What is innovation? Strategy, not (only) technology

In recent years, the unceasing topical themes are Industry 4.0, enabling technologies, centrality of computer science and digitalization processes. However, this utmost attention paid to technologies can be puzzling; in particular, we run the risk of thinking technology is the solution to the problems that companies face daily. it is worth always remembering that, for the achievement or the recovery of a sustainable competitive edge, we must identify and implement the correct strategic approach.

The attention to innovation aspects is fundamental. Likewise, the efficiency recovery or increment, or the redesign of one’s own organizational model and processes, are crucial steps.

If the decision is not coherent with the corporate strategy, the increment of the technological equipment might – unlike what we might think of – lead to such a complexity rise as to exert a multiplier effect on problems.

ICT: useful if well integrated

ICT (Information and Communication Technology) alone cannot represent the entire strategy and cannot solve eventual problems or inefficiencies completely. The role of technology, referring in particular to ICT, is undoubtedly primary and central in the innovation process and plays the dual role of “object” and of “subject” in the innovative process; they intrinsically own the highest potential of impact on organizations, as they induce deep changes in space and time barriers, around which organizations have always been designed. ICT makes inter-organizational relationships more efficient, promoting and favouring possible alliances and partnership relationships among organizations.
However, the fundamental item is aligning the ICT strategy to the business strategy.

Technology, as strategic support to enterprise and innovation process, must be interpreted as instrumental to the organizational redesign and to the improvement of the working conditions of human resources, opportunely trained to carry out new tasks or roles. ICT instruments, widely diffused and available, represent a very important time of critical revision and, sometimes, of redesign of processes and value flows in companies. The choice that is often made is instead digitalizing processes precisely as they happen, so running the very concrete risk of “industrializing wastes”.

Referring to the single enterprise, the main impacts ICT exerts on the organization are the following:
– Effects on the vertical control: ICT allows a levelling of hierarchies because part of the human based control will be replaced by a technology based control;
– Effects on the horizontal coordination: the need of grouping strictly related activities in the same physical space decreases, for instance co-makership or concurrent engineering initiatives are enabled by technologies of information transmission in real time;
– Effects on the organization’s sizes: the decrease of organizations’ sizes is facilitated, not only by a reduction of the intermediate line but also by a horizontal de-specialization of tasks.

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Source: Stampi
What is innovation? Strategy, not (only) technology