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Strategy planning concern the future it is the process of obtaining the goals set by the management for the company in for the future and how they can be achieve. Strategic planning process it's a wide process which looks at the wider picture and usually its flexible when it comes to achievement of goals for the organization the process developed some goals for middle level and lover level management to achieved and works on the strategic plans for the future based on the achievement of the goals set for the middle and lover management in short it can be say that strategic planning is the planning of the future for the company.
Based on the above definition the company of Sony will be look with regards to its strategic planning in the past, current and future.
Sony it's a Japanese company which has it's headquarter based in Minato. It is one of the largest electronic product manufacturers in the world.
The company Sony has many products in the market from electronic appliances for home to mobile phones and play stations which is used by many people around the world, the company has established itself in the markets of all continents whether is America or Asia, Sony's products are used by many consumers with a confidence in them.
For the purpose of this assignment the strategies of Sony will be discussed which were used by the company in the past and with regards to that the current strategies will be look and based on the analysis of past and current strategies the future strategies will be identified.
1990 to 2000:-
Sony always tries to differentiate its products from the competitors and provide its customers with latest technology from CD players to mobile phones the strategy at this stage of Sony was to provide its customers with over the top technologies .
The company use many strategies to make success some of them were successful and some were not the company was also subject to some restructuring as a part of its strategy by looking at the company restructuring processes over the years in this period it can be seen that the company Sony was not to the mark when choosing its strategies the company has to change the strategies quite number of times at the time in 90s the strategy of Sony seems like working with different strategies and see which one is working for them. In 1993 Sony introduced its customers with Mini Disc format which was an alternative to Philips Digital Compact Cassette after this introduction the company adopt the strategy to promote its own audio compression technologies under the brand name of ATRAC it was an attempt to go against the widely used format of MP3 at that time and beside that Sony also try to challenge the industry standard Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound format with its newer and more advance sound format called SDDS (Sony Dynamite Digital Sound) while the Dolby Digital was proving six audio channels at that time Sony Dynamite Digital Sound provide its customers with 8 channels of audio. This new format of Sony also had the feature of providing the users of the system a backup system using having mirrors arrays of bit on both side of the film which provide reliability to the users if the film get damage on one side it became an instant hit among the customers but after a few years it was not in that much demand due to being overshadowed by the home theatre system of Dolby Digital 5.1 system which reduces the sale of Sony systems but at that time Sony did nothing to compete with the system with its own home theatre system which was design to sale in the motion picture industry.
In 1998 Sony introduce its memory stick format flesh memory cards to be use in Sony's digital cameras and portable music players which was on the format on SD card format which was adopt many competitors in the industry, it provide the users an opportunity to save their data on those memory sticks and can save up to 1000 pictures and songs on that small device it grow popular among the people at that time and it's still widely used in many products this was the result of Sony strategic planning which always focuses on providing the customers latest technologies so the customers preferred the company more than the competitors, Sony also work with other manufacturer such as Philips in developing or working on new products and by doing this the company was able to grow in the industry.
Despite the success in Sony planning the company was subject to many restructuring due to change in policy and some of the strategies not working and resulting in a loss the problem can be seen that at that time the planning of Sony was very aggressive and the company was trying to grow its market share fast which result in some plan getting failed inconsistency can be another reason in the planning of Sony because the world of music and electronics devices change rapidly everyday and every other month new products come into the market making the old one unwanted, while the competitors were developing new technologies whether it's in MP£ player or home theatre systems Sony did not tried to compete with them with updating their current product at that time.
2000 to 2010:-
Over the years from 2000 to 2010 Sony developed many products which can be widely seen in the market and most of them are dominating the market now some of the products are
Blue Ray Discs:-
The blue ray discs by Sony are a popular product and it is now widely used by many people whether it is in movies or games the introduction of blue ray DVDS allowed the users to enjoyed the movies in better qualities and it has more data storage capacity than normal DVDs .
The introduction of blue ray discs help Sony to captured the market from Toshiba HD TVS and due to that the company Sony was able to have increased its market share compare to the competitor Toshiba.
Sony introduces its range of laptops under the name of Sony Vaio which is a stylish laptop and come under many colours, Sony spend lots of its money on the marketing of the laptop which like all the other products of Sony became an instant hit and even today many people like to prefer Sony Vaio over the laptops of its competitors such as Toshiba and Acer due to the features it provides and also due to its stylish looks.
In August 2006 Sony and Dell had to recall many batteries due to being sued by a couple in April over exploding laptop batteries which were result to overheating and overpower. Sony admitted the batteries had some flaws which could result in batteries overheating and catching fire it affected the reputation of Sony badly and many of the other laptop manufacturers such as Acer and Toshiba had to send back the batteries they bought from Sony and also considered to ask for compensation as it was also claimed by a Japanese newspaper that Sony was aware of the flaw in battery and did not do anything to prevent it or to study the problem fully.
The first play station was release by Sony in 1994 to compete against other gaming console in the market and it provide the gamers an opportunity to enjoy the games at better quality and better sound and the gamer enjoyed it.
In 2006 Sony release play station 2 which was more updated and has many better feature than play station 1 it was an attempt to compete with other competitors in the market which were Microsoft's Xbox live and Nintendo's WII later on the Sony introduced play station 3 with much more graphics and better gaming experience for the gamers Sony also has developed the play station 3 can be used to access internet and to play blue ray movies and just like Nintendo WII it provide the gamers an interactive experience when playing the games and this has been a huge part of the console success.
Sony also has its own brand of mobile phones which were used widely mainly in Asia and the company also introduced the first mobile phone with 12 mega pixel camera in it beside that Sony also introduce one of its famous walkman mobile phone lines which were W11i and W880i in 2007 and 2008 and they had a music system build in it and were also provide the customers a chance to connect to the internet while listening to their favourite music the product was an instant hit and Sony also spend well plan time on its marketing campaign and use celebrities in their adverts which attract many customers and the Sony Ericson phones were used by many music lovers.
Current Strategies Of Sony:-
After discussing the past strategies of Sony it can be seen that the company emphasis on providing the customers with best technologies and marketing its products efficiently but they did had some fail strategy in the past as well it effects its reputation.
Besides, in order to regain Sony's competitive advantages, they appoint the first foreign chairman, Howard Stringer to head the company with the aim to secure Sony's main ground and hope that an outsider will assist Sony to think outside the box. As Hamel & Prahalad (1994) suggest, intellectual leadership are essential to develop industry foresight, anticipating which trends are likely to emerge, so it is important to build Sony's new core competence to shape the industry.
However, Priem and Butler (2001) have shown that the Resources Based View, as currently constituted, contains a theory of sustainability but not a theory of competitive advantage (i.e., value creation).They argue that "simply advising practitioners to obtain rare and valuable resources in order to achieve competitive advantages and, further that those resources should be hard to imitate and non-substitutable is not very helpful in providing practical help" (Johnson et al, 2005: p155).
After all the fail strategies and their affects on Sony's reputation the company now working on developing the reputation for that purpose Sony employed chairman from their own country Japan and also a foreigner chairman to make their strategies work. In the current weaknesses of Sony it can be seen that they had problems with their management and leadership styles which were more concern about getting the tasks done instead of defining the ways for the teams to how to obtain the tasks and what resources should be used.
In order to understand the current business strategy of Sony it will be wise to look at their corporate statement which state" Our companies are known for creating products that enrich people's lives. Through Sony Corporation of America and its operating companies - Sony Electronics Inc., Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. and Sony Music Entertainment - we are also dedicated to improving people's lives. Our commitment extends to helping local communities, fostering better educational systems, funding research to cure devastating diseases, supporting the arts and culture, helping disadvantaged youth, protecting and improving the environment and actively encouraging employee volunteerism".(http://www.sony.com/SCA/philanthropy.shtml)
After looking at the statement it can be seen that Sony Current strategies are not only based on providing the customers with best products but also it include building the reputation back which was affected in the past due to the poor strategic choices made by them.
Sony is also working on working on the green environment and providing the customers not only equipments which provide them best musical or gaming experience but also which are environmental friendly to play it part in making the world a green world and being giving the customers the image of the social responsibility of the company and building its reputation back which has been damage due to all the bad strategic choices made by the company management in the past.
Sony Future Strategies:-
Upon looking at the past of Sony it can be seen that the reason of the failure of strategies was that they were not properly planned and implement the resources were not fully utilized by Sony up to their full capacity as for any company it is very important for its efficiency that the resources should be utlizied up to maximum capacity as Priem and Butler (2001) have shown that the Resources Based View, as currently constituted, contains a theory of sustainability but not a theory of competitive advantage (i.e., value creation).They argue that "simply advising practitioners to obtain rare and valuable resources in order to achieve competitive advantages and, further that those resources should be hard to imitate and non-substitutable is not very helpful in providing practical help" (Johnson et al, 2005: p155).
The strategies that should be utilized in the future by Sony should be of following:
Sony has a establish brand name in the market which cannot be denied and everyone knows about the brand and products of Sony but the company did not utilized their brand name fully due to miss planning for example when the home theatre system was introduce and became popular many people were using Sony's products but they switch to the new system because Sony did not do anything to develop their own home theatre system for their customers which lead the customers to switch to another company therefore the main priority involve is to update their systems and products up to the expectations of the customers and they should work on the strategy to develop the products with competitive advantage in their mind the product should be of the nature that provide better features to the customers than the competitors just like Sony did with their mobile phones when Samsung introduce a 8 mega pixel camera Sony Ericson introduce a mobile phone with 12 mega pixel camera and also it has introduce smart phones for the customers as well which are widely used all over the world this strategy should be continued by Sony.
Build Better Market:-
Sony needs to understand that it has to not only maintain its current position in the market but also expand its share in the market as Finlay (2000; p11) suggest that "organization alter itself and the products and services it offers in order to match the needs of customers in its chosen marketplace which is a market-based approach, so called because the organization looks to the marketplace to see how it should act and how it should evolve". Besides, based on the environmental factors, Mintzberg et al (1998) developed the environmental school which argue people in strategic management must consider the range of decisional powers available, given the forces and demands of the external context. Sony insufficient in responding to the external market had caused them to lost ground in key growing areas and their strategy must be able to cope with the external environment.
Swot analysis provide and wider picture to the company about its current strengths and weakness which relates to the internal environment of the company and give a better understanding that what is required to be done and with the analysis of the external environment of the company it helps in indentify what are the opportunities and threats available to the company and how they can be use for the betterment of the company.
By using swot analysis the following have been identified.
Sony has the following strengths,
Sony has a strong brand name which is globally recognisable.
Sony develop the products which are future base which attract more customers to buy the products thus increase in sale.
Sony has strong customers based who use Sony's products all the time from music systems to mobile phones.
They have top level management and expert chairman now which can guide the company towards success in the future.
Sony has always been consider the leader in technology and present the products in the past which have attract many customers to the company.
They have motivated staff which works for them all the time to develop new products and improve the current one the company is offering.
Just like the strengths Sony has the following weaknesses which needs to be overcome to made the company more profitable,
Sony has shown in the past the company is inconsistent in its planning and do not do anything to tackle the competitors products.
The company has been subject to many capitals structuring in the past.
The industry is rapid in nature and can change at any moment.
The management has been inconsistent as well.
It's a rapidly growing industry which means Sony has changes to grow much further in the industry.
Sony has the team to develop new products and update their existing ones as well to capture more share of the market.
They have a strong customer based all over the world which means Sony can increase it sell in all over the world if they overcome their weaknesses.
Just like Sony the competitors in the market are also well establish and have strong customer based in order to get the customers from them Sony has to improve its product much more.
With the losses the company suffer for the last few years may cause the investors think twice before investing into Sony's new projects.
The world of technology is always changing which means Sony has to work on developing futuristic products and keep on updating the old one to meet the customers demand and to survive in the market.
Recommendations for Sony:-
As it can be seen from the past and present of Sony's that the company emphasis more on developing the products and not on going head to head with the competition which result in the competition getting the most of the market while Sony has the technology the company lack of strategic planning and more over lack of control over the activities result in the company losing its customers due to the controversies from the sue on batteries to customers blaming Sony to promoting spam mails using the play station website.
All this effected the reputation of the company now Sony needs to rebuild the reputation by not only doing what they do best which is providing the customers the best products in term of technology but also they need to build a strategic plan to overcome all the obstacles the company face in the past.
Sony now needs to employ a team of managers who can look after their business well and also needs to monitor and control their performances as it was the bad management decision which affected the company and the company should made all their plan with keeping the future in mind in short the company needs to work with consistency in their operation and should also need to have a backup plan just in case the first plan fail for example when the company was sued for the batteries fault Sony should have tested the batteries fully and as it was reported that the company was aware of the fault in batteries than Sony should have tested the batteries properly and should have look for ways to overcome that fault same goes with the home theatre system Sony should have come up with a way to compete with it instead of just leaving the way it was, this were the faults or mistake which result in Sony's strategic failure and in order to build the company position more strong this faults should not be repeated and all the plan should be made after going through with every details about them and any fault should be identified and ratify at the initial stage and in the same manner every move of the competitors should be though about and a counter plan should be ready for it by doing this Sony can not only captured more market but can also be the market leader.
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