1. Using published reports, select two CEOs who have recently made public statements regarding a major change in their firm’s strategy. Discuss how the successful implementation of such strategies requires changes in the firm’s primary and support activities. 2. Select a firm that competes in an industry in which you are interested. Drawing upon published financial reports, complete a financial ratio analysis. Based on changes over time and a comparison with industry norms, evaluate the firm’s strengths and weaknesses in terms of its financial position. 3. How might exemplary human resource practices enhance and strengthen a firm’s value-chain activities? 4. Using the Internet, look up your university or college. What are some of its key value-creating activities that provide competitive advantages? Why?
It was Mark Thompson, the former B.B.C. boss who has alreadyweathered an international media scandal and a closely-watched round of newsroom downsizing since becoming the Times Company's new chief executive in November. "I took this job not just because I've been a devoted user of The New York Times for many years, but because I believe it's one of a handful of global news brands that can not just survive, but thrive in this digital era," he said in the first public comments about his new gig. But if Times watchers were expecting any big newsmaking revelations about the future of the company and its venerable flagship, they probably hung up the phone feeling a bit disappointed. Thompson, who in his role as successor to Janet Robinson will be expected to steer the Times' ongoing digital expansion in the face of sinking print revenues, said he's already at work on a "new strategy for the company." The specifics however are scarce. He mentioned building up the Times' portfolio of paid digital products and developing its nascent conference business, as well as ramping up mobile and video efforts while growing internationally. (Nothing we haven't already heard.) But that's about it. "I'll have much more to say to you ... on our next earnings call in April," he said. In the meantime, we can assume Thompson is staying the course that chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr., in his temporary role as interim C.E.O., spent most of 2012 laying out for him: A consolidation of resources around the Times' core editorial brand as the mothership becomes smaller and more focused. Financially, the Times Company is already beginning to taste the fruits of those efforts. It reported improved fourth-quarter results today, with net income up 200 percent to $176.9 million from the same period a year earlier. Executives attributed the improvement largely to the sale of About.com, the online resource unloaded by the Times Company in September. Previously, the company had sold off its group of more than a dozen regional newspapers. (It still owns The Boston Globe and The International Herald Tribune.) But there was another bit of sunshine in today's earnings report: 640,000 paid digital subscribers to theTimes and the IHT, an increase of 13 percent since the end of the previous quarter. "It's an absolute key focus," said Thompson of the digital strategy, which is so far seen as a thriving experiment in getting readers to pay for content that used to be free. In 2012, money derived from circulation surpassed that of advertising for the first time thanks to the addition of those paying to read the Times and its affiliated publications on web browsers and mobile devices like smart-phones and tablets. Fourth-quarter circulation revenues were up 16.1 percent. Asked on the call whether the Times might start charging more for digital subcriptions, Denise Warren, general manager of nytimes.com, said the company was "evaluating the price structure ... but we've made no decisions at this time." She also said they're exploring both a premium digital product and an entry-level one. (Perhaps the college-friendly "NYT Junior" that Nat Ives of Ad...
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