIP may require implementation of IP private Branch exchange (PBX). This ensures that companies move peacefully to IP immediately or gradually. Also, a company may select an already established IP PBX or one that is an open source. An open source IP PBX is software that can easily be downloaded by businesses through a code. With more cost saving and rich features, it is more viable for organizations as contact centers in handling various customer interactions.

Project Summary

It is more imperative that the future towards convergence seem to beckon on consumers, businesses, and technology. Reduced expenses for telecommunication, streamlining of all resource managers in businesses, efficient adoption and implementation of cheap and easily available bandwidths and final development of a high-valued voice and data applications are all essential in the current business world.

References

Aspect Software, (2009). Five Steps to Successfully Implementing VoIP in Your Contact Center (and Everything Else You Wanted to Know but Were Afraid to Ask). Retrieved on 14 June 2012, from http://aspect.com/whitepapers/Aspect_VoIPDeploymentStepsStrategy_WP.pdf

Connell, J. (2006). Developments in the Call Centre Industry: Anaysis, Changes and Challenges. Taylro and Francis.

Hong, L. (2000). “Voice over IP signaling: H.323 and beyond”. IEEE Communications Magazine. Vol. 38 Issue: 10 .

Liu, H. (2000). “Voice over IP Signaling: H. 323 and Beyond”. IEEE Communications Magazine.

Mehta, P. & Udani, S. (2001). “Voice over IP. IEEE Potentials. Vol. 20 Issue: 4.

Pankaj, S. (2005). Call Centre. New Delhi: Kul Bhushan Nangia – APH Publishing Corporation.

Schwarz, B. (2004). “Asterisk open-source PBX system”. Linux Journal.

Swale, R. (Ed.). Voice Over Ip: Systems and Solutions.

Thomsen, G. & Jani, Y. (2000). “Internet telephony: going like crazy”. IEEE Spectrum. Vol. 37 Issue: 5

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An annotated bibliography on Las Vegas and how it became the city it is today

November 30, 2012

For this particular research study on the history Las Vegas, factual information on its rapid growth will be collected using qualitative and quantitative research methods based on primary and secondary sources of data. Primary data will be collected through surveys, interviews, and questionnaires while secondary data will be sampled from the following peer-viewed academic sources. On May 1905, Las Vegas was founded with only a few dwelling houses and some saloons. The first article, “An exploration of population retention factors in Las Vegas casino resort properties” by Petrillose and Brewer article will provide a historical background on how gambling played a very crucial role in the rapid growth of Las Vegas. It will provide useful evidence on how gambling stimulated the economic growth of the city and its environs. In addition, this article will provide the researcher with information on how the small dusty City that was formally seen by developers as a stopover for trains has grown into a 24 hour economy.

The second article, “Successful Meetings” by Heidi will offer a distinctive analysis of how gambling paved the way for the growth of Las Vegas. In this, the article contains details related to the architectural development of this City in addition to tracing back all events that shaped Las Vegas as it is known today. In essence, the entertainment sector played a very major role in the rapid growth of the City. In addition, shopping malls, residential estates, and different modes of transportation developed as complementary infrastructures to serve the needs of the growing population working in the entertainment sector. On its part, the article “A seminal American public works project created more than jobs and energy; it incited one of our nation’s greatest transformations” by Michael Hiltzik details Hoover Dam’s contribution to the growth of Las Vegas. In this, it provides implicit details on how the construction of the Hoover’s dam enhanced the growth of the population in this area. In essence, the dam created employment, source of cheap electric power, and water for irrigation.

In their book titled “The Rise of the Biggest Little City: An Encyclopedic History of Reno Gaming, 1931-1981” by Dwayne Kling and Rollan Metron documented activities of the major parties and persons involved in Las Vegas’s history. In this, it outlines how few powerful investors transformed the economic, social, and cultural lifestyle of residents of Las Vegas. They introduced political and economic projects that propagated rise of Las Vegas as the entertainment Mecca of the world. In addition, it offers a valid account of how the actions of great men such as C.P. Squires, Walter Bracken, Helen Stewart, Moe Daliz, Jay Sarno, and Kirk Kerkorian shaped the economic, social, and political landscape of this magnificent State.

Dirk Vanderwilt in his book “A Comprehensive Guide to Resorts, Casinos, and Attractions” describes how the casino culture in Las Vegas transformed the economic status of this State. This article tries to offer insight on other major facilities ,apart from casinos, that over the years have shaped the history of Las Vegas. The book is relevant to this project since it provides information on how gambling in Las Vegas city was started, how it became legalized, and its impact on the development of the city. Lastly, Davis Hudson’s article “Las Vegas” attributes the rapid growth of Las Vegas to the development of the local media. The world came to learn about facilities available in this city through the Las Vegas television that promotes them. People from other nations have moved to las Vegas causing changes in cultural diversity and promoting economic growth.

Annotated Bibliography

Heidi, Bay., Terri, Hardini., Alonzo, Vincent., and Sara, Welch. “Las Vegas.” Successful Meetings 52.12(2004): 64-90.

The article contains information about the history of the Las Vegas and its growth. The article presents the developments which have taken place in the Las Vegas city. It traces back 100 years when the city was young as the article celebrates the marking of the City’s 100th birthday. The article introduces the city as one which is doing well in all market segments. It covers the history of hotels from how they were started to their current status where they have gained recognition as the best hotels in America. The entertainment sector enhanced the rapid growth of the entertainment sector. Las Vegas city is not left behind with the shopping, transportation and safeguard. Generally the article traces back where Las Vegas started and describes the rapid growth which have been witnessed in various sectors and the city itself.

The article provides information on the Las Vegas City as it looks at its History and growth. It analyzes various steps of developments since its foundation in 1906. The article covers a wide field of study providing factual data about the cultural, social and economic growth of this City. Finally, the article is relevant to the research project as it offers valid information with supportive materials which will help the researcher to document in full the history of the growth Las Vegas.

Michael, Petrillose J. and Pearl, K. Brewer. “An exploration of population retention factors in Las Vegas casino resort properties.” Gaming Research & Review Journal. 5.2. (2000): 1-13.

This article covers the expansion of casino resort hotels in Las Vegas detailing economic benefits the city gained through the development of this vital sector. It outlines some of the reasons why some individuals moved to Las Vegas in the 19th century when the economy was still growing The article makes analyses of population retention within the city and its surrounding. This includes a comprehensive literature review of factors that influenced population retention in various counties, which were conducted earlier. It offers intricate details on how several motions were passed by politicians to stimulate its economic growth in the 19th century. The author provides information that offers insight into population’s perceptions at that time that shaped the development of the gambling business in this city. It contains all the steps which must be included in a research report and hence the reader is able to learn. The article makes a practical analysis of the hotel performance in Las Vegas after making analysis through research. The article will be useful for this research study as the author provides a conclusive literature review on how technology and innovations such as the internet enhanced the growth of the economy at the beginning of the 20th century. The article is relevant to this research as it gives guidelines on research and provide material which are necessary in project development. This includes development of attraction centers in Las Vegas.

Hiltzik, Michael. “Hoover Dam’s Perpetual Power; A seminal American public works project created more than jobs and energy–it incited one of our nation’s greatest transformations.”Wall street Journal. 1.1. (2010): 1-4.

The article traces the history of Las Vegas since the construction of the Hoovers dam. In essence, the construction of the dam contributed a lot to the growth of the economy of the United State of America, especially Las Vegas. The dam created employment, cheap electric power, and reliable irrigation. The article covers information related to the building and dedication of the dam by resident Roosevelt as a pioneer project to stimulate the economy of the U.S. This was Roosevelt’s new strategy of transforming the economy and social changes in America. Most of the development and advantages which arose as a result of the dam are covered in the article.

The article contains materials about the the Hoover’s dam ranging from its construction to the benefits and is represented in an orderly manner which makes it easier to study. The article is well-organized as information is layout in a simple way easy to derive points from it.

The author carried out intensive research for this article as it pioneers information related to the Hoover dam. The research is intended to look at the role of Hoover’s dam in stimulating the economic development of las Vegas.

Dwayne, Kling., and Rollan, Melton. The Rise of the Biggest Little City: An Encyclopedic History of Reno Gaming, 1931-1981. Nevada: University of Nevada Press. 2010. Print.

The book covers the history of Las Vegas, as it details sequential developments in the entertainment sector of Las Vegas. Most of entertainment establishments that are discussed include the Reno gaming in addition to its development history ranging between 1931 and 1981. The book sets the pace of how games were introduced in the city and how they spread at a very high rate. The book present how entertainment was started in Reno earlier before it was adopted in Las Vegas, but ironically Las Vegas grew to be the center of entertainment. In this, the book shows the humble background of entertainment in Las Vegas. The author covers comprehensively about the entertainment activities in Reno than in Las Vegas but introduces a little of information on how Las Vegas challenged Reno in the twentieth century.

The credibility of the author is that he is consistent and good at delivering points. He analytically covers the entertainment in Reno and how cities like Las Vegas and New Jersey grew in the twentieth century. The book is relevant for this research project as it gives details on how Las Vegas entertainment rose in the 20th century.

Dirk, Vanderwilt. Las Vegas: A Comprehensive Guide to Resorts, Casinos, and Attractions. New York: Channel Lake, Inc.2007. Print.

The author of the book makes a review of the La Vegas city. He covers all the activities and recreation facilities which are contained in the city. This includes exploration of the Resorts, Casinos and other attraction centers. The books act a guide to discover the Las Vegas city and praises it as the best city to live in the world so far. Mostly, people think of Las Vegas as the city with only Casinos, but this book tries to expound and explore other sectors of the economy that have shaped the history of this great City. These facilities include best hotels, attractions, live shows, resorts and gourmet restaurants. The book covers activities like gambling and how they became legalized in Las Vegas city. The book is rich in information related to entertainment facilities such as casinos, resorts in the city. This includes all the activities that are carried out in such areas like gambling. The only limitation is that the book covers only a few specific areas a guide to accessing the Las Vegas city. The book is relevant to this project for it provides materials to cover gambling in Las Vegas city which includes how it started, how it became legalized and its impact on the development of the city.

Davis, Hudson E. “Las Vegas.” Media week. 16.1.(2006):21-24.

The article present Vegas strip with Mecca high rollers, quick marriage seekers, and convection goers. It shows that there is a dynamic market shift on the local media outlets in order to make adjustments according to their strategic plan for effective competition. The Greenspun family is the one that’s owns large swatch media and real estate holding, and they made a drastic shift by the year 2005. In 2006 Las Vegas television jumped from position 51 to 48 largest in the whole of America which indicated a fresh market growth. The article provides information related to performance of facilities in Las Vegas in the market. It shows the development of major facilities in this City and how they are currently performing after the recent economic meltdown. The information provided in this article is helpful in explaining the rapid growth of the Las Vegas city from the market performance. Contributors such local TV stations are shown how they assisted the development of Las Vegas as the world’s best entertainment city. It is relevant to this study as it provides valid information that help the researcher to explore the growth of the Las Vegas city from an educated point of view.

Works cited

Heidi, Bay., Terri, Hardini., Alonzo, Vincent., and Sara, Welch. “Las Vegas.” Successful Meetings 52.12(2004): 64-90.

Davis, Hudson E. “Las Vegas.” Media week. 16.1.(2006):21-24.

Dirk, Vanderwilt. Las Vegas: A Comprehensive Guide to Resorts, Casinos, and Attractions. New York: Channel Lake, Inc.2007. Print.

Dwayne, Kling., and Rollan, Melton. The Rise of the Biggest Little City: An Encyclopedic History of Reno Gaming, 1931-1981. Nevada: University of Nevada Press. 2010. Print.

Hiltzik, Michael. “Hoover Dam’s Perpetual Power; A seminal American public works project created more than jobs and energy–it incited one of our nation’s greatest transformations.”Wall street Journal. 1.1. (2010): 1-4.

Michael, Petrillose J. and Pearl, K. Brewer. “An exploration of customer retention factors in Las Vegas casino resort properties.” Gaming Research & Review Journal. 5.2. (2000): 1-13.

Pressure Distribution around a Cylinder

November 30, 2012

Pressure Distribution around a Cylinder
Introduction
Flow over a cylinder is a fundamental fluid mechanics problem with practical importance. The flow field over the cylinder is symmetric at low values of Reynolds number. An increase in the Reynolds number causes the flow to separate behind the cylinder which in turn causes unsteady phenomenon – vortex shedding. In figure 1 below, pressure distribution around the cylinder is shown using contour line and colours. Warm colours are used to represent high pressure. Vectors represent the direction and magnitude of pressure gradient.

Figure 1: Flow over a cylinder
Objective of the Experiment
(a) To measure the pressure distribution on the surface of a smooth cylinder placed with its axis perpendicular to the flow and to compare it with the distribution predicted for frictionless flow.
(b) To calculate the drag coefficient for the cylinder

Procedure
The cylinder was oriented such that pressure tapping 1 was facing the oncoming flow and the angular indicator set at zero degrees. The cylinder was tested in both smooth flow and turbulent flow.
In smooth flow, the velocity of the wind tunnel was increased gradually until the Betz manometer read 15. Tiny adjustments were made to maintain this velocity. From the multi-tube manometer, the 12 tubes fluid heights (corresponding to the surface pressure at angular locations of were measured. The table anticlockwise was turned by 10 degrees. The Betz manometer was checked as to whether it still read 15. The 12 tubes fluid heights (now corresponding to the surface pressure at angular locations of  were measured again. The table anticlockwise was turned by another 10 degrees. The Betz manometer was checked as to whether it still read 15(tiny adjustments were necessary to maintain the same reading). The 12 tubes fluid heights (corresponding to the surface pressure at angular locations of              were measured.
For the Turbulent flow, a grid was inserted into the air flow and the velocity increased until the Betz manometer read 35. The set of procedure done for the smooth flow was repeated.

Results and Discussion
Smooth Flow
Cylinder angle: Zero incidence (Tapping 1 at

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Cylinder angle: 10 degrees incidence (Tapping 1 at

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Cylinder angle: 20 degrees incidence (Tapping 1 at

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Turbulent Flow
Cylinder angle: 0 degrees incidence (Tapping 1 at

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Cylinder angle: 10 degrees incidence (Tapping 1 at

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15.9
20.9
16.2
7.8
9.4

Cylinder angle: 20 degrees incidence (Tapping 1 at

Tube
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
34

20
50
80
110
140
170
200
230
260
290
320
350

h
7.8
16.3
20.9
16.4
14.0
13.9
14.1
14.3
19.1
20.5
13.1
6.1
9.4

Calculations of Results
Tunnel calibration constant
Smooth flow
From equation 3, we have

Replacing the value of Pms, Pwater, hfinal and h1
We get,
((10.8 – 8.4) 809 sin 10) /1000 (10.4-8.4)
(2.4*809 sin 10)/ (1000)2.4
=-1.056
Turbulent flow

Replacing the value of Pms, Pwater, hfinal and h1
We get,
(9.4 -5.7) 809 sin 10) /1000 (9.4-6.1)
(3.7*809* sin 10)/3300
=-0.493

Smooth, Turbulent, and Theoretical
Smooth Flow
Turbulent Flow
Theoretical

0
8.4
1
0
5.7
1
1

1
10
8.6
0.917
10
6.1
0.892
0.879
20
9.2
0.667
20
7.8
0.432
0.532
30
10.2
0.25
30
10.1
-0.189
0
40
11.3
-0.208
40
13.0
-0.972
-0.653
50
12.4
-0.667
50
16.3
-1.864
-1.347
60
13.1
-0.958
60
18.2
-2.378
-2
70
13.4
-1.083
70
20.0
-2.864
-2.532
80
13.0
-0.917
80
20.9
-3.108
-2.879
90
13.0
-0.917
90
19.9
-2.837
-3
100
13.1
-0.958
100
19.4
-2.702
-2.879
110
13.2
-1.0
110
16.4
-1.891
-2.532
120
13.2
-1.0
120
14.6
-1.405
-2
130
13.2
-1.0
130
14.1
-1.270
-1.347
140
13.3
-1.042
140
14.0
-1.243
-0.653
150
13.4
-1.083
150
14.1
-1.270
0
160
13.5
-1.125
160
13.9
-1.216
0.532
170
13.5
-1.125
170
13.9
-1.216
0.879
180
13.5
-1.125
180
13.8
-1.189
1
190
13.6
-1.167
190
13.9
-1.216
0.879
200
13.4
-1.083
200
14.1
-1.270
0.532
210
13.4
-1.083
210
14.0
-1.243
0
220
13.3
-1.042
220
14.0
-1.243
-0.653
230
13.2
-1.0
230
14.3
-1.324
-1.347
240
13.1
-0.958
240
14.6
-1.405
-2
250
13.2
-1.0
250
15.9
-1.757
-2.532
260
13.1
-0.958
260
19.1
-2.622
-2.879
270
13.0
-0.917
270
20.0
-2.865
-3
280
13.1
-0.958
280
20.9
-3.108
-2.879
290
13.5
-1.125
290
20.5
-3
-2.532
300
13.3
-1.042
300
19.0
-2.595
-2
310
12.9
-0.875
310
16.2
-1.838
-1.347
320
11.3
-0.208
320
13.1
-1
-0.653
330
13.2
-1.0
330
10.4
-0.270
0
340
9.2
0.667
340
7.8
0.432
0.532
350
8.6
0.917
350
6.1
0.892
0.879
360
10.8
0
360
9.4
0
1

From the table of results for smooth, turbulent and theoretical values, the graph shown below provides a visual comparison of the flows:

As seen from the values and the graph, the theoretical values for Cp match the measured values at low angles on the leading face of the cylinder. The flow separates 50 degrees. This correlates to the value of 55 degrees which is anticipated from empirical charts.

ENTERPRISING MANAGEMENT

November 30, 2012

ENTERPRISING MANAGEMENT

An analysis of external and internal environments of a business is a decisive approach of the strategic planning mechanism. Every business has its own internal strengths despite the challenges it faces. A firm’s internal strength is the capability and resources which results to a competitive edge over the others. Examples of these strengths are; patents, favourable access to distribution networks, strong brand names, exclusive access to high grade natural resources, e.t.c.

Before marketing starts, we must identify the target group. Our target group is that age group which is between 17 and 34 years. According to a recent survey, the findings were that six percent of the people in this age group drank wine daily, 26 percent drank several times a week, and another 19 percent drank on a weekly basis on average (Woollard, 2011). The survey further states that 41 percent of core drinkers are on social sites and own a smart phone. This works in ones favor as the chief marketing exercise will be conducted on social sites and through a new marketing mobile application platform.

For us to use the minimum cost possible in marketing. We are going to use sampling as a tool for marketing. It gives the first hand experience with the product when placed in the hands of key opinion-makers. This strategy in effect tends to create a buzz within and outside social circles. When worked effectively, it will yield tremendous results in terms of sales.

Considering the fair range of pricing in the bar, this influences people to buy our wine and come to the wine making classes. This will result to people having the same quality of wine if not better but at a favourable cost and their utility maximized. While we maintain an acceptable margin of profit and better it with time. Our relationship with distributors and customers is symbiotic. That is we depend on each with the intention of each of us benefiting from the relationship.

References

Frank, E.J. (1983). Professional Wine Reference. Beverage Media, New York.

Pressure on Companies to be Socially Responsible on Energy Consumption

November 30, 2012

There has been great need and motivation by all nations in the entire world to work towards industrialization and adoption of new technologies into their system. This has resulted to several industries and companies coming up. The real truth is that changes which bring development are significant to the nation. For it is through such development that people can get employment and also there can be general improvement in the entire economy. But one thing that people have forgotten is the consequences of increasing the numbers of industries and companies to the environment (Roberts 1995). The more the number of companies and industries, the higher the consumption of energy and consequently the long term effects are on the environment which is now overstrained. It is this that has resulted to pressure on companies to be socially responsible on the energy consumption. Energy consumed by this companies are basically from oil, coal, and natural gas which itself is not enough (Brown 2005). The ever increasing demand for more energy by companies has resulted to development of greenhouses which has to a great deal impacted negatively to the environment with its emissions which is on the increase every year (Stern 1985). This paper explores how companies can be socially responsible on energy consumption.

Literature Review

If there are things that companies should not think about, then environment sustainability, climate change, and energy efficiency. These are issues that should not be considered extraneous as they are very relevant to their daily duties (Anderson 1989). As change in climate is not only disruptive to human beings populations, but also it affects availability of common goods together with their prices. Thus, social responsibility on energy consumption should not be considered as an afterthought in the business, but is to be part of profitable business operations. It is also worth working on projects which are environment friendly, but are efficient and profitable (Dlaybay, Burrow & Kleindl 2011).

In addressing the sensitivity about consumer concern about ecological issues, some companies have embarked on green marketing. This entails producing, promoting, and reclaiming for those products which are sensitive to the environment. Following the green market revolution which took place in 1990, good percentage of companies has tied their products with ecological themes. And many consumers have shown their great interest in those products by purchasing and selling them. This has been witnessed by manufactures such as Toyota and Honda, who are making their products to be friendly to the environment. Instance, Honda FCX which neither uses gasoline nor fossil fuels is driven by hydrogen gas (Kurtz & Boone 2010).

Companies which are socially responsible are to ensure that as part of their mission statement is to initiate programs that will help in the cutting the rate of energy consumption and t consequently reducing the rate of emissions of green house gases. They should adventure in renewal and cost effective reliance energy sources (Peterson 2012).

According to Jones (1993), there should be heavy taxation scheme to the companies which encourage burning of fossil fuels. This will be able to discourage them and at the same time promoting the energy saving products of the company. Companies producing products like fuel guzzling vehicles, energy wasting production, and packaging process, should b heavily taxed.

Conclusion

Following the rising concern and the research which has been made other researchers, the need for companies to be act in a socially responsible way in the energy consumption should be given more weight. Since the trend of exhausting and polluting environmental resources is on the rise as new companies are emerging up, there should global laws enacted to govern these industries. This can be heavy taxation on the industries which use energy in a destructive manner. Advocacy for use of renewable energy sources should also be done to promote use of hybrid generation autos.

Bibliography

Anderson, JW 1989, Corporate social responsibility guidelines for top management, Quorum Books, New York.

Brown, CS 2005, The sustainable enterprise: profiting from best practice, Kogan Page, London.

Dlabay, LR, Burrow, J & Kleindl, B 2011, Principles of business. South-Western Cengage Learning, Mason, OH.

Jones, M 1993, “Social Investment Market Place,” Mother Jones Magazine, vol. 18, no.1, p.80.

Kurtz, DL & Boone, LE 2010, Contemporary Marketing, South-Western Cengage Learning, Mason, OH.

Peterson, S 2012, Sustainable IT strategy drives socially responsible business practices, viewed on 5th November, 2012 <http://searchcio.techtarget.com/news/2240169998/Sustainable-IT-strategy-drives-socially-responsible-business-practices&gt;

Roberts, P 1995, Environmentally sustainable business: a local and regional perspective, Chapman, London.

Stern, PC 1985, Energy efficiency in buildings: behavioral issues, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.

Global History of Gendered Movements since 1700’s

November 30, 2012

Women were for a very long time perceived as being dysfunctional without men and for a very long time most of them believed this to be true. Nevertheless, with the passing of time, the achievements that many women have made in the educational process they go through as well as their success in careers classically considered only suitable for the men such as politics and engineering have proved these perceptions of women as weak and fragile to be untrue. In an attempt to liberate women from the suppression and subjugation that they have suffered under male tyranny for long, many feminine movements and activists have dedicated themselves to the mission of liberating and empowering women. Such gendered movements have existed in different parts of the world from Africa to Asia and Europe.

According to Morrison (1996, p. 124), in America, for example, heated confrontations occurred between the women movements and the government when in 1804 the state of New Jersey annulled the right of women to vote which had been in existence since 1776 (Deji and Deji, 2011, p. 331). In another part of the world, New Zealand, suffragist Kate Sheppard, had in the year 1893 managed to rally for women rights and women were allowed to vote. In the US in 1848 a woman suffrage association was formed after a group of activists converged in the Seneca Falls Convention to rally for women’s rights; this led to the Declaration of Sentiments. Eighteen years later in 1869 the National Suffrage Association was established by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in America. In other parts of the world such as the Arab Spring, women who had been under the bondages of male chauvinism and religion for so long were also fighting hard for liberation through the gendered movements and in 1905 Mohtaram Eskandari of Iran formed the Union of Patriotic Women. The fact that women such as Mekatilili wa Menza from the Kenyan coast in Africa who rallied her people many times to fight against oppressive rule of the colonialists proved to the whole world that given the opportunity women could achieve as much, if not more than men.

According to Stoller(2012) despite the fact that our sex as either male and female is determined by our biological sexual organs, gender is cultural in the sense that it is as a result of the social orientation that any individual receives owing to their being part of a community. Youngsters are therefore socialized according to typecasts that are accepted in a certain society as being acceptable for either of the sexes; this implies that gender roles and functions are not as universal as many tend to assume. What is perceived as being a feminine duty or function may in another cultural civilization be perceived as a masculine function. In many societies women have for a very long time been perceived and described as docile, over sentimental and weak creatures who should be under the subjugation of men; this has led to women being confined in the homesteads their main duties being perceived as those of taking care of their husbands, children and homes (Rowold, 2008, p. 69).

Despite the devotion of women to form gendered movements to fight for their rights in different parts of the world, it should be noted that the fruits of their efforts that are enjoyed by the contemporary society many a times cost them their lives. Some in the radical Arabian nations were burnt or buried alive for trying to imply that women could be equal to men in any manner. Despite the fact that the struggle for gender equality is still on the modern day generation should appreciate that the freedom and liberties enjoyed by women today came at a great price.

References

Deji, O and Deji, O F, 2011, Gender and Rural Development: Introduction, Volume 1, LIT

Verlag Munster, pp. 390-395

Morrison, A B, 1996, Fundamentals of American Law, Oxford University Press, pp. 124-130

Rowold, K, 2008, The Educated Woman: Minds, Bodies and Women’s Higher Education in

Britain, Germany and Spain, 1865-1914, Routledge, p. 67-80

Stoller, R. J, 2012, Sex and Gender: the development of Masculinity and Feminity, Karnac

Books p. 65-70

Why the Ancient Culture of Mesopotamia deserves to be called a Civilization

November 30, 2012

Between 3000-550BC, the civilization of the culture of Mesopotamia, also known as “The Land Between Two Rivers” was at its peak. Unfortunately, much of Mesopotamia’s contributions to the history of human civilization go unnoticed. The limited history available on this magnificent land shows that a great deal of human civilization begun in Mesopotamia. This is proven by its extensive trade routes, outstanding leaders, and astronomical development in technology that came into being in the ancient Mesopotamia. Undoubtedly, the ancient culture in Mesopotamia was the epitome of civilization. Duker and Spielvogel enumerate a number of aspects that need to considered for a culture to be referred to as civilized (7). They include the existence of written laws, intensive agriculture, division of labor, highly structured communities, market economy, among other variables. Thus, drawing from these elements that dictate civilizations, this essay attempts to explain why the ancient culture of Mesopotamia deserves to be called a civilization.

By 3000 BC, the Sumerians, people of unknown origin had expanded the cities in Mesopotamia. During this period, they began to exercise political and economic control over other parts of the vast Mesopotamia. In addition, they formed city states, the most basic units of civilization in Mesopotamia. To start with, it is necessary to consider how Mesopotamia was divided. Mesopotamia was divided into what is now referred to as Sumerian cities. These cities were surrounded by walls with towers for defense shooting up high to 35 feet. Uruk, for instance, was a city heavily protected by Sumerians’ remarkable creativity and innovation. The buildings in Mesopotamia were outstanding. Made of sun-dried-bricks and bound together by mud, Sumerians, both peasants put up dwellings that housed their households. Evidently, Mesopotamia has displayed the most artistic and creative architecture made of bricks of all time.

Secondly, the economic might of the people of Mesopotamia further proves the level of civilization exhibited by Mesopotamia’s culture. Sumerian cities were predominantly agricultural. However, other economic aspects such as commerce and industry were practiced by Mesopotamians. For instance, they produced metalwork, pottery, and woolen textiles. In a display of their established trade market economy, Mesopotamians exchanged their agricultural products such as dried fish, barley, and wheat for imports that included copper, timber, and tin. Trade in Mesopotamia was made even easier with the introduction of carts with wheels. Duker and Spielvogel postulate that close to 90% of the entire Mesopotamian population practiced agriculture (8).

With the increase in the numbers of Sumerian cities, Mesopotamia saw the need for the creation of more elaborate leadership structures. Thus in 2340 BC, the city states were abolished and more expansive and inclusive concept of leadership came into force, the empire. Mesopotamia did not only thrive on extensive and highly structured trade routes it enjoyed the leadership of a flourishing system of governance. Despite having fallen almost the time when city states were abolished ushering in the concept of an empire, Mesopotamia had accomplished leaders. Sargon I, for instance, was able to bring together the vast land of civilized people together and foster unity, which further gave his subjects the peace necessary for development.

Along with the highly structured and remarkably efficient government systems was the rule of law that existed in Mesopotamia. The Code of Hammurabi, for instance, was a collection of laws that provided a platform for exercising justice in Mesopotamia. Just as most laws in this day and age are strict, Duker and Spielvogel give an insight into how these laws were enforced (9). The Hammurabi Code is proof of a civilized ancient society with strict rules that came with strict punishments for breach any.

As far as religious aspects of this ancient culture were concerned, it is evident that the people of Mesopotamia were spiritual. In Mesopotamia, religion was led by priests who were accorded respect and valued by everyone including the kings. They believed in the existence of gods who were said to be at the helm of all the endeavors in Mesopotamia. It was in this effect that kings and other leaders had the responsibility of dedicating monuments and offerings for the gods for their much needed favor, especially at times of war. With many gods to be observed by the Mesopotamians, it suffices to say that religion was based on polytheism.

Another aspect of ultimate importance in the ancient culture of Mesopotamia is that of the invention of arts and sciences. At around 3000 BC, the Sumerians introduced a system of writing that they referred to as cuneiform. Out of reeds, they inscribed wedge-shaped writings on clay tablets. The tablets were then baked, and once dry, they left permanent impressions that have continued to be sources of fascinating literature of this ancient society. It is from this invention that the art of writing began, without which we would have known nothing about writing. Therefore, it is agreeable that the ancient culture of Mesopotamia was civilized.

Initially, Sumerian art of writing began with pictures of concrete objects, but gradually developed to form a phonetic system that made it possible for them to put abstract ideas into writing. Tracking the importance of writing in the ancient Mesopotamia, Duker and Spielvogel show how writing was vital to the people of Mesopotamia (13). With writing came the practice of keeping records of previous activities in addition to enhancing non-verbal communication.

In addition to the outstanding art, Mesopotamians made incredible achievements as far as scientific discoveries are concerned. Arguably, their contributions to the math we perform today never go unnoticed. Thus, Mesopotamians played a pivotal role in the field of mathematics and astronomy. Duker and Spielvogel suggest that Mesopotamian culture ushered in a wave of technological advancements that no man had ever known (12). The period between 3000- 550 BC saw great scientific revolutions in Mesopotamia that led to the invention of exponents and roots in mathematics. Surprisingly, 4000 years later, no such discoveries have been made, discoveries so simple that no man has been able to improve on. With this breakthrough in mathematics and geometry, Sumerians could now employ this new concept in their various architectural designs. For instance, it was after the introduction of architectural concepts of arch, dome, and vaulted ceilings used in designing dwellings in Mesopotamia. Consequently, more people could fit into less space because of the new and effective designs of the dwellings.

On the same note, it is paramount to note that it was in Mesopotamia that the numbers we now see in math were first coined. Mesopotamians devised the numbering, which they used in astronomy and keeping their calendar. With their newly found mathematical concept, they were able to base their calendar on the on the 12 lunar months.

Duker and Spielvogel further use the elaborate trading system in Mesopotamia to illustrate how civilized it was (7). History suggests that Mesopotamia had the most civilized trading system with its trading routes running from Egypt to India. Initially, most nations of Mesopotamia’s age had trades that only operated within villagers. However, in Mesopotamia, trade extended beyond its borders through which Mesopotamia obtained most of its commodities through barter trade. Thus, it is through these far-reaching trade routes that one can confidently argue that the ancient culture of Mesopotamia had an immense deal of civilization.

At the mention of Mesopotamia and civilization, one never fails to note the early forms of education systems that existed during this period. In Mesopotamia, Sumerians had devised a way of educating the young members of the society how to read and write Algaze 8). However, this never came to be until the art of writing was discovered. The Sumerians came up with what they referred to as writing schools that provided avenues through which early scholars learned creative writing (Algaze 6). These centers formed vibrant systems of apprentice. It was in the apprentice schools that craftsmen and artists trained on the job. They offered training on woodwork, metal work among other forms of art. Through this early system of education, other skills such as brewing and baking were taught. On the other hand, Sumerian schools provided graduates who later served as scribes in palaces, temples, and other affluent dwellings. Others proceeded to become instructors in other learning centers.

Finally, it is necessary to look at how Mesopotamia displayed civilization via the field of medicine. It is evident that Mesopotamia was at the heart of the invention of practical medicine. Archaeologists have stumbled on pharmaceutical tablets that are said to have cured wounds, venereal diseases among other ailments of the ancient times. Whist other places are said to have resorted to dancing to drive away headaches; Mesopotamians had made a breakthrough in the field of medicine and were actually treating headache (Algaze 5). This only serves to demonstrate how the ancient culture of Mesopotamia was civilized.

Therefore, in view of the compelling evidence of civilization, it suffices to say that the ancient culture of Mesopotamia was civilized. It is obvious to draw a conclusion that owing to Mesopotamia’s highly structured and elaborate leadership system, trade routes, technological advancements, educational systems, and well established religious system the culture of Mesopotamia is an ideal example of civilization of the ancient times. It is evident that, most of the technologies available today have a history with Mesopotamia. From carts with wheels to mathematical functions, symbols of Mesopotamia’s culture are evident. Thus, using Duker and Spielvogel’s elements as a yardstick against which to measure civilization, it is evident that Mesopotamia’s ancient culture did exhibit most of the elements therefore, automatically deserves to be called a civilization.

Works Cited

Algaze, Guillermo. Ancient Mesopotamia at the Dawn of Civilization: The Evolution of an Urban Landscape. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2008 Print.

Duker, William & Spielvogel, Jackson. The Essential World History. 6th edition, Wadsworth Publishing 2011. Print.

Value chain management for Dell

November 30, 2012

Introduction

Value chain management simply involves the activities and processes involved in adding value in an organization. Businesses engage in efficient value chain management practices to obtain a competitive advantage over their competitors. To achieve a competitive advantage, Porter (1985) proposes cost leadership and differentiation strategies. Value chain analysis requires breaking down a market or organization’s processes into its key strategic activities. After activity breakdown, the firm should consider the potential value realized through cost-leadership and differentiation advantages. In other words, this involves the process of identifying the firm’s current activities that might be experiencing a competitive disadvantage. Next, the firm needs to develop or create those strategies that are focused on those individual activities that can sustain the competitive advantage.

With this line, this paper looks at a detailed analysis of value chain management, taking into account cost leadership and differentiation strategies as mechanisms to obtain a competitive advantage. The paper will also look at Dell Corporation to illustrate various aspects involved in supply chain management. The paper will further illustrate how Dell Corporation has successfully adopted the use of cost leadership and differentiation strategies under value chain management to attain a competitive advantage.

Short introduction to the Dell’s Corporation (Why Dell’s Corporation)

Dell is a multinational and is among the leading computer manufacturers’ companies in the world. The company designs and manufactures sells and provides support for computer equipments, associated products and the services. The company boosts as one of the largest company in terms of technology in the world. It is considered as the third largest computer manufacturers worldwide, behind HP and Lenovo. The corporation continues to grow, expanding its customer base and also through mergers and acquisitions. The corporation is involved in the manufacture, sale, support and distribution of servers, personal computers, computer software, data storage devices, computer network devices and other computer peripherals. The corporation is also involved in the sale and support of other electronic goods manufactured by other companies such as HDTVs, MP3 players, printers and cameras (Dell Corporation, 2012).

The writer chose Dell Corporation as an example of a success company in value chain management due to a various reasons. First, the corporation’s success among the stiff competition experienced in the computer and technology field is inspiring. Secondly, the corporation is well known in supply chain management innovations. Third, the corporation boosts as one of the most successful company in electronic commerce, which is increasingly becoming an important aspect in the modern business competition. The company is built on a simple theory of direct selling of the computers to the customers. These reasons comprise the basic elements of value chain management for the Dell’s Corporation. Through value chain analysis, Dell’s corporation has been able to create effective cost leadership and differentiation strategies as mechanisms to obtain a competitive advantage over its competitors (Dell Corporation, 2012).

Dell has been able to employ differentiation strategies by differentiating its operations through engagement of higher quality production. To achieve high quality products, Dell has been able to conduct its value chain activities better than its competitors. In cost leadership strategies, the corporation is concerned with cost reduction related with value chain activities and also through the decrease in the total amount of the resources used in the production of its products (Dell Corporation, 2012).

The competition structure in the computer industry

The computer industry is one of the highly competitive industries in the world. By engaging the porter’s (1980) theory, competition level can be determined through the following elements: the threats of substitutes, threat of new entrants in the industry, bargaining power of the suppliers and the buyers, and the rivalry degree existing among the existing competitors. With regards to these factors, the computer industry experiences one of the greatest competition levels. First, there is a high degree of uniformity, leaving a small space of high levels of differentiation. Next, the availability of technology and little differentiation of the final products leads in little customer switching costs. This allows several vendors or computer manufacturers to enhance their assembly capabilities. Thus for Dell, the benefits accrued from economies of scale are reduced (Saloner,Shepard & Podolny, 2001).

On the same note, the threat posed by substitute products from other manufacturers such as HP, Lenovo and Toshiba is high. In other words, there is a great level of product similarity with those from competitors. Next, new entrants such as Apple computers and Sony continue to enter into the computer industry. On the rivalry presented by existing players in the industry, Dell has been facing stiff competition from HP, Dell and Compaq. With such environment, the corporation had to come up with a direct model to reach the customers directly. Although the bargaining power of customers and suppliers have little effect on the competition level, the other three factors, i.e. threats from new entrants, substitutes and the rivalry from existing competitors continue to influence Dell’s competitive power to great depths.

Thus, for Dell to maintain a competitive lead in the industry there was the need for effective differentiation and cost leadership for its activities involved in the value chain. As it will be discussed in the subsequent sections, it was necessary for Dell to innovate differentiation and cost leadership strategies. Direct selling strategy has been the key factor fuelling the success of Dell. Direct selling, build-to sell strategies and the adoption of an efficient E-commerce system are the key differentiating and cost leadership strategies employed by Dell to maintain a competitive advantage (Dell Corporation, 2012).

Cost leadership strategy

In order to obtain a cost leadership strategy, organizations have to strive to be the low-cost producers as compared to their competitors. When an organization maintains an overall cost leadership, then the possibility of attaining superior performance is possible. In order to maintain a cost leadership strategy, organizations usually focus on factors such as costs control, focusing on economies of scale and concentrating on key accounts.

Differentiation strategy

Organizations engaging differentiation strategies strive to maintain uniqueness in all of their production processes, from manufacturing, distribution and customer service. Uniqueness can be obtained through the product design and qualities, the marketing strategies involved, distribution or delivery processes or anything that is involved in shaping the customer’s perception as far as differentiation is involved. Most organizations use branding to create products’ uniqueness (Porter, 1980; Porter, 1985).

Cost leadership and the Value-Chain

There are usually two ways through which an organization can create cost advantage. First, a firm can reduce the costs involved in the individual value chain of processes. Alternatively, an organization can re-configure its value chain to favor lower costs of production. As soon as a value chain has been defined, there is need to conduct costs analysis. Cost analysis involves assigning costs to the activities involved in the value chain. The costs gathered from accounting reports might need modification so as to allocate them efficiently to the activity creating value.

Through this mechanism, a firm is able to achieve cost-leadership in the industry in which it is operating. The cost leadership obtained in this way is then employed to influence the costs involved and the pricing of the company’s products. It is usually aimed at reducing the costs involved in production, thus attaining a reduced the overall price of the product. By doing so, the firm is able to provide the product at a lower market price as compared to the prices offered by the competitors (Saloner,Shepard & Podolny, 2001). Reconfiguring the activities in the value chain employs innovative strategies, mainly the structural changes such as engaging different sales and marketing approaches or developing new distribution channels.

In order to realize cost advantage for competitiveness, an organization has to engage the benefits accrued on a low-cost position. A low-cost position is realized through cost leadership. Through engagement of a low cost position, a firm is able to defend itself against the rivalry generated by its competitors. Under a low cost position strategy, a firm is able to realize profits after the competing firms have consumed their profits in subjecting the competition rivalry (Saloner,Shepard & Podolny, 2001). A low cost position strategy also provides defense in circumstances when buyers posses high bargaining powers. In such cases, the buyers have the power of forcing the prices down to the level next to the most effective competitor. Thus, at a low cost position, the firm can also thrive in environments where the customers enjoy high bargaining power (Lumpkin, Droege, Dess, 2002).

In situations of powerful suppliers, maintaining a low cost position provides a firm with the flexibility ability to sustain input cost increases. Maintain a low cost position also provides defense against the threats of new entrants in the industry. It provides entry barriers such as cost advantages and economies of scale. In dealing with the substitute products, maintain a low cost position provides a favorable environment for the firm relative to the substitute competitors. Thus, through maintaining a low-cost position that yields cost advantage allows a firm to reduce threats associated with new entries in the market, powerful buyers and sellers, the threats of substitutes and rivalry created by the existing firms in the industry (Porter, 1980; Porter, 1985).

Differentiation strategy and the Value-Chain

Differentiation advantage can be derived from several parts in a value chain. in many cases, differentiation advantages are derived from technology procurement, marketing strategies or input resources and skills that are not available or if available, are more expensive for the competitor firms in the industry. Differentiation is normally strongly connected to the branding strategies involved in brand recognition and uniqueness (Lumpkin, Droege, Dess, 2002). To obtain a differentiation advantage, firms usually change the individual activities in the value chain in order to increase the uniqueness of the finished product. To achieve this, firms identifies important factors that can lead to the differentiation advantages. Such factors include decisions and policies of an organization (Barney & Hesterley, 2006). Mastery of different manufacturing processes and designs can also contribute the differentiation advantage. For example, Dell employed different distribution channels to increase its uniqueness (Dell Corporation, 2012).

Engaging in differentiation strategies allows businesses to enjoy several benefits. First, differentiation advantages provides defense against the rivalry created by the existing competitors. This is usually made possible through brand royalty where customers are usually insensitive to price changes. A differentiation advantage also increases margins, eliminating the need to engage a low-cost position strategy. Entry barriers are also increased for new entrants, mainly due to two factors. One, the customer’s loyalty created, and secondly, the new entrants have to overcome the uniqueness created by the differentiation strategy. Next, differentiation advantage leads to higher margins that deal with the supplier’s power (Porter, 1980; Porter, 1985). For customers enjoying higher bargaining powers, a differentiation strategy causes buyers to lack alternatives that they can compare with the firm’s products (Porter, 1980). Through this, they are usually insensitive to price changes. Last, for an organization with effective differentiation strategy to build the customer loyalty is normally shielded from the threats of the substitutes. Firms producing the substitute products will have to strive to provide this uniqueness, a factor that affects their pricing (Porter, 1980; Porter, 1985).

Although cost leadership and differentiation provides a competitive advantage, the strategy must be very rare, costly or almost impossible to imitate. Looking on the strong points of Dell, its model of direct dealing with the customer provides this rare and costly strategy to imitate. Rare and costly differentiation strategies are the key factors that provide a sustainable competitive advantage for firms. With reference to Barney & Hesterley (2006), the rarity of a differentiation strategy is dependent on the individual firm’s capability of creativity in developing new differentiation mechanisms to make their products unique. In other words, creative firms are always with the advantage of dealing with their competitors through differentiation. As the competitor firms tries to imitate the firm’s last differentiation strategy, the firm will be busy inventing new ones. In this case the rival firm will always be steps behind allowing the principle firm to continue enjoying the wider market share.

Dell has been able to locate several parts in their processes rare and costly to imitate. They include uniqueness in the following links: distribution channels, locations, timing, reputation and support and service. Uniqueness in these aspects results to unique product mix, product customization, linkages with other stakeholder firms such as suppliers and distributors, customer marketing and product complexities are rare, very difficult and/or very costly to imitate (Porter, 1980; Porter, 1985).

Creating value chain in the Dell Corporation

Primary and support activities

Value chain illustrates the most crucial aspect of value chain management. Value chain was first proposed by Porter (1985). It is used to illustrate the process of disaggregating a particular firm or organization into its constituent strategically relevant activities to enable the understanding of the behavior costs, existing and potential differentiation sources. With regards to porter (1985), value chain is comprised of the activities involved in the design, production, marketing, delivery and also to offer support for the production of certain products. In value chain, there are two categories of the involved activities; primary and the support activities.

Primary activities involve issues such as inbound and outbound logistics, sales and marketing activities. They represent the services involved in the core of value chain to realize the direct value. On the other hand, support activities are concerned with issues such as the human resource management activities, technology development, procurement activities and the organizational infrastructure to support the processes of value creation at the center of value chain. The diagram below illustrates these activities:

To illustrate these components of value chain, both primary and support activities as they relate to Dell will be discussed.

Mapping value chain to primary and support activities at Dell

Primary activities in Dell

Inbound logistics are concerned with the practices involved to receive and also to provide storage of the externally sourced materials (Porter, 1985). In the inbound operations, the company believes in time delivery of the manufacturing materials. To achieve this, the company is usually very close to the suppliers. Its main suppliers are the Intel and Microsoft corporations. Intel is involved in the manufacture of the microchips while Microsoft develops the system software for their products. To strengthen the relationship with the suppliers, the excellent e-commerce system developed to support its operations allows effective management of the inbound logistics. The suppliers are also very reliable to ensure a smooth operation in the assembly processes. The company also uses a computer monitor supplier who is responsible for directly shipping the products to the customers. The suppliers are supposed to retail the leadership position of the Dell (Dell Corporation, 2012).

For the operations, they involve direct manufacture of the goods and services, i.e. the direct conversion of the input to the outputs (goods and services). At Dell, this involves the use of technical knowhow, skills and labor and combining them with the input resources to achieve the finished products such as the personal computers. Under this option, Dell has employed two major strategies, building-to-order and customization options. Under build to order, the company engages strategies that reduce overproduction, in other words, producing enough for the market with little wastes. Customization options allow development of the state-of-the art products, specifically tailored customer service, specific to meet the changing user needs and preferences. In this case, customers are allowed to get what they want. The corporation relies on the knowledge acquired direct contacts with the customers before and also after the sales in order to provide award-winning reliability (Porter, 1985; Dell Corporation, 2012).

Outbound logistics are concerned with the activities involved in delivering the final or the finished product to the customers (buyers involved in the supply chain). At Dell, the corporation believes in being close to customers. Although the company is a global organization, Dell has engaged various technologies to ensure a close contact with the customers. Under this, the corporation continues to invest heavily on e-commerce systems. Its e-commerce system allows a closer contact between the customers and the company. The system also allows customers to automatically place their customized orders directly. There are special deliveries such as the evening deliveries to enhance the differentiation. Whereas the competitors sold computers and their accessories through middlemen, Dell used differentiation to sell their products directly to the customers. In this case, the company enjoys the real customer experience, able to obtain direct information from the customers through direct communication with them. In this case, they are able to observe the sales trends, identifying the unmet customer needs (Porter, 1980; Porter, 1985).

Sales and marketing activities are concerned at providing information to the buyers (mainly the consumers) about the existence of the products and services. In marketing and sales, the corporation has been involved in various strategies to increase the customer’s awareness of their products. It engages multiple marketing paradigms such as advertisements, public relations, direct selling and sales promotion. Direct selling eliminates the costs involved by middlemen such as the retailers. The direct contact with the customers enhances effective flow of information allowing the company to act directly towards the fulfillment of the customers’ needs (Porter, 1980; Porter, 1985).

Service involves the activities involved in maintaining and enhancing the performance of the product after sales. In terms of service, the corporation has always been involved in customer service and support. Through the company’s e-commerce system that is facilitated by an efficient website, customers can always voice their queries regarding their purchased products and get customized support. Dell was one of the first companies dealing with computer equipments to provide technicians at the customers’ homes to provide support services for personal computers. The company also spends dollars in training its servicemen, business segment managers and other employees to enhance provision of the best service for the customers. It also engages collaborative customer-solution teams that works with customers to provide solutions to the un-met demands (Porter, 1985).

Support activities in Dell

Procurement is associated with the resource acquisition for the company. It involves actions such as negotiating and sourcing the materials from the suppliers. Under procurement strategies, the corporation is mainly concerned at reducing the bargaining power for its key suppliers; Microsoft and the Intel.

Human resource management usually concerns itself with the activities and practices involved in the recruitment, motivation, development and the rewarding schemes of the workforce (Lumpkin, Droege, Dess, 2002). The company ensures continuous employee training and development for all of its employees, ranging from direct sales people to the assembly engineers. To provide efficient human resource services, the writer proposes outsourcing. Outsourcing involves contracting a separate company to provide the specialized services for the company. There are numerous reasons involved in outsourcing such as reduced long term costs, reduction of risks, specialized and efficient services (Dell Corporation, 2012).

In technology development, activities associated with the management of information processing. It is also concerned with developing and protecting the ‘knowledge’ in the company. Through efficient E-commerce systems, Dell has been able to manage, not only the information about the internal operations but also external information such as the customers and supplies’ information. Apart from the information systems, the corporation is actively involved in the development of other technological innovations such as technologies in cloud computing (Porter, 1980; Porter, 1985, Dell Corporation, 2012).

Support infrastructure involves the functions and the support systems such as quality control, finance, planning and the general support from the senior management. At dell, there is a global business consultancy that assists in the development of the metrics to aide in the judgment of business-unit performance. This allows efficient decision making. Dell’s financial arm is created in a way that there are no inventory build-up, turning over the inventory at an average of six days. This keeps the associated costs low.

Obtaining the competitive advantage at Dell using cost leadership and differentiation strategies

Cross functional level strategy

Dell Company carries its activity in a defined order. In this case, it relies on the final configuration of their computers and it manages and operates the production and supply chain. But before the final configuration it has to outsource all the components necessary for the manufacturing and configuration of the final PCs. The outsourced services include mother boards and all components that make up the PC simply the sub assemblies. In this case the Dell outsources its component from Asian companies or from manufacturers based regionally. Some of the components outsourced include the power system, disk drives, cables, CD ROMS and connectors are mainly shipped from Asia but the motherboards are manufactured within the region (Achtmeyer, 2002).

Dell apply strategy of having the supplier keep the inventory in the suppliers books as Dell waits to put the order, this is defined as built to order policy. This case is only exception to Intel as the market strength forces Dell to take the product together with the inventory before Dell gets the final customer. So for the Intel inventory are in the books of Dell (Dell Corporation, 2012).

Dell apply lead time management which is part of the direct selling model in order to enhance the inefficient lead time to overcome the losses that are likely to be accrued due to underage or overage of PCs. In case a product is almost taken by time the sales executive should ensure this product is sold by engaging both internet and the phone. This has been made possible as dell has eliminated all the intermediaries from its value chain. After eliminating these intermediaries it aligned the assembly factories and system for taking order together with the supply chain (Maney, 2012).

Finally dell has integrated the model of selling its product with its supply chain. Though it produces a large number of computers per day it doesn’t have ware house to keep them and further more it hold inventories for a single day (Achtmeyer, 2002).

Capabilities

Dell has tried to eliminate the 20-30% that would have gone to the intermediaries by eliminating both wholesalers and retailers from the supply chain. Thus dell has achieved a strong point of tangible capability by maintaining low inventories and elimination of intermediaries to achieve a great financial advantage. In order to maintain its competitive advantage dell has developed and nurtured the intangible capabilities. This is achieved through its build to order model which works in conjunction with the direct selling model. This yield a high competitive advantage but their rises doubt whether this will be sustained. But it is perceived that though this will come to pass one day its competitive advantage will remain for a number of days (Dedrick & Kraemer, 1998). One advantage which fosters Dell in terms of capability is the direct selling model which is very difficult and technical for any competitor to make a copy and replicate it. To make the company stand strongly within the market the company has ensured of its supply and value chain are in the hand of the organization. This includes the assemblers, sales executives and the sub assemblers are in the hand of the organization (Dell Corporation, 2012).

Resources

Dell is well known of its management strategy which includes spending less on development and research, at the same time maintaining an effective production process. As part of the low spending the PC are assembled by one worker in order to make it easier to trace defect and account on him. This has helped the assembly operations to be well designed and efficient in their function. One of the things that make dell strong is the management of the inventory (Byrnes, 2012). This is because the 90% of dell products are sold through direct model. This direct model allows the company to receive direct payments from their customers. Dell carries its activities as follows, the supplier of computer components is paid immediately by the PC maker and it receives payment immediately from the customer on delivery of the PCs. This makes the company to be direct to the market and ensures everything involving cash rotate at the hand of the beneficially (Maney, 2012; Dell Corporation, 2012).

Current business level strategy

To achieve the marketing level achieved today dell as passed through a difficult experience. Initially as they entered the market of selling personal computers the market was full of fragment with the players of their product hard selling them. Thus, Dell made it strongest step by using the direct model which as boosted its competitiveness with low selling prices (Dedrick & Kraemer, 1998). This was embarked on as they realized customers had matured to some extent that they didn’t require onsite training or persuasion. In addition to market approach, the Dell company applied strategy of coming up with low priced printers with no experience of the in the printer market. In addition to this strategy they made another strong strategy of having partnership with the competitors of the HP. These competitors are Samsung, Lexmark and Kodak. This was a unique strategy as HP was leading in the market of printers. In the server storage business to enter the market Dell has partnered with industry leaders who were doing well in the market for example the Oracle, Microsoft and the Intel (Byrnes, 2012; Dell Corporation, 2012).

Conclusion

To conclude, Dell has been able to successfully adopt differentiation and cost leadership strategies to maintain a competitive advantage. Through value chain analysis, the firm has been able to develop a unique distribution channel, a direct customer model. A direct customer model, together with the unique build-to order strategy and an efficient E-commerce system, Dell has been able to obtain a sustainable competitive advantage. It has been able to achieve this by obtaining the defense against threats of new entrants, rivalry from competitors, substitutes and also defense against powerful suppliers and customers with high bargaining power.

References

Achtmeyer,F. (2002).Dell Computer Corporation, Center for Global Leadership,
Tuck School of Business. available at
<
http://mba.tuck.dartmouth.edu/pdf/2002-2-0014.pdf>

Barney, J.B. & Hesterley, W.S. (2006). Strategic management and competitive advantage-Concepts. Pearson Prentice Hall: New Jersey.

Byrnes, J.(2012). Dell Manages Profitability, Not Inventory, Harvard Business School
Working Knowledge of Leaders, available at
<
http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item.jhtml?id=3497&t=dispatch>

Dedrick, J. & Kraemer, K. (1998). Asia’s Computer Challenge: Threat or
Opportunity for the United States and the World?
New York: Oxford University
Press.

Maney, K. (2012). Dell Business Model Turns to Muscle as Rivals Struggle.
available at <
http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/technology/2003-01-19>
Dell Corporation. (2012). Dell Computer Corporation. Available at
<
http://www.dell.com/>

Lumpkin, G. T., Droege, S.B., Dess, G.G. (2002). Achieving sustainable competitive advantage and avoiding pitfalls. Organizational Dynamics, 30(4), pp 325-340.

Porter, M.E. (1980). Competitive strategy: techniques for analyzing industries and competitors.Free Press: New York.

Porter, M.E. (1985). Competitive advantage. New York: Free Press.

Saloner, G., Shepard, A. & Podolny, J. (2001). Strategic Management. John Wiley & Sons: NewYork.

 

 

Topic: Working in group

November 30, 2012

Introduction

A working group represents a collaboration of different experts working together to achieve a given objective or a common goal. Working groups may be of different forms such as administrative or technical working groups. This paper is based on a technical working group at Sony Corporation, particularly the design working group, and the different challenges or issues that the group is facing in their normal operations. Based on the theories acquired from this course as well as other relevant academic theories, this paper seeks to give recommendations to the group at Sony Corporation regarding how they can be able to solve these issues or challenges that are affecting their performance. The design working group at Sony corporation is the arm of the industry that is in charge of coming up or designing the appearance of each product that the company releases to the market. The working group deals with the design of the products that the company deals with and these include products in audio, photography, video, Sony Mobile Communications, Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony Music Entertainment, and other products.

Loss and Lack of Motivation

One of the challenges that are encountered by the Design working group at Sony Corporation, when individuals are working together is loss or lack of motivation among the members of the group. Although this is a challenge that is likely to be encountered with any group, I consider the scenario experienced in this group to be worse.

Participants’ motivation is indeed at its worst. Some members of the group are at times reluctantly participating in assessment tasks. Some are not even committed to the goals and objectives of the group. Free riding and social loafing are amongst the issues causing motivational decline within this group. Free riding involves a member of group who leaves much or the entire work to the other members who are more diligent (Robson, 2002). Furthermore the free rider goes on to enjoy the achievements achieved by the others bearing in mind that he or she exerted very little or no effort. This issue of free riding has been seen to hugely erode the motivation of the majority of members who are surely Hardworking (Schuman, 2010).

Social loafing is another issue that erodes the motivation of the members of this group. This involves a member exerting less effort compared to what he or she actually should or can (Robson, 2002). This can be due to decreased sense of accountability, not being noticed, or identification shortage within a group task. This issue of social loafing is not only wearing down the motivation issue but is also lowering the productivity of the group. Motivation in other individuals is also effected by outside group matters like management issues which comprise finance maters, rules and regulations (Schuman, 2010).

Recommendations for Loss and lack of Motivation

After thorough analysis of the causes of the lack or shortage of motivation within the Design working group, I have come up with various recommendations that I believe will effectively deal with the challenge of loss or lack of motivation.

In solving the free riding and social loafing problem, I strongly recommend the group to have a careful consideration of the kind of task that is granted to a member, then when rewarding, I recommend consideration of the efforts of the entire group as well as the efforts of every individual (Robson, 2002). Although this may prove more difficult than it sounds such procedure will help solve the challenge. In addition, I would recommend redesigning of every task in order to maximize the involvement of every member and to identify and observe their efforts (Schuman, 2010). I also recommend establishing of clear expectations for every group member, by setting up rules or deploying team contracts. I too recommend for an increment of individual accountability through combination of group evaluation with individual evaluation. The processes of the Design working group should also be assessed through periodic process reports, peer evaluations and self evaluations. As of managerial issues, I recommend for competent approach to the management to solve issues that touches on remuneration and incentives as well as rules governing the corporation (Robson, 2002).

Ineffective communication

Certainly, this challenge seems to be hindering the success of the Design working group at Sony. Communication in this group has been extremely unsatisfying, for instance speeches of a member are at times faced with interruptions from the other members. The progress towards problem solving has been extremely slow, and deadline for projects has been missed due to the ineffective communication (Robson, 2002). Another sign that signifies that the group is having a challenge in communication is that the group’s much time is being consumed by the group in discussing strategies instead of implementing the strategies. There is also no clear group focus or direction. Another prove is that there is also much group dissention as well as arguments amongst group members (Verderber, 2010).

Ineffective communication recommendations

In order to guarantee effective communication between Sony’s Design working group members, I recommended for the identification of the exact issues that seem to negatively affect communication within the group. There should also be a consideration as to how the issues affecting communication ought to be addressed. For instance, incase the members of the group appear to be misunderstanding or misinterpreting each other, it will be imperative to have a clarification of whatever is being said (Verderber, 2010). I also strongly suggest that during meeting, time should be allocated to every member for speech; the time should be limited to avoid interruptions due to prolongation of a speech by a member. I too suggest that each member during the meetings to communicate with an open mind listen actively and ask questions instead of making assumptions, in addition, the group members should clearly understand the objectives and goals as well as requirements of the project, this helps to formulate an effective communication. For any member who seems to completely lack communication skills, I suggest the member to attend the lessons to acquire the same (Verderber, 2010).Discipline and respect is also another way that can help formulate effective communication, since any member that is disciplined and has respect will not indulge in disruption activities. To instill discipline, I recommend for tough disciplinary rules for members who disrespect and disrupt fellow members when they are communicating (Robson, 2002).

Conflict and lack of cohesion

Conflict and lack of cohesion among the members of the Design working group is another challenge that is being encountered by the group. This has been witnessed by the exchange of words among the members, acts of despise by some members to fellow members, open rivalry and unhealthy competition among members that is viewed in various scenarios, there is also much group dissention as well as arguments amongst group members (Schuman, 2010). Another scenario that proves the presence of conflict and lack of cohesion within the Design working group is that, there are those members who at times skip meetings whenever a rival member attends. Instead of working together other members prefer to be assigned tasks, do research on their own away from the main group and then present results later. The interaction platform for the members of the group is seen to be somehow shaky (Robson, 2002).

This arises due to various reasons including misunderstanding between the group members either accidentally or intentionally, lack of respect among some members of the group, and disparities in beliefs as well as values. Interpersonal differences are other causes that cause conflict and lack of cohesion among the members. This arises due to different temperaments and personalities. Difference in ambitions and interests also contributes to conflict and lack of cohesion among the members of the Design working group (Schuman, 2010).

Conflict and cohesion recommendations

To make sure that disagreements between the Design working group members are efficiently dealt with, I do recommend for utmost respect for any idea of a member by the rest of the members during a meeting. When working every member must be compelled to show that he or she has heard the idea of the other member and whenever they are disagreeing, I suggest the members of the Design working group to do so respectfully and politely. I also recommend for conflict resolution skills lessons for every member, and reinforcement of the skills in team conflict situations (Robson, 2002). Members should also be made to understand that when working in a group there must be some negotiations as well as some compromise. In addition, they should be compelled to understand that they are working for the best interest of the Company and that objectives and goals of the company comes first (Robson, 2002). This will help resolve the rivalry and competition problem that is among them. I also recommend that every member be reminded of the significance of hearing every opinion regarding the topic and respecting those opinions. It is also very important for members to take a break in order to diffuse the condition and then recollect thoughts during the next meeting. Lastly, I strongly recommend that members should go for retreat after a given duration. This is very vital as it helps solve the differences among the members and strengthens their bonds thereby fostering cohesion within the Design working group (Schuman, 2010).

Faulty Group Leadership

Defective leadership within a group influences the performance of the group in a negative manner and this is one of the reasons why the working group at Sony has not been at its best, in terms of performance. Leaders are supposed to inspire, give support, guide, and issue instructions to be followed by the teams whenever they face any kind of uncertainty or challenge. The leadership of the group seems to lack the necessary technical prowess as well as a profound sense of strength, empowerment, and patience to fight through it all. This is the reason why the working group has showed signs of weakness whenever it faces big challenges.

Recommendation to Faulty Group Leadership

One of the most recommendable models of leadership that can be of much help to the working group is the 5M model of leadership effectiveness. In this regard, the group leaders are supposed to ensure the modeling of leadership behavior, motivation of members, management of the group process, making of decisions, and mentoring of the members. First and foremost, leadership behavior is a key thing that any leader should have in order for him/her to be able to guide the entire group through all their undertakings. Secondly, motivation of members is very important and the leader of the working group must come up with new and better ways of motivating the rest of the members. Utmost leadership should also be seen in the management of all group processes. The leadership of the group should be characterized with the ability to make good and prompt decisions when called upon to do so. Finally, it is the role of the leader or the leadership of the team to mentor the members so as to boost their morale and to increase their self esteem (Robson, 2002; Schuman, 2010).

Groupthink

Groupthink is another issue that has led to the working group at Sony Corporation making some decisions that may not have produced the anticipated results. It is a very possible reason that may have resulted to some faulty designs at the company hence necessitated the working group to rework on some of those design work for particular products. When working in groups, people are liable to making alterations of their own opinions, perspectives, or views for them to be in line with those of the rest of the members of the group. In most cases, when groupthink comes into play, people end up making decisions that they themselves would disagree with individually.

Groupthink Recommendation

Groupthink as noted earlier is something that can lead to wrong decisions being reached at by any working group. What the members of the design working group at Sony Corporation should note is that working in groups does not essentially imply being in compliance to groups. Whenever you, as a group member, disagree with the direction or the particular decision that has been settled for by the group, it is always very important to proclaim your own judgment, view or opinion (Robson, 2002). Each and every person has a right to his/her own opinion and it’s vital that he/she expresses this opinion. In the day to day learning of any group, opportunities of offering once own opinion keeps on emerging and what members should know is that it is very important for them to present their own opinions based on the fact that they are as valid as that of any other person. Though this is usually not an easy thing to do for most of the people, it is recommended. While giving an own opinion, it is also important to note that the opinion of others is equally important. In this regard, all members should learn how to respect the opinion of the other members, even when they do not seem to agree with them. Ultimately, the best decision shall be reached upon based on the views of the majority (Robson, 2002; Schuman, 2010).

Conclusion

Indeed working in a group work is associated with numerous benefits, however just like any other mode of working the method is also coupled with various challenges. The analysis of the Design working group at Sony Corporation confirms that really group works too have challenges. Some of the most significant challenges faced by the Design working group at Sony Corporation have been discussed in this paper and the relevant recommendations given.

References

Robson, M. (2002). Problem-solving in groups. Aldershot, Hampshire, England Burlington, VT: Gower.

Schuman, S, (2010). The handbook for working with difficult groups: how they are difficult, why they are difficult and what you can do about it. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Verderber, K. (2010). Communicate. Boston, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.

Working in group

November 30, 2012

Table of Contents

Groups in Organizations

Teams and groups are gaining significant popularity in institutions, business establishments, and organizations in an increasing manner. Currently, numerous organizations and companies are now depending heavily on groups for the implementation of strategic and operational activities such as the invention and production of novel products, provision of services to consumers, and formulation of new guidelines, strategies, and principles regarding the tackling of fluctuating changes in business and functional climates (Arrow, 5). Group working usually results to group learning, which occurs when group members update or overhaul their prevalent knowledge. This happens depending on what they experience whilst working on a certain project, procedure, or activity. Group learning has elicited intense focus and attention from organizations and research sectors since the advent of the 20th century. Research sectors have mainly focused on identifying ideal conditions concerning group learning, latent and present obstacles and support factors regarding group learning, and potential factors that affect group-learning rates in different organizations and group types.

Group learning initially became a unique research focal point in the late 20th century. Research activities concerning group learning both complements and exploits studies relating to organizational learning. In this aspect, it focuses on different organizational fields such as operation administration, industrial engineering, strategic management, and organization characteristics. One major observation emanating from these research procedures is that group learning is extensively distinct and different in comparison with individual learning. This is mainly because group learning involves significant coordination, distribution, and sharing of knowledge among individuals in addition to involving individual learning. For group learning to occur effectively, all members have to have smooth access and availability to information possessed by all group members.

Group learning is vital to the realization of success in virtually all institutions and establishments. However, because of the constant and unpredictable fluctuating of business and organizational climates, it is relatively difficult to evaluate group-learning procedures effectively. Two major approaches are effective in assessing and evaluating group learning. It is vital to consider resultant changes concerning group learning that emanate from experience. In addition, learning assessments consider group performances that result from experience-related activities.

Research regarding group learning mainly focuses on four major approaches. They include work regarding group learning and context, learning curves in service and manufacturing operational settings, learning rates and avenues emanating from variant modes of experiences, and small group research factors concerning knowledge transfer, memory, and learning.

Group Communication

In essence, group communication is both an inherent art and a science. For long, management hypotheses and behavioral experts have consistently endeavored to identify and expound on prevalent patterns of group communications in order to identify appropriate methods regarding improving effectiveness of group communications. In current times, there has been a massive and consistent merging and interconnecting of various cultures. This has affected studies involving the structuring and researching of group communication to an extent that group communication studies have become an extensively dynamic sector. However, researchers and implementers have discerned various elements that greatly increase effectiveness of group communication.

Effective communication avenues enable group personnel to build respect and trust easily, accomplish set objectives, and foster learning approaches. In situations involving group instances, body, oral, and written communication represent fundamental tools that complement the sharing and distribution of commitments, feelings, and ideas (Arrow, 9). This is because although most groups comprise individuals sharing a common commitment and interest, they all perceive variant ideas differently. Effective communication aids groups to minimize diversity and present ideas in a common perspective in order to enable them comprehend relevant issues and formulate appropriate decisions regarding set goals.

  • Group Significance

In essence, groups have the latency of realizing significant and massive accomplishments irrespective of the inherent size of the businesses that they operate in as a group. However, the overall success of a particular group heavily depends on the success and structuring of its members’ communicational skills and techniques. This is because misconceptions can occur in a group in the absence of positive communication flows. This usually results to the invention of a fractious and hostile work surrounding. The absence of clear, precise, and effective communication affects group production negatively. This is because group members will mostly be attempting to comprehend their respective specific responsibilities and scope of operations. Communication styles tend to differ depending on unique group dynamics. For instance, group members located in differing geographical settings and communicating via internet avenues most likely communicate differently to group members working together in the same location and setting. In overall, communication approaches and styles greatly affect success levels of groups in relation to relevant strategic goals (Arrow, 13).

  • Company/ Establishment Culture

Positive cultures are inherently beneficial and complement group work greatly. Companies in pursuit of effective forms of group communication have to formulate and implement cultures expounding on trust, honesty, and openness to ensure success. Positive company cultures influence group members in establishments to voice their contributions freely without fearing possible rejection, repercussions, consequences, and insults. For any group to succeed, settings and frameworks that complement all their intellectual and literal skills have to be present. This mainly aids groups to attain full effectiveness. This can only occur in instances when all group participants are willing and ready to face novel challenges via innovative approaches.

  • Respect regarding Individuals

Among groups, individual respect towards other group members is vital to accomplishing effective modes concerning group communication. Group meetings that follow precise hierarchical frameworks and perimeters tend to dissuade low-ranking personnel and group members from effectively tabling their various insights and ideas. For group meetings to be successful and beneficial, all involved members and participants have to possess an inherent belief regarding the full consideration and evaluation of their inputs. Groups have to have an inherent atmosphere that does not inundate the excessive consideration of inputs from ranking participants in favor of insights from minor individuals ((Arrow, 17). Research has revealed that respect regarding individuality of group members cannot occur through the aid of official policies and guidelines. Success of group works demands equal contribution and consideration of ideas and proposals from all quarters irrespective of title and position. Leaders in groups should only proffer advisory services.

  • Establishment/Business Etiquette

Various businesses and establishments possess a prevalent etiquette code regarding personnel behavior and communication avenues and approaches in relation to its daily activities. Workplace groups should strive to act in concurrence with a common etiquette guideline whilst working on variant projects. This aids all communicational procedures and avenues to remain collaborative and productive and helps in the reduction of resentment notions and unwanted distractions. Etiquette codes usually expound on issues that include professional dressing, courteous and civil speaking, short, and precise conversations, and general professional individual conduct. Group participants should strive to maintain company etiquette especially when working on projects irrespective of project significance. This will enable them to implement relevant affiliations and formulate cohesive and successful group units. Groups that decline to focus on appropriate company etiquette tend to suffer from group divisions, resentments, and negative feeling among members. All these effects pose significant obstacles to effective communication procedures (Arrow, 37).

  • Theories

Numerous theories and hypotheses have attempted to scrutinize and expound on prevalent dynamics that prevail towards group communication avenues in addition to its inherent elements that influence its level of effectiveness. For instance, Fisher’s Decision Emergence hypothesis purports that formation of new groups entails a four-stage procedure that transforms a variant collection of participants to an effective group. This occurs through appropriate decision methods, work values, work ethics, and shared experiences. The Structuration Hypothesis purports that personnel involved in newly formed groups initially operate in concurrence with previously determined guidelines but later deviate from them according to their respective unique experiences and lessons.

Group Development Stages

Research has revealed that virtually all groups undergo four major and most probable stages regarding growth before they begin to produce appropriate results and achieve set objectives (Arrow, 59). Constant awareness regarding these stages is vital in processes concerning the guidance of new groups to success.

  • The Orientation/Forming level

This stage enables all group participants to gain awareness regarding acceptable characteristics, behavior, and conduct regarding their group. In the creation of new teams, this stage represents the arena that enables the transformation of personnel mindsets to member approaches from individual approaches in relation to thinking approaches. This level also enables the testing of dependence and behavior levels towards both group leaders and members.

  • The Dissatisfaction/Storming stage

In this level, group participants begin developing overzealous and hostile notions as avenues for voicing their inherent individuality. At this stage, most group members tend to resist group formulation and cohesion procedures and ideas. Members at this level usually tend to respond or react to assigned tasks with significant apathy or animosity. Some on the attitudes and behaviors usually apparent in this stage include dissatisfaction, negativity, crisis modes, anxiety, and hostility (Arrow, 62). They also begin to question others’ levels of passion and dedication regarding the entire group goals.

  • The Resolution/Norming stage

In this level, most group personnel begin coming to terms with inherent group values and norms, their respective responsibilities, and inherent personalities and characteristics of other members. Behaviors apparent in this stage include cohesion regarding common objectives, positive and effective conflict resolution, and acceptance of diversity representations, re-evaluation, and reconciliation (Arrow, 67). Members at this stage tend to strive to realize complete and all-conclusive harmony through veering from conflict. This is because at this level most personnel have derived new capabilities regarding constructive expression of variant issues and emotions.

  • The High Performance/Production Stage

At this level, virtually all groups have established unique values and norms regarding its scope of operation and pursuit of pre-determined objectives. Groups exhibit ease in identification and tackling of various relevant decisions. Groups now mostly exhibit interdependence and an inherent sense of ownership. As a result, they now are able to perform efficiently and thus accomplish excellent results. Norms mostly prevalent at this level include leadership, teamwork, performance, and a great deal of cohesiveness.

Case Study: The Ford Development Corp

The Ford Corp ranks among the globe’s best companies in its industry in terms of manufacturing quality and reliable products (Ford Development Corp, Web). The company’s main policy towards production is to build all its projects through a framework of quality production. Since the company’s invention in the late 1980s, it has consistently strived to adapt to expected future changes in relation to enlarging the scope of its services so that it can satisfy all inherent needs and demands of its customers both at present and in coming times. As a result, its scope of expertise and services has developed and increased from underground clearing and excavation of development sites to comprehensive inventing, designing, and building of various construction projects and offering of specialized building services. The company has received numerous praise and accolades for its consistency in producing excellent works irrespective of the size and scope of various projects (Ford Development Corp, Web). This enabled it to form its sister company Trend Construction, which now enables it to handle both non-union and union works and projects efficiently and effectively.

The Ford Development Corp has managed immense success in the construction industry through effective implementation and reliance on the benefits of group work. When the company takes on a certain project, its main objective regarding it expounds on the importance of proffering the customer with the best techniques, skills, workmanship, and services that it can offer. The company usually cost-supervises the project by supervising the entire construction of a project from its setting up to its close, ensuring and counterchecking that all procedures follow the right approach in relation to quality (Ford Development Corp, Web). This has helped it to maintain its consistency reputation for a long time. Group work has played a vital role to the company’s success. The entity’s project manager responsible for project scheduling undertakes constant and regular supervision instances to make sure that the project’s progress in relation to fiscal issues and construction works remain on time (Ford Development Corp, Web). He is able to affect this because of the company’s detailed group work. When the corporation gets a project, it involves all parties relevant to the project irrelevant of rank, position, and technical sector. All personnel form groups depending on scope of operation and sector of expertise regarding the project. The main purpose is to identify the most efficient and effective approaches regarding tackling of all works and schedules regarding the project in question (Ford Development Corp, n.d: Web). Once this happens, the company initiates the project. Group work helps all involved employees to remain aware of expected performances and thus everything goes smoothly.

Discussion

The Ford Development’s immense success in the construction sector serves an excellent example regarding the infinite benefits that can emanate from effective group work. Its personnel work consistently and continuously improve on quality production and workmanship because of the company’s policies and support regarding group work (Ford Development Corp, Web). The company can attain additional gain through consistent overhauling and revision of group structures in accordance with changing times. The company group participants should constantly focus on production through various perspectives. They should work towards inter-involvement activities in order to represent positive forces towards other personnel. Extensive research procedures prior to significant presentations are vital to ensuring representation of relevant facts that complement set objectives. Professional conduct at all instances prevents unwanted conflicts and negative wrangling. The administration staff should strive to involve all personnel in variant avenues to enable freer communication aspects that help in presentation of insights. They should also strive to factor in inputs at all project instances.

Work Cited

Arrow, H., McGrath, J. E., & Berdahl, J. L. (2000). Small groups as complex systems: Formation, coordination, development, and adaptation. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications Inc

Ford Development Corp. Company Information. Web