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Human Resource Management and Smartphones

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The study is aimed at discussing smartphones. The discussion covers a brief overview of the smartphone industry. It is followed by how globalization has impacted the industry. In this section of the study, it covers a brief of Apple and how it as managed the impact of globalization. It specifically covers the paradoxes and HR response in regards to Apple. In the end, it speaks of the future changes and the impacts on the smartphone industry.

The chosen product is the “Smartphone”. It has a significant meaning to it for a reason that most of the manufacturing nowadays is being done alone in China (Lee, Kim & Lim, 2016). An access to the global manufacturing in this way is the influence of globalization. During the times when simpler phones were being used, the scenario was not the same. The outsourcing of manufacturing is to promote mass production at reduced operational costs (Lin & Chen, 2015). However, the entire journey of manufacturing from the concept of a phone to reaching to its end-users, brands can decide the portion of the process to outsource. Notably, every single process is not outsourced.

Generally, Smartphones are manufactured in six steps. The first step is ‘making of prototype’. The idea is generated in the board meeting and then an affirmation is passed to the R&D lab. The first thing they do is considering the aesthetics. Once the model is ready, it is being passed to several people to get their opinions. Once one of the models is approved, the hardware part is worked upon. It is then handed over to the group of electronic engineers who are responsible for processor, memory, battery, display, cameras and others aspects of a phone. This is followed by seeking an approval on the product from the concerned authorities (Zink et al., 2014).

Software installation is the next step without which the hardware being installed would not work. The software team checks for the compatible software to produce a better impact. Before the designs process, the product is rigorously checked for a number of times to identify whether any further work is required. It is followed by a mass production of phones. Few of the components are outsourced where the original equipment manufacturers (OEM) follow the manufacturing instructions of the Smartphone brand. When the product has met all the parameters of satisfaction, it is then sent to the packaging. The last stage of making is the shipment through which products are distributed to the global retailers. Product marketing is also being done before the shipment which itself depends on the concerned phone brand (Suh & Kim, 2015).

There are ample numbers of smartphone companies at both the domestic and global level; however, very few have made the impact. Few of the most famous independently operating phone brands are Apple, Samsung, Lenovo, Sony, LG, Asus, Xiomi, Oppo, Huawei and others. Motorola is now being acquired by Lenovo whereas Nokia by Microsoft (Singh, 2015).

The phone features are adjusted in a way to meet the needs and demands of people in different regions. Phone manufacturers have not remained limited with customers in their parent and neighboring countries only but have moved to the global countries. International treaties for addressing environmental impacts such as air pollution, wastes, resource depletion and climate change are also the impact of globalization. In fact, the best multinational companies do not see environmental impacts as a legislative burden but as an opportunity to constantly improve their worldwide reputation (Epstein, 2018). They get recognized for their work by the governments, NGOs, public bodies and the people. The inflow of raw materials from various parts of the world is also an impact of globalization.

Manufacturers can also go for the global suppliers who are certified from internationally acclaimed bodies (Kannan, de Sousa Jabbour & Jabbour, 2014). Globalization is helping to access technologies, raw materials and labor force in the various parts of the world. Strategic alliances by means of merger & acquisition (M&A), joint venturing, strategic partnership and outsourcing are the globalization impacts (Choi & Contractor, 2016). For example, Apple manufactures its phones in two phases such as assembling and manufacturing. The most of assembling is done in China. Foxconn in China has been the longest running partner of Apple. On the other hand, components of phones are made from specialists in different things in various parts of the world. As for example, Camera is manufactured by Sony in Japan and dozens of other countries in the world whereas flash memory, battery and A-series processor are manufactured form Samsung in South Korea and more other locations in the world (Khan, Alam & Alam, 2015). The reason for such arrangements is to access the core competency of globalized companies. It shows how Apple and the likes are getting benefitted from going global.

Apple is one of the most widely recognized mobile phone brands in the world. The two globalization paradoxes that the company has faced are as follows:

1. International trading

2. Understanding the culture

1. International trading:

Apple like other manufacturers outsources manufacturing to take the advantage of reduced labor cost and improve the efficiency by facilitating a mass production. Until recently, the decision has paid off and had constantly fulfilled the needs for a mass production. It also helped Apple in avoiding the excessive logistics costs needed to import the manufactured components from China. They did it by assembling the phones in China itself (Pun et al., 2016).

This is indeed a remarkable achievement that customers are paying huge money for a prime product which is manufactured and assembled in China. Customers have liked it for its premium qualities. It was truly a paradox for Apple while they intended to enter China for both manufacturing and assembling. However, the way it has managed it so far is just remarkable. The ability to outsource manufacturing and assembling to a number of countries and controlling it as well just speak about the intelligence Apple has delivered so far (Serra & Kunc, 2015).

Customers in India are different from those in China in many regards. Indian customers are more price sensitive than the Chinese customers. A large population of Indian customers wants the budget phones. This is the reason why budget phones from Lenovo, Xiaomi and Vivo have done stupendously well in recent times. These brands had offered specs and features which premium brands would offer at a relatively higher cost. Few premium brands have tried to occupy the mid-budget segment; however, they could not be much different to budget phones in terms of specs and features. Premium brands such as Samsung and Sony witnessed a sales drop and were the brands largely affected by the changing trend (Sujata et al., 2015). Apple is the one exception of premium brands which has managed its sales. More customers are now buying the Apple phones than ever. They are also responding to every latest flagship offering from Apple (Siddiqui & Mishra, 2016). It is just amazing how Apple being highly priced has managed to make its own category. Customers are finding it worth a buy.

The way Apple deals with the international culture it appears as if it does not work on it. However, it is not true. It actually does not adapt to customers but rather customers do it. Apple is in fact not on the social media. It does not advertise rather its customers do it for Apple. Apple does not believe in customizing the features and specs to suit the global needs. It rather comes as ‘one size fits for all’ approach. Despite these hard to believe facts, Apple convincingly manages to behave locally. The customer service protocol is different for different regions and suits the local customs. In fact, the building layout is also designed in a way that it appeals to the architectural culture of the local. Once a location is finalized, they ensure every bit to work hard to make it feel local to the people. The standardization approach allows Apple to launch its phones in so many regions. Apple’s phones are now available in more than 115 countries (Gehani, 2016).

Apple’s e-commerce website is also the same throughout the world. The only changes being made to it is the inclusion of a feature which can customize the contents of the different regional languages. Apple creates the demands and solidifies its image this way only. They understand the culture so beautifully that people wait in line to embrace this culture when they can just manage it from online. The culture is to bring uniqueness in terms of designs, qualities and creativity (Gupta & Dhillon, 2014).

The HRM at Apple has different working philosophy than the others in context to the retention of its start talents. Normally, unintentional egalitarianism is followed in other companies which mean using the start talent in every possible zone. On the other hand, Apple follows a non-egalitarian method by which the HRM deploys its star talent at the most critical works. A close to 95% of such cases is fulfilled by A-level talent which also affects the success rate of its business strategies and the execution. Hence, task distribution done in such a way ensures that the employees have little or less challenge in coping up with their tasks. According to (Chen & Ann, 2016), firms that are able to appropriately utilize its workforce will have fewer complaints coming from employees and the rate of attrition will also reduce.

The HRM at apple did recognize the importance to reduce or destroy a negative publicity of the reward system. The HRM did not reward an individual with a unique performance appraisal until and unless the team has performed (Khan, Alam & Alam, 2015). By doing so, the HRM has elaborated on the importance of having the ‘teamwork’.

Organizational drag is a chronic friction which can potentially impact the productivity. Various factors can act as the friction. One of such factors is ‘cultural diversity’ which can be intolerant to people. Apple has its stores in many countries supported by both local and the migrant professionals. Those migrant workers can be racially assaulted on a number of times from the native people. After a number of times, it becomes a chronic friction leading the migrant workers to look for other options (Ozdemir, 2015). Apple has successfully managed the cultural differences by encouraging employees for doing their best and not creating the distraction for others.

Apple is also working on virtual reality plans. The aim is to provide an enhanced camera experience to customers. The HRM was able to identify that the trend is picking up and being adopted by some big names such as Samsung, Facebook and Google. It responded to it and started to hire some ex-professionals of Microsoft and also by doing the fresh recruitments. Ex-professionals of Microsoft were experienced in working with the virtual reality (Fortune, 2018).

Future prediction:

Augmented Reality (AR) is one of the futures for smartphones which would enable customers to know the exact information of anything they select in real-time. They can do it by pointing their camera towards the thing they want to know about. Flexible screens will also be the future which would allow customers to fold and unfold multiple screens at their wish. Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) technology will be making this possible. In built-Digital Light Projection (DLP) will add more features to the smartphones. TV screens will no longer be required to play games. Only a flat surface will do the thing. Seamless Voice Control, 3D Screens and Holograms will also be the future of smartphones. Globalization will continue to impact the manufacturers and the smartphone brands. Apple would probably be shifting its manufacturing facilities to India due to reducing sales and incrementing labor cost in China.

The HRM will come with effective strategies to attract and retain the talents to maintain a diverse workforce. A lot of emphasis would be on productivity rather on promoting the racism. Work-engagement will become a prime focus.

The HRM at Apple needs to follow in the footsteps of successful companies which have effectively maintained its talents. The one area needed to work upon is to reduce the racism. It can follow “Netflix” for how it manages the culturally diverse workforce. Netflix promotes to act in the best interest of the firm.

The end-users will get to see a lot of technological advancements some of which can really be a delighting experience to them. AR, Flexible Screens, In-Built Projector, Holograms & 3D Screens and Flawless Voice Control would be a few changes to watch out for.

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