Globalization has increased the number of people who travel for either business or leisure purposes. Naturally, the passport, which is an essential travel document, has become of immense value. However, it is prone to theft, damage, and misplacement. This problem inconveniences most people who are unable to travel because they have to replace the travel document. Much more waste a lot of money paying for this service and spend countless numbers of weeks in foreign embassies waiting for such replacements. This report is a business proposal for the setting up of a virtual passport service to enable people to travel paperless. It is a new product innovation, which is only at an experimental stage in certain parts of the world. The report is divided into eight key sections. The first one outlines the problem and the opportunity for the business.
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It shows the need for new ideas and highlights some of the advantages that people could enjoy because of its implementation. The second section shows our company’s competitive advantage in securing this business. Key organizational competencies emerge as the main reasons for the optimism in making this business idea work. The third section of this report outlines our sales and marketing plan. It paves the way for the fourth section of the paper, which provides a synopsis of the competitive environment. Our business model appears in the subsequent section, showing how an advertisement business model would generate revenue for the company. The forecast section provides a broad overview of the market and presents a sales vision for the company. The seventh section of this report highlights the team that will deliver the organizational results. Comprising of three levels of management, we expect this team to accomplish the organizational milestones that appear in the last and eighth section of this report. Comprehensively, this business proposal presents a succinct understanding of how our organization would help with the rollout of a paperless passport service that would make it easier for people to travel around the world, without the worry of losing their travel documents.
It is a traveler’s nightmare to leave the house and arrive at an immigration office, only to realize that he/she has forgotten to carry their passport. Similarly, it is devastating for people to be stuck in foreign countries because their travel documents have been stolen from them and now have to camp at foreign embassies waiting for help. This fact is in line with the high number of lost/stolen passports reported by different countries each year. For example, averagely, Australia receives 38,000 cases of lost passports annually (Bourke 6). The numbers are higher in the US because according to the State Department, there could be up to 253,000 cases of lost passports reported every year (Bourke 6). Similarly, the same agency says that it receives up to 68,000 cases of stolen passports yearly (Titcomb 3). The situation is not different in Britain because according to Beckford, British travelers are spending millions of Euros each year paying for emergency travel documents because of lost or stolen passports (5).
Replacing a lost or stolen passport could be emotionally draining for most people, especially if they are stuck in foreign countries and cannot travel to their destinations. This is true for most countries because it could take weeks for foreign embassies to do so. For example, it takes up to six weeks for the US to process regular passports and up to 2-3 weeks to replace one, depending on the location of the foreign country. Lost or stolen passports could also cause a security nightmare to different countries because there is evidence that criminal and terrorist gangs sometimes use these lost or travel documents to carry out illegal activities (Beckford 1). This does not mean that the thousands of misplaced passports would fall in the hands of these gangs; however, it would only take a small percentage of this number to cause a serious security problem.
This business plan is based on the possibility of accessing passports via an online platform, by keying in a passport number or simply accessing it through a URL address. The idea of introducing a virtual passport has been tried by Australia. The country is still in the process of working out the details of doing so because it has only recently collaborated with New Zealand to test out the new idea (Gemalto NV 1). The feasibility of this business hinges on the fact that governments only need passports as a pointer to their database, which should have biometric information about the passport holder (Gemalto NV 1). Therefore, the identity and biometric data of the passport holder would be locked into a cloud, which would be accessible anywhere in the world. Therefore, travelers would no longer need to carry their physical passports and risk having them stolen or forgotten at an unspecified location.
The major barrier to this business plan is the inability for all countries to have access to one database that would contain information about passport holders from different countries. For example, a US citizen would have no trouble using a virtual passport in the US because the country would naturally have such information on their computers. However, when the same person jets into another random country, the immigration officers at the new location may fail to have access to the US database that should contain this information. Our company would be able to solve this problem because we offer a safe and secure cloud computing service that has unique safety and data hosting features, which different governments could tap into.
Our company also has a history of working with different governments because we have won different tenders in offering information security services to different government departments in the Middle East and Europe. With a good record of offering quality services to different government departments and a thorough understanding of government tendering processes, our company is strategically placed to offer this kind of service to the department of foreign affairs. Furthermore, our existing relations with other different government departments have enabled us to have a good rapport with the decision-makers of the state department who are strategically placed to award such a tender to bidders.
Sales and Marketing
The sales and marketing strategy for our business would be hinged on providing an integrated strategy that reflects the different stages of buying. It is also mindful of the conversion rate that often characterizes online marketing strategies. This plan would also reflect the important contribution of sales and marketing processes to our ability to generate revenue for the business. The following sections of the paper explain the main tenets of the marketing plan.
Our main product is the provision of a platform where companies could advertise their products virtually. To reach these companies (which will be our primary clients), we will employ an online strategy where companies will be targeted via a company website. Although there are other different platforms to reach the same group of clients, such as television, blogs, social media, print media, and the likes, the website platform stands out because it is not limited by geographical differences. Indeed, the services offered by our company could potentially be global. Therefore, it is undesirable to lock into a marketing strategy that would be limited by geographical barriers. Similarly, websites could allow us to translate our marketing message into different languages to reach a wider scope of clients. Television, print media, and telephones are traditional marketing channels, which are limited in this regard. Thus, unlike social media sites that are often informal, the website platform stands out because of the potential to offer a professional pitch to clients. We also expect that our services would be marketed through word-of-mouth communication because as people log in to the virtual platform, they will learn about the company’s services. A summary of our projections appears below.
|Summary of Projections ($MM)|
|Revenues||$ 20||$ 40||$ 60||$ 80||$ 100|
|Expenses||$ 50||$ 48||$ 30||$ 20||$ 15|
|Profit||$ (30)||$ (8)||$ 30||$ 60||$ 85|
|Investment Received||$ 40||$ –||$ –||$ –||$ –|
|NB: All figures are in millions|
|Avg Monthly Fee||0.6||0.6||0.65||0.65||0.70|
NB: All figures are in millions.
De La Rue is the main competitor for our services because it has had a long history of working with different governments to print money and passports. The company is working on new technology to provide paperless passports to different governments. However, this process is still at its infancy stage and, unlike our approach, which is mostly centered on software development, De La Rue is focused on developing technology that would involve hardware development to store digital passport information (Titcomb 2). In other words, they plan to rope in Smartphone companies to develop new hardware that would allow Smartphones to store electronic information on their devices. The electronic information would mostly contain details about the passport holder.
It would also contain safety features that would prevent people from copying information from the phone onto another device. The company believes that the main advantage of this method is its potential for wireless communication with passport readers. It also believes that this strategy would prevent spoofing or copying, which is most common with devices that use QR codes (Titcomb 2). Our approach is purely software-oriented in the sense that we strive to store this information on the cloud, which makes it easily accessible and less cumbersome than the approach taken by De La Rue. Since our focus is on software, companies that offer cloud-computing services become our secondary competitors
Many companies offer cloud-computing services to different organizations. Amazon Web Service (AWS) has the greatest market share in this segment. Indeed, according to Richman, this company controls a 45% market share in the global cloud computing services (1). This figure means that its market share is greater than that of Google, IBM, and Microsoft combined. This finding is also supported by independent market research done by Synergy Research Group, which shows that AWS commands the greatest market share in this segment (Richman 2).
AWS emerges as the most dominant competitor in this market because it is also the leading company in the platform-as-a-service market, meaning that it could offer the government a platform for holding its passport database as a service. It is also bound to offer such a service cheaply because it enjoys economies of scale based on its expansive data infrastructure (Richman 1). However, it does not maintain absolute dominance in this market because evidence shows that other players in the market also dominate some sections of the cloud computing market. For example, IBM has a greater dominance in the managed private cloud services (Richman 1). Although these companies have a strong market presence in cloud computing services, their specialization is in working with private companies and large global companies.
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Our company has a chance to outwit the competition because we have specialized in working for public organizations, as opposed to private organizations. The potential that exists in this market is enormous because the market leaders in this field have sustainably grown their cloud revenue at more than 100% in the past five years (Richman 5). There is some speculation in the market that these companies could be making more money because some of them, such as Microsoft and Google, do not provide accurate figures about their financial data (Richman 5). Alibaba in IaaS and Oracle in PaaS are some second-tier companies in this field that are equally posting strong growth numbers in this field (Titcomb 6). Nonetheless, since these companies specialize in providing cloud-computing services to private enterprises, they only stand out as indirect competitors.
In this section of the plan, we will outline how the proposed business will generate profits. The advertising business model will be our main framework for generating revenue. This model works by selling advertising space to companies. Since our business is online-based, we expect that our business model will be segmented into three sections that include cost per thousand, cost per click and cost per action. In the cost per thousand segments, the advertiser will pay the company a fixed amount of money for 1,000 impressions. In the cost per click segment, the client would pay the company a predetermined amount of money for every click made on an advertisement.
Under the cost per action model, clients would be paying for every action made on the virtual platform. Sales or leads that would come from the web platform are some of the actions that would be billed. We will be flexible on the number of money clients will be paying because depending on the response we get from the customers, we will use either a fixed payment model or a flexible payment plan, based on an auction process. The proposed business model is going to generate money in the medium-term because, in the short-term, there will be heavy investments needed to create the virtual passport platform that would ultimately be used to generate an audience that would be targeted by the advertisers.
We do not anticipate a shortage of people who will log into the virtual platform because it will be mandatory for all passport holders to gain access to their information online. In this regard, there would be no customer acquisition costs or advertisement costs for increasing our audience numbers. The “mandatory” nature of the business also makes it easier for our clients to target different types of customers. Indeed, no criteria will be used to determine the types of people who will use the virtual passport platform because everybody will have to use this option once it is rolled out. Therefore, our platform will mimic the real-world setting, thereby attracting different types of advertisers who may want to market their products to different demographics.
Our company is expected to attract a high number of small businesses operating in the country. Although we intend to attract large businesses as well, we project that small businesses will be the biggest client base because of their sheer numbers. Here, it is important to understand the impact of market size because it determines the potential volume of sales in the long-term. Since there are high numbers of small business startups each year, we do not expect to make significant sales in the short-term or medium-term because these businesses are not often profitable in the first stage of their business cycles. However, in the long-term, we expect to reap from the high number of small businesses that would have been midway through their business cycles. The potential for profit in this segment is high because there is a low capital investment required to attract this client group. Although the barriers to market entry may be low, the overwhelming size of the market may make it difficult for one entrant to dominate the market in the future. The table below shows our potential for profitability.
|Potential for profit||.3||9.0||2.7|
The income forecast presented in this proposal shows our initial test of the business based on conservative estimates of the market share, sales figures, and expenses. In the short term, we expect to have at least 200 clients who will be advertising on our platform. In the long-term, we expect this number to rise to more than 1,000 clients. This group of clients will be comprised of small and big businesses, but as highlighted above, we expect that small businesses will form a greater percentage of this group. The major project of providing paperless passports is expected to take up to 50 employees.
The potential for scaling this number depends on whether we would get contracts from other governments, or not. However, additional time should be factored in getting new business because government bureaucratic processes are often slow and cumbersome. Because of the low overhead associated with getting clients, we expect to be profitable within the second year. The revenue potential of the company would mostly depend on the manager’s resolution to provide a constant income for the company, but, at the same time, it will depend on his commitment to fill the pipeline of the company. The revenue figures stated below are based on a 50-man team. However, the creation of a bigger and more committed workforce may exceed it.
The success of the proposed business largely depends on the quality of the team that would spearhead the realization of the organization’s vision. Our team would have 18 members, with specific and distinct roles. The team would be comprised of the board of directors, chief executive officer, chief financial officer, departmental managers, and casual/contractual workers. The section below shows the management profile of each team member.
Board of Directors
Mr. Charles Carlton: Carlton has been a board of directors of our company since November 2002. In the past, he has worked as a lead independent director of Yahoo Corporation, from 1996-1999. He has also worked as a CEO for the company from 1994 to 1995. Similarly, he has also had a short stint as an executive chairperson of the board of Autodesk. Doubling up as the CEO of this company, he has cumulatively worked for 3 years in both capacities. Before this job, Carlton has also worked as a Board member of Airtouch Communications and Intel Corporation. He brings immense knowledge to the company as a leader and decision-maker in some of the most reputable IT firms in the world. Indeed, as highlighted in his CV, he has gathered immense knowledge in the technology industry and global management sectors, which are invaluable to our proposed business.
Mr. Henry Burns: Mr. Burns is 42 years old and has served as a board member in our company for three years. Previously, he has worked as a strategic advisor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He has also worked as a Chief Executive Officer for the Retirement Policy Centre, from 2008 to 2012. Similarly, he has served as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Mercer LLC, a global corporation specializing in human resources and financial services. Mr. Burns brings a wealth of experience in human resource management and global operations management because he has good experience in the same. His experience as a public service outside director also adds to the wealth of experience he infuses in the organization.
Mohammed Hussein: Mr. Hussein has been a board member of our company for the past seven years. He is 67 years old and has been a founder and partner at Emerging Company and Partners LLC. The company specializes in providing executive management advisory and consultancy services. Before this stint at Emerging Company and Partners LLC, he also served as a Board member and Chief Executive Officer of nCube Operations, which specializes in providing media systems services. From 2001 to 2003, he worked as a Chief Executive Officer of Entra Incorporated before another company, Blue Coats Limited, acquired it. Mr. Hussein brings a wealth of knowledge and experience relating to the management of IT companies. His expertise in operations management and strategy formulation is invaluable.
Chief Executive Officer
Nassim Mohammed: Ms. Nassim is the chief executive officer of the company. Her role will be to oversee and manage most of the organization’s daily operations. In 2003, she was appointed the CEO designate for the Vodafone group but assumed this position in 2005. She worked in this capacity until she joined our company in 2014. She brings more than a decade worth of experience managing an IT company. One of her most notable accomplishments is the successful winning of a tender to offer consultancy services to the foreign affairs ministry in the UAE.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
The CFO of our company is Nesley Brown. She has worked in such capacity at IBM and Cisco for more than a decade. With an MBA in accounting from Stanford University, she is poised to guide the organization’s financial department by making sure it complies with existing accounting standards, both locally and internationally. She is also supposed to make quarterly and annual financial reports for the company’s shareholders and brief the CEO about the financial issues concerning the organization. She has successfully done so in the past five years that she has worked in the organization. Consequently, she is expected to put her knowledge and practice in the company to the test.
Four departmental managers will oversee most of the organization’s middle-level operations. The managers would oversee and manage the activities of the company’s sales and marketing department, human resource department, the public relations department, and the information technology department. They will be responsible for the day-to-day running of their departments and will be answerable to the company’s CEO. The four key departmental managers have immense experience in their areas of expertise because none of them has worked for less than seven years in the organization. Their understanding of the organization’s internal activities is expected to be valuable to the company, as it seeks to undertake bigger IT projects.
We cannot accurately predict the number of casual workers that would work for the company because the volume of work will determine the number of employees to have, at a given time. However, tentatively, we estimate that we will have a team of 30 contractual workers who will work on the project. An additional 21 permanent staff who work on other projects for the organization will also be useful in undertaking the current project. All the workers will have a degree qualification and must have five years (or more) working experience in an IT company. This way, we expect that they would be well versed in the kind of work they are expected to do. The contractual model is appropriate for the company because the volume of work ordinarily varies. Furthermore, it is cheaper to have contractual employees, as opposed to permanent employees. Comprehensively, the diagram below explains the team organization for the proposed business plan.
Status and Milestones
The status and milestones outlined in this report represent a combination of the company’s strategic and execution plan. The successful execution of these strategies will help the organization to realize the financial and market forecasts discussed in this report.
The implementation plan for our company is intended to provide sustainable growth for the organization. Forming strategic partnerships with public and private organizations would further enhance this vision. Consequently, we expect to fill the sales pipeline with an inflow of small businesses. Our company intends to deliver utmost client satisfaction at all levels of our business operations. Consequently, we expect our growth strategy (an increase in client numbers) to come from the proper treatment of existing clients. New hiring and consultancy services will mostly be drawn from variations in client needs. Our geographic and service offerings will also be dependent on the nature of our client’s needs. In summary, the main objectives of our business appear below:
- Repeat Clients
- 100% client satisfaction
- Steady growth
- A logical expansion of services
The milestones of our business plan are definitive on the major types of activities that should be completed throughout the project plan. They include the completion of the business plan, acquisition of financing, hiring employees, setting up the IT infrastructure, a review of the proposed plan vs. the actual plan, marketing, first break-even month, and an upgrade of the business plan. The following Gantt chart explains these milestones.
The accomplishment of these aforementioned milestones would mean the successful implementation of this business plan. We project that our undertaking has immense potential in revolutionizing travel around the world. Therefore, the success of this pilot business will pave the way for the perfection of this business idea and herald the possible roll-out of the same in other parts of the world. Indeed, by successfully implementing this plan, we hope to set up a virtual passport service to enable people to travel paperless. Although it is a new product innovation, which is only at an experimental stage in certain parts of the world, we intend to make it a reality. More importantly, we believe that its success will be a “cash cow” for our investors.
Beckford, Nicola. “What Happens to Lost and Stolen Passports?” BBC, Web.
Bourke, Latika. “Australia to Trial Cloud Passports in World First Move.” SMH, Web.
Gemalto NV. “Virtual Passport: Your Passport in the Cloud.” Gemalto, Web.
Richman, Dan. “Study: AWS has 45% Share of Public Cloud Infrastructure Market — More than Microsoft, Google, IBM Combined.” Geekwire, Web.
Titcomb, James. “Your Smartphone could be your Next Passport.” Telegraph, Web.