Monday, March 15, 2010

Strategy

1) To what extent does your organization achieve Operational Effectiveness (OE)?

ESPN.com struggles to achieve Operational Effectiveness. In the early days of ESPN.com, the technology group was located in Seattle and the editorial group was located in Bristol, CT. In 2000, the groups were combined and ESPN relocated the technology group to Bristol.

While such a move might seem to promote cohesiveness and communication, it actually had the opposite effect. Political wars broke out over ownership of products. No one had the authority to implement process and dead-end meetings became the norm.

I left that environment to partner a new branch in Los Angeles. With the autonomy and distance, my group has drastically improved Operational Effectiveness by moving off of ESPN.com’s proprietary technology, implementing agile and iterative development practices, outsourcing most development and instituting SCRUM. <-------- HA! I was SOOOO wrong

2) To what extent to does your organization achieve an effective Strategic Positioning?

ESPN and ESPN.com leans heavily on its brand, which, with Nike, is the strongest in the sports market. ESPN’s position as “The World Wide Leader in Sports” has driven ESPN.com to capitalize on opportunities outside the United States, including the world’s largest cricket Web site.

More specifically, my group has taken that position to extend ESPN outside of ESPN-controlled environments. We are leveraging the opening of platforms such as Facebook, Google, MySpace, Beebo and others to spread the brand and open new advertisement streams.

3) Is your organization’s strategy is focused primarily on cost leadership or product differentiation?

Without a doubt, ESPN focuses on product differentiation over cost leadership. Time and again, ESPN, and in particular, ESPN.com, has shown that it will spend money to try and provide a unique product.

ESPN.com has paid top dollar to acquire talent to produce content. From bloggers (TrueHoop, Hash Marks, Jayski) to specialized services such as Scouts, Inc, Stats, Inc, SportsTicker, Baseball Reference, Baseball America and Elias Sports Bureau, ESPN.com is constantly seeking ways to provide content and information not available from competitors.

4) How does your organization’s OE and SP compare to those of competitors (affecting your level of profitability or performance relative to others)?

ESPN and ESPN.com have a far stronger brand than any of its competitors, which it relies on heavily for Strategic Positioning. Additionally, ESPN is the only 24-hour sports network, and in fact, operates six such stations in the United States. Not only does this present a nearly insurmountable barrier for cable competitors, it provides ESPN.com an advantage because these stations can be leveraged to promote and advertise products on ESPN.com.

My assumption is that OE is very similar among ESPN.com’s competitors (FoxSports.com, Yahoo Sports, sportsline.com and the league sites). However, as mentioned, my group in Los Angeles operates with superior technology and process, which is allowing us to release community-related products quicker than our competitors.
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