Steve Jobs, Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg and Anne Wojcicki. These are only a handful of powerful entrepreneurs that forever changed their industries and became pioneers in innovation. What do all these names have in common though? The answer can be pinpointed to one location: Silicon Valley. As a mecca of innovation, Silicon Valley has become a technological hub in which startups, SME’s and even corporates have grown to create increasingly disruptive technologies.
Enel has a formidable presence in Silicon Valley, as it is the location of one of our Enel Innovation Hubs. With Enel’s active mission to co-create through its Open Innovability® processes, it also participates as a proud community member of the Elis Open Italy program, an alliance created to support and bring together the Italian innovation system. On November 30th, 2020, Elis and Enel’s Silicon Valley Hub co-hosted a digital bootcamp where corporate leaders from Mind the Bridge and Schneider Electric joined the conversation on Silicon Valley’s innovation ecosystem.
Milan Poidl, Head of the Silicon Valley Innovation Hub, says: “Silicon Valley is a true ‘melting pot’ of global technology professionals.” He adds that “the most interesting part is the convergence in the valley of tech professionals, from all over the world, with an open mindset to identify, build and scale new solutions to change the status quo.” With a clear drive to actively participate in this dynamic ecosystem, Poidl alongside other corporates followed a four-day event where eight startups focused on digitalization and the energy transition presented their pitches. They actively took part in an open conversation about the future of marketing intelligence and industrial artificial intelligence (AI).
A digital bootcamp to share innovation
To understand the corporate landscape of the valley, the event kicked off with presentations from Marco Marinucci, Founder and CEO of Mind the Bridge, and Alberto Onetti, Chairman at Mind the Bridge. “The main difference between the Silicon Valley and the Italian ecosystem is the impact of the startup autonomy”, Marinucci affirms. He adds that “the number of startups being created at the valley is incomparable” These two experts from the innovation advisory firm were followed by insights from Prashanthi Sudhakar, Director of Corporate Ventures at Schneider Electric, and Poidl himself. “Enel has adopted an innovation model for the company as a whole and all the business units engage actively through this model that offers different pathways to innovation” says Poidl. Through this active and open methodology, Enel is able to foster engagement and drive interactions between corporate and startup entities.
The first key topic discussed involved customer-centricity and the future of marketing intelligence. The second event day provided a platform for startups Resulticks, Solvvy, and NextUser to pitch their technologies to the virtual audience and speak about the future of omnichannel marketing automation. Customers are at the core of many present-day businesses and technological solutions to better discover, understand and service these customers are both improving the recognition of their needs as well as lowering the marketing spend. This day granted the audience an opportunity to explore the topic in further detail and understand the potential of these solutions. By leveraging technology and data, these platforms are offering more companies the possibility of bringing parts of the marketing agency in-house. Marketing intelligence allows for a more granular understanding of the customer thanks to the power of digitalization.
The next two days of this bootcamp focused on industrial AI and opened the conversation for those startups that are developing machine learning algorithms to improve industrial processes. The companies Foghorn, Geminus AI, Peaxy, Arnudo Analytics and Deepsense AI all pitched in with short presentations of their ideas. The digital era has allowed these and many enterprises around the world to utilize advanced computing and analytics to drive value generation in industry by solving industrial pain-points such as productivity improvement, cost reduction, site optimization and predictive analysis.
Sensors and cameras are installed in Enel’s plants and the raw data is analyzed by these entrepreneurs to detect areas of improvement. These breakthrough solutions have not only solved industrial needs but have also prove to obtain a faster return on investment (ROI). Poidl asserts that “these underlying technologies have a huge potential to create significant efficiencies in operations and are paving the way for enterprise digitalization.”
The valley’s digital future
Innovation is in itself “using creativity and critical thinking to challenge the current thinking and established rules to find different, and ultimately better, ways of doing things,” according to Poidl. One aspect that should not be forgotten though, is that a startup’s stage is critical. Early-stage startups are most disruptive but are sometimes too “young” to engage with large corporations. In this digital bootcamp, all startup pitches came from market-ready solutions that have the scale and resources to engage with large corporations such as Enel, which is key to the success of any co-creation.
All in all, the dynamic environment of Silicon Valley is not only competitive, but it is also considered to be open. According to Poidl: “The valley is ‘open’ to ideas and collaboration, but laser-focused on building and disrupting with new solutions.” These solutions come from the wide variety of solvers that are currently present in the area. As the world continues to move forward with the digital era, more of these entrepreneurs will continue to redefine the future of technology and industry processes, and through a network of innovative stakeholders, we can work together to lead the energy transition.