How does the relationship between many companies and digital technology work? According to some recently published studies, not as it should. Yet, companies now have several tools and best practices at their disposal to draw inspiration from. Let’s see some of them.
The concept of corporate digitalization is quite broad, and includes practices of various types and different invasiveness. However, the basic idea is to manage information and processes in an integrated way by exploiting the opportunities offered by digital technologies.
The advantages are many, and also the possibilities of amortizing investments by accessing reductions and incentives. So how is it possible to promote digital transformation processes, and, above all, why do it?
What is meant by the Digitization?
Digitization, it is clear, means transformation from analogue to digital of processes, products and services: it is a path that has started a few decades ago but which has accelerated in recent years.
In particular, there has been much discussion about electronic invoicing and digital preservation in the administrative field. Much of the executive and accounting practices can now be produced directly digitally without resorting to a paper original. However, the elimination of paper printing is only the most glaring aspect of the opportunities offered by digital transformation processes.
A digitization project, in this sense, can be applied to the entire management of a business. You can innovate products and services, production processes, development and control.
Some examples of business digitization processes:
- Dematerialization of document management, in fact, with the progressive elimination of paper archives in favour of digital documents;
- Integration of business sectors in complex management software to obtain more accurate control of individual processes and all activities
- Automation of processing phases with the use of latest generation machinery, capable of carrying out specific tasks on its own;
- Processing and analysis of market data and customer experience using business intelligence and customer relationship management software;
- Real-time connection of the subjects involved in the company supply chain, for example, suppliers and distributors;
- Lean management of human resources, with the sharing of small projects and smart working.
As can be seen from this short and incomplete list, the possibilities are many. In general, what all these solutions have in common are sharing, connection and integration.
In essence, it’s about making people and machines work smarter, accessing and sharing more information to eliminate redundancies and optimize resources. In the face of investments in software and machinery, the economic benefits are also there and can be very important.
A process of digital transformation in the company, therefore, is, on the one hand, a necessity because it responds to a general change (also in the public administration); on the other, a voluntary choice that, if well thought out, pays off.
The Role of Training in Digital Transformation
Part of this mistrust indeed also derives from a lack of skills and specific figures that can guide a company towards solutions that are not only innovative but also truly effective for the latter’s business model.
Therefore, it should be emphasized that an uncritical adoption of digital can do more damage than the persistence of obsolete models. Sudden transformations or unbalanced leaps forward are of little use if they do not respond to real needs and opportunities for improving processes and services.
Therefore, it is necessary to have a more up-to-date picture of the possibilities available and, perhaps, the support of an internal figure or an external consultant to get help in the choice.
In this sense, another sore point of the reports on the topic is the lack of professionalism of this kind in or around the company, which often prefers to rely on “only” IT technicians. In short, no figure can design an overall strategy of digital action and efficiency and not just manage daily problems.
A figure of this type, which in large companies has been a reality for some time but gradually even smaller companies are adding to their organization charts, is that of the CIO or CInO, Chief Innovation Manager.
The CInO is an innovation manager: he must analyze the functioning of the company and identify the opportunities for improvement offered by new technologies. Not simply adopting a specific software, but understanding how, thanks to the digitization of business processes, a production cycle can be made to work better or market targets can be intercepted.
The role of the CInO is therefore strategic rather than operational: that is, it is not an IT technician but a figure who designs and coordinates innovation strategies in the company. Having a manager with these characteristics on the staff is an investment that can be repaid very well.
Innovation Management and Skills updating
A professional role similar to that of the Chief Innovation Manager is that of the Innovation Manager: in some ways, the two figures overlap, even if the first is generally internal to the company, the second more often a consultant.
There was a lot of talk about Innovation Management at the end of 2019 due to the innovation consulting vouchers. The MISE intended to support companies in their digitization processes.
The call was very well attended, both by the companies that requested access to funding and the consultants who were accredited as innovation managers. The result is that, by decree of 20 January 2020, additional funds were allocated to cover other projects.
The innovation voucher, which will also be active in 2020 and 2021, intervenes precisely on the need to give support and guidance to companies on their paths. The possibilities of intervention, as we have seen, are many and can concern different operational areas. It is, therefore, necessary to understand which processes can bring the most significant operational benefits.
If an Innovation Manager provides strategic support and operational consultancy, other consultancy and training opportunities offered by organizations and trade associations should not be neglected . In fact, chambers of commerce and business associations have launched guidance, support, and consultancy desks on the issues of innovation and business digitization.
For example, the Innovation Hub is worth mentioning: activated by the CNA, it provides support and advice to SMEs to start digital transformation projects. Linked to the Hub is the PMI Digital Lab project, also structured with itinerant meetings, in which tasks and successful cases relating to the issues of digital transformation are presented.