Interview with Aritz Aretxaga, leader of the innovation process at EUN

Aritz Aretxaga leads the key process of the EUN organisation: Innovation. An innovation proposed as the union of products and solution processes because both facets “cannot be two independent islands: solutions are part of the product, and the product is part of the solution”.  

Aritz, after nearly 18 years in the company, has passed through the Systems Departments, support to software development, and management of work and development teams. Experience that, when he entered Innovation (two years ago), made him fully aware of how EUN organisational processes have evolved, and the needs of its market. And, in that evolution, he highlights “the human and personal part, the teams, that have always been very present in EUN, have made us reach the position where we are now”.

 

Why does EUN combine the Product and Solutions processes in the innovation process?

Because, undoubtedly, both are combined. One thing is what the client thinks it needs; and another is what it really needs. Because, sometimes, the client is not aware it has a problem until it is resolved. We are fully aimed at resolving the needs of our clients, creating a product, and thinking that, with that, everything is resolved, is not enough. 

 

And what is involved by leading the Innovation process?

Summarising, we could say that it means getting the teams that are working on developments to focus on those needs of the client, in the most efficient and dynamic way possible. Leading that process means that the developments reach the market and generate results, redirecting them when necessary, and unblocking any possible moments of blockage; always looking at those solutions the client needs and requires, independently of its market or country.

 

EUN has coined a concept: Smart Spaces Solutions. And, in its recent change of corporate image, it has adopted the slogan “Creating Smart Spaces”.  What do these ideas mean for Aritz Aretxaga? 

This is a summary of the knowledge that, as an organisation, we treasure. We have always been able to manage space well, and managing safeguarding and custody in that space, but as added value that we add to that space management we also improve the uses and processes developed therein.

From EUN we want to improve the efficiency of the processes developed in those spaces. This is not only saving squared or cubic meters but saving time in the daily routine of those processes, optimising them as much as possible.

 

 

With 18 years' experience in the organisation, you have witnessed the development of EUN. What would you highlight of the trajectory that brought you here? 

That it has been continuous and in the same direction right from the very start. And it was set out by the fonder of EUN, Jose Eguren, with a very clear idea: providing added value to custody spaces. Classify, arrange, organise... Those have always been the key ideas. In the 70s and 80s this was done later, mixing new technologies, electronics, software... To add value to that management and optimisation  of useful space. 

 

Although technology has changed radically, the concept continues being the same for EUN... 

Also, the expectations and the needs have changed, now we talk of 4.0 management that no company mission in the 70s could include... Generally, the world is new; but our line, our trajectory, is still adding value to products and solutions incorporating technology and aligning them with market needs. That is to say: with other technologies, but following the trajectory marked by Jose. 

 

You reiterate the idea of “being aligned with market needs”...  

This is one of the key points, we are not abstractly inventing or discovering any needs. And we must have this very clear when we enter the international market: because one market needs one thing, another market needs another and a third market, talking of the same solution, needs another different answer. That is where our knowledge is the base we can adapt, for it to be useful and adaptable to any niche or market we work in.  

 

How can you adapt all that knowledge, acquired throughout the years, to any specific case? 

I will give you an example, without, now, giving you the project or client's name. This is a distributor who was not aware of the client’s needs, but yes of what it was looking for. We considered it from that viewpoint I commented earlier, that of providing added value to custody, and we worked jointly with an external collaborator, an architect, to design together a new and disruptive product.

What we did was a smart use of technologies, functions other separate products... to couple them and create a multifunction product. And that was possible thanks to the expert knowledge of that client and to the expert knowledge of EUN.

In the end, that product is unique on the market, because it also responds to some needs that, then, were unique. Now, undoubtedly, we must work from those columns we have as our own, to perfect them, because we believe they respond to needs that are there and that other clients, other markets, and other niches can have.

 

That treatment shows the necessary confidence the client has in EUN and that necessary focus of EUN towards the needs of its clients. But..., what other elements do you consider as key factors in your daily routine with the clients?

Generally, today, the key factor is security in all senses. Not only the security of objects in custody and users, but also complementary data protection, user data, confidentiality... This is what more efforts and required now; our clients are getting more worried every day, and sometimes it means a large part of any project.

Sometimes, the client opts to not work with software integrated in its organisation because a lot of time is required for implantation of the validation and certification processes of their organisations. In EUN we offer them alternatives like solutions that work outside of the system and communicate using “middleware” or by means of the manual uploading of data allowing immediate operation.

In any case, I insist in that the key factor is managing well that which is on custody, having it perfectly located, to rapidly locate it and taking  decisions to make the client's process efficient.  This reminds me of the case of the headquarters of a large nutrition multinational in Dubai, where samples of each of the chocolates they produce are stored in custody. Managing the materials, localising each sample, and knowing their exact expiry date... is a good example, in my opinion, of what any type of private company is looking for.

 

This is the search for maximum efficiency of spaces and time... 

Effectively, in spaces, with the systems and furniture most adapted to the architecture of each place; and in times, with management software.

 

Among organisations and institutions when we think of custody spaces we think of museums or archives. Are these the greatest challenges for EUN?

Among content management and objectives, the greatest challenge is to rapidly localise what is archived or stored. And that is what we most provide: rapidness and speed if we have information sources or the originals.

Occasionally, the client itself is unaware that it has a need. It seems that, in the public sector, speed is not so necessary.  But a television channel, for example, like ETB (Basque public television), can take an hour to find some garments in its costume’s storage... or localise them in just a few minutes. Or searching for the dossier of a person, of any subject, it is important to know that we will find it and we will find it easily.

Moreover: now we are working on the implantation of predictive models in that management, which can even facilitate that we can anticipate the peaks of demands for the information we may have.

 

What are those predictive models?

they are part of that digital transformation, which is already a reality in our organisation, and mean maximum optimisation of the time used in developing the projects. We employ models, certain cases of use, which we analyse with “Big Data”, and “Machine Learning” technologies to detect relevant information for our clients. With the analysis of all this data, we have an objective representation of all the existing possibilities; and we can show the client which is its future, and which could be the responses it will need. This is an enormous help in the taking of decisions and allows our clients to anticipate decisions with greater guarantees.

The use of these models allows, for example, calculating better the necessary stocks; not employing excessive custody space; using the space for other questions, for example in shops or in commerce, or even in factories. Why have space occupied by stock if you can have more production lines, or space for research, or places that provide added value?

 

This is about having reliable data before things happen...

Yes, and it means being able to decide earlier, and not by intuition, but with objective data.  And that, in the end, improves efficiency of the processes. And the time used to take critical decisions has great impact. These predictive models, in the changing world we live in, give us certainty and security. And in EUN we are working on that: on giving certainty, solutions, and added value to each project for each client. 

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