Introduction

The other day some people at Nedap headquarters were going through some old documents and found the advertisement below from 1978. It was published by Nedap as a commercial for its access control system. It made people realise how long they have been developing and manufacturing access control. Also, I had the feeling it made people proud. Not because of the age of the advertisement, but because of the fact that in all those 40 years, Nedap has grown to become Europe’s number 1. Not by purchasing other companies, but by innovating technology.

During my degree in Science and Innovation Management at Utrecht University we were taught how innovation can be distinguished between product innovation and process innovation. Product innovation essentially helps serving end-clients with better solutions and is therefore an important driver of progress. Process innovations lead to better efficiencies.

did this growth through mergers & acquisitions also lead to better solutions for the end-clients?

The security industry has witnessed a lot of mergers and acquisitions over the recent years. Thanks to this, some manufacturers of security technology have grown tremendously in size. Those companies have definately innovated their processes and have achieved advantages of scale. The question is however, did this growth through mergers & acquisitions also lead to better solutions for the end-clients? Did it lead to innovation? Merging two companies with two different technologies still means those technologies were not designed to function as one. For example: being an access control manufacturer you can acquire a video management system developer; but these will remain two differently designed platforms.

Luckily there are good examples in both categories: companies that grow through acquisitions and companies that grow autonomously through innovation. But what do you think is better? Please let me know via jochem.vanruijven@nedap.com.

 

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