Digitalisation is resilience
Nothing says “confidence” more than a belief in the future, not merely waiting out challenging times but actively shaping our identity to adapt. We have always debated the role and nature of business resilience and continue to do so but the pandemic has brought what resilience actually means into sharp relief. Indeed, despite the temptation to move on from this oppressive situation after so many months, analyses of companies today cannot but consider the pandemic as a watershed between what was and what will be.
And it actually seems that what will be will not be bad at all, or at least that is what entrepreneurs must think if – as a survey by Deloitte Private on almost three thousand companies worldwide found – in addition to the 32% of companies that had already started digitisation processes before Covid-19, another 25% are currently engaged in digital transformation processes while 23% say they have started them in response to the pandemic. As to the remaining 20%, 18% are thinking about it without having formalised a precise plan while 2% have not considered the issue.
80% of the companies in the world are already moving towards digitalisation. A trend that the pandemic has not only not put a stop to but has actually spurred on.
While an albeit too timorous push towards digitalisation was on the horizon before Covid-19, the pandemic has undoubtedly forced our hand kick starting a modernisation of operating methods, perhaps not entirely controlled and deliberate, but nonetheless significant. First, because the pandemic has obliged companies to complete processes that were proceeding slowly, stuck in the clogs of daily business life and secondly, because it encouraged many companies to seriously consider issues they had deemed secondary if not wholly unimportant. Finally, and no less importantly, Covid-19 has led workers and users to make greater use of the digital world for many daily transactions both in their professional and private lives, unleashing its potential.
There is another important reason why this deployment of the digital transformation in all its forms is of interest: it shows how companies are heavily invested in responding to a crisis that has shaken the entire economy. Despite the great uncertainty, the leaders of Italian and foreign companies are investing in digitalisation and – again according to the Deloitte survey – they are confident that both productivity and profits will benefit (58% and 47%, respectively) from the strategies they have introduced to make their companies more competitive post-pandemic.
L’ottimismo degli imprenditori deriva dalla consapevolezza di aver messo in atto una serie di strategie per essere sempre più competitivi
Critical issues with Italian digitalisation
Despite the confidence and good intentions, there are obviously sore points which is not entirely unexpected for Italy: the Ditigal Economy and Society Index (DESI) 2020 ranks Italy fourth last in Europe, trailed only by Romania, Greece and Bulgaria. Its performance cannot be defined stellar in terms of connectivity, human capital, internet utilisation, integration of digital technology and digital public services.
In fact, Italy’s worst scores were in human capital and internet utilisation, followed by integration of digital technology. It is evident that the country’s population struggles with digital services, which could be partly due to its high average age, that are also poorly integrated (the reason for or the consequence of the first two points?) into everyday transactions.
As a result, the change wrought by the pandemic could be a good thing. The question is to what extent will the overcoming of the population’s initial distrust of information technology affect the acceleration of the digital transformation.
Awareness as a keystone
Caught between the drive towards innovation and the system’s critical issues, it is nonetheless clear to entrepreneurs that the digital path is the one to follow, as shown by CNA and Talent Garden as part of the PMI Digital Lab programme, which has some interesting figures about the Italian business world. According to the surveys, Italy is currently one of the countries with the highest digitalisation growth rates for SMEs in Western Europe. The greater awareness of the related advantages has encouraged 91% of Italian SMEs to introduce digital tools while 51% of them are ready to take up the challenge of digital transformation.
Digitalisation to fast-track processes
Last but not least is the impact that the digital transformation can have on processes inside companies. Digitalisation not only implies new ways of connecting with customers and users but above all rethinking internal operating methods from the bottom up, making them more streamlined and effective, pruning all redundant processes, automating a series of functions and making communication and data transfers within the company easier and more productive.
This revolution could both increase productivity and free up what may be the modern company’s most precious resource: time. Digital transformation could be the key to trialling shorter working weeks (as has already successfully been done in Northern European countries), tying in closely with sustainability issues.