Innovation is regarded as the key to growth and employment on all industrial and social levels. Therefore this formula comes as no surprise: “More R&D results in a higher output of innovative technology which gives companies competitive advantages”. Nevertheless innovation is not as one dimensional as this formula might seem.
In the 1990s new trends in management structures, quality procedures in development and production, and research in intelligent product-service combinations proved that companies that have adopted changes in these fields have often gained competitive advantages and superiority in market growth compared to their adversaries.
As such, innovative enterprises, which contribute toward market growth and employment, are not typically found in research-intensive industry segments and play an important role in the struggle for innovation. This effort to “be different” should therefore be strongly encouraged.
Growth with innovative product-service combinations
In the last 20 years the service industry has boomed. In Great Britain the financial services sector alone accounts for 78% of GDP. However, in industrial countries like the US and Germany, many manufacturing companies have been confronted with the problem that superior product technology alone is not enough to compete with expensive products in the global market place. The competition, for instance in Asia, is able to create innovative products within a very short timeframe. These Asian competitors have become a big problem to traditional industrial nations.
Due to this fast-growing competition many companies have started to broaden their concept of innovation. These firms have started working on their service portfolio, in turn offering their customers multiple services accompanying their range of products. These services can be broken down into 3 elements: pre-delivery, implementation, and aftersales. Typical pre-delivery services include demand analysis or engineering services, implementation services could be financial packages or commissioning solutions, and aftersales services may include remote services, modernization solutions, and operator models.
This has caused the term “innovation process” to be redefined – it’s not just about solving the technological needs of the customers, but the service issues surrounding the technology.
Growth by an innovative organization
There are different approaches to achieving an innovative organizational environment which gives customers flexible and high-performance services – and allows them to gain a competitive advantage and therefore market share.
This innovation strategy is founded upon methods and structures which are tailored to meet market demands. These processes are designed to achieve market leadership on the basis of organizational solutions.
Since recognizing the value of organizational concepts, especially relating to lean production, there has been a recent movement in certain industry segments to improve processes along the development and production lifecycle. These new concepts include: the creation of a project-management office, customer- or product-specific based subdivisions, decentralized planning, and a new controlling or management function. In parallel, the creation of process departments such as innovations management, product management, and quality management etc. have further pushed the innovation process. Greater focus has also been given to move the development from individual to group work, such as simultaneous engineering, agile development, and the realization of the zero-discharge principle.
It is this understanding of innovation which drives the partnerships between Fordings, its suppliers, and customers. We believe innovation will create jobs, optimize products, and even create new products which will positively affect consumer behavior and living standards.
By caring not only for our suppliers’ visions and actively working on new innovative methods with our customers to help them better forecast customer trends, improve purchasing processes, and actively integrate them in product-development issues, Fordings believes innovative processes can help influence end markets to become more diverse and competitive.