Category Archives: Uncategorized

Disruptive Innovation and Irish Universities post-Leporte

This is an excellent read. Brian Lucey believes Irish universities should cautiously move into a new space caused by disruptive innovation only when it is clear that the disruption is permanent. This means abandoning the first mover advantage. Is this wise? Read it, and decide for yourself.

Brian M. Lucey

History and business are rarely taught or even studied together. That’s a pity. Economic history, as  subject, has disappeared down the memory hole. What is more worrying perhaps is that the methods of historical analysis, careful source text reinterpretations, critical data analysis and a cool analysis, are not often applied to business. Enter Jill Lepore, a Harvard historian, to remind us why this ahistorical business analysis is a weak approach

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Google’s top lawyer explains dilemma over EU’s “right to be forgotten” law

This will be interesting news for the Data Commissioner Billy Hawkes in Ireland. It looks like this story will roll on for some time to come!


Google(s goog) is unsure how to apply “very vague and subjective tests” to the more than 70,000 removal requests that have landed on its doorstep in the wake of a recent court ruling, according to the company’s chief legal officer, David Drummond.

In a Guardian article titled “We need to talk about the right to be forgotten,” Drummond sheds new light on a controversial legal process that lets EU citizens order Google to remove search listings they dislike. Drummond described who is coming out of the woodwork to demand takedowns, and the dilemma Google faces:

former politicians wanting posts removed that criticise their policies in office; serious, violent criminals asking for articles about their crimes to be deleted; bad reviews for professionals like architects and teachers; comments that people have written themselves (and now regret). In each case someone wants the information hidden, while others might argue that it should be out in the open.

According to…

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The Star-Spangled Banner: Why 15 Stars and 15 Stripes?

Happy 4th of July to all our U.S. family and friends!

Maryland in the War of 1812

On June 14, 1777 the Second Continental Congress at Philadelphia representing the thirteen colonies then situated along the eastern seaboard with the exception of Maine (1820) and Florida (1845) passed the following resolution:

“Resolved, That the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”

Eighteen years later the U.S. Flag Act of January 13, 1794 was signed by President George Washington altering the flag design with the admission of Vermont (1791) and Kentucky (1792) into the Union providing for fifteen stripes as well as fifteen stars.

“An Act making an alteration in the Flag of the United States Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress Assembled, That from and after the first day of May, Anno Domini, one thousand seven…

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Avoca – And Now the End is Near and so I face the final Question


We will consider Avoca in the context of building an effective marketing plan using the six elements of the PR Smith’s SOSTAC® Planning System.  Each stage of SOSTAC® is interlinked and according to Chaffey and Smith[2] (E-Marketing Excellence 2013 Pg. 3) each stage is not discrete but there may be some overlap during each stage of planning and previous stages may be revisited and refined.  The acronym SOSTAC® stands for Situation Analysis, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Action and Control.

Situation – where are we now?

Avoca redesigned its website less than a year ago and has further enhanced its e-commerce capability focusing on its large online sales from an international customer base, indeed it has been to the forefront of its competitors in embracing the e-commerce possibilities. The website itself links to a Facebook account, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+. The LinkedIn page is used to advise of changes in-store or online (as an example it announced 9 months ago that it had just revamped its website and online store with a new responsive design framework to optimise its performance across desktop and mobile devices, recognising that more of their customers are interacting with Avoca on their smartphones and tablets). There was no easy access to subscribe to an online Newsletter which may be an opportunity missed by Avoca, but a solution to which is provided for in our two suggested business innovations.


Objectives – where do we want to get to?

As a brand, Avoca is uniquely positioned in the Irish market to target its key customer, females in the 25-70 age range, with its outlets in key areas, however, the Company should consider other sites that open up the Avoca experience to other parts of Ireland and to consider extending the customer experience for its keycustomer to grow its sales. Avoca will also need to consider other customer segments to grow its business in Ireland.  Internationally, Avoca will need to continue to scan its international environment to assess its competitors and respond quickly to changes that will surely be demanded by the growing internet marketing arena.

Strategy – how are we going to get there – overview?

Avoca is a sector leader in Ireland and is one of many internationally.  The focus will be on growing the company in Ireland, through new sites whilst staying ahead of its international competitors. Additionally, if Avoca becomes synonymous with Artisan foods and services both in Ireland and internationally, it will see exponential growth in the coming years.

Tactics – how are we going to get there – detail?

Avoca has the opportunity to put its name to a larger range of Artisan products. In addition Avoca should consider sponsoring some local charities or causes focused on environmental issues.  Implementing the proposed business innovations of a Magalogue and Consultancy service for Artisans would significantly raise the profile of Avoca to those currently unaware of the brand, after which the Hierarchy of Effects Model[3] could translate that awareness into knowledge of the brand, liking and preference for the products offered by Avoca and translate this into an intention to buy and ultimately a purchase by new customers.

Action – who is going to do what and when?

Avoca may need to identify a specific budget to target its online market, to have this manned permanently, for ready replies to Twitter content and to other online marketing methods of communication of its brand. A larger budget may need to be considered to develop the Artisan consultancy concept, after detailed market research.

Control – how can we control, measure and develop the process?

Measurement of the success of the strategies can be measured by an increase in sales, by using daily or weekly website analytics to see trends from its website, to see click through rates and rate of impressions and other metrics to extend the customer experience on the Avoca website and once information is garnered from this source to monitor this weekly or monthly thereafter.



Smith, PR (2011) SOSTAC® Guide To Writing The Perfect Plan (eBook) published by

PR Smith’s SOSTAC® is a registered trade mark of PR Smith

[1]Smith P. R. The SOSTAC® Guide – to writing the perfect marketing plan [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 19 May 2014].

[2]Chaffey. D, Smith, P.R. 2013. Emarketing Excellence. 4th ed. Pg. 3. London & New York: Routledge

[3] The Hierarchy of Effects Model was created in 1961 by Robert J Lavidge and Gary A Steiner. This marketing communication model, suggests that there are six steps from viewing a product advertisement (advert) to product purchase. The job of the advertiser is to encourage the customer to go through the six steps and purchase the product.





Eurovision Innovation and RTE

Whether you are a Eurovisionphile or phobe, or somewhere in between like myself, you probably could not have helped noticing the level of innovation not just by the various acts on Saturday nights show from Copenhagen, but by the production of the show itself which never ceases to impress, always outdoing the previous years extravaganza. From the Ukraine lady singing “Tick Tock” with her partner like a hamster running in a wheel, the whacky Icelandic boys with their version of Ming in  their sharp  teletubby coloured suits, to the bold and ultimately successful bearded Drag Queen from Austria, rising “like a phoenix” to claim the prize, it is clear that those that take an innovative approach have a far greater chance of winning the worlds most popular song contest. By comparison the Irish entry was lame and lacked any attempt to impress with something novel. Again and again the Irish keep making the same mistake. The act itself looked like a quickly fired together jumped up marketing mans answer to our Eurovision woes. I can imagine their pitch “Sure we will get ourselves a fine Irish Colleen called Casey, put a dress on her that makes her look like Cleopatra, and sure the Europeans will be dazzled by her beauty and of course they wont be able bate our two Michael Flatleys leaping around behind her. Now off ye go lads, may the road rise before ye, diddley dee, diddle dee, die dae…..”. While the song was good, though a bit of more of the same, Casey looking good sang it well, it lacked the wow factor. The innovating Europeans expect a show (albeit a two minute one), not just a song, something the Irish still have not copped onto. We have plenty of innovators in Ireland and some of the best artists in the world so it should not be beyond us to come up with something that makes Europe sit up and take notice. Ireland, having won the competition seven times,is the most successful country in the competition. However to be successful, organisations such as RTE, who are responsible for Irelands entry, and to quote Peter Skarzynski (CEO Strategos) “to innovate they need to stop doing the things that made them successful in the first place”. Peter Drucker offered similar advice by advising “every organisation needs to be prepared to abandon everything it does in order to survive”. I am not advocating that we have some bearded Kerry woman representing us next year (though I would be tempted to send Paul Galvin over) maybe the likes of Macnas who have an incredible mix and distinct creative and innovative artistic talents could be employed to turn our next entry into a real showcase and send out an impressive modern cultural message about Ireland to Europe and the world. In fairness to RTE and whatever about their Eurovision entry, have been innovating on the digital news side of their business with some impressive work on  their RTE News Now app which recently stated sending me out news alerts. So I am first to know about breaking news! Pity they would not widen their innovativeness to the dinosaur that is “The Late Late Show”. Innovative organisations champion change and tolerate risk, indeed encourage it as failures are a necessary part of the journey to success (Bettina Von Stamm). In contrast look at the Graham Norton Show and its very innovative and risky format which has been a resounding success. Think again of Father Ted and Brendan O Carroll, other Irish artists that had to go to the Britain to have their ideas achieve the success that awaited them but were not necessarily accepted with open arms at home. So come on RTE and Irish Eurovision hopefuls, dont be shy, dont be risk averse, dont be afraid to make fools of yourselves (The Dustin entry does not count as being innovative). Be bold and come up with something truely creative and entertaining for next year. “Make no little plans. they have no magic to stir mens blood” (Daniel Burnham,Architect and Designer, Director of Works for the Columbian Exposition in Chicago 1893)Image

Innovation in Financial Services – Future Bank and the role of the ecosystem

Innovation in Financial Services

I attended the 1st Inaugural Future Bank summit in Croke Park, Dublin on Thursday last. The view from the Hogan Stand mezzanine allowed me to see Sky Sports shooting promos of a Clare hurler and a Dublin footballer shooting at goal. GAA coverage in this country is going to get disrupted in a big way when Sky enters the fray, bringing their technical expertise and stunning visuals to our national games. Inside in the conference venue, the message was much the same. Banking (both internationally and locally) is set to be severely disrupted by new technologies and business models in the next decade, and incumbents will have to fight very hard to keep market share and, perhaps, even stay in business. The line-up of speakers was excellent throughout and I don’t have time to discuss all of the presentations I saw, but I would like to blog a little…

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Avoca and the Digital Strategy

Our New Product Development project proposed two new ideas for Avoca one of which was an integrated print, e-zine magalogue which would at a later stage in its development incorporate an app making it easier again for customers and prospective customers to enhance their experience and interaction with Avoca and indeed drive the online sales opportunity. 

However it will be interesting to measure up Avoca Handweavers and put it through the SOSTAC Model

SITUATION: Where was and is Avoca in terms of its digital strategy and before we concluded on our “magalogue” idea? Certainly Avoca have an impressive website with an ecommerce capability. You can also find Avoca on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+ and Pinterest. So someone in Avoca is certainly au fait with whats happening in the digital world and is engaging knowledgeably with this online scene. However while Avoca have a newsletter it is a one pager or effectively an online equivalent of a leaflet that might be dropped in your front door and which more often than not we all in turn drop straight in the bin. So the effectiveness of its newsletter or e-leaflet is so limited and certainly not going anywhere near exploring and tapping into all the opportunity that exists out there for Avoca. 

OBJECTIVE: All or most of the typical marketing boxes are on the surface being ticked but the salesman in me immediately identifies an opportunity that is being missed to have a far more concerted sales strategy as well as a marketing communications one online. While the website is impressive and the e-shop is there more can be done in terms of a proactive sales strategy to prolong the customer experience and drive them to the e-commerce facility. There is an opportunity that must be explored to generate new business amongst potential customers outside the traditional catchment areas of the Avoca stores and these customers can engage and shop given the right marketing and sales strategy.

STRATEGY: Developing the e-leaflet, as I condescendingly call it, into a fully fledged e-zine in the form of a 50 page “magalogue” (hybrid magazine/catalogue) will not only give Avoca the most impressive print/online experience to offer its customers in comparison to the drab e-leaflets being circulated by Kilkenny, Blarney Woollen Mills and other competitors, but it will potentially drive Avoca online sales to a new and prosperous level. An app being developed at a later stage would provide a more fully integrated marketing sales and communications solution encompassing print, online magalogue and the app making it more convenient again for customers who are becoming increasingly mobile to access and interact with the Avoca digital space, wherever they are.

TACTICS: The magalogue, as it is a hybrid magazine./catalogue, will carry sufficient and appealing editorial to appeal to t he Avoca customer. The e-zine version will be free to those that sign up for it while the print version can be picked up in the different shops or posted out on request. It could also be distributed to key locations like waiting rooms in different establishments frequented by target customers in the ABC1 range nationwide. As the budget may be limited and the costs of producing a magazine may be prohibitive its thought that pushing the online version, the ezine, which has lower ongoing costs  than the printed version is the route to persue. The printed version will be limited to the shops and kept in availibility so long as there is a reasonable demand for it after which it will be replaced by the digital version.

ACTION: This is a project that falls within the domain of the marketing department but  they will have have to think with a sales hat on going forward. A more concerted and proactive strategy needs to be implemented that will drive new sales in new territory and this will be done with a new sales energy and drive. 

CONTROL: How the resulting performance will be measured will be key to its successful delivery and daily auditing of online impressions, click through rates, sales and from what regions will be key point indicators on the success of the magalogue concept.Image

Vincent Browne, My Blog and Harry Cragoe

As I sit here on the couch with my laptop, with the telly and Vincent Browne competing for my attention, I struggle to agree with myself what my weekly blog should be composed of.  I finally decide to take a lead from Vincent whom I don’t quite fanatically follow but do watch on a regular basis, sometimes nightly (my wife would say that is fanatical). If you went into a TV board room and suggested on the back of your innovative thinking that a contrary old narky so and so with that mad scientist look who insults 90% of his guests should be their main anchorman you might probably end up on your rear end on the promenade outside the front door. All the research in the world would never have come up with Vincent or anything like him as the main draw for a TV channel. However he is great entertainment, has a massive following and is TV3′s main personality. Sometimes you just got to go with your gut even if that means ignoring all the research. Which brings me to a quote from Harry Cragoe the founder of P&J Smoothie the first entrant and leading smoothie company in the UK before Innocent entered and took over the market . He stated that he “never spent a penny on market research because you end up looking at it too religiously. The growth we have experienced is purely word of mouth”(Paul Trot, Innovation Management and New Product Development, 4th Edition 2008). 


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].

Jogging and Blogging!

With all this DCU Ryan Academy stuff including lectures, projects, exams and the pressure to embrace all social media i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Blogging et al wrecking my poor little head I decided to escape to the great outdoors and head up to Ardgillan Castle and demesne with Messi. No not the footballer and the greatest since Diego Maradona but my dog, a collie/retriever/Labrador or whatever but definitely one hell of a mongrel.  Like his master Messi loves the open plains and the peace and tranquillity of the countryside. Messi does not have a Facebook account, does not tweet, blog or bother himself with emerging social media trends. So off we jogged around the parameter of Ardgillan, one of the finest public amenities and open spaces in Ireland.  As we ran through the open fields, the woods, up and down the hills sneaking the odd view of the vast open sea through the trees I was truly relaxed, away from it all, free as a bird. No social media invasion or blogging requirements out here! But then, suddenly, half way around my run I found my mind wandering back to the blogging business. Don’t fret fellow bloggers! A stroll, cycle or jog through the countryside is a great way to de-stress, allowing the mind to refocus and often to come up with a solution to a problem, however personal, corporate or academic in the calmest and maybe even strangest way. Folks, I was Jogging and Blogging!! Okay I was not hooked and typing away to my iPad or tablet as I proceeded up the steep hill towards the castle but in my mind I was typing. Hey, maybe blogging and George are compatible after all! After almost four months of enlightenment  and direction from the very talented lecturers Ger Lavin, Frank Munnelly and last but not least Niamh O’Reilly I think mission one has been accomplished in that I have improved my knowledge and possibly even embraced digital and social media. Secondly I have renewed my marketing knowledge and skills, acquainted myself with New Product Development thinking and become vastly more informed of business innovation concepts and techniques. Let me enlighten you if I may with some social media facts! At 52% Facebook is the most popular social media network in Ireland followed by YouTube (35%) and twitter (23%). 70% of Irish businesses use Facebook, 61% use twitter and LinkedIn while 44% use YouTube. Tired yet?! 51% of Irish consumers talk about brands on social media. Why? 74% for offers and promotions, 44% for seeking advice, 19% for group buying, 15% to post praise and also 15% for complaining. Still interested? In terms of demographics the 25-34 age group are the biggest users of Facebook at 29% followed by the 18-24 group at 23%. No surprises there! Of mobile users at 85% the 13-17 age group are the heaviest users followed by the 18-24 group (81%). How do Irish people use Facebook? 70% use it daily and have an average of 268 friends.  Shall I keep going?…No!…Okay I will keep going….Only Joking! Until next week my fellow bloggers ….happy Blogging ….Oh and Jogging