Design for Business (S)
Bang and Olufsen is a manufacturing company based in Denmark that manufactures video and audio devices. The target customers of the company are the manufacturers high-tech electronic devices such as mobile phones, digital music players, and television sets. The company faced a tough competition in 2006 from other players in the same sector (Austin & Beyersdorfer, 2007). Prior to this unexpected competitive situation, the company had placed itself as having high-end customers and end-end products. However, due to a number of issues, the company found itself in a tough competitive situation. The aspect of management is one of the key issues that placed the company in the competitive. The company did not have proper management; the internal management framework was no conducive for market expansion and profitability of the company. Another issue was that the company’s business process and product designs did not conform to the existing market situation. The electronic market had shifted following the successful growth of Apple iPod, and this implied Bang and Olufsen needed to embrace new product designs and business process in accordance to the shift experienced in the market.
Production of physically appealing products is the core competency of the company. Bang and Olufsen is good at manufacturing products that are attractive to the eye. This is has been the case because the company gives its employees freedom of innovation to come up with product designs they feel are will meet the needs of the customers. On the other hand, the company should be worried about the dynamic nature of the market. The electronics market is constantly changing, and therefore, the company should invest more on market research in order to continually remain informed of the existing situations in the market and thus remain competitive.
Upon taking a closer look at the design process employed at Bang & Olufsen Company, it is difficult tell the kind of approach they use. The company employs an unusual approach to design, which can best be described as radical approach as it does not follow any specific design process. With this design approach, design vision or the physical appearance of the product precedes its technical and business aspect, and does not incorporate design research. In fact, the approach is a throwback to the early days when the chief executive officers worked closely with design experts to distinguish their products in the market.
The only advantage or strength of this approach is that it makes the company a leader in visual design of electronic products. On the other hand, there are several weaknesses associated with this approach. First, since the approach does not incorporate design research process, the company has not been and able to make transition to the digital world unless. This situation will continue into the future unless the company incorporates the research process in their design approach. Secondly, upon taking a closer look at the design process employed at Bang & Olufsen, it is clear that there are misunderstandings regarding the aspect of design research. The aspect entails finding out the unmet needs of consumers but it does not entails asking them what they need. This in itself is a very creative process.
The Idealab is an initiative that was invented in 2002 by Soresen, and it seeks to explore B&O’s product development from extensions to processes. The initiative emphasizes on computerized design process that leads to creativity and innovation. This initiative, in my view, is an excellent approach to transforming B&O’s design process. In fact, the plan is working already with positive signs of progress (Austin & Beyersdorfer, 2007). However, some conditions must be met for the initiative to work; otherwise, the plan will not work. One condition is that balance is required between continuity and renewal because under this plan, products would consist of both physical and digital items. Secondly, the company’s management needs to channel sufficient effort towards technological development along with creativity in product design.
A closer look at the B&O websites and shops reveals that the company has managed to extend their product range into virtual space. The company has extended their unique artistic design to the virtual space where excellent designs implies excellent network-based interaction with other products and service (Austin & Beyersdorfer, 2007). The company has accomplished this by adding service dimensions such as consumer support for digital technology on its audio products. This initiative has enhanced the core competency of the company as well as gives them a sustainable competitive advantage, thus ensuring their future growth.
Austin, R. & Beyersdorfer, D. (2007). Harvard Business School