It seems obvious that innovation is what will determine the future. The word innovate is supposed to be related to the new, the creative... But if the COVID-19 pandemic has made one thing clear, it is that one is never prepared for what may come, so being attentive to everything that may arise - as far as possible - will be vital for the survival and leadership of companies in the coming years.
In relation to this, CAF (Development Bank of Latin America) has organised a virtual meeting to address this issue under the name "Innovation Processes in SMEs: Successful Experiences". In this event, broadcast through its YouTube channel and moderated by Helen Casanova, executive in charge of SME development at CAF, the aim was to decipher some of the keys to innovation and how companies can adapt to the new times thanks to the tools analysed in this conference.
Trinidad Beuchat, director of management at Transforme (Chile), commented on the importance of innovation for larger companies, which, with larger infrastructures, need to coordinate their efforts in order to be able to innovate effectively. "When you have very large companies, innovation is a basic pillar," said Beuchat, adding that "what seems like a small innovation has a very big impact on the company's numbers". He also emphasised that, however much the concept may be, innovation is not only creativity, it must be applied from the discipline and with a vision that is not only focused on the product, but also on the communication channels or the sources of income.
Andrés Valero, sustainability and CSR leader of the Avinea Group (Argentina) analysed the importance of always being at the forefront, but at the same time taking care of the resources that already exist and knowing how to make the most of what we already have, without leaving everything behind in the search for something that, for the moment, is not a reality. Nowadays, innovation has evolved thanks to the entry of value propositions and how to understand the company. It has become more specific and more complex. These are the reasons why CAF is offering business innovation workshops and interventions at regional or national level to promote and strengthen innovation ecosystems.
However, innovation also presents many challenges. Sometimes what is thought to be good for the company's present turns out not to be so in the very near future. That is why, says Andrés Valero, one must have a dual perspective when looking for alternatives and innovative tools. Looking for what benefits a corporation today can become a barrier in future projects that may be held back by innovations applied without taking this factor into account. Focusing not so much on what is disruptive, which is important, but on what really makes the ecosystem surrounding a company work better.
But, as analysed during the event, it is difficult to know what a company may need in the somewhat more distant future due to situations such as the one we have been experiencing for more than a year and a half with the COVID-19 pandemic. Precisely for this reason, large companies are carrying out very important work on innovation, not only to improve their infrastructures, but also to protect themselves against setbacks that could hit world economies in the way that this pandemic has done.