SURVEY (June, July 2020)

During June and July 2020, the INTRIDE Italian partnership has submitted the survey on “Needs’ analysis related to Soft, Digital, Green sets of competencies in the furniture – interiors sector” to 20 SMEs (3 micro, 14 small, 3 medium) working in the manufactoring sector, specifically in the Tuscan Interior sector.

The skills identified as most important were related to product and process management, quality and, in relation to digital marketing, the possibility of obtaining data in relation to the market from digital communication tools.

The majority of the companies interviewed note the skills of design, understood as linked to the world of design, fundamental for their sector, taking into consideration both the set of technical skills (modeling, drawing and layout, industrial design, etc.) and the set of more strategic and methodological skills (creative thinking, design research, operations analysis, etc.).

In the foreground emerged the skills (external but also internal) related to digital marketing, the management of e-commerce sales channels and communication through social channels that are considered extremely important and on which companies declare themselves interested in improving.

Instead, the average of the importance values assigned to the green competencies revealed significantly lower than the digital, design and soft competencies.

Finally, the Covid emergency brought out the need to digitize corporate systems and, consequently, the skills associated with it, both in terms of process management and control, both in terms of sales and promotion channels, and in relation to the interaction with the market.

WORKSHOP (June 2020)

The Italian workshop was carried out virtually, by DiD and DIDA as moderators, involving 6 SMEs – furniture producers, 3 technological companies, 1 design studio and 4 research organisations.

The 6 furniture and interior producers were all linked to different R&D project ideas (under development) connected to the application of technologies to furniture products and living environments. The design studio brought the market needs perception and the digital/technological companies supported in defining the needs together with RO competences.

The workshop was focused on:

  • Review of the questionnaire that each company had already filled in before the workshop
  • Analysis of the actual situation: pandemic related
  • Future trends of the sector and competences’ needs

The more important considerations emerged during the workshop are:

  • Due to the pandemic actual situation the way to deal with clients has completely changed towards virtualization and digitization of all services (sales, post-sales assistance). Companies, even micro ones, will be asked to manage internally, daily and continuously their presence on the market at the digital level. 
  • Competences related to e-commerce, digital marketing, social media management will be the most requested in the near future. 
  • Most of SMEs have a very distributed territorial production chain: they don’t manage production lines directly and, in most cases, they only assemble and finish the products. Robotics, process eng. and industry 4.0 are not seen as key important. 
  • Digital and technological competences will need to be managed together with soft skills (crisis management, creativity, teamwork) and project skills (aesthetic sensitivity, design methodologies) or they could turn to be useless. 
  • The market (high-level sector especially) doesn’t require directly furniture companies to act towards sustainability, but their attention will grow following the market attention even at luxury level in the future. Actually, Green competences are only partially.