“There no longer is a single person driving enterprise innovation processes by giving orders. Today, it’s more like a director coordinating the collective output produced by employees,” explains Linda Hill, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard University, at a conference on leadership and collective intelligence, held in Rome for multinational managers.

“In order to create organisations that are capable of continuous innovation,” Hill pointed out, “we have to abandon our preconceptions about leadership. Innovation does not mean creating a vision and inspiring others to implement it; rather, it concerns something new and useful to the enterprise – be it a product, a business model or a new method of cutting expenses.”

One thing is certain. These new dynamics are profoundly and irreversibly modifying the professional habits of individuals and enterprise processes. Experts forecast that we will soon see the disappearance of thousands of low-cognitive-content jobs, which will be carried out by artificial intelligence. A line of code will activate machines and computers to automatically complete repetitive and tiring tasks. However, the same experts also point out that employment will be compensated by the appearance of new, qualitatively superior jobs in which a far higher level of intellectual competence will be required.

Maire Tecnimont CEO Pierroberto Folgiero points out “in order not to get caught out, we have begun implementing a for a digitalization plan throughout the Group. We are well aware that artificial intelligence is the one technology that will deeply transform our world over the next ten years. The most disruptive aspect of this process is that innovation challenges our intelligence, both in terms of preparation and competences.”

The Maire Tecnimont Digital Plan

The project to digitalise Maire Tecnimont involves a bottom-up approach with concrete benefits for clients and employees and extends to work processes and individual behaviour. “We started with our core business,” explains Folgiero, “as it was more efficient to immediately import technology into what we do today. It has been – and indeed continues to be – a fundamental undertaking that has driven us to review all of our internal processes and redesign them in a digital key.”

The programme for digital transformation (with a vision launched in 2015 and the main bulk of the implementation completed in 2018) focused on the digitalisation of key processes including engineering, procurement and construction. Thanks to the use of 4D Modelling (BIM – Building Information Modelling) integrated with planning, we have been able to redefine our priorities and the management of typical project engineering sequences in a non-conventional manner.

“Digital innovation has a marked impact on the reduction of times and costs, which is a significant benefit for both Maire Tecnimont and its clients. And this approach is crucial to the entire supply system. Indeed, as EPC contractors, we act as integrators, applying the opportunities provided by innovation to each individual subject,” concludes Folgiero.

Impact on the Value Chain

With the advent of innovation and digital transformation, human resources and organisational managers will have to face a double challenge. As Franco Ghiringhelli, SVP Human Resources, Organisation and ICT, Maire Tecnimont Group reveals: “I often say that emerging digital technology brings new value both to us and our clients, thanks to potentially disruptive business models. However, without intelligent processes, technology may well be useless.”

If, on the one hand, it is necessary to support the organisation in the changes introduced by digital technology and fine-tune it to tomorrow’s work; on the other hand, it is also necessary to revise the processes governing the management and development of individuals and align them with the ongoing transformation. “In any case,” adds Ghiringhelli, “the key is to preserve our collaborative opportunities and spirit and promote growth as part of a team and a company.”

Thanks to the digitalisation of critical EPC process activities, the Group has achieved a high level of modelling system development. “Today, the full project cycle is carried out through BIM (Building Information Modelling). This is an approach to design and contracting activities that allows one to integrate the 4D models with planning. Implementing the Advanced Work Packaging System (AWP) has allowed us to redefine our priorities with a construction-phase-oriented approach from which we derive both the necessary procurement and engineering work.”

Choices for the Future

We are currently experimenting with a system that allows Maire Tecnimont clients to “preview” their plants thanks to Digital Twin, which reproduces the complete project timeline, highlighting the various process phases and anticipating the virtual take-over of the plant. “In the future,” Ghiringhelli concludes, “we will develop 3D-printed components. In fact, we already have a significant experience in the development of digitally-printable catalysers.”

The companies that accept these challenges will probably become the industry leaders over the course of the next 10-15 years. “Only, however,” specify analysts at Boston Consulting (Marco Tonegutti e Federico Colombara) in an article on the pages of the new issue of EVOLVE, “if they also associate investments with a profound will to change. Besides modifying the fundamental aspects of company culture, new digital tools and competences will have to be integrated into business. In this manner, digital technology will provide a competitive advantage that no human effort will ever match.”