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December 19, 2014

Starbucks sells liquor and Boeing phases out the 747: The biggest business pivots of 2014

Puget Sound Business Journal

Rachel Lerman

I never really thought of Starbucks - the store that fuels my morning writing - as a place to get wine and beer in the evening. But that's exactly what Starbucks wants from one of its most significant strategy changes this year.

From the Starbucks bar to the slow death of Boeing's most notable aircraft to the push to publish all of the Gates Foundation's research online, it's been a year of directional swings for Seattle companies.

Some of these pivots may seem small, but they represent significant strategy changes for Puget Sound businesses. Here's a look at some of the strategy changes that stuck out to me in 2014.

Starbucks: The company continues to move away from its previous business model, where it focused solely on coffee. It is expanding its lunch and evening offerings, and pushing ever further into the mobile realm. It's a way to make the store a destination for people in the increasingly digital world, rather than just a place they pass by while shopping.

Nordstrom: The company restructured its popular semi-annual sales, getting rid of its six half-yearly sales that each focused on a different category. Instead the company will hold six store-wide clearance sales each year around different holidays. It's a move to a more traditional model of sales, which many think shoppers are more accustomed to and wanted at Nordstrom as well as other big department stores.

Microsoft: Microsoft had many huge changes this year, including massive layoffs, a new CEO and the departure of former CEO Steve Ballmer from the company's board. But the single biggest may be its shift in focus from being a "devices and services" company to a "mobile-first, cloud-first" enterprise. We're still figuring out what that means for the company, but it certainly includes a huge organizational shift.

Kidder Mathews: The Seattle commercial real estate company announced major expansion plans in California, which will include its first Southern California office. Veteran industry leader Jim Bowles will lead the expansion. The expansion comes as the commercial real estate industry continues to consolidate, but Kidder intends to remain independent. Boeing: Bye-bye, Boeing 747. Boeing announced plans to slow production of the 747, its historic plane that helped it rise to global leadership. The company has only 39 ordered planes left to make, compared to 553 of the 777.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: The foundation made a big push for transparency when it said it would adopt an open access policy to share the information discovered through its research. The published research will be accessible online. The change came after an international aid advocacy organization slammed the foundation for not being open enough.

For the full story, go to Puget Sound Business Journal.

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