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Company Analysis of Möbius

Möbius Learning is a custom eLearning company that specializes in content creation and delivery systems. Möbius is able to transform any technical subject matter – medical devices, machine tools, cutting tools, lean, math, quality solutions – into clear and concise training. Möbius is dedicated to providing their clients with a world-class workforce through the delivery of superior instructional design and highly interactive technology. From a rapid turnaround project to one that is large and complex, Möbius can create an employee training program that can meet any training need.

I am a Co-Founder and managing partner at Möbius. We have currently see no end in sight to our production of eLearning development. In fact, every year we see a growing need for cost effective, customized, training solutions from companies all over the world. E-learning is in high demand for many companies who cannot find the time or money to send their employees off to week long employee training seminars or employee development programs. For most schools and businesses, traditional “brick and mortar” learning has been replaced by self-paced, cost effective, online courseware.

As we will see, my business and the field of work we are in has a demand side that is growing and a supply side that is efficient. The use of technology has allowed us to see increases in productivity while our work force remains the same. This is leading to an increase in profitability for the company. From another perspective, the demand from schools, companies, etc, has increased every year, allowing us to be more competitive with our pricing models. There are currently not enough development companies out there right now to keep up with the demand for quality training. If you have an elearning business, it’s not hard to find work right now if you know where to look. Overall, Möbius has an economically sustainable business model and the profitability is in line with markets across the globe. However, as time and technology advance, new methods and quicker development will challenge the business model of Möbius. In order to stay profitable, we will need to keep on eye on the latest advances in technology and monitor the needs of clients as they change in this rapidly evolving economy.

Supply Side: Production Technology

As Möbius looks to increase our current productivity, it is necessary that we consider the supply side of the business. When we consider Callahan’s statement that, “The wellspring of human action is dissatisfaction”, we realize that our chief end of the company is to be continually growing. If we are able to improve our situation every step of the day, then we fit the model that Callahan was referring to. We are making a concentrated effort to improve our working conditions and the motivation is dissatisfaction with the way technology allows us to work now.

More and more businesses are cutting overhead by the rapid advances of technology. Consider “the Cloud”, a storage server space for electronic files somewhere out in space, the end user is able to access his/her files from anywhere. If you look back just 10 years, servers could cost a company thousands of dollars to purchase, thousands more to maintain, and the amount of space was limited. Not to mention the files could only be accessed by people connected to the server locally, this means that people cannot work remotely. At Möbius, we strive to keep ourselves current with modern software and hardware. For example, cloud-based computing has allowed has allowed us to hire employees who work remotely so we save money on the cost of housing employees and purchasing hardware and software. From an efficiency standpoint, we have put in place a system that is profitable for us right now and will continue to be as long as we always looks for news ways to improve each production process.

Supply Side: Input Mix

Möbius is a different style of company than a manufacturing company, or a home producer. We have very little overhead and tend to have minimal input to our production of online learning. Whereas a manufacturing company may have an input mix of steel and iron, we really only have research and software to compare it to. We could make the argument that the cost of software raising each year is affecting the cost of our inputs. As we search for cheaper, more efficient, software, the ratio of input to output grows larger, making us more profitable. One example from our software is that we decided to invest in a yearly subscription to an online course builder that costs us $1,500/yr/3 licences, totaling $4,500/yr. Compare that to our former software that was $450/license, totaling $1350/year. The math doesn’t make sense at this point until I account for the real cost of our choice. We evaluated the new online software and realized that it would save us up to 1.5 months of work in a year. That’s roughly a $45k cost savings for the company in a year. The value of the new online software was a no brainer. Our input was more expensive but out output was extremely more profitable.

Supply Side: Sustainable Competitive Advantage

In technology, a competitive advantage is an imperative to survive. At the rate of technological changes occurring in the eLearning world, if you don’t adapt or try to beat the competitor to the punch line, you may be out of business before you can blink your eyes. At Möbius, our software and highly skilled programmers are very valuable. The more we invest in new software, the greater the outcome of business grows. We also invest in top programmers and developers to enhance our productivity through code. We have found that much of our competition is stuck in old technology. For example, we know of one eLearning company that doesn’t have the manpower to produce courses that are compatible for Apple’s iPad’s. We are capable to take their content and make it ready for cross-platform devices, including the iPad. The only way we can do this is through the purchasing of new software and investing in our programmer’s education.

Demand Side: Market Structure

From an E-learning perspective, Möbius would be in a Monopolistic competition, where there is a competitive market, with a large number of firms, all of them having a small proportion of the market share and slightly differentiated products.

Demand Side: Major Competitors

We can identify at least 5-8 small organizations that develop E-learning content for different sectors of the workforce in just the local area of Indianapolis. Each firm has a special niche in the market, for example, we have workforce education, another may have culinary arts, while still another may be developing content for Universities in general.

Demand Side: Differentiated Product Line

We understand that we can produce content for any subject matter there is, however, our strength and connections are in the workforce realm. Our product line differs from the competitors in the fact that we offer a more comprehensive product. Most E-learning companies state up front that they are content focused and will have the buyer supply the original content and SME research for the project. Our competitors would then take that content and develop it into a finished product to be delivered back to the company. We separate ourselves in the area of research and development by sending our Subject Matter Experts SME’s onto the field to research a process, software, machine, CNC, etc. and gather the content into an organized storyboard. Once this Phase 1 is complete, we then begin to develop the content into a finished product. We differentiate ourselves by becoming a one-stop-shop for businesses that do not have time or money to spend on this process. Callahan would classify this as a division of labor to some extent because , “not everyone comes to the table with the same capabilities”. This combination of a niche market and division of labor has allowed us to become a leader in the area of training in the workforce education world.

Demand Side: Create and Sustain Competitive Advantage

From a competitive advantage standpoint, we can do many things well. We can develop content for any industry, market products, build websites efficiently, develop apps, supply learning management systems, and so on. However, due to time and money, we see that there is a competitive advantage in being really good at just one of those things. Our advantage is in R&D for complex processes in the manufacturing world. Callahan references Michael Jordan as a house painter. In it he states that, “Jordan has a comparative advantage in basketball, while his painter has a comparative advantage in house painting.” Jordan’s advantage is in his pay rate. Similar, we would not stop to work on a website for $2,500 when we can create a CNC programming course for a major manufacturing company for $85,000+.

Economic Environment: Important Industry Characteristics

Some characteristics of the online training world might include things like a constantly changing device output such as tablets, smart phones, PC’s, etc. The economic environment is more than cash, it’s the “natural” resources and materials that will be available now and in the future of E-learning. This industry is changing by the minute and it is important that a company is always looking ahead for opportunities to present itself as the leader of the pack in technology, year-in, year-out.

Economic Environment: Important Macroeconomic Characteristics

From a macroeconomics standpoint, there are many issues facing this economy, including a deficiency in skilled programmers, inflation, economic growth, and international online policies. With the future of education trending towards online, self-paced learning and further away from “brick and mortar”, we plan to see a continued rise in the demand for online content within the years to come.

Biblical Perspective:

From a biblical perspective, Möbius is ran by Christian men. This alone does not make the company a success! However, it is a foundation to start a company that finds value from God first. In Callahan’s book, he talks about how the classical economists were plagued by their inabilities to construct a coherent theory of value. I struggle with the idea that dissatisfaction is what motivates a Christian man to get better at something. Shouldn’t our motivation be that we are trying to make the Lord look glorious? When I read passages like, 1 Timothy 6:6 “But godliness with contentment is great gain”, I ask myself, “if I am dissatisfied in my circumstances, how can I be content instead?” As an owner of a company, I want to be primarily driven by a desire for godly gain first of all. Once I have understood contentment as a Christian, I then can focus on the “dissatisfaction” in the company processes and see them in a whole new light. My human action will be driven by a desire to please God first of all and a desire to glorify him in finding solutions to process improvements.

I also appreciate Callahan’s biblical quote of, “How does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?” From a business perspective the term “profit” may not always be monetary. Whatever choices we make as business owners, specifically for the direction of the company, it will always be with an expectation that there is profit in the end, whether we become a global player in the economy or our business runs dry, we can still work for the glory of God and find profit in our toil.

Jake Mansfield
05/21/2013

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