This paper will compare six Fortune 500 companies in their ability to communicate and their current strategies: Nike, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, Walgreens and Home Depot. Nike has been successful with the new communication system known as Polycom® SpectraLink 8000 Wireless Telephones. Microsoft has just launched their new communication system known as Lync 2013 and has not had the opportunity to evaluate the performance analysis yet. Wal-Mart has been praised for their successful communication systems as well as their ability to enhance continuously to benefit both the business and employees. Coca-Cola is attempting to align their business goals with their supply chain goals to enhance productivity and also diminish current communication barriers. Walgreens has been successful in maintaining traditional communication systems of regular newsletters and other printed communications. Home Depot uses different types of communication systems to communicate with their employees and their customers such as a business satellite network by reaching out to their customers using social media.
Communication systems and strategies are essential to the success of a business and the economy. ?????
Knowing how important communication systems and strategies are, we have decided to evaluate a few companies in regards to their ethical systems. This evaluation will focus on six Fortune 500 companies, Walgreens, Home Depot, Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, Nike, and Microsoft. This process will include general information about each company focusing primarily on their communication systems and strategies, and how it is put into practice within the company. This paper will also compare and contrast these companies and assess a conclusion on how effective or ineffective each company operates using their communication systems and strategies.
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The first company that we will discuss is Walgreen’s. Walgreen’s is a company that understands than typical illogical organization can and will face challenges within a company. Thus, they have chosen to continue to push the envelope of traditional drugstore retailing that seems to be working so well for them. According to an article on Walgreen’s website, this traditional growth strategy focuses on three areas of opportunity that puts them in a position for achieving long-term growth. Those areas are as follows:
Delivering a complete “Well Experience” by transforming the customer experience across all of the company’s touch points, channels and formats;
Transforming the role community pharmacy plays in health care by offering unparalleled access to innovative, high quality and affordable health-and-wellness services; and
Creating an unprecedented and efficient global platform through its strategic partnership with Alliance Boots GmbH.
However, Walgreen’s is also focusing on their environmental sustainability. They are doing this by working on implementing a few other strategies in the future. These strategies differ depending on the location. They include geothermal energy systems, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards, using electrical vehicle charging stations, and running on solar power.
In terms of communication, Walgreen’s uses technology to enhance their communication systems. They do not have a specific name for their system but its incorporation plays a major role in the company. Therefore, they created a variety of corporate communications. These communications includes press releases, white papers, marketing materials, web site content, company correspondence, and sales presentations. And even though these forms of communication are the usual forms that companies use, they are consistent with Walgreen’s traditional stance. Most importantly, these various means of communications work for Walgreen’s and enables the company to communicate effectively and directly to their customers and employees.
Overall, the communication system and strategies that Walgreens use are what allows the company to continue to grow and forge ahead. They are a successful company because of their traditional stance but willingness to adapt their strategies when needed in order to maintain customer satisfaction. Walgreens strives to be a company that lives up to their mission: “To be the most trusted, convenient multichannel provider and advisor of innovative pharmacy, health and wellness solutions, and consumer goods and services in communities across America. A destination where health and happiness come together to help people get well, stay well and live well.” Keeping that in mind, Walgreen’s communications and strategies have led them to become a successful company amongst other top fortune 500 companies in their industries.
Home Depot has a dynamic way of how they use their communication system to communicate information to their employees and to the homeowners and the small business owners the server. Founded in 1978, the Home Depot since then has morphed from an up and coming business into a dominant “do it yourself” fortune 500 company. Debuting on the NASDAQ in1981, Home Depot crossed over to the New York Stock Exchange in 1984. The owners Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank developed a business satellite network in 1990 in an experiment to see if they were able to broadcast live meetings to all of their stores. This idea became a huge success. The satellite network helped for management to connect to the Home Depot employees and boost morale within their stores. Home Depot also invests heavily into their work force. They allow their employees to get the necessary training they need, which helps the employee feel more comfortable with their knowledge of the store and its items. Training increases employee’s morale which leads to communication lines being open from the employee to his manager because the employees feel that the company wants them to succeed.
Just a couple of years ago in 2011, Home Depots Vice President of corporate communications Brad Shaw, launched Home Depots first social media page. With a lot of competitors reaching out to customers using social media, Home Depot uses social media to talk about current sales they may be having, and also to sale their products. Using Facebook for an example, customers who are friends with the Home Depot Facebook page can share certain items they have used that they feel was a great buy from the Home Depot. After the customer has shared the item, everyone who is friends with the customer will see that post on his time line exposing people to Home Depot products. This is why social media targeting and communication is so critical. If only one customer can share a product they like with their friends, out of all of their friends one is bound to also like it which would start the cycle illustrated above all over again.
Coca Cola is more complex in their communication systems. The beverage retail giant operates more mechanically but keeps direct communication with the distribution supply chain to maintain quality products.
The top brand in consumer beverages is the Coca-Cola Company in the current marketplace. Coke’s global supply chain is a vastly complex network of plants, bottlers, warehouses and customers, along with multiple product lines following multiple supply chains with differing objectives.
The Coca Cola Company is the world’s largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands. “The company operates a franchised distribution system dating from 1889 where the Coca-Cola Company only produces syrup concentrate which is then sold to various bottlers throughout the world who hold an exclusive territory” (Valluri, 2010). Coca-Cola is the manufacturer and distributor of its own products. Most of the supply chain is automated to create quick and efficient products. The product is not final until the distribution process, where they add the carbonated water and other required ingredients to make the final product.
All production is done in-house and final products are distributed all across the globe. A major setback Coca-Cola is currently working on resolving is the aligning the company objectives with the supply chain strategies. In fact, the Coca Cola Company does not actually produce soda. The company produces the concentrate or syrup, and then sends it to the distributors. The distributors add the carbonated water and all other ingredients to make the final product. “The process to create each beverage is extremely mechanized in order to achieve quick and efficient production” (Valluri, 2010). Therefore, communications regarding quality standards are directly communicated throughout the supply chain.
In November, 2010, Coca-Cola rolled out a new supply chain strategy by combining SAP Business Objects with ITC’s Supply Chain Performance Management. “The implementation – completed in cooperation with SAP Consulting – has been rolled out across the North American region and is a key milestone for Coca-Cola, allowing it to effectively align supply chain goals with business goals, providing visibility into end-to-end supply chain processes to help drive process consistency” (Hochfelder, 2011). Coke established a set of supply chain guiding principles it wanted implemented:
Focus on metrics needing no manual intervention
Focus on metrics to drive profit consistency and metric consistency across the supply chain
Focus on industry standards that are not Coke specific
Develop a robust system for reporting hierarchies that change when business changes
Aligning the company goals with the supply chain goals will ultimately make the business more successful by providing the accurate information throughout the company. Coca-Cola remains the top beverage retailer concluding the success of the new communication strategy.
Unlike Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart is less complex in their communication systems. Wal-Mart is one of the largest public corporations and retailers in the world. What could make a corporation so successful? First, there has to be a business plan in which an effective strategy is applied to. This creates a basis on which everyone understands what direction the company is going towards. Communication systems are used to disperse the information through different channels. Whether it’s from a manager to an employee or the company to the consumer, communication is a very important factor of success.
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One variable for Wal-Mart’s successful communication strategy was the implementation of their satellite communication system. The 24-million dollar satellite was established in 1987, which at the time, was the world’s largest private satellite communication system. This network allowed multiple communications between all levels of the company: distributors, headquarters, stores, and suppliers. The main idea for implementing the satellite is to provide a quick ordering with their key suppliers. Also, it was used within the company to help communication from managers from different stores and to get direct feedback. The satellite has also been implemented for customer satisfaction. On November 17, 1999, Wal-Mart broadcasted an exclusive concert by Garth Brooks via satellite to all of the locations. While being a major communication resource for the company, the satellite system cut costs by saving time and effort, resulting with consumer’s morale is boosted, card transactions are processed quicker, and the overall shopping experience is more efficient.
Next, Wal-Mart works with over 200 companies worldwide. They are determined to make sure that communication between each and every company is amazing. Wal-Mart has asked multiple companies to move or place a main office in the Northwest Arkansas area. This creates an easy communication from the Wal-Mart Home Office and the other companies’ employees. It also creates a face to face environment for communication. Forcing companies to move their offices to Arkansas has opened the field for residents in Arkansas to obtain jobs there. Just imagine each company that Wal-Mart has brought into Arkansas has about fifty or more employees. That could be thousands jobs offering for residents. The key thing is to make sure that companies working with them are on the same path as them. Wal-Mart has become a company that is looking more into being environmentally friendly and work force. They have gone so far to ask companies to make sure that everything from the labels are environmentally friendly and that the people making them are in good working environment. For example, Bud Light is a beer company and Wal-Mart would examine their product by the beer, bottle, bottle cap, box, and the label. Having explained the importance of a successful company is to make sure that if you are working with other companies that they are on the same pathway as you are.
Last, it is very critical that Wal-Mart develops a good communication system within the headquarters and stores. Inside the headquarters, there are televisions located all around the building. The televisions are constantly on and the management team goes over key points and the current goals for each department. Every Saturday, there is an open executive board meeting. They are open for every associate to bring their suggestions in and bring in famous people. In each department, they are required to do a weekly meeting, produce a goal list and suggestion list on something that they can improve on. The main communication goal is to make sure that each store is doing their part. The Northwest Arkansas’s stores are inspected monthly and changing the layouts to see what would work best. Worldwide, members of the management team are travelling to inspect stores unexpectedly to make sure that each stores are doing their duties twenty-four seven.
The latest advancement to Wal-Mart in their communication system is to help the associates more. They have implemented on hiring more than 300 human resources managers to work world-wide to make sure that the training needed is done correctly and policies are implemented correctly. They have created an ethic hotline to help employees anonymously discuss any issues and to make sure each issues are dealt with correctly. Due to high critics, they have implemented that the senior management are connected to issues on the spot and have a section on their daily updates about anything about Wal-Mart coming out. The senior management team will deal with each issue and will now speak out more, so that the world will understand the issue and how the company is dealing with it. This new communication is issued to help increase the employee’s satisfaction and the overall recruiting process.
The Nike Distribution center in Memphis, Tennessee had a dilemma: they had to figure out a way to improve communications within the one million square foot facility. The center was relying on an overhead PA system to contact employees. The center restricted their phones to only inbound calls. There was no reliable communication and it was delayed at best. The company needed a way to eliminate the seven minute walk from administration to the warehoused each time a call was received. In 2002, a solution to the problem was reached. Nike implemented a system using Polycom’s SpectraLink 8000 Wireless Telephones.
This system not only eliminated the constant running around or PA system intercom, it also worked off of the warehouse’s existing Wi-Fi, eradicating the need for an outside service. Where the old system of “cat and mouse” was very expensive, Polycom’s SpectraLink 8000 was very cost effective. It allowed for the communication between management and employees quickly, efficiently, and easily, and increased their productivity tremendously. Senior Telecommunication Technician Carol McSparrin quoted, “Employees are able to communicate with one another so much more quickly. That’s the benefit we were looking for all along. Now, employees don’t need to have cell phones and pagers, so we do see a cost benefit. Plus, we are using the same Wi-Fi network we have in place for our handheld scanners and other mobile data applications. But most importantly, we have our employees working more efficiently.”
Nike successfully launched a new system within their folds with the use of the Polycom SpectraLink 8000 Wireless phone system that practically remade the way they communicated with each other. The new system allows employees to directly communicate with the right person every time without having to stop production, allowing the business to be more efficient. Microsoft, however, is just now launching a new communication system known as Lync 2013 which is said to be more successful than the previous system.
Microsoft’s communication system is Lync 2013. The system was introduced less than a month ago, so it is too soon to tell how Lync 2013 will perform. Lync 2013 users can connect to anyone anywhere using Skype which enables hundreds of millions of people to interact across international borders making expenses less. The basic name of the system is the unified communications system. Microsoft developed this system. Apparently they were not happy with the other systems that were out there so they wrote their own. Lync can be integrated with other systems without large outlays of capital. This allows other companies to compare Lync to other communication systems and weigh the pros and cons of Lync to see if it would be beneficial to them.
Microsoft’s communication strategy is to provide rich, presence-based, person-centric tools that make communications easier and productive; next is to integrate IP-based communications modalities including e-mail, instant messaging (IM), VoIP-telephony, SMS, and audio/video/web conferencing into a seamless and intuitive experience next is to make communications available on PCs, phones and innovative mobile devices, at work/home/on-the-road, on federated enterprise-consumer networks, and as on-premise and hosted service solutions. To enable communications from within everyday applications – Microsoft Office, portals, line of business (LOB) applications, etc. To make available information, agent software,, and services, to improve connectivity with relevant parties despite the overload of incoming communications. To lower TCO for communications solutions by leveraging existing IT infrastructure to enhance manageability and security; and to provide interfaces and APIs that enable partners to extend Microsoft core offerings. Microsoft’s UC strategy is primarily targeted at its enterprise customer base.
All of the companies implemented their new systems to try and alleviate communication problems within each company. All of the companies had issues that weighed heavily on the production side of the company, and all of them implemented solid plans to improve their communications, and all of them implemented the systems to expand both their data bases and consumer contacts. The improvements that the companies made will have a great impact on
All of the companies were different types of companies. We researched a retail store, a software giant, a mega hardware store, a legendary soft drink company, a megawatt shoe company, and a pharmaceutical mogul. Obviously, the needs for all of the companies were different. Each used a system unique to their business needs. For example, Nike needed better communication in order to contact employees, so wireless phones were their solution; however, Microsoft needed a system to connect all different types of communications, so it developed Lync. The consumer base or the data base would not be the same as it would be had these all been the same type of company. Each company has different standards, and each company managed a successful communications strategy launch for their companies.
Companies’ ability to communicate can have a direct impact on the quantity and quality of service. Without communication, nothing can move forward, only backward. Implementing systems of communication allows each company to both move forward and allow rapid adaptation to any changes it encounters. Each company lives up to their mission statements, and tries to stick to their traditions. The hopes to keep their companies strong, and promote fairness and excellence have become a part of each and every company. They have developed strategies that allow for the growth and prosperity of their respective companies. Each company may have applied their system differently, but each and every one of them has worked extremely hard toward a common goal: You, the consumer.
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