“The company that has most successfully ridden the tides of disruption.” This was the motivation behind Enel’s nomination for the Real Innovation Awards People’s Choice 2018, a competition organised by the London Business School. The awards were established in 2016 by the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the prestigious British business school in order to recognise “true innovation,” which the organisers define as “chaotic, uncertain and serendipitous.”
The award ceremony was held in London on 1 November. Enel won the Masters of Reinvention category, for organisations or individuals that have most successfully reinvented their business. By turning outwards in recent years, to industrial partners, universities, research centres and startups, and by developing an international network of Enel Innovation Hubs – the Group’s ideas incubators, Enel has been able to intercept innovation in the places and communities where it takes shape. The organisers’ motivation for the award noted that Enel produces almost half its energy from renewable sources and was the first company in the world to replace traditional meters with smart meters, an innovation critical to the development of smart grids, smart cities and e-mobility.
Enel’s Chief Innovability Officer Ernesto Ciorra, who was at the ceremony to receive the award, commented that, “companies need to rethink their business models continuously in order to stay competitive. One function alone, however, could not sustain a transformation of this sort that necessarily involves all the business areas of the company. At Enel, this transformation is guided by our CEO and by all the first line managers directed towards change and it is only thanks to a collective effort and an openness to working together with our internal and external (startups, industrial partners, universities, etc.) ecosystems, that we have been able to create challenging innovations like the development of the V2G model or the construction of the first plant to combine solar and geothermal energy production, in Fallon (Nevada) in the United States, despite having been told by the most prestigious American technology university that it was impossible to do so, or completing the first energy trading project using blockchain … Nonetheless, we have to keep our feet on the ground and remain open to what may lie ahead with the same enthusiasm as ever before. Only this way can we bring about change and contribute to improving the future of the next generations.”
Digital disruption: a big opportunity
Carlo Bozzoli, Head of Global Digital Solutions at Enel, commented on the award saying: “The key to being a leading part of this change is understanding that the digital disruption we are immersed in offers us a great opportunity to completely rethink our business model, using new technologies, new data and a more agile organisational model to guarantee an approach focused on continuous delivery and continuous improvement. This vision is the basis on which we launched, and are implementing, Enel’s new digital strategy. Digital transformation is not simply a technological issue, it is cultural. Today the real digital divide is not between those who possess a technology and those who don’t have access to it, but between those who decide to do nothing about it and those who know how to grasp its potential.”
The Director of the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship of the London Business School, Professor Julian Birkinshaw, has written many successful books including the recently published “Fast/Forward: Make Your Company Fit for the Future.” The organisers of the Real Innovation Awards believe that many innovation awards tend to describe a “simplified, sanitised and inaccurate view” of the process of innovation, a process that is actually the child of creativity and chaos. Disruption, in fact, is why the Real Innovation Awards were created.