Archive for the ‘Innovation’ Category

Is age diversity the biggest opportunity?

October 28, 2017

Fintech 20

I was thrilled to be the moderator on one of the discussion panels at the fantastic FinTech conference at UCD organised by Simon Cocking and his team from Irish Tech News.

There are clearly many opportunities in this dynamic sector and the jam packed agenda featured startups in the space, established businesses, financiers and angel investors as well as sponsors with a vested interest in the sector.

One of the observations that was made on the day was (as usual) about the gender mix in the room, which was I’m guessing, about 75/25% male versus female.

This probably reflects the tech sector generally as it just seems to attract more males than females – the event was a free to attend event.

Mary McKenna, an Angel Investor and a great person into bargain, shared her philosophy about how she chooses projects to invest in. While the project or idea always has to be great and have an element of ‘doing good’ she looks for great, committed people in that business to drive it forward.

Her other critical criteria is that the founders must be female!

A few (including me!) immediately questioned her logic for taking this position – were females better, could they be trusted more, did they bring special qualities to the table? Why Mary??

Mary’s answer was really simple – it’s my money and I can do what I want with it. I’m choosing to invest in females and that’s that! There was a collective shrug of the shoulders in the auditorium. Fair enough….

Mary might miss out on great projects and bigger opportunities, that also do good because of her narrow criteria, but it is her money and her prerogative.

If the gender equality police had their way this would be a crime – if it was a stated preference for male founders I’m guessing there would be total outrage!! (equality must play both ways people).

Age Diversity

On one of the panels, which was discussing the challenge of attracting talent, inevitably the topic of male versus female was raised. One of the panellists changed the diversity focus to age instead of gender, which they felt was a more relevant one worthy of more discussion.

To emphasise the point he went on to explain a recent recruitment experience that he had in their company. He was explaining the value of recruiting older people instead of the obsession about millennials – recently they employed an older person and I sat up to hear a little more…

Someone in their sixties maybe? – he was trying to make a point, after all.

It was someone in their forties!!

As a 52 year old I was shifting uneasily in my seat as I reckoned if I was not self employed, many would not even consider me for a job.

I’ve been seeing quite a few revealing articles on this topic recently – one in particular makes some great arguments for the importance of age diversity in business,

An article on the Chron, tech website says: “Companies that employ workers in wide ranges of age have the advantage of creating a dynamic, multi-generational workforce — with a diverse range of skill sets — that is beneficial to the company”

Specifically they list the following advantages:

Diverse Skill Sets – Each age group brings their own unique skills and talents. Young employees are likely to have a strong grasp on the use of high-tech business mediums and more mature professionals often have exceptional interpersonal skills and perform well in environments where traditional in-person communication is used.

Technology – While the younger generation have grown up with technology all generations are using it.

Business Skills – Just as younger generations are credited with having good working knowledge of business technology, more mature members of a workforce have the advantage of traditional business skills.

Mentoring – Employees of all ages have the opportunity to teach, share and learn from one another.

Continuity – A mix of maturity and experience with the vitality, energy and rawness of youth is likely to create a strong mix that ensures a strong identity and culture that protects continuity of the business

So..while we are all getting quite obsessed about the boys versus girls, please don’t forget about the old fogies in their forties, fifties, sixties and beyond – we have a lot to offer!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Branding  services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

 

Making sure that ‘Great Taste’ is never lost

August 3, 2017

The Great Taste awards, described as the ‘Oscars’ of the food world are organised by the Guild of Fine Food.

They are the acknowledged benchmark for fine food and drink, and when a consumer sees the Great Taste logo on an item it is a sign that they will be buying a great tasting product.

This year (2017) Food and drink producers entered 12,300 products with 4,347 earning 3, 2 and 1 star ratings of which 444 originated from Ireland.

Overall just 165 products earned a 3 Star rating and 1,011 a 2 star rating with Irish products well represented in both of these categories.

PatWhelan, james Whelan Butchers - Great Taste Awards

The Golden Forks (the big winners) will be announced at a celebration dinner at the International Park Lane Hotel, London on the 4 September.

Great Taste, values taste above all else, with no regard for branding or packaging. Whether it is gin, biscuits, sausages or coffee being judged, all products are removed from their packaging, wrapper, jar, box or bottle before being tasted. Furthermore the judges have no idea the price that these products normally retail at.

It’s all about the taste!

The judges then savour, confer and re-taste to decide which products are worthy of a 1, 2, or 3 star award.

As you can imagine the judging panel is very illustrious and this year it included; chef, food writer and author, Gill Meller, MasterChef judge and restaurant critic, Charles Campion, author and Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen chef, Zoe Adjonyoh, baker, Tom Herbert, and food writer and baking columnist, Martha Collison, as well as food buyers from Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges, and Harvey Nichols.

These esteemed palates have together tasted and re-judged the 3-star winners and will finally agree on the 2017 Top 50 Foods, which will be announced in August, with the Golden Fork Trophy winners and the Great Taste 2017 Supreme Champion unveiled on the 4th September.

Just Taste!

Judging the food and drink products on their taste seems very fair and as you would expect – the packaging and branding is removed so that the judges are able to experience the products in their pure, true state, without any interference or bias.

Sunnes Stores - Sticky Toffee Pudding

When do we ever, truly taste anything?

The minute that award winning cake goes into a wrapper, it changes the taste for the consumer.

  • Once we see the packaging, the colours, the type of paper and the visuals, it changes the taste.
  • Once we see the brand name, it changes the taste.
  • Once we read where the product is made and we see the ingredients, it changes the taste.
  • Once the product is placed in a retail outlet, it changes the taste.
  • Once we see where it is placed in the store, it changes the taste.
  • Once we see some POS and the product displayed on a promotional stand, it changes the taste.
  • Once a price is put on the product, it changes the taste.
  • When the product is on special offer, it changes the taste.
  • When a well dressed sampling person invites you to taste a thumbnail of the product, it changes the taste.
  • When we see that the brand is endorsed by a well known personality, it changes the taste.
  • When we see adverts for the product in a newspaper, it changes the taste.
  • When we see adverts for the product in a glossy magazine, it changes the taste
  • When a respected food journalist tells you the product is superb, it changes the taste.
  • When we open the pack at home and we are in a great mood, it changes the taste.

Today’s consumer is influenced by everything they see, hear and taste. We are also influenced by a lifetime of experiences, good and bad, by our peers and we all carry with us a lorry load of biases.

With great products our job and the job of everyone else in the chain that brings the product to the consumer, is to make sure that person can actually ‘taste’ the product.

The Great Taste Awards and that big round logo that you will see on products will also help!

Congratulations to two of our clients, James Whelan Butchers and Simply Better by Dunnes Stores who scooped up Great Taste Awards, once again this year.

James Whelan Butchers are Great Taste 3-star winners with their Pork Lard, a natural and clear lard made from slowly rendered back fat, with a “fabulous long lasting and clean pork flavour” – it’s all about taste!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Branding  services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

The most important person to health in Ireland is an IT man!

May 21, 2017

Richard Corbridge, HSE, EHealth Ireland

There was huge interest in the Dublin Chamber, morning event hosted by solicitors Mason Hayes Curran because the speaker was Englishman, Richard Corbridge who is the Chief Information Officer with the HSE and CEO of eHealth Ireland.

The very public hacking of the computers of the NHS in the UK brought the Cyber Security topic into focus and this fed an even greater interest than usual in this Dublin Chamber event.

While I was expecting a big talk about Cyber Security from the affable and very engaging Richard I ended up hearing something much more important, I heard about ‘First Dates‘.

Richard used this fantastic ‘first dates‘ analogy to describe how essential it is that the health system in Ireland needs to wake up in 2017 because quite frankly, first dates are no longer acceptable.

This simple point struck a huge chord with me.

Very recently I attended a ‘huge’ and incredibly serious consultation with a senior doctor with a close relative. At this consultation, the topic was of the gravest nature and literally half of the session was spent with the doctor flicking through various papers and asking the most basic of questions in an attempt to bring himself fully up to speed so he could deliver the best medical advice.

As I sat there I couldn’t help thinking that not only was a lot of valuable time wasted by this ‘paper’ system but the margin for error is just colossal.

When you meet a doctor for the first time (when you are born?) this should be the only first date you ever have to experience. Everyone else along the way should have your full medical history at their fingertips so that they have the full story and all of their valuable time and energy should go into the best possible diagnosis.

Richard spoke about many things including the huge positive changes that have been experienced in some of the maternity hospitals where this IT vision has begun and also some incredible improvements with certain medical conditions such as Epilepsy directly as a result of technology.

He also spoke about his committed team, who pulled out all stops to make sure we didn’t suffer the same fate as the NHS. He needs to bring this team with him and expand it to achieve what is needed.

Richard’s enthusiasm for his vision is infectious but it is clear that he is trying to achieve this vision in a mammoth, understandably slow-moving public sector organisation. My sincere hope is that he receives all the support that he needs and that he digs deep and stays the course because it will be frustrating.

To achieve this vision Richard needs to communicate it over and over as eloquently as he did last week both internally and externally and he must not stop until his vision has been achieved.

The irony in all of this is that the health of Ireland rests in the hands of an Englishman who isn’t even a medical doctor!

Richard…thank you, but please, please, don’t give up, we won’t allow you to!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Sad songs, dirty lovers and technology abandoning consumers

March 26, 2017

Johnson & Perrott

The call came through that my new car was ready to be collected – as it was a weekday I didn’t want to spoil the very special occasion by collecting it, driving back to work, parking up and driving home later.

I asked if it was possible to collect the car on Saturday when I would have a chance to properly enjoy it. That was fine so a new plan was born.

On Saturday morning I woke up excited as a child on Christmas morning and the first thing I did was go through my CD’s to pick something suitably rocky to put the superb sound system through its paces. If you haven’t heard the album, “Sad songs for dirty lovers” by The National then check it out quick. There are a few hard, driving rock songs that will get you in the mood!

I thought my dad might like to come with me and enjoy the buzz so I collected him on the way to Johnson & Perrott in Mahonpoint.

I didn’t see the car parked outside as I was expecting

When we got there it’s as if they were waiting for us. They were treating the occasion of handing over a new car to a customer with the same reverence and sense of occasion as it was for the customer. I was however wondering where the new car was?

Ah Greg, we were waiting for you. Let’s get you your new car“.

In the middle of the showroom there was a car that was under a sexy black cloth cover. I was curious and wondered if a new model of a car was going to be unveiled later to the media or if there was some embargo whereby they weren’t allowed to show it to the public until a certain date and time.

The cloth created a sense of theatre and intrigue.

Dan O’Neill, the wonderful sales guy that I have been dealing with for many years caught my curiosity and asked me if I was ready to see my new car.

He brought me over and theatrically pulled the cloth away from the car and unveiled my new, gorgeous Jaguar XF to both me and my dad.

Jaguar XF

Oh my God, what a moment – buying a new car is special but this rewrote the rule book on how your new car should be presented to you.

The car was driven out of the showroom, I quickly completed some paperwork. Dan showed me some of the new features and the keys were finally handed over to me.

It was time to hit the road in this beauty that I was privileged to be driving (I work my socks off but I don’t for one second appreciate how lucky I am) except there was one last thing to do before I pressed on the accelerator.

Sad songs for dirty lovers” was removed from the case and ….

A moments confusion – where do I put the CD?

There was no slot where you would expect it. Was there a button to press somewhere that would slide open a panel on the dashboard where the CD would go? Was there a multi-CD option in the boot (I never liked that idea but okay if that was the case)? Was there some place in the console next to the driver where you placed the CD?

Feeling rather stupid that I wasn’t able to figure out this basic thing I went looking for Dan and asked him the embarrassing question, “Dan, where do I put the CD?

They’ve done away with a CD player in this new model, it’s all by bluetooth now” he explained.

I was staggered and disappointed. We switched on the radio and heard Bobby Kerr doing his business show, I flicked the channels to find some decent music but nothing was what I wanted to hear on my first journey in this fantastic machine. Instead we drove away and just listened to the gorgeous purr of the engine.

Someone somewhere made a decision on behalf of all new Jaguar XF drivers that any music listened to while driving would be on the radio or via something pre-loaded on a phone or an iPod.

I love my music more than most, I love my CD’s and I love the idea of being able to grab something from my collection or buy something in the music store and just play!

I probably sound like a dinosaur (the dinosaur who was buying the car!) but this boy is thinking that technology is now driving a lot of behaviour in a way that maybe the customer just doesn’t want?

Get your hands on that National album (CD or Vinyl) and put it in a decent sound system, crank it up as loud as you can bear and celebrate how things should be..

Note – I bought the car at the beginning of 2016 and a few irritations with technology recently have prompted me to finally write the piece.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service agencu that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

 

 

 

Without some “wow” its difficult to see how!

July 10, 2016

Products with nothing specialI arrived there in torrential rain and entered a premises that lacked personality, that lacked anything. No pictures, no branding, no product displays…nothing.

There was a display on the wall with Certificates of Incorporation and some certs confirming a legal change from one company name to another.

I was politely ushered into a room and three people joined the meeting.

The new product was produced and placed centre stage on the board room table. The bland, quite generic packaging was the first thing I noticed.

Where was the product made, what’s special about it, what has the journey been, what is the wow, what is the  “story“?

I probed, I dug deep and I asked this crew why they developed this product, why it was in front of me on the table and why they brought it to market?

I was hoping to discover a unique (I hate that word) insight, I was hoping to hear some personal story, I wanted something that would help us to bring this “thing” to life in a genuine and authentic way that would connect with their target audience.

What I got was very profound – “it’s just a product that we think we can make money from

This won’t work…

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork