Innovation is one of our Group’s five strategic cornerstones. The model we use is based on widespread innovation: each department is responsible for its own individual innovation initiatives, from the review of processes to the identification of new services, from instruments for improving efficiency to the launch of new operating models.
However, there are guidelines, factors and tools that enable the innovation process, such as information technology. This is why Hera has set up a specific Central Innovation Department, reporting to the Managing Director, with the goal of analysing the main market trends, identifying the areas of greatest interest, evaluating and proposing projects and solutions to individual departments, and supporting developments with Information and Communication Technology and tools.
The Central Innovation Department includes Information Systems, connectivity and telecommunications (through the subsidiary Acantho), and the Development Department, which identifies scenarios and possible action areas and proposes engineering and technology innovation projects.
The main areas of innovation in the Hera Group, also in line with the Business Plan, can be summarized as follows:
- circular economy aimed at environmental sustainability, the optimisation of materials and maximising the recovery of waste and scrap.
- customer experience aimed at understanding the needs and wishes, expressed and not, of consumers in order to shape actions to improve their satisfaction level;
- digitalization and data analytics (Utilities 4.0) with activities linked to implementing new technologies, particularly IT, for the digitalization, automation, and flexibility of processes, the enhancement and efficient use of data;
- smart city for the introduction of technologies to improve living conditions in cities and the services supplied to the general public.
To encourage and boost innovation in its businesses, the Group has also launched social innovation initiatives, involving both external stakeholders through HeraLAB (see section “Dialogue with our stakeholders”) and internal players, through Heureka (see section “Case studies” of this chapter).