External opportunities and threats are political, legal, economical, social, environmental, technological, cultural and competitive trends, events and factors that may benefit or harm an organization in future. In contrast to strengths and weaknesses of an organization which are internal thus controllable factors , external opportunities and threats are beyond the control of a single organization therefore, categorize as external rather than internal.
Rapid change in economy, weather, people way of living, technology and culture are few examples of opportunities and threats. However, different products, services and strategies are made to capitalize on available opportunities and reduce the impact of threats. For example, Apple recently release iPhone 5 to continue its legacy of iPhone and grab market share from Samsung product Galaxy S3.
Following could be the external opportunities and threats for Wal-Mart.
1-Contribute to corporate social responsibility.
2-Improve perception of people via different programs.
3-Partnership or acquisition of supplier(s) would further reduce the cost of the products.
1- Economic slow down in USA reduces Wal-Mart revenues.
2- Government regulation in different countries.
The process of identifying, monitoring and evaluating of external opportunities and threats for an organization is important to formulate strategies to utilize the available external opportunities and defend the external threats.