A Call for Innovation: The state of the art of Digital Disruption in Italy

How is Digital Disruption impacting Italy? How far is there still to go? What are the opportunities to seize? In this post, we’ll look at the state of digital disruption in Italy, with a focus on the Public Administration, and the Healthcare and Utility industries.

Imagining a world without digital has become impossible. And yet, when you think about it, we are talking about a revolution that is still very young, an exploration that has just begun, an endless amount of sown seeds that have yet to express their ripest fruits.

Already today, digital is at the center of our main production systems. It is indispensable for all industrial sectors. It is increasingly rooted in all Public Administration processes. And the health crisis we are currently experiencing has only made its importance even more evident. Once the emergency is over, there is no doubt that digital will play an even more pervasive role.

Where do we stand with Digital Disruption in Italy?

That’s what we will discuss in this post. We will start by focusing on the state of the art of digital, we’ll look at its embrace by the Public Administration, and how strategic sectors like the health and the utility industries are dealing with it.

 

Digital Disruption in Italy: A long road ahead

The latest report Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI 2019) shows how various European countries have progressed in their digital agendas across 34 indicators over five areas:

  1. Connectivity
  2. Human capital
  3. Use of Internet services
  4. Integration of digital technologies by organizations
  5. Digital public services

In the general ranking made by this survey, Italy ranks 24th, fifth from last. We are very far from countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, France; but also from Spain. We are behind, and there is a long way to go.

At the same time, there is also positive news. Compared to other European countries when it comes to digital, Italy has increased from 38.9 in 2018 to 43.9 in 2019; this is an increase of 5 points, compared to 2.7 points on the European average.

But there is still a long way to go. In particular, we have to improve on several fronts: human capital (Italy is currently in 26th place);  digital integration in the business ecosystem (23rd place);  digital public services (18th place), where there are peaks of excellence in the field of digital health, to which we will return later in this post.

In short, this panorama shows us that there is still an enormous digital heritage in Italy, to exploit and opportunities ready to be seized, even in the current period. 

 

Even the Public Administration is moving

When it comes to “digital public services,” in 2019, Italy ranks 18th in Europe, with a wide margin for improvement. However, for some years now, the pace is accelerating. In addition to DESI, the Digital Agenda Observatory of the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano has also recognised this (for this research, see here).

As far as Public Administration is concerned, the keyword to keep in mind is “dematerialization,” a concept that goes beyond simple digitalization, also because of its bureaucratic and legal implications.

The path of dematerialization in the Italian Public Administration begins with the Legislative Decree n.82 of March 7, 2005, which establishes the Digital Administration Code (CAD), with several updates over the years.

At an operational level, the diffusion of the National Resident Population Registry is proceeding at a good pace, with 4,300 new municipalities included in the digital platform in 2019 (for a total of 35 million Italian citizens involved).

  • Payments on pagoPA (over 63 million transactions carried out) are also steadily increasing. 
  • Electronic invoicing, moreover, increasingly concerns businesses and individual taxpayers (we have dedicated an entire post to the latest progress on electronic invoicing).
  • More than 21% of the population now has Electronic Identity Cards (EID).
  • More than 5 million digital identities have been delivered through SPID.
  • The most efficient and used services to date are those aimed at businesses: among them, the Certified Declaration of Business Start up, which is now managed digitally by over 70% of municipalities.

Of course, in general there is still a clear territorial disparity; and there are still many steps forward to be taken. But it is comforting to note that the direction taken is the right one, with an acceleration that has become evident and necessary in this current period of emergency.”

Explore our ebook to learn more about digitization and dematerialization in the Public Administration.

 

The health sector

Healthcare, of course, is the sector that has been put to the test more than any other by the COVID-19 emergency. Certainly, it will emerge transformed from this dramatic period. And one of the vectors of this transformation (if not the main one) will undoubtedly be digitization.

Italy is in eighth position at European level, for digital health services, with 24% of citizens who have benefited from them, compared to a European average of 18% (even in this field, territorial disparities are very pronounced).

But beware: digital health does not only mean dematerialization of paper processes (from medical records to administrative documents of any kind). In fact, enormous progress must be made in terms of innovation and restructuring of organizations, transformation of operational procedures, and the introduction of new professional figures and skills.

Think about the importance of avoiding in-person meetings are gatherings: before it was just a matter of efficiency or convenience; today it is also a matter of personal health and protection of others. With digital technology this is possible, for example, with dedicated apps (an example is the “Salutile” app by the Lombardy region).

But consider also another side, which can really make a difference: the “protected de-hospitalization.” 

Until yesterday, this field mainly concerned comfort and cost reduction; today it is a real necessity, and it will remain an enormous opportunity to be exploited in order to improve the quality of service and, at the same time, the quality of life of the people who use it.

 

Suppliers of electricity, gas, and water

Now, let’s look at a sector that impacts on the lives of all of us: the Utility Industry. For several years now, this industry has been experiencing great change, thanks to the joint push of two decisive and connected factors: the opening up of the markets and the digitization of processes.

First of all, this is about the optimization of industrial and distribution processes. Next, it is about document dematerialization and the digitization of personal data (see this post for more information on these topics). Then, it’s about digital marketing and, above all, a decisive improvement of Customer Service dynamics. For many companies, company reputation and loyalty rest here.

In fact, one of the effects of market liberalization has been the unprecedented ease with which users can switch from one supplier to another, or rather the enormous problem of “Customer Churn.” The overwhelming majority of switches occur precisely because of customer care problems.

There is no other way but to digitize all of these processes, and, above all, to make them increasingly tailor-made, omnichannel, and personalized. This is the only way to win the challenge.

In conclusion: although Italy may have been slower than other countries to go digital, the country has also understood that there is no time to lose. Therefore, it is time for companies to take up the challenge of Digital Disruption. The times of emergency that we are currently experiencing impose it on us!