General managers play a critical role in the operations of any firm- they indulge in strategic decision-making on behalf of a company’s shareholders. As a newly appointed general manager, you will be highly involved in such decision-making processes, which will, in turn, shape the direction and success of the organization. However, making these decisions requires a proper understanding of the overall entity as shall be fostered in this document through an analysis of the firm’s purpose and goals, products and services, customers, external factors impacting the business activities, the organizational structure, and different functions and their interdependence.
Description of the Purpose and Goals of the Organization
Apple, a business partnership between Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, functions as a private multinational company. The firm’s motive of operating in multiple countries, and its position as a private entity, is to maximize margins in the industry it operates in (Courtney, 2002). This aspect is evidenced by its numerous operations across the globe and product diversification, which enables the firm to trap revenue from multiple product portfolios such as computer software and consumer electronics.
Like other firms in the industry, Apple has a clear vision, mission, goals, and objectives, which are mainly consumer-oriented. Most notably, Apple’s purpose is to bring the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software, and services. As can be noted from this statement, Apple’s mission revolves around a shared purpose of satisfying consumers by innovating products that can help enhance the latter’s experience with electronic devices, software, and other online services. On the other hand, the entity’s vision is broad, and it entails innovation in product development and vertical integration. This vision is imperative because it influences the strategies adopted by the firm and its supply chain. Fundamentally, Apple’s vision and mission outline a simple message to its primary stakeholders- consumers, employees, and others in the supply chain- guiding them to share a common purpose.
Besides its mission and vision, Apple also has unique values woven into its business strategies, and which act as building blocks for its brand. These values include excellence, collaboration, and simplicity. It is worth noting that Apple’s values are a combination of both human and dynamic virtues, such as respect and simplicity, respectively. Based on an internal analysis of the company, it is evident that these values have had numerous benefits on the brand and its employees, who, as a result of collaboration, are highly engaged in the entity’s activities.
Products and Services offered by the Organization
Apple operates as a global entity that provides a wide range of consumer electronic devices, software, services, and accessories. Among the company’s most popular products and services are iPhone- the entity’s star product, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV, iOS, tvOS, iTunes Store, and Apple Music (“United States Securities and Exchange Commission”, 2018). Each of the products and services is designed to deliver the current mission of the entity. For example, the iPhone offers the best customer experience in multiple domains of product users, as promised in the company’s mission statement. Most notably, the iPhone is a revolutionary communication device that is distinct, in terms of features and internal systems, from smartphones offered by other manufacturers. The wide range of products and services provided by the company are designed to facilitate the fulfillment of the mission statement and create value for the entity and its shareholders.
Customers of the Organization
The organization’s primary customers are individuals that share common product and service needs and purchasing behavior. One of the characteristics of the firm’s customers is embedded in their psychographic traits, which entail their social class, lifestyle, and personality (Gichuru & Limiri, 2017). Most notably, the firm targets lucrative customers in the middle and upper social classes. Also, the customers’ lifestyle is mainly characterized by aspiration and exploration.
Besides psychographic traits, the company also focuses on behavioral segmentation. This type of segmentation defines consumers according to their purchase behaviors, which include their shopping frequency and volume of purchase (Camilleri, 2018). In this context, Apple’s customers exhibit a high degree of loyalty to the product. Additionally, the customers are individuals who are often seeking benefits such as a sense of achievement and belonging, speed of service, and efficiency during their purchases.
Furthermore, the firm’s customers exhibit distinct demographic traits that distinguish them from other buyers. Most notably, purchasers that fall under this segmentation are both males and females aged between 18-45 years, high-income earners, either studying or pursuing their careers in various positions such as managers, professionals, and executives. This category of consumers contributes to the success of the organization because they are mainly tech-savvy and in need of efficient devices to undertake various tasks, which makes Apple products their number one option.
The company operates in two primary markets, business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C). Under the B2B market, the entity transacts with other firms such as wholesalers and retailers (Reklaitis & Pipeliene, 2019). For example, the firm’s Augmented Reality (AR) is mainly utilized in the enterprise market, which makes such transactions B2B. On the other hand, the B2C market, which is vast in the two markets, focuses on transactions with the final consumer (Reklaitis & Pipeliene, 2019). The B2C market includes, but is not limited to, the of iPhones to final consumers by sales agents and through the Apple stores. Although the two marketing models are different, they are both linked to the increased sales and competitiveness of the entity in the mobile communication industry.
External Factors and their Impact on the Business Activities
Like other firms in the industry, the company is susceptible to external factors that affect its profits, competitiveness, to mention but a few. However, using analytical models such as PESTLE, the management of the firm can identify and maximize the opportunities presented by these factors, or minimize the threats posed by the same. Fundamentally, the PESTLE acts as a crucial tool for analyzing the external environment in which the firm is operating.
Among the external elements that impact the organization, as is evidenced by the PESTLE model, are political factors. These factors reflect the extent to which policymakers are likely to intervene in the commercial environment in ways such as taxation, labor, and environmental legislation (Sammut-Bonnici & Galea, 2015). The most visible political factors affecting the firm in recent times is the trade dispute between the United States and China. As noted in the Forbes article, Apple is highly dependent on China for the sale of iPhones and other consumer devices (Rapoza, 2019). Therefore, the ongoing political dispute has been a massive blow on the firm’s profits and sales, which have seen a 25% drop since the beginning of 2019 (Helmore, 2019). The ongoing political climate between China and the United States is a colossal threat that the human resource is working towards cautioning to promote sale stability amidst the trade war.
Economic factors are also uncontrollable elements that have significant positive and negative effects on the firm’s operations. Among the most notable economic aspects that affect the company is the growth of economies of various countries. As the literature suggests, GDP growth has been on the rise across regions such as Africa, Latin America, and South Asia, partially because of the increased investment in these areas (“World Economic Situation”, 2019). The economic growth in these regions enhances the disposable income among target customers, enabling them to purchase Apple’s high-priced products, which in turn boosts the latter’s profits.
Furthermore, socio-cultural trends have been of significant impact on the firm’s business. As the literature suggests, “industries today are entering the fourth industrial revolution through capitalizing digitalization, which is revolutionizing the way business is conducted in industrial value chains” (Parida et al., 2019, p1). There has been a significant social trend towards an increasing dependency on digitalization in enterprises. This trend presents opportunities for Apple to sell its products to enterprises that require the digital systems, which in turn positively impacts the company’s profits.
The other external factor that impacts the organization is technological aspects. As the literature suggests, technology breakthroughs are both demise and opportunity for companies (Sammut-Bonnici & Galea, 2015). In this context, technology spending has been on the rise in firms across the globe, with reports showing that 40% of technology spending in entities was directed towards digital transformation in 2019 (Morgan, 2019). This increasing integration and spending on technology in today’s businesses has been a significant opportunity for Apple to sell its hardware and software to enterprises across the globe.
Organizational Structure and Functions
While Apple appears to employ a hierarchical structure from the outside, it is visible that it also assumes a combination of divisional and functional designs in the inside, as seen in figure 1. The functional design is evidenced by the grouping of employees according to the functional operations such as research and development (Mills et al., 2006). The most notable features of the divisional structure are the grouping of employees by the products and services on which they work, such as iOS and macOS (Mills et al., 2006). Also, the company employees a hierarchical structure whereby there exists a chain of command from the CEO to the subordinates. The hybrid organizational structure employed by the company promotes an effective line of communication and control through the establishment of chains of communication and command between subordinates and their superiors. The structure also fosters prompt decision making in the instance of the divisional structures.
Figure 1: Apple’s Organizational Structure
As a large-scale commercial business, Apple has highly delineated functions that constitute its primary structure. Among the most visible functions in the firm is human resources (HR), which deals in the management of ‘people issues’ such as training and hiring. The second function is the finance and accounts, which manages the finances of the entity. Also, Apple has a research and development function, which accounts for a significant portion of the entity’s expenditure. This function is tasked with researching, designing, developing, and enhancing software and products in the entity. The other function in the firm is the distribution, which ensures that the manufactured products reach the customers on time. As can be seen, Apple’s functions exist as discrete departments with specific tasks.
How Different Functions Work Together to Optimize Performance
Despite existing as independent departments, the functions in Apple work collaboratively to optimize the overall performance of the entity. For example, the R&D identifies new product designs and works with the finance and accounts to set a budget to facilitate each phase of product development. Also, the R&D and finance and accounts departments work with HR to hire employees required in the production and provision of the company’s products and services. The three functions then work with the distribution department to ensure the timely distribution and delivery of manufactured goods to the customers. The different functions in Apple work together at some point to facilitate the achievement of the firm’s purpose and enhance its performance in the industry.
Culture of the Organization and Two Ways it Affects Operations
The fundamental corporate culture in Apple is creative innovation, which is associated with multiple benefits in the firm’s operations. Most notably, the employees and management of the company focus primarily on promoting innovation in the company through creativity. Apple’s corporate culture has multiple impacts on operations, such as the enhancement of business competition. The culture of innovation enables the firm to create more advanced hardware, software, and processes compared to its industrial rivals such as Samsung and Amazon. Also, the corporate culture supports the achievement of the company’s strategic plans of the drive towards innovation. Overall, Apple’s corporate culture reflects the innovative behaviors exhibited by the executive management and subordinates, which fosters the continuing success of the firm through enhanced competitiveness and achievement of strategic plans.
Activities to Help Support the Organization
The key business strategy in Apple is brand differentiation- promoting the entity as a luxury brand by differentiating itself from other industrial participants. To help support this objective, the HR staff in the organization could focus on the professional area of resourcing and talent management in the CIPD Profession Map. Most notably, HR could ensure that proper recruitment and selection are conducted to facilitate the acquisition of a labor force that is innovative and fit for the required business needs. Through resourcing and talent management, HR could help the firm acquire valuable human capital that can facilitate the establishment of new and innovative ways of brand differentiation.
Additionally, HR could focus on the area of employee relations in the CIPD profession map to facilitate the fulfillment of the firm’s business strategy. Some of the activities that the HR could undertake in this professional area include creating open communication channels for use by the firm’s employees. Likely, the established communication channels could facilitate the dissemination and sharing of information between managers and subordinates on the manner in which to differentiate the company’s products from those of its competitors. Besides, through the established channels of communication, employees in the R&D and sales and marketing could share vital information about niches in the market that can be filled through product differentiation. Overall, the HR of the entity could focus on activities related to employee relations such as the establishment of open communication channels to foster communication among employees and managers, which could, in turn, facilitate the sharing of vital information required in the promotion of brand differentiation.
Furthermore, HR could focus on organizational design, an area of CIPD, to promote the business strategy. Among activities that the HR could undertake in this domain include realigning dysfunctional procedures with the existing business goals. This activity could enable HR to identify business procedures that deviate from product differentiation and implement changes to ensure that they realign with the current organizational strategies and objectives.
Ways in Which the HR Could Support Line manager and their staff
In a commercial business such as Apple, HR could play a critical role in supporting the managers and their staff at the operational level. One of the ways in which HR could support this human capital is through recruitment and selection. For example, HR could ensure that the right candidates are hired at the right time and place within the organization. This practice could support line managers by ensuring that they have the right number of people to undertake different activities in their respective functions. Also, recruitment and selection could help ease the duties among staff, as adequate employees would be available for efficient division of the workload.
Furthermore, HR could support line managers and their staff by providing legal advice on employment law. For example, HR could enlighten line managers about newly established policies that govern employee management, including the maximum number of working hours. This practice could also help promote job satisfaction among the staff as they would be subject to favorable working patterns as required by the law.
Additionally, HR could support line managers and their staff by creating formal employee support programs within the organization. For example, HR in Apple could establish programs where employees are enlightened about managing their physical wellbeing and staying free from chronic diseases. This effort by the HR can, in turn, support the line managers by ensuring that they have a healthy workforce to undertake various activities within the functional structures.
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