Select an international business or company and write a formal business report on the organisation's "Communication and E-Communication" strategies.
The nominated company must be approved by your lecturer. Each group must do their wort on a different company. This will be approved on a 'first-come first-serve' basis.
You will be required to perform academic research on the nominated company to identify and assess the effectiveness of its current "Communication and ECommunication" strategies.
Non-Electronic Communication Methods
Non-electronic methods of communication are ways of communicating without the help of an electronic device. Apple Inc. is a giant electronic device manufacturing company, but it also utilizes some non-electronic means of communicating.
Conveying messages using electronic means has revolutionized communication due to the speed and of achieving the task, but there is certain information that could be too important to be conveyed using electronic means (Turk, D., France, R. & Rumpe, B., 2014). With such, especially if one is an employee at Apple, they need to do it face to face with their superiors. Another way Apple uses face to face methods of communication is when the company is offering customer service. The company has customer service outlets in 18 countries around the world where consumers go get their devices and products checked and also to have issues addressed. These customers service centers have attendants that receive and deal with a consumer to address the issues raised.
Apple Inc. has an address for those who would wish to send a written letter for different reasons, for example, applying for a job or giving the company feedback to a certain product and so on. Another reason one would use written methods of communication would be to preserve the authenticity of the message say, when one writes sends a hand-written letter (Chaney, L. & Martin, J., 2013).
While letters are for external purposes, memorandums are used to pass information to an organization. They are often called internal memos. Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive officer often writes memorandums to the company’s employees to inform them of changes in the company or just a certain piece of information (Scardamaglia, A. and Adams, M., 2016).
An invoice is a list of items being purchased, with details on the quantities, prices, service description and contact details to the person making the payment (Firsan, 2016). Apple Inc. uses invoices for its customers to make payments for products such as iTunes.
Electronic communication methods
This is most likely the most common place anyone would visit to look for information on Apple Inc. the target audience for a website is anybody who has access to the internet, so information here is mostly relevant to consumers and people interested in becoming affiliated with the company
E-mail is an electronic letter. Apple Inc. uses emails pass information within the organization and also without as in the emails sent to the company and iTunes consumers.
Video conferencing is a digital way of communicating in that it is the live use of videos between two or more people who are in different locations. It is great for corporate companies, such as Apple, compared to having physical meetings as it saves or traveling time and costs (Hashimoto, D., Phitayakorn, R., Fernandez, C. & Meireles, O., 2016). Apple uses this feature when having meetings with corporate partners, and the company has developed a video conferencing app that is used to hold remote video meetings with co-workers, clients, and partners.
Through digital broadcasting companies such as Sky and Fox, Apple can communicate to the consumers and other interested parties about their products. Such broadcasting companies have televised features and programs focused on digital technology which is informative to the viewers. Apple Inc. is often case and point in such programs.
Social is a powerful tool when creating awareness for a new product, but not for Apple Inc. (Fuchs, 2017). Being a corporate giant that's extensive and influential, they don't need social media as a marketing tool. However, Apple recently revived their Twitter account that laid inactive for several years and is using it to offer real-time customer service. The chief executive officer Tim Cook and other executives at the company tweet as well.
Below is a SWOT analysis of Apple Inc.’s general communications practices.
i. Well-defined communication within the distribution channels. Apple has a well diversified route to channel the distribution of its products(Babin, B. & Zikmund W., 2015). It employs both direct and indirect means, and few rivals can match its capabilities to deliver goods to customers. Apple utilizes direct means by selling off its online shops and using a direct sales force. The biggest advantage that Apple has over its competitors is having its retail stores and keeping the flow of communication flawless has ensured supremacy in the telecom business.
ii. Intense advertising. Apple invests a huge chunk of its resources to advertising its products(Robinson, 2013). The company utilizes opportunities in the print media with the example of iPhone 6 having been promoted through over 10000 billboards. Apple also offers great customer service which is partly done via the company's Twitter handle. It shows that Apple uses social media communication to provide customer care service differently than how it's done by other companies and competitors.
iii. Understanding communication itself. For one to be good at marketing anything, one has to be good at communication. One has to understand the other person's needs in regards to a particular product and understand the reactions people have when presented with solutions for those needs. Apple's use academically trained psychologists in their marketing campaigns with them come advantages such as utilization of Dr. Robert Cialdini's six persuasion techniques, to market their products and achieve huge sales.
i. Internal communications. It is of pivotal importance to set a stage for employees to have their voices heard. Apple company has often been marred by issues about the wellbeing of the employees. Workers at Foxconn, Apple’s largest supplier have been protesting low wages and long working hours among other problems(Chan, J., Pun, N. & Selden, M., 2016). The company intends to set up a system that will allow a two-way communication platform for improved communications between employees and the management.
ii. Apple has a habit of keeping their upcoming projects a secret, and it is good for the business as a far as the element of surprise goes during the product launch. This should not be the case after the product has been launched and I already in the market and developers alongside customers are protesting and asking for more open communication from the company in regards to issues raised due to a problem experienced by the consumers caused by Apple devices.
i. Internet of Things. There is a sky-rocketing growth of the Internet of Things(Rifkin, 2014). It is estimated that by the year 2030 there will be close to 100billion devices connected around the globe. Apple stands a unique opportunity to better its communication systems thanks to the tons of different purpose devices it manufactures, that range from computers, smartphones, wearable devices and so on.
ii. Distribution network growth. With the great lengths that the company is going in order to create awareness for its products, for example, wisely choosing celebrities to advertise the company's products, and having established itself as a major brand, the company has the opportunity to venture into the untapped markets as it is currently dominant in America, Europe, and the Far East.
i. Intense competition.
Apple has always experienced competition from the computer, and computer software manufacturers namely Microsoft and IBM, but now with rivals Samsung and Google (smartphone manufacturers and software developers respectively) working together, Apple is facing the stiffest competition yet. If this trend continues, developers will want to work with the latter as they offer more competition which is good for business and this would affect Apples ability to thrive in developing its communication systems.
ii. Patent infringement lawsuits
The technology sector is marred with patent infringement cases, and Apple has fallen victim to the menace a couple of times. This vice is common because technology firms use software and hardware parts that could have been patented elsewhere. Apple always has a hard time protecting its new ideas and its software code from being leaked out or stolen and lead to competitors getting information on plans or ending up dealing with these kinds of lawsuits thus tarnishing the company's reputation.
For the business to run, the company has to collect personal information from its stakeholders. This information is very sensitive as it includes addresses, phone numbers, credit and or debit cards information and so on. If a data breach occurred and such sensitive information is stolen, the company could lose its stakeholders.
Communication practices for Apple’s competitors
Apple boasts a wide variety of products and services that it offers. These include computers, computer hardware and software, wearable gadgets, television screens, iTunes and so much more, but for the purpose of simplicity, the two main rivals for Apple considered in this report will be Samsung for the smartphones and Microsoft for the computer Operating System.
Samsung has been giving Apple a run for its money in the smartphone industry. This could partly be because of the communication strategies employed by the Asian tech-conglomerate. Samsung has often used extreme means to convey their messages such as the use of guerrilla and ambush marketing techniques where the company can target cities where a competitor company such as Apple are going to launch a product, and give free merchandise with Samsung's logos or information. Such is a bold move to create brand impact for a particular product (Blakeman, 2013).
Samsung also goes big on sponsoring events. This is a form of communication that goes a long way in marketing their products as these events attract live spectators and media followers, an example would be the American music awards where the hosts announced the winners using new Samsung devices. Apple company doesn’t sponsor events as much as Samsung does.
Microsoft is trying to do things more differently than its counterpart Apple. The company is venturing into more innovative means of communicating and this evident for example from the launch of the Microsoft news center (Chu, S. & Du, H., 2013). This was a move by Microsoft, according to corporate communications vice president Frank Shaw, to have its voice heard. The news center presents stories on Microsoft people and projects, the company’s points of view and information on upcoming Microsoft products.
Microsoft is also evidently more entrenched in social media than its competitor Apple with more presence on both Facebook and Twitter. Frank Shaw insisted that the high number of Facebook likes the company has, has enabled them to reach out to more people than they expected, a leaf from the whole tree Apple ought to borrow.
Suggestions for improving communication
Apple recently came under fire after the working conditions at Foxconn got worse to the point of a worker committing suicide. The company should address such issues by having an elaborate system of two-way communication between employees and the management so that such incidents can be dealt with before they jump from the frying pan and into the fire.
Another thing Apple ought to do is embrace the social media platform more. The social media has become a very powerful tool, and its benefits cannot be ignored. Competitor companies have reaped major benefits from increasing their marketing by adopting social media trends and Apple ought to follow suit.
Apple Inc. can also benefit a lot from endorsing and sponsoring public events such as fashion shows and award ceremonies as they get a lot of viewership from people all over the globe.
The company has also lost its niche as leaders in innovation as competition from rivals Samsung proves. This is evident even from an advertisement's point of view as current adverts lack the emotional and novel feel that was previously associated with Apple products. Things took a different turn after the demise of visionary leader the late Steve Jobs, and this I think could be the reason for the lack of novel products, features, and services. The company needs visionary leadership and not just leadership good in operational excellence.
Apple ought to also have an open mind towards sharing information with software developers on its products’ coding so as to solve problems that been associated with the company’s devices. Consumers also feel left out due to the company’s secrecy even to problems that have been known to affect their devices.
Apple is no longer at the helm technological supremacy thanks to the unrelenting competition posed by rival companies. The company can still restore the lost glory if it addresses the issues raised from protesting consumers, workers and developers.
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Blakeman, R., 2013. Nontraditional media in marketing and advertising.. s.l.: SAGE Publications.
Chan, J., Pun, N. & Selden, M., 2016. Apple, Foxconn and China's new working class., s.l.: ILR Press, an imprint of Cornell University Press.
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