Keywords: technological advance, innovation, corporate group, common strategies and planning rules, competition benchmarking, corporate technology planning, technology matrix, elementary technology, business area, planning procedures, relationality conditions
Innovation management in Finmeccanica: experiencing a technology matrix
In analysing technology trends, economic theory highlighted the existence of a third factor, besides labour and capital, generally known as technological advance. Advantages in technology and innovation are provided by groups of firms mutually bound by equity alliances and operating under a common strategy and unique planning rules. Finmeccanica is an Italian Corporate Group operating in high technology manufacturing defence (16%), energy (26%), aerospace (25%), automation (25%), transport equipment (8%). Different companies, globally oriented, are in charge of each sector reciprocal coordination to exploit technology opportunities and to benchmark competition is fundamental. A corporate technology planning was conceived to focus relevant technologies for proper development strategies and to promote technology transfer among different businesses. The main element of this process is a technology matrix, identifying 560 elementary technologies through group-wide sources of over 140 business areas. A yearly technology planning procedure allows for an accurate evaluation of R&D projects and expenditure, considering different factors, such as technology and market trends, customer expectations, profitability, and internal synergies. Learning by a five years' implementation of this process showed that, for it to be effective, some conditions related to "relationality" and networking should be fulfilled. In particular: full involvement of top and middle management must be ensured at any step of the process; the process is more important than its formal output, i.e., the plan; the value added of the corporate role must be recognised by the operative management; the process procedure is not a good per se but should be critically performed to be creative and innovative.