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Alpha Natural Resources SWOT Analysis / Matrix
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SWOT analysis is a vital strategic planning tool that can be used by Alpha Natural Resources managers to do a situational analysis of the firm . It is an important technique to analyze the present Strengths (S), Weakness (W), Opportunities (O) & Threats (T) Alpha Natural Resources is facing in its current business environment.
The Alpha Natural Resources is one of the leading companies in its industry. Alpha Natural Resources maintains its dominant position in market by critically analyzing and reviewing the SWOT analysis. SWOT analysis an immensenly interactive process and requires effective coordination among various departments within the firm such as – marketing, finance, operations, management information systems and strategic planning.
The SWOT Analysis framework facilitates an organization to identify the internal strategic factors such as -strengths and weaknesses, & external strategic factors such as - opportunities and threats. It leads to a 2X2 matrix – also known as SWOT Matrix.
The Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) Analysis / Matrix enables the managers of the Alpha Natural Resources to develop four types of strategies:
- SO (strengths-opportunities) Strategies
- WO (weaknesses-opportunities) Strategies
- ST (strengths-threats) Strategies
- WT (weaknesses-threats) Strategies
SWOT Matrix Strategies Objective
The primary purpose of SWOT matrix is to identify the strategies that a firm can use to exploit external opportunities, counter threats, and build on & protect Alpha Natural Resources strengths, and eradicate its weaknesses.
Step by Step Guide to Alpha Natural Resources SWOT Analysis
Strengths of Alpha Natural Resources – Internal Strategic Factors
As one of the leading firms in its industry, Alpha Natural Resources has numerous strengths that help it to thrive in the market place. These strengths not only help it to protect the market share in existing markets but also help in penetrating new markets. Based on Fern Fort University extensive research – some of the strengths of Alpha Natural Resources are –
- Successful track record of developing new products – product innovation.
- Strong Brand Portfolio – Over the years Alpha Natural Resources has invested in building a strong brand portfolio. The SWOT analysis of Alpha Natural Resources just underlines this fact. This brand portfolio can be extremely useful if the organization wants to expand into new product categories.
- Strong dealer community – It has built a culture among distributor & dealers where the dealers not only promote company’s products but also invest in training the sales team to explain to the customer how he/she can extract the maximum benefits out of the products.
- High level of customer satisfaction – the company with its dedicated customer relationship management department has able to achieve a high level of customer satisfaction among present customers and good brand equity among the potential customers.
- Successful track record of integrating complimentary firms through mergers & acquisition. It has successfully integrated number of technology companies in the past few years to streamline its operations and to build a reliable supply chain.
- Strong distribution network – Over the years Alpha Natural Resources has built a reliable distribution network that can reach majority of its potential market.
- Automation of activities brought consistency of quality to Alpha Natural Resources products and has enabled the company to scale up and scale down based on the demand conditions in the market.
- Reliable suppliers – It has a strong base of reliable supplier of raw material thus enabling the company to overcome any supply chain bottlenecks.
Weakness of Alpha Natural Resources – Internal Strategic Factors
Weakness are the areas where Alpha Natural Resources can improve upon. Strategy is about making choices and weakness are the areas where an organization can improve using SWOT analysis and build on its competitive advantage and strategic positioning.
- Financial planning is not done properly and efficiently. The current asset ratio and liquid asset ratios suggest that the company can use the cash more efficiently than what it is doing at present.
- Not very good at product demand forecasting leading to higher rate of missed opportunities compare to its competitors. One of the reason why the days inventory is high compare to its competitors is that Alpha Natural Resources is not very good at demand forecasting thus end up keeping higher inventory both in-house and in channel.
- Days inventory is high compare to the competitors – making the company raise more capital to invest in the channel. This can impact the long term growth of Alpha Natural Resources
- High attrition rate in work force – compare to other organizations in the industry Alpha Natural Resources has a higher attrition rate and have to spend a lot more compare to its competitors on training and development of its employees.
- The profitability ratio and Net Contribution % of Alpha Natural Resources are below the industry average.
- The company has not being able to tackle the challenges present by the new entrants in the segment and has lost small market share in the niche categories. Alpha Natural Resources has to build internal feedback mechanism directly from sales team on ground to counter these challenges.
- The marketing of the products left a lot to be desired. Even though the product is a success in terms of sale but its positioning and unique selling proposition is not clearly defined which can lead to the attacks in this segment from the competitors.
Opportunities for Alpha Natural Resources – External Strategic Factors
- New environmental policies – The new opportunities will create a level playing field for all the players in the industry. It represent a great opportunity for Alpha Natural Resources to drive home its advantage in new technology and gain market share in the new product category.
- Government green drive also opens an opportunity for procurement of Alpha Natural Resources products by the state as well as federal government contractors.
- Stable free cash flow provides opportunities to invest in adjacent product segments. With more cash in bank the company can invest in new technologies as well as in new products segments. This should open a window of opportunity for Alpha Natural Resources in other product categories.
- The market development will lead to dilution of competitor’s advantage and enable Alpha Natural Resources to increase its competitiveness compare to the other competitors.
- The new taxation policy can significantly impact the way of doing business and can open new opportunity for established players such as Alpha Natural Resources to increase its profitability.
- New customers from online channel – Over the past few years the company has invested vast sum of money into the online platform. This investment has opened new sales channel for Alpha Natural Resources. In the next few years the company can leverage this opportunity by knowing its customer better and serving their needs using big data analytics.
- Opening up of new markets because of government agreement – the adoption of new technology standard and government free trade agreement has provided Alpha Natural Resources an opportunity to enter a new emerging market.
- Decreasing cost of transportation because of lower shipping prices can also bring down the cost of Alpha Natural Resources’s products thus providing an opportunity to the company - either to boost its profitability or pass on the benefits to the customers to gain market share.
Threats Alpha Natural Resources Facing - External Strategic Factors
- Shortage of skilled workforce in certain global market represents a threat to steady growth of profits for Alpha Natural Resources in those markets.
- Intense competition – Stable profitability has increased the number of players in the industry over last two years which has put downward pressure on not only profitability but also on overall sales.
- Rising pay level especially movements such as $15 an hour and increasing prices in the China can lead to serious pressure on profitability of Alpha Natural Resources
- Growing strengths of local distributors also presents a threat in some markets as the competition is paying higher margins to the local distributors.
- Increasing trend toward isolationism in the American economy can lead to similar reaction from other government thus negatively impacting the international sales.
- New environment regulations under Paris agreement (2016) could be a threat to certain existing product categories .
- The demand of the highly profitable products is seasonal in nature and any unlikely event during the peak season may impact the profitability of the company in short to medium term.
- Imitation of the counterfeit and low quality product is also a threat to Alpha Natural Resources’s product especially in the emerging markets and low income markets.
Limitations of SWOT Analysis for Alpha Natural Resources
Although the SWOT analysis is widely used as a strategic planning tool, the analysis does have its share of limitations.
- Certain capabilities or factors of an organization can be both a strength and weakness at the same time. This is one of the major limitations of SWOT analysis . For example changing environmental regulations can be both a threat to company it can also be an opportunity in a sense that it will enable the company to be on a level playing field or at advantage to competitors if it able to develop the products faster than the competitors.
- SWOT does not show how to achieve a competitive advantage, so it must not be an end in itself.
- The matrix is only a starting point for a discussion on how proposed strategies could be implemented. It provided an evaluation window but not an implementation plan based on strategic competitiveness of Alpha Natural Resources
- SWOT is a static assessment - analysis of status quo with few prospective changes. As circumstances, capabilities, threats, and strategies change, the dynamics of a competitive environment may not be revealed in a single matrix.
- SWOT analysis may lead the firm to overemphasize a single internal or external factor in formulating strategies. There are interrelationships among the key internal and external factors that SWOT does not reveal that may be important in devising strategies.
Weighted SWOT Analysis of Alpha Natural Resources
In light of the above mentioned limitations of the SWOT analysis / matrix, corporate managers decided to provide weightage to each internal strength and weakness of the firm. Organizations also assess the likelihood of events taking place in the coming future and how strong their impact could be on company's performance.
This method is called Weighted SWOT analysis. It is better than doing simplistic SWOT analysis because with Weighted SWOT Analysis Alpha Natural Resources managers can focus on the most critical factors and discount the non-important one. It also solves the long list problem where organizations ends up making a long list but none of the factors deemed too critical.
Limitation of Weighted SWOT analysis of Alpha Natural Resources
This approach also suffers from one major drawback - it focus on individual importance of factor rather than how they are collectively important and impact the business holistically.
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SWOT Worksheet & Template
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References / Citations & Bibliography
- M. E. Porter, Competitive Strategy(New York: Free Press, 1980)
- A. D. Chandler, Strategy and Structure (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1962)
- O. E. Williamson, Markets and Hierarchies(New York: Free Press, 1975);
- L. Wrigley, Divisional Autonomy and Diversification (PhD, Harvard Business School, 1970)
- R. E. White, Generic Business Strategies, Organizational Context and Performance: An Empirical Investigation, Strategic Management Journal7 (1986)
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