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SECTION 1: COMPANY OVERVIEW

Introduction

This report presents a strategic position analysis of the search engine giant Google Inc. and provides a set of recommendations to address its identified shortcomings. In addition to that, the report outlines measures that the company should take to create an informed implementation strategy as well as a reflection of key principles obtained from this module.

Google Inc. Overview

Larry Page and Sergey Brin incorporated Google Inc on 4th September 1998 positioning it on the path to become the world’s most dominant search engine. At that time they were students at Stanford University while working in the institution’s Stanford Digital library project (SDLP). By introducing Google, they hoped to improve the efficiency of technologies used in the University’s digital library. To do so, a search engine had to rely on keywords or exact arch phrases for retrieving the required information.

The company is headquartered in California and provides several digital products and services including online search, advertising, software, and cloud computing. By November 2016, Google was the most visited website in the world with a market share of 63.4% in the search engine industry. Its parent company, Alphabet formed in April 2015 has a market cap of 530.9 million USD which includes Google and other its franchise companies.

Since its advent, the company has grown to become a major provider of free services apart from its search engine and provides users with access to online applications such as Google Books, Google Scholar, YouTube, Hangouts, the Android mobile device OS, Chrome browser, to name a few. In time, it has grown into a global brand recognized as one of the most popular internet destinations. As of February 1, 2016, Google had 61,814 employees in over 70 offices worldwide.

For Google, its strategic positioning approach plays a key role in ensuring the alignment of its mission, vision and future growth prospects with its objectives. Moreover, strategic positioning equips its executives with techniques for determining how to allocate scarce resources for increasing its competitiveness in the marketplace. Additionally, companies that adopt the right strategies in aggregating their communication, leadership, culture, and ethical values perform better in the long run.

For this reason, this assignment’s goal is to explain the concept of strategic positioning as applied in the case of Google Inc. This report begins by identifying and presenting an analysis of the company’s internal and external environments. The internal and external environment will be assessed using SWOT analysis (Bull et al., 2016).

Internal Environment (Google SWOT Analysis)

  • Strengths (Internal Strategic Positioning Factors)

In Q4 of 2017, Alphabet, Google’s parent company had revenues of $109.65 billion a majority of it earned from its advertising interests. In 2017, its search engine dominated the marketplace with a share of 74.54% with these figures helping drive the growth of the company’s brand value and image across the globe. Figure 1 below depicts Google’s robust financial position. This is a key source of strength that drives interest from investors in its product and services. Moreover, the company diversified product range is another key strength. Its large and competent R&D department has a workforce of over 27,100 people range is another key strength.  statistic_id266206_google_-revenue-worldwide-2002-2017.png

Figure 1. Annual Google revenue for the years 2002 to 2017 in billion USD

In the years 2014, 2015, and 2016, the company invested $9.83 billion, $12.28 billion, and $13.95 billion respectively in researching and developing new products and services. As a result, it has introduced revolutionary and innovative products that contribute to its continued generation of high revenues. Moreover, the company has a most effective corporate culture that is designed to suit a high level of informality and work ethic integration. Google’s organizational culture is designed to attract, develop, retain, and motivate the best available talent in the world.

  • Weaknesses (Internal Strategic Positioning Factors

Google’s major weakness is its over-reliance on advertising to generate revenues. As of 2017, 90% of its revenue came from ads placing it at risk due to declining ad revenues. Today, marketers are paying close attention to Google’s cost per click (CPC) fees which determines how much they have to pay to generate traffic to their e-commerce sites. In 2017, Google’s CPC fell by 7% for the year as compared to 2014 when it declined by 3% for the whole year.

In the same period, Facebook increased the number of ads it offered to marketers resulting in an increase its stock market value. Additionally, Facebook’s in-app ads strategy poses a substantial threat to Google ad revenues (Roma and Ragaglia, 2016). Presently, Google is ranked number four in executive and employee turnover rates in comparison to its competitors.

As a result, the company is slowly losing its competitive edge and market dominance to rivals like Facebook, Twitter, and others. Several companies have sued Google such as Oracle and master subjects in the recent past. The cost of fighting these lawsuits creates a significant drain on the company’s resources as well as reducing its attractiveness to investors (Bork and Sidak, 2012).

  • Opportunities (External Strategic Positioning Factors)

Google is currently taking steps to fix these weaknesses through its latest Android platform with features like contextualized search and a revamped Chrome mobile browser. In this way, the company hopes to mine useful data from social media platforms. Also, its rollout of Android and Chrome is targeted at capturing SMEs and other enterprises away from the stranglehold of Apple and Microsoft. Plus, its Google Play Music streaming service is another opportunity for increasing revenues through ads and subscriptions. Moreover, its continued acquisition and integration of companies increases Google’s portfolio of services and market share.

  • Threats (External Strategic Positioning Factors)

Currently, Google is facing intense competition from Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook as well as from traditional advertising channels like newspapers, TV, and radio. Facebook’s large user base coupled with its support for the creation of hidden user networks and third-party apps has made it the platform of choice for most advertisers.

Plus, Facebook’s use of single click sign-ins simplifies login into multiple websites. Moreover, an increase in the number of people shopping on Amazon reduces the number of search queries Google receives. In 2014, Apple replaced Google search with Bing on its browser Safari and Spotlight as well as blocking Google Maps on its CarPlay app and the Safari mobile browser. As a result, Google lost 75% of ad revenue generated from iOS enabled devices.

Google’s Strategic Position (Google SWOT Analysis)

Google founder’s academic background defines the leadership style of this company. Sergey’s and Brin’s inclination to independent thinking and research highly influence the development of its organizational culture. This extends to issues of employee empowerment, motivation, and innovation . As a result, Google recruits only the best performers into its various projects and gives creative leeway.

Though others contend that it could make significant cost savings by recruiting less academically endowed employees, Google understands that doing so would relegate it to just another company, instead of a global brand. For instance, it uses a 70/20/10 time allocation model to drive its business operations, innovation, and revenue. Google employees work 70% on its core business processes, allocate 20% of their time to projects related to its core business functions, and 10% on personal projects.

Besides that, the company offers generous rewards and stock options to its innovative employees who create the most innovative products and services for its users. The company relies on a Darwinian approach which lets ideas compete based on their merits. Most of its products and services emerged into its ecosystem through this approach. Google’s informal motto encourages its employee never to take advantage of a client’s ignorance. For example, its search algorithm does not prioritize search results based on the value of an advertised product or service.

Summary (Google SWOT Analysis)

Today, Google is renown the world over for its services and products, industry leadership, innovative solutions keeping it ahead of its competition. Evidently, these accomplishments point to the positives of Google’s positioning strategy. Additionally, its leadership model helps the company satisfy its vision in mission statements so much that the only thing Google has not done is fail!

Nonetheless, the company needs to pay more attention to industry trends to address the influence of its competitors. Additionally, Google should consolidate its achievements by addressing ethical issues, privacy, and data security concerns, improved research and development of products and services as well as other miscellaneous factors that affect its business operations.

SECTION 2: RECOMMENDATIONS (Google SWOT Analysis)

Despite the company’s excellent positioning as a leader in a highly competitive industry, it should focus more on continuous improvement of its services and products to increase its revenue and retain its coveted position. As it exists in an extremely complex industry, paying attention to the recommendations presented in this section will help it safeguard its market dominance, introduce competitive and innovative services for the long term.

Among the identified recommendations are those that address the ethical challenges that arise from increased awareness of human rights and data privacy and the importance of a well rounded and efficient R&D department. As a result, effective application of these recommendations will help Google overcome its weaknesses, maintain its position against competitors, and project its dominance in the ecosystem.

Google SWOT Analysis

 

  • Ethics

Despite its reputation as a provider of innovative services and products, Google executives fail to pay necessary attention to ethical concerns raised by its customers on issues of communication and service pricing. Services like Google Search and Gmail often collect volumes of data about users increasing the risk of privacy invasion. For instance, its search engine retains previous search terms and retains a record of deleted inbox items.

In addition, there have been accusations that Street View captures people in the privacy of their homes. Moreover, the company needs to do more to address complaints about its ads pricing options. Its CPC rates and ranking fee policies often leave marketers unsure of how much they will pay for ads as well as how Google will place purchased ads.

  • Diversifying R&D

Although it is essential that the company addresses ethical issues of data privacy, nonetheless it is equally important for Google to target and improve its R&D department. Accordingly, Google’s management should focus on two key areas. To begin with, Google ought to create more awareness of its brand using advertisements and secondly increase investments in the field of telecommunications. It is noteworthy that its competitors have already taken steps in this direction posing a risk to Google’s popularity and revenues (Muenjohn et al., 2015).

However, the company recently reviewed its trademark policy allowing other companies to display its logo on their product or services. The proliferation of the internet creates new opportunities and challenges for Google’s leadership and R&D team. As a result, the company needs to prioritize the development of applications and solutions that target an increasingly mobile user base.

SECTION 3: IMPLEMENTATION (Google SWOT Analysis)

Ethics

For Google, its leadership needs to develop and implement an ethical awareness program that expands an understanding of potential ethical issues throughout its entire workforce. After doing so it leadership ought to work through the created program to ensure that every issue is analyzed wholly for the company to practically implement this recommendation.

Therefore, Google’s leadership should adopt the AREA (Anticipate, Reflect, Engage, and Act) framework proposed by Owen (2014). Accordingly, its leadership will gain understating of the various ethical issues raised by its customer collective and prioritize its operations around these concerns. Subsequently, any challenges that the company encounters in this regard can be addressed by utilizing the Anticipation aspect of Owens’s framework.

With Gmail and Google search creating much of the concern about data security and information security, the company needs to use foresight when designing and responding to user concerns. Failure to do so by its leadership will lead to negative publicity which in turn will affect the company’s profitability and revenue ratios. Thus Google’s leadership should rely on insights gained from anticipating potential ethical issues to implement measure aimed at alleviating its user’s concerns.

However, during this stage, it should be apparent to its leadership that a lack of resources can derail the implementation of this recommendation. Moreover; Google’s management should resist the mistake of employing a limited set of leadership models and approaches to address ethical issues (Anderson and Sun, 2017). Typically, different leadership styles use different approaches to address problems at the organizational level.

This is why Google’s leadership ought to churn adopting a coercion-oriented, people-oriented, cynic, and favoristic strategy in creating solutions to issues of ethicality. The company cannot afford to approach this problem using an incremental and disjointed methodology. Instead, the company should assess the implications of its privacy policy as it pertains to the following key points:

  • The impact of its innovative technologies and services on its users
  • How integrated the technology is with its user’s lifestyles and;
  • The risks associated with the use of its technology

Only after a careful assessment of these factors can Google meet the ethical requirements for leadership that prioritize the needs and desires of its user base. Nonetheless, it is commendable that on November 5, 2009, it introduced Google Dashboard, a feature that lets users limit the amount of data it collects on their online activities. Additionally, it promised to blur all faces and car plates captured by its Street View application.

Subsequently, this created more trust and security among people who rely on Google services. However, more needs to be done to plug security holes that exist in its Chrome browser and mobile device OS that often collects data on unsuspecting users. On the other hand, using the points above about the necessity of fully complying with all ethical principles, the company should open up its pricing strategy to marketers.

Google can do so by notifying customers of its CPC rates and ad placement algorithm. In turn, this will decrease the number of complaints it receives regarding its pricing strategy. In addition, marketers and other advertisers will be more open to considering the unique opportunity it offers their business activities.

Accordingly, this calls for a reform of Google’s policy that is highly secret and free from regulation by government, regulatory bodies, and agencies. In so doing, the company will motivate marketers and advertisers to invest more in services like Google Adwords further increasing its revenue levels.

Google SWOT Analysis

R&D

With Google having various branches all over the United States and others across the world, diversifying its R&D department is much harder and often challenging. Though its expansiveness is a source of strength, there is a need for this company to create a leadership style that is more democratic and autonomous (Bhatti et al., 2012).

As a result, it will have room for maneuverability as well as flexibility in implementing this recommendation. To successfully implement this recommendation, Google’s leadership must identify how much funds its R&D team requires considering its current revenue levels, organizational structure, workforce, and its competitor’s strategies.

Subsequently, this requires that the company evaluates its future growth prospects, emerging technologies, present opportunities, and potential liabilities. After analyzing these factors its finance department should create a budget that allocates sufficient resources to meet the needs of its R&D team. Moreover, Google’s human resource department should take the lead in equipping the company with capable and competent human personnel for translating its R&D objectives into innovative, competitive, and cost-efficient services and products.

During this phase, Google ought to ensure that any of its new product and services satisfies the requirements of ethicality, communication, and pricing strategies. By so doing, Google will continue dominating the ecosystem as well as adding value to the lives of its consumers. For this reason, its leadership should apply key management theories and best practices in determining where to locate its new research and development facilities, how new branches will be run, and the chain of command to ensure the smooth running of its operations.

Finally, to address the lack of sufficient communication, Google’s administration should adopt a decentralized leadership approach for communicating with its various consumers, stakeholders, and investors. Given that, all of its branches should enjoy autonomy in availing contextualized information based on their location, immediate, and future interests as well as meet the needs of its local and global users.

Doing so will ensure that the company achieves openness and trust with its consumers and other players. In addition to that, its communication policy needs revision to fully integrate its headquarters and branches into its organizational culture designed to always maintain communication channels open. Besides, it should create a team of competent and qualified public relations personnel to enhance external and internal communication.

However, implementing these recommendations involves more than having the appropriate management talent and experience. Table 1 below illustrates the difference between these two organizational disciplines.

Table 1. Comparison of leadership and management

Category Leadership Management
Thinking process People focused

External outlook

Focuses on objects

Internal outlook

Goal setting Vision oriented

Focuses on the future growth

Plan oriented

Focuses on the now

Workforce relations Imbues power

Team player

Develops trust

Controls activities

subordination

Coordination and direction

Operations Acts in right manner

Transformative

Handles subordinates

Implements things rights

Coordinates change

Serves superordinates

Governance influential

Adversarial

Decisive

Authoritative

Abstains from conflict

Responsible

Summary (Google SWOT Analysis)

Examine Table 1 above implies that Google should focus on leadership rather than management to ensure the continuum of its operations. Subsequently, the proposed recommendations will require the restructuring of its entire business strategy, communication policy, ethical compliance, and internal processes, but doing so will help the company achieve better relationships with its clientele, increase revenues, create confidence and trust in its product and services as well as retain its position as the world’s most valuable public corporation.

SECTION 4: CRITICAL REFLECTION (Google SWOT Analysis)

I believe that the time I spent learning this module was well spent because my knowledge and skills have been sharpened. Accordingly, now I feel that I can confidently translate theory into practice. Through this assignment, I have advanced my comprehension of what it entails to run an international company akin to Google. As my role was in this assignment was to act as an IMC consultant to Google Inc., which I did.

This is why I hope that the result of this consultancy project increase the body of knowledge that will help future vernation of consultants in updating and creating a more comprehensive understanding of the role that consultancy can play un helping global corporations achieve better performance. Through this module, ii have increased my appreciation of the need for all professional to develop a global mindset when dealing with competition, threats, new opportunities, and weaknesses.

Moreover, this module impressive impressed upon my mind the value of always “thinking out of the box” when looking for solutions, skills, and attributes necessary for the creation of innovative approaches in leadership and the management of global corporations. Nonetheless, I would not have accomplished this without the assistance of my capable lectures, fellow students, staff members and most of all my immediate family members. Accordingly, their patience and motivation were significant to my increased comprehension of the need for consultants in the 21st century.

Therefore, I believe this experience will serve me better in my future endeavors as well as enhance my employability. I would say that I have attained the ability to post global trends, better communication skills, analytical skills, a collection of practical knowledge about what consulting entails, creative thinking, and the impact of new and emerging technologies on the modern day way of life.

As a result, this equips me with desirable consultancy skills placing me in a better position to deliver consultancy services in a manner that is in tandem with prevalent global trends and preferences. Plus, this module helped me improve my articulateness in debates which increased my self-confidence necessary for positioning me as a reputable consultant able to effectively communicate what an organization needs to implement in pursuit of its future growth potential. For this reason, I appreciate all the efforts that my tutors, colleagues, and institutions expended to the achievement of this formidable goal in respect of my professional development.

Google SWOT Analysis

Bibliography

Anderson, M.H. and Sun, P.Y., 2017. Reviewing leadership styles: Overlaps and the need for a new ‘full‐range’theory. International Journal of Management Reviews19(1), pp.76-96.

Bhatti, N., Maitlo, G.M., Shaikh, N., Hashmi, M.A. and Shaikh, F.M., 2012. The impact of autocratic and democratic leadership style on job satisfaction. International Business Research5(2), p.192.

Bork, R.H. and Sidak, J.G., 2012. What Does the Chicago School Teach About Internet Search and the Antitrust Treatment of Google?. Journal of Competition Law and Economics8(4), pp.663-700.

Bull, J.W., Jobstvogt, N., Böhnke-Henrichs, A., Mascarenhas, A., Sitas, N., Baulcomb, C., Lambini, C.K., Rawlins, M., Baral, H., Zähringer, J. and Carter-Silk, E., 2016. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats: A SWOT analysis of the ecosystem services framework. Ecosystem services17, pp.99-111.

Dudovskiy, J. Alphabet Google SWOT Analysis (2017, June 17). Retrieved from https://research-methodology.net/google-swot-analysis/

Google’s revenue worldwide from 2002 to 2017 (in billion U.S. dollars). (n.d). Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/266206/googles-annual-global-revenue/

Muenjohn, N., Chhetri, P., Suzumura, Y. and Ishikawa, J., 2015. Leadership, design process, and team performance: A comparison between the Japanese and Australian R&D teams. The Journal of Developing Areas49(6), pp.489-496.

Owen, R. (2014). The UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s commitment to a framework for responsible innovation. Journal of Responsible Innovation1(1), 113-117.

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