Ford Case Review And Reflection
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During the recent global recession and in its aftermath, Ford faced tough challenges to get itself stabilized in the market. The most important of the all the challenges is the declining sales, ailing suppliers, multi-billion dollar losses etc. Disruptive innovations from the competitors like autonomous driving, electrical batteries and entertainment, which posed a great challenge to Ford. Now the immediate concern of the company is to shift the consumer preferences by considering the new industry entrants and technologies as well. The immediate concern is the extent to which the Ford needs to focus on these aspects in making of its immediate strategy. The vision of the Ford Founder is to let everyone own a car, by making it economical and affordable. This will let everyone get a car and do enjoy the pleasure hours and blessings of the God in great open spaces on the planet. Considering the new challenges and the legacy mission of Ford, it is the time for the company to think fresh about its new technology initiatives. The following part of the discussion is about the possible future strategies of Ford in this connection.
Question 1: Which Research & Development initiatives should the company bet on, and how aggressively should it invest to build new capabilities?
Answer: (i) Research and Development initiatives that can add new capabilities and competitive edge to Ford at present: Ford need to think of its research and developments to catch up the new power train technologies for electrical vehicles, the improved versions in this category has generated excellent range capabilities for Ford. Clayton's supremacy in technology in this domain and the BYD's high quality batteries are definite target levels that Ford need to achieve in this domain. Improved connectivity and infotainment on cars as being provided by Microsoft and similar levels need to become part of the Vehicle technology at present. Research from Ford should focus on making software part of the car technologies and capabilities. Autonomous vehicles for more economy and safety are another important domain for R&D of Ford. Further research into the strategic planning of collaborations with Uber and Zipcar like taxi operating companies is one more important consideration that Ford need to consider. Apart from these strategies, developing small cars to meet the budget of middle class people is another important initiative that is worth investing the Research and Development efforts by the company (Farhana, M., & Bimenyimana, E.,2015).. In some of the domains mentioned above, Ford already has created its mark of presence, for example in the domain of communications there is Ford's version of SYNC which enables commands and control from the vehicle. Further the new version in development like SYNC 3 augments the riding experience by leveraging latest voice based command and control technologies. These technologies can work on to provide so many other possibilities which can be limited only by imagination limits. Ford needs to focus its contemporary research initiatives in this domain as well. Autonomous vehicle technology is not only just a popular and cutting edge technology, but Ford can channel its research and development efforts to make Autonomous vehicle technologies more affordable to common citizen too(Betz,2016). It is just right the current pace is fine but it should be little more in benchmarking the disruptive technologies prevailing in the market and should able to upgrade its competitiveness at the earliest to outsmart the current trends (Goffin & Mitchell,2016).
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Question 2: What kinds of partnerships should Ford initiate to acquire technologies that it cannot or does not want to build in-house?
Answer: Partnerships: Strategically it can be a good decision for Ford to get into partnerships with variety of organizations to acquire cutting edge technologies. For example, Ford can tie-up with technology developed countries on revenue sharing basis. The agreement can be sharing the fraction of the revenues with the technology developers and there can be agreements like not sharing the technology with competitors as well developing consistently the technologies and updating the same in line with the market trends etc. Further the contract can be conditional and performance and result oriented too. IF the technology partner is ineffective or if not meeting the market demands, Ford can look for a new partner while giving a handshake with the old partner. Ford has a wide spectrum of opportunities to make pacts and to liaise with the technology partners and this can enable its capabilities development, which it cannot build in-house. For example partnerships with specific experts in technologies like VWPolo, Fiat Uno, Chevrolet Onix etc as well partnership with companies like Japanese and Korean makes like Toyota, Honda, Nissan in making small cars for technology sharing as well as sharing operations in manufacturing in target countries like south Asia and South America can be a good strategic move by the company (Hitt et al.,2016).
Question 3: How can a company reinvent itself when it has such a long history, an established business model, and massive legacy infrastructure? Has Mark Fields chosen the right approach?
Answer: Reinvention and Reflection: Well, Change is the core spirit and secret for success. Though the company has long legacy, it need to reinvent the contemporary technologies and capabilities to stand in the market with the necessary competitive edge. If not the company may not able to sustain the competition. The changing trends, pulse of the consumer and the market innovations and disruptions all need to be considered in developing the strategies to sustain. However it is true that the legacy of the Ford is too long and it has definite advantage when compared with its competitors. It is required by Ford to take up its advantages of expertise, experience, marketing and sales capabilities etc to supplement its technology and features. That can add further value to its products as well they can also work for making Ford more competitive and manufacturer of choice. Further the approach of the company at present is not too fast or too late, also it is not too far or too little, it is just right. Ford can continue the same approach, however still the results do speak. Expediting the strategies, the outcomes of the massive renovations, changes in the game plans all very much needed (Day and Schoemaker,2016). Only when all these strategies are monitored well, Ford can able to sustain its competitive edge and can able to build up its capabilities inline with the market conditions. Not just reaching the expertise of the competitors, it is also needed for Ford to venture into the new markets and should able to establish strategic alliances for market capture. A critical and deep insight into the consumer interests and behaviour analytics is needed to make an appropriate move in this direction. Ford's legacy vision of affordability and meeting the dreams can be reinvented in the new context. Mark Field's approach is perfectly correct and right.
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