Stark message to business leaders – Innovate or Die

Today is a wake up call to Irish business to prioritise Innovation as its Number One commercial imperative for 2016. Those who don’t will simply get left behind. Organisations need to take a hard look at themselves to assess that their culture is innovation ready.  At its best, Innovation should encourage a broader collaborative experience, leveraging market and data intelligence to its best competitive advantage.”


That’s according to Charley Stoney, Managing Director of The Alternatives Group (, Ireland’s No 1 marketing, digital and customer centric talent house which recently hosted an industry event titled “Driving the Innovation Agenda”, held at The Westin hotel, Dublin.  She added: “We are innovative business ourselves, firstly pioneering the concept of interim management when we were founded in 2000, today where we continually respond to the talent needs of a rapidly changing marketing landscape where data analysts, product managers and insights professionals are now some of Ireland’s most in-demand talent.”


The panel of industry leaders who spoke included:


  • Niamh Cribbin, European Innovation Marketing Manager, Kellogg’s
  • Cianan Clancy, Global Innovation Strategy Manager at PaddyPowerBetFair Plc
  • Hamish Taylor, Director at Shinergise Partners Ltd
  • David Tighe, Head of Innovation, Bank of Ireland


17th May 2016. Alternatives Marketing 'Driving The Innovation Agenda breakfast meeting in the Westin Hotel Photos: Aidan Oliver Photography




  1. The Key Innovation Drivers


With responsibility for long term planning, consumer behaviour changes, market planning and incubation plus the integration of fintech and innovation start-ups, David Tighe, Head of Innovation, Bank of Ireland said: “Banking transformation is being driven by three significant and linked forces: innovative new technology, shifting consumer behaviours with the rise of the digital native and increasing competition from non-traditional players such as fintech specialists. Banking innovation must address all three forces for it to succeed. Central to the role of innovation in banking is an understanding of new technology and how fintech will re-define and re-shape traditional banking models.”


For Cianan Clancy, Global Innovation Strategy Manager at PaddyPowerBetFair Plc: “Digital has brought a new paradigm shift in the innovation game. Competition is only ever a click away and therefore customer centricity and pace become key to revenue growth.   In PaddyPowerBetFair Plc over 69% of our revenue now comes from mobile so we are at the front line of the digital transformation. If you look at many of the large organisations in Ireland, both multinational and indigenous, they have significant marketing and customer insight teams so finding the customer problem is not the issue any more. The challenge is around solving these customer problems or meeting unmet desires quicker than the competition.”


Niamh Cribbin, European Innovation Marketing Manager, Kellogg’s, echoed Cianan’s point commenting: “The principles in food innovation are straight forward. But consumer expectations are higher than ever before and their own depth of understanding of food brands and nutrition means that we have to be ever more mindful and progressive in our presentation of new products to them.  Consumer is king – it’s all about them!”


Hamish Taylor, Director at Shinergise Partners Ltd said: “Faced with the current market dynamics, one of the most important factors for successful innovation is to have a clearly identified go-to-market strategy at the end of the innovation pipeline. This implies that when the final product development decision gate is successfully passed, innovations have clear consumer relevancy driven by clear insights that were present at the very start of (or were developed and evolved) during the Innovation process.”



  1. Delivering Successful Innovation


According to Cianan Clancy: “A culture of innovation means never being complacent, never accepting the status quo. It means having a strong innovation mindset, both for the customer and the business.  It means listening to your employees and having a process for liberating employee’s ideas, prototyping them, testing them quickly with customers, selecting the best and then just executing.  In his presentation he spoke about how corporate Labs can help not only deliver breakthrough innovations, but also be used as a tool for corporates, large and small to drive and foster innovation culture at all levels of an organisation.


For Hamish Taylor: “While Innovation is ultimately about making money from your ideas, Insight harvesting and interpretation are perhaps the most critical skills that we need to master – these twin processes embrace trend insights, technical, market and strategic customer insights – I genuinely believe that there can be no successful innovation without clever interpretation of smart insights.”


Offering her perspective, Niamh Cribbin said: “The emphasis is on getting the right innovation by using market, trend and data intelligence to identify a concept that will excite and engage consumers. Then it’s about interrogating the concept, examining every plus and minus and keeping critical factors such as Taste and Quality to the fore.  Successful innovations satisfy an unmet customer need and breakthrough products can even create a whole new category. After that, it’s a case of getting the activation strategy right supported by a sufficient media support plan and realistic targets.”


David Tighe said:The new generation of consumers have radically different behaviours and expectations. To stay relevant businesses must rethink their business models and the orientation of those business models. Increasingly, digital business needs to understand and recognise the growing impact of Data and Analytics, the Cloud, Mobile and Smart devices and Social media. For instance, digital has transformed the customer experience – just look at the example that Hailo and Uber have set.”



  1. Collaborative Innovation


Niamh Cribbin said: “Innovation by its very nature is a collective activity, not a solitary one. Every function within the organisation needs to be involved and brought on the journey, working together to provide the tools, experience and insights needed to deliver an innovation pipeline.”


For Cianan Clancy:I think harnessing the power of employees is an area in where both multinationals indigenous companies based in Ireland could improve.  A company’s talent is its greatest asset, you want your employees to be thinking in an entrepreneurial way and spotting opportunities at all times. But, critically, you need a mechanism, structure and process for getting those ideas to market.   An example of this is the recent PaddyPower Kicker’s product launched last month.  This allows a customer to win more if a team goes on to beat their opponent in style by 3, 4, 5 goals.  The more goals the more a customer wins.  This product concept came directly from an employee via our Labs programme and the feedback from customers has been outstanding. Labs is an employee and customer driven ideas hub where we develop solutions to our highest priority business needs. We condense the process into a tight timeline of a number of days from idea generation to prototype development and final yes / no market development and introduction.


The opportunity for any Chief Innovation Officer is now not just about harnessing the power of an innovation unit but also about harnessing the power of a company’s entire workforce to feed the innovation pipeline. At PaddyPower Betfair Plc , we are a company which is not short of innovative ideas. What is critical in a digital world is speed and relentless execution.   This means building a compelling innovation pipeline of great ideas from employees and the innovation team, testing them quickly with customers, selecting the best ones and then just executing to get them in the hands of customers as quickly as possible.” 


17th May 2016. Alternatives Marketing 'Driving The Innovation Agenda breakfast meeting in the Westin Hotel Photos: Aidan Oliver Photography

David Tighe added: “For best results, Innovation must be a collaborative experience, embracing colleagues within the business and potential new enterprise partners. Thinking differently is important. For instance, our StartLab Innovation spaces allows us to incubate new, digitally driven businesses that have the capacity to transform the markets in which they operate. Equally, our Workbench spaces provide a temporary and mobile environment for a new business that wishes to engage with us.”



Charley Stoney from Alternatives added: “Our event showed Innovation in action and how some of Ireland’s major brands are leading the way, inspiring other business to embrace change and create new market and revenue streams.”