I use my Blackberry more than I would like to admit (thanks to the curse of BBM); most Blackberry users do! Canadian company Research in Motion (RIM) has been producing the Blackberry since 1999. Today, Blackberry accounts for 3% of the total mobile sales in the world. Though this may seem to account for a small number, the Blackberry has had significant social implications in the region in the past few years. The Blackberry has redefined the way people interact not only with their phones, but also with one another. Thanks to their instant messaging platform Blackberry Messenger (BBM), RIM was able to make messaging, sharing photos and broadcasting information so easy and so accessible. In doing so, RIM was able to penetrate markets, such as ours in the Gulf, to meet market demand for easy exchange of information and media. Keeping in mind objectives and strategy in a global environment, I will explain this blackberry phenomenon in the context of operations management.
Having this in mind, it is important to understand the RIM, while initially aimed for a business customer base in North America and Europe, was able to diversify into Middle East markets, particularly in the Gulf where mobile phone usage is very high. This issue of globalizing the business explains that RIM was not only able to understand the market at hand, but also learned to improve their operations abroad to attract and retain global clients and talent. In seeing this shift in global markets and adapting to this new commercialized leisure customer base, RIM began providing better goods and services that keep in mind the cultural mindset and markets. They introduced the “display pictures”, for example, to their popular BBM application and made photo sharing instantaneous and easy. Both these features show that this interaction between foreign customers and the supplier (RIM) can lead to new opportunities and extension of the life cycle. This clearly coincides with the fact that blackberries have shown an extended growth in life cycle across Middle East markets in particular, and in doing so, they are also able to improve operations by allowing for the free flow of ideas and creation of an improved product fit for both consumer and producer.
With this new market in mind, RIM needs to think of perhaps hiring more local talent based in the Middle East, in a way to further ensure success in the region. In doing so, RIM can make its mission explicit by allowing for an employee base that understands cultural implications and habits. This could help solidify the strategy for the company and make it more concrete and attainable. By doing that, RIM can continue to produce the Blackberry, ensuring a loyal client base in the Middle East and other global markets that are consistent with its reputation, values, and its ability to generate profits by capitalizing on market and cultural trends.
With new market trends on the way, most notably Instagram which only works on the iPhone (and more recently on Android), how do you think RIM needs to respond to ensure growth, profitability and loyalty by its client base in the Gulf?
Planning is essential in the inception of any project, whether it is opening a small bakery that serves a client base of 200 people or building a new mall that could cater for thousands of people. Bahrain has overseen the development of a multitude of projects in the past ten years . Amongst these projects is my favorite: the Durrat AlBahrain project. Durrat AlBahrain, upon first glance, may seem to be like any other residential project. This notion, however, is the farthest from the truth. The Durrat AlBahrain project is unique and new to the Kingdom and for that reason, it has required the project managers to approach it in a way that differentiates its product (residences) from its competitors in the field. More importantly, the project managers must keep goals of efficiency at the heart of their concerns.
The dynamics of operations management are essential to the success of this project. Operations management requires project managers to approach any project in a holistic manner, keeping in mind commitments of project completion while taking into consideration technologies, cost structures and other interrelated tasks that require highly skilled labor and planning. The team working on the development of Durrat AlBahrain, for example, must keep into mind, before the execution of the project, how they will reach out to their clients. The project management will ensure the existence of a marketing team that works as a liaison between the sales officers who conduct sales of housing units on the island and between the consumers. This specialized marketing team, which is only made successful thanks to the identification and breakdown of teams and resources (by operations management), ensures maximum reach out to possible foreign investors. With that in mind, and with a client base in mind, operation management forecasts and dictates scheduling of the project, and in doing so, ensures when things will physically be put in place. The operation management ensures that dredging companies, for example, are chosen in the most cost effective manner. Dredging companies help transport sand from different areas to help with the formation of islands. This island-building process requires an efficient use of machinery to create the most output.
This input-output framework lies at the heart of operations management. Operations management attempts to solve essential problems that address the importance of retaining the optimal amount of output for the minimum amount of input. This framework is applied throughout all phases of the project, including labor allocation, manufacturing of structures, negotiating with contractors, research and development, amongst other things. Keeping in mind the difference phases in any project, large or small, operation management remains pivotal in ensuring success. Next time anyone takes that scenic half-hour drive to Durrat AlBahrain on that lazy Friday afternoon, remember that teams of highly skilled professionals have put hours and hours of planning to make this project possible.
How do you think operations management requirements can change across different industries of different scales?