The growing importance of transparency in business has led to a shift from closed compliance procedures to publicly recognised industry standards. Professional associations are playing an ever-increasing role in image promotion and product marketing.
This is a result in the first instance of a significant increase in the availability of highly qualified specialists on the market post-crisis, as a result of which the sector's knowledge base is no longer held within global companies. The volume freely accessible knowledge has increased drastically as a consequence of a large number of employees taking their sectoral knowledge and skills onto the open market. At the same time, the availability of investment capital has significantly decreased, leading to a reduction in the R&D budgets of large companies and the resourcing of the general innovation sphere, to the extent that now the principal drivers of innovation are small start-ups, which can provide solutions faster and at much lower cost. This new format of competition between the in-house cost-centres of large companies and SMEs is playing a defining role in the development of industry standards and how companies measure their own effectiveness.
As a result, the vast majority of companies have seen the value of constant innovation. The implementation of "smart" technology, the appraisal of unorthodox ideas, and new alliances with both partners and competitors is attracting ever greater interest. Public sector institutions at both national and local level are taking an active part in this process.