Microsoft Corporation is among the world leading computing software and hardware development companies. The company engages in the manufacture, development, sale, licensing and distribution of electronic consumer products. The company is currently in control of an overwhelming market share of personal computers as well as operating systems. Bill Gates founded Microsoft Corporation in 1975. At the time, Gates was Harvard University dropout and together with his friend Paul Allen, they teamed up to sale a version of a programming language called BASIC. According to Liquori (2011, p. 3), the companys first personal computer was created in 1980 after IBM had contracted Microsoft to develop an operating system for its devices. Microsoft became a publicly traded company in 1986 and consequently made Bill Gates the industrys first billionaire in 1986. Over the years, Microsoft has diversified its product and service portfolio and actively competes with other companies in the technology space.
According to Lombardo (2017, para. 2), Microsoft corporation uses a product type divisional organizational structure. The structure encompasses the unitization of divisions based on a particular type of software, hardware, and outputs. The organizational structure has three features which include product type divisions, global corporate groups, and geographical segments.
Products type divisions are the primary characteristic of Microsoft's organizational structure where it uses product, output, and services in grouping personnel and related resources. The global corporate groups are a secondary feature of the organization, which is based on functions that are vital in the computing industry. For instance, the finance department, which is responsible for resource allocation and creation, and the human resource department which is responsible for addressing issues with the workforce. Lastly, the geographic segment is used to group the company's operations into two sections which are International and the United States (Lombardo 2017, para. 7).
Microsoft accesses its markets through different channels which include OEMs, distributors and resellers and online.
OEMs.Microsoft distributes its products through original equipment and manufacturers that pre-install its software to hardware such as personal computers, mobile phones, and servers before selling it to customers. For instance, when Dell and HP laptops are sold by their manufactures, they may be sold while a Windows operating system is installed in it (Microsoft Corporation 2012, para. 1).
Distributors and resellers.Microsoft also transacts directly with distributors and resellers by distributing its retail packaged products to independent non-exclusive distributors. Consumers of the companys products primarily obtain them through retail establishments. Examples of these outlets are Dixons and Walmart (Microsoft Corporation 2012, para. 2).
Consumers also obtain the companys products through online platforms whereby hardware component are ordered and delivered to customers. However, its service-software components are primarily distributed and offered online due to their intangibility (Microsoft Corporation 2012, para. 3).
Products and Services
Some of the hardware products that Microsoft offers its customers include Xbox consoles, Windows Phone, Hololens, Surface Hub, mouse and keyboards and Microsoft Band. Other hardware components include Zune and Windows Mixed Reality (Microsoft Support, 2017).
Software.Microsoft offers different types of operating systems such as Windows 10 for PC and mobile, Windows 8 and 8.1. Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and Window 8 for mobile. It also offers Microsoft Office, which includes PowerPoint, Word, Excel, Outlook, Office for Business, Office for Home, Access, Publisher and One Note. Other services in the Email and Communications category include Outlook, Skype, Yammer and Mail App for Windows 10. It also provides internet and browser services such as Bing, MSN, Microsoft Edge, MSN Explorer. It also includes entertainment solutions such as PC games, Xbox video games, movies and television streaming services and Grove Music (Microsoft Support, 2017).
Product Development Cycle of the Windows Phone
The Windows Phone was a family of the mobile operating system which was developed by Microsoft and meant to be used on smartphones. The Windows Phone was meant to be used as a replacement for previous mobile operating systems such as Windows Mobile and Zune. According to Simon Floyd who was Innovation and Product Lifecycle at Microsoft, just like any other of Microsofts products, the Windows Phone went through a five-step process in its development. The process encompassed envisioning, engaging, evolving, evaluating, and executing.
According to Floyd (2013, p. 16), envisioning encompasses a process where the company leadership uses social approaches to collect input on an idea and communicate the vision. The second step encompasses engaging where crowdsourcing techniques are employed to collect social responses and feedback on the vision. It encompasses general community interactions which are employed progressively to refine the idea. Thirdly, Microsoft undertakes a process known as evolving where it where it uses social collaboration in the development of additional content, socialization of concepts, and sharing prototypes. Fourthly, is evaluation where social metrics such as votes are leveraged to determine whether the idea is worth to be explored. Lastly, the idea is executed through a team effort by sharing knowledge, status, information and the allocation of resources (Floyd 2013, p. 16).
After the product execution process is complete, a three-step process share by Scott Guthrie who was Microsofts Program Manager begins. The three-step process encompasses testing, scheduling, and shipping. According to Guthrie (n.d, p. 24), testing ensures that the product conforms to required standards such as safety, ease of use and satisfies customers. On the other hand, scheduling is used to determine the time the product will be launched. It considers factors such as whether to launch before or after a competitors products and whether to launch it alongside other company products. Lastly, shipping is where the products are packaged for transportation to distributors and end users.
The process outline facilitated the production of a series of Nokia Lumia smartphones which differentiated itself from other smartphones through the use of the Windows operating system. According to Windows Blogs (2014, para 1), Microsoft, through Nokia, unveiled a series of smartphones to the market using the Windows Phone operating systems such as Nokia Lumia 1520, Lumia 930, Lumia 635, Nokia Lumia 1020, and Nokia Lumia 800.
However, a few years after the Windows Phone came into the market, Microsoft announced that it would cease further development of the mobile phone operating system. The move was widely attributed to the inability to actively compete with the overwhelming duopoly of Googles Android and Apples iOS and the few Window apps compared to Android OS apps (Savov 2017, para. 1). The failure was also attributed to Windows Phone OS which wasnt free competing against Googles Android OS which was free and the lack of prioritization of the Windows Phone project. Microsoft's innovating idea of a unique phone operating system born in 2011 came to an end in 2017.
Success Factors based on the Case Study
Diversified Product and Service Portfolio
From the case study, one measure of success that can be linked to Microsoft is its diversified product and service portfolio which offers a variety of offerings ranging from email and communication, cloud and online services, entertainment, product development, operating systems and hardware products. According to Santander (2016, para. 1), diversification of product offerings is beneficial since business is provided with an effective path to fast growth since they are able to establish new markets and sell more products. Unlike businesses that focus on narrow product offerings, Microsoft has an infinite number of customers since it is able to serve the different needs of different customers. It also provides a business with the ability to survive especially if it receives seasonal rise and decline in sales by regulating cash flow. Hence, whenever one of Microsoft's products and services is not being purchased at a desirable rate, other products may be used to offset the deficit thus safeguarding the company from cash flow issues.
Renowned Brand Name
Microsoft has a renowned brand name, which is partial as a result of having a diversified product and service portfolio. Additionally, the company has an outreach both internationally and domestically as evidenced by the way it has set up the USA and an International division. Since its offers numerous products and services, it becomes a go-to vendor when one is in search electronic and computer-based solutions. The aspect of offering a wide variety of offerings prompts consumers to be return customers while expecting to receive consistency of products and services. The occurrence, therefore, makes Microsoft a household name.
Robust and Strategic Distribution Channels
Another one of Microsofts success factors is attributed to the use of robust and strategic distribution channels. The case study reveals that Microsoft uses three distribution approaches to get its products to the market. These channels include online, using OEMs and using retailers and resellers. The use of these distribution channels is beneficial in multiple ways. For instance, selling its products online positions it to access to a voluminous number of internet users. Similarly, providing non-exclusive distribution rights to resellers and retailers means that the products are widely accessible without limitations that arise from exclusivity distribution agreements. Lastly, the OEMs are instrumental since Microsoft benefits from the marketing initiative of another company, its reputation, and a number of sales.
The Use of a Product Type Divisional Organizational Structure
Microsofts successes can be attributed to the use of use of a divisional organizational structure. To Microsoft, the divisional organizational structure benefits it in two primary ways. According to Strydom (2011, p. 19), one of the benefits is rapid response where each divisional units in business are smaller and thus able to handle customer needs as an independent unit. Such an organizational structure eliminates the need for routing and rerouting requests and instead in-house facilitation of the request thus eliminating any source of bureaucracy in the organization. Secondly, Microsoft benefits from specialization wherein every unit; there is a subset of workers who are able to specialize in the division's objectives. Therefore, as a result of specialization, the workers in the field can become experts in their fields hence enhancing organizational outcomes (Strydom 2011, p. 19).
Alternative Plans, Actions, and Measures
Create More Apps for Windows
Microsoft should have leveraged its use of a divisional organizational structure to create a division for the development of applications for the operating system. The plan would have been used to supplement freelance app developers in developing user apps. The plan would have been instrumental since one of the reasons that the Windows Phone failed miserably against its competitors Android OS and Apple iOS was that Windows lacked end-user applications such as entertainment apps, communications, health, and education. The number of user application...
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