Over the decades, the automotive industry has continued to evolve. This is occurring with stakeholders demanding improvements to product safety and technology. These areas are designed to enhance efficiency and ensure the vehicle has the most in demand products / services. However, those firms which are unable to keep up will face tremendous challenges associated with the loss of market share and cliental. The result is that manufacturers must be able to continually innovate in order to keep up with the competition.
According to Xia (2011), he determined that there are several factors that are directly impacting the competitive position of producers (i.e. cease, control and combine). These areas are concentrating on the way a firm can stop manufacturing models which are out of date, the best avenues for controlling the marketplace and combining operations. Those who are able to do this will be more flexible in adjusting to the needs of stakeholders. (Xia, 2011)
In the case of GM, these areas are more pronounced as the firm must remain competitive in a globalized marketplace. To fully understand what is occurring requires focusing on hard / soft technology, critical challenges and the way the company can overcome them. Together, these elements will illustrate how GM is utilizing technology to give them a competitive advantage and which tools are the most effective.
Identify the hard and soft technology used for both the domestic and global environments.
In the case of GM, they are using this technology both domestically and internationally. Domestically, the soft technology is focusing on providing the driver with solutions that will enable hands free applications (such as: On Star, Chevrolet My Link and IntelliLink). These areas are designed to improve the experience of American drivers. Hard technology is focusing on the use of fuel cells to improve performance. (“Emerging Technology,” 2014) (Johnson, 2006)
Internationally, the firm is utilizing soft technology to increase hands free driving via smart technology. These are solutions where the car will drive the vehicle independently. The basic idea is to reduce accidents and enhance the ability of the person to perform other tasks while heading down the road. Hard technology involves using electric vehicles. Overseas, these cars are popular as gas prices are much higher and there is the infrastructure to support them. (“Emerging Technology,” 2014) (Johnson, 2006)
Identify the technology barriers to the company in both environments.
The biggest challenges are encouraging staff members to work together changing their attitudes. This is problematic, as these differences will make it difficult to lead and persuade others to follow specific examples. Instead, they feel disconnected and will not share any of their ideas. According to Johnson (2006), this was determined to be a major factor which effects the work environment. Those individuals who are more open minded, will see a75% increase professionalism and the services provided. For GM, this means that they must take a different approach to reach out to everyone inside the company. Otherwise, there is the possibility they will face similar challenges as the past and lose market share to competitors who are embracing all encompassing strategies to address them. (Johnson, 2006)
Discuss how the company can overcome these.
To address these issues requires using Total Quality Management (TQM) and Kaizen. Both are focused on a continuous change toward two fundamental concepts directly dealing with consistent improvements in the quality of the manufacturing processes and performance. TQM features primarily focus on customer’s satisfaction through improvement of quality. It is a top down and bottom up approach, whereas kaizen are processes focused on a bottom up approach of small incremental changes. Implementation of TQM is more costly as compared to Kaizen. Through kaizen, improvements are made using organization’s available resources. For the effective implementation of kaizen, the culture of the organization must be supportive and the result of continuous improvement should be communicated to the whole organization for motivation of all employees and for the success of continuous improvement program in the organization. These insights are showing how both approaches can improve the ability of the auto industry to enhance quality and safety. However, they are different as TQM will look at the organization from a larger perspective. While kiazen, is concentrating on improving the firm internally using existing resources and focusing on them. (Saleem, 2012) (Johnson, 2006)
Evaluate the strategy used and how the company will protect their technology
Both of these strategies have been utilized within the auto industry to improve quality and safety. The classic example of this can be seen in the way Toyota was able to combine both to create an environment that is focused on these areas. This occurred with TQM establishing basic hierarchy for the management and employees to follow. While kiazen, is encouraging everyone to continually innovate. TQM forms the basic strategy that is utilized by executives to understand and evolve with critical challenges. It emphasizes teamwork, customer satisfaction and lowering costs. Kiazen creates a desire to monitor key trends and to be the first one to introduce them to the marketplace. This relationship requires managers and employees continually working together to address the challenges impacting most organizations. (Saleem, 2012) (Johnson, 2006)
To protect their technology the company can seek out patent protection. While at the same time, they are utilizing these areas to ensure that their vehicles have the most up to date solutions. The combination of these factors will ensure that the firm is able to protect their trade secrets and understand which technology is most important to consumers inside different regions. (Saleem, 2012) (Johnson, 2006)