In a world that each enterprise can compete in a global market, growth depends on the ability of businesses to innovate. In the Romanian technical culture, innovation is regarded mainly as the preserve of the research and development department, which technically improves a product. Nowadays, the global competing calls for the process innovation. I will discuss here the integrated information systems (my number one research field) as source of innovation, with comments related to my country situation.
The end of 20th century brought ERP – a new generation of innovation management software to support leaders, cultures, and processes in an organization. During the 1990s costly ERP software was adopted mostly to improve business processes. In the 2000s ERP systems extended and enhanced their role, becoming a source of innovation. The developed countries took the lead, transforming the functional footprint in the foundation for the next level of ERP development, replacing the operational excellence with competitive differentiation and market responsiveness.
In my opinion, the western nations will maintain their competitive advantage in technology, innovation, productivity and education for the foreseeable future. In the transition economies, like Romania's, most organizations are carrying on a struggle for survive. ERP had gained popularity among large organizations that seek to increase the efficiency and productivity as well as to streamline their operations. The immature economic environment, the weak state support and the low managerial culture have a critical impact on the state of affairs, especially in the small and medium firms. All the global studies pointed the small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) as the key player of the ERP market. In Romania, the SMBs play the Cinderella role in the economy – they don't get enough support and encouragement, but everyone expects them to develop and transform into the queen of the economy.
In most of the Romanian enterprises employees operate in a silo mentality and don't want to move beyond their boundaries. I believe that changing the state of mind is the most challenging duty in creating a collaborative environment, a cradle of innovation. It is true that many firms are confronting themselves with the "not enough money" problem when talking about IT investments, but this obstacle is often defeated. Indifference, hostility, and isolation are the obstacles that are inhibiting the growth in innovation.
I strongly believe that innovation begins and ends with people, individuals who have the courage to push the boundaries. However, spirited people are reduced to silence in mall-managed firms. Innovation is based on a culture that cultivates and rewards creative thinking, where people feel comfortable enough to voice new ideas, no matter how small. A strong leadership should stress the importance of human capital and human talent, teamwork and collaboration, openness and transparency. Leadership should innovate itself.
Facing the decline of value in the university education, the brain exodus to more competitive and appealing economies and the attenuation of research in the academia, Romania should regain its pride and revive the human capital, the main asset of any organization. Innovation will come after.