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7 Supply Chain Lessons from Steve Jobs

steve jobs

7 Supply Chain Lessons from Steve Jobs

From working in the backyard to transforming the world, Steve Jobs has changed the perception of technology. A self-made businessman with an extraordinary vision shook the world with innovative products and designs.

But being a leading personality is not easy. Jobs had his ups and downs in keeping his business at the top. I have done my fair share of research on the management styles of Steve Jobs and analyzed his actions and key messaging to provide value to the end-customers.

Today, the digital world comprises different marketing channels and tactics like email marketing, social media marketing, affiliate marketing, pay-per-click, and more. But Jobs started his product line way before these channels picked up the pace.

So what’s the special ingredient in Apple’s success? The answer lies in its supply chain process. Here’s what Steve Jobs taught us.

1. Customer is the Priority

With an aim to build extremely worthwhile products according to the customer’s wants, Jobs changed the narrative of business operations. The first and foremost supply chain lesson from Steve Jobs is to put customers as the priority and cost-cutting as secondary.

Creating a great product doesn’t suffice in itself. Improving and nurturing a great product is a virtuous cycle. Jobs believed the same. Accordingly, he suggested building a product that provides value to its customers. Furthermore, he focused on product differentiation and seamless deliverability to ensure customer satisfaction.

From 1983 to 1993, Jobs wasn’t a part of Apple due to several hardships. The company reversed the strategy to profit maximization as the priority. As a result, it observed great losses.

Jobs didn’t suggest this mantra for just the sake of sharing it. It is tried and tested to the best of his knowledge. Therefore, if you are running a supply chain business, make customers your top priority.

You can provide value to your customers in one way or another. For instance, you may send real-time email updates to your customers about their product’s location through email marketing software or affordable autoresponders.

In the end, you have to find a way to engage your customers and provide them with a seamless experience.

2. Don’t Set Achievable Targets

Jobs believed in pushing people to achieve to the best of their ability. In other words, achieving the impossible. When Jobs was involved in Pixar, he took inspiration from the movie ‘Star Trek’. The movie was based on aliens who created an alternate reality with their mental force.

One such incident was the creation of a game called ‘Breakout’. Jobs encouraged Steve Wozniak to create the game in four days instead of four months. Ultimately, Wozniak achieved the impossible.

As infuriating it might be, Jobs had a vision of doing extraordinary things.

Identifying and rectifying the product’s shortcomings, as impossible it may seem, is the next supply chain lesson. One such instance is the Macintosh operating system.

An engineer named Larry Kenyon was working on the issue of longer boot-up time. He gave multiple reasons to Jobs for why it is impossible to cut-short the time. Jobs asked, is it possible to reduce mere10 seconds? Kenyon agreed.

Jobs went on to explain that if he would cut 10 seconds, it would save 300 million hours a year and that’s equal to 100 lifetimes per year. As a result, the booting time was reduced by 28 seconds.

Another example can be the very famous iPhone’s Gorilla Glass.

Jobs wanted iPhones to have a scratch-proof glass. Plastic won’t make the cut. Jobs directly went to meet the CEO of Corning, Wendell Weeks. Corning had the capability to manufacture gorilla glass. But Jobs wanted the glass in bulk within six months which sounded impossible to Weeks.

Weeks was astonished but still called up the Corning Facility’s managers. Weeks told them to stop making LCD displays and start making Gorilla glass. Results? They did it in under six months.

Are you ready to double your targets?

3. Set Streamlined Processes

Your supply chain process must not include complex tasks and processes. Whether it’s about inventory, warehouse, logistics, or more, each stage should have defined and streamlined processes.

The essential part is establishing links to deliver a seamless experience. Jobs in his own way made his supply chain process easy by integrating the hardware, the software, and the peripheral devices.

He ensured the best user experience by taking end-to-end responsibility starting from the microprocessor’s performance to buying the devices from the Apple Store. Therefore, he created a whole Apple ecosystem wherein you can connect your iPod to a Mac that has an iTunes software for syncing all the Apple devices.

In short, declutter your supply chain processes and create a seamless strategy.

4. Focus on Necessity and Act Accordingly

When Jobs joined back Apple in 1997, he made everyone stop and focus on the necessities. In a grid of two-by-two, he wrote: “consumer” in the first section and “Pro” in the next section. He labeled the first row as “Desktop” and the second as “Portable”.

He gave a target to his entire team. They had to create four extraordinary products, aiming for one product per quadrant. All the other products must be stopped.

Your supply chain strategy must entail only the necessary touchpoints. Deciding what needs to be eliminated is as necessary is deciding what to incorporate.

His strategy was to list down the 10 most essential things to prioritize. Later, he struck the 7 and focused on the first three.

5. Understand Your Product

The next lesson is somewhat derived from the above-mentioned lesson, that is, eliminating complexity. Jobs focused on product simplification. But before doing that he analyzed the shortcomings of his product. Understanding your products and processes is an essential step to a successful supply chain strategy.

Seeing the product as a manufacturer or designer will never work as a long-term strategy. Rather, you must see your products and processes as an end-user.

As Apple declared, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”, it preached what it said. Jobs appreciated a simplistic style and wanted to incorporate the same in his products and strategies.

According to Jobs, making simple products is more difficult than making a complex one. Moreover, it takes a lot to understand the challenges in order to come up with elegant solutions.

Jobs along with Apple’s industrial designer, Jony Ive, began exploring Apple’s products. When they were discussing the design of the iPod’s interface, Job wanted a clutter-free design. He straightaway wanted to be able to reach anywhere in three clicks in iPod.

For instance, he removed the screen where the users were asked to search a song by name, artist, or album. The results would be displayed according to keywords input. Next, he got rid of the on/off button. The device was smart enough to power down when not in use or light up when in use.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Changes

One thing that should stick with you is predicting the demand for your product. Demand forecasting is quite a common term in the supply chain industry. The question is: how many of you comply and make a radical change?

Steve Jobs did the same with the iPod. Innovation never remains constant. Someone can make better strategies and outsmart you. Therefore, you must take a leap where needed be.

People who were using PCs had to download or swap music and burn their CDs themselves. The slot in iMac’s drive was incapable of burning CDs.

What was a quick solution? Jobs transformed the entire music industry. He created a one-stop solution by combining iTunes, iTunes Store, and iPod. Now, the users could share, buy, play, or manage their music in any of the other devices.

After Jobs relished the success of the iPod, he realized that the product will meet its end soon. He knew that the smartphone makers will add built-in music players to their devices. That is why he started the manufacturing of iPhones.

Soon after his death in 2011, iPods came to an end too in 2014.

7. Envision the Future

Apple’s retail stores are all over the world. Therefore, the last lesson is related to the demand forecast. You may run a local or global business, but tracking your operational details is essential to your business.

What was Apple’s mantra? Apple decreased its average inventory (excluding emergency stocks) which resulted in increased inventory turnover. Meaning, Apple didn’t keep more stocks than required since it can become obsolete.

Apple’s products have a longer life cycle and its sale is not dependent on seasonal factors. However, Jobs never stayed behind in leveraging the seasonal sales season. Since there is high demand during this season, therefore, Jobs shipped and stocked its products to its warehouses via air. This is because shipping products via sea require more lead time than air freight.

Wrapping-up

Apple’s supply chain process was not the best in its initial phases. However, it evolved gradually with the experiences and learnings. Steve Jobs revolutionized and transformed the digital world. His lessons shall always be remembered and valued.

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This guest post is contributed by Kurt Walker who is a blogger and college paper writer. In the course of his studies he developed an interest in innovative technology and likes to keep business owners informed about the latest technology to use to transform their operations. He writes for companies such as Edu BirdieXpertWriters and uk.bestessays.com on various academic and business topics.

executives

What Executives Can Learn From the Globe’s Best Leaders

Military leaders often provide what is called “Top Cover” flying above their followers to ensure their mission is a success. Submarines travel with pilot ships to guide them. This is what executives need to do. The purpose of this article is to answer the question “What executives can learn from 5 famous American leaders?”

There are various issues and considerations existing in the leadership literature as the core of the criticism in the literature is that organizations of all sorts (corporations, government agencies, and non-profit organizations) tend to be over-managed (and, in some cases, over-administrated) and under-led. Reading all the books on leadership today will cover the gamut of Shakespeare to Geronimo. Not to say that these authors, leaders, and thinkers do not have anything good to say about leadership. It is just that the plethora of leadership literature has sent mixed signals to executives. The only thing we know is the managers may be doing things right but leaders are doing the right things. If you agree, even slightly, with this concept, then this article is designed, developed, and created for you.

What Executives Can Learn from Eisenhower’s Leadership

In American politics in 2016, a crucial year between the democratic and republican parties, this presidential election has shown that there is a direct connection between politics and CEOs, who at least think they are experienced enough to hold the ultimate leadership position. Political leaders are not any different than organizational businessmen. More and more businessmen and women are becoming political candidates and people are responding positively. The reason being—the two do go together. At the heart of leadership are a large number of followers. Without the support of followers, leaders will fail. The same thing goes with the political candidate that has to win the hearts and minds of the followers to get elected.

There are many more followers than there are leaders and this is more so in the political realm. The question is: Can CEOs see political leaders as the perfect examples for leadership? The answer is a resounding “Yes.” For example, Eisenhower, one of the former presidents of the United States in World War II, effectively led both the American government and the Allied Forces in Europe in defeating Adolf Hitler. Eisenhower’s leadership provides lessons for CEOs in today’s organizational challenges. Eisenhower argued that leaders must care for their people as individuals, always remain optimistic, and place themselves with and for the people, and, most importantly, provide the WHY behind what you ask them to do. For the executive’s corner, executives must be aware that Dwight Eisenhower’s leadership can fundamentally affect the way a company performs its functions.

What Executives Can Learn from 4 Famous American Business Leaders

One example of this comes from CEO Rich Teerlink, who dramatically changed Harley-Davidson in the 1980s, and fundamentally built a different organization that still prospers today. The success of leadership at the Harley-Davidson Corporation has stood the test of time. For example, Harley-Davidson’s leadership created a more effective organization built upon three primary principles, focusing on people, challenging norms, and continuing to fundamentally change. At Harley, every employee can participate in leadership decision-making.

Another example of famous American business leaders in a highly competitive environment is Steve Jobs, former leader of Apple, who built a highly effective organization through taking a change-oriented leadership approach, which highly manifested itself in talent, product, organization, and marketing. As a result, leadership, being the core of management, is crucial to the company’s success—-both from a performance and management level.

The evidence from these examples suggests that leadership is highly demanding at the corporate level. For organizations to achieve a sustained change and eventually a higher degree of efficiency and effectiveness, selecting a great business leader is the key to success. In the absence of leadership, organizations lose their required direction to achieve a high degree of hypercompetitiveness, and cannot implement successful change in order to adapt to today’s global business environment.

As executives attempt to manage people they find that intellectual capital is at the forefront of success—Bill Gates, as an exemplary leader, once mentioned that if he lost his top 50 people that he would not have an organization anymore. Executives develop organizational communications aimed at providing valuable resources for all organizational members. They enhance knowledge sharing among intellectual capital and stipulate knowledge to be shared around the organization.

Sharing the best practices and experiences could positively impact some aspects of non-financial performance such as innovation, providing learning and growth opportunities for employees. Empowered employees can enable organizations to actively respond to environmental changes, which can, in turn, enhance performance in terms of return on assets and return on sales.

The outcome is success which narrows the gap between success and failure and this can be achieved by the commitment of organizational members and facilitated by executives. When executives show concern for the employee’s individual needs, individuals begin to contribute more commitment and they become more inspired them to put extra effort into their work. This extra effort improves customer satisfaction, and impacts shareholder value and improves operational risk management.

Corporate strategy can be also employed by incredibly successful leaders, such as Jeff Bezos, to enhance goal achievement. Prominent scholars that are well known in the Academy of Management, one of the largest leadership and management organizations in the world also say that successful organizations enhance their competitiveness by focusing on corporate strategy. Leaders find that corporate strategy is in the forefront of success. Corporate strategy could be the most important component of success in this ever-changing business environment of today. This, by far, is why some organizations are successful and some are not. The key take-away for executives is that corporate strategy is a resource that enables organizations to solve problems and create value through improved performance and it is this point that will narrow the gaps of success and failure leading to more successful decision-making.

Evidently, executives that implement corporate strategy as an important driving force for business success find their organization to be more competitive and on the cutting edge. Thus, the effectiveness of corporate strategy implementation is determined by a set of critical success factors, one of which is the strategic dimension of leadership. And the burden of success when the implementation of corporate strategy is concerned is heavily dependent on the capabilities of the organization’s leaders. Therefore, the outcome is success which narrows the gap between success and failure and this can be achieved by corporate strategy implementation and facilitated by an executive following Jeff Bezos and acting as a leader.

In Conclusion

Many executives are familiar with leadership surveys developed by scholars and this article is not about measuring aptitude or defining leadership styles. It is about getting the information needed to be successful in the right hands of executives. This article raises a vital question as to how executives can lead by example. I attempt to blend scholarly concepts with real-world application through thoroughly looking at the perfect examples for leadership. Based on this article, executives can now see that famous American leaders can, in fact, make a fundamental change in the processes by which organizations serve their clients. And success can be more effective when leadership is applied to change attitudes and assumptions. Without a grasp on this one tenet executives are bound to fail.

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Mostafa Sayyadi works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders. He is a business book author and a long-time contributor to business publications and his work has been featured in top-flight business publications.  

AI

Report: U.S. Companies Led AI-Tech Acquisitions 2014-18

.Leading data and analytics company, GlobalData, released a report this week highlighting companies that dominated the artificial intelligence-tech space from 2014-2018. In the report, four out of five top acquirers were U.S. based: Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Splunk. These companies represent a combined total of 30 acquisitions during the time period studied. Accenture made the list as the only non-U.S. based company, representing six acquisitions total.

“Technology companies have been the dominant deal makers in the AI space. However, with artificial intelligence making inroads into diverse sectors, the buyer universe in expanding and the space is also attracting investments from non-technology companies,” said Aurojyoti Bose, Financial Deals Analyst at GlobalData.

Top Deal Makers-Payment Tech_V2

“The high number of American firms attracting investments in the AI space is a testimony to the country’s dominance in AI technology. The recent launch of American AI Initiative program also augurs well for the development of the sector or start-ups operating in this space,” added Bose.

Additional insights in the report confirm the U.S. as a leading region for targeted acquisitions, representing 70 percent of those acquired by the top five in the list. Regions closely following include the UK, China, India, Canada and Israel due to the talent pool and innovative technology offerings.

Top Deal Makers-Payment Tech_V1 Table

“With increasing adoption of AI across sectors, this space is bound to witness growth in an already burgeoning M&A activity. Corporates are extensively evaluating options to integrate AI in their business operations and automation initiatives. Going forward, AI solutions will be an integral part of their strategies,” Bose concludes.

Source: GlobalData

FOLLOW THE BOUNCING FOXCONN DEAL

My, how things can change drastically within two months before they snap back to what they were in the first place. Sorta. We think. First, you must travel back in time to Global Trade’s January-February issue, where our Dispatches column noted that Foxconn Technology Group’s $10 billion manufacturing campus project in Wisconsin has been named the 2018 Economic Impact Deal of the Year by the Mid-America Economic Development Council.
But Taiwan-based Foxconn, which is Apple’s largest iPhone assembler, announced within days of publication that it would not build the factory in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, because “the global market environment that existed when the project was first announced has changed.”
This was distressing, because not only had 13,000 jobs been promised at the factory where screens for LCD television displays were to be built, but Foxconn had received $4 billion in tax breaks and incentives.
Then, President Donald Trump intervened, and on Feb. 1 Foxconn distributed another statement, this time indicating its project is back on. Here is the statement:
“After productive discussions between the White House and the company, and after a personal conversation between President Donald J. Trump and Chairman Terry Gou, Foxconn is moving forward with our planned construction of a Gen 6 fab facility, which will be at the heart of the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park. This campus will serve both as an advanced manufacturing facility as well as a hub of high technology innovation for the region.
“Our decision is also based on a recent comprehensive and systematic evaluation to help determine the best fit for our Wisconsin project among TFT technologies. We have undertaken the evaluation while simultaneously seeking to broaden our investment across Wisconsin far beyond our original plans to ensure the company, our workforce, the local community, and the state of Wisconsin will be positioned for long-term success.
“We look forward to continuing to expand our investment in American talent in Wisconsin and the US.”
All is well that ends well, right? Um … actually, some critical eyes are being cast at Foxconn because it remains unclear what level of work will be hosted at the plant. The company says the plant will now create smaller mobile displays as well, such as for tablets and cell phones. And it is unclear whether Trump promised Foxconn further incentives. Which means you have no choice but to pick up our May-July 2019 issue, because who knows what will happen in the next two months.

Apple “Investing Like Crazy” in Greater China

Los Angeles, CA – Tim Cook, president of global communications giant Apple, is in has said that the California-based company is planning to open 25 new Apple stores in the country over the next two years.

“We’re investing like crazy in the market and when I look at China, I see an enormous market where there are more people graduating into the middle class than any nation on earth in history,” Cook said.

Cook made his comments bout the company’s plans to Sina, a Chinese online media company, during his current tour of the country this week.

Currently, Apple earns about 15 percent of its revenue and operates 15 stores in the country in what it calls its ‘Greater China’ marketing region, which includes mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Earlier this week, Cook toured Foxconn Technology Co’s iPhone factory in Zhengzhou and met with China’s Vice Minister Ma Kai to discuss the “protection of users’ information” as well as “strengthening cooperation,” according to the China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency.

Cook also has plans to attend meetings at Beijing’s Tsinghua University as a member of the School of Economics and Management’s advisory council, and meet with Alibaba Chairman, Jack Ma.

Before leaving for China, Cook said that Apple would be “cooperating” with Chinese firms including Baidu Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

10/30/2014

Apple Plans Broad Global iPhone 6 Distribution

Cupertino, CA – By the end of this month, technology giant Apple Inc. will make its highly popular iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus available in 36 additional countries and territories across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa.

Starting with China, India and Monaco this week, the new iPhones will be available in China and 68 other countries and territories by the end of the month, including the initial launch countries.

The distribution campaign is reportedly also on track to make the devices available in more than 115 countries by the end of the year, making this the company’s fastest iPhone rollout ever.

Apple set a new record for first weekend sales of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, having breached the 10 million mark within just three days of its initial September 9 sales launch in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, the UK, and the US.

The new iPhones will be available in Israel from Thursday, October 23 and in Czech Republic, French West Indies, Greenland, Malta, Poland, Reunion Island and South Africa the following day. They will be available in Bahrain and Kuwait from Thursday, October 30.

It will be available in further 23 countries – Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Estonia, Greece, Guam, Hungary, Iceland, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Macau, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, South Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine and Thailand – on October 31.

Cupertino, California-based Apple unveiled the two new larger screen smartphones, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, last month in San Francisco.

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are both available in 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB versions and feature larger HD (high definition) screens than their predecessors, as well as markedly enhanced performance and power efficiency.

10/14/2014

Apple, Starbucks Targeted by EU Tax Authorities

Los Angeles, CA – European Commission (EC) competition regulators are investigating tax breaks for Apple Inc. and Starbucks Corp. in Ireland and The Netherlands, respectively, that it suspects are in violation of European Union tax codes.

The investigation comes as governments around the world are cracking down on tax-avoidance and evasion by scrutinizing the financial practices of a growing number of multi-national companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Google, Microsoft, McDonalds, and Amazon.com.

According to the EC, tax avoidance and evasion by foreign companies operating in the EU amounts to more than $1.4 trillion a year.

The EC reportedly began gathering information about accords between Apple and Ireland, and Starbucks and the Netherlands last year following reports that some companies received “significant” tax reductions.

“We need to fight against aggressive tax planning,” said Joaquin Almunia, the EU’s competition commissioner at a recent press conference in Brussels, adding that it is “still too soon to anticipate” possible recovery if the EU finds the tax rulings to be illegal.”

Apple Responds

While Starbuck’s didn’t respond to requests for a statement on the EC investigation, California-based Apple issued a response saying that the company “pays every euro of every tax that we owe. We have received no selective treatment from Irish officials. Apple is subject to the same tax laws as scores of other international companies doing business in Ireland.”

Ireland’s Finance Ministry said it is “confident that there is no state-aid-rule breach” and will “defend all aspects vigorously.”

The EC said that it is “concerned that current arrangements could underestimate the taxable profit and grant an advantage to the respective companies by allowing them to pay less tax.”

Apple, the company said in a public statement, “pays every euro of every tax that we owe. We have received no selective treatment from Irish officials. Apple is subject to the same tax laws as scores of other international companies doing business in Ireland.”

Ireland’s Finance Ministry said it is “confident that there is no state-aid-rule breach” and will “defend all aspects vigorously.” The EU probe targets “a very technical tax issue in a specific case” and covers 2004 to 2014, it said in an e-mailed statement.

 “Patent Boxes” Under the Microscope

Widening the scope of its investigation, the EC is also seeking details from Belgium, Spain, France, Hungary, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, the UK, Cyprus and Malta on so-called “patent boxes,”  a mechanism that allows tax reductions on income derived from patents.

The EC said in March it has indications that the programs mainly benefit highly mobile businesses without triggering significant additional research and development.

The UK, for example, patent box phases in a lower corporation tax on some profits from patented inventions and certain other innovations, according to the EC website.

Changes to EU tax rules require unanimous approval among the bloc’s 28-member nations,  rendering major changes to individual county’s tax regulations difficult, if not impossible as even the most enthusiastic members of the bloc cling to their right to set corporate tax rates.

The opening of an in-depth investigation by the commission allows third parties, as well as the three countries concerned, an opportunity to submit comments.

06/16/2014