Organizational survival and success are predicated on the establishment of a strategic orientation and a set of clear, realistic and relevant policies intended to drive this strategy. From these features, an organization will ultimately derive goals, procedural norms, role designation, organizational culture, leadership orientation and a host of other defining features. It is thus that the Policy Strategy driving a company will ultimately come to define the company itself, with the resultant productivity, reputation and industry position helping to project a certain identity, image or set of consumer expectations. As the discussion hereafter will show, many times the selected policy strategy of an organization can be the long-term difference between success and failure. As a subsequent section of this discussion will show, there is a direct connection between a meaningful policy strategy and the opportunity for long-term viability and success.
This is especially so in reference to the policy strategy selected for consideration here. Innovation is often seen as a key to long-term survival and growth. Where the industries and firms discussed hereafter are concerned, the policy strategy of innovation is a key determinant of success whereas, simultaneously, a failure to be innovative or receptive to innovation is a key determinant of failure. Accordingly, the discussion here will apply the policy strategy of innovation to an examination of the Apple computer company and the BMG music company, which stand on the opposite ends of a spectrum of recent innovation. These companies will help to demonstrate, respectively, the tangible opportunities and consequences related to policy strategy orientation.
Overview of Policy Strategy:
The selected policy strategy of innovation is often connected to internal evolution, external growth and continued interest in uncovering and preemptively satisfying market demands. In the general overview which is provided by his text on the modernizing implications of innovation, Peter Woods writes that "the culture of innovation has promoted new ways of organizing the global economy, new forms of capital exchange, and new ways of working and consuming. . . The roles of economic actors, and of market relationships, appear to be constantly transforming." (Woods, p. 2) This observation may be considered a centerpiece to our discussion, opening the subject of innovation as part of a grander scheme of an innovative cultural thrust. Indeed, as we proceed with this discussion, an evident connection of processes and outcomes will emerge to characterize the policy strategy of innovation as a necessary aspect of the evolution of technological and philosophical practices in virtually every market context. Particularly, we will find ourselves continually examining the idea that manufacturing or product development innovations will typically outpace proven technologies, which the research will show advocates policy strategy that is prepared to push consumer opportunities to meet the level of progress made in the sciences and technologies.
Where the music industry is concerned, we proceed with the understanding the innovation has at this juncture produced new and exciting technology, has exponentially enhanced our ability to acquire and transport music, and has taken industry expectations and frequently surpassed them through creative software and device engineering. Here innovation has been a largely positive force in driving forward competition, improving the affordability of advanced listening technologies and appealing to the intuitive needs of the end user. We consider the music industry as a useful point of initiation particularly because though its innovations have been positive, the industry itself has gone through no small amount of difficulty in bridging the gap toward achievement of this innovation.
Indeed, if one is to take the music industry as a case study, there may be evidence to suggest that the marketing approaches traditionally taken by many industries may be subject to extinction, indicating that there is a significant will on the part of buyers to achieve greater communion with the technology opportunities of the day. The fallout of the music industry collapse, a direct consequence of a failure retailer policy strategy to initially seize on invention and render innovation there from, should be considered at first a demonstration of how not to approach technology change. Stodgy and outdated foci would ultimately allow a proprietor in the evolving computer medium to best both advertisers and retailers in the own contexts.
The initiation of Napster to the collective consciousness of web-users and lawmakers alike began a new era for the exchange of media on the internet. Though the web had initially been viewed as a popular way for major record companies and compact disc retailers to expand their reach, it would ultimately prove a means to the obsolescence of a physical rendering of a digital recording. Napster was a peer-to-peer-based way to trade digital media such as music and movies. Though a court injunction closed its operations, this proved an inflection point for both ecommerce and the music industry. The free exchange of media which formerly commanded imposing profit margins for record companies and retailers alike, had become an increasingly widespread means through which consumers would obtain their music. Though record retailers initially resisted through vigorous legal action, such companies as Apple are lighting the way to a significant re-orientation of the music industry toward the sale, marketing and advertising of digital media in a virtual setting.
The iTunes program, which in 2003 unveiled a library of 200,000 songs each available to download for the price of $1, is the next generation of music formatting, with the momentous cultural and economic pull of the iPod MP3 music player suggesting that this method of retail is fast surpassing the physical context as a preferred means to media acquisition. (Gowan, 1) With the announcement that the Tower Records megastores would be closing due to the company's gradual decline in sales performance, there is good cause to believe that in fact, ecommerce was well on its way to fully revolutionizing the music buying preferences and habits of mainstream consumers. More important even, in the context of our discussion, is the revelation that those who have failed to remain abreast of changes and innovations are bound for nonexistence.
This is particularly true with demographics that have essentially come of age through the evolution of the personal computer, the internet and ecommerce. Over the course of the early 21st century, "online buying was most popular among 25- to 34-year-olds and least attractive to the 65+ seniors." (Vargas, 1) A feature of the internet which has aided this rise in its impact on our retail proclivities is its capacity to considerably expand upon an existing retail operation's visibility. Such is to note that a great many retail operations have made significant structural alterations in order to integrate the physical and virtual fronts of the business. A positive indicator of this attempt at a dual orientation asserts that "among those retailers who have brick-and-mortar stores along with a Web site, 31% allow online buyers to return their purchase to a store location, while 44% offer the option of picking up and returning in the store." (Vargas, 2) This illuminates the path down which traditional retail is likely to further tread, blurring the separation between the operational identity online and in-store. This is a reality that had begun as innovation but, today, where the iPod, iPhone, iPad and iTunes are all concerned, these innovations have become standardized. The sway held over the industry by such mega-retailers as Wal-Mart, still a serious force, is headed for extinction as we can today perceive the collapse of the music industry as a necessary set of growing pains brought on by positive technological innovation. Even as many giant retailers and recording companies failed, the consumer gained greater variety, access and affordability in the field, suggesting these innovations were positive and necessary.
At the turn of the millennium, with the advanced integration of computer technology and internet use into mainstream culture, the advent of the compressed MP3 music track would spark a revolution that is today felling major CD retail chains throughout the U.S. Leading the charge would be the Apple Company which revolutionized home computer use in the 1980s before largely falling out of consumer favor. As technologies shifted around the music and media industries with the advent of digital media, Apple reentered the marketplace as yet an even more daunting force. This would be driven primarily by its relentless pace of innovation, a policy strategy that continues to define it today. This would begin with the introduction of the iPod, which under a variety of incarnations, had set the pace both for technological intuition and commercial appeal, streamlining a stylish and versatile product that "accounted for 78% of U.S. sales of digital music players last year and about half of world sales." (Hoffman, 1)
Its essential fulfillment of a great many media needs now represented by the desire for mobility and quantity made the iPod a perfect fit for the introduction of new media formats to a mainstream user target. Ranging from a base price of roughly $80 for its new 1 Gig iPod Shuffle to…