Qing Chang

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On December 13, 2015, Qing Chang commented on BHP Billiton – Remotely Resourcing the Future :

Wow this is a very impressive piece of analysis with a lot of information to be absorbed. I love how the charts and video effectively supplement your argument. Great job Lee!

While I often associate mining company with bulky (but not necessarily smart) machinery, I am impressed to see how technology-savvy BHP is in integrating different parts of its business model together and monitor through central control system for dynamic process improvement on a daily basis. While the utilisation of IROC seems to be an inevitable outcome given BHP’s large scale across various asset types and locations, it offers BHP a strong competitive edge to harness on its economies of scale in operations – improved utilization rate, cost reduction, better safety monitoring and more – BHP set itself up in the centre of a virtuous cycle of productivity, and I believe it would continue to outperform its competitors on both scale and technology development.

My only concern is that commodities markets are very volatile and mining industry is facing huge headwinds recently. While BHP can partially hedge against the falling commodity price with its diversified asset types, what else could they do with their operating model to help them survive the challenge?

On December 13, 2015, Qing Chang commented on Uber: A Winning Strategy :

Nice touch on the key features of Uber’s operating strategy which has closely tied with its business strategies. To build on your point on Tech focus, I believe Uber is a clear winner in technology innovation that distinguish them from other followers – it has a more sophisticated algorithm that provides better driver/customer matching system and mileage/fare calculation that yields consistently positive user experiences. Uber keeps launching new features, including uber pool, enabling booking or large cars etc, which has been blindly followed by many of its competitors. Uber’s marketing strategy has always been innovative and closely related to pop culture, which help attract its target customers effectively.

With that said, I do have concerns on how Uber could sustain its competitive edge and continuously outperform its competitors. Given how price sensitive and promotion-focused consumers are, many of such transportation apps are simply burning investors’ money to complete on low price and large promotions (first 5 rides for free for Lyft etc). Hence it would take extra effort from Uber to remain competitive on pricing but in the mean time seek alternative monetisation ways of the huge traffic it has gained.

On December 13, 2015, Qing Chang commented on Making Dreams Come True…With Operations Management :

To support their value proposition of “create happiness through magical experiences”, Disney has done exceptionally well in paying attention to every details that visitors could encounter in the park. From trash bins to gardening, Disney does not miss out any place that could have thrown you back into the reality – everything is so carefully curated to ensure a magical experience for every visitor. Services is also a key part of their operating model aligning with their business model.

With the growing visitors every year, lining up for attractions/rides has definitely been a pain point for many visitors. Fast Pass as well as mobile app (mentioned by one of the comments) are great invention to partially address this issue. However, I personally find Fast Pass not necessarily useful in shortening the average wait time, as often times visitors are limited to hold at most one or two fast pass in hand, or as you mentioned, really popular rides tend to be sold out early. Not sure how technologically feasible it is – maybe Disney can consider further explore their mobile app and use backend algorithm to optimise scheduling for popular rides after people input their favourite 3-4 rides.

In addition, Disney also focuses on product innovation to keep bringing new features that attract repeat customers. From opening up new theme parks and building new themed sites within the park, to creating new stores, shows and parades to keep up to date with the latest Disney movie releases, Disney never fails to “create happiness through magical experiences” for visitors.

On December 13, 2015, Qing Chang commented on Nitori: 28 years consecutive profit increase :

It is very interesting to see how Nitori follows the Ikea business model but customizes its operating strategy to create and satisfy the unmet needs of Japanese market. Nitori’s comprehensive product line up (from furniture to smaller home deco goods) as well as mini-home display in-store support its “Total Coordination” business strategy, while its low cost strategy is met by careful selection of store location and manufacturing/distribution strategies.

However, owning the entire design to delivery process implies that Nitori requires a good talent acquisition and retention strategy. Given the high labor cost in Japan and strong competitor like Otsuka, I would like to learn how Nitori attracts its think tank (the designers) while keeping the cost low.

On the other hand, while Nitori outsources its manufacturing process, its business is still relatively asset heavy requiring large warehouses and good logistics services, which requires huge capital expenditure – just like how Alibaba and JD.com in China differ in their cost structure due to the splendid logistics services that JD.com owns. I am interested to learn how Nitori develops its own logistics services and keeps the cost under control.