What are the core values of the iStockPhoto.com partners? How do those values express themselves in the current business model?
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One of the core values of iStockPhoto.com is the establishment of an effective communication between the business partners with its community which initially comprised of amateur photographers, illustrators and graphic designers. When changes attributed to culture impacted on the business’ concept of having images put in CD-ROMs, the iStockPhoto partners saw the need to develop a new concept of operation. As it emerges from the article, its online platform is an important pillar upon which the organization reaches more clients, maintains contacts with present and past customers and most importantly, remains a viable branding tool (Grant and Stothers 3
Another core value at iStockPhoto.com is cooperation between the business and the community. Its staff has been associating very closely and indeed personally with the institution in fostering their inherent creativity at all levels since its inception (Grant and Stothers 3). On the same note, iStockPhoto.com website is no doubt one of the best because of additions that allow consumers to easily interact with the organization and form crucial communities that strengthen its brand. It is critical that the organization has continued towards motivating its web developers in order to enrich its ability to liaise better with its clients.
Enrichment of culture with core values such as communication, cooperation and continued progress was further articulated in the strategic plan as a method of remaining in touch with staff, its customers and the online community. One of the most important aspects of iStockPhoto.com ‘s capacity to assimilate the correct trends in countering competition is through development of effective culture in the organization. Their model of changing from the culture of production of photographs on CD ROMs and distributing to customers to working with online communities reflects Kurt Lewin’s theory of change which indicates that an organization should seek to establish strong cultures based on the need for continuous improvement of their internal relations and external outlook and projected at improving the value of the services offered to the customers (Grant and Stothers 3).
Paying attention to details
iStockPhoto.com has established paying attention to details as one of its major values which are infused in its systems and which it uses to anchor its internal and external outlook. In this respect, the company emphasizes on the need to pay attention to all the details of the company at all times. Through iStockPhoto.com online community, the management of the business indicates that it is able to understand the needs of its customers better and improve their services and products as well as special skills. With over 200000 members in its online community, iStockPhoto.com has developed forums on photography and design through which it gains details of what it needs to do from communications with its clients (Grant and Stothers 3).
Applying the use of Business to Customers (B2C)
According to Grant and Stothers, the use of B2C in web marketing has been regarded as one of the most significant marketing tools that have been utilized in the market to reach both potential and actual customers (170). iStockPhoto.com website as a marketing tool can be accessed by millions of people across the world. It has afforded employers and investors opportunities to meet with their clients though a virtual environment. Grant and Stothers continue to point out that its web as a marketing instrument has undergone technological innovation (180). It is pertinent to note that some types of algorithms benefit from the large amount of volumes on the Web.
Where does iStockPhoto’s competitive advantage lie? Analyze the threats that the company faces
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The ability of an organization to generate and maintain a competitive edge forms one of the most critical elements in supporting its internal and external mechanisms for further growth and expansion. The competitive advantages of iStockPhoto.com lie in its management strategies and competitive position in the photography industry. It is evident since its inception, the management of culture and changes in the business environment of iStockPhoto.com has been effective ensuring that it grows stronger and gain in profitability. One such demonstration of effective management is the shift to online communities, acquisitions and enhancement of speed and quality of image production (Grant and Stothers 197).
The business has formulated a system through which it effectively handles transactions with its customers. One such way is through its system of micro-payments. Grant and Stothers argue that iStockPhoto.com has diverse products which it offers to its customers at relatively cheaper prices (182). Besides, its customers can make purchases on credit through its micro payment scheme which allow customers buy in bulk. Its credit schemes which begin at 95 cents covers photo collections of different complexities and sizes. Using its website, customers of iStockPhoto.com are able to sign in and purchase credits online, search for whatever files they need and make subscriptions and downloads.
In addition, the pay per use service which iStockPhoto.com offers its online consumers plays a critical role in enhancing its competitive advantage. Grant and Stothers argue that this metered service offers potentially unlimited resources and their access to customers through an easy payment structure (190). At iStockPhoto.com, the practice is not only cost effective, but has aided it in gaining popularity in the competitive business arena.
iStockPhoto.com is a low cost photography business which attracts the consumers on the basis of the returns they are getting from the low cost services and products. Analysts of this method and application indicate that iStockPhoto.com‘s use of low cost for it products has aided it in attaining high profitability (197). Though its initial application was highly contested due to the high competition that the market giants posted, it was clear that slowly but systematically, the system would gather confidence among its customers. Besides, this was and remains a major strength owing to the bad economic progresses and therefore clearly scoring against other companies in the market.
Attainment of a competitive edge has been considered to have massive implications on products and services being released to consumers in the market. In terms of competitive position of iStockPhoto.com, the notion of its market competitiveness is laden with a sense of high quality products. With the notion of increased products value being progressive, consumers enjoy high quality products and services at all times and at the correct prices. Due to the need to maintain high quality services in the nation, iStockPhoto.com has sought to expand to other regions in the globe and thereby raise convenience of the meeting the various need of its customers (Grant and Stothers 198). It has also done this with an intention of maintaining its status amidst the fast growing industry.
Besides, its competitive positioning also plays a critical role as it acts as a critical tool for maintaining loyalty of the customers on products and services an organization offer. The ability of iStockPhoto.com to initiate, effect, and maintain market competitiveness in its different areas of operation act as one of the most critical elements in supporting growth of loyalty by consumers through continuous services improvement. As indicated earlier, gaining competitive advantage is a notion that goes hand-in-hand with provision of high quality that consumers seek association with. The management at iStockPhoto.com has often sought to generate high customer loyalty in their products.
However, the photography market is perhaps one of the most competitive marketplaces in the globe. Among the major competitors in the country and indeed in the region, include Corbis competitors, Fotolia, iSyndica, Photrade and PicApp among others. The precence of stron competitors in the market affects is earning of revenue and its bid to gain competitive edge through low cost of products.
Another threat is the rapid changes in the market due to globalization. It is imperative to note that its shift to online communities had been due to change in culture. Cultural organizations marketing demands carefully drawn strategies that sharpen and draws commitment and creativity of employees with the main aim being raising customer satisfaction and value for their time and resources.
How can Livingstone avert or minimize the impact of inherent conflict as the company grows?
While iStockPhoto.com has managed to achieve high performance over the last few years, there is a great room for improvement on its performance management. However, issues of inherent conflict of interest are seen to be a threat that may arise as the company seeks to grow its operations. Though iStockPhoto.com lacks immediate and very strong competition, emerging interests within it call for stronger structures and systems to guarantee continued high performance. The following recommendations are therefore very crucial.
Emphasis on teams and expanded evaluation
As indicated earlier, though the company emphasizes on the use of the concept of online communities as part of its principles, their input in the performance management process is not yet fully incorporated (Grant and Stothers 199). Borrowing from Likert’s participative model, it is imperative that teams and individual members should be given an equally stronger platform like online communities in improving the performance at the company. Therefore, Livingston should cease being adamant in only nurturing the online community but seek to combine even the older system of having images in CD ROMs, make group assessments and facilitate individual employees’ involvement in the process.
Emphasis on change agents and continuous improvement
Using Kurt Lewin’s perspective in his famous freezing-refreezing model, it is imperative to point out that to avoid inherent conflicts, it is crucial that iStockPhoto.com through Livingston position itself to make key changes that are harmonic in all units. Performance management at iStockPhoto.com appears highly objective, but fails to appreciate the need for continued improvement at different levels. Performance management at iStockPhoto.com should seek to create a strong consideration for change application in the company.
Increasing the models of motivating the adoption of online communities
To avoid inherent conflicts, it would be critical that Livingston motivate among fellow partners and workers the importance of embracing the concept of online communities. He should make them understand that changing the culture of operations is the most suitable model that all employees are able to associate with without risking the business profitability. Though the former model is still very important, other methods such as the use of online communities should be explored to increase value to the company.
Modify current hierarchical management structure
One of the most important factors that have made performance at iStockPhoto.com to remain high is the ability of the management to link with other partners and identify with them in addressing different issues. To make quick decisions and effectively incorporate other partners without creating a feeling of exercising greater autonomy, Livingston should modify the existing management structure of iStockPhoto.com. The management of the company should seek to bridge the hierarchical structure to improve communication and speed of addressing various issues.
What steps should iStockPhoto take to capitalize on the value of its content?
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Build its brand
iStockPhoto.com should internalize cultural demands of respective markets. Its marketing communication managers should carefully internalize diverse cultures and therefore design its brands in a manner that coheres with their orientation in its products and services designs. Consumers in any country will always want to be associated with products which reflect their cultures that are very distinct and which differentiate them from others. Marketing communication strategists should further consider taking their cultural consideration to smaller regions that are culturally distinct to become even more appealing.
Emphasize on social validation of respective products
iStockPhoto.com’s market positioning and targeting must be designed in a manner that its clients are given the correct and convincing information. As a result, it should use the online community platform to give information or incorporate previous findings on the products’ effectiveness in the market to create the assurance to the consumers. Often, organizations enter into new markets with new products such that effectiveness is difficult to ascertain due to their unfamiliarity. As a result, consumers only take the information and products on a test basis with their focus being to ascertain whether the information provided is indeed achievable. Using the online community platform, market communication should deliver articulate information ascertaining the effectiveness of their services and products with validation from past users.
How can iStockPhoto.com social validation be affected? It should test its products on smaller populations to determine their effectiveness. Consequently, the results should be used to drive marketing communication as part of the main assurance. Such trials or social validations should also try to capture the sense of local market to win positive attitude of the local population more easily. Social validation should further be extended to designing products for respective markets as part of holistic targeting. For iStockPhoto.com products to succeed in the various markets it wants to expand to, marketing communication via online platforms is necessary to create the sense of success and identity to portray the image that it is a quality brand.
Cultivate credible influence of the buzz
Owing to the continued influence of opinions about products and services in the market, the concept of online community should seek develop positive image about respective products in the local market. iStockPhoto.com products and services should therefore be carefully designed to reflect high quality and appeal to consumers.
Grant, Rebecca and Meghan, Stothers.Istockphoto.com: Turning Community into Commerce. Ontario, CA: Ivey Management Services, 2007. Print.