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maturing against the rest of the sector, 68% rated their organisation as ‘better than average’ and 27% rated their organisation as average. Thus while many organisations recognised they had significant innovation challenges, they believed they were better positioned than many in the sector. PA has run very similar innovation maturity assessments for other sectors. Our assessment of the rail sector (comparable in terms of building, maintaining and operating a dispersed infrastructure) showed that they were stronger in four areas, namely their leadership was more committed to innovation, they had more competitive technologies and supportive infrastructure and their culture of innovation was stronger. In the UK, innovation in the rail sector is supported by the FutureRailway programme, a collaboration between Network Rail and RSSB that involves the supply chain to manage a crossindustry research. At present, there is no equivalent in the roads sector. It is worth recognising, however, that the rail sector did assess their innovation capability as weaker in a number of areas relative to the roads sector, in particular an overall strategy and effective processes to support innovation. As part of the survey we asked respondents what single factor would most help improve the innovation capability of the sector. The most common response (16% of 52 ITS REVIEW Annual Review 2015 respondents) related to the creation of a vision for the sector against which the role innovation could be clearly understood. To some extent this has now been met, with the publication of the Roads Investment Strategy in December 2014 (after the survey took place). The next most common response (13%) related to stronger collaboration across the sector. In many sectors (for example the rail and automotive sectors), the supply chain works together in an ‘open innovation’ model, sharing insight for mutual benefit. There is demand for this in the roads sector, but as yet no structures to support (such as the FutureRailway programme). The roads sector is going through a period of significant challenge and substantial opportunity, in particular with the establishment of Highways England and the additional funding it has been provided. At local, regional and national level there is a common desire to increase the effective capacity of the road network, maintain the asset more effectively, delight customers and adapt to a rapidly changing world. And this all must be done more efficiently. Roads authorities, supply chains and research communities recognise that these challenges cannot be met by doing more of the same – it’s just not enough. Things have to change but what and how? The Roads Innovation Forum has provided a focus on how innovation could increase our collective capability and effectiveness – we need to be more creative in how we improve the materials we use, the products we develop, our day-to-day operations, the enabling processes we rely on and how we learn from each other. Innovation cuts across all of these. The roads sector has a good record of innovation – we can celebrate past successes. However the innovation survey has shown that the sector recognises its capabilities are well below where they could and should be. However, the increasingly diverse demands of customers make it progressively more difficult for any single company to meet these needs. In other sectors, companies are increasingly working across the supply chain and with academia to produce innovative, customerfocused solutions. Companies are adopting a more collaborative approach to innovation, bringing together a broader range of ideas, talent and intellectual property from outside their organisation. Ideas thus no longer reside within one company. This approach is called ‘open innovation’. Open innovation allows companies to focus in areas and capabilities where they have a particular specialist competence and work with others ‘to fill the gaps’. Not only does this help in terms of meeting complex customer needs, it makes financial sense. Open innovation can be cheaper with development costs shared across a number of organisations. By working together, it allows SMEs to focus on their areas of expertise and punch well above their weight. Historically, organisations have innovated behind closed doors. Now they need to work with others as part of an innovation eco-system. The roads sector has a long history of working together, for example to deliver infrastructure projects. Now it needs to work even more closely to innovate. ◆ 〉〉 …we need to be more creative in how we improve the materials we use, the products we develop, our day-to-day operations, the enabling processes we rely on and how we learn from each other


ITSReviewAnnual2015
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