Category Archives: Innovation

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Top Tweets Of June 2014 Innovation Marketing Tech Fun #MG119


Continue reading Top Tweets Of June 2014 Innovation Marketing Tech Fun #MG119


Disruptive Innovation Is Challenging The Old European Banking Model

Disruptive Innovation Is Challenging The Old European Banking Model

These days, ensuring your old fashioned bank is well capitalized enough to deal with more realistic, but still moderate stress tests is a major priority. But just when you think you have put out the fire, the entire structure of the banking model becomes disrupted and structurally unsound.

Lower barriers to entry in terms of financing, securing  banking licenses,  cheaper to source banking software and cheap human resources means it’s never been easier to cherry pick the most lucrative products banks are offering to customers today. The net result? It leaves the unprofitable products to the old dogs to chew on.

And therein lies the problem. How the existing banking industry responds to these disruptive threats will decide their fate. Perhaps they will seek to aggressively promote the concept of a cashless society (yet again), so that the public will once more feel tied into using their services. Deloitte UK produced a nice SlideShare (see below) to illustrate the pressures the traditional banking model now is under.



What next for the establishment banks of Europe?

Former Midland Bank, 100 King Street
Former Midland Bank Banking Hall, King Street (David Dixon) / CC BY-SA 2.0

Top Tweets Of The Week #MG119 (7)

 Top Tweets of the Week on Innovation

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How Tim Ferriss Used Innovation To Growth Hack 4 Hour Chef

Tim Ferris is known for challenging long held assumptions about skills, business and everything else in between. In his latest book he uses the popular vehicle of cooking to impart what he’s learned about meta learning and how you can employ it in your life. But promoting and selling a book amid the din of the publishing circuit is tough at the best of times.

The 4 hour work week         Source: Flickr / Tim Ferriss

Bricks and mortar retail bookstores for the most part refused to stock his book over their objections to it being one of the very first Amazon Publishing releases, which threatened the traditional publishing business model. Tim Ferriss needed to find ways he could reach out to his readership that he had built up through the hugely successful book releases of the The 4 Hour Work Week and The 4 Hour Body as well as find new readers.

The 4 Hour Body                                      Source: Flickr / Tim Ferriss

So when faced with being locked out of the traditional retail bookstore distribution channel and with few other outlets to promote his book, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Ferriss took an unconventional route to promoting and publishing, turning the industry on its head in the process.

This situation led to lots of research using innovative tools and techniques not usually applied to a business sector like publishing to look at alternative routes to market.

Finally he hit on something thanks to some advice from a friend. He needed to growth hack, but lacked a vehicle. Ferriss made a call to BitTorrent and talked over his solution with them. If he gave an electronic version of the book away for free using the power of P2P torrents sharing online, more people would engage with the book, and through this re-engineered sales funnel, would pay for the hard copy paper version to accompany the electronic versions as many people still prefer the physical user experience of paper and ink.

BitTorrent                                                                                                                                 Source: Flickr BitTorrent

Soon after that call, he signed an agreement with BitTorrent that suited both parties. Here was a rare enough win-win. BitTorrent were seeking to expand their offering as a legal content distribution network for marketing books. And Tim Ferriss found a new route to promoting his content. Nobody was sure what would happen next.

Something magical happened. Amazingly, after launching the free e-book version (with exclusive online only content), sharing of the torrent grew massively in a short period of time with over 2 million downloads. The click through rate was over 210,000 downloads in the first week alone. The conversion rate was a previously unheard of conversion rate of 45%.

The most exciting thing of all was that leaving a clear landing page on the BitTorrent site with a link to the Amazon site where people could purchase the physical book or content bundle strongly resonated with readers worldwide, resulting in a staggering click through rate and purchase of over half a million hard copy versions in a short space of time. This stunned both Tim Ferris and Amazon as normal click through rates would be a fraction of what the 4 hour Chef book achieved. BitTorrent also got what they wanted out of the deal.

Essentially Ferriss has taken a medium of P2P torrent sharing which is attacked and feared by traditional media in equal measure, and harnessed its tremendous growth hacking power to reach millions of potential customers extremely quickly, efficiently and effectively better than anyone before. The book also reached the top of all major hard copy book selling charts around the world.  This innovative approach was lauded in business circles for its impressive ROI (return on investment), and has created a blueprint in the publishing industry of how to leverage digital distribution methods in an innovative way.


Customers today are consuming media on multiple platforms, and appreciate getting perceived added value that enhances their user experience. Those who recognize and offer an easy way to consume their media on multiple platforms using innovative methods will win.

What are your thoughts on the post? Did we miss an angle or hit the spot? If so, we’d love your feedback !  Oh and sharing is caring 🙂             ______________________________________________________________________________Sources

Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo – who knows which way we’ll go !

How to apply Stanford D process to our newest assignment? to come up with two innovative products or services that may have some commercial application, using the Stanford D Bootcamp Bootleg{1}, coming up with some ideas, regardless of how ridiculous they may be (blue sky thinking).
Given the comings and goings of the group in the brainstorm week, the time was limited and so sometimes was done with a brief 5 or 10 minute quick meeting. Sometimes with one or two of the team, or other times with 2 or 3 of the team and then discussing with other members of the team over the phone and taking some of the ideas further at that point, it was a bit fractured to be sure, maybe even a bit like real life brainstorming might be in the corporate world… And then we welcomed a new member to the team.
Applying the Steps in a Design Thinking Process{2}, we had already undertaken the secondary research of the retail sector and of Avoca itself in order to understand the area, we had also undertaken some primary research in-store at Rathcoole to observe the business in action. In typical Stanford D, we defined some problems facing Avoca and then we were armed with the core skills to apply the Stanford D method.
We ideated several possible ideas including An Artisan Retail Consultancy, Catalogue Concept, Merger and Acquisitions, Website Localization and Retargeting, Expansion into Events and Leisure, Domestic and International Expansion, Artisan Foods Partnerships, Expanding In-Store Licensing, Shared Space Community Projects, Franchising Expansion Opportunity, Fine Dining Experience, Brand Licensing.
We took on board each team members point of view on each of the suggestions and they were all put the Stanford D process and it was good to see the dynamics of the group work well, expanding on each other’s ideas, until we had fleshed out several of the suggestions to a fair degree and then looked at the realistic viability of these to eventually whittle it down to two ideas.
Founders Syndrome really was not an issue as the basic idea was built upon by other members of the team to the point that who had the first idea and who built on it was never important, only enjoying the process and having a laugh about some of the ideas as they were described in vivid colour, with large demonstrative arms, outstretched to make a point about some esoteric layout, it was a bit like being a kid let loose in a Sweet Shop.
With the decision made on the two winners, we got down to work on building prototypes for these, dividing up the tasks most democratically, with strict deadlines (for this read, advisory deadlines!!) and we thought we may even put our two prototypes through several steps in the StageGate process{3} to develop further .
On the next stage, more to come later, meanwhile I am off to lubricate my creative juices with some fermentedgrapes…

1. Bootcamp Bootleg 2011. [ONLINE]. Available from: [Accessed 8 May 2014].

2. Steps in a Design Thinking Process. 2014. Steps in a Design Thinking Process. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 8 May 2014]

3. Cooper, R.G. (3 May 2008). “The Stage-Gate Idea-to-Launch Process–Update, What’s New and NexGen Systems,”. Journal of Product Innovation Management. 25 (3), 213-232.

Avoca Experience

Our team visited the Avoca store to get a feel for the type of products on sale and for the “experience”. The Rathcoole store, on the edge of the N7 has a very large footfall, in particular, to its Cafe, from the early morning coffee takeout, coffee morning meeting or large lunch time contingent. Although the temperature of the coffee is far too tepid for me! The size of the slices of cream-filled roulades, heart-stopping cheesecake to the home baked cookies are a sight to behold.
I met with the pasty and cake chef replenishing the products and could not resist asking about the large portions and if there was a lot of waste in this area, it appears not.
I could not help but notice that the pricing of products was a tad vague (a bugbear of mine on the lines of “how can I make a fully informed choice, if I am not privy to the full information at the point of purchase”) again, when I asked about that, I got a “I know, I have mentioned that too but thems is not listening, shucks” (SIC) response.
The paint colours on the wall, reminiscent of an Anita Schreve book based in a coastal town in the Hamptons, USA, the elaborate light decoration made from cups and saucers of various size and design, reminiscent of a visit from the relatives and the cup of the in the good china, sometimes of varying designs, indeed a similar evocation as that offered when viewing the reasonably new business of (
In the food emporium, with well stacked shelves of fresh, organic or carefully chosen products, I met with a supplier of Apple sauces (Julie Calder-Potts of Highbank Orchards, Kilkenny) and she mentioned that they had ad forum (Bia Beag) for artisans to meet and hear stories from other artisans (one is actually on tomorrow Sat 5th April at 6pm in their Orchard ( They meet on a quarterly basis to promote other artisans foods. An idea forms….[1]

[1] Bootcamp Bootleg 2011. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 6 April 2014].

Avoca now and looking forward

Avoca will need to continuously scan their external environment and to be aware of external forces which may impact on the business and a brief overview of the PESTLE analysis addresses some of these issues. In particular, from a political perspective, the tax rates as low as 9% for services remains low in order to encourage greater spending by Irish consumers and tourists, according to Transport and Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar[1]. Socially, there has been a growth in interest in artisan foods and Irish brands and this has impacted positively for Avoca, with potential for exponential growth in this area. The economic landscape suggests evidence of positive domestic consumer sentiment whilst technologically, there has been considerable growth of online sales across the sector, online shopping for food and groceries has grown from 3% in 2008 to 6% in 2012[2]. However, there are legal challenges for the company regarding upward only rent reviews and environmentally, changing weather may impact the sale of goods in certain areas of the business.


Looking briefly at the Porters 5 forces, and taking cognisance of the fact that Avoca is a market leader in the sector, with strong profitability and strong brand identity.  New entrants to the market would likely be hampered by high capital requirements and with challenges to brand recognition and a long lead in time to build an alternative brand.   Purchasers from Avoca, in the ABC1 group, are a limited group and the Company will need to extend their marketing pull to other age groups or to the male population, which are not generally a focus for the Company.  With regard to suppliers, the Company will need to keep a close eye on suppliers scalability and on supply chain consistency.  There would appear to be only a slight impact on product alternatives from cheaper sources and indeed from recent surveys carried out in regard to the Avoca brand, its key demographic customer has indicated that quality over cost is their main driver.













[1] Maintaining 9% tax rate could create 5,000 jobs in restaurant sector | Irish Examiner. 2014. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 8 March 2014]


[2] Eurostat [ONLINE] available at [Accesses 6 March 2014]

Top Tweets Of The Week #MG119 (6)

Top Tweets of the Week on Innovation


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Cupcakes and all that…

12 April
Avoca operates as a clothing manufacturing, retail and food business in Ireland and the UK. The secondary research carried out by the Team involved looking more closely at Avoca within the retail sector. Avoca has always adopted innovative ideas to develop their product offering and have continued to perform ahead competitors despite the recession of the last number of years.

There are a number of reasons for this continued performance which includes product innovation and the ability of the company to focus on its target client and to react quickly to changing market trends when observed.

The overall retail market size is equivalent to 10% of GDP or €16 billion, although the growth rate has remained flat in 2013(footnote 1). Online shopping for food and groceries by internet users jumped from 3% in 2008 to 6% in 2012 (footnote 2).

Avoca have multiple offerings in different sub sectors of their business and they have successfully built an aspirational lifestyle brand based on ABC1 women aged from 25 – 70, although there is some evidence that the bulk of customers are in the 40-60 range and innovation with this in mind, may need to be considered in the future. My next post will deal with the tools used to analyse the sector, such as SWOT Analysis, PESTLE and Porters 5 forces. Till then, I’m off to make some cupcakes maybe worthy of Avoca (see picture).

1. Retail Ireland | Ibec – Business sectors. 2014. Retail Ireland | {ONLINE] Available at:
2. Ibid

Top Tweets Of The Week #MG119 (5)

Top Tweets of the Week on Innovation