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AT&T (T) SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / MBA Resources

Introduction to SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix for AT&T (Germany)


Based on various researches at Oak Spring University , AT&T is operating in a macro-environment that has been destablized by – cloud computing is disrupting traditional business models, digital marketing is dominated by two big players Facebook and Google, challanges to central banks by blockchain based private currencies, central banks are concerned over increasing inflation, geopolitical disruptions, increasing transportation and logistics costs, banking and financial system is disrupted by Bitcoin and other crypto currencies, increasing household debt because of falling income levels, increasing commodity prices, etc



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Introduction to SWOT Analysis of AT&T


SWOT stands for an organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats . At Oak Spring University, we believe that AT&T can use SWOT analysis as a strategic management tool to assess the current internal strengths and weaknesses of the AT&T, and to figure out the opportunities and threats in the macro environment – technological, environmental, political, economic, social, demographic, etc in which AT&T 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 AT&T can be done for the following purposes –
1. Strategic planning of AT&T
2. Improving business portfolio management of AT&T
3. Assessing feasibility of the new initiative in Germany
4. Making a Communications Services sector specific business decision
5. Set goals for the organization
6. Organizational restructuring of AT&T




Strengths of AT&T | Internal Strategic Factors
What are Strengths in SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis

The strengths of AT&T are -

Ability to recruit top talent

– AT&T is one of the leading players in the Communications Services industry in Germany. It is in a position to attract the best talent available in Germany. The firm has a robust talent identification program that helps in identifying the brightest.

Cross disciplinary teams

– Horizontal connected teams at the AT&T 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.

Organizational Resilience of AT&T

– The covid-19 pandemic has put organizational resilience at the centre of everthing AT&T does. Organizational resilience comprises - Financial Resilience, Operational Resilience, Technological Resilience, Organizational Resilience, Business Model Resilience, and Reputation Resilience.

Learning organization

- AT&T is a learning organization. It has inculcated three key characters of learning organization in its processes and operations – exploration, creativity, and expansiveness. The work place at AT&T is open place that encourages instructiveness, ideation, open minded discussions, and creativity. Employees and leaders at AT&T emphasize – knowledge, initiative, and innovation.

High brand equity

– AT&T has strong brand awareness and brand recognition among both - the exiting customers and potential new customers. Strong brand equity has enabled AT&T to keep acquiring new customers and building profitable relationship with both the new and loyal customers.

Ability to lead change in Communications Services

– AT&T is one of the leading players in the Communications Services industry in Germany. Over the years it has not only transformed the business landscape in the Communications Services industry in Germany but also across the existing markets. The ability to lead change has enabled AT&T 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 AT&T comprises – understanding the underlying the factors in the Communications Services 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.

Innovation driven organization

– AT&T is one of the most innovative firm in Communications Services sector.

Superior customer experience

– The customer experience strategy of AT&T in Communications Services industry is based on four key concepts – personalization, simplification of complex needs, prompt response, and continuous engagement.

Training and development

– AT&T 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.

Diverse revenue streams

– AT&T is present in almost all the verticals within the Communications Services industry. This has provided AT&T 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.

Analytics focus

– AT&T is putting a lot of focus on utilizing the power of analytics in business decision making. This has put it among the leading players in the Communications Services industry. The technology infrastructure of Germany is also helping it to harness the power of analytics for – marketing optimization, demand forecasting, customer relationship management, inventory management, information sharing across the value chain etc.






Weaknesses of AT&T | Internal Strategic Factors
What are Weaknesses in SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis

The weaknesses of AT&T are -

No frontier risks strategy

– From the 10K / annual statement of AT&T, it seems that company is thinking out the frontier risks that can impact Communications Services 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.

Ability to respond to the competition

– As the decision making is very deliberative at AT&T, in the dynamic environment of Communications Services industry it has struggled to respond to the nimble upstart competition. AT&T has reasonably good record with similar level competitors but it has struggled with new entrants taking away niches of its business.

Employees’ less understanding of AT&T strategy

– From the outside it seems that the employees of AT&T 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.

High dependence on existing supply chain

– The disruption in the global supply chains because of the Covid-19 pandemic and blockage of the Suez Canal illustrated the fragile nature of AT&T supply chain. Even after few cautionary changes, AT&T is still heavily dependent upon the existing supply chain. The existing supply chain though brings in cost efficiencies but it has left AT&T vulnerable to further global disruptions in South East Asia.

High operating costs

– Compare to the competitors, AT&T has high operating costs in the Communications Services industry. This can be harder to sustain given the new emerging competition from nimble players who are using technology to attract AT&T lucrative customers.

Increasing silos among functional specialists

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

Low market penetration in new markets

– Outside its home market of Germany, AT&T needs to spend more promotional, marketing, and advertising efforts to penetrate international markets.

Slow decision making process

– As mentioned earlier in the report, AT&T has a very deliberative decision making approach. This approach has resulted in prudent decisions, but it has also resulted in missing opportunities in the Communications Services industry over the last five years. AT&T even though has strong showing on digital transformation primary two stages, it has struggled to capitalize the power of digital transformation in marketing efforts and new venture efforts.

Interest costs

– Compare to the competition, AT&T 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.

High bargaining power of channel partners in Communications Services industry

– because of the regulatory requirements in Germany, AT&T 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 Communications Services industry.

High dependence on AT&T ‘s star products

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




AT&T Opportunities | External Strategic Factors
What are Opportunities in the SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis


The opportunities of AT&T are -

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 AT&T 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.

Better consumer reach

– The expansion of the 5G network will help AT&T to increase its market reach. AT&T will be able to reach out to new customers. Secondly 5G will also provide technology framework to build new tools and products that can help more immersive consumer experience and faster consumer journey.

Increase in government spending

– As the United States and other governments are increasing social spending and infrastructure spending to build economies post Covid-19, AT&T can use these opportunities to build new business models that can help the communities that AT&T operates in. Secondly it can use opportunities from government spending in Communications Services sector.

Changes in consumer behavior post Covid-19

– consumer behavior has changed in the Communications Services industry because of Covid-19 restrictions. Some of this behavior will stay once things get back to normal. AT&T 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. AT&T 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.

Finding new ways to collaborate

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

Building a culture of innovation

– managers at AT&T can make experimentation a productive activity and build a culture of innovation using approaches such as – mining transaction data, A/B testing of websites and selling platforms, engaging potential customers over various needs, and building on small ideas in the Communications Services industry.

Loyalty marketing

– AT&T 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.

Harnessing reconfiguration of the global supply chains

– As the trade war between US and China heats up in the coming years, AT&T 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 AT&T to buy more products closer to the markets, and it can leverage its size and influence to get better deal from the local markets.

Learning at scale

– Online learning technologies has now opened space for AT&T 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.

Redefining models of collaboration and team work

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

Low interest rates

– Even though inflation is raising its head in most developed economies, AT&T 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.

Remote work and new talent hiring opportunities

– The widespread usage of remote working technologies during Covid-19 has opened opportunities for AT&T to expand its talent hiring zone. According to McKinsey Global Institute, 20% of the high end workforce in fields such as finance, information technology, can continously work from remote local post Covid-19. This presents a really great opportunity for AT&T to hire the very best people irrespective of their geographical location.

Lowering marketing communication costs

– 5G expansion will open new opportunities for AT&T in the field of marketing communication. It will bring down the cost of doing business, provide technology platform to build new products in the Communications Services industry, and it will provide faster access to the consumers.




Threats AT&T External Strategic Factors
What are Threats in the SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis


The threats of AT&T are -

Consumer confidence and its impact on AT&T 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 Communications Services industry and other sectors.

Environmental challenges

– AT&T 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. AT&T can take advantage of this fund but it will also bring new competitors in the Communications Services industry.

Capital market disruption

– During the Covid-19, Dow Jones has touched record high. The valuations of a number of companies are way beyond their existing business model potential. This can lead to capital market correction which can put a number of suppliers, collaborators, value chain partners in great financial difficulty. It will directly impact the business of AT&T.

Shortening product life cycle

– it is one of the major threat that AT&T is facing in Communications Services sector. It can lead to higher research and development costs, higher marketing expenses, lower customer loyalty, etc.

New competition

– After the dotcom bust of 2001, financial crisis of 2008-09, the business formation in US economy had declined. But in 2020 alone, there are more than 1.5 million new business applications in United States. This can lead to greater competition for AT&T in the Communications Services sector and impact the bottomline of the organization.

Stagnating economy with rate increase

– AT&T can face lack of demand in the market place because of Fed actions to reduce inflation. This can lead to sluggish growth in the economy, lower demands, lower investments, higher borrowing costs, and consolidation in the Communications Services industry.

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 AT&T business can come under increasing regulations regarding data privacy, data security, etc.

Learning curve for new practices

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

Increasing wage structure of AT&T

– 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 AT&T.

Increasing international competition and downward pressure on margins

– Apart from technology driven competitive advantage dilution, AT&T can face downward pressure on margins from increasing competition from international players. The international players have stable revenue in their home market and can use those resources to penetrate AT&T prominent markets.

High level of anxiety and lack of motivation

– the Great Resignation in United States is the sign of broader dissatisfaction among the workforce in United States. AT&T needs to understand the core reasons impacting the Communications Services industry. This will help it in building a better workplace.

High dependence on third party suppliers

– AT&T 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.

Technology acceleration in Forth Industrial Revolution

– AT&T has witnessed rapid integration of technology during Covid-19 in the Communications Services industry. As one of the leading players in the industry, AT&T needs to keep up with the evolution of technology in the Communications Services 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.




Weighted SWOT Analysis of AT&T Template, Example


Not all factors mentioned under the Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats quadrants in the SWOT Analysis are equal. Managers at AT&T 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 AT&T 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 AT&T 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 AT&T 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 AT&T needs to make to build a sustainable competitive advantage.



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