Monday, February 4, 2013

Collaborative working

One area I often discuss when teaching the CIM Chartered Postgraduate Diploma, especially the Emerging Themes unit, is collaboration between competing organisations to develop products. The reason for doing this is to save costs on areas where differentiation is not important and no advantage will be gained by any party involved but cost saving can be made. A great example of this has recently been announced by Ford, Renault-Nissan and Daimler who have agreed a joint development of fuel cells in the hopes of bringing cars to market using the technology by 2017.

The announcement shows the benefits of working together for breakthrough technologies such as fuel cells which have the potential to change the cars we drive in a major way. If one manufacturer were to do this on their own it would take longer, the costs would be higher or at least not shared, and there would be lower numbers of cars sold using the technology. This final point is very important in this situation as a fuel cell vehicle will require an infrastructure of filling stations to enable it to be used in what we might regard as a normal way. If there are cars made and sold by these three large organisations all needing that infrastructure there is more reward for investing in it, making it much more likely to happen.

The Emerging Theme is more likely to emerge through the critical mass the joint development can bring about, demonstrating clearly the benefits of that collaboration.

Details about the joint development are available on the BBC website here and directly from Ford on their media relations site here

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Recovering Corporate Reputation

Back in February 2010 I wrote a blog post about Toyota (link here) and their corporate reputation which at the time was suffering from large amounts of adverse publicity due to alleged problems with many cars sold. Since then Toyota have suffered from other issues which were not at all related to their own actions - the Japanese earthquake and severe flooding in Thailand - which affected their ability to manufacture and sell cars. They have also carried out a number of recalls to rectify some potential faults with quite large numbers of cars they sold.

However, despite all of that, figures recently released show that in 2012 Toyota were once again the largest car manufacturer in the world, with a 22% increase in sales over 2011. Whilst undoubtedly there were a number of factors involved in this success one element contributing to it must be the way Toyota have been absolutely honest in their communication about the technical issues, however small they may have been, and the reassurance to owners and others that as an organisation, Toyota will do all it can to ensure there is no compromise in the safety of their products. The have managed their corporate reputation very well on a global scale and the issues which generated such negative publicity have been overcome.

Details of the sales figures are available on the BBC website here

As an aside, one thing which didn't generate as much publicity as the original issue was the investigation in the US which found that there was no problem with the components of Toyota cars, details here