Balanced Scorecard: Uber Case Study

Uber: an unprofitable company worth billions. But those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future ©.

Prof. Ricardo Britto
Doctor in Business Administration at USP
Dean of IBS Americas

According to the latest news, Uber had over $1b in net losses in the Q3 of 2019 (Feiner, 2019). The second quarter was even worse for the company: it lost $5b and had a record low revenue growth rate. Apart from this, Uber was refused to maintain the presence in its biggest market in Europe as the company lost the license to operate in London. Yet, after a slight decline, Uber’s shares gained ground again, and investors are bullish about next year’s business prospects.  


Uber Ride-Hailing Gross Bookings, Net Revenue, Net Loss/Profit (Source: Statista, 2019) 

Generally, large-cap companies that are losing money today are being punished by the market. But Uber has a very different story to tell: it is pioneering a new industry and working towards future goals, which sets the foundation for attractive long-term margins. Indeed, traditional companies, like Walmart, seem more attractive with their better-then-expected results in net profit, revenue and return on invested capital. But old valuation metrics aren’t always applicable anymore as today’s public market investing landscape has changed and investors are now in favor of risk takers and cash-burners (Baskin, 2014).  

In the digital era companies can no longer be competitive by just managing financial assets and liabilities well. Nowadays, firms have to mobilize and exploit their intangible assets to stay competitive and provide innovative products and services customized to specific market segments. Usually, in order to run business, companies adopt strategies around customer relationships, core competences and organizational capabilities, but they tend to use only financial measurements in order to motivate and evaluate performance. In 1992, Drs. Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton offered a more comprehensive management framework – the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) which adds indicators that connect long-term financial success to customer and financial objectives, internal processes as well as employee and system performance. The framework is based on four main areas:  

  • Financial perspective: measurements that indicate if the organization’s strategy, implementation, and execution are improving the bottom line. The data can include financial ratios, budget variances, income targets, etc.;  
  • Customer and stakeholder perspective: measurements that track competitive and strategic efforts in the business’s customer and market segments. The information is collected to gauge customer satisfaction with the quality, price, availability of products or services;  
  • Internal process: measurements that focus on existing and new internal processes to ensure the company’s current and future success. Operational management is analyzed to track any gaps, delays, bottlenecks, shortages or waste;  
  • Learning and growth perspective: measurements that track how the firm is improving employee skills, IT systems and specific organizational procedures.  

The BSC Measurements in Four Areas (Source: Balanced Scorecard Institute, 2019) 

The objective of BSC is to provide an alternative management approach that helps companies achieve long-term investment, instead of pursuing only short-term financial goals. Each of the components of the framework should be clearly specified and communicated using a corporate-level BSC, which is to be linked to the BSCs of each business unit. To get everyone to contribute to the implementation of strategy, companies must share their long-term visions and strategies with all their employees. Thus, BSC fosters a shared understanding of an organization’s vision of the future by aligning the day-to-day working process that employees are going to follow (Tarver, 2020). In other words,  it gives organizations a way to “connect the dots” between the various components of strategic planning and management, meaning that there will be a visible connection between the projects and programs that people are working on, the measurements being used to track success (KPIs), the strategic objectives the organization is trying to accomplish, and the mission, vision, and strategy of the organization. 

Other elements present in the BSC framework are:  

  1. Strategy Mapping is used to visualize and communicate how value is created by the organization. A strategy map is a simple graph that shows a logical, cause-and-effect connection between strategic objectives; 
  2. KPIs monitor the implementation and effectiveness of an organization’s strategies, determine the gap between actual and targeted performance and determine organization effectiveness and operational efficiency;  
  3. Strategic Initiatives are projects that are designed to help the organization achieve strategic objectives and have significant organization-wide impact;  
  4. Cascading is a BSC means to translate the corporate-wide scorecard (referred to as Tier 1) down to first business units, support units or departments (Tier 2) and then teams or individuals (Tier 3). 

Due to the increasing complexity of organization, the Balanced Scorecard approach, when implemented correctly, can provide decision makers with the guidance needed to direct the company towards the achievement of its strategic goals. Nevertheless, the concept has some limits and has been criticized by some scholars. One of the drawbacks is related to the idea that it is just a list of metrics which does not offer a unified view or clear recommendations. The main problem is that it does not provide any practical steps for deployment and some executives might see it as a “quick fix” that can be easily installed in their firms. Moreover, while BSC tends to improve performance, it excludes external environment factors and focuses more on internal aspects. According to the Bain & Company’s Management Tools & Trends survey (2017) 29% of 1,268 managers mentioned the use of BSC with relatively low satisfaction rates (3.93 out of 5), which indicates that the framework might be outdated.  


Usage and Satisfaction Rates (Source: Bain Management Tools & Trends survey, 2017) 

Despite being criticized, BSC framework’s main strength is that it can be applied in multiple industries and companies’ types and sizes. Consider Uber as an example, a company that went from the most feared startup in the world to its massive IPO in 2019. Currently, the company has a market cap standing at $50.279b, its price-to-sales ratio is 3.39, it pays no dividend and it is unprofitable (Yahoo, 2019). It has a long-term $5.7b debt that will need to pay at some point. But many investors still believe its shares are worth buying for a simple reason: Uber’s success story attributes to going beyond traditional financial KPIs requirements and expectations of business performance (Kilgore, 2019).  


Uber Price-to-Sales Ratio Chart (Source: Yahoo Finance, 2019) 

Customer and stakeholder perspective: From the very inception Uber took a strong position regarding its seamless customer experience which actually minimizes clients-driver interaction time. The firm’s customer experience KPIs include clients’ satisfaction ranking, overall rating, surge and non-surge rating, acceptance and cancellation rates, fare reviews per trip, total 1-star and 5-star ratings; revenue and profitability from different customer tiers such as UberX, Uber Comfort, VIP, Uber Black and Uber Pool users, customer acquisition and retention measurements, etc.  A customer-centric model simply makes clients fall in love with the company from the first ride (Stankiewicz, 2019).  

Internal process: Apart from focusing on conventional performance metrics, such as improvements in costs, quality and schedules, Uber tends to derive internal processes from the demands and expectations of external stakeholders. The company integrated innovation and diversification as critical components in this perspective: it has extended its services to food delivery and micro-mobility system with electric bikes and scooters and introduced Uber ATG (Advanced Technologies Group) that is developing self-driving cars. 

Learning and growth perspective: A central group of drivers-based measures is used by Uber in order to track their performance. For example, a driver would be deactivated if his or her performance based on overall customers’ evaluation is lower that a certain minimum level established by Uber. What is also important is that Uber introduced the VIP status drivers receive when they sustain excellent rating over a period of time.  

All these measurement systems applied by Uber are linked to the company’s general strategic objective: making transportation fast, reliable and affordable for everyone and being the number one preferred service. In fact, the company is already estimated to have 100 million users worldwide with a 69% market share in the United States for ridesharing and a 25% market share for food delivery (Levy, 2019).  Market share of the leading ride-hailing companies in the United States from September 2017 to August 2019 Profit (Source: Statista, 2019) 


Market share of the leading ride-hailing companies in the United States from September 2017 to August 2019 Profit (Source: Statista, 2019) 

Implementing BSC measures helps the firm define and refine vision, strategy and objectives. But when it comes down to aligning strategic objectives from top to bottom, it is not easy for some companies to ensure that all workers contribute to the established goals and values. Uber, for example, has a sordid history around sexual harassment issues with both corporate employees and its drivers (O’Brien, 2019). While it successfully resolved the issue with the office stuff, the company can do little with its drivers who are not employees and are classified as independent workers. Uber’s business model is generally being criticized worldwide for undermining working conditions, clogging up city streets, destroying the traditional taxi industry, minimizing the tax it pays, side-stepping national regulations and fostering a culture of toxic masculinity. Consequently, Uber has been banned in cities including London, Frankfurt, Barcelona and Budapest. After losing its London operating license, Uber’s stock tanked 6% (Khan, 2019). As a possible solution, Uber might try to tighten up its driver registration procedures and track them more closely.  

Undoubtedly, ridesharing and the online food delivery industries have robust growth opportunities. With its plummeting revenue, safety issues and bold initiatives, Uber has a distinct profile of company suitable for risk-seeking investors. For those who are dissatisfied with the amount of money Uber is losing, there are other growth stocks to consider, such as Home Depot, Colgate, Costco, BestBuy or Walmart with historical EBITDA growth stability and increasing sales (Kolakowski, M.). But keep in mind that financial measures tell the story of past events, an adequate story for industrial age companies for which investments in long-term capabilities and customer relationships were not critical for success. These financial measures might be inadequate, however, for guiding and evaluating the journey that information age companies must make to create future value through investment in customers, suppliers, employees, processes, technology, and innovation.  


Referencies:

Balanced Scorecard. (n.d.) [BSC definition]. Retrieved from: https://balancedscorecard.org/bsc-basics-overview/ 

Baskin, J.S. 2014. The Five Keys To Uber’s Valuation. Forbes. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jonathansalembaskin/2014/12/05/the-5-keys-to-ubers-valuation/#665ac8494886 

De Silva, D. (2019). Uber: An Underappreciated And Undervalued Company Suitable For Risk-Seeking Investors. Seeking Alpha. Retrieved from: https://seekingalpha.com/article/4297704-uber-underappreciated-undervalued-company-suitable-risk-seeking-investors 

Feiner, L. (2019). Uber stock falls after quarterly results beat estimates, but losses topped $1 billion. CNBC. Retrieved from: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/04/uber-uber-q3-2019-earnings.html 

Khan, Y. (2019). Uber stock tanks 6% after losing its London operating license: ‘There is a risk that other cities could follow’ (UBER). Business Insider. Retrieved from: https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/uber-stock-sinks-after-losing-london-operating-license-2019-11-1028714120 

Kilgore, T. (2019). It’s time to buy Uber’s stock, analysts say. Market Watch. Retrieved from: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/its-time-to-buy-ubers-stock-analysts-say-2019-11-22 

Kolakowski, M. (2019). 7 ‘Stable Growth’ Stocks That Can Lead as Economy Slows. Investopedia. Retrieved from: https://www.investopedia.com/7-stable-growth-stocks-that-can-lead-as-economy-slows-4772629 

Levy, A. (2019). Uber will soon join an ugly but exclusive club: Unprofitable companies worth more than $50 billion. CNBC. Retrieved from: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/27/uber-one-of-only-3-unprofitable-companies-worth-more-than-50-billion.html 

Mkwabi, J. (2018). A REVIEW OF UBER’S MAIN PHENOMENON: BAD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES. Research Gate. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324439397_A_REVIEW_OF_UBER’S_MAIN_PHENOMENON_BAD_LEADERSHIP_PRACTICES 

Norton., D., Kaplan, R. (1996). The Balanced Scorecard. Translating Strategy into Action. Business Book Summaries, 2014, HBR.  

O’Brien, S.A. (2019). Uber addresses workplace harassment as rider safety concerns linger. CNN. Retrieved from: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/07/16/tech/uber-sexual-harassment-purple-campaign/index.html 

Palmer, A. (2019). Uber and Lyft close at record lows as investors lose faith in ride-sharing companies. CNBC. Retrieved from: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/03/uber-and-lyft-stock-close-at-record-lows-as-investor-skepticism-grows.html 

Problems Implementing a Balanced Scorecard. (n.d.). BPM Institute. Retrieved from:  

Rigby, D., Bilodeau, B. (2018). Management Tools and Trends. Bain & Company. Retrieved from:https://www.bain.com/contentassets/caa40128a49c4f34800a76eae15828e3/bain_brief-management_tools_and_trends.pdf 

Spicer, A. (2019). Uber’s London woes show the need for a taxi app owned by drivers. The Guardian. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/26/uber-london-taxi-app-drivers-cities 

Stankiewicz, K. (2019). Shares of Uber are now worth buying, Jim Cramer says. CNBC. Retrieved from: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/25/shares-of-uber-are-now-worth-buying-jim-cramer-says.html 

Statista. (n.d.) [Uber statistics]. Retrieved from: https://www.statista.com/topics/4826/uber-technologies/ 

Tarver, E. (2020). Balanced Scorecard. Investopedia. Retrieved from: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/balancedscorecard.asp 

Yahoo Finance. (n.d.). [Uber Shares]. Retrieved from: https://finance.yahoo.com/m/5773b1b4-3f05-3416-8943-38b996d42d66/uber-shares-hit-after-losing.html 

Crash Course Blue Ocean Strategy: Amazon Alexa Case

Prof. Ricardo Britto
Doctor in Business Administration at USP
Dean of IBS Americas

Americas Business Review – Sao Paulo – May-June 2020, pp.1-10. www.ibs-americas.com

Despite its slowing sales growth in the e-commerce industry, Amazon managed to increase its revenue up to $232.89 billion in 2018 by constantly improving and introducing new products. Amazon still competes within the confines of the existing e-commerce industry and tries to maintain its current customers; at the same time, it makes huge investments into AI and developed uncontested market space of smart devices that made competition in this sector irrelevant. The company’s main AI tool Alexa created a so-called Blue Ocean, a previously unknown market space where demand is created, and cost/differentiation advantages could be achieved simultaneously. Amazon products prove that creating blue oceans builds brands. So powerful is blue strategy, that, in fact, in can create brand equity that lasts for decades.

Amazon revenue by segment in percentage, quarterly, 2017-2019 (Source: CNN Business, 2019).
Annual net revenue of Amazon 2004 -2018 in billion U.S. dollars (Source: Statista, 2019).

Traditionally, companies tend to focus on competition in order to expand their market share in the industry and increase profits. Firms, following Porter’s generic strategies presented in his work “Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors” (1980), thrive to achieve a competitive advantage across its chosen market scope opting for either lower cost or differentiation approaches. Thus, all companies within a particular industry seem to compete for a piece of one pie that is composed of the same customers, limited revenue streams and benefits. Such a market space is known as red oceans, where industry boundaries are well defined and accepted, in which the competitive rules are clear, and companies fight against each other for bigger shares of known demand. Certain tendencies in today’s business world such as globalization and technology significantly shrink niche market opportunities and lead to saturation, commoditization and price wars (Kim & Mauborgne, 2005).

From a different perspective, offered by professors W.Chan Kim and Reneé Mauborgne (2005), the market world has another dimension known as blue oceans – a new and unexploited market space untainted by competition where demand is created rather than fought over. As a result, the rules in blue oceans have not been created yet, which makes competition irrelevant and represents an opportunity for new ideas and profitable growth. In order to break free from less profitable red oceans, it is imperative for a company to shift its strategic focus from competition to value innovation which is a cornerstone of the blue ocean strategy. At the same time, firms that wish to succeed in uncharted waters of a new market must deny a conventional idea of tradeoffs between value creation and low price and focus on the pursuit of both differentiation and decreased costs. Regarding long-term benefits, the company that managed to dominate a new market might need to remain its first-mover advantage as long as possible until new competitors enter and make the blue ocean red again. According to the authors, in order to implement the blue ocean strategy, a company has to make a blue ocean shift – particular steps to move from red oceans of bloody competition to the uncontested market: choose the right place to start the initiative; get clear of the current state, discover the ocean of noncustomers; reconstruct market boundaries and, finally, select and test the chosen blue ocean move.

The blue ocean strategy seems to be successful in many industries, especially those involving technology; nevertheless, it is not flawless. it is possible to say that most of the blue ocean new concepts like “non-costumers” or “new market spaces” are just new ways to express old ideas developed in the past by Michael Porter (1980) and others. Another point is that thanks to advanced technology development, the existence period of blue oceans will likely shorten, and new entrants might appear. This speculation might lead back to one of the Porter’s five forces: the threat of new entrants. Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa has found itself in a similar scenario, which is discussed in this case.

Although nowadays Amazon is the biggest shark in the e-commerce space, it definitely competes in the waters of the red ocean with other strong and well-established companies such as Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Alibaba Group, etc. It has been recently reported that Amazon sales growth slowed in 2018, but the company still positions itself as a profit machine: its total profit for 2018 topped $10 billion for the first time in its history. Here comes a question: how can Amazon maintain its position in a saturated, highly competitive industry? The thing is that only one part of the company competes in the red ocean – its e-commerce industry which works with operations every e-commerce business has: online ordering, checkout processes, fast delivery, returns, etc. These factors are not a source of competitive differentiation. According to Amazon Annual Report (2018), the growing profit comes from other sectors in which Amazon invests heavily: cloud computing, artificial intelligence, consumer electronics and web services in general. Amazon continually tries to create and implement blue ocean strategies in these areas introducing new products such as Kindle, drone delivery and virtual assistant solutions. Such innovations create uncontested space or blue oceans.

Amazon annual profit in 2018 (Source: CNN Business, 2019).

One of the most successful products Amazon developed is called Echo, a smart speaker that connects to the voice controlled intelligent personal assistant service Alexa (nowadays the words “Echo” and “Alexa” are used interchangeably). There are many features the device includes: voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, providing weather, traffic and other real time information.

Echo is being constantly improved and now is able to work as a part of IoT and act as a home information hub. Alexa has become a sleeper hit that could set a future industry standard in case more competitors come, but for now Amazon can enjoy its first-mover advantage and even move forward.

The company came a long way in an attempt to develop the world’s most famous virtual assistant. Trying to understand and predict future opportunities, the first step the company took was the detection of new trends in the market: it is assumed that Siri was the first voice assistant that reached a wide audience but was not able to create a blue ocean since it had a limited set of actions and was available only on IOS devices (Mutchler, 2017). At the same time, it can be argued that since the first company to introduce a virtual assistant was Apple, Amazon probably cannot be considered the first mover who created a blue ocean; conversely, Alexa entered a “purple” ocean where competition was not null and a new market was being formed.

The creation of Siri, in any case, served as a wake-up call for Amazon managers that pushed them for a change. As a result, the company started the reconstruction of its market boundaries by assuming several paths as strategies mentioned in the work of W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne (2005). Amazon looked across alternative industries, the chain of buyers and functional/emotional appeal to buyers at the same time. AWS (Amazon Web Services) has proved to be a more profitable area for the company; Alexa, in particular, could generate between $18 billion and $19 billion in total sales by 2021, or around 5% of Amazon’s total revenue, according to a new report from RBC Capital Markets analysis (2018).

It is important to note that Alexa device does not converge on a single buyer group: it focuses on both B2B and B2C commerce. On the one hand, a personal use of Alexa includes playing music and games, asking questions and controlling smart home devices, such as light, fans and thermostats in the buyer’s house. But Amazon did not stop here: built in the cloud, Alexa always gathers more information and becomes smarter, so it can be used in the corporate world too. The virtual assistant can inform you about purchase history, office supplies refills and even generate corresponding documents. The device can be connected to everything starting from lawn mowers to laptops; currently more than 18.000 companies use Alexa with almost 2000 of them being in the retail and computer software industries mainly in the US. Finally, emotional appeal is a point of strength of Alexa: according to Microsoft analysis, Alexa’s broader success resides in its ability to alleviate stress of an overbooked life. With the simple action of asking Alexa relieves the negative emotions or uncertainty and the fear of forgetting; it seems like a companion that is always ready to engage (Austin, 2017). Thus, the product has a dual functional and emotional appeal.

Distribution of companies using Alexa by industry 2015-2018 (Source: Enlyft, 2019).

A major component of value innovation is to maximize demand by reaching beyond existing customers, which means seeking ways to attract noncustomers. Current Amazon Alexa demographics are mostly male millennials, specifically, 19-30 years old (Koksal, 2018). The type of Amazon’s noncustomers can be called as “unexplored noncustomers”: industry has always ignored them as they are assumed to be loyal to other products or the product for them simply does not exist yet. These noncustomers have already been identified by the company – kids. Amazon has been making a push for child-focused Alexa devices and skills. According to the information provided by Forbes (2018), it launched its first Echo Dot Kids Edition and is hoping to expand its userbase to children with safe and child-compatible products. This way the company is trying to create a new demand that has not been explored by other companies yet. As Alexa is already navigating blue waters, it seems that Amazon has a long-term vision trying to expand the boundaries of its existing blue ocean by exploring noncustomers segment. To some extent, it is currently developing a new blue ocean inside the existing one, which can be represented in the chart below:

In terms of financing, it is clear that Amazon does not need to overcome any resource hurdles since the company is already a top player in the market, which makes it also impossible for other companies to beat Amazon. In 2017 Amazon invested $23 billion on R&D development particularly in AWS (Fuscaldo, 2019). Such heavy costs must be recouped as fast as possible, so the need to build sales volume quickly is more important than in the past: setting the right strategic price is critical to attracting new customers in large numbers. Also, a new offering that combines exceptional utility with an attractive pricing is hard for competitors to imitate. Amazon made a similar play here: the firms original Echo device was priced at $199, but already in 2016, the firm released a revamped lower end offering, the Echo Dot, only for $50. That device’s popularity propelled the Echo installed base to 9 million US household – a figure that continues to grow until now (Shields, 2017).

Following the blue ocean strategy, Amazon also recognized the importance of partnerships with the objective to leverage its expertise, economies of scale and create new markets. In 2016 the company partnered with SAP in order to be able to perform business tasks and explore the possibility of future B2B sales. Another example is Amazon’s partnership with Cisco to build software tools to integrate Cisco with the Alexa: the virtual assistant connects with conferencing equipment providers, such as Cisco Telepresence and Zoom Rooms to simplify the conference experience (Somasundaram, 2018). But Amazon has its long-term objectives too: the company uses its partnerships for future innovations. Navigating blue oceans can dramatically increase the chances of success, but Amazon is aware that last week’s blue ocean is next week’s red ocean as innovation will be imitated. The key to long-term sustainability and renewal is to dominate the market space for as long as possible, while continually monitoring the changing scenario. When an innovator’s value curve begins to converge with that of the competition, it is time to create more blue oceans. Indeed, possible competition is already looming: Google is reportedly working in a smaller, less expensive version of its already existing Google Home smart speaker; Apple and Microsoft are also planning to get into the space, although their offerings are likely to be costly, so Amazon can still keep its edge in the uncharted waters. But the company needs to keep moving and keep innovating. Alexa smart assistant is just one device that can spark future development: the company created Echo buds, Echo frames, loops, Flex plugs and Amazon Sidewalk devices to connect to Alexa in order to provide a trusted and compatible service as well as to bring the device closer to the user. Over time, the company also created other versions of its Echo devices, such as Amazon Tap, Echo Dot, Echo Spot, Echo Auto, to name a few. One of the latest inventions was Echo Look that represents a camera with Alexa built in. The device can take pictures or videos and provide artificial intelligence outfit recommendations and does not have any competitors so far.

One of the features of a blue ocean strategy is the absence of market rules, tendencies and even laws. Almost all digital devices mentioned above epitomize some sort of tension between efficiency and privacy (Lynskey, 2019). According to digital rights specialists, virtual assistants can be co-opted in undesirable ways by large multinationals and state surveillance systems or compromised by malicious hackers. Technology companies’ business models usually depend on the knowledge about their customers in order to micro target advertising (Eadicicco, 2019). A possible solution to the problem might appear if a particular firm takes a lead and establishes a future market standard regarding human monitoring. Thus, new entrants would thrive to achieve safe and user-controlled voice assistants, which, by this time, will have become an industry requirement.

In general, the value innovation stands in stark contrast with the conventional practice of technology innovation. Despite existing criticism, there is a great potential for economies of scale, learning and growing returns in the world of new ideas and knowledge. Blue ocean strategy delivers a path-breaking message that can inspire innovation in companies across industries and around the globe. Inherent in blue ocean strategy are significant barriers to imitation.

While some argue that creating new demand and turn to noncustomers can be fruitful, other scholars believe that large corporations can have a two-pronged approach: increasing current customers’ lifetime value and, at the same time, trying to attract noncustomers and, as a consequence, create new demand. In case of Amazon, the latter approach worked. Most of its profit comes from the red ocean operations in e-commerce, an industry that appeared before Amazon was founded and, even so, Amazon was able to enter this red ocean, grow and turn into a market leader. While sailing in the red ocean in e-commerce, the company explored the blue ocean in AWS. Such a double approach might work in large corporations, whereas SME will probably have to choose whether they will keep a bloody fight within the existing rules, or they are ready to innovate and find growth opportunities in the uncontested market space.

Whatever the industry is, there is always an opportunity to discover a blue ocean through the search of new customers and new markets. However, leaning from Amazon Alexa case, a second possible lesson would be completely different: being profitable by being simply more competent than your rivals in red oceans. There is money in traditional markets too.

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Referencies:

Amazon Annual Report (2018)Retrieved from: https://ir.aboutamazon.com/static-files/0f9e36b1-7e1e-4b52-be17-145dc9d8b5ec

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Lynskey, D. (2019). “Alexa, are you invading my privacy?” – the dark side of our voice assistants. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/oct/09/alexa-are-you-invading-my-privacy-the-dark-side-of-our-voice-assistants

Mejia, Z. (2018). Jeff Bezos finally got Amazon into the tip tier of the Fortune 500. Retrieved from: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/23/jeff-bezos-finally-got-amazon-into-the-top-tier-of-the-fortune-500.html

Moorhead, P. (2019). Five Top Themes from Amazon’s Alexa and Echo Event You Need To Know. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/patrickmoorhead/2019/09/25/five-top-themes-from-amazons-alexa-and-echo-event-you-need-to-know/#7a6bb6a528c4

Muchler, A. (2017). Voice Assistant Timeline: A Short History of the Voice Revolution. Retrieved from: https://voicebot.ai/2017/07/14/timeline-voice-assistants-short-history-voice-revolution/

Porter, M.E. (1980). Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors. New York, NY: Free Press.

Shields, N. (2017). Google targets Amazon’s smart speaker price advantage. Retrieved from: https://www.businessinsider.com/google-amazon-echo-dot-price-advantage-2017-8

Somasundaram, M. (2018). Setting up Alexa for Business with Cisco Telepresence video conferencing. Retrieved from: https://aws.amazon.com/pt/blogs/business-productivity/setting-up-alexa-for-business-with-cisco-telepresence-video-conferencing/

Ungarino, R. (2018). Amazon’s Alexa could be a $19 billion business by 2021, RBC says (AMZN). Retrieved from: https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/amazon-stock-price-alexa-19-billion-business-rbc-says-2018-12-1027829391

Watkins, M.D., Clayton, M., Christensen, M. Kenneth, L. K., Porter, M.E. (2013). Leadership Library: The Executive Collection. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://books.google.com.br/books?id=jvKECgAAQBAJ&pg=RA1-PA8&lpg=RA1-PA8&dq=commoditization+and+price+wars+harvard+business+review&source=bl&ots=GUJli2yqAi&sig=ACfU3U0VXL_zbKWX-J1fra8zV58r_fURsA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiRjLO_7a3lAhVPLLkGHaozBtMQ6AEwEHoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

Inside CSUN: interview with our former student Clarissa de Pádua

Courses, dates and specifications of California State University, Northridge courses you already know, but how about knowing more about the students’ experience?

We invited our former student Clarissa from Padua to talk a little about programs’ daily routine, professors and leisure time at California State University, Northridge. Clarissa attended our Design Thinking course in January 2020, and you can see what she has to say below.

How was the first day of the program?

The first day was different because, in fact, we had 2 different “first days”. The day before classes started, IBS and CSUN took the students on a tour at the University, so we could get to know a little of the space, so that on the first effective day we didn’t feel so lost, which I thought was very kind. The first day of class was very intense and profitable, I met my classmates, professors (from Design Thinking and Business English), I received the material and classes have begun.

What was your routine at the University? And on the weekend?

The days of the week were all dedicated to classes (except Fridays, which we had company visits), because we had a full-time basis classes, and the rest of the free time was for studying and carrying out the projects we received from professors. Even so, I could enjoy watching a basketball game at the university, getting to know the neighborhood, socializing with the other students (as there were 3 courses, it wasn’t always possible to see everyone during class time, so it was during breaks and at the end of the day we used to see each other to talk, to know how the classes were going with other professors), etc. On weekends, we usually gathered in groups to stroll around Los Angeles or visit nearby cities.

Why did you choose to study at CSUN? What was your favorite thing there?

I chose CSUN for having the course I wanted to attend and for the University’s reputation. What I liked most was the structure, rooms all equipped, buildings and the fact that everything we needed was there (or very close). Not to mention that it was beautiful, huge.

How were professors and classes like?

Professors (all of them, including Business English), were highly qualified, with an impressive work background, so it was common telling a case that fits the subject of the class, they explained something that had already happened to them, and that was amazing because we could see the material in an applied way. The classes were always full of information, very dynamic, we did group or individual activities to improve knowledge right there.

Besides the course, you and your colleagues spent your free time visiting parts of California. What places did you like to visit the most?

I really enjoyed visiting Santa Monica and LACMA in Los Angeles. I also visited San Diego, which is beautiful, and Las Vegas, which is exactly as the films portray, it was a very different experience.

How was the Graduation Ceremony?

It was amazing. We had lunch where we all sat together to be able to talk and relax one last time, we saw scenes from our trajectory at CSUN, we saw our friends receiving awards for their effort during the course, we received our certificates, we took pictures, (I cried too much hahaha). I will keep this day with great affection in my memory.

At the end of the experience, what do you think was essential to your professional field? What about the staff?

The experience of attending a Design Thinking course at an American university added a lot to my portfolio, mainly because this tool is used a lot in my area and CSUN is an outstanding university  in your curriculum. Since I came back from the trip I have used the methodology in my work and it has been very rewarding. On a personal level, I made friends from different places, with different types of training and experience, and being able to share experiences and learn from them was something transforming.

Thank you for sharing your experience, Clarissa! IBS Americas wishes you success in your professional life.

To receive more details on our executive courses abroad, send an email to blog@ibs-americas.com!

Economic Crisis and its Impact on Strategic Decisions: watch the online conference

The preventive measures against Coronavirus are important, but already cause a serious side effect: the shutdown of the economy.

On March 25th, Prof. Ricardo Britto, PhD in Administration from USP, gave the online lecture Management in Crisis Contexts.

The lecture was held live, with time for questions and answers and took place in three languages (English, Portuguese and Spanish). The theme addressed issues such as the possible reactions of a manager during the crisis, the survival of a company and the possible growth during the downtime of the economy.

Those who cannot participate can access the lecture on Americas Business Channel on YouTube by clicking on the link:

Click here

4 tips for those who are going to leave the country for the first time

Are you planning a trip in the next years? Check out the tips to do succeed in your first international experience.

There are few things more pleasant than planning a trip, but when the date is coming we always get apprehensive: have I forgotten anything? What if I get lost?

Those butterflies in our stomach get even worse when it comes to your first time abroad. Being in a new place with a totally different culture where people probably don’t speak the same language as you can be scary. That’s why we’ve separated some tips that might be useful!

Hand luggage

This is the bag or backpack that will be at your fingertips throughout the time at the airport and flight, so make sure that all of your documents (especially your passport!), cards, cash and valuable electronics are in your carry-on baggage. It is also worth keeping the receipts of your accommodations and tours, so if your bag is lost, your trip will not be impaired.

Also, you will spend long hours on the plane, so it is a good idea packing some clothes (in case you need or want to chance), hygiene kit and whatever else is needed to make you feel comfortable!

Passport

Always carry your passport with you, it is your identity in another country! A good tip is to use a fanny pack, so you can keep it along with cards and cash safely.

Power outlets

The pattern of outlets varies depending on the country you are in. Search the internet or call your hotel to find out what type your destination uses and provide the necessary adapters.

Money

Research the costs of tours, meals and shopping, then calculate an approximate amount to take on your trip. When you arrive at your destination, look for safe locations (such as large trades) to exchange your higher value notes, so you avoid high-value change that can come with counterfeit bills and also don’t have such a big loss if you lose a portion of the money.

Leaving the country can make the butterflies in our stomach go crazy, but just prepare with care and research. Getting there, the tip is: have fun and enjoy your international experience!

What about tour through New York City?

This post covers the best things to do in New York City, including a top 10 list, free things to do, nighttime activities, things to do with kids as well as showing you the best neighborhoods and foods.

  • Take a Sightseeing tour

Many people visiting NYC will look into taking a bus tour, particularly a hop-on-hop-off tour but there are many different options.

Check out comparison guide on NYC bus tours to see which, if any, may be right for you: https://freetoursbyfoot.com/new-york-bus-tours/

  • See a Broadway Show

There are dozens and dozens of Broadway and Off-Broadway musicals and plays to name here. See what’s playing when you are in town.

Learn how to save money on Broadway tickets through lotteries and other discount options: https://freetoursbyfoot.com/get-cheap-broadway-tickets/

  • View the Stunning New York Skyline  

For incredible vistas and panoramic views, you will want to visit one of the three observation decks: The Empire State Building, One World Observatory (Freedom Tower) or Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center.

Each has its own vantage point, as well as different prices of admission, varying wait time, and opening/closing hours.

https://freetoursbyfoot.com/empire-state-building-tickets/
https://freetoursbyfoot.com/freedom-tower-tickets/
https://freetoursbyfoot.com/top-of-the-rock-tickets/

Don’t forget one of the best (if expensive) options: a helicopter tour.

https://freetoursbyfoot.com/new-york-helicopter-tours/

If you want to stay closer to the ground or prefer to not pay the entry fees of the 3 observatories, you can still get incredible views of the city, and in some cases for free.

  • Visit the 9/11 Memorial + Museum

Located in a simple, spacious wide-open plaza in Lower Manhattan, this memorial to the lost lives of 9/11 is an essential feature of New York City. The memorial is free to visit.

The National September 11th Museum documents the tragic events of 9/11 through artifacts, documents, and films does have a cost. https://freetoursbyfoot.com/911-museum-tickets/

  • Eat Real New York Food

There are plenty of great places to eat in New York City and you don’t have to spend a lot of money for some of the world tastiest foods.

We offer suggestions of where to find the best versions of iconic New York foods, such as pizza, bagels, pastrami or knishes, as well as restaurants that will suit your mood, budget, and location.

Italian

For an authentic New York dining experience, eat a meal al fresco on Mulberry Street at the best Little Italy Restaurants.

https://freetoursbyfoot.com/little-italy-restaurants-and-things-to-see/

New York Delicatessen

There are very few real delicatessens left in NYC, the kind where you can get a great pastrami sandwich 6 inches tall. Fortunately, we still have Katz’s.

https://freetoursbyfoot.com/katzs-deli-nyc/

Soul Food

A Harlem institution is Sylvia’s.

https://freetoursbyfoot.com/harlem-soul-food/

Chinatown

For inexpensive, delicious food in one of NYC’s most exotic neighborhoods, try these restaurants in Chinatown.



To receive information about our executive courses abroad, send an email to blog@ibs-americas.com!

Fondazione CUOA: how to prepare to travel and what to expect from the program

Check out the tips in the article made by our former student Leda de Luca, advertising, founder and editor of Ares do Mundo channel, about tourism, culture and lifestyle.




Hello,

My name is Leda De Luca, I was a student at CUOA Business School (Fondazione CUOA), in the Creativity, Innovation and New Business program in 2017 and I am here to talk a little about my experience with the University and also give some tips to students who will travel soon to Italy. Let’s go! 🙂

Student housing or apartment rent

During the program, I chose to rent an apartment in Vicenza, rather than stay in the housing suggested by the school. In my case, it was very worth it, because in addition to the city being beautiful, with very cordial inhabitants, it was easy to take a train and travel during weekends to other corners of Europe.

Every day, I’d take a public bus downtown Vicenza and it’d leave me at CUOA’s door.

The same I did to get back and, when I arrived in the city after the program, I still had time to make some shopping on the most commercial streets or dinner in picturesque restaurants in the city.

The bus route to go and to get back took on average 40 minutes and never had any problem of delay. Were punctual, even in days of terrible blizzards.

During my studies, I noticed that about 75% of IBS students stayed in the student housing suggested by the school and had a lot of fun too, but I preferred a quieter routine, so it was really nice to be in Vicenza throughout the program.

Whether you stay in Vicenza or not, visit the city for at least 1 day because it is charming. It’s a tourist town, so you’ll be able to have very original experiences with local Italians.

The day by day of the program

Over the program I’ve had 3 teachers, one of each discipline.

The day by day was quiet, but quite dynamic. Classes went from more basic business issues to more innovative subjects.

Throughout the program, I made 3 visits to factories in Italy. One for Armani, one for a supplier that made roller coasters for Disney and the last for Bissaza, luxury mosaic makers. I loved the visits!!!

Each program had a specific schedule of visits to factories and this schedule was changed, according to the availability of the companies.

During the visits to the factories all students were very attentive, because, based on the learnings, we prepared for the work of completion of the program.

Punctuality always!

Classes always started punctually and ended without delay as well. The students had no “stewardship” with schedules and daily we assinted the attendance sheet on the board.

The trip to Geneva

With CUOA we took a trip to Geneva, Switzerland, by train. It was a spectacular weekend, where we could get to know the UN and WTO. After the tours, I met other places of the city and prepared this script below, on my travel blog :).

Other cool places in Italy to visit during the program

I recommend visiting Verona, the city that inspired Shakespeare to write Romeo and Juliet and of course Venice (which tends to disappear from the map very soon). Both are very close to the University and Vicenza. You can get to know them by train.

How to prepare to study in Italy

Before going to Italy, stay tuned for the validity of your passport and do not forget to get travel insurance as it is mandatory in Europe.

If you have questions about how to get travel insurance, take a look here, I explain everything you need to stay tuned to choose the best for your profile.

Your trip can also get more comfortable getting an international travel chip. At school wi-fi works super well, but out of there, no. And it may be necessary in your daily life, especially if you are travelling to other places of Europe.


IBS Americas thanks you for the testimonial and for all the support to our blog, Leda! We wish you a lot of success.

To receive information about our executive courses abroad, send an email to blog@ibs-americas.com!

WCMA 2019 – The main events of the 7th edition

As a good business school, IBS Americas is always keeping an eye on the initiatives of personalities and organizations related to the performance of Brazilians on the international stage. For this reason, 7 years ago WCMA was born, the annual award to honor those who presented prominent actions for the international market.

The abbreviation that gives name to the event means World Class Management Award. The 2019 edition took place at Club Homs of Paulista Avenue and had about 250 people present.

The awards are presented to three different categories: Education, where nominees are teachers, Institution, naming companies, and Executive, naming executives. Those indicated to the WCMA categories are chosen by the public or IBS Americas students and then evaluated by an internal committee of the event. This year, the winners were:  Professor Fábio Verruck, FIESP and executive Renata Campos.

In addition to the World Class Management Award, the Academic Awards also took place, honoring the outstanding students of international courses held by IBS Americas in January, July and September 2019.

All the income obtained from WCMA was destined to the NGO Arte na Lata, which honored us with an amazing show! Below, you check out photos:

We would like to thank the presence and collaboration of all the people present.
May WCMA 2020 be even bigger!

Amazing places to visit in California

Make the best of your time in California

We often think that California is just a big beach with surfers, but it’s so much more! California state has so many iconic locations and attractions to explore, that it can be difficult to choose where to go. Here is a list to give you an idea of some of the more popular attractions that you may want to visit!


San Francisco

San Francisco is a city made for all audiences, from the most technological to those who seek unique experiences or tourist attractions.

If you’re passionate about technology, you can’t miss Silicon Valley, home to global headquarters and branch offices such as Google, Adobe, Facebook and Microsoft – many open to visitation.

Now, if you are looking for adventure, it is worth to visit the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island, the site of one of the most notorious high-security US prisons, between the years 1934 and 1963, which is now open to the public.


Santa Monica Pier – LA

In addition to the beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean, the Santa Monica Pier hosts many attractions. The ride begins where Route 66 ends and there you can check out attractions such as the famous Pacific Park amusement park, Santa Monica Pier Aquarium and restaurants serving delicious seafood, ending the day with an unforgettable sunset.


Venice Beach – LA

Musicians, Artists, Skateboards, Exercises: In Venice Beach you find everything! Leave the car in a nearby parking lot and walk along the boardwalk (or rent a bike!) to experience up close the experience that this incredible place can provide.


Hollywood

Being in Los Angeles and not visiting Hollywood is unacceptable. Few neighborhoods in the world have such interesting places as the Hard Rock Cafe and the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.

The nightlife of this part of the city is unique, with people of a highly diverse profile.


Tahoe Lake

If you want to get out of the conventional sites, visit Lake Tahoe. Located on the California-Nevada border, the lake can be visited both in summer, when the weather is favorable for activities and water sports, and in winter, to check out the nearby ski resorts.


Death Valley

Despite its name, Death Valley is one of the most incredible national parks in the United States. The desert also stretches along the California-Nevada border, and you don’t even have to worry about looking at the weather, it hardly ever rains in Death Valley. But beware of summer, in this region has already been recorded the highest temperature in history: 56.7 ° C!

Experience all this and much more while you also develop new skills to completely transform your professional life. Check out our international courses available at University of La Verne and California State University, Northridge.


To receive details on our executive courses abroad, send an email to blog@ibs-americas.com!


Top questions about IBS Americas programs

Do you have questions regarding our programs or selection criteria for our scholarships? Check out our Frequently Asked Question, below!


1. How do I choose the best program for me?

On our website, you can view the specific details of each program we offer and use our “Compare Programs“ tool to help you narrow down and identify the best course for you. If you are still uncertain about which program you’d like to attend, you can also contact our team for additional support. To speak with our coordinators, send an email to info@ibs-americas.com.


2.
How do I obtain a scholarship?

First, you must complete and submit an Application Form to identify your preferred program, as well as supply your personal and academic information. Our Enrollment Advisors will analyze your Application Form and will inform you whether your scholarship was approved or not.


3. Can I apply for more than one program? And more than two scholarships?

No. We recommend you choose a program that is most beneficial and relevant for your profile. If you are not sure which program is right for your development, feel free to contact us.


4. How can I complete my enrollment?

After being accepted, you will receive a contract. Once you complete and return the contract you will receive the information necessary to make the payment of the tuition and enrollment fee.

  • You can pay up to 16 installments the tuition fee and the program must be fully paid 45 days prior the program starts. Once the enrollment fee is paid, you will have two years to use the scholarship. During this time, the program course and/or location can be changed. *with certain limitations*


5. Does IBS Americas assist students regarding passport/visa, accommodation etc.?

Yes. Five months prior to your course, we will begin Orientation Sessions online, where you will directly engage with our coordinators and receive travel preparation information and can ask additional questions you may have.During this time, you will receive all necessary documents to assist you with your passport/visa meeting at the consulate. You will also receive special pricings at hotels nearby the University you will be attending. There are a few programs where student can stay at the university’s dorms.


6. Should I be fluent in English?

Fluency is not required for any of our programs, but understand that the entirety of our thematic courses will be held in English. To ensure an optimum experience for yourself and your classmates, you should have at least an intermediate ability.

If you do not feel you are an intermediate speaker, we still have a great option – The Business English Module. It’s specifically designed for entry level English speakers who would like to challenge themselves and accelerate their proficiency by being completely immersed in the language.


7. Does IBS Americas require any language certification, such as TOEFL and TOIEC?

No. If you already have a certification of this type, and can provide proof, you will not be required to complete the English Proficiency Assessment.


8. I have not graduated yet. Can I apply for the programs?

Yes, although, at of the travel, the student must be enrolled in the 3rd year of university – international universities require enrollment proof.



To receive information regarding our executive programs abroad, send an e-mail to blog@ibs-americas.com!