Still few Italian companies adopt a truly integrated innovation strategy

Still few Italian companies adopt a truly integrated innovation strategy

The panorama of Italian companies is still very far from a holistic vision of investments in innovation, with a degree of complexity of investment strategies still too low for the current speed with which the market and the economy are evolving. Thus, in a few seconds, one could summarize the heart of the 1st Italian Innovation Report that Assoconsult (the association of organizational and management consultancy companies within Confindustria) created together with the Confindustria Study Center with the support of Istat on over 212 thousand Italian companies with at least 10 employees.

In more explicit terms, identify the four main investment levers that companies have at their disposal (tangible assets, licenses and software, research and development and finally staff training) , it is still rare to find companies that simultaneously focus on all four strands - they are only 8% - while 38% activate just one of the four levers and 35% stop at two. This means, in other words, that almost three quarters of our companies seem to ignore the need to develop complex innovation strategies.

A part of the data presented last May 16 by Confindustria in Bergamo in the Kilometro Rosso space (graphic: Assoconsult)

“These are numbers that in a certain sense surprised us too”, Alberto Antonietti, vice president of Assoconsult with responsibility for innovation, told "The vast majority of our companies, evidently, invest in innovation in a very traditional way, focusing for example on tangible assets such as production lines and with much less attention to staff upskilling and reskilling, as well as software platforms, investment management and Research" . The solution? "Encourage policies that aim to broaden the number of companies that invest in an integrated way, certainly focusing on consultancy as well as on the culture of innovation".

The legacy of our recent history "However, we must dispel a false myth ", Added Antonietti:" it is not true that in Italy we do not invest, because numbers in hand in Europe we are second only to France. The theme is that investment is polarized and not sufficiently integrated, but it is not a problem of absolute figures. "Today's data, in fact, are the mirror of what has happened to our country in the last 15 years, in the wake of trends market and global economics that have posed epochal challenges in front of our manufacturing sector, which has always been the backbone of the economy. "The crisis of 2008 and 2009 forced manufacturing to change significantly", he explained. "Those who managed to staying on the market has brought to completion an important and successful transformation process. Now, however, there is room to invest in new directions of innovation such as digital transformation and to make manufacturing make a further leap, repositioning ourselves as a country system on segments with high added value ".

In this sense, the economic crisis that has hit us in the last two years with the arrival of the pandemic is only the most recent in a series of the obstacles, to which Italy has reacted well and has effectively recovered its gap with the European average in terms of innovation. For example, the report shows that the digitization gap between large companies has been substantially bridged. "Our Achilles heel is linked to the average size of companies, lower than France and Germany. And beyond the internal differences from a geographical point of view, we also pay for our lower capacity in long-term planning and in creating a system, that is, in positioning ourselves in strategic sectors and in marketing and communication effectively ", underlined Antonietti.

Going down to specific cases, he told, our pharmaceutical sector has grown a lot in recent years, while the automotive sector - with the exception of supercars and our great excellences - is still behind compared to Germany in terms of innovation. France can act as a point of reference in terms of the ability to create a system and make itself recognizable in terms of wines, and even in luxury we have excellences that "continue to enjoy the absolute ability of Italian workers, but are owned by French groups that have become leaders by leverage on marketing and financial strategies, what is needed today to make businesses great. In Italy we are still tied to the idea of ​​the small and beautiful ", he commented.

Ideas and hints to innovate better In addition to photographing the state of the art in terms of Italian companies and innovation, the goal is not too much implicit of the report is to identify the lines of action that can help improve the Italian approach to innovation. “First of all it would be necessary to return to having a more active industrial policy than it is now, to concentrate on the strategic sectors in which we want to continue to have a role”, Antonietti said. On the other hand, even in the NRP there are indications related to the need to create a system to safeguard the excellence we have and to better manage the necessary transformations. “We are thinking of sectors such as mechatronics, automotive and agrifood, where creating a system is essential to become great and compete at best internationally. But there are also supply chains less known to the general public in which we have absolute excellence to protect, cultivate and develop, such as aerospace in which we are among the few countries to have an end-to-end supply chain. Or the much talked about tourism, which can make an incredible contribution to our economy but on which there has never been a single industrial policy at national level - just think that the delegation to tourism is still centered on individual regions ".

graph: Assoconsult

Among the other intervention possibilities there is certainly support for small and medium-sized enterprises also thanks to the intervention of financial operators, also at national level with Cassa Depositi e Prestiti. “We need an enhancement of SMEs with short and narrow logistic chains, which in times of crisis are an element of advantage”, he pointed out. Furthermore, focus on large companies that can stimulate and drive innovation to the benefit of the smallest ones, facilitate the mechanisms that strengthen supply chains, work on consortia of companies and on basic research to join forces, "ceasing to be individualists" . Other? “The important parterre we have of startups, fintechs and innovative companies, which we find it hard to put into a system, needs to be contaminated between large structured companies”, added Antonietti. "And the last theme is the overall upskilling of the human component, because rapid technological changes make skills obsolete, therefore investments in training and digital projects of widespread schools are essential, to fill the deficits we have".

Digital transition and sustainable transition, who comes first? The issue of whether it is the digital transition that acts as an engine for sustainability, or vice versa, is a question that seems almost similar to the birth of the chicken and the egg. “My point of view is that the evolution of our economic model towards sustainability is an incredible driver of creating innovation that applies to all sectors”, explained Antonietti. "The transformation that derives from the need to have a green transition stimulates innovation in terms of alternative sources, energy production and applies to sectors ranging from consumer goods to construction, from fashion to the world of recycling".

And if the trend of sustainability is driven by regulations that set new standards on which new business models and innovation plans are developed, “whoever has the DNA of innovation and transforms quickly will emerge on the market of the future. Sustainability is an opportunity that creates benefits in all senses, not only for the planet Earth and the environment but also because it stimulates new levels of competition enabled by innovation ", concluded Antonietti. In short, if you aim for sustainability, you need to innovate , but it must be carried out in the right way, managing it - ça va sans dire - efficiently and effectively.

Powered by Blogger.