On Tuesday the 11th September Jorgen Eriksson, Bearing Consulting’s Managing Partner, gave a talk on Corporate Innovation at the SLOW Lounge in Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa. The talk was mainly attended by the SLOW Lounge’s members, most of whom are founders of start-up firms, many in the technology sector.
The main point that I took away from the talk is the fact that innovation does not only apply to products and services, but also to firms’ operations, they way the deliver their products and services, the ways in which they market themselves and they ways in which they engage with their customers. Jorgen refers to this as "innovating on the edges", in other words, focusing on attributes that are built around a product or service offering, rather than focusing on the product or service itself. Some very good examples of this were given, such as the manner in which Apple delivers it’s products, the cost efficiencies that Ryan Air has managed to achieve, the way in which Gillette price their shavers cheaply but realise high margins on the sale of replacement blades and how Lady Gaga distinguishes herself and create barriers to entry.
The SLOW Lounge is a concept that was developed by Comair, the owners of South African low-cost carrier Kulula and operators of the South African British Airways franchise, and First National Bank. SLOW Lounges started their life as airport lounges and fairly recently a ‘city’ lounge was launched. It’s revenue is generate through membership fees to the lounge and it provides workspace, meeting rooms, shower facilities, cafe and restaurants etc. to people on the move that seek this type of facility in a prime location in the city. The lounge was designed by Johannesburg interior design house, Tonic, and they really have done a superb job.
The talk was a success and it’s content was very inspiring!