Working with Italian excellence means re-appropriating the value of time: distancing it from the prevailing logic of time to market and returning to it creating quality.

 

The research conducted by the CfGC regarding excellence (ranging from artisanal production to small- and medium-sized businesses to large corporations) is rooted in the experience of the CRAIAT (1992-1999), in the numerous projects carried forward in subsequent years, and in projects relative to the Communication Strategies Lab (2006-2016). These projects were characterized from the beginning by marked transversality, different areas of application, and a strong demand for technology transfer: from communication for territorial marketing to agriculture, from healthcare to cooperative culture, from manufacturing to education.

Current challenges: the national Industry 4.0 program

The challenge facing the CfGC falls under the term “automation of processes” which in Italy is under the umbrella of the national Industry 4.0 program. This program aims to facilitate and stimulate hybridization between human work and machine work to modernize productive processes, rendering them both more efficient and sustainable for workers. Our consultation and research in this area moves on two fronts: 1) analysis of media strategies adopted by institutions and various agencies to communicate to the stakeholders regarding opportunities to promote the Industry 4.0 culture; 2) analysis of the social impact of Industry 4.0 in its various forms, from technological transfer to changing the entrepreneurial paradigm, from new organizational communication to new forms of leadership.

Enterprise as a response to the needs of a territory

In this scenario of continuous flux, it’s important, first of all, for enterprise to be a concrete response to the emerging needs of the territory. In addition, it’s important that the relations between excellence and innovation are not driven only by urgency on the short term, but also by a mid- to long-term strategy that tends toward transformation of the entire socio-economic system of which it is part.

From this point of view, it is particularly important to:

  • understand the new role of artisanal production and small- and medium-sized businesses oriented toward quality, where tradition and innovation, research and culture, awareness of globalization processes and strong ties with the territory interact unendingly;
  • give added value to human capital, respect for the environment, productivity, and social cohesion. These are the points which today must characterize the excellence of our productions;
  • recognize value—a strength in terms of marketing—as represented by a product being designed and made in Italy. This value is still waiting to be fully understood and interpreted in terms of production and sales, especially when projected, as it should be, toward local and worldwide markets;
  • redefine the meaning of strong social and family traditions in an enterprise, beyond overused trivial and ready-made slogans.

The CfGC approach to “Designed and realized in Italy”

What sort of communication for Industry 4.0?

The initial success in terms of enrollment in the Industry 4.0 project was quickly marred by a deep division between enterprises able to undertake a path toward modernization and proposed development, and those who immediately faced great hardships. Difficulty understanding the reasons behind this innovation based on the most advanced technological solutions combined with problems related to the way the reasons were communicated, and not only on the part of the government’s attention to fiscal benefits as the major advantage. More than 50% of the participating enterprises came up against considerable obstacles.

Communication that truly generates innovation, with an aim toward community building, fosters:

  • dialogue between institutions and enterprises;
  • an exchange of knowledge and experiences within companies;
  • interception and planning of synergies between the companies themselves, and between companies and the territory, the numerous stakeholders (whether they’re aware or unaware), and various associations.

This is different from the current communication model that tends to divide rather than to encourage collaborations and convergences of interests. However, as government has underlined for all areas of excellence of the ‘Made in Italy’ brand, the open innovation approach offers necessary support to define an Italian strategy for Industry 4.0.

The time element in Italian creativity can be identified as a delicate balancing point between intervening in the here and now and a spirit of the past, not as a nostalgic base from which to resist innovation but rather continuous inspiration to build a future based on a solid foundation. It’s a question of investing in clear, unmistakable values, and a rejection of a hurried, disposable approach to production. Working in excellence means reappropriating the value of time, moving away from the global time-to-market vision, and bringing attention back to time as a mark of recognized Italian quality.

Analysis of the social impact and potential of Industry 4.0

There’s no doubt that a set of problems have appeared in society from automation and the growing coexistence between Man and machine which modify not only how things are produced but also our entire reality, including our most personal and intimate matters.

The risk is that while attempts are made to modernize, so that people may be freed from the most unrewarding jobs to the advantage of their creativity, a system ends up being reinforced that renders people increasingly passive with regard to automation, whether it’s organizational processes or machines and robots. Thus, the instrument becomes the end.

On the contrary, new technologies offer an opportunity to reinforce our most human values. They allow the time and space where we live to be rewritten, as well as our relationship with the materials that surround us (whether they’re living or nonliving) and with our environment. They give us the chance to rethink personal relationships and make available resources that have rarely been recognized as such.

The imaginary becomes reality–we just have to avoid dreams turning into nightmares. But that’s up to us. It’s a question of caring about preserving the history of our creativity, our ability to embrace challenges, our freedom rooted in our past and present that encompasses numerous Italian social and economic realities of quality at territorial level and within sectors.

Tradition and innovation

History and technological innovation can work together to create networks of connections for excellence in greatly diverse sectors that are distinct and yet closely linked–excellence that has always been a distinguishing element of “designed and made” in Italy.

The CfGC continually examines the impact of automated systems and develops projects that aim to enable automation, in its many forms, to reinforce the vital scope of organizations: machines at the service of social, entrepreneurial, and cultural life, not the other way around.

This means viewing new technologies, first of all, as tools that can reinforce the connections between historic creativity and the potential of an international market that appears increasingly globalized. A market, made up of mechanically mass-produced products that are all the same and of poor quality, that penalizes our business culture that is based, on the other hand, on the value of diversity. Digital technology to link the highest creative Italian tradition–attentive of personal values, both of the producer and the user–to a world that is by now, monotonously always more the same and to protect it through a personalized vision of products.

2017 trend of conversion of craftsmanship to digital.
Source: Confartigianato

Excellence and systems

The CfGC identifies excellence as a complex system made up of many micro, small, and also medium and large enterprises that together express themselves through a reciprocal interaction which may be direct or indirect), thus creating added value that is much greater than the sum of values expressed by each one alone.

True excellence is always generated by a system, even if it is expressed in details. The excellence of single elements is, in fact, truly such only when it contributes to the generation of new systems able to, in turn, produce excellence.

For this reason, the CfGC does not only work starting from the small and moving toward the large, endeavoring to identify diverse experiences and bringing them together to build entrepreneurial, social and cultural communities. Indeed, efficient communication must at the same time proceed from the large to the small, identifying the system’s characteristics of excellence so that they become structurally shared identifying elements. Planning and implementation of communication that enriches the singular realities to optimize the excellence of the system of which they are a part is at the base of the CfGC’s research and consultation.