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Intuitive Surgical SWOT Analysis / Matrix
Essays, Term Papers & Research Papers
SWOT analysis is a vital strategic planning tool that can be used by Intuitive Surgical managers to do a situational analysis of the company . It is an important technique to understand the present Strengths (S), Weakness (W), Opportunities (O) & Threats (T) Intuitive Surgical is facing in its current business environment.
The Intuitive Surgical is one of the leading organizatations in its industry. Intuitive Surgical maintains its prominent 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 company such as – marketing, finance, operations, management information systems and strategic planning.
The SWOT Analysis framework enables 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 helps the managers of the Intuitive Surgical 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 core purpose of SWOT matrix is to identify the strategies that a firm can utilize to exploit external opportunities, counter threats, and build on & protect Intuitive Surgical strengths, and eradicate its weaknesses.
Step by Step Guide to Intuitive Surgical SWOT Analysis
Strengths of Intuitive Surgical – Internal Strategic Factors
As one of the leading organizations in its industry, Intuitive Surgical has numerous strengths that enable 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 Intuitive Surgical are –
- Highly successful at Go To Market strategies for its products.
- Successful track record of developing new products – product innovation.
- Strong Free Cash Flow – Intuitive Surgical has strong free cash flows that provide resources in the hand of the company to expand into new projects.
- Strong distribution network – Over the years Intuitive Surgical has built a reliable distribution network that can reach majority of its potential market.
- Reliable suppliers – It has a strong base of reliable supplier of raw material thus enabling the company to overcome any supply chain bottlenecks.
- 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 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.
- Highly skilled workforce through successful training and learning programs. Intuitive Surgical is investing huge resources in training and development of its employees resulting in a workforce that is not only highly skilled but also motivated to achieve more.
Weakness of Intuitive Surgical – Internal Strategic Factors
Weakness are the areas where Intuitive Surgical can improve upon. Strategy is about making choices and weakness are the areas where a company can improve using SWOT analysis and build on its competitive advantage and strategic positioning.
- Organization structure is only compatible with present business model thus limiting expansion in adjacent product segments.
- High attrition rate in work force – compare to other organizations in the industry Intuitive Surgical has a higher attrition rate and have to spend a lot more compare to its competitors on training and development of its employees.
- Need more investment in new technologies. Given the scale of expansion and different geographies the company is planning to expand into, Intuitive Surgical needs to put more money in technology to integrate the processes across the board. Right now the investment in technologies is not at par with the vision of the company.
- 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 Intuitive Surgical
- 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 Intuitive Surgical is not very good at demand forecasting thus end up keeping higher inventory both in-house and in channel.
- Investment in Research and Development is below the fastest growing players in the industry. Even though Intuitive Surgical is spending above the industry average on Research and Development, it has not been able to compete with the leading players in the industry in terms of innovation. It has come across as a mature firm looking forward to bring out products based on tested features in the market.
Opportunities for Intuitive Surgical – External Strategic Factors
- Government green drive also opens an opportunity for procurement of Intuitive Surgical products by the state as well as federal government contractors.
- The market development will lead to dilution of competitor’s advantage and enable Intuitive Surgical to increase its competitiveness compare to the other competitors.
- 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 Intuitive Surgical to drive home its advantage in new technology and gain market share in the new product category.
- Opening up of new markets because of government agreement – the adoption of new technology standard and government free trade agreement has provided Intuitive Surgical an opportunity to enter a new emerging market.
- Organization’s core competencies can be a success in similar other products field. A comparative example could be - GE healthcare research helped it in developing better Oil drilling machines.
- 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 Intuitive Surgical in other product categories.
- Economic uptick and increase in customer spending, after years of recession and slow growth rate in the industry, is an opportunity for Intuitive Surgical to capture new customers and increase its market share.
- The new taxation policy can significantly impact the way of doing business and can open new opportunity for established players such as Intuitive Surgical to increase its profitability.
Threats Intuitive Surgical Facing - External Strategic Factors
- Increasing trend toward isolationism in the American economy can lead to similar reaction from other government thus negatively impacting the international sales.
- New technologies developed by the competitor or market disruptor could be a serious threat to the industry in medium to long term future.
- Rising raw material can pose a threat to the Intuitive Surgical profitability.
- Changing consumer buying behavior from online channel could be a threat to the existing physical infrastructure driven supply chain model.
- New environment regulations under Paris agreement (2016) could be a threat to certain existing product categories .
- 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.
- No regular supply of innovative products – Over the years the company has developed numerous products but those are often response to the development by other players. Secondly the supply of new products is not regular thus leading to high and low swings in the sales number over period of time.
- Rising pay level especially movements such as $15 an hour and increasing prices in the China can lead to serious pressure on profitability of Intuitive Surgical
Limitations of SWOT Analysis for Intuitive Surgical
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 Intuitive Surgical
- 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 Intuitive Surgical
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 Intuitive Surgical 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 Intuitive Surgical
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
If you like to do your own SWOT analysis or want to make your own Weighted SWOT SWOT matrix then feel free to download Fern Fort University SWOT Analysis Template.
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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