Tradition and Innovation: how and why to digitize

Tradition and innovation are two terms widely used on the web. Very often it happens to cross these two words in the corporate web pages of the most disparate business activities. But what exactly are tradition and innovation?

In this article, you will find the answer to this and other questions such as:

  • how important are tradition and innovation in corporate life?
  • what is the link between tradition and innovation?
  • why is it important for companies to innovate and digitize and how can it be done?

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Tradition and innovation: what it means

Very often tradition and innovation are considered two antithetical concepts, which not only represent two extremes of an ideological concept, but two different ways of looking at the world.

On the one hand, tradition means being linked to cultural, behavioral, and professional models which have developed within a given reality and which have been handed down over time. Basically, being tied to tradition means remaining faithful to what has been done and developed in the past, using ways and methods that have already been tested and used previously.

On the other hand, innovating means opening up to the future, through the invention and adoption of new behavioral and professional models, introducing new activities, products, and business models into society and the economic system, or improving existing ones.

However, from this last statement, it can be deduced that tradition and progress do not necessarily have to be seen as two opposite concepts, and, when one innovates, something completely new is not created, but it is renewed, therefore maintained, carried forward and the assumptions of tradition are renewed but in an innovative key. This allows us to affirm the existence of a relationship between the two concepts.

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The link between tradition and Innovation

In the current economic and social context, innovation is a watchword. Any economic, political, social, or corporate action, if carried out in this light, seems justified. On the contrary, the term tradition is seen negatively, almost despised, because it is understood as backwardness, a refusal of novelty and progress.

Tradition, on the other hand, constitutes a very important component and must play a significant role in the company’s strategy. For this purpose, it is necessary to evaluate what must be preserved and what must be abandoned to make room for something innovative. From this, we understand that, when innovating, most of the time it is not created from nothing, but precisely, from something that has been maintained. In short, tradition and innovation are two inseparable elements.

the link between tradition and innovation

Innovation is an essential factor for the development of companies of all types and sizes, through it, companies have the possibility of achieving a certain level of competitive advantage within the market in which they operate or, if they are in a position at a disadvantage, they can catch up on the competition.

Previously, the link between tradition and innovation was described as the abuse that is made in the society of the word “innovate”, in fact very often both in the speeches of entrepreneurs, but also in those of politicians, this word is redundant. This means that very often, we talk about innovating, but without really knowing its meaning and therefore, driven by this desire to change and do better, companies blindly launch themselves into the creation of new products and services without actually having a strategy well defined.

The idea of associating tradition and innovation (two terms which, as we have seen, only apparently seem opposite) derives from the opportunity to valorize resources based on tradition, both tangible and intangible ones. The development of innovative solutions can derive from factors internal to the company, such as knowledge and skills, but also corporate values (corporate culture), or rather factors that characterize it and which, when appropriately recombined with each other, give rise to innovation.

This innovation process has its roots in the so-called “historical research”, ie the company analyzes itself internally analytically and meticulously, to identify, at least on a conceptual level, ancient remedies for new challenges. Family-run companies have a greater tendency to preserve, maintain and use their traditional background in the new business logic and innovation strategies.

Tradition and innovation: a winning combination? The advantages

The main advantages that companies can obtain by exploiting the link between tradition and innovation are the following:

  • reuse ideas and solutions already used in the past and therefore sufficiently tested on the market, but which have a potential that has not yet been fully expressed. This type of choice allows a reduction, both in terms of time and cost, and generally represents something easily practicable and feasible, compared to something completely new;
  • innovating through tradition means using typical resources of a specific cultural, social, and geographical context, therefore difficult to reproduce in other realities, enhancing the distinctive character and legitimacy of the innovative solution in the eyes of the consumer.

To take advantage of these advantages, the company must identify which tradition is worthy of being valued and on which to focus the innovation process. Once identified, this tradition must be internalized into the company’s reality.

To this end, the creation and use of corporate museums could be useful, i.e. places used to spread a specific tradition within the company and thus boost innovation processes.

advantages innovation and tradition winning combination

In this model based on the link between tradition and innovation, technology is fundamental as a tool through which traditional elements are transformed or better. updated. Only in this way can they be adapted to the needs of consumers.

Over time, the concept of digitization has been associated with the concept of technology. Digitization is important in the process of transforming corporate values aimed at innovation. It seems clear that companies nowadays can no longer ignore the web if they want to remain competitive.

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Corporate digitization to innovate

What is digitization? In general, it can be said that digitization means “simplifying”, i.e. exploiting technologies to obtain new and different solutions suited to one’s needs. Digitization is therefore based on the abandonment of traditional analog tools in favor of digital ones to simplify and automate activities and procedures, but also saving, therefore being more efficient. These activities may concern different company areas: production, distribution, administration, marketing, sales, etc.

In short, therefore, it can be said that digitization exploits digital technologies, to make the company’s business work better, helping companies to analyze the market and improve customer relations.

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Why Digitize?

If we tried to stop for a moment and think about how our life unfolds daily, it is undeniable to say that it is conditioned by digital technologies and it is evident how the latter have changed our purchasing behavior, but also the way we relate. Nowadays we buy more and more on e-commerce, very often through apps, we pay through the smartphone, we communicate through instant messaging apps, we seek advice on social media (e.g. Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest); we are looking for online work such as Linkedin (visit the site) and many other activities in which digital is the key factor.

In this market, companies need to digitize themselves, it is no longer a choice as in the past, not doing so would mean ceasing to be competitive, or at least seeing the market share considerably reduced. It is therefore an immediate need to which it is necessary to look at urgently and no longer represents, as happened in the past, an opportunity to expand one’s catchment area.

corporate digitization to innovate

Digitization, as already mentioned, is fundamental in the customer-oriented vision, but it is not its only purpose. Digitization is very important within the company itself it allows:

  • to collect an incredible amount of data and feedback, the use of social networks and web tools allows the company not only the possibility of capturing new customers, who are now increasingly connected but also provides them with the potential to store data, feedback, opinions, and trends. In practice, this function replaces the old and less effective market research;
  • new ways of participating, no longer necessarily confined to the office, thus breaking down the problems related to distance. Several platforms allow remote meetings and videoconferences as needed;
  • to gain efficiency following the dematerialization of the physical space, which is replaced by an electronic filing system. This system allows greater speed and security compared to the use of simple paper or the use of isolated computer systems. This ensures the possibility of conserving, updating, and sharing documents and multimedia content, in addition, it allows to obtain a cost and environmental sustainability advantage, linked to the replacement of paper archives.

How to digitize

First of all, it is appropriate to change the mentality, because if it is true that one may have little knowledge and information regarding the digitization process, as has already been stated previously, awareness of the advantages is ripe.

Where to start? First of all, it is necessary to identify priorities to be achieved, proceeding step by step, linked to a useful analysis to highlight the problems that require immediate intervention and identify what the future objectives are, both in the short and medium term.

how to digitize

The strategic phase of digitization is fundamental, so the advice is to undertake a company coaching process and relies on professionals to identify critical issues, urgencies, and objectives deriving from the analysis of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), to identify solutions and software suitable for your needs.

Subsequently, the company will be made “digital” based on its prerogatives, which generally concern the following aspects:

  • E-commerce: the so-called “virtual store” which allows the company to sell its products and services in every corner of the world at any time, breaking down the obstacles related to distance and the opening hours of the points of sale. In addition, the management costs of e-commerce are significantly lower than those incurred for a physical store.
  • Corporate website: it is essential to establish one’s presence on the web. The site is useful for providing useful information about the company, its history, corporate culture, and the various products/services it offers. E-commerce can be associated with the company site.
  • Presence of social networks: social networks are fundamental in an effective digital marketing strategy. Through social networks, companies tend to be closer to customers. The user can interact with the company itself by writing questions and receiving answers even in a public forum. In a certain sense, the company is made more human in the “consumer’s eyes”. The company does not necessarily have to be present on all social networks, but it must be present in the most important about its market segment. Each social network has a precise target of users, therefore the company must analyze and understand which social network is most suitable for its purposes. For SMEs with little budget, the advice is to focus more on social networks that can guarantee better results.
  • Document management software: as already seen above, the use of this software allows you to reduce time and costs. It is important to choose professional and effective programs that allow you to simplify and make the document workflow within a company more streamlined and easily manageable.
  • Cloud computing: allows companies to have a database, archive storage, and possibly software and other applications useful for storing their data. There are three different types of Cloud: Public, in which the resources provided belong to the provider and the IT resources are shared by all users; Private, in resources dedicated to the individual company; and finally Hybrid, which combines the two previous methods.


Digitization is therefore changing, and to a large extent, it has already changed the economic processes, so companies must necessarily keep up to continue to be competitive in the market. The use of digital tools represents the best way for companies to make themselves known to customers and achieve their goals. Digital is no longer a choice but has become an obligation to remain competitive in the market while maintaining the link between tradition and innovation.

The world is evolving towards a new way of understanding the economy, marketing, and communication which requires companies to be constantly and continuously updated to stay “in the game” while maintaining their own identity at the same time. Innovate yes, but through tradition, however two contradictory concepts may seem, they immediately represent two sides of the same coin.

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