Cloud Computing and digitization of the Public Administration

Cloud computing Public Administration: today, digital transformation is a reality. It has had an enormous impact on the lives of individuals, on markets, on production systems, on the business processes of all industries, and on society as a whole. It has also impacted the dynamics of the Public Administration.

By definition, this sector tends to be less reactive and slow, weighed down by excessive bureaucracy due to its enormous size as well as the inherent complexity of issues such as privacy due to a large number of different actors involved. However, new standards have set in motion changes that are having a decisive impact on the sector.  

One such standard is the so-called Digital Administrative Code, or CAD (learn more here). The first version was released in Italy as Legislative Decree n.82 on 7 March 2005. With the entry into force of the CAD, all documents having legal relevance can also be produced in digital format. The advantages are financial, but not only. 

 Attention: for Public Administrations (PA), we’re not talking about simple document digitalization but about dematerialization. In the following paragraph, we will briefly focus on the differences between these two concepts.

It’s worth noting this: digitization and dematerialization in the PA are almost unthinkable without an efficient underlying Cloud Computing structure. This aspect was also at the center of the “Strategy for Digital Growth in the Country 2014-2020,” a document drawn up by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers in March 2015 (view the full text here). We’ll circle back on this topic later in the post.

 

Dematerialization: a key concept for the PA

Digitization and dematerialization are two different concepts, with two different meanings, especially at the legal and operational levels.

If digitization is understood as the full computerization of processes, “dematerialization” goes further. It is dematerialization that makes it possible to completely eliminate paper documents, allowing their digital counterparts to have the same legal and evidentiary value.  On the one hand, this is an increasingly stringent obligation (think, for example, of the issue of electronic invoicing). On the other hand, this epoch-making turning point must be seen as a great opportunity with many advantages, both direct and indirect, over the short, medium, and long term.

According to the recent Anitec-Assinform report “Il mercato digitale in Italia” (released in 2018), the level of digitalization in the Italian financial ecosystem is still far from European standards. According to the latest DESI report on the state of digitization, Italy ranks fourth among European countries, ahead only of Greece, Bulgaria, and Romania, and far from countries like the UK, France, and Germany (source). However, there are also positive signs. In 2017 alone, the digital market in Italy grew by 2.3%, continuing in 2018 with a +2.3%. This is a trend that is expected to continue in the coming years with 2.8% growth projected for 2019 and 3.1% in 2020.

In short, it’s still a picture full of contradictions (consider that the same CAD has been the subject of 29 updates, since 2005). But the machine has been set in motion; this is a certainty. It is an irreversible process, triggered by companies like Doxee, who have put continuous innovation at the center of their business and at the service of different sectors; companies that are, in all the best cases, cloud-based.

 

Cloud Computing as a priority for the Public Administration Digital Agenda  

Let’s start from the already mentioned “Digital Strategy for the Country 2014-2020” report. This passage in the text underlines how Cloud Computing is a central aspect for digital transformation applied to the Public Administration: “The extraordinary innovative scope of Cloud Computing has completely disrupted the way that IT architectures are approached, making it unavoidable, even for PA, a consequent path for the transformation of their infrastructures.”

The report analyzes the main advantages of the transition to the cloud in 8 decisive points:

  1. First of all, the reduction of financial investments in hardware, software, and IT support (for purchase, management, maintenance). With the cloud, these elements are managed in outsourcing by infrastructures, platforms, or services in laaS (Infrastructure as a Service) or SaaS (Software as a Service) mode.
  2. The possibility to share IT infrastructures, shifting investments toward the development of new services. 
  3. Flexibility, scalability, and resilience of IT resources.
  4. Exponential increase in software computing performance. 
  5. Optimized management (central and local) of IT infrastructures through the virtualization of systems (DaaS, Desktop as a Service, which allows the distribution of virtual desktops on any device and from any place).
  6. Management of redundant resources to increase the availability and speed of systems (made even more efficient and high performing with the adoption of Hybrid Cloud solutions; we talked about this type of solutions here).
  7. Unified access to all databases through IAM (“Identity and Access Management,” or a system for managing credentials) with profiling of user permissions. This is a security aspect, which is absolutely central in Cloud Computing systems.
  8. Reduced energy consumption and costs (an increasingly sensitive aspect, also in relation to green economy policies, not only in the media). 

It is inevitable, after all that we have noted above, that we have already moved from theory to practice, even in Italy. But this is a very recent step. As provided for in the “Three-year Plan for Information Technology in Public Administration 2017-2019,” the principle of “cloud first” has become concrete.  Since April 1, 2019, Public Administrations are required to adopt the cloud paradigm (especially for Software as a Service solutions) as a priority over any other type of technological option.

In short, even the PA is adapting to a trend that affects all industries.

According to a study conducted by Gartner in April 2018, cloud users will double by 2021, and the market built around this technology will grow from $153 billion in 2017 to an estimated $302 billion for 2021. Moreover, already today, skills related to Cloud Computing are the most requested by companies in any industry, according to research by LinkedIn.

Now you can see how important choosing the right cloud service provider could be, especially when it comes to reliability, innovation, and security. Another necessity is the ability to provide solutions that are as tailored as possible and customer-oriented. This is what distinguishes Doxee.

Doxee: Cloud Computing and Personalization: the ultimate boost

In just one year, Doxee has produced and sent more than 500 million documents for the largest Italian companies and various public administration bodies; it has digitized more than 80 million pages in its AgID (Agenzia per l’Italia Digitale) certified storage systems. And, more generally, it has managed about 10% of all electronic invoices to the Public Administration exchanged in Italy. These are very important numbers, which make Doxee an Italian leader in the entire lifecycle of tax documents. But that’s not all.

We have repeatedly stressed how legal obligations can (and should) become important opportunities to improve their business, their processes, and communication with their customers and users. It is precisely on these aspects that Doxee has always focused. It is not, therefore, the simple elimination of paper and the costs and inefficiencies associated with it. Above all, it is a question of fully achieving the real objective of the digital revolution: to overturn the role of the user, of the individual, placing them at the center of the business, thanks to the analysis of big data and smart data, therefore to the segmentation of the audience; but also, and above all, focusing decisively on personalization, both for B2C and B2B. 

It is no coincidence that Doxee is the only company able to combine the Paperless Experience services with those of Document Experience for the production of paper and digital documents, and Interactive Experience, for interactive and personalized communication with a high level of involvement.

In this way, personalization, which is one of the oldest secrets of commerce, becomes the real turning point and the final boost for digital transformation: therefore for the present and, increasingly, for the future.