Farlei Kothe, CEO Stefanini EMEA gave us a very interesting talk about how innovation is approached in Stefanini. We enjoyed discussing to Mr. Kothe and we hope you will like the interview, as well!
How important is innovation for your company?
In brief, it’s our bread and butter. We work in an industry that not only generates and feeds on innovation, but also helps many other companies, from many other areas of business to implement and leverage innovation, in order to become faster, more efficient and more agile in this increasingly competitive world.
How does your company “encourage” innovation?
We have a variety of initiatives that encourage innovation, but let’s just mention one of the latest and the greatest – in 2017 we have formally established an Innovation Center here in Bucharest, for the entire EMEA region. Ever since then, we have developed our capabilities, we started working intensively with RPA, Artificial Intelligence, we started developing chat bots, we now even have a human looking robot called Sophie and we are designing new applications for her every day.
When it comes to innovation, our ambition is to generate projects or solutions that are easy to implement, cost effective and helpful. Therefore, in Europe, we are building a full digital ecosystem – with partners, customers and suppliers – we all work together to find the best ways to harness the power of the new technologies and shorten the time to market as much as possible.
What are the main areas of innovation?
I mentioned some of them already, such as RPA, AI, but we are also developing projects with the Blockchain technology or marketing solutions to monitor social media in a more rigorous and more meaningful way to companies. Moreover, we keep an eye on all emerging technologies and if we discover some that integrate well with our portfolio of solutions or are aligned with our objectives, we start looking into them.
Are these innovations designed in/for Romania or the global market?
The way we look at our Innovation Center in Bucharest is like a global unit. We are initiating a lot of new projects here, we test them here, we offer them to customers here and then we also provide the customers with a rollout option. We look very carefully at the scalability of our projects, as we do understand we are part of a global economy and any company that discovers a new way of becoming more effective, should be able to implement that new way anywhere, in any country it may operate.
Does your company allocate a certain percent of the budget to R&D / innovation programs?
Yes, we have quite comfortable budgets for R&D, but we do look at the proper return on investment. We do not just produce innovations for their own sake. We want our creative output to be relevant and useful for our clients.
Which are the out of the box/innovative global projects made for your customers?
Many of our projects are, quite understandably, confidential. However, our range of solutions and applications targets a variety of companies, from banking and insurance, to retail and logistics, to consumer goods or even media services. Many such solutions make it easy for people to start or even fully conduct a relationship with a company via a digital interface.
Do you have any innovative automation processes in your company? If so, which are those?
Yes. One of the first things we decided to do when we started the Innovation Center was to test everything we develop on us first. As it turns out, the shoemaker also needs shoes, so why not have the best possible ones? We are both creators and users of our solutions, and this gives us precious insights that are extremely useful for the subsequent commercial launch.
What are the major changes and challenges of our industry in terms of innovation?
Probably the most important challenge we are facing today, particularly in our industry, is the talent shortage. We would develop faster and on a larger scale if we had a bigger talent pool we could tap into.