Tag Archives: United
This week, United Technologies (UTX) announced that the company is breaking itself into three, separating out its Otis and Carrier divisions from the core business. In doing so, UTX is following other industrial companies — including DuPont, GE and Honeywell — in undoing the era of mega conglomerates.
This begs the question: What has changed, and what does it mean for businesses today? The short answer is that today’s market is more demanding and segmented than ever before, and that mega corporations can’t keep up.
Here’s what growing companies can learn from watching the big guys fall down on the job of creating top shareholder value.
1. It’s hard to be all things to all people.
Before this move, United Technologies was making everything from helicopters to elevators, airplane engines and HVAC systems. That’s a broad range of technology to keep track of. Splitting the company up will make it possible for each new business to focus on its core area, set appropriate priorities and ultimately make the best decisions for each unique set of customers.
This statement by the company’s chairman and chief executive, Gregory J. Hayes, says it all: “Our decision to separate United Technologies is a pivotal moment in our history and will best position each independent company to drive sustained growth.”
I know that in our own business, when we decided to scale back the number of services we offered and focus on a few core areas instead, our growth rate doubled within the next six months. We had underestimated the real costs and distractions of being in many different businesses.
2. Economies of scale are no longer paying off.
Historically, many mega conglomerates came into being to take advantage of bulk buying and shared resources. The rationale was cost savings and reduced overhead — but operational costs have come way down over time.
Cloud-based technology has reduced the need for companies to invest in servers and other hardware, which used to be a major expense. And many non-core functions can now be outsourced, including payroll, human resources, training, travel and information technology. In fact, the majority of our operational expenses at Acceleration Partners are on a per head or per seat basis today, there are very few fixed cost investments that we make.
Finally, marketing has moved away from big-budget print ads to online advertising, and sales are increasingly conducted online.
3. Specialization sells.
Customers — including business-to-business customers — increasingly use the internet to find exactly what they want at the price they want to pay. No longer blindly trusting of the biggest brands or best-known names, people today are looking for experts. They want more control and more choices than most giant companies are willing or able to provide.
Look at what has happened to television. More and more households today are cutting the cord on cable service, unwilling to pay for packages that include a lot of channels they don’t want. Instead, they are choosing to purchase only the apps and shows they want directly from content providers such as HBO and Hulu.
Similarly, in our industry, the agency of record (AOR) concept in which marketing agencies sell large integrated projects and then find other firms to deliver that work and mark up those services is quickly becoming obsolete.
4. Smaller organizations are more nimble.
The pace of business today is fast and getting faster. Large, bulky bureaucracies simply can’t keep up.
Look at how quickly Uber disrupted the entire U.S. taxi business. Markets evolve quickly, and companies need to be lean and nimble, not bogged down in the internal politics and exhaustive procedures so common to mega corporations.
It’s also way easier today to be small, since businesses can team up via a concept we at Acceleration Partners call “Performance Partnerships” — making deals with other companies to supply non-core functions, while collecting a commission or referral fee. A company can outsource marketing and sales, for example, or pass off the hassle of worrying about delivery and fulfillment — while keeping all its most critical functions in-house. As a study by Bain Capital has shown, companies benefit most when they divest themselves of non-core businesses and focus their time and capital on growth areas.
The bottom line is that today’s business landscape is no longer rewarding generalists — those companies that provided just-OK goods or services across a wide swath of areas. Companies today need to be best-in-class, responsive and 100 percent focused on the customer. That is the blueprint for success going forward.
There are eight million stories in the naked city, as an old television show used to say. A United Airlines pilot was arrested for being one of them.
It’s an embarrassing, mildly tawdry tale–but when you dig into the reasons behind United Airlines Capt. Andrew Collins’s arrest, you just might find you have some sympathy.
And, you might also find yourself wondering just what life is like for pilots these days.
First the story. Collins, 54, has been with United Airlines for 22 years. As he told The Denver Post, last September he was up for about 30 hours straight, flying around the country and being diverted because of thunderstorms.
He arrived finally in Denver, and checked into the Westin Hotel at the airport.
The next morning, he woke up around 10:30 a.m., and walked around his room, getting ready to take a shower. At one point he stood in front of the 10th floor window of his hotel room for more than 20 minutes while he talked on the phone.
Key detail: He was stark naked. Remember, he was alone in his hotel room, as he tells it, not expecting to see anyone, or to be seen.
But then things took a turn for the worse: a knock at the door, cops barging in with their guns drawn. Collins wound up in handcuffs and carted off to an airport jail, where he was charged with indecent exposure.
The problem, as he tells it, is that he didn’t realize the window he was standing in front of was transparent on both sides, or that anyone else was had a line of sight that would let them see him. Apparently, he was wrong.
“We’re not disputing the fact that I was standing nude in front of the hotel window,” Collins told the Post about the Sept. 20 incident. But he added, “Some witnesses said I was dancing, gyrating and waving. I’m completely innocent. It’s really unfortunate that it happened at all.”
Collins’s lawyer later went to the same room Collins stayed in at the Westin to investigate. And he says he concluded it’s totally reasonable for Collins not to have realized that anyone could see him while he was standing in front of the window.
“The concourse windows are tinted green and are opaque and reflective,” the attorney, Craig Silverman, told the Post. From the hotel room, he said, “It’s like looking at a green wall or a green mirror.”
It’s a misdemeanor case, and Collins has been “removed from his duties pending an internal review,” a United Airlines spokesperson told me. Of course, he has the presumption of innocence under our justice system.
Collins doesn’t quite blame what happened on the fact that he’d allegedly been up for 30 hours straight, but this story doesn’t exactly make it seem like flying for United is any kind of glamorous, high-reward job.
Bounced around the country, up a day and a half, stuck in a hotel room waiting for your next flight–only to wind up humiliated and facing legal jeopardy. He’s the head of his local union shop and was running for the national presidency when this all happened. That opportunity went out the window (sorry).
Meanwhile, airlines say they’re going to be short of pilots in the coming years, as younger people simply aren’t enamored of flying the way their predecessors were. Stories like what happened to Collins don’t make it easier.
He’s due in court Dec. 5. His lawyer hopes he can get the whole thing dismissed.
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
I tried to be fair.
I booked flights at more or less the same time, in the same class.
In the case of Delta Air Lines, it was its Delta One Class. In United’s case, it was Business Class.
How similar would they be? Would Delta confirm its reputation as the best and most comfortable of the big airlines? Would United take one look at me and decide I was an undesirable?
The route was San Francisco to New York and back again.
Delta One Means You’re All Alone.
I began with Delta and an early-morning flight.
Delta suffers in San Francisco from having to endure a dingy, desperate Terminal 1. It’s the terminal that time didn’t merely forget, but never liked at all.
At the first coffee place I stopped at, they serve only black coffee. They claimed not to even have milk.
I noticed also that the cabin crew seemed to arrive very shortly before passengers began boarding. Where had they been? Would they have time to prepare themselves?
Yet when I boarded the flight, I had a very pleasant surprise.
My seat was by a window and there was no one seated next to me. Because there was no seat next to me.
In this Boeing 767 configuration, window seats are lone seats with a substantial area to the side for placing your laptop, books, magazines, knitting, emotional support squirrel or whatever you happen to enjoy on a plane.
This is, of course, wonderful if you’re flying alone, as I was. It’s less wonderful if you’re traveling with someone, as neither of you will be able to have a window seat.
You’ll have to sit in the middle.
I’d pre-ordered breakfast, which was a simple, pleasant, cold affair with generous helpings of cheese and fruit.
The service, though, was efficient rather than warm.
The entertainment system offered a large screen and the lie-flat bed was, well, who doesn’t want a lie-flat bed on a cross-country flight? This one was perfectly comfortable.
The flight, though, had one little drawback.
There was a family of three. Dad was right behind me. Mom and highly entitled child were in the middle seats in his row.
Their form of communication involved shouting to each other across the aisle. Yes, they were from New York.
It’s easy to forget that the behavior of just one passenger can affect your flight. The only thing that saved me here was putting on my headphones and watching episode after episode of a wonderfully improbable and suitablly dramatic BBC series called The Split.
The flight was on time. Delta stuck to its promise of getting the bags out quickly. The whole thing was really quite pleasant.
United Airlines. Wait, What Just Happened?
There’d been a little hiccup the day before my flight back home.
United had emailed me to tell me my flight might be delayed by up to 30 hours. The email arrived the night before the flight.
So my biggest concern was whether the flight would be on time.
Arriving at Newark at an ungodly hour, I was met by an extremely pleasant United Airlines check-in agent. Far more friendly, indeed, than the one I’d encountered at Delta.
Yes, she said, the flight was on time.
It did, indeed, board on schedule. Moreover, United’s terminal at Newark is curiously bright and airy place. I confess I rather liked being there.
Yet United’s Business Class isn’t quite Delta One. On this Boeing 777, there were eight seats across the plane.
I was seated next to someone who, if he hadn’t been a decent human, might easily have taken over the whole armrest we shared.
He was a decently large human, you see and the armrest wasn’t too wide.
The proximity was jarring when compared with Delta.
The biggest surprise, though, was the service. The attitude of the Flight Attendants — one woman in particular — was a marked contrast to Delta’s slightly chilly efficiency.
United’s Flight Attendants offered a rare warmth. It was as if they’d just come out of remedial training and had been infused with the need to project humanity.
For first thing in the morning, their attitude came across as genuine.
At one point, the female Flight Attendant saw that I was finished with my New York Times and said, with wit infused: “You haven’t done the crosswords, have you?”
Crosswords? Me? Lord, no. I have enough words in my regular life.
She was relieved, as she was one of those crossword people and really needed my paper.
This was my biggest and most pleasant surprise.
From check-in to in-flight, United’s personnel exuded far greater warmth than Delta’s. It made the experience just that little bit more pleasant.
In customer service, it’s always the little things.
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
People look gift horses in the mouth all the time.
That horse could, after all, be Trojan and you never know what might lurk inside.
There are those, however, who truly deserve a real gift just because of who they are.
United Airlines wants to hear about those people and it wants to meet one of them in particular.
No, it doesn’t want to offer that person the job of company president.
United’s idea in this instance is to find the hardest-working person in America and send them to Tahiti for a few days.
As a little message that says: “You’re working too hard, silly. Please get a life or you’ll die.”
This little prize seems well worth winning.
It consists of a roundtrip airfare from your hometown to Tahiti — via San Francisco — for two.
In Business Class, no less.
There are three stays, totaling seven nights, at various alluring Tahiti hotels.
And, just to make your return to life all the more meaningful, you get a $ 2,000 prepaid card for meals and other expenses.
Should you be honest enough to admit you’re not the most hard-working person in America, you might choose to nominate the person who is.
It’s likely one of the people who do most of your work for you, never complain and never ask for a raise.
These days, United is desperately trying to show it has a heart. Or at least, to offer the appearance.
It offers a valuable argument by revealing that 700 million vacations days go unused every year.
Is it because people love their jobs so much that they don’t bother? Or is it, perhaps, that they’re too frightened in case their jobs disappears or is taken over by someone else?
I only have one slight worry about this well-meaning search — timed to coincide with United starting to fly nonstop from San Francisco to Tahiti.
What if the winner is someone who really is the hardest-working person in America and is one of those impossibly strange characters who really doesn’t want a vacation?
Can a boss force an employee to go to Tahiti?
Now that would be a fascinating topic for Human Resources lawyers.
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Even if it says so itself.
The airline just released some figures for July, and, at a cursory glance, they’re glowing.
Consolidated traffic (revenue passenger miles) increased 6.9 percent and consolidated capacity (available seat miles) increased 4.0 percent versus July 2017. UAL’s July 2018 consolidated load factor increased 2.4 points compared to July 2017.
Won’t you look at that?
This means the airline’s packing them in and making lots of money.
Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that domestic traffic rose by 9.1 percent in July. Compared to last July, that is.
And Lordy, the airline is doing wonderfully in the regions. There, traffic is up a pulsating 17.6 percent.
United’s also packing them in on each flight.
The so-called load factor (number of people who are actually paying) at home soared to 90.5 percent. That’s a 2.6 percent increase.
United was loaded internationally, too. A 2.2 percent increase to 87.8 percent.
People are paying to fly United and there are more flights to more places, which makes the United world a wonderful place.
Alright, if you read the headline at all — and if you didn’t, what are you doing here? — there’s a little bad news.
You see, when you pack more people onto your planes, it might take a little longer.
That’s what appears to be happening. All this success in selling tickets appears to be leading to a reduction in on-time departures, the beautifully named D0.
A mere 62.3 percent of mainline flights — that is, the non-regional variety — departed on time or even slightly early.
This is a 1 percent drop from this time last year.
This isn’t, of course, merely an inconvenience for passengers. When a plane departs late, cabin crew must explain themselves to their bosses.
Well, you see, it was like this. There were so many darned people. And have you seen all that stuff they bring on planes?
We saw separately how Delta Air Lines customer service agents came up with an idea that shaves a couple of minutes off turnaround time for the airline’s jets at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
I was curious whether other lines did the same or similar thing, so I reached out to all of the Big Four. Southwest and United replied, while Delta also responded with a couple of other ideas worthy of attention.
Turnaround time is a big deal. The FAA reported in 2010 that flight delays cost the U.S. economy roughly $ 32.9 billion a year. Andit’s one of the key metrics on which airlines judge themeselves.
Here are some of the other things big airlines are doing to turn airplanes around more quickly.
45 degree pushback
This is the original idea that Delta customer service agents came up with. We’ll summarize it here: Instead of pushing an airplane straight back from the gate, then turning it 90 degrees and pushing it again, the idea is to push straight back at a 45 degree angle.
This simple change shaves about a minute or more off turnaround time, which really adds up over 1,000 or more flights a day. Delta does it at Atlanta and Detroit. And, United tells me they do a 45-degree pushback at some airports as well, “depending on a variety of factors including aircraft type and setup of gate.”
The Quick Turn Playbook
This one is all United. The airline has what it calls a “Quick Turn Playbook,” which is a proprietary document that it says outlines “how all departments work together to help reduce the amount of time it takes to service and turn an aircraft.”
“The playbook was developed with the help and input of United frontline employees,” a United spokesperson told me. “We continue to go back to employees to solicit feedback on how it can be continuously improved.”
Maybe it’s working: United ranked #1 among competitors during the Q2 of 2018 for on-time departures.
Yes, this one is limited to only one big airline–Southwest–and they were quick to point it out when I asked about turnaround tactics. Letting passengers take any open seat “saves us valuable time and keeps our aircraft moving efficiently,” as a spokesperson put it.
It’s hard to understand why other airlines don’t copy this–perhaps not on entire plans, but maybe by letting economy passengers board in order of how expensive their fares are?
Self-parking guidance systems
Both Delta and United told me they use laser-guided parking systems at some airports and gates.
Instead of an employee standing on the ground and guiding the plane in with a couple of orange flags or lights, the laser system lets the pilot know how to inch the plane up to the gate, and when to stop. That means the employees can get ready to hook airplanes up to ground power and do other tasks more quickly.
Not charging for checked bags
Again, this is just Southwest, which doesn’t charge bag fees for any passengers. That’s in contrast to economy class passengers on United, American and Delta.
As a result, on any given Southwest flight there are likely fewer people carrying bags onto the plane and trying to put them in an overhead compartment to avoid a bag fee. That means less blocking of the aisles, and a faster process.
The one they’re not doing
I found a few other interesting tactics. Ryanair, the low cost European carrier, says it cut turnaround time “dramatically” by removing seat back pockets, which means there’s no place for passengers to stick trash that has to be cleaned out.
But the interesting one is a more complicated boarding dance called the Steffen Method, after the astrophysicist who came up with it in 2014. In summary, passengers would board from the outside in: window, then middle, and then aisle. And they’d board from the back, skipping every other row.
One drawback: Travelers flying together couldn’t board together if they were really strict about the process. Maybe that’s why it hasn’t really caught on.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) plans to start selling U.S. vehicles that can talk to each other using short-range wireless technology in 2021, the Japanese automaker said on Monday, potentially preventing thousands of accidents annually.
The U.S. Transportation Department must decide whether to adopt a pending proposal that would require all future vehicles to have the advanced technology.
Toyota hopes to adopt the dedicated short-range communications systems in the United States across most of its lineup by the mid-2020s. Toyota said it hopes that by announcing its plans, other automakers will follow suit.
The Obama administration in December 2016 proposed requiring the technology and giving automakers at least four years to comply. The proposal requires automakers to ensure all vehicles “speak the same language through a standard technology.”
Automakers were granted a block of spectrum in 1999 in the 5.9 GHz band for “vehicle-to-vehicle” and “vehicle to infrastructure” communications and have studied the technology for more than a decade, but it has gone largely unused. Some in Congress and at the Federal Communications Commission think it should be opened to other uses.
In 2017, General Motors Co (GM.N) began offering vehicle-to-vehicle technologies on its Cadillac CTS model, but it is currently the only commercially available vehicle with the system.Talking vehicles, which have been tested in pilot projects and by U.S. carmakers for more than a decade, use dedicated short-range communications to transmit data up to 300 meters, including location, direction and speed, to nearby vehicles.
The data is broadcast up to 10 times per second to nearby vehicles, which can identify risks and provide warnings to avoid imminent crashes, especially at intersections.
Toyota has deployed the technology in Japan to more than 100,000 vehicles since 2015.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said last year the regulation could eventually cost between $ 135 and $ 300 per new vehicle, or up to $ 5 billion annually but could prevent up to 600,000 crashes and reduce costs by $ 71 billion annually when fully deployed.
NHTSA said last year it has “not made any final decision” on requiring the technology, but no decision is expected before December.
Last year, major automakers, state regulators and others urged U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to finalize standards for the technology and protect the spectrum that has been reserved, saying there is a need to expand deployment and uses of the traffic safety technology.
Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe
Under the deal, Rockwell shareholders will receive $ 140 per share in stock and cash, split between $ 93.33 in cash and $ 46.67 in United Tech stock, the companies said in a statement.
The offer represents an 18 premium to Rockwell’s closing share price on Aug. 3, the day before media reported that UTC was weighing a bid for Rockwell.
Under the deal, the companies said that Rockwell Collins and UTC’s aerospace systems segment will be combined to create a new business unit named Collins Aerospace Systems.
“This acquisition adds tremendous capabilities to our aerospace businesses and strengthens our complementary offerings of technologically advanced aerospace systems,” UTC’s chairman and chief executive officer, Greg Hayes, said in the statement.
“Together, Rockwell Collins and UTC Aerospace Systems will enhance customer value in a rapidly evolving aerospace industry by making aircraft more intelligent and more connected,” he said.
The deal, which includes $ 7 billion in Rockwell’s debt, is expected to save more than $ 500 million by the fourth year after its completion, the companies said.
Morgan Stanley & Co LLC was the financial adviser to United Tech and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz was its legal adviser.
Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; editing by Leslie Adler.
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