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published: 08 Nov 2017 in Work

Global innovation born in Poland

Ewelina Nurczyk
Ewelina Nurczyk

Editor

To break the mould, smooth the path and lay the first stone in a particular business or organisation – that is the dream of almost every workplace, not only in Poland. Leading the way on a global scale was unthinkable a few decades ago, but now it really is bread and butter to many Poland-based companies that prove their innovation on a daily basis. Innovative ideas either originate or are developed in business centres in the very heart of Central Europe and spread to other units all over the world.
Global innovation born in Poland

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Companies see Poland as a testing ground for ideas that are yet to be adapted by other European countries, and that is a good thing. Thanks to the open-mindedness visible in Poles and their attitudes to ground-breaking solutions, they have been able to introduce cutting-edge technologies and solutions globally. Have you ever been to a Polish supermarket? You can notice there that every other customer uses contactless payment options, either through their card or mobile phone. This would make an unusual sight in Western Europe, where such progressive implementations are still met with only a tepid response.

Of course we are not talking about shopping only, as it is just one example of that; most importantly, innovation is doing more than fine in the Polish business landscape. Thanks to this broad-minded attitude of Polish employees, companies are eager to test new devices, models and programs, or even adapt the ideas put forward by Poles. Here are a few examples to follow, from such different areas as: banking, finance, procurement or supply chain.

Robotics in banks

Poland is still earning its status as the European Sillicon Valley. While this happens numerous institutions are already gaining recognition in their own specific sectors, frequently with the use of technologically advanced tools. Take the banking sector as a perfect example of this. Polish units of BNP Paribas Securities Services were the first to introduce robotics in their processes and they embrace this step in business development.

It is safe to say that for our bank robotics started in Warsaw, says Jarosław Kokoszka, Head of Fund Administration from BNP Paribas Securities Services in Poland. Our project was sponsored and put into practice globally, but the original idea came from the Warsaw office. It is true that AI and robotics are a hot topic in our line of business, sometimes controversially. However, we see it as a means of advancement. Thanks to being the pioneers of robotics, we are able to increase our value, and be the first ones to start working on process automation. As such, the project was initiated over two years ago and this June we were very excited and proud to use robots for the first time in our Warsaw office.

Inventing a novel project is one thing, successfully running it is another. However for Polish business units the latter does not seem problematic at all. We learn that the robot set up by BNP Paribas Securities Services in Poland passed all the tests which are obligatory to meet security standards. Such verification is necessary for all financial institutions to ensure that ground-breaking technologies are safe to use. Now their product is successfully being used globally.

Continuous improvement culture from Poland

Robotics is only one of the many aspects that Polish business units can teach their foreign partners about. As organisations expand and grow, they need to create efficient ways of working, by developing and engaging all employees in creating a continuous improvement and performance oriented culture – all of this in order to increase stakeholder satisfaction.

This is what happens in Arla Global Shared Services (GSS) in Gdańsk, Poland. The centre’s main objective is to drive value by creating and delivering scalable and efficient solutions to Arla globally. For them, the strong foundation of Lean and Continuous Improvement framework is one of the key enablers of that. Such structured methodologies such as bottom-up improvement approach or Kazien are now quite wide-spread, but Arla GSS in Gdańsk seems to have become specifically expert about them, with Lean Management leading the way.

To optimise their internal processes as a key element towards raising efficiency inside organisation, they have created a roadmap of Value Stream Map initiatives across all departments which are placed inside GSS Gdańsk. Value Stream Map is a Lean management technique where you visualise the current state of the process by analysing information and material flow from supplier to customer and design the future state by eliminating waste and simplifying the process. Important point during this journey is to always define value from customer’s perspective and eliminate steps which do not add value to customer.

While preparing structured analysis of internal processes inside GSS Gdańsk, Arla experts soon realised that their processes stretch outside local boundaries and require extensive collaboration with their stakeholders and customers from other countries. The success of their future will depend so much on input received from other departments and local business units.

This deep understanding of customer involvement pushed the Gdańsk unit to engage stronger with external stakeholders and bring all of them on the common journey. They extended the scope of Value Stream Mapping outside Gdańsk. As a pilot in 2017, Poles did three workshops in Denmark and Germany, where they collaborated with their stakeholders to create one common method of Costing in Arla Foods. Their next external workshop in November 2017 will be in a German dairy site – where they will partner with customers from Supply Chain & Procurement to create an efficient Purchase to Pay process.

New kids in town

These two authentic cases of global innovation being born in Poland’s corporate business centres can still be completed by other, not less exciting examples. If you are a fan of novelties, you can expect to hear much more about Polish achievements in the years to come, but instead of watching it with a big bucket of popcorn, come and join the country’s start-up frenzy.

There are a lot of forecasts of its success, but also a lot of foundation for thinking about it in a hopeful way. As many consider the USA to be the most significant player on the world’s startup map, it is in Poland where startups thrive, even despite often more limited funding and a less developed business development – as for now. However, different kinds of incentives and subsidies make it easier for innovative youngsters to work on their ideas and achieve impact – and by that we mean impact on a global scale.

When Poland hosted an official state visit of British royals in June 2017, Prince William and his wife started out at official venues and historical sites, but eventually they went on to take a look at The Heart, an international hub for businesses to connect with startups. An interesting aspect of this project is that it is referred to as European, which goes to show that the hottest spot for startups and innovation is right now, in the heart of Warszawa, the capital city of a European country, in the middle of the continent.

With Brexit approaching, Polish startups may gain even more chances to spike. Those who keep an eye on the Polish labour market may have noticed the exodus of global giants into Poland. The country’s market and economy seem stable and attractive for investors, who may feel like testing the waters in their new location. Even the infrastructure favours this cooperation, as hubs like The Heart are located in the most modern business districts of Polish cities, allowing to mingle creative young entrepreneurs with more experienced business people – a desirable marriage of valuable talents.

With the number of startups in Poland nearing 3,000 (Polish Startups Report 2016), and the majority of them producing software or other high-tech products, it is not a surprise that 48 per cent of them export the results of their hard work (Polish Startups Report 2017), which makes for another example of innovative solutions stemming from Poland. Judging by the number of developments, both in corporate bodies and creative hubs, the future of Polish innovation has never looked so bright and felt so exciting.

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