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Start arrow Agenda arrow 22@Breakfast arrow Past Events arrow 22@Update Breakfast March 2009
22@Update Breakfast March 2009
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Innovation in business strategy as a response to new market challenges

The March 22@Update Breakfast discussed business strategies to be used with a changing business model.

The March 22@Update Breakfast was held in the auditorium of the Agbar Tower and focused on the need to innovate in the way companies approach the market. Hewlett Packard’s Barcelona headquarters, located in Sant Cugat del Vallès, served as an example in the first part of the session. HP global marketing director for large-format printers, Guayente Sanmartín, explained the process her company uses to generate new innovative ideas.

Getting to know HP
Hewlett Packard (HP) is a multinational company with three main outsourcing areas: image, printing and personal solutions. At their Sant Cugat center they develop the multi-business side, with multiple businesses that generate value from Barcelona. With over 2,000 workers, this space has become the European Center of Graphic Arts, managing sales for part of the continent. HP Global Marketing Director for large-format printers pointed out that 30% of the workers in the center are foreigners, giving HP Barcelona one of the highest percentages of foreign workers in a Spanish company.

HP generates new ideas through change
One of the most important ideas Guayente Sanmartín discussed was the need to apply innovative proposals that come up during the creative process.

“Simply generating ideas isn’t enough, we have to put them into action, make it happen”

New business models, new types of clients and new distribution channels make it necessary for companies to change the way they relate to the market. Guayente Sanmartín explained that one way to innovate is by focusing on the product. She shared an example developed at HP involving self-service kiosks that give customers access to different photographic services all in one place. The idea of having everything in one place is a product-based innovation.

According to Sanmartín, however, product-based innovation is important, but not enough. In fact, this was one of the points she stressed most during her talk. Sanmartín made it clear that beyond the product there are many other aspects where innovation needs to be applied:

-    Innovate in communication
-    Innovate in distribution channels
-    Innovate in business models
-    Innovate in relationships with the competition and joint projects

Changes in the creative process
HP global marketing director for large-format printers, Guayente Sanmartín, added that it is necessary to change the way ideas are generated so that we don’t repeat them.

“If you organize the information the same way you did last year, you’ll keep generating the same ideas.”

In her talk, Guayente Sanmartín explained that in any innovation the most important thing to take into account is the client and, as explained in the IDEO METHOD CARDS—which are cards with advice from the company Ideo to help businesses innovate and stimulate creativity, applying strategies to design products, spaces, services or experiences—, observing the client is the most important; not the group the client belongs to, but the people themselves. “Innovation must always focus on the client; not using quantitative surveys that give global results about the clients in general, but observing people,” explained Sanmartín. In her point of view, clients have a name, life, personality and these things must be taken into account.

The HP executive explained that Ideo helped bring a new type of professional to HP in order to develop this task: anthropologists.

After collecting this information, knowing the clients’ needs and surroundings, the next step is to turn these ideas into something tangible that can be sold. Now we have a product, an idea and a group of people that will follow a three-step process: define the product, carry out the development or industrialization, and put it on the market. Sanmartín specified that client observation must continue throughout the process, serving as a guide.

In a recession, we must innovate in a new way
With the current economic situation, HP has changed their innovation process slightly. The new circumstances also change the space available for innovation. In order to adapt to their new context, HP has taken the following steps:

-    Paying for only what is consumed
-    Thinking about how to influence purchases (clients change psychologically when faced with a “purchase” and not just a product) and reinforcing point-of-sale communication
-    Becoming their clients’ co-producers, financing part of what they purchase
-    Focusing on less ambitious innovations and renewing already existing products

General director of Barcelona Digital Technology Centre, Carles Fradera: 22@ innovator of the month for March
Carles Fradera, general director of Barcelona Digital Technology Centre, was this month’s guest speaker. His company is a technology center that works for ICT companies in Catalonia, applying shared innovation as a competitiveness strategy. It is one of 12 technology centers in Catalonia (three of which are located in the 22@ district) and aims to help grow turnover in the ICT sector.

During his talk, Carles Fradera explained that the Barcelona Digital Technology Centre aims to encourage growth in all businesses through not only increased market share but also higher productivity and value-adding services. According to Fradera, the role of technology centers and clusters is vital to reaching a distribution of power.

“Innovation is based on specialization; each company must find a market niche where they can be efficient and become the best in the world in this area.” 

In order to explain the global concept of his technology centre, Fradera said that when a company approaches Barcelona Digital they are approaching all the companies Barcelona Digital collaborates with. “We’re a concentrator, like a router to use an ICT term”, explained Fradera.

Moreover, the General Director of the Barcelona-based technology centre pointed out that the services offered by Barcelona Digital ensure confidentiality, adapt to clients’ needs, and provide quick market access and specialization.

Fradera mentioned some projects the center is currently working on, including joint initiatives involving ICT and physical therapy that allow patients to recover more quickly from their injuries, and technologies they apply with the disabled to provide specific mobility solutions for different groups.

Carles Fradera wrapped up his talk by reminding participants that the Barcelona Digital Technology Centre is always looking for both new clients and new researchers.  He also made it very clear that Technology Centers are a “very valuable” resource for all business people. To reinforce this idea, he used T of technology to emphasize that these centers offer Trust and Talent.

Over 1,400 companies in 22@Barcelona and 42,000 jobs

Managing director of 22@Barcelona, Josep Maria Piqué, brought the Breakfast to a close by explaining that innovation must be constant and, despite the recession, innovation, internationalization and investment are necessary (both with the company’s own funds and with external aid).

Josep Miquel Piqué expressed his satisfaction with the numbers related to 22@ that were presented a few days earlier.  In total, 1,441 companies are located in 22@ and, since the last census, 10,000 more people work in these companies. The majority of these companies are clearly involved in business related to the clusters and 50% of their workers are university graduates.


•    Innovative proposals that come up during the creative process must be applied. Simply generating ideas isn’t enough, we have to put them into action, make it happen.
•    Product-based innovation is important, but not the only way to innovate. Other aspects that must be taken into account when innovating are: communication, distribution channels, business models, relationships with the competition, and joint projects.
•    In the creative process, the way ideas are generated must be changed in order to come up with new ones.
•    Observing the client is the most important; not the group the client belongs to, but the people themselves.
•    Innovation is based on specialization; each company must find a market niche where they can be efficient and become the best in the world in this area.
•    Technology centers apply shared innovation as a competitiveness strategy, encouraging productivity and value-adding services.


“I enjoyed hearing about HP. In fact, I would like to know more about that case. It’s interesting to see how such a large project with world-wide repercussions was developed right here in Sant Cugat.”

“I’ve attended other 22@Update Breakfasts and the truth is that today’s wasn’t the best I remember, because of the content. I think I would have liked to hear about the Barcelona Digital project in more detail.”
“It was very interesting to hear about the model HP uses. It isn’t 100% applicable to all companies, but I did get a lot of useful advice regarding new work methods.”

“In my company we’ve been thinking about working with Barcelona Digital Technology Centre for a while. This meeting definitely convinced me more.”

“I think the HP case is a good example because it was developed here; an American company that established a center with excellent facilities in our country. It’s a model we can use as an example. We need innovative examples like this.”

Additional information:

•    Presentation of Guayente Sanmartín here
•    Presentation of Carles Fradera here

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