The secret to successful innovation: Value, business and people!

The secret to successful innovation: Value, business and people!


Mark Parker was one of the first to introduce the Livescribe Smartpen to Australia. But, soon, so did Officeworks, and Mark found himself competing with a 1,000-pound gorilla operating a bricks and mortar megastore in every second suburb.

Parker quickly realised that he could innovate with the business model and offer a strong people proposition in ways that Officeworks could not. He embraced the online sales channel, reducing costs. He used social media to provide service and support, creating an unmatched people proposition. Where Officeworks simply sold the pen, Parker focused on helping customers understand how to use its range of functionalities and put them in touch with other users in various industries to understand how to use it to greatest personal benefit.

As you can see, Parker innovated around all three propositions – product, profit and people – to turn around what was a small and flat business threatened with loss of market share. His success with Smartpen inspired Livescribe to entrust him with overall management of the Australia-New Zealand market.

So if you want to create an unassailable position in your market – get your innovation act right across all three areas.

Andrew Nelson is the managing director of UCSI Blue Ocean Strategy Australia, a management consultant. He has previously worked for Deloitte besides holding senior management, business development, marketing and consulting roles at BDO, Mellon and Mercer.

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  • Mark Parker – Smartpen

    Thanks for mentioning Smartpen. 

    The points you’ve raised continue to be relevant for us – as a small business we must continue to look for ways to innovate around the three factors you’ve mentioned. 

    cheers Mark