Sep 13, 2016 Corporate blog

Success factors for innovation

Jari Riihilahti
Jari Riihilahti
VP, Technology, Research & Development
Innovations are imperatives for every company to prosper. Needs, desires and appetites evolve constantly, and there are always new ways to anticipate and satisfy customers. More often than not, innovations are created in customer-related processes, in technology, in the supply chain or services, but there really are no organizational limits for creativity – new ideas can and should be generated everywhere.
Innovation is boosted with internal competitions in Metso.
One of our tools to excite brainstorming is the annual competition in which the participating teams from around the world share their innovations.

Basic building blocks and renewal

Customer centricity and business focus form the backbone of any company's success. Current and future needs show us the way to go, and this applies to innovations and business renewal alike. However, in order to be at the head of the spear, we need a constant dialogue with our customers, third parties and within the company.

New IT platforms provide us tools for more profound understanding of customers; digital software enables more efficient installed base management with quick access to the right and meaningful information that can be used as the basis for new solutions. Digitalization, as well, supports the development of performance-based services for customers.

Building the future piece by piece

We at Metso already offer industry-leading condition monitoring and services solutions for mining, aggregate and flow control applications. Nonetheless, we must continue looking ahead, since we'll have to keep on moving and mapping the future.

Building solutions for the future requires good planning and exploitation of innovations as comprehensively as possible. Firstly, a common vision helps everyone to work in the same direction. When the goal is set and the short-term plans are clear, the results are easier to reach. Secondly, the progression needs to be monitored and measured so that the train stays on track. A practical example of this approach is Metso's sustainability metrics for all R&D projects where the target has been set and the development is overseen with measurable data.

It goes without saying that common processes, tools, management practices and communication are basic requirements for efficient and transparent innovation development. On top of that, once an innovation has been created, we need to protect the resulting intellectual property to make full use of it.

Innovations thrive where people thrive

Creativity, new ideas and knowledge sharing prosper in the right environment. Innovations are cultivated and multiply on fertile breeding ground where the atmosphere is frank and supportive. However, the right conditions do not come out of thin air – inspiring ambience needs to be created and nurtured all the time.

State-of-the-art solutions become easier to generate when you collaborate with the best partners. A good recent example at Metso is our cooperation with Freeport McMoRan as illustrated by the coauthored technical papers presented at the latest SAG conference in Vancouver (e.g. "Building the World's Largest HPGR – The HRC 3000 at the Morenci Metcalf Concentrator"; Herman, Harbold, Mular, Biggs, 2015). In this case, different hopes and wishes were brought to the same table and considered together, leading to the development of the next generation Metso HRC® high-pressure grinding roll for the mining industry.

Metso Award program provokes creative buzz

In a global company operating in dozens of countries like Metso, the unlimited sharing of ideas and practices is crucial. We want to encourage inventors to speak out loud about their discoveries while taking care that they receive the remunerations they deserve.

One of our tools to excite brainstorming is the annual Metso Award program, in which the participating teams from around the world share their success stories and innovations. The program focuses on selected themes based on our strategic focus areas.

The finalist teams present their achievements to the jury of top management members, who then select the winners. Before and after the annual Award Day, the innovations and success stories enrolled in the program are actively shared through various channels and means. This way, the best practices develop further and are quickly taken into use for the benefit of our customers around the world.

Participating in the award program is a unique experience, but reading great stories of the participating teams' innovations make the whole global Metso team feel like a winner – exactly how it should be in an inspiring and enriching environment.