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Read Case 5, “Dell Computer: Back to the Future,”

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Read Case 5, “Dell Computer: Back to the Future,” in Understanding Business Strategy, pg. C-49 thru C-62.

Increasing globalization, new technologies, and evolving market trends have all had a considerable impact on Dell’s recent performance. With the company confronting some significant challenges and decisions, you have returned to the position of CEO to address its fundamental operating issues. Last week you cleared your schedule and conducted a SWOT analysis to evaluate the company’s current situation and to determine a strategy which will align with the company’s existing business environment. As you look over your assessment and consider the challenges facing Dell, you decide to call in the company’s top management team to discuss your findings.

Your analysis includes the following elements:

  1. Based on your assessment of the external environment, what conclusions have you drawn, and what opportunities and threats require immediate action from Dell?
  1. What internal resources and capabilities at Dell can support these actions, and what weaknesses might interfere with the company’s ability to implement a new strategy?
  1. In what ways does the strategy need to be changed to respond to the external environment, reignite growth, position the company for the future, and win a competitive advantage by exploiting Dell’s core competencies?
  1. Does the nature of the changing PC market require Dell to reevaluate its decision to minimize traditional retail in favor of direct sales as its distribution channel?
  1. Does the nature of the changing PC market require Dell to reevaluate the extent to which JIT and lean production processes provide an advantage for laptop-PC production? Does Dell need to change these processes to maximize its competitive advantage? If so, how?

Based on your discussion with Dell’s top management team, you expect to achieve agreement on the strategic direction and moves that will fulfill the company’s immediate and long-term goals. However, the issue of leadership is hanging over your head. Who should lead Dell through this new strategic phase?