Tuesday, January 19th from 7PM to 7:45PM the Webinar “How to grasp innovative strategies from the outside: open innovation and open source” was held, with the innovation manager Laura Aglio as a guest to interview Gianluca Orazio, CEO of Ecosistem. The meeting is part of the new training project “Skills in pills – 13 pills of 30 minutes to Know, Innovate, Perform”, aimed at entrepreneurs and their collaborators, promoted by Confapi Venezia and Confapi Treviso, in partnership with the XForma studio in Treviso. The project embraces the four areas that form the common structure of a company:
- sales and communication
- digital innovation
- human resources management
- administration, finance and control
The speech in question is logically part of the second area, but in reality we will see how open innovation by its very nature also touches and affects the other three.
The Webinar was introduced by Selena Toso, representative of the relations office of Confapi Venice, and then left the floor to the host of the meeting, Laura Aglio, who brought Forme d’Acqua as a successful case history. The conversation between Laura and Gianluca began by specifying the meaning of the term Open Innovation in relation to the other two open, source and data, to better convey the key concept relating to the need for companies to transfer tools and techniques, obtained from external sources, to know , innovate and enhance corporate performance, especially in innovation and digitization processes. Universities, research institutions, consultants, startups (innovative and otherwise) and suppliers: all these figures contribute to the growth of business knowledge and skills, to broaden the horizons necessary for knowledge and the creation of new opportunities.
The questions addressed to Gianluca during the meeting were:
- Who is he, what is he and what does Forme d’Acqua do? Where did the need to innovate arise?
- How did the need turn into a new business model for an SME? What are the prospects for flexibility?
- What have you learned from the path of opening to the outside?
One of the positive aspects that emerge from your path is that you have improved the company’s assessment capacity, what does it mean and what do you recommend to other SMEs that have yet to start this path?
Open innovation is a long path made up of numerous small steps that lead to as many objectives. For Gianluca, the first step towards the beginning of this process was a self-analysis aimed at evaluating one’s limits and identifying the most effective way to overcome them. Ecosistem began this path about 15 years ago, when we began to open ourselves to new “contaminations” and to do research on more areas to progress. In the last five years, we have participated in at least eight important projects and the result has been the consolidation of our brand reputation and our business, but above all the open up to new markets and carry out important projects in them.
In Forme d’Acqua, the first link in the chain of implementation of open innovation is given by the closest collaborators. Having proactive collaborators open to new contaminations is fundamental and essential, it is like throwing a stone into a pond: the hole that creates the impact of the stone with the surface of the water is the proactivity of the collaborators and the waves that radiate from it they are the transfer of new tools and knowledge to the entire team. They are the intangible asset of every company, although they are often not aware of it, and for this very reason many of Gianluca’s efforts are aimed at relationships with and between collaborators, to transmit the right incentives and increase the “intangible company capital”, which can be:
- relational, to establish new relationships and cultivate existing ones with customers, suppliers, research centers and universities;
- human, aimed at expanding knowledge, as well as at consolidating interpersonal relationships to identify merits and abilities of employees;
- organizational, to identify ever faster and more intuitive ways to reorganize work and make it agile.
All these pros and the related investment they involve in strength and time are not economically quantifiable, but they decide the fate of the company for better or for worse. Knowing how to bring out the intangible is in itself doing open innovation, because without the involvement and input of employees, taking actions such as APP, CRM and management becomes bankruptcy. To make the most of intangible capital, the opportunities must be extended to the whole team, as done with the “Enterprise 4.0 and Digital Transformation – Training, accompaniment and mentoring” project held by the PID that led Paola (our administrative manager) on a mission to Berlin to visit large, highly digitized companies, such as Bosch. The administrative staff tend to be linked to the company headquarters and carry out their duties on site, but here there was a countertrend, and participation in this trip proved to be a source of enormous stimuli and satisfaction, making Paola even more proactive in the innovative process.
The second step was the delineation of the brand identity: it proved as difficult as it was necessary to characterize and differentiate the three brands (Forme d’Acqua, E-Gardening and E-Pestcontrol) present under a single company name called Ecosistem, which in their domains were different but at the same time interconnected. By participating in training sessions and making use of the advice of external professionals, we have finalized the corporate identity of Ecosistem and each brand, and consequently the need for a differentiated communication plan dedicated to each of them has arisen.
The need to communicate what and how we do it has led to the third step: thanks to the POR FESR call by the Veneto Region “Labox: tools for corporate welfare and agile work” held by Dr. Francesca Anzalone, expert in communication strategies and digital culture, we have seen how indispensable the presence of a press office and digital PR officer was to make our company competitive and well-structured, so we also moved in this direction. We participated in other courses, we tried various solutions, we made mistakes and in the end we arrived at the current structure, with an employee dedicated to communication and an external collaborator who manages and monitors the adv and the positioning in search engines.
As already mentioned, the steps that brought Ecosistem to the current situation have been many and not all positive, like what happened at the beginning, when we relied on a consultant to help us build the business model and plan for the next five years. For a reason still unknown to us, he abandoned us in the course of work, without leaving us a report, let alone an explanation. Luckily the solution was already in our hands: we rolled up our sleeves and pooled our resources, highlighting the skills of individuals, so in a short time we designed and planned five years of business, conceived the image of new brands, revised communication and we opened up to foreign markets.
Companies must demonstrate that they are ADAPTIVE, they must know how to find their stability while maintaining flexibility: in 1965 the average life of a company with the same business model was 33 years, but this longevity has shortened over time, bringing the forecast for 2026 with an average duration of 14 years! So you have to look around, compare and think to create new organizational paradigms, new approaches with customers through new forms of communication and new business models. Obviously they are not actions that are done in five minutes, but they require training and time.
In the year that we left behind the strong increase in the use of the internet and sites dedicated to training, they saw the realization of a real cultural revolution, with the advent of digital in our lives and businesses. 2020 has made us understand with bad manners that if you have good digital literacy and consolidated digital business processes you can ride the wave of the lockdown and close the financial year with good numbers, therefore the advice we give you is: be curious!