If I ran a world wide consumer technology and entertainment business, encompassing movies, music, the Playstation stuff, LCD television, video cameras, digital still cameras, blu-ray Disc players/recorders, DVD players, home audio, car audio, PCs, mobile audio, Image sensors and other semiconductors, batteries, audio/video/data recording media and data recording system,broadcast and professional-use equipment, gaming devices, tablets, medical-related equipment……goodness, I am losing focus, my mind is melting…arrgh.
Suffice to say, my first to-do list would be very long. Too long. One of my early activities would be to make my to-do list shorter. Not by isolating myself from the business, but by making my to-do list shorter.
Quietly, without fuss and certainly not a fire sale, I would:
1. Get a really good price for profit making non core businesses (if appropriate float).
2. Sell other obviously non core businesses to competitors or merge with them, retaining a minority holding (medical equipment).
3. Wherever possible sell rather than close. Just because we could not turn a profit, it doesn’t mean that others can’t (televisions why do we need to design, make and sell televisions, is it still 1994 outside ?).
4. Give the shareholders something to reward their patience.
As my to-do list starts to shrink, I am going to create another one.
Where we go from here
1. Stop talking about divisions. Divisions = politics. Divisions = VP types plotting against each other. Divisions = middle aged salary men protecting their fragile egos by surrounding themselves with reasons not to do what needs to be done (I know that is hard to accept chaps, but it is true).
2. Start talking about the Sony eco-system. What do I need to do to encourage life to grow within it ? Why my eco-system as opposed to the others out there? What products make my eco-system more exciting, fun etc. The eco-system incorporates both hardware, software, music, films and the customers experience in buying and owning them.
3. Please please please start talking about the customer again.
4. Let’s become really cool technology rock stars (we were once, back in the day. We were cooler than Apple). We probably have more patents than the whole lot put together. How come we are using the OS of a search engine company when we have our own perfectly exciting one (the one we stick into our playstation 3). Despite our best efforts, there are still customers out there who love what we do (Playstation 1, 2 & 3 users for example – how about we do something with the 1 & 2 again ? They could live in our eco-system again…hmmm..how about we have a proper Playstation app store with exclusive content from our movie, TV and film division, yeah I know we’ve tried it before but it was rubbish and it should have been brilliant).
5. Stop being all misty eyed about the past (edit item 4).
6. Look for partners and collaborators in unlikely places. Hewlett Packard anyone ? How about we merge our tablet divisions and develop a SONY/HP operating system, that works on their devices and our devices (with PS compatibility) and then lets work with them to share entertainment content etc etc.
At this point I must make a confession. I really like/liked bits of Sony. I think their Playstation stuff is fantastic (and my sons now share my view), my walkman was a prized possession, my Trinitron 25″ CRT television was a thing of beauty and…..damn it, now I am being all nostalgic. But do you see what just happened ? I just described my own (historic) personal Sony eco-system. There was no real reason to have bought a Sony telly to play my PS1 on, it just felt like the right thing to do.
Kaz Hirai has to create a real Sony eco-system. One that captures the imagination of the customers, invites them in and makes them buy with their hearts again. Having had a look at his One Sony plan, I have one cautionary comment to make – changing the management structure is something you do as a consequence of your new way of being, not the other way around.