Slowing Down…or am I?
(This blog is from a fulltime UCD Smurfit MBA at the Spring mid-term break, about seven months in.)
I’ve just bought some books in town …not exactly a life-changing event, but the difference now is that this is the first time in what seems like a long time (well seven months) that I’ve purchased books solely for reading pleasure. Most of my class modules are finished up for now and I’m heading to China on Saturday as part of our international study trip, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to catch up on some non-curricular activity.
Dublin, in common with many parts of the world has recently experienced a spate of bookstore closures. Personally, I find this trend devastating; the opportunity to wander around the labyrinthine levels of Waterstone’s on Dawson Street (that shop has about four and a half levels fitted into two floors of space!) and discover new reads and bump into old friends has been robbed from a new generation of readers.
But what I’m learning through Strategy and Marketing classes is that this trend is inevitable. Book-selling has been commoditised, and not enough people value the bricks and mortar aspect of their local bookstore. Cost leadership rules, and Amazon excels at this.
Not only this, but the phenomenon of the long tail means that choice is ever expanding too. A simple Porter 5 force analysis would show the predicament traditional stores are in; being squeezed significantly by rivals, substitutes, suppliers, and customers, in an industry with barely any barriers to entry.
Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to this, and it has become a challenge that will face many industries in the future, and by extension will face possibly me and my class colleagues. The positives are that we are equipped with the training to identify what trends are happening in our industry and make strategies to overcome future hurdles.
The importance of the business language and perspectives that we are absorbing can be daunting and frustrating, particularly around exam time. But it’s when that perspective is applied to the everyday world around us, that it bowls me over how differently I look at products, transactions, and how businesses are run. The anticipation and excitement of real-life application of strategy is immense – and the rewards could be ultimately survival in increasingly hypercompetitive markets.
Incidentally, thanks to my generous little sis’, Claire and the gift voucher she gave me (all the thoughtfulness of cash, without any of the convenience!!!), I bought:
- The Disappearing Spoon, Sam Kean – science stories based around the periodic table – well I am a Chemical Engineer at heart!
- The People’s Act of Love, James Meek – Conor’s recommendation – he texted (no web 2.0 crap here!): “v provocative book, loved it”.
- Rich in Russia, John Updike – food for the brain I thought – really cheap issues of classic short stories from Penguin Classics.
Don’t forget – all these are available at your local book store!
– David Lawton, Full-time MBA 2010/2011