The managerial perspective
The managerial perspective deals with the theme of evolution in the relationship between man and machine, focusing on the following three themes:
Digital transformation of sectors, production chains, business models and workplace organization
This research topic arises at an aggregated level of analysis on firms’ competitive strategies and on the industrial changes triggered by the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and their central and pervasive role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. These technologies enable a radical change in the models of business, in the organization, specialization and localization of productive chains and business networks (including industrial districts), as well as in the way economic value is generated and appropriated by firms. These changes largely involve the traditional manufacturing sectors on which Italy and the Piedmont region have a strong specialization (e.g. automotive, aerospace, and textiles), leading manufacturing companies to develop service strategies and new management skills for operations and market relations.
These changes lead the research activity conducted by DIGEP in the management field to focus on two specific themes of digital transformation. In the first place, it is necessary to understand the evolution of competitive strategies on the transformations induced by Internet and by the other enabling technologies on the competitive structures of the industrial sectors, as well as on the way work is organized both at the micro level (within companies) and at the industrial level (as regards the organization of global supply chains and business networks) in a context in which ICT promotes coordination between workers and companies, contributing to standardize, codify and make organizational processes more modular.
Secondly, the application of IoT to products leads to a scenario in which products/services/SW can be integrated into a single entity, already developed in the preliminary phases of conceptualization, design and development. The process that accompanies this evolution is the so-called “servitization”. This change in paradigm determines a revolution in the way men and PSS relate. There are several questions that are triggered in this unprecedented scenario: How widespread is and how it will evolve the phenomenon of servitization? What will be the impact on technologies and manufacturing companies? How will the organization of work change? What will be the set of competences and training required for new employees? How the logic and tools to support the design of PSS will change?
Algorithms and their influence on decision-making processes
This research topic arises at a more micro-level than the previous one and analyzes how the availability of new algorithms and big data—as well as the emergence of new elements of complexity brought by the operational and strategic choices of companies—influences the decisional processes of the managers and the technical and specialized skills necessary for supporting these processes. Specifically, in the context of production planning, the study of policy/scheduling rules for machine processing constitutes since ever a field of research both theoretical and applied. These policies/rules are fundamental when, given the complexity of the problem, it is not possible to identify optimal solutions within reasonable time. It is therefore necessary to pay attention to methods that provide results in a short time while ensuring the quality of the solutions obtained. In this context, an important role is constituted by the approximation algorithms which, while providing sub-optimal solutions, guarantee the performance of the results, i.e. a sufficiently limited/controlled error (gap) with respect to the optimum. The goal in this project is to determine approximation algorithms with performance guarantees through the solution of mathematical programming models whose constraints are induced by the logic of the rules/policies. The considered performance is then obtained as the output of the optimization problem solved by the software , instead of being derived analytically, thing which may not always be viable.
From an organizational point of view it will also be necessary to understand how the new algorithms will influence the quality and organization of decision-making processes. The management at an operational and strategic level will become more data-driven? If so, with what risks and possible benefits? What will be the role of theory and experience?
Entrepreneurship and open innovation driven by the development of new technologies
The new relationship between man and machine also reverberates in the evolution of innovation models, today more “open” and based on collaboration between companies, universities, startups and other actors in the innovation ecosystem. The systemic dimension of the process of technological change is a subject of research by DIGEP along different points of view.
First of all, the project aims at contributing to the analyses on the phenomenon of entrepreneurship , also of academic origin, with a high innovative content This aim will be pursued by analyzing how the introduction of new technologies can generate new business opportunities in local innovation systems. In this perspective both the specific models and tools for the technological transfer of scientific knowledge of academic origin and the system of relationships between different subjects that contribute to determine a favorable substratum for entrepreneurship (financial system, large companies, tangible and intangible infrastructures for research, local governments) will be studied. The transition towards a systemic model of open innovation poses new questions also with regard to strategies and tools for the appropriation of the value of innovation. In this field, DIGEP intends to expand the line of research recently established on the issues of the management of intellectual property rights and the markets of technologies, especially in reference to technological domains such as robotics, artificial intelligence and cyber-physical systems.
A different point of view is based on a broad meaning of entrepreneurship which also includes the experimentation on emerging technologies by traditional SMEs. In this case, the research is aimed at understanding how SMEs deal with the opportunities offered by the technological paradigm of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to develop new business models, new managerial practices and new competitive strategies on international markets.