The growth and development of information technology has revolutionized the way things are done. This is so because in all fields of life, information and communication technology plays an important role in the advancement and progression of the organization. In the world on business, technological advancement has led to achievement of major milestones in various industries. The music industry is one of the most revolutionized industries. This is because it has seen substantial transformations; such as the shift from the compact disks of the last two centuries to online streaming. There has also been immense differentiation various forms of digital music and related equipments.
This essay seeks to discuss concepts of strategic management in the context of the changing world. As earlier mentioned, these changes are comprised of informational, electronic and digital transformations that affect the business. It begins by providing information about We7, a UK-based organization that has been already bought by Tesco. Thereafter, the essay proceeds to analyze the situation of the company by use of various tools and theories. Next, the essay critiques or analyzes the practices of strategic management in the company and the contemporary world. Since new management models are processes of change, the essay also focuses on hoe best the company can strategically realign itself for maximum benefits and the requirements for such change. Last, the essay addresses the possible outcomes of the proposed strategic management program.
We7 is an online music streaming service and radio that has music and labels from all the major labels and distributors in the UK and Ireland. The organization usually has limited content service for users outside the UK. Moreover, the company has achieved major strides in digital music industry. At launch, the company had about 3 million tracks for online streaming and users’ base of 500 thousand. Today, the company has about 7million tracks and 3 million users. In terms of strategic developments, the company has, since 2011, changed its goals. Initially, the company focused on free streaming of music but this has changed. Users are required to register for the listenership and also purchase of the songs. It also has a section in which different artists are interviewed. We7 has different options for registration including whether a user required the usual or premium account. In mid 2012, Tesco acquired We7, which has continued to improve its digital prominence. The summary is at the appendix.
The nature of the music industry
In the last two decades, the music industry has seen much advancement courtesy of information technology. Firstly, the industry has seen a major revolution in terms of the digital music devices. It is clear that today people are able to listen to music on their mobile phones. In addition, there are other devices such as iPods, iPhones among others. Compared to the devices used in 1980’s, one sees a very major leap in terms of technology. In other words, the digital music industry has been more successful following rapid technological achievements.
Talking about technology, it is indispensable to leave out the role of internet. According to Hitt , Ireland, and Hosk (2010), advances made in information and communications technology have made it possible for music to be carried and handled through internet. People are able to upload, download and buy music online. In addition, the digital music companies have made it possible for customers to preview songs before buying them. In the case of We7, a thirty seconds song preview enables a customer to decide what music he or she wants to buy or listen to. This aspect was not there in 1980’s, which shows a general growth of the industry. However, since more people have become cognizant of the fact that internet is a cheap and effective way of advertising, marketing and sales. Therefore, it means that more and more businesses have began to sell their music online thus leading to increased competition. The digital music industry is one of the most competitive industries that operate online.
External environment and macro-economic ideals
Since We7 is an online digital music organization, the external factors that affect other businesses do not affect it in a great way. In most cases, the term ‘external environment’ is used to connote processes that do not emanate from the company itself from without. Some of these factors are centered on the customers, suppliers, partners and competitors. A closer look at each of them reveals that there is a need to We7 to upscale its strategies of management for increased profitability. Moreover, since the business organization does most of its work online, some of the factors or components of the external environment may not apply. Moreover, the management principles may remain the same. For instance, the suppliers may be considered as the artists and the distributors of songs by various distributors. In addition, We7 has partnered with major electronic companies through which the company is able to develop products for its customers. Specifically, We7 needed to partner with mobile phone companies and software developing companies to develop digital music that is compatible with Androids and iPhones. With regard to the macro-economic ideals, the company does not suffer much from forces such as fuels prices. However, global economic crises could affect people’s ability to purchase iPhones thus reduced music sales.
SWOT analysis is a strategic management tool that is used to access the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that are at a company’s disposal (Furrer 2010). With regard to We7, the company has a myriad of strengths. Firstly, the idea of online streaming of digital music is a unique one that sets the company apart. In addition, the company has a considerable amount of market share following its pioneering role in the industry. It has a clientele base totaling to about 7 million users. Further, the company has produced its own apps for androids and iPhones. However, although We7 has the above strengths, some of the evident weaknesses are the fact that the question of registration for membership could scare some potential users away. Further, the site is not accessible from all parts of the world which waters down the essence of online business. Moreover, the company has various opportunities one of them being the continuous advancement of technology in terms of the necessary devices for storing the downloaded music. The company also has a wide opportunity in the area of software development for digital music. Since all these opportunities are equally available for every player in the industry, it means that one of the main threats of the company is competition. Furthermore, the European crises for banks continue to pose a threat to the company because the purchasing power of customers.
The need for change, paradigm shift and competitive advantage
Having explored the question of internal and external situations for We7, it is imperative that the business organization develops new strategies to counter looming competition and cover up for its weaknesses and threats. The company should adopt a strategic direction that is rooted on forward looking as opposed to reactive strategies. In other words, the new strategic management should be based on a new business paradigm. For instance, the company may consider offering some free tittles to users who reach a certain threshold of membership or purchases. Jones and Hill (2007) clarify that business paradigm shift is adoption of a new way of looking at the future. This means that We7 needs to adopt a new vision, mission, goals, objectives and strategic activities. These would collectively lead to a change in business paradigm. The company may also consider changing the entire business model regarding online streaming. According to Jones and Hill (2007), a business organization needs to establish the unique competitive ability that it possesses above others. This, analysts say, is what constitutes the competitive advantage. For We7 to realize its competitive advantage, there is a need to focus on product development.
Contemporary strategic management: a critique
There is a need to revise the current strategic management ideals at We7. In mid 2012, the company made a decision to be a wholly owned corporation for Tesco. If this is coupled with the fact that the company changed the membership policies for users, it remains apparent that We7 is not customer-centric. The company needs to strengthen is relationship with the customers and not to focus on the profits more than the customers. The acquisition was a strategic decision to gain on a temporal basis while customers would perhaps be permanently affected: acquisitions lead to change of management and sometimes systems. Moreover, the company remains to be among market leaders in the digital music industry.
Strategic realignment and prerequisites for change
On the basis of the recent and projected changes in technology, We7 needs to adopt an intensive research and development strategy for the next decade. To effectively venture into the future, the company needs to analyze the current competitor trends, industry trends among other strategic considerations (Jones & Hill 2007). The company should come up with strategies on how to work with artists in the wake of changing copyright rules. The company also needs to choose partners that would aid it in the achievement of its strategic goals and objectives. We7 would perhaps choose partner who have the same strategic objective or a shared philosophy.
Strategic realignment requires fulfillment of several prerequisites in the wider goal setting and execution. For the realignments to be fruitful, it is important that the company thinks strategically. This includes redesigning its vision, mission, objectives and activities. The vision will define where the company would wish to be in terms of number of users. For instance, it could aspire to have 10 million users in the next three years.
Possible outcomes of the strategic change program
Strategic objectives are usually designed to achieve specific things within the organization. According to Vyas et al. (1995), this is usually determined through a rigorous process of evaluation for continuous improvement. In the case of We7, it is expected that the company will have adequate capacities to deal with the customer needs regarding the product. As earlier indicated, this will be based on the specific objectives under strategic research and development program. It is also expected that the company will define its competitive advantage and strengths, understand market trends better, be more aware of the competitors and also more informed on the operation environment. If the company sticks to its plan of action, there is no doubt that it will increase its profitability, asset base and revenues. The company will also achieve increased numbers of partners and customer base. In the long run, the company will adopt more customer-centric approaches to its value proposition.
There is no doubt that the digital music industry is one of the most competitive industries online. This represents a major shift from the traditional ways of doing business in the music industry. The 1980’s were characterized by technologies which were not as effective as today. Courtesy of the internet, businesses have seen their sales skyrocketing.
This essay was geared towards outlining a strategic direction for We7, an online music streaming company. To effectively do that, there was a need to give out the company information than analyze the situation at the moment. The situation was analyzed through an investigation of the external and internal environments. This was done through tools like the SWOT which revealed that the company has a considerable amount of market share. However, the economic situation of the Europe are could affect the sales. Although the company has competitors, it was established that a sound strategic re-alignment would see the company reap a lot of benefits in the future.