Wearables, 3D Printers, and Outsourcing Dell Computers
Now that all 400 EDUCAUSE 2014 sessions have concluded, 260 exhibitors have packed up, and the 7,300 attendees from more than 50 countries have gone home, here is a look at some final take-aways from the year’s conference. Clayton Christensen’s wake-up call to higher education is still reverberating within the halls of higher education. I’ll apply his disruption theory to Harvard Business School’s online HBX initiative in a follow-up blog. For even more analysis of EDUCAUSE 2014, see Wi-Fi Tops List of Concerns for EDUCAUSE 2014 Attendees, Analytics and Competency-Based Education (CBE), and EDUCAUSE 2014: Has the Disruption Begun? Storify captured the tweet streams of #EDU14 Daily Wrap-up 10/1/2014 and #EDU14 Daily Wrap-up 9/30/2014.
The session Prepare to Wear! Exploring Wearable Technologies in the Learning Environment was especially well-attended, indicating the strong interest in topic. Presenters Maya Georgieva and Emory Craig described the state of wearable devices for teaching. The devices include Google Glass, fitness bands, clothing, fashion wearables, and the forthcoming Meta 3D, true augmented holographic reality glasses. The future holds entirely new styles of teaching, and classes in completely different environments.
Clayton Christensen Describes How Dell Outsourced Their Computers
One segment of Clay Christensen’s keynote address, Disruptive Innovation and the Future of Higher Education, dealt with the sequential manner that Dell outsourced its computers to ASUSTeK. Christensen positioned the experience as possibly previewing the future of higher education. Dell, in an effort to maintain profits in an increasingly-competitive market, needed to reduce costs and move up-market. There were six steps in the process beginning with the outsourcing of the simple circuit boards that go into Dell computers. ASUSTeK Computer Inc headquartered in Taipei, initially made the business case to Dell that they could make the circuit boards less expensively than Dell and therefore Dell could increase their profits by outsourcing the boards to them. The decision to do so proved profitable for both parties. This was so successful, that when ASUSTeK later made a similar proposal to outsource the computer motherboards, Dell was receptive to the idea.
After the decision was made to outsource Dell’s computer mother boards to ASUSTeK, costs did drop and revenue remained the same, thereby increasing Dell’s profitability. Some time went by before ASUSTeK came back with a proposal to assemble Dell computers. Just as with the preceding proposals, ASUSTeK quoted 20% less cost than Dell was spending assembling the computers themselves. This would also have the accounting benefit of removing the parts inventory from Dell’s accounting books. Within a couple years, ASUSTeK proposed handling Dells’ supply chain and logistics, again at a 20% savings for Dell. Before too long, ASUSTeK offered to relieve Dell of burden of designing the computers, thereby saving Dell another 20% of its costs by enabling them to eliminate their product designers.
All of these steps were deemed quite successful, both for Dell and ASUSTeK. Now there was only one more step with these Dell products that ASUSTeK could take. This step involved replacing the Dell brand, and this time ASUSTeK did not go to Dell for the negotiations, but instead went straight to Best Buy. ASUSTeK offered a Dell-equivalent computer at 20% less cost.
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