At this year’s Digital Connect Week organized by Agoria, the keynote speech will be delivered by associate Professor of Innovation at ESADE Business School and Director of the Institute for Innovation and Knowledge Management (Spain), Prof. Dr. Ivanka Visnjic. As an expert in business model innovation for manufacturing companies, Ivanka Visnjic will focus on the key success factors of digital innovation: “True technological innovation is impossible without transforming the business model.”

Digital Connect Week 2020

Where is your company on the technological innovation journey? In her keynote speech at Agoria's Digital Connect Week on 1 October 2020, Prof. Dr. Ivanka Visnjic will elaborate on this model, identify the biggest challenges in each stage and offer solutions on how to overcome them

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“Although digitalization has been generating a lot of interest in European companies in the past years, there is still quite a lot of potential for innovation,” says Ivanka Visnjic, “especially compared to their American and Asian counterparts. The key success factors for technological innovation in the manufacturing industry apply to the business model.” Ivanka Visnjic identifies three stages of innovation maturity. In her keynote speech, she will elaborate on the challenges and opportunities of each of these stages. 

Stage 1: efficiency in the value chain

“Technological innovation doesn’t happen overnight: it takes a step-by-step approach and requires investments,” says Ivanka Visnjic. “The first stage aims for efficiency in the value chain, as companies use digital tools to improve their products and the way they are developed. By digitalizing processes like internal communication or product management, manufacturers increase in-house efficiency. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this process for many companies, stepping up their vision on technology from ‘nice to have’ to ‘top priority’. At this stage, companies are still relying on the old models of product manufacturing, where the value chain is market-focused and led by the manufacturer. It’s a one-way street from supplier to manufacturer to end client.” 

Stage 2: digital transformation within the supply chain

“Most manufacturing companies in Europe are currently in stage 2: the transformation from a product-focused to a solution-based approach,” adds Ivanka Visnjic. “In other words: a shift from a linear supply chain to an agile customer-centric model. Standardized production methods don’t allow customized solutions for specific customer needs. Whereas the first stage increases efficiency within the company, this stage is marked by increased efficiency and flexibility in the entire supply chain. Digital technologies like RIFD (smart labels) are implemented to support the increased complexity of the supply chain. This model allows for accountability on the suppliers’ part, as visibility of their quality and efficiency increases.” 

Stage 3: a generative ecosystem

“The biggest challenge for manufacturers in stage 2 is the step to a completely collaborative model,” Ivanka Visnjic continues. “Industry 4.0 requires a complex set of smart technologies and solutions, and manufacturing practices are not equipped to develop these methods themselves. The ultimate business model for technological innovation is an ecosystem in which manufacturers allow digital native companies to codevelop smart solutions.” 

“This is a trust-based model, in which the manufacturer serves as a platform for innovation: they need to share their data and digital infrastructure, open up their R&D and allow specialized providers to codevelop digital solutions instead of subcontracting partners. Building an ecosystem requires a leap of faith. And that is perhaps the most radical change and the biggest challenge on the journey to technological innovation. True digital transformation is not possible without widely transforming the business model. The good news is that this approach offers returns at every step of the process,” Ivanka Visnjic concludes.