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American Public Education (APEI) SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / MBA Resources

Introduction to SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix for American Public Education (United States)


Based on various researches at Oak Spring University , American Public Education is operating in a macro-environment that has been destablized by – digital marketing is dominated by two big players Facebook and Google, increasing inequality as vast percentage of new income is going to the top 1%, technology disruption, supply chains are disrupted by pandemic , competitive advantages are harder to sustain because of technology dispersion, increasing household debt because of falling income levels, central banks are concerned over increasing inflation, increasing energy prices, there is increasing trade war between United States & China, etc



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Introduction to SWOT Analysis of American Public Education


SWOT stands for an organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats . At Oak Spring University, we believe that American Public Education can use SWOT analysis as a strategic management tool to assess the current internal strengths and weaknesses of the American Public Education, and to figure out the opportunities and threats in the macro environment – technological, environmental, political, economic, social, demographic, etc in which American Public Education operates in.

According to Harvard Business Review, 75% of the managers use SWOT analysis for various purposes such as – evaluating current scenario, strategic planning, new venture feasibility, personal growth goals, new market entry, Go To market strategies, portfolio management and strategic trade-off assessment, organizational restructuring, etc.




SWOT Objectives / Importance of SWOT Analysis and SWOT Matrix


SWOT analysis of American Public Education can be done for the following purposes –
1. Strategic planning of American Public Education
2. Improving business portfolio management of American Public Education
3. Assessing feasibility of the new initiative in United States
4. Making a Schools sector specific business decision
5. Set goals for the organization
6. Organizational restructuring of American Public Education




Strengths of American Public Education | Internal Strategic Factors
What are Strengths in SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis

The strengths of American Public Education are -

Strong track record of project management in the Schools industry

– American Public Education is known for sticking to its project targets. This enables the firm to manage – time, project costs, and have sustainable margins on the projects.

Sustainable margins compare to other players in Schools industry

– American Public Education has clearly differentiated products in the market place. This has enabled American Public Education to fetch slight price premium compare to the competitors in the Schools industry. The sustainable margins have also helped American Public Education to invest into research and development (R&D) and innovation.

Ability to lead change in Schools

– American Public Education is one of the leading players in the Schools industry in United States. Over the years it has not only transformed the business landscape in the Schools industry in United States but also across the existing markets. The ability to lead change has enabled American Public Education in – penetrating new markets, reaching out to new customers, and providing different value propositions to different customers in the international markets.

Operational resilience

– The operational resilience strategy of American Public Education comprises – understanding the underlying the factors in the Schools industry, building diversified operations across different geographies so that disruption in one part of the world doesn’t impact the overall performance of the firm, and integrating the various business operations and processes through its digital transformation drive.

Superior customer experience

– The customer experience strategy of American Public Education in Schools industry is based on four key concepts – personalization, simplification of complex needs, prompt response, and continuous engagement.

Highly skilled collaborators

– American Public Education has highly efficient outsourcing and offshoring strategy. It has resulted in greater operational flexibility and bringing down the costs in highly price sensitive Schools industry. Secondly the value chain collaborators of American Public Education have helped the firm to develop new products and bring them quickly to the marketplace.

Cross disciplinary teams

– Horizontal connected teams at the American Public Education are driving operational speed, building greater agility, and keeping the organization nimble to compete with new competitors. It helps are organization to ideate new ideas, and execute them swiftly in the marketplace.

Diverse revenue streams

– American Public Education is present in almost all the verticals within the Schools industry. This has provided American Public Education a diverse revenue stream that has helped it to survive disruptions such as global pandemic in Covid-19, financial disruption of 2008, and supply chain disruption of 2021.

High switching costs

– The high switching costs that American Public Education has built up over years in its products and services combo offer has resulted in high retention of customers, lower marketing costs, and greater ability of the firm to focus on its customers.

Training and development

– American Public Education has one of the best training and development program in Services industry. The effectiveness of the training programs can be measured in – employees retention, in-house promotion, loyalty, new venture initiation, lack of conflict, and high level of both employees and customer engagement.

Ability to recruit top talent

– American Public Education is one of the leading players in the Schools industry in United States. It is in a position to attract the best talent available in United States. The firm has a robust talent identification program that helps in identifying the brightest.

Effective Research and Development (R&D)

– American Public Education has innovation driven culture where significant part of the revenues are spent on the research and development activities. This has resulted in – American Public Education staying ahead in the Schools industry in terms of – new product launches, superior customer experience, highly competitive pricing strategies, and great returns to the shareholders.






Weaknesses of American Public Education | Internal Strategic Factors
What are Weaknesses in SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis

The weaknesses of American Public Education are -

Skills based hiring in Schools industry

– The stress on hiring functional specialists at American Public Education has created an environment where the organization is dominated by functional specialists rather than management generalist. This has resulted into product oriented approach rather than marketing oriented approach or consumers oriented approach.

Interest costs

– Compare to the competition, American Public Education has borrowed money from the capital market at higher rates. It needs to restructure the interest payment and costs so that it can compete better and improve profitability.

Compensation and incentives

– The revenue per employee of American Public Education is just above the Schools industry average. It needs to redesign the compensation structure and incentives to increase the revenue per employees. Some of the steps that it can take are – hiring more specialists on project basis, etc.

Low market penetration in new markets

– Outside its home market of United States, American Public Education needs to spend more promotional, marketing, and advertising efforts to penetrate international markets.

High dependence on American Public Education ‘s star products

– The top 2 products and services of American Public Education still accounts for major business revenue. This dependence on star products in Schools industry has resulted into insufficient focus on developing new products, even though American Public Education has relatively successful track record of launching new products.

Lack of clear differentiation of American Public Education products

– To increase the profitability and margins on the products, American Public Education needs to provide more differentiated products than what it is currently offering in the marketplace.

No frontier risks strategy

– From the 10K / annual statement of American Public Education, it seems that company is thinking out the frontier risks that can impact Schools industry. But it has very little resources allocation to manage the risks emerging from events such as natural disasters, climate change, melting of permafrost, tacking the rise of artificial intelligence, opportunities and threats emerging from commercialization of space etc.

High cash cycle compare to competitors

American Public Education has a high cash cycle compare to other players in the Schools industry. It needs to shorten the cash cycle by 12% to be more competitive in the marketplace, reduce inventory costs, and be more profitable.

High bargaining power of channel partners in Schools industry

– because of the regulatory requirements in United States, American Public Education is facing high bargaining power of the channel partners. So far it has not able to streamline the operations to reduce the bargaining power of the value chain partners in the Schools industry.

Employees’ less understanding of American Public Education strategy

– From the outside it seems that the employees of American Public Education don’t have comprehensive understanding of the firm’s strategy. This is reflected in number of promotional campaigns over the last few years that had mixed messaging and competing priorities. Some of the strategic activities and services promoted in the promotional campaigns were not consistent with the organization’s strategy.

Increasing silos among functional specialists

– The organizational structure of American Public Education is dominated by functional specialists. It is not different from other players in the Schools industry, but American Public Education needs to de-silo the office environment to harness the true potential of its workforce. Secondly the de-silo will also help American Public Education to focus more on services in the Schools industry rather than just following the product oriented approach.




American Public Education Opportunities | External Strategic Factors
What are Opportunities in the SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis


The opportunities of American Public Education are -

Developing new processes and practices

– American Public Education can develop new processes and procedures in Schools industry using technology such as automation using artificial intelligence, real time transportation and products tracking, 3D modeling for concept development and new products pilot testing etc.

Buying journey improvements

– American Public Education can improve the customer journey of consumers in the Schools industry by using analytics and artificial intelligence. It can provide automated chats to help consumers solve their own problems, provide online suggestions to get maximum out of the products and services, and help consumers to build a community where they can interact with each other to develop new features and uses.

Using analytics as competitive advantage

– American Public Education has spent a significant amount of money and effort to integrate analytics and machine learning into its operations in Schools sector. This continuous investment in analytics has enabled American Public Education to build a competitive advantage using analytics. The analytics driven competitive advantage can help American Public Education to build faster Go To Market strategies, better consumer insights, developing relevant product features, and building a highly efficient supply chain.

Redefining models of collaboration and team work

– As explained in the weaknesses section, American Public Education is facing challenges because of the dominance of functional experts in the organization. American Public Education can utilize new technology in the field of Schools industry to build more coordinated teams and streamline operations and communications using tools such as CAD, Zoom, etc.

Finding new ways to collaborate

– Covid-19 has not only transformed business models of companies in Schools industry, but it has also influenced the consumer preferences. American Public Education can tie-up with other value chain partners to explore new opportunities regarding meeting customer demands and building a rewarding and engaging relationship.

Harnessing reconfiguration of the global supply chains

– As the trade war between US and China heats up in the coming years, American Public Education can build a diversified supply chain model across various countries in - South East Asia, India, and other parts of the world. This reconfiguration of global supply chain can help American Public Education to buy more products closer to the markets, and it can leverage its size and influence to get better deal from the local markets.

Changes in consumer behavior post Covid-19

– consumer behavior has changed in the Schools industry because of Covid-19 restrictions. Some of this behavior will stay once things get back to normal. American Public Education can take advantage of these changes in consumer behavior to build a far more efficient business model. For example consumer regular ordering of products can reduce both last mile delivery costs and market penetration costs. American Public Education can further use this consumer data to build better customer loyalty, provide better products and service collection, and improve the value proposition in inflationary times.

Learning at scale

– Online learning technologies has now opened space for American Public Education to conduct training and development for its employees across the world. This will result in not only reducing the cost of training but also help employees in different part of the world to integrate with the headquarter work culture, ethos, and standards.

Low interest rates

– Even though inflation is raising its head in most developed economies, American Public Education can still utilize the low interest rates to borrow money for capital investment. Secondly it can also use the increase of government spending in infrastructure projects to get new business.

Reconfiguring business model

– The expansion of digital payment system, the bringing down of international transactions costs using Bitcoin and other blockchain based currencies, etc can help American Public Education to reconfigure its entire business model. For example it can used blockchain based technologies to reduce piracy of its products in the big markets such as China. Secondly it can use the popularity of e-commerce in various developing markets to build a Direct to Customer business model rather than the current Channel Heavy distribution network.

Leveraging digital technologies

– American Public Education can leverage digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate the production process, customer analytics to get better insights into consumer behavior, realtime digital dashboards to get better sales tracking, logistics and transportation, product tracking, etc.

Loyalty marketing

– American Public Education has focused on building a highly responsive customer relationship management platform. This platform is built on in-house data and driven by analytics and artificial intelligence. The customer analytics can help the organization to fine tune its loyalty marketing efforts, increase the wallet share of the organization, reduce wastage on mainstream advertising spending, build better pricing strategies using personalization, etc.

Reforming the budgeting process

- By establishing new metrics that will be used to evaluate both existing and potential projects American Public Education can not only reduce the costs of the project but also help it in integrating the projects with other processes within the organization.




Threats American Public Education External Strategic Factors
What are Threats in the SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis


The threats of American Public Education are -

Regulatory challenges

– American Public Education needs to prepare for regulatory challenges as consumer protection groups and other pressure groups are vigorously advocating for more regulations on big business - to reduce inequality, to create a level playing field, to product data privacy and consumer privacy, to reduce the influence of big money on democratic institutions, etc. This can lead to significant changes in the Schools industry regulations.

Increasing wage structure of American Public Education

– Post Covid-19 there is a sharp increase in the wages especially in the jobs that require interaction with people. The increasing wages can put downward pressure on the margins of American Public Education.

Environmental challenges

– American Public Education needs to have a robust strategy against the disruptions arising from climate change and energy requirements. EU has identified it as key priority area and spending 30% of its 880 billion Euros European post Covid-19 recovery funds on green technology. American Public Education can take advantage of this fund but it will also bring new competitors in the Schools industry.

Aging population

– As the populations of most advanced economies are aging, it will lead to high social security costs, higher savings among population, and lower demand for goods and services in the economy. The household savings in US, France, UK, Germany, and Japan are growing faster than predicted because of uncertainty caused by pandemic.

Technology acceleration in Forth Industrial Revolution

– American Public Education has witnessed rapid integration of technology during Covid-19 in the Schools industry. As one of the leading players in the industry, American Public Education needs to keep up with the evolution of technology in the Schools sector. According to Mckinsey study top managers believe that the adoption of technology in operations, communications is 20-25 times faster than what they planned in the beginning of 2019.

Learning curve for new practices

– As the technology based on artificial intelligence and machine learning platform is getting complex, American Public Education may face longer learning curve for training and development of existing employees. This can open space for more nimble competitors in the field of Schools sector.

Trade war between China and United States

– The trade war between two of the biggest economies can hugely impact the opportunities for American Public Education in Schools industry. The Schools industry is already at various protected from local competition in China, with the rise of trade war the protection levels may go up. This presents a clear threat of current business model in Chinese market.

Consumer confidence and its impact on American Public Education demand

– There is a high probability of declining consumer confidence, given – high inflammation rate, rise of gig economy, lower job stability, increasing cost of living, higher interest rates, and aging demography. All the factors contribute to people saving higher rate of their income, resulting in lower consumer demand in Schools industry and other sectors.

Shortening product life cycle

– it is one of the major threat that American Public Education is facing in Schools sector. It can lead to higher research and development costs, higher marketing expenses, lower customer loyalty, etc.

Backlash against dominant players

– US Congress and other legislative arms of the government are getting tough on big business especially technology companies. The digital arm of American Public Education business can come under increasing regulations regarding data privacy, data security, etc.

Technology disruption because of hacks, piracy etc

– The colonial pipeline illustrated, how vulnerable modern organization are to international hackers, miscreants, and disruptors. The cyber security interruption, data leaks, etc can seriously jeopardize the future growth of the organization.

Barriers of entry lowering

– As technology is more democratized, the barriers to entry to Schools industry are lowering. It can presents American Public Education with greater competitive threats in the near to medium future. Secondly it will also put downward pressure on pricing throughout the Schools sector.

High dependence on third party suppliers

– American Public Education high dependence on third party suppliers can disrupt its processes and delivery mechanism. For example -the current troubles of car makers because of chip shortage is because the chip companies started producing chips for electronic companies rather than car manufacturers.




Weighted SWOT Analysis of American Public Education Template, Example


Not all factors mentioned under the Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats quadrants in the SWOT Analysis are equal. Managers at American Public Education needs to zero down on the relative importance of each factor mentioned in the Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats quadrants. We can provide the relative importance to each factor by assigning relative weights. Weighted SWOT analysis process is a three stage process –

First stage for doing weighted SWOT analysis of American Public Education is to rank the strengths and weaknesses of the organization. This will help you to assess the most important strengths and weaknesses of the firm and which one of the strengths and weaknesses mentioned in the initial lists are marginal and can be left out.

Second stage for conducting weighted SWOT analysis of American Public Education is to give probabilities to the external strategic factors thus better understanding the opportunities and threats arising out of macro environment changes and developments.

Third stage of constructing weighted SWOT analysis of American Public Education to provide strategic recommendations includes – joining likelihood of external strategic factors such as opportunities and threats to the internal strategic factors – strengths and weaknesses. You should start with external factors as they will provide the direction of the overall industry. Secondly by joining probabilities with internal strategic factors can help the company not only strategic fit but also the most probably strategic trade-off that American Public Education needs to make to build a sustainable competitive advantage.



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