Using technology to drive new business

by The Times 100 on Monday 25th January, 2010

Some organisations rely on technology to develop new or advanced products and services. Others use it to streamline the processes they use. Vodafone's approach to technology in developed economies is to provide new features and benefits that customers demand. We expect more and more from mobile communications -email messaging, music downloads and mobile television. Yet, in some parts of the world, many people still do not have access to a mobile phone. Vodafone is using its expertise to provide these developing markets with the technology to improve communication in these areas. New technology has an impact on individuals, firms and whole economies. Providing communications opportunities in some parts of Africa, for instance, may be a driver for change in both society and the economy in these countries.

The use of technology is changing the publishing world too. E-books are becoming more popular. Electronic readers, such as Amazon's Kindle or the Sony Reader, can store hundreds of books. This week, Apple is joining the race by introducing its iSlate. This is expected to have a full-colour touch screen and, in addition to downloading and reading books, the device will allow users to play games, use the internet and watch videos. Printing, shipping and storage costs of traditional books are unnecessary with this new format and this may allow authors to receive greater royalties for their works. With more than half of all books sales predicted to be electronic by 2020, the way we access literature is likely to undergo a major change. (The Sunday Times, 24th January 2010)

Questions

  1. Give one example of a business which relies on technology advancements to develop new products, and one which uses technology to improve its processes.
  2. In what ways could the introduction of e-books be motivating for authors? 
  3. Explain how developing telecommunications might affect existing businesses.
  4. Using the case study, analyse the impacts of Vodafone's communications technology on developing countries.

Answers to questions

  1. Give one example of a business which relies on technology advancements to develop new products, and one which uses technology to improve its processes. Products e.g. Blackberry, to continually develop state of the art smart phones Processes e.g. Nissan, using robots to make its factories more efficient 
  2. In what ways could the introduction of e-books be motivating for authors? Greater financial incentive as they may get up to 75% royalties as the usual publishing costs are minimised, Different segments may be able to access their works e.g. the partially sighted can set electronic readers to a larger font 
  3. Explain how developing communications might affect existing businesses. Small businesses are able to advertise to a wider audience through the use of mobile technology, Through M-PESA a secure money transfer system has been set up to allow small businesses to grow. This is like a pay-as-you-go top up system which can then be converted back to cash when needed or forwarded to someone else, for example, to pay for school fees.
  4. Using the case study, analyse the impacts of Vodafone's communications technology on developing countries. Positive impacts – Publishers can reduce costs, Suppliers e.g. Apple can gain more sales, Electronics retailers e.g. Comet may get more business Negative impacts – Book shops e.g. Waterstones may become less popular unless they are able to provide additional services, perhaps online

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