Archive for June, 2011

Jun
22

My New Life in Shanghai: Experiencing Innovation and IP Strategy in China

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After four terrific years with Innovationedge helping large and small companies with IP strategy and innovation, I’ve made a big move from the small town of Appleton, Wisconsin to the world’s largest city, Shanghai (it is the world’s largest using the city proper definition: the population of the city within its official boundaries, excluding suburbs). I’ve accepted a posiiton as Head of Intellectual Property for Asia Pulp and Paper, a young company hungry to grow. It is currently the largest paper-related company in Asia outside of Japan with revenues around $20 billion, and will be growing into many interesting new product areas in the future. While many in the West assume that Chinese companies trample over Western IP, this company has experienced the pain of good inventions being stolen by Western companies, and is seeking to become more aggressive in building its own IP as they strengthen their approach to innovation. There is much to protect and much to create. It’s an exciting opportunity in a beautful and very enjoyable cty and nation. I’ve been here a couple of week now and really love it.

I will be sharing some of my experiences and perspectives here as I witness the aggressive, high-speed approach to innovation that is possible in Asia. We will also have man innovation fatigue factors to overcome along the way as we face tough competition, challenging regulations, and other barriers.

Meanwhile, if you have good IP skills or good experience in consumer products and innovation and wish to live in China for a while, send me a resume! Basic skills in Mandarin are a plus. Reach me at jeff underscore lindsay at app dot com dot cn.

Categories : miscellaneous
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Jun
02

“How Much Do You Spend on Printing?” The Mystery Question Behind the Business Model Innovation of E-Lynxx

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Ask the leaders of a business how much they spend on printing. The response can be interesting, even hilarious. It’s an expense that is easily overlooked yet can be substantial. Few companies know if they are being overbilled. Decisions may be handled by cloudy processes where influences other than quality and value sometimes hold sway. Indeed, the fundamentals of the procurement process in many companies leave inefficiency if not outright abuse. The problem isn’t just in printing, either. Many parts and services handled through standard procurement systems can result in excessive costs. Enter an interesting business model innovation: E-Lynxx. For added spice, we’re talking patented business model innovation. Yes, E-Lynxx has a business model enhanced with the aura of two US patents.

William Gindlesperger is the founder and CEO of E-Lynxx. My source tells me he has over 25 years of experience in the printing industry, where found that the decision making process was antiquated and left companies vulnerable in many ways. He pursued business model innovation to come up with a system that could make the process transparent and more efficient. Under his business model, be provides software and services up front at not cost, getting paid only when the client saves real money from his work. Then he gets a cut of the savings. Low risk.

When a company turns to E-Lynxx, they receive software and training in how to use E-Lynxx’s open auction system. Bids are offered to a large array of qualified vendors who then bid on the deal. The vendors can see the competitive bids and so can the client. This transparency helps bring costs down substantially, often reducing print costs by 25-50%. E-Lynxx gets part of the savings. What’s not to like? Well, those who aren’t getting as much gravy might not like it, but if it’s your business, these kind of cost savings should be welcome news.

Here’s claim 1 of E-Lynxx’s first patent, 6,397,197, assigned to the CEO and founder himself:

1. A method for competitive bidding by print information product vendors comprising steps of: inputting a plurality of vendor records into a storage of a general purpose computer, each of said vendor records having a data field identifying a print information product vendor and a buyer identification data field identifying a buyer that said vendor is associated with, at least one of said vendor records having a vendor capability data representing a set of vendor manufacturing capabilities of the vendor identified by said record; inputting a buyer’s invitation-for-bid data into said general purpose computer, said buyer’s invitation-for-bid data having a buyer identification data, and having an invitation for bid on a print information product job from said buyer; calculating a vendor requirement data from said buyer’s invitation-for-bid data, said vendor requirement data representing a set of vendor manufacturing capabilities required for performing said print information product job; comparing said vendor requirement data to a plurality of said vendor records having a buyer identification data field identifying the buyer from which said buyer’s invitation-for-bid data was received; identifying at least one vendor record as qualified, based on said comparing; transmitting a vendor’s invitation-for-bid data based on said buyer’s invitation-for-bid data to each vendor identified by said at least one vendor record; inputting into said general purpose computer a plurality of bid data, each from one of said vendors to which said vendor’s invitation-for-bid data was transmitted, each of said bid data representing a bid price; identifying a bid data from said received bid data having the lowest represented bid price; outputting a selected vendor data representing the identity of the vendor corresponding to the bid data identified by said identifying step; and transmitting an order to the vendor represented by said selected vendor data.

Here’s claim 1 of their second patent, US 7,451,106:

1. A method for facilitating a buyer’s selection of a vendor via automated comparison of records and bidding by vendors of customized goods or services via a computer operated system, comprising steps of: prior to receiving job data from a buyer pertaining to a job for which the buyer seeks a vendor, receiving electronic communications from a plurality of vendors, the electronic communications being used in establishing a plurality of vendor records which are stored in an electronic memory associated with the computer system, the vendor records corresponding to each of a plurality of vendors and having vendor capability data identifying a plurality of capabilities for said vendor to provide a customized good or service; each buyer using the system generating an electronic communication providing information identifying a plurality of vendors for inclusion in a pool of vendors associated with said buyer to potentially receive a job solicitation, wherein the system stores electronic data sufficient to identify every vendor pool and its association with a corresponding buyer based upon the buyer transmitted vendor pool identification information which occurs prior to analysis of job data pertaining to a job for which bids are sought by or on behalf of the buyer; receiving an electronic communication defining a job data from or on behalf of at least one buyer, after said buyer’s vendor pool is determined, said job data including a job descriptor data which specifies a plurality of characteristics of said customized good or service for which said buyer wishes a bid; automatically comparing via a computer processor said vendor records to said job data, wherein said comparing includes comparing said plurality of characteristics for said customized good or service with corresponding plural capabilities for vendors from the pool of vendors associated with said buyer; automatically identifying via a computer processor at least one subset from the buyer’s associated pool of vendors as qualified for receiving the solicitation, based on said comparison; thereafter transmitting the solicitation to only selected members from the identified subset of the buyer’s associated pool of vendors; receiving bid response data from at least one of said vendors which received said solicitation, said bid response data identifying each of the vendors from which it was received and a bid price; and outputting to said buyer an electronic communication providing at least one of said bid response data.

And here’s claim 1 of 7,788,143:

1. A method for facilitating a buyer’s selection of a vendor via automated comparison of records and bidding by vendors for customized goods or services via a computer operated system, comprising the steps of: prior to processing job data from a buyer pertaining to a job for which the buyer seeks a vendor, receiving and processing electronic communications from a plurality of vendors, the electronic communications being used in establishing a plurality of vendor records which are stored in an electronic memory associated with the computer system, the vendor records corresponding to each of a plurality of vendors and having vendor capability data identifying a plurality of capabilities for said vendor to provide a customized good or service; receiving an electronic communication from or on behalf of any buyer using the system which provides information identifying a plurality of vendors for inclusion in a pool of vendors associated with the buyer to potentially receive a job solicitation, and storing electronic data sufficient to identify every vendor pool and its association with a corresponding buyer based upon the received electronic communications from the buyers providing vendor pool identification information, the vendor pool identification information being processed prior to analysis of job data pertaining to a job for which bids are sought by or on behalf of the buyer; receiving an electronic communication defining a job data from or on behalf of at least one buyer after the buyer’s vendor pool is determined, the job data including a job descriptor data which specifies a plurality of characteristics of said customized good or service for which the buyer wishes a bid; automatically comparing via a computer processor said vendor records to said job data, wherein said comparing includes comparing said plurality of characteristics for said customized good or service with corresponding plural capabilities for vendors from the vendor pool of vendors associated with the buyer; automatically identifying via a computer processor at least one subset from the buyer’s associated pool of vendors as qualified for receiving the solicitation, based on said comparison; thereafter transmitting the solicitation to only selected members from the identified subset of the buyer’s associated pool of vendors; receiving bid response data from at least one of said vendors which received said solicitation, said bid response data identifying a bid price for the corresponding vendor; and outputting to said buyer an electronic communication providing at least one of said bid response data.

Another patent is still pending.

Business method patents are still alive and can play important roles in some companies. Whether they are needed or not for this company, I like the innovative approach that E-Lynxx is taking to bring the procurement process into the light where more efficient transactions can occur with large costs savings.

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