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Keystone Column 43 – Incrementalism versus innovation

By 28th October 2016 No Comments
The Keystone Column - No 43. Incrementalism versus innovation

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Keystone Column containing business stories and public procurement opportunities that drive the commercial strategy of ambitious companies. This Halloween week some troubling stories have arisen, the implications of which are deeply concerning. We also focus on the importance of incrementalism in company and societal development. Our weekly list of open tenders in the Irish public sector is also included below.

Business Stories

Internet of Things

Last week saw the first major IT security attack widely attributed to the Internet of Things (IoT). Hacked IoT devices, such as printers, CCTV video cameras, video recorders were used to launch Denial of Service attacks on major social media websites such as Facebook. This was enabled by people using factory default admin credentials (not having personalised passwords etc) as well as out of date firmware (not updating software on tablets). Both of these issues are quite common with our home devices.

In this Forbes article, Mike Krell sees this as a major wake up call. Very little major damage was done this time, however IoT brings us to a point where everything is connected. As we move to a more connected world, especially in the industrial sectors, a future breach could just as easily involve someone or some entity taking over or turning something critical off in a hazardous industrial plant, an airplane or commuter train. He provides three recommendations:

  1. Designers and manufacturers must incorporate security concerns during the initial design phase.
  2. Those implementing these secure devices need to make sure their networking and communications channels are secure themselves.
  3. It’s everyone’s job in the entire IoT chain to be responsible for their point of connection and beyond: all the connectivity points in between—must be secured individually, and as an entire system.
Child refugees in Turkey making clothes for UK shops

Syrian refugee children in Turkey have been making clothes for British shoppers, a BBC Panorama investigation has found. The stores implicated include Marks & Spencer, Zara, and Mango: all of which also have a presence in Ireland.

Recent changes to the UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015 mean that businesses must eradicate all traces of forced labour, not only from their own business but from every supplier they buy from at home and abroad. David Noble, CIPS’ Group CEO has released a statement in which he notes: “To truly eliminate this evil from UK procurement, businesses need to step up their game. They should start mapping their supply chains properly and put measures in place to monitor malpractice. Ultimately, the legal duty in the Act must not override the moral obligation of us all to make sure our supply chains are slavery-free.”

Interesting Trends – Incrementalism versus Innovation

Two recent podcasts have caught our imagination. They are both by the team from books and podcast series Freakonomics which seems to have recaptured some of its early brio recently. The shows focus on two under appreciated elements: Maintenance and Incrementalism. Featuring a stellar cast of interviewees including former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, the first show concentrates on the economic benefits of maintenance. The principle behind the show is that the obsession with innovation means the word is becoming less and less meaningful. The actual contribution of innovation to the fabric of our daily lives is not nearly as important as core infrastructure investment (new and maintaining existing works) in the underlying economy. This maintenance improves or sustains the quality of life and allows economies to thrive.

The second show draws from a less economically driven domain and includes a focus on the gay rights movement (in the US) and seeks to draw lessons from it. Senator David Norris in Ireland played the role of the featured scientific academic played in the United States. Within the space of 30 years in Ireland, being gay has not only been decriminalised but it is no longer considered a mental illness and same-sex marriage was brought by popular vote, demonstrating how much attitudes in this State have changed over this period. The “revolution” is a story defined by incrementalism. As the show states, what is now considered one of man’s great leaps forward, the Italian Renaissance, took place over more than 200 years. The roots (here we depart from the show) started with Giotto and Fra Angelico and continued via Brunelleschi, Donatello and others until Michelangelo and da Vinci created the works of art and architecture that many see as defining works of this time – a story of incrementalism (or as Newton wrote: standing on the shoulders of giants).

For most companies, the path towards growth lies in incrementalism – that is probably not stated often enough.


Innovation – Torsh Talent and the importance of incrementalism

In the spirit of the section above, the company we are featuring this week is one whose philosophy we very much share ourselves. Torsh are an American company that offer an online platform to educators to help them in their work and professional development. The CEO wrote this article in Forbe’s recently and it is refreshing to see and hear views like this coming from what is ostensibly a technology company (with all the pros and cons that come with that). His view is about as old-fashioned as it gets, companies with no customers fail. Hence, disruption is often overrated and plain destructive if people do not want it. His platform is user driven and has been constantly evolved to meet his customer’s needs – hence they continue to pay for access to it. His success is a story of the benefits that can accrue from valuing incrementalism.


New public procurement tenders this week 

Visit the Keystone website to view our take on the 500+ active public procurement opportunities with more than five days until their deadline. There are a vast range of services, supplies and construction related to public procurement opportunities in the following sectors (there are many more sectors than the sample list below):

  • Construction and related trades, 
  • Professional & Advisory Services, 
  • PR, Media, Advertising and related,
  • ICT supplies and services, 
  • Training,
  • Property & facilities management,
  • Vehicle & automotive,
  • Catering and related services,
  • Cleaning and related services,
  • Waste Management,
  • Maintenance and related services,
  • Horticultural supplies & services,
  • Research & environmental monitoring,
  • Printing, office supplies and related services,
  • Trades,
  • Medical and scientific research, supplies and services,
  • A vast range of other services and supplies.

Businesses interested in any of these public procurement opportunities that are unsure of how they can follow-up on these tenders can contact Keystone at any stage. We would be happy to discuss your needs and where they may fit with your business growth plans. These public procurement opportunities are sources of business growth and innovation for companies across the country.

Keystone E-Tenders Report Open YTD as at 2710 (by date of publication)

Keystone E-Tenders Report Open YTD as at 2710 (by sector)

Please note, e-tenders often has public procurement opportunities incorrectly categorised so people relying on e-tender alerts could easily miss out on opportunities if they are dependent on it. E-tenders is only as reliable as the people inputting tenders and mistakes are made very frequently. The Keystone Column includes all live tenders posted on e-tenders since January 4th 2016 that have five or more days until their deadline as at October 27th 2016.