In Michael Porter’s 1996 article “What is Strategy?”, he defined a company’s strategy as differentiating its activities from competitors to create a unique and valuable market position. This article was framed from the perspective of a for-profit company seeking competitive advantage and profit. However, Columbia Business School’s 2012 Social Enterprise Conference is asking how we can re-frame this narrow definition of strategy and build strategies within and across sectors to make social impact and tackle major social and environmental issues.There are several challenges to creating coherent strategies across sectors that will align numerous organizations. First, the desired outcome is not obvious. For-profit companies can rally around maximizing shareholder value as the indisputable goal, but it is difficult for organizations fighting poverty to determine which outcomes could be measured to signal success. Second, it is arguable which activities will most effectively lead to a desired outcome to reduce poverty or improve public health. This continues to be true though organizations are using innovative data approaches to measure their outcomes. Finally, even with a game plan, financial incentives generally don’t exist to propel various organizations to execute on a single strategy. In addition, the sources of funds and the priorities of funders can dictate the substance of many strategies.
Archive for September, 2012
Your smartphone is going to get more adept at handling money, but maybe not in quite the way youve been imagining it would.Theres been a lot of talk lately about mobile payments and how new apps or NFC technology will let you pay for things with your smartphone. But the truth is that this market is less about finding a new way for you to pay for things and more about offering you an easier way to carry and redeem coupons and special offers.Whats the most successful mobile payment system to date? Its an application that can be downloaded onto your phone to pay for coffee. Yes, the Starbucks app, launched in January 2011, has processed 55 million transactions, the company has said, adding that it processes more than a million mobile phone transactions per week. The app, which is quite simple, uses a bar-code-like technology to scan your phone. But thats as far as it goes — its a payment app used by only one merchant.Then why is it so popular? Its not because you can pay for a latte with your phone instead of pulling out cash or a credit card, but because its also your loyalty card. It keeps track of how many times youve visited the store and what youve purchased so that Starbucks can push you more offers and coupons that keep you coming into its stores. And the beauty of integrating this into a mobile app is that you dont have to carry around that card on a key chain or tucked into your wallet. Its always with you on your phone.Starbucks Rewards a la Android.Credit: StarbucksIts this concept of digitizing things you often carry in your wallet that has customers excited, says Jaymee Johnson, director of marketing for Isis, a new mobile payments company established by three of the nations largest four wireless operators.”I can give you a better way to pay,” Johnson said in a recent phone interview. “But thats not broken. Its not too taxing to pull out a plastic credit card from your wallet. But what mobile payments also give you is a way to manage your loyalty cards and your financial life.”In other words your “digital” wallet is where you can store all your loyalty cards, coupons, receipts, and even some day your drivers license. These apps also have the potential to give you real-time banking and financial information, so that you know how much money is in your account.But its the couponing and special offers that consumers get from using these apps that will drive usage most immediately. With the growth of local daily deals services like Groupon, and with the use of coupons on the rise, consumers are looking for more convenient ways to redeem rewards. According to the retail trade publication Retail Gazette, 58 percent of consumers now shop with coupons. And coupon use has grown by 40 percent in the last four years.