Mon, Nov 11, 2013 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Acer needs to move on

It is undeniable that the announcement of Acer chairman and chief executive officer Wang Jeng-tang’s (王振堂) resignation last week has left people with mixed feelings. Despite his efforts to turn the company’s fortunes around, Wang failed to fulfill his pledge four years ago to make Acer the world’s largest portable computer brand, although that was a noble goal.

Investors and shareholders had long expected someone to take responsibility for the company’s widening losses and falling market share, and they got their answer on Tuesday night. As for those closely watching the PC industry, they believed it was the dramatic structural change in the industry that cost Wang his job, but they also wondered who else is capable of leading the company through the daunting challenges ahead.

Many others just sighed about the decline of the once-promising Acer, which has changed its leadership for the second time in the past three years, the same way they did for another falling star of Taiwanese brands — HTC Corp.

Many analyses and commentaries examined how Acer lost its glory in the space of a few short years and what eventually caused the departure of Wang, who spent 32 years at Acer and who had held the top two posts for eight years. There were also reports about the implications of Acer’s leadership change and the serious tests awaiting Acer’s cross-town rival Asustek Computer and the nation’s PC sector as a whole amid the fast-paced change in the global tech industry.

Overall, people share a view that leadership change offers a chance to shake up the “status quo,” as well as a window of opportunity. However, there cannot yet be much praise for Wang and the company’s board members, who finally came to their senses and are willing to implement new management. Basically, no one should take for granted that a new executive team next year will inject new blood into Acer’s products and help the company regain its market share worldwide until the details of the restructuring plans emerge, accompanied by solid execution.

There is much more to do during the transition period for the departing Wang and the “transformation advisory committee” within the board led by company founder Stan Shih (施振榮), because Acer must not run on empty and see its employees speculate about what the changes will mean to them and in what direction the company is heading. The outgoing management and the board need to come up with a restructuring plan fast, establish a new executive team and allay employees’ anxieties. They also have to engineer a corporate transformation and offer a clear strategy for the firm’s development.

The faster these steps are taken, the less difficult the new executives will find their work when they come onboard. Fear of making tough corporate or personnel decisions during the transition period will only make the company’s dire situation more urgent and more costly to fix.

So while outsiders are still trying to figure out what Acer will do under the new leadership, insiders need to take a hard look at the harsh industry realities facing them and how they can make the best use of the transition period. If done properly, that may be a legacy the incumbent management leaves for Acer during their last days with the company.

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