Innovation Matters

Much has been written and said about innovation. It is a slippery argument: suppose it’s the 1970s and you are a global leader of chemical film for photography. Shortly thereafter, someone whispers to you that an electronics manufacturer has built, for the first time, a one megapixel digital camera; you have a good laugh with your managers and start arguing that there’s no way a sensor will ever be built that’s able to keep up with chemical sensitivities and details. Ten years later you are dead, and digital cameras are immensely powerful, and so small they fit into your pocket!

The obvious question: is Panini the next “film” manufacturer? We don’t think so. Checks are declining, but certainly some parts of the world (such as the US, France, Brazil, India, and other markets) are still heavily reliant on the check as a payment instrument. In addition, years ago we foresaw where the market would drift and planned accordingly. Panini’s Everest-based intelligent scanners are now a reality and are gaining greater traction every day; leading to an outstanding result for 2019 and beyond in terms of the number of installed Panini check scanners throughout the world.

So, why should we continue to innovate given our current commercial success? The answer is that we have to innovate precisely because of our success: innovation needs fuel, i.e. people and money, and you can’t explore new initiatives unless your existing ones still pay your bills. The direction of where to look has not been obvious either. A successful company like our own has a long-lasting and solid foundation of design skills and customer channels. In the event we decided that our future was to design and sell soft drinks, we would have to face two issues: our current operations (marketing, R&D, production) knows nothing about beverages, and, should we dream to become tomorrow’s new “Coke,” our sales organization knows nothing about food & beverage distribution. These mixed challenges and complexities could force us to a step into a dark space.

To make a practical, experience-based and expertise-aligned first step, we began looking deeper inside Financial Institution processes - this has always been our core market and largest customer segment. It didn’t take long to understand some of their biggest current concerns, which resulted in a new strategic direction for Panini to respond to their needs and extend our core competencies. Following this intuition, we are now helping banks with the validation and identification () of new customers- the first step in a reinvention full of challenges and exciting opportunities.

It’s too early to gauge the success of our new initiatives - when you engage yourself in something new, you’re always facing a “you don’t know what you don’t know” trap. Luckily, there is also the reverse side of the coin - a clever beginner, when engaged doing something new, will break the status quo and do things differently. And does anyone have any doubt Panini is, and always has been, a very clever beginner? 

Pierpaolo Bubbio
R&D Director, Panini

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