Posts Tagged ‘SUGGESDTION’

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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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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Business Insight Your corporate mission may be killing your business!

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Is your Corporate Mission killing your business?

by Roger La Salle

What’s your business Mission?
Most businesses have Mission or Vision statements as to what they are about, where they are headed and what they wish to achieve.

The aim of such an overarching statement is to align the organisation and its people to the common goal. Indeed the best definition of an organisation is “A Group of People Charged with a Common Goal” so what better way to align your people than to define and boldly state this in a mission statement.

What are the risks?
Whilst a mission or vision as the overarching statement of aim and purpose may be valuable, at least in the beginning, one may ask, should that be engraved in unchangeable tablets of granite?

Just like innovation, there should always be a need to explore new horizons and in many cases it may be important to revisit and perhaps redefine the mission as the business and business conditions change and evolve. Indeed a failure to do so may otherwise lock your people into a fixed mindset that may ultimately lead to your undoing.

Some notable examples
Some notable failures that “stuck to their knitting” may include KODAK that seemed locked into the mindset of selling and processing film and the paper and chemicals that enable this process. Perhaps many of the Swiss watch companies that ignored the emerging digital quartz technology are another example. So too the now rapidly declining printed media that thought the internet would never take off or maybe the makers of matches that ignored the butane lighter, and many more.

Indeed in the case of the latter example I once heard a marketing manager trying to convince his corporate masters (The Mission Makers) that they were in fact not in the match making business but in the business of flame on demand. He was laughed out of the room! Today that company no longer exists.

On the other hand look at some businesses with a wider view of the world that were not constrained by a narrowly focused corporate Mission; and so were able to reposition as things changed and new opportunities emerged.

None better than Google comes to mind. A business that started as a search engine but is now into anything they perceive as an opportunity. GE that started in engineering and moved to the finance sector. Nokia, formerly in the lumber business that set the bench mark in mobile phones. HP made its name in scientific instruments but is now huge in consumer electronics. The list of successful diversifications is endless, so too the list of failures.

Why Innovation?
The fact is; innovation needs to be applied across your entire business spectrum, especially in these days of such rapid change. Without flexibility or an innovative culture in your business there is a real risk of locking people into “Tunnel Mission” with a too rigidly defined corporate mission.

**** 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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So, what is “Opportunity Capture”?

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

So what is – “Opportunity Capture”?
by Roger La Salle
A word from the author
I am delighted to see many of my blogs republished and re-blogged by so many recipients, with due citations of course. However, whilst I may be somewhat gratified by that I am not so happy about my work being adopted, may I suggest even plagiarized and regurgitated in a slightly modified form by some trainers and bloggers in the innovation space. On the upside, of course, imitation is the greatest form of flattery so on that note; here is a new business insight sure to attract some attention.

Sales are important
It’s often said in business that nothing happens until you sell something and how true this is. Indeed you can trace the failure of most businesses to a single cause, a failure to make sufficient sales. Naturally, if sales are not forthcoming, then of course there are no jobs for anybody else.

Is Innovation different?
In the case of innovation, the aim is to make changes to products, processes and services that add value and win new and bigger markets. Hence my definition of innovation simply stated as “Change that adds value” .To be sure there is nothing that is free from the opportunity for change.

In this case the key word is “opportunity” and this is where I spend a lot of my innovation effort. Without an opportunity, there is little else to do.

The sequence of events is simply –

• Opportunity Capture – What is the opportunity and how do you find one?
• Innovation – What is the solution?
• Evaluation – Can we do it, make it work and sell it profitably?
• Go/No go decision – With fast low cost failure quite acceptable
• Commercialisation.

It all starts with an opportunity, defined as “An observed fortunate set of circumstances”

For this important piece of the business building puzzle we use the Opportunity Matrix and the term “Opportunity Capture”.

If you are interested to see this in action have a look at some case studies at: http://www.innovationtraining.com.au/innovation-outcomes-case-studies.html

Is it that hard?
If you use the type of approach shown in the case studies and have your people look at the world around them and the products and services you and perhaps others deliver, you may be surprised at how easy it is to see opportunities where previously you thought there were none.

What’s the Message?
Embed this opportunity search approach as part of your business DNA, inspire your people to be open minded and watch what happens.

**** 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 do you really want?

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

What do you really want?
by Roger La Salle

Revive to survive

McDonald’s fast food group announced in January 2015 that Steve Easterbrook, its senior executive brand president and chief brand officer, is to be the new chief executive of the ailing fast food chain. He has the task of returning the fast food giant to its former glory days.

Reportedly, McDonald’s saw a 15% drop in revenues in the past year.

Maybe this revenue hit is a result of both increased competition and the message that fast food has some downside health effects; a message that may finally be getting some traction.

Improve efficiency and cut jobs!
Organisational changes reportedly will contribute to $US300 million ($A383 million) in cost-cutting targeted by McDonald’s. Without providing much detail, Easterbrook said “the cost-cutting will affect jobs”.

An interesting comment that perhaps speaks to the risks of cost down initiatives made in isolation was made by Mr Larry Light, who served as chief marketing officer of McDonald’s between 2002 and 2005 and now runs a brand consulting firm, he said Easterbrook offered little in the way of what matters to customers.

“Being more efficient, having less bureaucracy will buy you time, but will not buy you enduring success,” he said.

Unfortunately jobs are one of the first things that suffer under cost cutting initiatives with Light’s message that this alone will only buy you time, time to explore the opportunities and to innovate and change what you are doing.

Interestingly, one wonders if McDonald’s really does know what the customer really wants. Its new bold initiative of “build your own burger”, which was no doubt very expensive to implement and probably even more expensive to service, may have more than one purpose.

On the one hand it allows customers choice, on the other it may be an admission that McDonald’s wants to take on all comers but is not sure what the market really wants any more.

The big picture!
However, if one likes to dig deeper there may indeed be a hidden agenda with McDonald’s “build your burger” program.

This program will allow the collection of so called, “Big Data” as to the most preferred custom built burger. Armed with this information McDonald’s will be able to better understand what the market really wants and moreover the geographic profiles that various tastes dictate.

If this is the real reason, it’s a clever initiative and one wonders how long the
“build your burger” initiative will prevail. My guess, just as long as it takes to get the big data they need.

I applaud this initiative on the part of McDonald’s, it’s smart and will provide huge strategic market insights, insights that may lead to the innovations that will again set them straight.

What’s the message?
Never stop looking at the market and your customers, Innovate or perish.

**** END ****

Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. His creation, “Matrix Thinking”™ is used in organisations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after internationally as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development. He is the author of four books, 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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McDonald’s Big Data?

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

What do you really want?
by Roger La Salle

Revive to survive

McDonald’s fast food group announced in January 2015 that Steve Easterbrook, its senior executive brand president and chief brand officer, is to be the new chief executive of the ailing fast food chain. He has the task of returning the fast food giant to its former glory days.

Reportedly, McDonald’s saw a 15% drop in revenues in the past year.

Maybe this revenue hit is a result of both increased competition and the message that fast food has some downside health effects; a message that may finally be getting some traction.

Improve efficiency and cut jobs!
Organisational changes reportedly will contribute to $US300 million ($A383 million) in cost-cutting targeted by McDonald’s. Without providing much detail, Easterbrook said “the cost-cutting will affect jobs”.

An interesting comment that perhaps speaks to the risks of cost down initiatives made in isolation was made by Mr Larry Light, who served as chief marketing officer of McDonald’s between 2002 and 2005 and now runs a brand consulting firm, he said Easterbrook offered little in the way of what matters to customers.

“Being more efficient, having less bureaucracy will buy you time, but will not buy you enduring success,” he said.

Unfortunately jobs are one of the first things that suffer under cost cutting initiatives with Light’s message that this alone will only buy you time, time to explore the opportunities and to innovate and change what you are doing.

Interestingly, one wonders if McDonald’s really does know what the customer really wants. Its new bold initiative of “build your own burger”, which was no doubt very expensive to implement and probably even more expensive to service, may have more than one purpose.

On the one hand it allows customers choice, on the other it may be an admission that McDonald’s wants to take on all comers but is not sure what the market really wants any more.

The big picture!
However, if one likes to dig deeper there may indeed be a hidden agenda with McDonald’s “build your burger” program.

This program will allow the collection of so called, “Big Data” as to the most preferred custom built burger. Armed with this information McDonald’s will be able to better understand what the market really wants and moreover the geographic profiles that various tastes dictate.

If this is the real reason, it’s a clever initiative and one wonders how long the
“build your burger” initiative will prevail. My guess, just as long as it takes to get the big data they need.

I applaud this initiative on the part of McDonald’s, it’s smart and will provide huge strategic market insights, insights that may lead to the innovations that will again set them straight.

What’s the message?
Never stop looking at the market and your customers, Innovate or perish.

**** END ****

Roger La Salle, trains people in innovation, marketing and the new emerging art of Opportunity Capture. His creation, “Matrix Thinking”™ is used in organisations in more than 29 countries. He is sought after internationally as a speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development. He is the author of four books, 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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