Innovation in the consumer services sector has become a part of modern life and an essential element of progress in the technology industry. As an example of a company involved in this field, one can mention Dyson, the corporation that has been successfully represented in the global market since 1991 (About Dyson, no date). However, the brand itself originated earlier on the initiative of its creator, James Dyson. Inspired by the idea of optimizing outdated household appliances, particularly vacuum cleaners, he worked to improve the design of these devices (About Dyson, no date). As a result, today, Dyson is not limited to vacuum cleaners and includes hair care appliances, heaters, and hand dryers, and these products are represented in over 65 countries (About Dyson, no date). Nevertheless, despite its market success, the company, like many other businesses, has faced some difficulties and obstacles in its development, which have affected the demand and the sustainability of sales.
Operations management issues at Dyson concern several aspects of the corporation’s work and affect not only internal challenges but also global problems that affect the company’s business worldwide. Dyson has been operating in the market for a relatively long time, and during this period, despite the expansion of the business and customer base, some management nuances have emerged. They need to be addressed to maintain sales at a consistently high level. As topical operations management issues, one can note insufficiently high control over product quality, ineffective supply chain management, and weak policy to stimulate the innovative potential of the company. Through effective interventions from the senior management, Dyson can overcome the aforementioned challenges and maintain its status as one of the most recognized home appliance manufacturers globally.
Poor Control over Product Quality
Operations management issues are crucial to overcome and address because these problems affect the company’s performance directly. The first challenge to analyze is insufficiently high control over product quality. Farrell (2019) reviews Dyson products and notes that the reliability of the latest models in the line of vacuum cleaners leaves much to be desired. Consumers complain about operational flaws, including battery malfunction, component failures, and several other issues (Farrell, 2019). This problem is extremely important to address since, according to the available statistics, Dyson’s stick vacuum cleaners account for approximately a quarter of all vacuum cleaners of this design model in the world (Farrell, 2019). This confirms consumer interest in the brand, but if the company does not attempt to optimize the design features of its products and leaves the shortcomings unresolved, this can affect demand and, therefore, reduce sales. Moreover, if the difficulties are not corrected, the risk of reputational losses and a decrease in competitive advantage increases, which is unacceptable in today’s conditions of rivalry among large brands in the high technology market.
It took James Dyson about 15 years to develop his first successful model of such a vacuum cleaner. As Malone-Kircher (2016) argues, during the existence of Dyson’s stick vacuum cleaners in the global market and the creation of more than 5,000 prototypes, these products have transformed both visually and constructively. However, the failure to promise customers the reliability of these tools for a specified guaranteed period is a severe omission that minimizes all the achievements of the company and its main developer. The management of the corporation is forced to respond to consumer complaints to ensure consistently high-quality production, but the growth of these problems indicates inadequate control over the manufacturing process. The lack of a reliable test mode leads to negative customer reviews. According to Farrell (2019), many users of Dyson’s stick vacuum cleaners complain of poor ergonomics, insufficient power, and malfunctioning of individual components. All these aspects shape a significant gap in the production process and confirm the need for taking urgent measures to eliminate such issues by the management.
Ineffective Supply Chain Management
Another problem associated with poor operations management at Dyson is ineffective supply chain management. The issue is a disagreement between the corporation and ATA, one of the main suppliers of raw materials for the company and a large Malaysian enterprise (HR minister, 2021). The reasons for this disagreement lie in inadequate HR policies because ATA promoted prohibited employee management practices in Malaysia and violated the labor code (HR minister, 2021). Not wanting to incur reputational losses, Dyson’s management decided to terminate cooperation with ATA, although this venture was one of the corporation’s main partners. While Dyson acted responsibly from an ethical perspective, this was a significant challenge for the company. The need to build relationships with new partners can slow down production rates, thereby creating a shortage of goods in the target market. In addition, as it is known in open sources, the value of ATA shares fell significantly after the public announcement of the termination of the partnership (HR minister, 2021). For Dyson, the decision may also be fraught with financial losses and expenses. As a result, the operational regime was disrupted due to this supply chain management failure.
For Dyson, the situation is complicated by attendant challenges, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With massive travel restrictions and limits imposed on direct meetings, many companies are forced to cut their imports, which inevitably affects productivity (Sodhi and Tang, 2021). The ability to keep deliveries at the same level testifies to a well-structured process of control over this area of work and underlines the interest of both parties in productive cooperation. However, in the case of Dyson and ATA, the former expressed a desire to end the collaboration, which, while well-received, posed a new challenge for the company’s management. In addition, reputational risks may arise because other market participants and consumers may perceive Dyson as a corporation unable to select reliable suppliers. As a result, the corporation may lose a significant share of imports and reduce its production capacity.
The drop in sales is one of the potential outcomes of the termination of the partnership with ATA. High-profile litigation that involves the Malaysian government requires additional costs on the part of Dyson, and the company will have to conduct a lengthy audit of its former partner (HR minister, 2021). As a result of these costs, the corporation may be unable to continue operating as before, and the temporary loss of the important supplier is an obvious gap. Dyson’s management team has to find a way out of this crisis and create conditions for conducting business as usual. However, if raw materials are inadequate, no solution can help address this barrier. Thus, poor control over supply chains is a concomitant factor in ineffective operations management, and reputational risks can be complemented by a real decline in revenues. This issue is global in nature and requires particular attention to resolve itf.
Despite initially positioning itself as an innovative brand, Dyson’s technological growth has slowed, and the challenges associated with this underline its underperforming operations management. Dawkins (2020) recalls the corporation’s attempt to design an electric car in 2020, but the project failed, damaging the company’s image. In addition, although Dyson has a high-tech enterprise status, its product list is relatively small, which suggests a weak innovation potential. According to Dawkins (2020), by 2025, the company plans to develop a robotic product line to compete with other major brands on the global stage. Nonetheless, the corporation has already tried creating innovative washing machines and robotic vacuum cleaners, which, however, did not bring the desired success. On the contrary, these attempts highlighted the ineffectiveness of the operating environment at Dyson and exposed the company’s weaknesses.
The current COVD-19 pandemic is a significant constraint on innovation at Dyson. Since most consumers are forced to buy products online, they are unable to test individual devices and have to rely on reviews from others. When considering the aforementioned problems of the company with the reliability of its devices, one can note that Dyson’s reputation was damaged, and their share of sales declined in the absence of on-site sales. In addition, there are no specific attempts to address the needs of today’s customers, and the corporation continues to focus on its vacuum cleaners and other equipment that competitive manufacturers also produce. As a result, the company should offer new products that can satisfy the interests of a wide range of consumers and ensure not only effective promotion but also sustainable production.
As a result of operational shortcomings and an irrelevant development course, Dyson risks losing its market position and customer base. While Dawkins (2020) notes the company’s potential for innovative growth, there is currently no real evidence of success. Budget allocation is inefficient, which leaves the operating environment under-resourced. Kim and Kim (2021) confirm this by citing the ratio of patents issued by Dyson. According to the researchers, a comparison of data between 2001 and 2016 shows that “the ratio of utility to design patents was 7:3” (Kim and Kim, 2021, p. 3). These figures demonstrate a decline in Dyson’s innovation activities and reflect a lack of priority in development compared to earlier years in the technology market. Thus, the corporation has reduced its innovative power, which negatively affects brand credibility and prevents successful competition in the target market.
While taking into account all the three aforementioned operations management issues, appropriate recommendations can be given to improve the relevant aspects of Dyson’s work and optimize its production regime. To address the problem of poor product quality, the company should focus on a quality management strategy that can improve the end result of work and create a convenient basis for evaluating available financial assets. According to Augustyn, Elshaer, and Akamavi (2021), quality management frameworks include a wide range of variables to consider, for instance, employee oversight, leadership initiatives, customer focus, data reporting, and other aspects. Given the gaps at Dyson, the corporation should implement a strategy that can help provide a comprehensive analysis of manufactured products at all stages, including raw material evaluation, intermediate control, and the final testing phase. As Augustyn, Elshaer, and Akamavi (2021) state, this approach makes it possible to manage financial assets and, no less important, takes into account the factor of dependability. The entire production process depends on the success of the activity at every stage, and all operators should remember this. Therefore, implementing such a framework is a reasonable initiative for Dyson.
In addition to the aforementioned framework, the company in question should create a production environment in which processes are sufficiently optimized to avoid technical deficiencies. Chiarini (2020) offers to pay attention to the capabilities of digital analytics and artificial intelligence as developments that are actively used in the high-tech industry and allow ensuring the clarity of control and reporting procedures. With the help of such tools, Dyson management can compile an accurate performance matrix to identify specific problematic stages of production and, as a result, take appropriate actions based on this information. Moreover, as already mentioned, quality control involves assessing not only the final outcomes but also intermediate operations to highlight relevant gaps timely. Therefore, according to Chiarini (2020), digital systems are valuable components of an assessment mechanism to introduce. Given the challenges of innovative development within the corporation, Dyson can implement these tools to improve manufacturability, which is also a significant prospect. As a result of such an initiative, defects in the production process will be eliminated or minimized, which will help increase the company’s credibility in the market, keep its competitiveness, and maintain customer loyalty.
Supply Chain Management
Given the aforementioned issue with the Malaysian supplier, Dyson should pay particular attention to maintaining supply chains. One of the most valuable conditions to observe when building communication is the choice of a partner with clearly defined legal and/or social responsibilities. As Chen (2018, p. 366) argues, “power and influence are critical factors that need to be considered in allocating responsibility in firm-supplier relationships”. This means that in partnerships, roles are clearly assigned, and the boundaries of corresponding strategic decisions and operational nuances are to be defined. The former supplier committed severe employee misconduct, which was publicly disclosed and affected Dyson’s reputation. Therefore, when choosing a partner, the corporation should identify the range of legal and other aspects that cannot be violated to avoid potential disagreements. This may include the principles of corporate social responsibility, labor code norms, and other nuances that largely determine the position of a venture in the market and the attitude towards it on the part of consumers and partners. If none of these aspects inspire confidence, cooperation with such a supplier is undesirable because the ATA scenario can repeat itself, albeit with distinctive details.
This recommendation involves building a culture of professional relationships with potential suppliers. Salimian, Rashidirad, and Soltani (2020) note that this communication mode is based on trust and the ongoing discussion of operational and other aspects that may affect the partnership. The authors suggest evaluating organizational performance as one of the criteria reflecting effective collaboration and adapting work based on relevant indicators (Salimian, Rashidirad, and Soltani, 2020). The management apparatus within the company should also devote more time to control supply chains by assigning tasks responsibly and regulating the legal conditions of interaction. Identifying gaps early on can help eliminate severe reputational issues later on and reduce the risks of complaints and other public proceedings that are fraught with the deterioration of the market image. Moreover, this practice increases the authority of managers in the eyes of colleagues and subordinates. Therefore, compliance with the aforementioned partnership conditions is the key to a productive partnership and the absence of controversial situations that may affect each of the parties negatively.
The role of James Dyson in the work of the company can hardly be overestimated since he is the creator and main inspirer of all the ideas of the corporation. However, when talking about the challenges in innovation, the enterprise should be guided not only by one inventor’s thoughts but also by other professionals’ proposals, who can also offer valuable optimization strategies. Thus, as a recommendation to address innovation failure, the company needs to focus on talent management as a practice that encourages promising specialists’ activities to innovate outdated manufacturing schemes. According to the results of Ibrahim and AlOmari’s (2020) research, there is a direct relationship between talent management and product innovation, which manifests itself through the individual contributions of highly qualified professionals. Dyson’s line of products is in demand, but due to the dynamics of the target market and constantly updated technologies, optimization and progress are natural factors of success and acceptance among consumers. Therefore, a focus on talent management may be a rational initiative for Dyson’s leaders to create a productive operating regime.
In addition to talent management, introducing new product lines is a reasonable decision to be made by the corporation’s leaders. As Choo et al. (2021) note, by following this course, many enterprises pursue different goals, for instance, expanding their customer bases, retaining clients, making more profit, and other goals. However, each of these objectives is aimed at innovative growth as a natural aspect of development. For Dyson, expanding product lines may be a viable solution to create more offerings for the target market, thereby ensuring stable earnings and better asset allocation. In addition, according to Choo et al. (2021), while having different production areas, managers can coordinate pricing policies more freely due to high assortment, which also makes work easier. The more products the company has to offer, the more likely it is to generate high revenues. As a result, given these perspectives, Dyson can benefit from expanding product lines not only from an operational but also from a financial perspective, thereby addressing the innovation gap and strengthening its market position.
Dyson’s senior management should address the company’s existing gaps and challenges to eliminate significant operations issues that affect the corporation’s market status and largely shape its image in the eyes of customers and partners. Among these problems, one should note poor control over product quality, ineffective supply chain management, and few attempts to stimulate innovative potential. The analysis of the issues shows that, despite consumer recognition and authority in the global market, Dyson needs to optimize individual aspects of its activities. To address the problem of poor product quality, the corporation should adhere to a quality management strategy and implement digital control methods. Supply chains can be improved by carefully selecting suppliers with legal and/or social responsibilities and promoting a culture of partnerships. Innovation failure may be resolved by expanding the enterprise’s product lines and using talent management as a human management approach.
About Dyson (no date) Web.
Augustyn, M. M., Elshaer, I. A. and Akamavi, R. K. (2021) ‘Competing models of quality management and financial performance improvement’, The Service Industries Journal, 41(11-12), pp. 803-831.
Chen, S. (2018) ‘Multinational corporate power, influence and responsibility in global supply chains’, Journal of Business Ethics, 148(2), pp. 365-374.
Chiarini, A. (2020) ‘Industry 4.0, quality management and TQM world. A systematic literature review and a proposed agenda for further research’, The TQM Journal, 32(4), pp. 603-616.
Choo, A. et al. (2021) ‘Introducing goods innovation, service innovation, or both? Investigating the tension in managing innovation revenue streams for manufacturing and service firms’, Journal of Operations Management, 67(6), pp. 704-728.
Dawkins, D. (2020) Singapore-bound billionaire James Dyson plans $3.6 billion move into batteries and robotics after electric car failure. Web.
Farrell, M. H. J. (2019) Dyson stick vacuums lose CR recommendation over reliability issues. Web.
HR minister: Malaysia to investigate Dyson decision to cut ATA ties (2021) Web.
Ibrahim, R. I. and AlOmari, G. I (2020) ‘The effect of talent management on innovation: evidence from Jordanian Banks’, Management Science Letters, 10(6), pp. 1295-1306.
Kim, D. and Kim, J. (2021) ‘Is innovation design-or technology-driven? Citation as a measure of innovation pollination’, World Patent Information, 64, pp. 1-10.
Malone-Kircher, M. (2016) James Dyson on 5,126 vacuums that didn’t work – and the one that finally did. Web.
Salimian, H., Rashidirad, M. and Soltani, E. (2020) ‘Supplier quality management and performance: the effect of supply chain oriented culture’, Production Planning & Control, 32(11), pp. 942-958.
Sodhi, M. S. and Tang, C. S. (2021) ‘Supply chain management for extreme conditions: research opportunities’, Journal of Supply Chain Management, 57(1), pp. 7-16.