The purpose of this report is to assess the Wall Street Journal article “Ancestry Taps AI to Sift Millions of Obituaries” and how the company’s decisions impact its strategy and development. As it is stated in the article, the company implemented a hi-edge technological solution to a task that would have taken years otherwise (Council, 2019). Due to this decision, Ancestry.com has managed to boost its database that now includes more than six times as many names as it did two years ago. The Ancestry’s data science team managed to teach algorithms to conduct sophisticated research in the trove of the old newspapers and obituaries in particular. The company reported that the accuracy rate of the search rose to more than 90 %. According to corporate management, expanded obituary collection and new search functionality are expected to be financially beneficial, “including by encouraging free-trial users to pay for a subscription” (Council, 2019), which is supposed to bring substantial profit.
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On the one hand, the plan to profit from free-trial users might be understood as competing for customers, which indicates the business level of the company. On the other hand, the implementation of high-end technologies is likely to ensure the leading position of Ancestry.com in its market niche and make a significant competitive advantage. While other companies conduct their research manually, which takes an immense amount of time and human resources, Ancestry.com offers a quick and high-quality search to people who are interested in their genealogy. It can be concluded that the essence of their strategy is not in technologies but in doing their work differently from their rivals.
The most evident and yet the most crucial thing that should be gained from above is that it is necessary to define the company’s strategy as clear as possible. Encouraging the site visitors to buy subscriptions cannot be the primary source of income for a company that provides people with genealogy information. It indicates a lack of vision and a vague strategy statement. According to Collis and Rukstad (2008), a good strategy statement includes such critical elements as objective, scope, and advantage. So, the first thing that could be suggested to any local firm is, to begin with, the definition of the objective that the firm wants to achieve.
Secondly, the implementation of innovative technologies can skyrocket the company’s profits and ensure the leading positions within the industry, although some precautions could be made here as well. To connect innovation to a company strategy, it should be determined “how innovation will create value for potential customers, how the company will capture that value, and which types of innovation to pursue” (Pisano 2015, p. 47). So, it is necessary to keep pace with digital reality, despite the challenges the company might face in the process of transformational endeavor. Among them the change in value creation, modifications in organizational structures, processes, and skillsets of a company, the ability to finance a digital transformation endeavor (Hess et al., 2016, p. 124).
As addressed in this report, any local company, regardless of its size, should develop a sound competitive strategy that allows conducting business in a completely different way compared with the rivals. Before that, the management of the company should have a crystal-clear vision of what they want and what their objectives are. The vision will determine not only the strategy of the company but also its general level. And after that, it is necessary to interweave the latest innovations into the strategy to develop a new business model that complies with the modern digitized reality.
Collis, D. J., & Rukstad M. G. (2008). Can you say what your strategy is? Harvard Business Review 86(4), 1-10.
Council, J. (2019). Ancestry taps AL to sift millions of obituaries. The Wall Street Journal. Web.
Hess, T., Matt, C., Benlian, A., & Wiesböck, F. (2016). Options for formulating a digital transformation strategy. MIS Quarterly Executive, 15(2), 123-139.
Pisano, G. P. (2015). You need an innovation strategy. Harvard Business Review, 93(6), 44-54.