Background of Apple
Apple is one of the top technological companies in the world that has gained popularity because of creativity and innovation. The firm was started in California, USA and became successful in the internationalization strategy for the excellence of its products. Apple deals with software for computer and commercial servers and consumer electronics goods. Some of the popular products of Apple are iPhone, Macintosh computers and iPod (Thomas, 2014). Steven Paul Jobs and Stephen Gary Wozniak founded the company and the first Apple computer was created on 1st April, 1976 named Apple I. The company was incorporated in California in 1977. Apple was the manufacturer of personal computers for about 20 years like Apple I, Apple II, Power Mac, Apple III and Macintosh (Hennessy. et al., 2017). It dropped the word “computer” from the name, brought corporate strategy of simple design, and became successful in the market with the introduction of iPod music player in 2001. Creativity, innovation and knowledge management of Apple have put the company much ahead in the competitive world.
The ability to effectively manage knowledge in today’s economy is a challenge to most of the organizations. The creation as well as diffusion of knowledge is becoming critical factors for the success of an organization in intense competition. Knowledge management is the set of strategies designed for identification, value, and leverage and sharing of intellectual assets of an organization for the enhancement of its performance. Two important activities are responsible for this process. One is the documentation of tacit and explicit knowledge and the other one is the process of dissemination in the organization. It is a collaborative approach that makes proper utilization of the intellectual assets. Knowledge management takes into account 5Ps namely product, process, performance, planning and people.
Innovation is defined as the implementation of new product or services, new ways of marketing them or new methods of doing business. The activities of innovation include the scientific, organizational, financial, technological and commercial that leads to innovations of the products and services of the organization. Innovation can be in terms of product, process, marketing or the innovation of an overall organization. Proper research by a company leads to great innovations. The researches can be basic, applied or experimental.
Knowledge management Process in Apple
The knowledge management process of Apple includes four phases. These are infrastructure evaluation, KM system, design and development, deployment and evaluation.
The first phase is the infrastructure evaluation. This includes analysis of the existing infrastructure and aligning knowledge management and business strategy. Analysis of infrastructure includes creation of supportive organizational culture as they feel that they are a part of something bigger than they are. The IT infrastructure of the company helps it to collaborate with the excellent employees for grouping to ensure that a better product is manufactured. The alignment of the knowledge management with the business strategy of the company includes the application of the strategy to develop and sell new and innovative products having a blend of art and technology with a plan to give the users a simple and streamlined experience. This has kept Apple in the forefront among the technological companies in the world with respect to Smartphone making.
The second phase deals with the design and development of the knowledge management system in Apple. This phase deals with the design of the knowledge management architecture by the company. A seven layer architecture including data warehouse, expert system and case based reasoning system is used in Apple. Apple has always focused on effective leveraging of infrastructure of the company. The company has made decisions about choosing the right platforms for their business. Knowledge audit and analysis includes identification of the strong knowledge assets for each department unit of the company including marketing, finance and research and development. Designing of the knowledge management team takes into inclusion the experts and the project leaders of Apple. Apple has a lot of openings in the knowledge management area and hires many experts for the position in all its branches. Apple is able to identify the main stakeholders of the company from within and outside the company, identify the adequate resources to design and deploy the knowledge management system while managing the other technical requirements. The management of Apple has created a blueprint as benchmark about the goals to achieve. The vision of Apple is to make great and valuable products and focusing on innovation (Abraham, 2014). The implementation of the knowledge management system is such that the benefits exceed the costs of the company. The final implementation of the plan is very executed by Apple.
The third phase is the deployment of the knowledge management system that it has built in the earlier stages. The deployment in Apple is done using result-driven incremental methodology (Brown, 2013). It involves the selection and implementation of the employees in the company so that the knowledge management system can be properly implemented. Apple was needed to adapt themselves with the leadership change after the demise of Steve Jobs.
The fourth phase is the evaluation phase and is the most significant phase of the knowledge management system. Apple is working towards becoming a digital hub and the competitors are trying to copy the features of Apple gadgets. Apple always measures their return on investment and their revenue is the highest in the technology industry. Innovation of Apple is only because of the knowledge management system and the culture keeps the employees loyal.
The knowledge management tools used by Apple are data warehouse, company intranet and an expert system (Kaparthi, 2016). The warehouse is validated, reorganized, restructured, reformatted, summarized and supplemented with data from various other sources. There are multiple data warehouses of sizes petabyte and terabyte. This helps them to get better understanding of the customers across all the product groups. The intranet of the company enables the employees to access relevant information from the desk. The expert system includes futuristic sounding which is a part of artificial intelligence. It is having a voice controlled intelligent agent named Siri and users are able to get fast answers (Luger & Sellen, 2016).
Innovation in Apple
Apple has become the top technology firm in the world because of its innovation strategies and innovative products (Pisano, 2015). It is considered as the most innovative company in the world. The leaders of Apple think about the innovative strategies with respect to platforms and pipelines that push the innovation pace (Day, 2013). Apple not only focuses on innovative products but also build innovative business models that help the company in the long run. The impact of iPhone and iPod would not have been much if they were not matched with iTunes and the App Store.
Apple’s innovation business model
Apple is having an innovative business model for making innovative products and services. The commitment to innovation for the company is based on culture and not process driven. The company required lot of disciplines to induct the ideas and technologies into the company. It has harnessed creativity in the people, streamlining the design process, simulation of the new ideas and proper launching of the new innovations by building innovative system within the company. Apple has undertaken a blue ocean strategy for its innovation strategies. The innovation was not only in terms of product. The model creates synergistic ways for the creation, delivery and capture of value. The heart of Apple’s success is the systematic innovation integration (Gawer & Cusumano, 2014). It creates a successful innovation-friendly ecosystem by working across the traditional boundaries.
Apple is successfully working in the software, entertainment, hardware and in logistics as well and has mastered itself in every segment (Montgomerie & Roscoe, 2013). Another innovation strategy of Apple is the value proposition that it provides through the sophistication of products and integration of features (Covin et al., 2015). Apple has become a pioneer into a completely new area and created a new model for downloading music. Another significant driver is the financial success due to the increased adoption of the Apple products. The brand promise of Apple is to save time and reduce frustration for the users in terms of downloading music or any other features. The products of Apple are innovative in the way that Windows based computers cannot be used with Macintosh operating system but Mac book works well Windows. Macbook provides certain software like iPhoto, Garageband and Imovie (Franklin & Gibson, 2014). The Macbook does not get any viruses of PC. The designs of the products are environment-friendly. The engineers and the designers of Apple gather for complementary meetings every week for innovation strategy formulation. There is brainstorm meeting in Apple where various approaches in solving problems and enhancing designs are discussed. The production meetings are just the opposite of the brainstorm meeting where structures are put around some crazy ideas. The two types of meetings are held for the development of different types of applications and the product designs. It has always focused on innovation of the products with time and advancement of technology.
Innovation challenges faced by Apple
Apple faced some challenges regarding innovation in the end of 2014. Apple used the innovation strategies of Steve Jobs but after his death, the company faced some challenges regarding up gradation of technology.
It also faced the challenge of improving the quality of the software. When sale of iPhone was slowly increasing, the sale of iPod and iPad were declining. At that time Apple watch is just more than an accessory.
Knowledge management challenges faced by Apple
Since Apple is a renowned technological firm in the world, it faced the challenges of data and information security (Mock & Friedlander, 2014). It is the most innovative company in the world and its competitors are always on the hunt of significant data of Apple. Motivating the employees in such a big firm was a challenge on the part of the management of Apple. Creation of a good workplace culture is a key to the success of any organization and Apple had a challenge of creating it. The company used to launch new products and all the employees are not aware about the details of the technology. This was a major challenge for Apple initially. Another big challenge for Apple was keeping up with the technological innovation (Christensen, 2013). The products of Apple are popular because of its technological innovations and this created a pressure on the company to carry on the legacy from the time of Steve Jobs.
Critical Success Factors
The success factor for the knowledge management of Apple was the good leadership on the part of the management. Steve Jobs and Tim Cook have equally led the company effectively and thus the processes have been followed in a systematic manner. Apple had faced some problems with the employees which they have solved because of participative and transformational leadership of Steve Jobs. The knowledge was properly communicated to the employees and there was a shared culture in the organization.
The success factor for innovation by Apple was the efficient research and development team. Though there was some challenges regarding technological innovations, Apple has successfully innovate their products because of an efficient team and engineers and designers in team. They got the relentless support of the leaders.
Main learning points
The key points of learning from this subject are the importance of innovation for the success of an organization, proper management of the significant processes within the organization and the management of employees for the proper implementation of any plans to succeed in the competitive market. Innovation of services or products helps a company in differentiating itself from its competitors and increase market share by creating huge customer base. People always look for innovative products with reasonable prices which can be a good competitive strategy for the firms. On the other hand, management of the significant processes of a knowledge management system helps a company to make plans accordingly and implement ideas and strategies successfully in the market (Hill, Jones & Schilling, 2014). Proper management of the employees is also a critical factor for the success of an organization in the long run. It helps to create a good work culture where everyone becomes motivated to accomplish the goals. Proper communication and interaction between the employees and the management helps in the reduction of various issues in the organization.
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