Posts Tagged ‘opportunity capture’

The mystical power of brand!

Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

The mystical power of “Brand”
By Roger La Salle
www.innovationtraining.com.au
www.matrixthinking.com

In a previous blog we defined this most difficult of words, “marketing”.

If you ask somebody to define this word the general response would be ways of marketing, such as digital, the 4 P’s and so on. But this are not a definition. These are just some of the methods.

The best definition of marketing I ever heard and have now embraced, courtesy of a colleague, a professor in Medellin Colombia is”

“The art of winning the minds of people to have unconditional love for your offering”
Ref: Prof Paola Podesta, Colombia

If we look at this definition two companies seem to excel at achieving this: McDonalds and Apple.

Brand?
The mystical power of brand is amazing and hard to quantify.

There is an old saying, “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”. There is a lot of truth to that and for good reasons.

When large companies look to purchase equipment that may be vital to the functioning of their business what they want, apart from “fit for purpose” is surety.

This surety takes a number of forms:
1. These are the biggest with a history of survival and success
2. It’s a safe decision
3. I am protecting my job in selecting one of the “big boys”
4. They will still be here tomorrow to support me.

These brand decisions are powerful and perhaps justifiable drivers.

A good example of this was in Australia when the last National Census was undertaken. The contract to deliver the IT services was given to one of the major software providers. From all accounts, on census night despite the best assurances, the internet was clogged and the outcome was a reported disaster. But most likely the choice by those in Government to use a major brand may have saved their jobs.

Valuing Brand?
There have been many studies on this subject but nothing concrete emerges.

For example, how do you value a ROLEX mechanical watch when a $5.00 quartz watch from the local service station most likely keeps better time and never needs to be serviced?

Mercedes Benz was once a statement of wealth. Mercedes has now commoditized its range and brand with models now affordable by most. Mercedes are trading on their brand equity, only the future will tell if this dilution of their status will ultimately be for the good.

Finally, airlines.

Reportedly, American Airlines saved 643,000 liters of fuel annually when they switched to a light weight paper for their in-flight magazine. Yet for many years American Airlines aircraft were largely unpainted, now they are almost universally painted all over adding more than one ton of weight to each, just to signal a Brand?

QANTAS and pretty well all airlines do the same.

Brand is vital. Protect it carefully and make sure that every customer experience is a good one.
Word of mouth marketing is the most powerful brand builder you will ever find.

**** ENDS ****

Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. “Matrix Thinking”™ is now used in organizations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and Business Development, is the author of four books, and a Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies, both in Australia and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panelist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast

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So – That’s the problem!

Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

So that’s the problem – No surprise!
By Roger La Salle
www.innovationtraining.com.au
www.matrixthinking.com

As readers of this blog would know I have always expressed concern about the Open Innovation model for a number of reasons, one being the ownership of the IP. Indeed a number of companies shun ideas from outside the organisation for fear of becoming involved in IP disputes.

It can become even more complicated when possible consequential ideas result. That is, ideas not directly related to the original but perhaps one where the initial suggestion led to an inspiration for something entirely unrelated. Indeed it is for this reason that many companies won’t sign non-disclosure agreements.

The following example may put this into perspective.

Suppose somebody suggests to me the idea of a drinking straw with micro holes in the side to aerate the drink as I suck. Perhaps not a good idea, but rejected in any case. However this may stimulate me to think of drinking straws in general and conceive one with an internal wall of flavor. Clearly the latter is not the original idea, but its inspiration may have come from having me think of drinking straws in a new way. This alone may lead to a costly dispute about ownership and IP. Such disputes are always difficult to adjudicate so instead, companies simply avoid the issue altogether.

As every budding entrepreneur and inventor may know, it’s often hard to get companies to embrace ideas from outside, for various reasons. The following extract from an article I recently received puts a different light on the issue. Perhaps it’s “not invented here syndrome”, with ideas from outside being seen as a threat to the jobs of the so called internal innovators or innovation departments.

To quote from an article by Hila Lifshitz-Assaf of 1 Stern School of Business, NY

……………..” After months of observation and study, researchers discovered the core issue behind the resistance: (to external ideas) some internal scientists and engineers believed open innovation to be a threat to their identity as problem solvers for the organization.

….…The underlying problem was one of identity. ….…scientists viewed themselves as “problem solvers.” But if the problems were being solved by those outside the organization, it presented an existential issue for internal problem solver? How can a problem solver be a problem solver if they are outsourcing their innovation solutions?”

This article certainly raises an important point and one that many entrepreneurs will have faced.

The real issue is the question it leads to and one for which senior executive and Innovation Managers must be held to account. For whom are you working, yourself or the organisation?

**** ENDS ****

Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. “Matrix Thinking”™ is now used in organizations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and Business Development, is the author of four books, and a Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies, both in Australia and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panelist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast.

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So that’s the problem – No surprise there!

Friday, August 24th, 2018

So that’s the problem – No surprise!
By Roger La Salle
www.innovationtraining.com.au
www.matrixthinking.com

As readers of this blog would know I have always expressed concern about the Open Innovation model for a number of reasons, one being the ownership of the IP. Indeed a number of companies shun ideas from outside the organisation for fear of becoming involved in IP disputes.

It can become even more complicated when possible consequential ideas result. That is, ideas not directly related to the original but perhaps one where the initial suggestion led to an inspiration for something entirely unrelated. Indeed it is for this reason that many companies won’t sign non-disclosure agreements.

The following example may put this into perspective.

Suppose somebody suggests to me the idea of a drinking straw with micro holes in the side to aerate the drink as I suck. Perhaps not a good idea, but rejected in any case. However this may stimulate me to think of drinking straws in general and conceive one with an internal wall of flavor. Clearly the latter is not the original idea, but its inspiration may have come from having me think of drinking straws in a new way. This alone may lead to a costly dispute about ownership and IP. Such disputes are always difficult to adjudicate so instead, companies simply avoid the issue altogether.

As every budding entrepreneur and inventor may know, it’s often hard to get companies to embrace ideas from outside, for various reasons. The following extract from an article I recently received puts a different light on the issue. Perhaps it’s “not invented here syndrome”, with ideas from outside being seen as a threat to the jobs of the so called internal innovators or innovation departments.

To quote from an article by Hila Lifshitz-Assaf of 1 Stern School of Business, NY

……………..” After months of observation and study, researchers discovered the core issue behind the resistance: (to external ideas) some internal scientists and engineers believed open innovation to be a threat to their identity as problem solvers for the organization.

….…The underlying problem was one of identity. ….…scientists viewed themselves as “problem solvers.” But if the problems were being solved by those outside the organization, it presented an existential issue for internal problem solver? How can a problem solver be a problem solver if they are outsourcing their innovation solutions?”

This article certainly raises an important point and one that many entrepreneurs will have faced.

The real issue is the question it leads to and one for which senior executive and Innovation Managers must be held to account. For whom are you working, yourself or the organisation?

**** ENDS ****

Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. “Matrix Thinking”™ is now used in organizations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and Business Development, is the author of four books, and a Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies, both in Australia and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panelist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast.

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Intangible but clearly visible!

Saturday, May 20th, 2017

It’s “Intangible” yet clearly visible!
By Roger La Salle
www.innovationtraining.com.au

A half time talk by a team coach can provide a burst of inspiration, an adrenalin rush and the motivation to get you out there to make an amazing contribution. It’s quite remarkable, the abstraction of inspiration can be clearly visible in physical outcomes with players lifting their game – at least in the very short term.

So too with motivational business speakers. Always great to listen to, they give a lift, you leave their session walking just a little taller ready for action. The question is – just how long does this last? In general it’s very short-term.

Great businesses have a great culture and much like with motivation, the abstract term of culture is clearly visible. You can see culture simply by walking around a business, observing the people, the facilities, the desks and the way people speak, move and interact. Culture is evident everywhere, you just need to observe.

In my business of innovation and opportunity capture, the same may be applied, except there is a difference. If you want the art of innovation to “stick” you need to get to the very essence of the business, the business DNA as we call it. This is where a culture change is made, where the tools of change are rolled out; not to be just experienced, but to be embedded into the business and used.

Unlike the home gym that you may buy in a fit of inspiration and soon discard as long term hard work and not really much fun, with innovation you achieve results immediately, not in months but on the very first day. Further, once people experience this, realize they can do it and moreover it’s actually fun, the risks of it being discarded are gone and a new culture begins to permeate the organisation.

Is this rocket science?
Like a golf swing, when done properly the beauty of innovation is in its simplicity. Innovation is a culture, keep it simple, inspired by capability, method, tools, practice and outcomes.

Do this and see an outcome that is clearly visible.

**** ENDS ****

Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. “Matrix Thinking”™ is now used in organizations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development and is the author of four books and a Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies both in Australia and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panelist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast. www.innovationtraining.com.au

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Consequential change – what’s that?

Friday, March 17th, 2017

What are the consequences?
By Roger La Salle www.innovationtraining.com.au
Each Matrix Thinking diagrams carries a bold banner called “Consequential Change”. This asks you to think about the consequences of your innovation.

The boldest ever
The A380 Airbus would probably rank as one of the boldest ever innovations. To even contemplate this was breathtaking. The consequence of introducing the A380 was the need for runways and taxiways at all major hubs worldwide to be upgraded and all terminal building to have a second loading deck. The risk of this being a disaster were vast as the redevelopment costs at all major airports was immense.

Fortunately, the A380 is an outstanding success.

Apple and the I-Phone
When Apple introduced the smartphone they virtually killed their market for I-Pods. However, they clearly had thought about this and so innovated the standard I-Pod by introducing the Nano.

How about Wine labels
Recently an Australian company introduced a thermo-chromatic label for red wines, the idea being that the label colour would indicate the ideal drinking temperature.

I wonder if the prudent wine drinker when selecting a nice bottle may too often pass over this one as not “just the right temperature” wine and choose another, not so labeled?

How about locks?
We worked with an innovator with the “perfect” lock that the user could re-key themselves in seconds for less than one dollar. When presented with this, understandably lock companies were less than enthusiastic. Such a lock bypassed locksmiths, one of their major routes to market. The last thing we should do is threaten our channel.

It’s happening anyway!
The consequences for retailers of on-line shopping have been catastrophic as they operate without the vast overheads of staff, premises and stock. However, in this case the force is unstoppable and we are now see major retailers developing their own e-based channels.

UBER and Airbnb are other examples. Banks may be next, now being firmly in the sights of innovators.

What’s the message?
Innovation needs to be developed with the market consequences in mind, the upside being if you can threaten a major player with your innovation, there is a good chance you will be bought out in very short order for great financial gain.
**** ENDS ****

Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. “Matrix Thinking”™ is now used in organizations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development and is the author of four books and a Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies both in Australia and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panelist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast. www.innovationtraining.com.au

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Business Insight – Too close to see!

Monday, November 28th, 2016

Too Close to See?
By Roger La Salle
www.innovationtraining.com.au
But it’s obvious!
I have a saying, “The obvious once made obvious is always obvious”.

When you point out the obvious to people the common response is, “I knew that”, as well they may have, but in fact they didn’t until it was pointed out.

For example, if I tell somebody that an odd number multiplied by an odd number always yields an odd number outcome, the common response is “of course, I knew that”. Yes they do now, but until told they hadn’t realized it.

Personally I don’t have a problem with that, it’s human nature, but what frustrates me is when people hear the obvious but are unwilling to change and learn, for fear of – well, I don’t know what?

A case in point
You may find this hard to believe, but this is a true story of how we can miss the mark if we are too close to the problem.

Some months ago I was at a function and speaking with a person who sells a common brand of petrol power tools such as chain saws, blowers, mowers and the like. I suggested they should also be into battery tools only to be promptly told that they have a complete range of battery tools.

I was amazed, I didn’t know that and it’s a common brand.

Check it out?
Curious at being so ignorant I went to their web site and looked, only to find nothing of the sort.

I then went to the little search bar at the top of their home page and typed in Battery Tools. The result shocked me – “No tools match this search term”. How could this be, I had been left in no doubt that they had a complete range.

My curiosity aroused I phoned the company and indeed spoke with the very person who told me they had such a range, only to be told that I needed to search “Cordless” not battery in the inquiry bar as “Cordless” is the industry term.

Cordless I thought, so is my petrol blower and chain saw?

Who is your customer?
Whilst cordless may well be the industry term this company’s web site is targeted at consumers and the public in general
who no doubt would refer to such tools as battery tools. Indeed, to cover all contingencies, what harm is there in cross-referencing both terms in their search bar facility?

Being too close – sad but true.
Just a few days ago, many months after this experience I again checked the company web site and again searched battery tools and again the result, “No tools match this search term”.

I find it immensely frustrating to see people so slow to change and to even consider the obvious?
Knowing your business and being close is of course essential, but so too is knowing your customer, who your web site is targeting and how your customer thinks.
**** ENDS ****

Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. “Matrix Thinking”™ is now used in organizations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development and is the author of four books and a Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies both in Australia and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panelist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast. www.innovationtraining.com.au

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Is Sustainability – sustainable?

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

Is sustainability – sustainable?
By Roger La Salle

Is the video more powerful than the pen?
This business insight is a recent TED talk. It exposes some very serious issues, but is quite entertaining and funny as well, so I am advised.

The talk actually went for close to an hour but the TED people very skillfully edited it to their preferred 18 minute format.

Please have a look, think about the message, have a laugh and forward it to a friend or colleague.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kg1lFjRKKHY

Next month’s article will ask the question – “Is it good to fail?”

**** END ****

Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. “Matrix Thinking”™ is now used in organizations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development and is the author of four books and a Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies both in Australia and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panelist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast. www.matrixthinking.com

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Will the right product sell – it depends!

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

Will the right product sell – it depends!
by Roger La Salle
www.matrixthinking.com

Incrementalism !
My last blog talked about finding the market need and of course the best way to do that is to find a product or service that is selling well and simply make it better, or “innovate it” if you like!

This is classic low risk business, unlike some of the disbelievers that scorn incremental innovation or making improvements to what is already well accepted, believe it or not, this strategy can be a game changing and highly disruptive strategy. Further, it’s virtually risk free.

Some game changing increments
Let’s take a product firmly embedded into every household in the 1920’s, the wireless. Let’s innovate that and add a picture, now you have TV. Highly disruptive and zero market risk. One could well argue the same about bringing colour to TV, or speech to movies and so on.

Let’s take the taxi for example, a commonly used means of transport, and innovate that offering to create UBER. In the accommodation industry “Airbed Accommodation”, again a new way of booking a room now made simple and with vastly reduced cost.

Similarly with the old fashioned telephone tethered to a wall by a cable, let’s remove the cable, classic incremental improvement with no market risk.

There can be no doubt that looking at everyday activities and creating small changes provides a great way to build a business with little or no risk. But there are caveats.

It’s not always easy
The above mentioned innovations, though in essence incremental and lacking in market risk, all took a long time and significant expense in development. However that said, the market risk in these was in essence negligible

Will any product be OK?
Unfortunately not, as too many innovators and start-ups find out the hard way.

Just taking a common product and making it better is not the answer without the essential ingredient of “a route to market”.

I am sure at times we have all been appalled at some of the well-respected branded products, brands we trust but that have delivered real trash to the market. One may ask, how can this happen, how can these products get through the supply chain? The answer lies in them already having an established distribution network.

As an American man many year ago once said to me, “It doesn’t matter what you’ve got, you gotta have distribution”.

What’s the lesson?
Whilst innovating widely used products or services may be the key to business success, unfortunately, if you lack that vital element of distribution you may find the going tough.

Perhaps you can use the internet and e-marketing to gain traction and thus disrupt the normal distribution model, but this usually a slow and can be very frustrating. Further, if your product involves low cost mass production and thus high start-up costs, your now back in the area of high risk!

**** END ****

Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. “Matrix Thinking”™ is now used in organisations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development and is the author of four books and a Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies both in Australia and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panellist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast. www.matrixthinking.com

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Business Insight – Back to Basics

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Back to basics!
by Roger La Salle

The genesis?
The word innovation is used essentially as a catch all term that means anything that is new and different, most often involving some sort of technology.

Governments are all telling us the world is fast changing and we need to be at the cutting edge in bringing innovation to the fore.

Whilst this is a valuable message that hopefully stimulates research and entrepreneurship; unfortunately it’s too simplistic. We need to differentiate between research, invention and innovation as they are all quite different and have vastly different risk profiles.

Research is often the precursor to invention, but research is a high risk and high cost initiative with unacceptably long time to market for any but government supported organisations or very large multinationals.

Innovation on the other hand is low risk with short time to market; providing certain essential success criteria are present.

A new way to think!
It was this background that led to the development of Matrix Thinking©. Starting with a product innovation matrix this now extends to a host of matrix thinking platforms, many tailored to specific problems that need innovative thinking to resolve.

In my experience given a properly defined problem most clear thinking people or technologists will be able to develop a solution, or if it’s deemed to be near impossible, such as anti-gravity shoes, to be able to identify the difficulty in very short order at little or no cost

In business there is always a drive maintain market engagement with innovation as the fuel for this initiative. Keep the market moving by incrementally improving your offering at every turn. This is a safe low risk ploy so popular with car manufacturers inspiring them to forever change and refine their models for little reason other than to render earlier models obsolete.

What sets innovation apart?
The secret underpinning innovation is to recognise the single biggest risk in business, market risk. To mitigate market risk the secret is to find products or services that are selling well and simply make improvements.

Look at it from the customer’s perspective. If there are two near identical products on offer and one has maybe just one added feature and is similarly priced, or maybe even priced lower that the competitor, putting brand aside, which one will the customer buy? Clearly the innovated or improved one.

The secret to business is to incrementally and endlessly improve your product, or alternatively find one that is well received, perhaps from a competitor, and innovate that.

Remember, “Market Risk” is the single biggest risk in business, properly undertaken, innovation removes market risk, the key is the tools that properly drive innovative thinking

**** END ****

Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. “Matrix Thinking”™ is now used in organisations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development and is the author of four books and a Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies both in Australia and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panellist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast. www.matrixthinking.com

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Business Insight – What does the customer want?

Friday, September 25th, 2015

What does the customer want?
by Roger La Salle

Is design everything?
In many cases organisations use design or appearance as the means to drive new customer engagement. Many of the auto makers did this for years and only in the last decade or so have they been actively engaged in real breakthrough innovation.

Manufacturers and service providers are now really focused on what the customer wants with design being just one feature.

The real problem is that many customers do not know what they want, and moreover, in most cases they don’t even know what’s possible.

A stunning example!
Many years ago I was general manager of a company where the managing director decided to take a very poorly designed and widely used industrial product of a competitor and completely redesign it to make it look fantastic and have wonderful ergonomic features.

The company spent upwards of a quarter of a million dollars in making the perfect product with submarine gated injection mouldings and colours that set it apart from the design, ergonomic and appearance perspective. A product a little bigger than a large whiteboard marker.

I left the company in disgust at the appalling waste of money all essentially based on design.

Needless to say, this one product soon took the entire market, driven not by its price or utility but by its fabulous design.

So design won – but did it?
I relocated to a new start up business and we took the concept of that product and added just one tiny thing, a stunning new feature. A feature or in fact a new function that the customers did not even know they wanted, nor indeed thought possible. Perhaps this is what we may refer to as “function led innovation”.

Interesting, and to prove a point I deliberately paid little attention to the actual design features. In short our product was very ugly and not at all ergonomic by comparison with the other.

So what was the outcome?
The outcome was clear and decisive. Our product with its one added function, even at a significantly higher price than the perfectly designed competitor took the entire market almost overnight.

How did we do this?
The answer lies again in the use an Opportunity Matrix, the subject of an earlier blog. This matrix asks you to explore your customers and your products in depth. Look at utility with design being just tiny one aspect of the innovation approach. Indeed there are at least 48 individual search tools to be explored apart from design, that’s real innovation and it goes far beyond finding out what the customers say they want.

What’s the message?
In today’s fast moving technology led environment, it really is hard for the customer to even know what’s possible.

Look at the big picture. It’s not enough to simply survey customers to establish their wants and needs. In order to really address your customer, you need to literally in essence become your customer; and we do this by the process of “tracking”. Just asking people is a waste of time that savvy businesses already well understand.

**** END ****

Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. “Matrix Thinking”™ is now used in organisations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development and is the author of four books and a Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies both in Australia and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panellist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast. www.matrixthinking.com

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