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Iron Road (IRD) SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / MBA Resources

Introduction to SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix for Iron Road (Australia)


Based on various researches at Oak Spring University , Iron Road is operating in a macro-environment that has been destablized by – geopolitical disruptions, technology disruption, increasing government debt because of Covid-19 spendings, banking and financial system is disrupted by Bitcoin and other crypto currencies, supply chains are disrupted by pandemic , increasing transportation and logistics costs, competitive advantages are harder to sustain because of technology dispersion, cloud computing is disrupting traditional business models, wage bills are increasing, etc



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Introduction to SWOT Analysis of Iron Road


SWOT stands for an organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats . At Oak Spring University, we believe that Iron Road can use SWOT analysis as a strategic management tool to assess the current internal strengths and weaknesses of the Iron Road, and to figure out the opportunities and threats in the macro environment – technological, environmental, political, economic, social, demographic, etc in which Iron Road 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 Iron Road can be done for the following purposes –
1. Strategic planning of Iron Road
2. Improving business portfolio management of Iron Road
3. Assessing feasibility of the new initiative in Australia
4. Making a Metal Mining sector specific business decision
5. Set goals for the organization
6. Organizational restructuring of Iron Road




Strengths of Iron Road | Internal Strategic Factors
What are Strengths in SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis

The strengths of Iron Road are -

Analytics focus

– Iron Road 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 Metal Mining industry. The technology infrastructure of Australia 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.

Superior customer experience

– The customer experience strategy of Iron Road in Metal Mining industry is based on four key concepts – personalization, simplification of complex needs, prompt response, and continuous engagement.

Successful track record of launching new products

– Iron Road has launched numerous new products in last few years, keeping in mind evolving customer preferences and competitive pressures. Iron Road has effective processes in place that helps in exploring new product needs, doing quick pilot testing, and then launching the products quickly using its extensive distribution network.

Sustainable margins compare to other players in Metal Mining industry

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

Operational resilience

– The operational resilience strategy of Iron Road comprises – understanding the underlying the factors in the Metal Mining 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.

Diverse revenue streams

– Iron Road is present in almost all the verticals within the Metal Mining industry. This has provided Iron Road 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.

Cross disciplinary teams

– Horizontal connected teams at the Iron Road 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.

Digital Transformation in Metal Mining industry

- digital transformation varies from industry to industry. For Iron Road digital transformation journey comprises differing goals based on market maturity, customer technology acceptance, and organizational culture. Iron Road has successfully integrated the four key components of digital transformation – digital integration in processes, digital integration in marketing and customer relationship management, digital integration into the value chain, and using technology to explore new products and market opportunities.

High switching costs

– The high switching costs that Iron Road 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.

Highly skilled collaborators

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

Ability to lead change in Metal Mining

– Iron Road is one of the leading players in the Metal Mining industry in Australia. Over the years it has not only transformed the business landscape in the Metal Mining industry in Australia but also across the existing markets. The ability to lead change has enabled Iron Road in – penetrating new markets, reaching out to new customers, and providing different value propositions to different customers in the international markets.

Learning organization

- Iron Road 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 Iron Road is open place that encourages instructiveness, ideation, open minded discussions, and creativity. Employees and leaders at Iron Road emphasize – knowledge, initiative, and innovation.






Weaknesses of Iron Road | Internal Strategic Factors
What are Weaknesses in SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis

The weaknesses of Iron Road are -

Slow to strategic competitive environment developments

– As Iron Road is one of the leading players in the Metal Mining industry, it takes time to assess the upcoming competitions. This has led to missing out on atleast 2-3 big opportunities in the Metal Mining industry in last five years.

Interest costs

– Compare to the competition, Iron Road 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.

Low market penetration in new markets

– Outside its home market of Australia, Iron Road needs to spend more promotional, marketing, and advertising efforts to penetrate international markets.

Slow to harness new channels of communication

– Even though competitors are using new communication channels such as Instagram, Tiktok, and Snap, Iron Road is slow explore the new channels of communication. These new channels of communication can help Iron Road to provide better information regarding Metal Mining products and services. It can also build an online community to further reach out to potential customers.

Ability to respond to the competition

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

Slow decision making process

– As mentioned earlier in the report, Iron Road has a very deliberative decision making approach. This approach has resulted in prudent decisions, but it has also resulted in missing opportunities in the Metal Mining industry over the last five years. Iron Road 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.

Compensation and incentives

– The revenue per employee of Iron Road is just above the Metal Mining 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.

Skills based hiring in Metal Mining industry

– The stress on hiring functional specialists at Iron Road 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.

Employees’ less understanding of Iron Road strategy

– From the outside it seems that the employees of Iron Road 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 cash cycle compare to competitors

Iron Road has a high cash cycle compare to other players in the Metal Mining industry. It needs to shorten the cash cycle by 12% to be more competitive in the marketplace, reduce inventory costs, and be more profitable.

Capital Spending Reduction

– Even during the low interest decade, Iron Road has not been able to do capital spending to the tune of the competition. This has resulted into fewer innovations and company facing stiff competition from both existing competitors and new entrants who are disrupting the Metal Mining industry using digital technology.




Iron Road Opportunities | External Strategic Factors
What are Opportunities in the SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis


The opportunities of Iron Road are -

Changes in consumer behavior post Covid-19

– consumer behavior has changed in the Metal Mining industry because of Covid-19 restrictions. Some of this behavior will stay once things get back to normal. Iron Road 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. Iron Road 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.

Lowering marketing communication costs

– 5G expansion will open new opportunities for Iron Road in the field of marketing communication. It will bring down the cost of doing business, provide technology platform to build new products in the Metal Mining industry, and it will provide faster access to the consumers.

Remote work and new talent hiring opportunities

– The widespread usage of remote working technologies during Covid-19 has opened opportunities for Iron Road 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 Iron Road to hire the very best people irrespective of their geographical location.

Low interest rates

– Even though inflation is raising its head in most developed economies, Iron Road 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.

Developing new processes and practices

– Iron Road can develop new processes and procedures in Metal Mining 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.

Leveraging digital technologies

– Iron Road 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.

Increase in government spending

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

Use of Bitcoin and other crypto currencies for transactions in Metal Mining industry

– The popularity of Bitcoin and other crypto currencies as asset class and medium of transaction has opened new opportunities for Iron Road in the Metal Mining industry. Now Iron Road can target international markets with far fewer capital restrictions requirements than the existing system.

Identify volunteer opportunities

– Covid-19 has impacted working population in two ways – it has led to people soul searching about their professional choices, resulting in mass resignation. Secondly it has encouraged people to do things that they are passionate about. This has opened opportunities for businesses to build volunteer oriented socially driven projects. Iron Road can explore opportunities that can attract volunteers and are consistent with its mission and vision.

Redefining models of collaboration and team work

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

Manufacturing automation

– Iron Road can use the latest technology developments to improve its manufacturing and designing process in Metal Mining sector. It can use CAD and 3D printing to build a quick prototype and pilot testing products. It can leverage automation using machine learning and artificial intelligence to do faster production at lowers costs, and it can leverage the growth in satellite and tracking technologies to improve inventory management, transportation, and shipping.

Harnessing reconfiguration of the global supply chains

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

Buying journey improvements

– Iron Road can improve the customer journey of consumers in the Metal Mining 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.




Threats Iron Road External Strategic Factors
What are Threats in the SWOT Analysis / TOWS Matrix / Weighted SWOT Analysis


The threats of Iron Road are -

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.

Easy access to finance

– Easy access to finance in Metal Mining industry will also reduce the barriers to entry in the industry, thus putting downward pressure on the prices because of increasing competition. Iron Road can utilize it by borrowing at lower rates and invest it into research and development, capital expenditure to fortify its core competitive advantage.

Consumer confidence and its impact on Iron Road 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 Metal Mining industry and other sectors.

Learning curve for new practices

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

Instability in the European markets

– European Union markets are facing three big challenges post Covid – expanded balance sheets, Brexit related business disruption, and aggressive Russia looking to distract the existing security mechanism. Iron Road will face different problems in different parts of Europe. For example it will face inflationary pressures in UK, France, and Germany, balance sheet expansion and demand challenges in Southern European countries, and geopolitical instability in the Eastern Europe.

Barriers of entry lowering

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

Technology acceleration in Forth Industrial Revolution

– Iron Road has witnessed rapid integration of technology during Covid-19 in the Metal Mining industry. As one of the leading players in the industry, Iron Road needs to keep up with the evolution of technology in the Metal Mining 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.

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 Iron Road.

Increasing wage structure of Iron Road

– 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 Iron Road.

Increasing international competition and downward pressure on margins

– Apart from technology driven competitive advantage dilution, Iron Road 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 Iron Road 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. Iron Road needs to understand the core reasons impacting the Metal Mining industry. This will help it in building a better workplace.

Trade war between China and United States

– The trade war between two of the biggest economies can hugely impact the opportunities for Iron Road in Metal Mining industry. The Metal Mining 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.

Environmental challenges

– Iron Road 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. Iron Road can take advantage of this fund but it will also bring new competitors in the Metal Mining industry.




Weighted SWOT Analysis of Iron Road Template, Example


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



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