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What Tivo Could Do BetterTerm Paper

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The author of this report has been asked to critique the product life cycle, supply chain and other parts of operations for a company of the author's choice. The company that the author of this report will be focusing on is Tivo and their line of digital video recorders, or DVR's for short. A number of things will be looked at. First, there will be two to four weaknesses in the product life cycle that will be identified. There will be three strategies that will be suggested based on the facts and products as they currently exist. Three key components of supply chain management will be covered, a total quality management tool will be explained and employed, three advantages of "just in time" (JIT) methodology will be covered and three to five means in which JIT will impact quality assurance will be explained. Finally, there will be forecasting methods that are both quantitative and qualitative in nature. A quick table that shows different aspects of the operation and how each method applies will be supplied. The strengths and weaknesses of each method will be included. While Tivo is doing some things very well, they could do even better and there are some obvious gaps in their product offerings.


If there is one thing that Tivo has done recently that is very wise, it would be the offering of a DVR, in the form of the Bolt DVR, that is not really present as an "out-of-the-box" solution anywhere else in the market. The Bolt is a huge step because it is a one-stop solution that includes television access, DVR use, streaming of Netflix/Amazon and the use of applications like Plex that allow for streaming of a personal MP4 collection. However, there are two weaknesses in that product alone that users are not happy about. First, the prior line of DVR's, known as the Roamio line, included a "Pro" option that had six different tuners (meaning that six different shows could be recorded at the same time) and a hard drive that could record 450 hours of programming. While most users do not want or need that much space (or the price tag that comes with it), there are a good many users that love that much space. However, the hard drives offered on the Bolt are much smaller. Sure, there is the Gigabit Internet (which is new) and the compatibility with 4k video content (ditto), but the lack of enough space is a liability. Another major flaw in the design of the Bolt is that while the ability to "expand" the space capacity noted above is retained from the prior offerings, the only option is one brand and one size of hard drive, with the latter being only 1 terabyte of space. Even with the more expensive Bolt (which has 1 TB) and the external hard drive (1 TB more), that is still not as much space as the Roamio Pro. If Tivo found that offering the space of the Roamio was not worth the trouble, offering compatibility for more external hard drives would have been a fairly easy way to compensate for that. However, Tivo did neither when it comes to offering more included space or the ability to expand that space. Indeed, HD content takes a lot of space (and 4k would take even more) and Tivo left their customers wanting on that. They admit that the Tivo Bolt is not a mainstream product and is really meant for the enthusiasts. However, the glaring holes they left when it came to space in their units would seem to suggest that they did not think things through (Tivo, 2015). As far as three strategies that the author would use to deal with this issue, the author would allow for upgrades that the buyer can include such as a bigger internal hard drive or different options to upgrade the external drive. If Tivo has an exclusivity arrangement with the maker of their 1 terabyte "expander" drive, they could expand options by allowing for bigger drives even if the same single company is used. That would be two options. The third option would be to offer a third and larger "standard" Tivo Bolt that has 2 TB or 3 TB. However, the market may not support that but the first two options should handle the "techies" that really want a bigger drive. Vendors like WeaKnees steal business from Tivo by swapping in bigger internal drives and this could be largely stopped by Tivo doing the same thing at cheaper prices (WeaKnees, 2015; Calmon & Graves, 2015).

When it comes to supply chain management, keeping things simple can pay huge dividends. As noted above, having to worry about compatibility with external hard drives may be a headache from a hardware or legal standpoint. However, offering bigger external drives but keeping the same single vendor would probably a boon overall as the users could "win" and Tivo would still have only one external hard drive vendor that is accepted. As far as issues that could affect the Tivo supply chain, there are a few. First, if the company that offers the external hard drives were to go sour in terms of business or financial stability, that would put Tivo in a bit of a bind. A solution would be to expand the brands that can be used if possible or at least get a legal "out" if the vendor cannot meet certain conditions. Second, if the market shifts towards streaming for video like it is for music, this could make DVR's more obsolete. Indeed, there will always be those that prefer and demand to have a local copy of their media. However, the choice of Apple to cancel production of the Classic (their version of the Roamio when it comes to space on the drive) is a bit concerning. However video files are much bigger and bandwidth intensive so this is not likely, at least for now. A solution would be to provide the larger drives at the full expense of the buyer and not rely on mass production if the latter is not feasible from a market standpoint. Finally, a third supply chain challenge for Tivo will be that they are not compatible with satellite television vendors like Dish and DirecTV. A solution would be to establish (or re-establish, in the case of DirecTV) a relationship with those vendors. However, they might not be willing to allow such entry. Obviously, there would have to be a financial incentive (Calmon & Graves, 2015).

As far as quality management, the easy and obvious choice would be lean synchronization. Things need to be kept "lean and mean" at all locations that Tivo operations. Waste needs to be kept to a minimum and each location should be operating in the precise same fashion unless there is a business or regional reason why not. Variance and uniqueness may be valued in some parts of life but quality management is not one of them. One warning that Tivo will want to take heed of is that going too lean and too mean can lead to problems. There is such as a thing as spending too little when it comes to things like hiring/retaining employees, keeping quality high and so forth. In short, Tivo should keep things lean when it benefits them overall but they should spend money when they need to. If there is a staff shortage, for example, they need to hire people as needed and they will need to have overtime authorized for the people that are there. Refusing to provide the people resources based on the workload that exists is a bad move because it could constrict supply as compared to what is needed and this can lead to empty shelves in the stores and angry customers. The latter is much more likely to voice their grievances than those that are nominally satisfied and that obviously presents a problem (Drohomeretski, Gouvea de Costa, Pinheiro de Lima & Garbuio, 2014).

The basic point of the above is that Tivo needs to operate based on what is known as "just in time" methodology. In short, the items and supplies they need to complete the job need to be there when they are needed but there is such a thing as having too much on hand and having things too soon. Put another way, there needs to be a balance between having what is needed and not having too much of anything at any given time. For example, having enough internal hard drives on hand to install in about a week's worth of production is pretty good. However, having a month's worth would be excessive. Finally, having a day's worth is not enough. There should be some lag in terms of what is needed and what is on hand but it should not be excessive. Excess leads to more money being spent up front than is needed and those extra parts take up room that… [END OF PREVIEW]

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