Items filtered by date: December 2016

LOGGING DATA INTO CLOUD USING A FREEDOM BOARD
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Introduction
The mbed rapid prototyping environment and the platform are for the microcontrollers. The environment is a cloud-based IDE and the NXP LPC1768 development board. Over the last several years, the mbed platform has seen extensive growth and development. However, the hardware side of things has not had such growth. This was not good news since the matching development boards usually cost less. This could be one of the reasons why the mbed did not gain popularity like other rapid development platforms. Now there is another powerful board to be used alongside the mbed, the Freescale FRDM-KL25Z which is a move towards the right direction for the Freescale and mbed. The platform allows users to access dirt-cheap development boards and user-friendly IDE.
What is mbed?
mbed is an online development platform and the environment. mbed is also similar to cloud computing services like Google Docs and Zoho Office. However, mbed environment has some advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is there is no need of installing software on the PC. As long as the user has a web browser and a USB port, they can start using mbed environment. In addition, the new libraries and the IDE updates are handled by the server. Therefore, the user does not have to worry about updating the mbed environment. The online environment can closely monitor while updating the MCU firmware when required. However, the environment is disadvantageous in that the user cannot work with their code off-line. Additionally, it has privacy issues (Boxall, 2013).

Figure 1: mbed environment
It can be seen from the above diagram that the IDE is straight-forward. All the user’s projects can be retrieved from the left column while the editor in the main window, compiler, and other messages are in the bottom window. It also has an online support forum, an official library, and library database. It also has help files among many other components. Therefore, it has plenty of support. It writes code in C/C++, and it does not have any major challenges. When the code is being run, the online compiler creates a binary file which can be downloaded easily and subsequently copied to the hardware through the USB (Marao, 2015).

Freedom Board
A Freedom board is a cheap development board which is based on the Freescale ARM Cortex – M0+ MKL25Z128VLK4. It has the following features (Styger, 2014):
i. Easy access to the MCU I/O
ii. MKL25Z128VLK4 MCU – 48 MHz, 128 KB Flash, 16 KB SRAM, USB OTG (FS), 80LQFP
iii. It has Capacitive touch “slider” MMA8451Q accelerometer; tri-color LED
iv. It has a complex OpenSDA debug interface
v. It has a default mass storage device storage programming interface. Additionally, it does not require any tools for installation in evaluating demo apps
vi. Freedom board’s P&E Multilink interface provides the required run-control debugging as well as compatibility with the IDE tools
vii. Freedom board’s open-source data logging applications provide what can be said to be customer, partner, and development on the OpenSDA circuit.

Figure 2: Freedom Board
Most of the literature on the board, it is mentioned to be “Arduino compatible.” Being Arduino compatible is because of the layout of the GPIO pins. Therefore, if a user has a 3.3 V-compatible Arduino shield, they may be in a position to use it. However, the I/O pins are able only to sink or source a 3 mA so GPIO should be handled with care. However, as can be seen from the features, Freedom Board has an accelerometer as well as an RGB LED which can be used for various uses (Sunny IUT, 2015).
Getting Started
This explains the process through which a Freedom board is put into working with mbed as well as creating first program (Hello world). The requirements are a computer installed with any operating system (OS) with USB, connection to the Internet, and a web browser. Additionally, there is a need for a USB cable (mini-A to A) and lastly a Freedom board. Here is the procedure:
i. Ensure the Freedom board is there
ii. Download and install the required USB drivers for any operating systems preferably Windows and Linux
iii. Create a user account at mbed.org by strictly following the instructions given
iv. Plug in the Freedom board by use of USB socket labeled OpenSDA. After plugging the Freedom board, it is going to appear as a disk referred to as “bootloader.”
Among the following steps, plugging in the Freedom board, getting software, building and running, and creating are the most important. Choosing the software is selecting the development path. The user chooses between Kinetis Software Development Kit (SDK) + Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and ARM mbed Online Development Site (Styger, 2014).
Features of SDK+IDE
i. It has the ultimate flexibility of the software
ii. It has examples of application and project files
iii. It has a true support of debugging through the SWD and JTAG
iv. It has all the peripheral drivers with their source
Features of ARM mbed Online Development Site
i. It has an online compiler but lacks SWD, and/or JTAG debug
ii. It has heavily abstracted and simply built programming interface
iii. Although it is useful, its drivers are limited with a source
iv. It has examples submitted by the community
Build and Run SDK demonstrations on the FRDM-KL25Z
i. Exploring the SDK Example Code
The Kinetis SDK has an inbuilt long list of applications for demo as well as examples of drivers.
ii. Build, Run, and Debug the SDK examples
This is step-by-step instructions on the user can easily configure, build, and debug the demos for the toolchains easily supported by the SDK
Creating Applications for the FRDM-KL25Z
i. Getting the SDK Project Generator
This explains the creation of the project and making of a simple SDK-based application. Using the NXP, the users will be provided with intuitive, simple project generation utility thus allowing easy creation of custom projects according to the Kinetis SDK
ii. Running the SDK Project Generator
After the extraction of the ZIP file, the utility is opened by a simple click on the KSDK_Project_Generator executable for the computer’s operating system. Then the board used as a reference is selected.

Figure 3: KSDK Project Generator
Open the Project
The new project will be retrieved from <SDK_Install_Directory>/examples/frdmkl25z/user_apps. The project is opened on the toolchain
iv. Writing Code
Writing code is making a new project which is functional other than spinning in an infinite loop. The examples of the SDK have a board support package (BSP) to help in doing different things to the Freedom board. This includes macros and clear definition of the terms like LED, peripheral instances, and switches among others. Below is a LED blink made using the BSP macros
The main()function in the code’s main.c should be updated using the piece of code below:
volatile int delay;
//Configure board specific pin muxing
hardware_init();
//Initialize the UART terminal
dbg_uart_init();
PRINTF (“\r\nRunning the myProject project.\n”);
//Enable GPIO port for LED1
LED1_EN;
For (;;)
{
LED1_ON;
delay = 5000000;
while(delay--);
LED1_OFF;
delay = 5000000;
while(delay--); }
The above code is then uploaded to the Freedom board after the IDE is entered by clicking “Compiler”
Creating the Uploading Code
A simple program is created to ensure all is well. When the IDE is entered, it presents the user with “Guide to mbed Online Compiler.” The user then clicks “New” after which the program is given a name and click Ok. The user is then presented with a basic “hello world” program blinking the blue LED within the RGB module. The delays are then adjusted according to the likings of the users after he clicks “Compile” in the toolbar. Assuming everything has gone well, the web browser will present the user with a .bin file downloaded to the default download directory. The .bin file is then copied to the mbed drive and reset button is pressed on the Freedom board. The blue LED now starts blinking (Meikle, 2015).
Moving Forward
There are some examples of code demonstrating how accelerometer, RGB LED, and touch are used. The map below shows the pins on the Freedom board with regard to the mbed IDE

Figure 4: Freedom Board Pins
All the blue pins such as PTxx can easily be referenced in the code. For instance, pulsing PTA13 on and off after every second, the code below is used (Young, 2015):
include “mbed.h”
digitalOut pulsepin(PTA13);
int main() {
while(1){
pulsepin = 1;
wait(1);
pulsepin = 0;
wait(1);
}
}
The pin in the reference will be inserted within the DigitalOut assignment. Therefore, “pulsepin” refers to the PTA13.
CONCLUSION
The Freedom board offers users a very cheap way of getting into the programming and microcontrollers and finally into the cloud. Users should not be worried by the IDE or the revisions of firmware. Additionally, they should not be worried by the installation of the software on the locked-down computers or the fact that they might lose the files. The paper has shown that it is indeed to use Freedom boards to easily log into the cloud which enables the data to be accessed.

Works Cited
Boxall, J. (2013). mbed and the Freescale FRDM-KL25Z development board. Retrieved from Tronixstuff: http://tronixstuff.com/2013/03/07/mbed-and-the-freescale-frdm-kl25z- development-board/
IUT, S. (2015). Freescale freedom FRDM-K64F development platform. Retrieved from Element 14 Community: https://www.element14.com/community/roadTestReviews/1972/l/freescale-freedom- frdm-k64f-development-platform-review
Marao, B. (2015). Freedom beginners guide. Retrieved from Element 14 Community: https://www.element14.com/community/docs/DOC-68209/l/read-me-first-freedom- beginners-guide
Meikle, C. (2015). Freescale Freedom FRDM-K64F development platform. Retrieved from Element 14 Community: https://www.element14.com/community/roadTestReviews/1984/l/freescale-freedom- frdm-k64f-development-platform-review
Styger, E. (2014). Freedom board with Adafruit ultimate GPS data logger shield. Retrieved from DZone: https://dzone.com/articles/tutorial-freedom-board
Styger, E. (2014). IoT datalogger with ESP8266 Wi-Fi module and FRDM-KL25Z. Retrieved from MCU on Eclipse: https://mcuoneclipse.com/2014/12/14/tutorial-iot-datalogger- with-esp8266-wifi-module-and-frdm-kl25z/
Young, D. (2015). Create your own cloud server on the Raspberry Pi 2. Retrieved from Element 14 Community: https://www.element14.com/community/community/raspberry- pi/raspberrypi_projects/blog/2015/05/05/owncloud-v8-server-on-raspberry-pi-2-create- your-own-dropbox
https://developer.mbed.org/platforms/FRDM-K64F/#flash-a-project-binary
https://developer.mbed.org/platforms/IBMEthernetKit/

Published in Computer Science
Friday, 09 December 2016 18:17

Human Capital: Dealing with Challenges

Human Capital: Dealing with Challenges
Name: alex peterson

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a. Problem
Human capital is a collection of skills, knowledge and any other intangible assets of individuals that can be used to create economic value. Organizations depend on their human capital so as to realize their overall objective. In an organization, employees are the source of human capital thus making them the most critical assets for any organization. Human capital provides organizations with the information, knowledge, and skills needed to remain competitive in the market. However, the most organization continues to grapple with the problem of retention, engagement and the provision of benefits and compensation to the employees. When the needs of the human capital in any organization are not addressed, the organization is bound to record high turnover rates, low motivation, and low production. Human resource management participates in the acquisition, cultivation, and retention of human capital. The human resource departments strive to find, recruit and select people with the right set of skills and knowledge that fit the needs of the company. However, it is one thing to recruit and select the best capital, but it’s another task to retain them and ensure they remained dedicated and focused on the organization’s objective.
b. Evidence
Benchmarking of human resources strategies has been found to be an effective way of enhancing human capital and improving the overall organizational performance. Specifically, human capital benchmarking strategies have been effective in identifying exemplary practices for human resource practitioners. According to a study by Huang (2002), there are several human resource practices that an organization can adopt including training, participation, and empowerment. Participation and empowerment are considered extensions of job design as they enable employees to perform their jobs. Participation is all about giving employees a voice. Employees must be allowed to voice their opinions and suggestions concerning organizational matters. Instead of managers telling their employees how to do their jobs, the management can encourage employees to participate in addressing issues about their jobs. Employees can pose questions and make decisions on how they can do their job. Such decisions can be made based on the employee’s experience and expertise. Participation also entails engaging employees in decision-making on administrative matters. On the other hand, empowerment is a process of enabling employees to set their work goals, make decisions and solve problems within their spheres of responsibility and authority. In short, employees should have an enabling environment that is flexible enough to allow them make their individual decisions and take responsibility for their actions.
Training is another critical element that organizations can embrace so as to motivate and ensure a productive human capital. Training enables employees to learn specific knowledge and skills so as to improve their current roles. Training occurs based on the training needs of the organization. The management must be in a position to identify the skill gap within the organization. The skill gap is determined by measuring the skills that the company enjoys against the skills that the company expects to have so as to achieve a certain goal. The training initiative is then developed based on the identified gap. Later, the effectiveness of the training is assessed based on the outcomes of initiatives aimed at achieving organizational objectives. The provision of high-impact employee training reduces employee turnover as the employee appreciates the organization’s effort to improve their career growth (Fitzenz, &Bontis, 2002). Training also increases employee motivation which in turn increases production thus enabling the organization to attain its goals. Effective training also improves engagement and speed of employee competency. In short, employees are motivated to stay and work for an organization that demonstrates its genuine interest in the growth and development of its employees through the provision of training opportunities.
The provision of good reward systems can also enhance retention and the performance of employees. According to Akindipe et al. (2013), providing employees with a good reward system helps in improving employee performance. Employees are motivated to work when they are assured that their efforts will be rewarded. Employees leave their employment if they perceive that there is nothing that is compelling them to stay. The presence of an attractive reward system can motivate employees to stay with the company and participate in realizing its overall objective. Rewarding employees after they have achieved their goals and set targets are a critical management tool that most manager and HR practitioners overlook. There is a need for the effective adoption of an effective reward system that can guarantee the presence of a highly motivated workforce that genuinely is working towards the prosperity of the organization.
Organizations can also work towards acquiring generation diversity. Hooper & McCrindle (2006) conducted a study where they provide insights on handling Generation Y employees and generation diversity. Generation Y is confident and has high standards of self-esteem. They have the self-belief, and they believe they can handle any hurdles thrown to them. The Generation Y employee also seeks a workplace that is challenging, fun and financially rewarding. The Generation Y employee is also multicultural, and they perceive diversity as the norm. An organization that desires for excellence must be ready to integrate all generations as part of its human capital. The differences between the practices and ideologies of generation X, baby boomers, and millennials can cause friction unless the management intervenes. For instance, baby boomers are hands-on and like doing things the old-fashioned way. In contrast, millennial is tech-savvy and eager to adopt the latest technologies and strategies to improve their work. The two generations can collide especially if one group desires to retain the status quo while the another group of employees is pushing for change. Differences related to attitude towards, and loyalty towards the employer can also cause conflict and impede organizational performance.
c. Recommendation
The organization can establish top-bottom and bottom-up communication channels so as to encourage employee engagement. The management must eliminate the wall that puts the management away from the employees. Activities such as decision making on employee roles can involve the employee themselves. It is the employees who interact with each other, different work processes, as well machinery and equipment. The employees are thus well equipped to give suggestions on areas that need improvement. The involvement of employees can also help the organization see and resolve potential problems that would have interfered with the workflow. Similarly, the organization can engage employees in the creation of policies by receiving suggestions, considering them and implementing those that are feasible.
The organization can embrace work teams thus allowing employees to form teams comprising of individuals with different skills and talents. The work teams would work as a unit towards achieving a common goal. After embracing work teams, the organization would allow the employees to plan, organize, direct and control their work. The supervisors will then take the role of a coach rather than a dominating boss. The management must ensure that the supervisors of the various department transition from the role of bosses to coaches. The first step in the shift from bosses to coaches is delegation. The supervisors can learn to delegate responsibilities to employees thus assigning them greater responsibilities. The senior management must also be willing to lead from the top by ensuring that they adopt the coaching form of leadership and abandon the “boss” attitude.
The organization can embrace training and development as a strategy for retaining and developing their human capital. The company can adopt in-house training methods such as coaching, mentoring and job rotations. In strategies such as mentoring and coaching, the older and more experienced employees can work with the younger employees. The old employees can share details and elements of their work experience while the young and freshly-graduated employees can share insights on the latest developments on matters related to their job. Alternatively, the organization can consider off-the-job training methods such as workshops and academic advancement (Fitzenz, &Bontis, 2002). Off-the-job training methods require the organization to finance the training of some of the employees. The employees will have to be away from their work so as to complete the training session.
The organization can adopt a reward system that will guarantee the improvement motivation and performance among employees. The steps to the effective development of a reward program entail the consideration of the goals that the reward program will be supporting. The organization must also highlight the desired employee performance and or behaviors that will reinforce the existing organizational goals. Thirdly, the organization must determine the key measurement of the performance and or behaviors. Fourth, the organization must determine the appropriate rewards that the can provide to performing employees. Lastly, the organization must ensure that they communicate the reward program to its employees so that the employees are aware of it. In fact, the existence of an effective monetary program can improve motivation and enhance performance as the employees work hard to attain and surpass set targets. There are two types of reward packages that the organization can consider. Monetary reward packages are compensations that involve money such as profit sharing and bonuses. Non-monetary awards include organizational recognitions for efforts, flexible work schedules, employee discounts, healthcare insurance benefits, financial advising services, etc.
The organization can work towards overcoming generational differences by encouraging awareness and appreciation of differences that exists across generation. The senior management can create awareness and encourage employees to work towards learning from each other rather than finding faults and differences. The organization can also establish policies that emphasize on respect for each other with emphasis on finding a ground that fosters the spirit of teamwork and working towards the same goal. The organization can adopt strategies such as team building initiatives where the organization takes employees away from the work environment and encourage interaction that is away from the formalities of the office. Team building can foster rapport building as well as trust. Similarly, it can encourage a change of perception as employees begin to appreciate each other. The employees will begin to see each other as an opportunity to learn rather than a threat or competition.
Debriefing Report
The meeting with the organizational representatives took place on 29th November 2009. Having made previous calls and booked an appointment, I arrived at the organization at 9 am as agreed. The meeting was held at the organization’s boardroom, and those present included the Human resource manager and his assistant, the chief executive officer as well as the secretary. I was confident of my presentation although I was a bit nervous because of the seniority of the management I was engaging within the meeting. Initially, I was to meet with the human resource director and his assistant. However, last minute inclusion of the chief executive officer was made as after he was informed of my meeting. My nervousness disappeared when I joined the executives in the boardroom. There were very friendly and will to listen to my findings and suggestions on pushing the organization forward. After a brief introduction, the meeting began.
The company was particularly impressed with the recommendation to improve communication and opening up channels of management-employee communication. The company believed that by establishing an effective communication platform, they should be able to handle issues before they get out of hand. The company admitted that in the past they had been caught unawares when employees went on strike or go-slows due to problems that the management was unaware of. The management also admitted that poor communication also contributed to high employee turnover. They agreed that the presence of an effective communication platform would allow employees to air their issues and grievance before they affect the organization, negatively. The management agreed that they would begin to involve employee representatives when making critical organizational decisions so as to eliminate the element of surprise when execute decisions are made.
The company also appreciated and promised to integrate intensive training and development initiatives. The acknowledged that their training and development strategies have not been aggressive since they perceive the initiative as expensive and a detraction from the purpose of the employee i.e. to work. They appreciated the demonstration of the relationship between training and development initiatives and employee productivity. I was able to demonstrate to them that a training session may be expensive at the initial start, but it has significant returns since the trained employee bring new knowledge and skills into the company. The management also appreciated the insights that the old employees can offer training to new employees. The presence of cheaper training alternatives such as mentorship and coaching can be adopted and remain significant as comprehensive and costly training initiatives. The management appreciated that training does not have to be costly and dent the budget (Akhter, & Aslam, 2016).
The management also appreciated the recommendation to increase awareness and appreciation of generational difference. The management admitted that generational differences had been a cause of conflict in the organization. The management also admitted that it has been slow to hire millennial because they find them to be disruptive of the status quo. The millennial comes up with grandiose ideas that the management sometimes finds to be unrealistic. They appreciated that the older and more experienced employees prefer to uphold existing laws and policies of the organization without question. The management appreciated that the awareness initiative might be effective in curtailing conflict and generational differences within the organization. Moreover, intensive awareness and sensitization may eliminate the stereotypical tendencies that the employees have against each other.
However, the management was skeptical on the need to revise their reward system. The management acknowledged that an attractive reward package motivates employees and increases productivity and retention. However, the management felt that the organization did not have the financial capability to provide most of the incentives suggested. For instance, the management acknowledged that their profit margins are low and thus it would be unrealistic to give employees of the company’s share. They also acknowledged that the company is not in a position to provide regular salary increases unless the financial health of the company improves. The management argued that increases the employee’s salary would mean that their operational costs would increase the company’s profits. In the end, the company will be spending more on employee salaries that any other expenses in the organization. In the long-term, the organization believes that such a strategy would leave the organization in the precarious position of laying off some employees so as to cut costs. The management, however, agreed to adopt non-monetary incentives before foreseen financial improvements in the future.
The management also found the adoption of work teams to be tricky for several reasons. First, the management was concerned that some employees may take advantage of the team spirit and relaxes at the workplace. They indicated that it is possible for an employee to take advantage of a group initiative to underperform but still enjoy the benefits of success. The management questioned how they would tell apart hardworking employees and employees that are unable to meet their job instructions. The management also demonstrated concern over the effectiveness of work teams in a scenario where the management wants to recognize individual effort. The organization indicated that they engage in individual appraisal thus their concern over how they shall access work teams. The management argued that they can embrace work teams when they are specific projects that require the pooling together of employees from different departments.
The meeting went well, and I believe it was a success. First, the management was eager to hear about my proposal in light with the challenges that the organization is experiencing. Moreover, the management was engaging, and the meeting was more of a dialogue and discussion rather than a presentation. The management was also impressed with the extensive research and facts that I used to support my recommendations. They realized that the recommendations that I provided them were not based on hearsay but facts and evidence of best practices. The presentation was also a step by step process where I provided them with evidence and insights to an issue and provided the recommendation. The management then engaged me in discussions as they shed light on the position of the organization. From our discussion, it was possible to determine the feasibility of a suggestion. For instance, the adoption of an aggressive reward system may be ideal as a retention strategy for human capital. However, the financial position of the company dictates that the management cuts down on its expenses.
During the presentation, I realized that the extent of generational differences in the organization is extensive. I also realized that the generational differences could be one of the reasons why the organization is performing poorly regardless of effective planning. The stereotypical nature of the senior management influences the recruitment and selection process as the selection team opts for older candidates. What the organization fails to realize is that the millennial brings fresh ideas and fresh perspectives to issues within the organization. Millenials are in touch with the changes in the market and thus will have a better understanding of the approach that the organization can adopt (Tolbize, 2008). It is indeed true that millennials are a handful to handle since they crave for a challenge and changes but they provide organizations with the jumpstart they need to move towards success. Millenials are aggressive and more conscious of their competition and thus will be willing to take risks so as to stay ahead of their competitors.
Reflection
Employees are the assets that are critical for any organization and thus the need for organizations to focus on ensuring they are satisfied. Employees that are dissatisfied with the job and their role in their organization will leave at the slightest opportunity. Dissatisfied employees will also be on the lookout for better employment opportunities and thus will never be productive. Employees provide the human capital necessary for the success of the organization. Organizations must, therefore, work toward retaining their employees. Some of the strategies that organizations can adopt include the establishment of a seamless communication network within the organization. There should be no barrier to communication between the management and the employees. Employees should not feel intimidated by the management. Communication must be open and honest. Strategies such as involving employees in critical organizational and administrative decisions give the employee the feeling of importance. Employees appreciate when the management seeks their input before making critical decisions. The management does not have to engage all its employees, but they can have representatives who present employee opinion, suggestions, and ideas. The retention of human capital can also be effective with the adoption of aggressive reward packages. It is critical for an organization to adopt a reward package that matches and also surpasses those of the competitors. An attractive reward package comprises of monetary and non-monetary incentives that demonstrate the management appreciation for the employee’s efforts.
Employees are motivated to remain productive if they realize that their employer is watching and appreciating their efforts. Training and development initiatives are also critical in ensuring that the human capital is retained at any organization. Employees appreciate an organization where they can grow beyond what they had at the start of their careers. The provision of training and development opportunities provide employees an opportunity for growth and career advancement. An employee acquires new knowledge and skills while at the workplace and thus acquire consideration for promotions. The provision of training and career opportunities increases job satisfaction and morale among employees. It also enhances employee motivation thus fostering productivity and the ability of the organization to attain its overall objectives. Training and development initiatives also enhance employee innovation as they engage in the development of new products and services. Training and development initiatives also reduce employee turnover and thus ensuring that the organization has adequate human capital. Employees who believe that their employers have the best interest in them work are motivated to remain in the company and see it succeed.

Reference
Adeosun, O Ogunyomi, O & Akindipe, O. (2013). Effective reward system and worker’s productivity under dynamic socio-cultural and legal environment in selected Nigerian insurance industry. Alleviation, income redistribution & rural development in developing countries.402-421
Akhter, N., & Aslam, N. (2016). Impact of Training and Deveolpment, Performance Appraisal and Reward System on Job Satisfaction. International Review of Management and Business Research, 5(2), 561
Fitzenz, J &Bontis, N (2002). Intellectual capital ROI: causal map of human capital antecedents and consequents. Journal of intellectual capital, 3(3)
Hooper, D &McCrindle, M (2006).Generation Y, attracting, engaging and leading the new generation at work.Drake International White Paper, 3(1)
Huang, G. et al. (2002). Benchmarking the human capital strategies of MNCs in Singapore. An international journal. Vol. 9(4)
Tolbize, A. (2008). Generational differences in the workplace. University of Minnesota

Published in Business Studies

Research paper
Name: alex peterson

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Table of Contents
Product 3
Market 4
Rivals 6
Comprehensive capabilities 7
Brand power 8
Financial performance 8
Apple Retail locations 8
Tailored software and hardware systems 9
Innovation 9
Competitive strategy 10
Differentiation 10
Premium pricing 11
Blue ocean strategy 12
Recommendation 14
Executive summary 15
Reference 17


Product
Apple is a global company in the field of innovation and electronics. Apple Inc is the first American multinational successful personal computer firm that was established in 1976 by Steven Wozniak and Steve Jobs (Apple, Inc, 2012). The company manufactures, designs, and markets personal computers, computer hardware computer software, and mobile devices such as iPod and Iphone. It also sells different accessories and peripherals such as a speaker, printers, headphones, and storage devices. Apple has been leading in the technology industry, and it manages to win its competitors through being an innovator in the technology market. In the past ten years, Apple Inc has been experiencing a dramatic increase in demands for its products and services (Jinjin, 2013). The main factor that helps the company to gain a competitive advantage is that the company usually continuously strives a new way of offering innovative products to its consumers and also tries to increase their market share. Due to several success factors, Apple has become an outstanding company in the technology sector.
In the past five years, Apple’s shares soared 255% and most investors attribute the growth to the popularity of the IPad and Iphone (Apple, Inc 2015). The company has managed to become a diversified design powerhouse that focuses on innovating products that revolutionize and define industries and also reshape the customer’s perception of the products and functionality. Regarding profit, market capitalization, consumer cachet and revenue, Apple tends to rank top. The Iphone in its seventh generation and the ninth year is seen as the company’s golden goose that tends to be generating about two-thirds of the company’s revenue (Jinjin, 2013). Some familiar Apple products such as Mac Book computers and IPad tablets tend to account for 10% of the company’s sales and the services that the company offers like App Store, iTunes, and Apple music does add about 10% to the sales.
Market
The main market of Apple Inc is located in the western countries. The countries include United Kingdom, France, United States, Italy, Germany, Canada, China, Australia, and Netherlands. Most of the markets where the company operates are usually located in the developing countries. Among the products that the company produces, Iphone tends to be the most popular product in the developing and developed countries. The main products sold in the developing countries are usually more expensive, and they have higher technology than the main products sold in the developing countries (Apple, Inc, 2012).
Apple’s target group is people between the age of 15 and 45 who are in the high and middle living standards (Jinjin, 2013). The main products that include iPod, iPhone, and iPad are on the middle level. Their prices tend to be fit with the living level of then developing countries (Burrows, 2010). The developing countries tend to have bigger populations than the developed countries and by Apple expanding the market in the developing countries; it is a good way of increasing the company’s sales.
Apple normally operates through five operating segments which are Europe, Japan, Americans, and Retail (O’Grady, 2009). With the use of online stores and the retail stores, Apple sells its products across the world to different consumers, government, enterprises, and customers. The company does distribute its products through resellers, national and regional retailers, and wholesalers. Apple also sells most of its products and third-party products directly to customers using its sales force in its retail and online stores (Apple, Inc, 2012). This strategy as used by Apple benefits the company in several ways. The firm makes a lot of money on direct sales, and it does not have to compete against the marked-down prices that are offered by its resellers (Bajarin, 2014). Because Apple’s retail operations are the most profitable in the world, undercutting the prices for the sake of a wider distribution networking will be counterproductive.
Apple has been very important to the growth of the economic market regarding technological competitiveness. Apple has been very good to American’s competitiveness regarding the global technology leadership. The iPod kicked off the trend; however, the Iphone has managed to set it in stone. Some of the most desired consumer technology products that are bought by many people come from Apple (Burrows, 2010). Apple has managed to achieve success in the market due to developing products using unique features and a command premium price (Jinjin, 2013). During the introduction of iPod, the company was considered to be a digital company instead of a computer manufacturer. With the invention of iPod, it has resulted in a great change in the portable music technology. The competitive advantage that enables the iPod to dominate the market was the sleek design, large storage capacity, and simple user interface (Apple, Inc 2015). Each new product that Apple usually produces tends to be a new form, function, and feature.
As an organization that specializes in the design, the company has sought to redefine the boundaries of the industry through innovating products that look different from what the competitors are offering and also design products that are easy to use and are consumer friendly (Bajarin, 2014). When Apple launched its first generation of iPhone in 2007, it applied the differentiation strategy as the main strategy when the company was making a bold entry into the smartphone industry.
Apple has been able to increase its growth through expansion. With the increase in technology, Apple Inc has expanded into global markets, which have helped the company to record unprecedented levels of revenue and profits (O’Grady, 2009). One of the strategies that the company uses for international expansion is Joint venture. Apple did file for a trademark Joint Venture in China. The Joint Venture is an agreement between two or more parties to take a particular business, where the parties share the loss and profits of the enterprise. Using the Joint Venture trademark, Apple offers technical support, maintenance support, consulting services, and training services (Bajarin, 2014). The acquisition is also another strategy that Apple uses in expanding in other markets. The use of acquisition has provided the company with a competitive advantage. As Apple acquires different companies, it manages to increase the sales growth of its products through diversifying its customer’s need. In 2010, Apple acquired Siri that was a software company, which developed a voice-command technology (Apple, Inc 2015). With this technology, the company uses it in its Iphone to make a conversational interface, which greatly helped Apple to capture the attention of Iphone customers.
Rivals
Apple provides a broad range of products and services, and the company tends to be a fierce competitor in several industries. The products and services that Apple Inc offers are highly competitive and Apple tends to be confronted by aggressive competition in all business areas (Apple, Inc 2015). The markets are normally characterized by frequent product introduction and the rapid technological advances that do have increased capabilities and also the use of mobile communications and media devices and personal computers.
The smartphone industry tends to be dominated by Samsung and Apple that over the last six years have taken together 88.1% of $215 billion profit generated. When comparing these two leaders, Apple took away around 62% of profits while Samsung stood with 26.1% (Jinjin, 2013). Samsung tends to be the main competitor of Apple; however, Google, which is the developer of Android software, is also a major competitor of Apple in the smartphone operating system market. Google tend to be a major competitor in several platforms including cloud storage with the Google drive against the iCloud service of Apple.
HP is also a major competitor. The firm provides hardware and software services to medium, large, and small-sized businesses across industries. HP does have an extensive range of IT products to provide, and it is Apple’s competitor in regards to computers (Burrows, 2010). As a competitor of Apple, HP does control the largest segment of the business market, but it does not provide other products other than personal computers and accessories. Microsoft is also an Apple competitor that tends to control about 94% of the operating systems (Apple, Inc 2015). The company usually makes products that last a long time and its OS is compatible with everything.
Comprehensive capabilities
Apple Inc has been a leader in innovation for a very long time. Apple may not be the first to introduce a product; however, in most times, they are usually the first to lower the price of a product and mass produce a product (O’Grady, 2009). Some of Apples competitive capabilities include high-quality customer service, innovation in mobile device technology, strong marketing team, strong brand reputation, and a strong financial performance. By focusing on these competitive capabilities, Apple has managed to create a range of core products that not only perform as a means of fulfilling a need, but also a representation of a lifestyle.
Brand power
Apple has a very powerful and a good reputation. With the super-eminent customer-focused services strategy and its aggressive advertising strategy, the excellent reputation and image have been built up among consumers. Forbes has listed Apple’s brand as the most valuable in the world (Apple, Inc 2015). Apple’s brand is the most reputable and recognizes across the world. It I the leading position in the smartphone marketplace and its wide ecosystem of products has led to the brand awareness that any other technology company cannot match.
Financial performance
Another capability of the company is its strong financial performance. From 2012 to 2015, Apple’s revenue grew on average by 16.44%, and during the time, the profits of the company grew by 27.94%. The company has been observing a successful growth, and it has managed to maintain a high profit margin (Zylla-Woellner, 2013). Both the high profit margin and the revenue growth indicate the ability of the company to manage its operations efficiently.
Apple Retail locations
The introduction of the Apple stores has offered the company with a significant physical present to act as a sales location and an advertisement. These stores usually allow Apple to tightly control the image of its brand and also offer excellent customer service. Apple tends to top most of the retailers in the in-store sales. The Apple stores are of great value to the company and success, which tend to be a relative rarity in the industry (Jinjin, 2013). The retail stores aim to ensure that the Apple personnel offer valuable services of advice to consumers and consumers also have a real touch of the products resulting in a unique consumer experience and also a direct reach to the end consumers. With the use of this channel, Apple is capable of controlling the customer experience including sales support, shelf placement, and customer service.
Tailored software and hardware systems
A major capability of Apple is its ability to develop and build highly integrative systems with software that are designed specifically for the hardware that it runs on (Jinjin, 2013). The Apple’s closed system style is normally unique in this industry, and this typically relies on the third party software. Such a capability originates from the combination of the software development teams, design teams, and hardware engineers that are employed by Apple Inc. there tend to be no other company in the industry that has a system like that of Apples, and it is likely to cost billions of dollars so as to imitate it.
Innovation
Apple does focus so much on creating an innovative product that has a unique design and of high quality. Some of the innovative products from Apple are Iphone, Imac, IPad, and Ipod. The innovative aspect of the company has enabled it to gain a powerful brand name and to emerge into the electronic market (Zylla-Woellner, 2013). Such innovative spirit has greatly contributed a lot to the creation of the Apple chain of world class online, retail stores and the revolutionary iTunes Stores. As a leading innovative company, Apple has approved its capability of offering high-quality products with outstanding design.
Competitive strategy
Differentiation
A competitive strategy that Apple uses is product differentiation. Apple uses differentiation to separate its products from those of other electronic manufacturers. Apple employs a differentiation strategy so as to be able to target the section of the consumer market and also send a powerful message that its produces are unique. Apple does a very good job of creating products and services, which are special and unique (Meyer, 2016). The Apple brand tends to be very strong that even when the competitors catch up regarding the product performance, people still think that the Apple product is unique and different. The differentiation strategy that Apple uses helps the company to drive down costs.
With differentiation strategy, Apple products are always designed to be ahead of the market compared to its peers (O’Grady, 2009). Irrespective of high competition in the industry, Apple always succeeds in creating demand for its products and give the company power over prices through innovative advertising, product differentiation, the hype around the launch of new products, and ensured brand loyalty (Zylla-Woellner, 2013). Through focusing on the customers who are willing to buy more and maintain a premium price, Apple has been able to set an artificial entry barrier to the competitors. The differentiation strategy means that Apple is always seeking to set itself apart from competitors through features that are beneficial to the customers.
The differentiation strategy used by Apple tends to be a major strength for the company. Apple’s products are normally designed with the aim of addressing the concerns about the lifestyle of consumers that make the graphic system and design of Apple’s products to be superior to its rivals’ products in the same market segment (Meyer, 2016). Apple’s Inc software is different from other competitors, and its product’s hardware is also in the upper class. All of the products produced by Apple are made using high-quality materials such as aluminum combined with comfortable designs. All the features considered when making the products tend to make consumers feel that they have a valuable and unique product when they have an Apple product (Apple, Inc 2015). The company’s ability to differentiate its products has helped to generate a competitive advantage. The company’s ability to think differently in its design of products has helped it to keep its competitors following Apple rather than truly leading the market forward by themselves.
Premium pricing
Apple has always been a leader in the market, and its premium pricing strategy has contributed to the success of the company. The products sold by Apple are relatively expensive when compared with similar products from other companies. For instance, an Iphone may be three times or more expensive than the flagship Android smartphone of other competitors. Apple has been charging a premium price without losing sales, and still its customers love their products. Apple does not compete on equal playing ground with its competitors. Because of its differentiation, Apple normally writes its rules and come up with innovative ideas that no one dreamed of the year in year out (Zylla-Woellner, 2013). Due to the innovative capability of Apple, they have been able to charge a premium price for all of its products and the company has been enjoying remarkable sales growth and margin for a very long time. It is possible to recognize an Apple computer in the middle of hundred others because of their distinctive casing and the signature logo (O’Grady, 2009). When the computer makers are fighting for sales with low prices, Apple Inc tends to hold its ground and command premium. The pricing strategy that is used by the company tends to be effective as it prevents retailers from competing directly with the Apple’ stores (Meyer, 2016). The strategy also ensures that no one reseller do have an advantage over another. With this strategy, Apple can keep its distribution channels clean and also make more money using direct sales.
Some of the cheapest products by Apple are usually in the mid range; however, they ensure a high-quality user experience with their features. The user interface and hardware are designed to offer a lot of value for the price that ensures that profits are always high (O’Grady, 2009). The premium pricing used by the company has enabled Apple to promote and maintain a favorable perception among its loyal customers. Some Apple customers do not show any concern about the price because most of them believe that expensive products tend to enjoy exceptional reputation or it represents an exceptional quality (Zylla-Woellner, 2013). Thus, Apple usually positions its products as superior over those of its competitors. The premium pricing strategy used by the company completes its reputation of offering more innovative and superior products.
Blue ocean strategy
The blue ocean strategy tends to be a development tool that most companies use so as to gain competitive advantage and also to sustain their market position. In many cases, businesses usually succeed through focusing on the activities of competitors. However, the blue ocean strategy is commonly used by companies so as to help identify the uncontested market space (Alumair, 2016). Considering the competition in the industry, the Blue Ocean strategy used by Apple has enabled the company to increase its market cap. The blue ocean strategy has helped Apple, Inc to improve its innovative strengths (Alumair, 2016). In the case of Apple, the company has ventured in blue oceans to improve its internal processes. When using this strategy, instead of competing for head on with the market leader, the strategy does define a new market and drafts the boundaries of the space showing usability and applications.
Apple has used the blue ocean strategy to remain relevant in the digital industry. The company has experienced a problem with trading down through free file sharing network and the subscription based services (Alumair, 2016). In this situation, Apple looked across the strategic groups and realized that there was untapped demand in the channeling of digital music. Apple aimed at maximizing the opportunity through offering an extensive selection of music at an affordable price (Meyer, 2016). With iTunes music store, Apple managed to attract the potential buyers. When using the blue ocean strategy, Apple has been able to identify its pace, where it can design, sell, and increase profits using exceptional products in the potential new markets. With the blue ocean strategy, Apple, Inc has continued to introduce groundbreaking new products that are perfectly timed so as to achieve a first-mover advantage (Alumair, 2016). Apple also uses the strategy to continually reinvent itself to enter new product categories and also avoid being obsolete in the competition of maturing product markets. Apple continues applying the blue strategy, and it is always seeking to create and capture new demand instead of just competing in the market for traditional products.
Recommendation
Apple’s competitive strategy has focused on building strong customer loyalty through meeting the needs of the customer more effectively with their unique designs and product innovations. The strategy has been of significant advantage to the company and has kept Apple in front of the competition in the new product introduction and updates of the existing products (O’Grady, 2009). The business strategy used by Apple enables the company to control its unique ability to design and developing its operating system, application software, hardware, and services. A recommendation for Apple that can help the company improve its comprehensive capabilities is to consider developing a close relationship with suppliers.
Apple needs to know that there are few suppliers of key components needed in the personal computer manufacturing; hence, developing close relationships with the suppliers is of significant importance. Instead of searching for suppliers of a lower cost, maintaining an exclusive and collaborative business relationship can help to mitigate the power of suppliers and also lock in attractive component prices (Brassington & Pettitt 2007). Apple should also seek exclusivity arrangement with third parties. As the company continues to build a relationship with third parties and enter into exclusive arrangements with them, it will help to lock out competitors; thus, enabling Apple to gain favorable business deals.
Apple has to continue innovating so as to maintain a competitive advantage because its business is highly dependent on rapidly changing technologies. The company operates in an industry that experiences high levels of completion and because there is a high presence of well-established players, for Apple to survive, it cannot afford to be complacent (O’Grady, 2009). Apple is usually known for developing products that are unique and user-friendly. Therefore, a recommendation for the company is to continue tailoring their products in simpler ways so as to make it easy for users of other platforms to build a comfort level that will attract them to the Apple products. Such an incident is very common in the PC industry where the traditional users of Microsoft tend to have difficulties adjusting to Mac. Therefore, Apple should consider a better way that will make the transition from PC to Mac easier.
Another recommendation for Apple is to continually invest in research and development so as to stay ahead of and lead the radical product and technology discoveries. As Apple Inc is following the blue ocean strategy, the future of the company tends to be highly dependent on its ability to continue developing improvements in the products and technology (Zylla-Woellner, 2013). Therefore, if Apple happens to fail to produce commercially viable innovations to enter the market as a fast mover, it should consider expanding its range of products and intellectual property through the acquisition of businesses, licensing, or joint development projects. Another way of improving the firm’s comprehensive capabilities is through continuing with the wise expansion of Apple stores. The Apple retail stores have been very successful and Apple can further this success through establishing new locations in the United States and abroad. With implementing the expansion, Apple needs to be very careful so as to avoid over-saturation so as to maintain their status as being a destination.
Executive summary
Apple is an innovative company that serves different industries including computer hardware, consumer electronics, computer software, and digital distribution. Apple Inc operates in more than 120 countries around the world. Apple has opened retail stores in more than 18 countries around the world. The primary competitors of Apple are Amazon.com, Samsung, Dell, Microsoft, Google, and many others (Zylla-Woellner, 2013). Irrespective of the competition, Apple has remained relevant to its customers and has emerged as a market leader in the industry. The company continues developing new products and technologies, and it also enhances the existing products that tend to expand the range of its product offering and the intellectual property through acquisition and licensing. Based on this analysis, it is clear that the main idea used by Apple revolves around the highest value deliver for its consumers. The competitive strategies used by the company has enabled the firm to provide high-end products as luxury technological advancement items for its consumers who are willing to pay a relatively high margin. Apple's competitive capability is that it maintains a close relationship with its mass customer segment and through the stand-alone retail store that tends to provide for value added (Zylla-Woellner, 2013). Apple has set apart from its competition by the combination of innovative idea, successful retail strategy, premium pricing strategy, strong brand image, product differentiation, and its financial performance. While there are several other factors that provide the company its competitive advantage, these factors tend to lead to its astounding success. For Apple to continue leading in this industry, it’s competitive strategy need to evolve.

Reference
Alumair, S (2016). Apple Inc. Blue Ocean Strategy From https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/small-paper-i-did-apple-blue-ocean-strategy-saad-alumair
Apple, Inc (2015). Annual report. From http://investor.apple.com/secfiling.cfm?filingid=1193125-15-356351&cik=
Apple, Inc. (2012). www.apple.com
Bajarin, T. (2014). Understanding Apple’s ‘Continuity’ Strategy Time
Brassington F & Pettitt S (2007). Essentials of Marketing, Prentice Hall
Burrows, P. (2010). Apple’s Endlessly Expanding Universe. Bloomberg Business week
Jinjin, T (2013). A Strategic Analysis of Apple Computer Inc. & Recommendations for the Future Direction Management Science and Engineering, 7(2)
Meyer, P (2016). Apple’s Generic Strategy & Intensive Growth Strategies Business Management http://panmore.com/apple-inc-generic-strategy-intensive-growth-strategies
O’Grady, J (2009). Apple Inc ABC-CLIO
Zylla-Woellner, J (2013). Corporate strategy for Apple Inc Company. GRIN Verlag

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