Sony Car Navigation System Case Study

Continuously motivating a highly skilled team can prove to be challenging, but the rewards can be extremely beneficial.

Uniting staff to encourage them to work more effectively together can result in enhanced business productivity, alongside increased creativity, and an overall boost to morale.

But how do you keep motivating a team of over 600 members?

This a challenge which Sony UK Technology Centre faces every day.

The Pencoed-based factory, which produces thousands of HD broadcast and professional camera systems annually, including the latest 4K, has seen its staff numbers soar to just over 600 over the past two years, thanks to its internationally recognised reputation for high-quality manufacturing.

Projects including production of the best-selling computer the Raspberry Pi, which has just marked its 10 million manufacturing milestone, have helped attract highly skilled team members.

While the landmark Advanced Manufacturing Research Operations Centre (AMROC), numerous third party manufacturing projects, and the Ffilm Factory 35 have also added to its rapidly increasing staff numbers.

To ensure its talented Welsh workforce can continue achieving world-class manufacturing standards, the business heads including Professional Services director Gerald Kelly are tasked with organising an annual team building day to bring its staff together.

Mr Kelly said: “At Sony UK TEC we recognise the value our dedicated workforce contributes in helping us achieve international success. As such it is in our ongoing interests to ensure they feel supported, valued, and motivated, so that we can continue to achieve industry-leading results.

“With our workforce expanding significantly over a short period of time, we always attempt to find the most effective way to reach hundreds of staff, while also supporting each individual in their own aims.

“This is a particular challenge, especially as we have multiple departments across Sony UK TEC, which have team players who have never met each other before.

“We researched thoroughly how we could effectively bring all these people together, while challenging their departmental skills, and also encouraging them to work collaboratively.

“As we work in a manufacturing environment, it seemed logical to test their analytical skills, as each one could use their experience to contribute to a task. However, we also wanted to challenge them by taking them out of their comfort zone, so we have also introduced creative elements which will encourage team players to pool their knowledge and work together.

“With this in mind, we hold an annual team building day bringing together our talented teams to encourage collaboration, communication, and co-operation.

“We try to vary the activity annually to continuously challenge them and appeal to different skill sets and team players.

“Previous activities have included building a tent blindfolded with only one person guiding the team; or solving a complicated riddle together. Last year teams had to work together to build a series of bridges, which, when combined, could support the journey of a toy train or car.

“The important thing to take away from this is that it isn’t the end result that is crucial, it’s the journey. As cliché as that may sound, it is while the process of working through a challenge is ongoing that people really learn, communicate and progress.

“Each year these events prove to be hugely beneficial to the work ethos of our teams which translates onto the factory floor. And while we recognise that building a strong team doesn’t happen in a single day, we believe that co-operative events like this certainly play a vital role in continuously motivating them and giving them the confidence to achieve.”

The third annual event this year saw employees heading to Cardiff City Stadium, which Sony UK TEC has partnered with for nearly 10 years to work across the community. There they undertook a creative project aimed at encouraging communication, co-operation, and collaboration.

Mr Kelly said: “This year’s task was creatively focussed with the overall result helping to highlight the benefits of collaborative working in our facility.

“Our staff worked together to create a large canvas, which is now proudly displayed at Sony UK TEC.

“We chose the design, so our team players had to work together effectively to bring this vision to life. In all 164 canvases and 82 team had to coordinate and come together as one big picture.

“It was a test of many of their skills, not least their artistic sides.

“The activity was a hugely rewarding experience surrounding sharing, communication and co-operation in a challenging environment, and was suitable for all abilities in order for everyone to participate

“The aim of this event, as with all our team building challenges, is to improve morale within departments, increase collaboration and communication within and between departments, and encourage engagement to ensure we continue to promote best practice across Sony.”

Its emphasis on staff progression, motivation, and improvement, has driven international success at the Welsh factory, with Sony UK TEC consistently recognised among the most progressive in the industry.

This has included the facility championing the industry 4.0 next generation manufacturing standards through its AMROC project, working closely to develop team players to achieve the best results through its Sony Wales Academy, and adopting third-party manufacturing for industry-leading products including Telensa and CyDen

Author: Adam Offord

Sony was the first company in the 1990’s to launch the car navigation system. Sony was the market leader with a 60% market share in 1993. Sony had also led a group of 40 companies in an industry standard called Naviken which enabled consumers to benefit from mutually compatible digital map software while manufacturers reduced their risk by sharing development costs. However, competitors not in the NaviKen group

were able to introduce new and improved products more often and more rapidly by developing or acquiring proprietary digital map technologies. Sony could not keep up with this development and the market share dropped to 15% in 1996. In Europe and the US, Sony was also the first one that introduced the navigation system, but local manufacturers in Europe started to launch competing products aggressively. Other Japanese competitors were expected to enter the Europe and the US market by 1997.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The problem definition is the following:</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">How can Sony boost sales and recapture lost market share in the highly competitive Japanese market and at the same time expand to Europe and the US in order to stay ahead of the growing competition and the technological development?</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The concept of the car navigation system had been around in Japan since the early 1980&#8217;s, Honda claimed to be the first company to put a navigations system on the road. The Japanese market for car navigation systems was the world largest in 1995 with sales of 580,000 units and $840 million. Sony&#8217;s competitors in Japan were Pioneer, Mitsubishi, Matsushita and Alpine.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The European market stood behind the Japanese market for five years. The market began to develop when major companies like Bosch and Philips introduced products in Germany and France, which became Sony&#8217;s competitors in Europe.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">In the US, car navigation systems were not known by everybody. The US market was behind both Europe and Japan. The value of car navigation systems was not that obvious for US drivers due to the well- organized system with traffic signs, street names and highly developed highway.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The strategic options for Sony can be divided into three parts: the geographical focus issue, the product options and the option whether to continue with NaviKen or not.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">We have chosen the option to develop a low-priced model for the three markets. For Europe and the US, it will be an effective way to introduce the car navigation system of Sony. In Japan it will be a way to gain the mass market. Although the market is in its maturity phase, there are still enough potential clients for Sony. They are either sensitive for the price or they do not know how to use it properly. For them we will introduce an easy to understand, low-priced model.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">We also recommend Sony to innovate consistently and faster in Japan, because the competition is far ahead. This needs managerial persistence and financial commitment for the development of the product and for the marketing as well.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The distribution of this car accessory will be the after market retail channels.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">We suggest that Sony should stay with NaviKen. But NaviKen must develop and innovate much faster than it currently does. Only in that case will it be fortunate to stay with NaviKen.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"> <p style="text-align: justify;">Introduction</p>

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