Case Study Analysis: 2
Professor: David Butterton
Student: Myles S. Foerter
Student Number: 300193633
David Lam Campus, A1130
History, Development and Growth:
SMART Technologies was founded in Calgary, Alberta by David Martin and Nancy
Knowlton in the year of 1987. These two Canadian innovators came together in 1991 to
introduce the worlds first interactive digital whiteboard. The SMART Whiteboard was referred
to as the “21st
century’s answer to overhead projectors.” Digital whiteboards turned into the
companies initial offering which increased the opportunities for SMART Tech due to the
evolution of technology itself between 1987 and 2007. Sales grew as the demand for the
interactive whiteboard went viral giving the firm over half of the global market share by 2009.
In the time period of a year from 2009 to 2010 SMART Tech had increased 38.4% between the
revenues and profits.
SMART Technologies Internal Strengths and Weaknesses:
One of the key strengths of SMART Technologies is that it's the first of its kind allowing
the firm to build a strong brand name with loyal customers. Being the first ever interactive
digital whiteboard has given SMART Technologies a steady lead on how it differentiates its self
from new competition in the market. As time passed since the first whiteboard was introduced
to the market, technology evolved due to the high demand of it everywhere. This created a
weakness for SMART Technologies allowing a handful of new well developed competitors to
join the playing field such as: Microsoft, Dell and HP.
With SMART Technologies they only had a few offerings to there consumers which
made it difficult for the company to obtain quality staff who knew how to help the firm grow.
Although the staff of SMART Tech was limited they did have the knowledge and education to
retain the quality of the products. The outcome of the weakness, being hard to employ qualified
staff balanced out the strength of having limited staff who are capable of maintaining the
prestige of the products. As time progressed everyone in an elementary and secondary school
was aware of the interactive digital whiteboard, this allowed the company to have low costs on
promoting there products.
-Strong brand name with loyal customers
-First of its kind making people are already
aware of their products
-Educated employees capable of retaining
-Products are everywhere in schools
-Competitive market with many similar
variations of the offerings
-Hard to obtain quality staff with the required
-Limited growth paths
-Limited access to receiving feedback from
-Can expand with new product lines to reach
new consumers in their target market
-Take advantage of the evolution of
technology as the demand has risen
-Schools and military organizations require
new technology constantly
-Price sensitive consumers evaluating similar
-Large competitor firms are always innovating
-Barriers of entry to new product lines
SMART Technologies External Environment:
As I stated previously about the evolution of technology compared to the life cycle of
SMART Technologies, opportunities are being discovered immensely. The company is
realizing how important technology is to the average person. SMART Tech has the opportunity
to open themselves up to the ultimate consumer rather then mainly being directed towards
government and corporate markets. Seems how they have not done this in the past, this gives
the larger companies – Microsoft and Dell - a lead on marketing to a variety of segments
within the market. This opportunity taken by the competitors acts as a threat to SMART
Technologies if SMART Tech does not decide to grab hold of this chance to grow.
The high demand for technology is handing opportunities to SMART Tech to expand
and broaden there product lines to all consumers. No matter how many opportunities are given
to SMART Tech, the competition is innovating at a pace which makes it hard for SMART Tech
to keep up. By listening to the voice of the consumer the competition has taken market shares
away from SMART Technologies. The firm has secured there sales to schools, but schools need
new technology at a consistent rate giving SMART Tech an opportunity to act on this need.
Now that SMART Tech has competition with variations of their products, consumers are
becoming price sensitive by evaluating the benefits of the different characteristics and features
The “SMART” Mission:
David Martin and Nancy Knowlton came up with the mission to inspire innovation and
to improve the way the world works and learns. These two Albertan's are defined by their
customers who discover new ideas, new ways of learning and new ways of collaborating.
Hence the firms slogan “Inspired Collaboration”. By having the companies mission be directed
to inspire innovation and learning techniques, SMART Technologies has consistently focused
on caring for their consumers since the day it was founded.
1. To invent the first interactive digital whiteboard.
2. To place a “smart board” in one of every five class rooms and have over seven million
units globally by 2015.
3. To go beyond the education market.
4. Make the systems easy to use while giving a positive experience.
SMART Technologies has approached the strategy of targeting organizational buyers
built of government and corporate consumers. By using a product differentiation strategy with
this target, the firm is able to point out key beneficial features and characteristics of the
hardware and software. In order to reach new growth paths of the firm, the firm must apply
multiple strategies by changing the offerings given to new staff with higher education. Raising
the offerings given to employees will give them a future with the company to grow side by
side. The strategy could be altered also by listening to the “voice of the consumer” to discover
what SMART Technologies is missing and should apply to the products in the future.
The software that SMART Tech offers if by far the most significant attribute of the firms
products. It stands above the competition with 8 different formats of software for the smart
board. The following software's are:
which allows users to compile images and other media into virtual notebooks.
Smart Notebook Math Tools is an add-on to Smart Notebook and includes virtual math tools, including a
ruler, protractor and a compass.
Smart Sync classroom
allows teachers to monitor what each student is doing on a student computer
Smart Response interactive
allows students to answer questions posed by questions using various devices,
such as specialized hardware remotes, computers, and smart-phone
Smart Ideas concept-mapping
is a multilevel concept mapping software
Bridgit conferencing software is a data conferencing software that connects multiple parties across distances
and allows users to share their desktop/laptop or interactive whiteboard screen
with all participants. Smart Bridgit includes voice over, web-cam capability and
Smart Meeting Pro software is a collaborative meeting software that connects two or more desktops/laptops
or interactive whiteboards in the same meeting room, or across distances when
Smart Vantage technology
allows for centralized administration and management of Smart's hardware
SMART Tech has a lead on the competition not only with the software they offer, but
also with some key factors such as; product performance, ease of use, brand recognition, value
of the products and services and the firms distribution capabilities. All of the following add up
to place the company at a prestige level in the industry they compete in. They have created a
partnership with Microsoft, but SMART Tech still remains as “SMART Technologies” and are
creating on their own without branches below. Therefore the company is a single level
organization. SMART Tech is using a competitive differentiation strategy by keeping the
market aware they are the first ever interactive digital whiteboard. The investment strategy they
use is a low-cost promotion strategy due the company being in the maturity stage of its life
cycle. They use this strategy because awareness is already high of their offerings, there is no
need to invest more.
Competitive Advantages Continued:
In order for SMART Tech to continue its growth in the “tech-world” it should look more
into exploiting its partnership with Microsoft. Microsoft is known all around the world for there
product mix and could push SMART Technologies products to reach new global consumers.
The company has achieved two forms of strategies (low-cost and differentiation) which are
directed to the product plan and the investment plan.
The physical product itself does not have a competitive advantage due to its basic body
from the first day it was developed. SMART Tech has been recycling the model design rather
then reconstructing a new body through each generation of the whiteboard.
SMART Technologies Company Structure:
Within SMART Tech, the structure of the company shows a vertical differentiation
because of the multiple levels of hierarchy shown in the organization through management and
roles of the employees. There is also a horizontal differentiation in the product structure, this is
shown by the breakdown of the products. An example of this would be the smart board;
consisting of a body which holds the software. The main level of software is then composed of
elite software and base software.
The different levels of hierarchy in SMART Tech all encourage one another with
allowing each employee to aim for a future with the organization. Managers are rewarded
when excelling at work which encourages management to push their abilities. With rewards on
the table for staff excelling this resolves conflict among the organization.
My recommendation for SMART Technologies would be to eliminate an assortment of
their product mix such as document cameras, audio systems, pen displays and wireless slates.
By doing this, the company can increase the focus more on the development of their initial
product – the smart board. Collecting new data from previous consumers through interactive
surveys and focus groups will benefit the company in the new product structure strategy and
the new investment strategy.
It would be a good idea to create partnerships with other technology companies as they
did with Microsoft. They would still be SMART Tech with no branches, but they could place
certain formats of their software into the bodies of the products offered by the partnered
companies. Creating a partnership of this sort would eliminate the competitive disadvantage
SMART Tech is facing with their product mix; having a slick, smooth and smart body of the
products offered will show the future of the organization as being “professional.”
1. SMART Technologies has used the same brand name, extending it to new products in
its product mix. What other options could it consider for new product launches?
Answer - SMART Tech could launch new software for well known brands of laptops,
tablets and phones. They could challenge the Google Nexus smart-phone by creating a
SMART Technologies “SMART-phone” designed for consumers in the government and
corporate market who already use SMART Tech products.
2. Using the diffusion of the innovation curve, describe how SMART Technologies could
use the information it provides to make marketing strategies and decisions in the
Answer – I recommend that SMART Tech should eliminate an assortment of the product
mix on the market they already have. Allowing more investment into the development of
their initial product. The interactive digital whiteboard.
3. Identify ways that SMART Technologies can generate new product ideas. Which of
these ways involve customers? How can the company assess the value of ideas
contributed by customers?
Answer – New ideas can be generated by listening to the voice of the consumer, focus
groups, in-depth interviews and interactive surveys. By using all the methods of
collecting valuable ideas of the consumers SMART Tech will be able to apply the data in
a controlled experiment to test how successful the feed back was to altering the products
4. What stage of the product life cycle is the interactive whiteboard market in? Describe
the characteristics of this stage. Use information from the case to support your
Answer – SMART Technologies whiteboards are in the Maturity Stage of the product life
cycle. This is because awareness of the product is high due to the whiteboard being the
first of its kind and introduced in 1991. The sales of the product are increasing at a
decreasing rate as fewer new buyers enter the digital whiteboard market. Smart boards
in general are in the growth stage as technology is steadily growing.
5. How can SMART Technologies use product life cycle theory to keep sales growth
from slowing down?
Answer – SMART Technologies needs to review their strategic marketing process to
initiate a new promotion campaign. They also need to be constantly updated with new
trends in technology which will push the sales up immensely.
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