The paper "Challenges Facing the Personal Computer Industry" is a good example of a Management Case Study. This report is a brief overview of some of the key characteristics and challenges of the personal computer and grocery industries. Both industries are very large and undergoing constant change, and the similarities between the two, while not lacking, is not great. Nonetheless, the challenges do suggest two key concepts, flexibility, and integration, that are common to both. These ideas, while only possible to discuss in the broadest terms in this report, should form the basis of any personal computer or grocery company’ s individual approach to supply chain and operations management.
The issues facing personal computers are discussed first, and then the challenges of the grocery industry are contrasted with those to demonstrate the broad application of the concepts of flexibility and integration. Challenges Facing the Personal Computer Industry The most significant challenges that face manufacturers of personal computers can be characterized by two words: Smaller and Faster. Most every industry or product experiences technical development and diversification, but the speed at which these occur in the computer industry is breathtaking.
Almost half a century ago, Gordon Moore expressed the idea that the complexity of computer components that could be produced for the same cost approximately doubled every year, an idea now known as Moore’ s Law. (Bruner, 2008, and Moore, 1965) This has made it possible for the computer industry to grow from a few roomed-sized computers in Moore’ s time to hundreds of millions of computers, some small enough to fit in one’ s pocket, in the present day. As Dr. Robert Bruner, Dean of the University of Virginia’ s Darden School of Business points out, the computer industry has not yet reached the limits of Moore’ s Law.
(Bruner, 2008) This constant physical shrinking of computer components, the speed with which it can be accomplished, and the potential for product and market diversity they represent all pose enormous challenges for the personal computer industry. Rapid innovation and diffusion of products to new markets dictate the production and therefore the supply process for personal computer manufacturers. This is not a new idea; back in 1997, Compaq was exploring ways to better address the competitive threat of build-to-order manufacturers such as Gateway and Dell that were challenging the traditional off-the-shelf store-based computer market by selling personalized computers directly to consumers.
(Zuckerman, 1997) Because rapid innovation gives consumers so many choices, satisfying customer demand either means producing an endless variation of products or building each computer to suit. Either present about the same problems in terms of the volume and differentiation of components and suppliers, because of the reduced opportunities for manufacturers to standardize resources or process schedules. The Changing Requirements of the Personal Computer Market The personal computer market has two major parts – hardware and software – which drive each others’ development.
Software developers produce increasingly sophisticated programs to take full advantage of current hardware capabilities, while hardware developers, in turn, produce increasingly capable equipment in anticipation of even more advanced software. Software developers have a distinct advantage in this arrangement because the steps in production and distribution processes are far fewer and less complex than for hardware manufacturers.
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