A variety of operations keep businesses, especially large corporations, running efficiently and effectively. Common business operation divisions include (1) production, (2) marketing, (3) finance, and (4) human resource management.
Production includes those activities involved in conceptualizing, designing, and creating products and services. In recent years there have been dramatic changes in the way goods are produced. Today, computers help monitor, control, and even perform work. Flexible, high-tech machines can do in minutes what it used to take people hours to accomplish. Another important development has been the trend toward just-in-time inventory. The word inventory refers to the amount of goods a business keeps available for wholesale or retail. In just-in-time inventory, the firm stocks only what it needs for the next day or two. Many businesses rely on fast, global computer communications to allow them to respond quickly to changes in consumer demand. Inventories are thus minimized and businesses can invest more in product research, development, and marketing.
Marketing is the process of identifying the goods and services that consumers need and want and providing those goods and services at the right price, place, and time. Businesses develop marketing strategies by conducting research to determine what products and services potential customers think they would like to be able to purchase. Firms also promote their products and services through such techniques as advertising and personalized sales, which serve to inform potential customers and motivate them to purchase. Firms that market products for which there are always some demand, such as foods and household goods, often advertise if they face competition from other firms marketing similar products. Such products rarely need to be sold face-to-face. On the other hand, firms that market products and services that buyers will want to see, use, or better understand before buying, often rely on personalized sales. Expensive and durable goods—such as automobiles, electronics, or furniture—benefit from personalized sales, as do legal services such as the provision of insurance policies or tax preparation.
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