disruptive innovation

Shopping With The Good Wife Beats Going to The Mall


Curl up, watch your favorite TV show … and buy something

The age-old marketing tactic of product placement is fast achieving a new level of sophistication. It has moved from mere placement to “see it-want it-buy it” – and never miss a minute of your favorite show. This is simple-adaptive innovation at its best. It is the marrying of digital technology to what has been around for over a century. The earliest product mentions were in books (Jules Verne’s novel, Around the World in Eighty Days (1873), and then later in films like The Lost World (1925), in which a Corona Typewriter appeared. Today, there is seldom a leading lady or a CSI detective who isn’t on a brand name computer, parked next to a bottle of Absolut Vodka and wearing Oakley sunglasses. But now, it’s becoming more than placement.

Ever watch The Good Wife? Even if you don’t like the show, you have to admit the office furniture is to-die-for. And you can buy it. Well, not all of it, yet. But that sumptuous, leather chair in Will’s office … it’s yours for $1,995 (US). CBS, creator of The Good Wife, has gone into a licensing deal to feature furniture that’s available to buy. This isn’t completely new. Mad Men has a line of retro-furniture available for purchase. And apparently NBC will be featuring products for purchase on their hit, Downtown Abbey. But what will be new–coming soon to a show in your living room–is the breakthrough disruptive innovation that all this incremental innovation leads to: The day viewers will be able to click and buy directly from the TV show.

What could be more conducive to shopping and fulfilling customers’ insatiable thirst for instant gratification then the combination of their favorite show, beautifully replete with their favorite products, and available with a pause and a click?

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You Wouldn’t Change the Oil in Your Car Just Once a Year

Innovation Insights
One of a series by Ken Tencer, Spyder Works CEO


Innovation is about bringing ideas to market rather than letting them languish on a half-forgotten scratchpad. And innovation doesn’t necessarily mean invention. More often, it’s about acting on an opportunity you have already recognized, or adapting existing solutions for other markets or industries.

How simple can innovation be? Consider these examples:

Seeing the same thing in a different way
Think of the publicity coup for Post’s Shreddies – and its 18-point gain in market share – when it reintroduced the timeless breakfast cereal in diamond shapes rather than squares.

Exploring new markets with the same products (or slightly adapted features)
Toy giant Lego has launched a “Lego Friends” brand to target girls in addition to its dominating “boy brands,” such as Star Wars Lego and Lego Ninjago.

Tapping into (or teaming up with) new market trends
Hyundai now provides a multimedia tablet as an owner’s manual instead of the traditional printed book.

Bringing together features from existing products or markets to create something “new”
The maker of SLAP Watch offers a unique twist on silicone watches with interchangeable faces, bright colours, and spring-coil bracelet – all in one item.

Innovation is the engine that drives your business forward. Think about it: customers are engaged by new and exciting products and services. It gives them something to talk about, a reason to buy again, and more often.

You wouldn’t change the oil in your car just once a year – the engine would sputter and die. Your company shouldn’t leave ideation, innovation or the introduction of new – even small – improvements to an annual schedule. Without the tune-up of continuing innovation, your business will also sputter and die.

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Too Big To Fail

Innovation Insights
One of a series by Ken Tencer, Spyder Works CEO


While the assumption that a company or an industry could be “too big to fail” has been used mainly since the recent financial crisis, the notion itself has smugly resided in corporate boardrooms since the dawn of the modern corporation. “Our technology dominates the market, no need to worry,” said the buggy-whip maker to his horse.

Failure and evolution are a natural part of business, but sometimes it’s hard to watch. Sadly, we may now be witnessing the demise of a key industry giant in Kodak – a company that actually foresaw and invented the future, yet somehow managed not to learn from it.

As reported in the New York Times, “The big story here is that their core business, the yellow box business [film], got cannibalized by the digital camera, which ironically they invented,” said analyst Chris Whitmore of Deutsche Bank Securities.

The good news for investors is that Kodak’s management claims that the company is now soundly and strategically focused on digital printing technology – this in a world that is increasingly going paperless.  I don’t mean to pick on Kodak; they are not the first company or industry to resist change, nor will they be the last.

In an upcoming Innovation Insight entitled “Fueling Green,” we will look at how the auto industry is managing changing technologies very well by re-imagining their own future… and actively trying to adapt.

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