“Don’t fear change, embrace it.” Sara Milani and Fabio Sferruzzi, Corporate Innovation Team Talent Garden
In the past twenty years as the digital revolution has disrupted the way we do business, in Italy, we’ve seen a number of small and medium businesses struggling to keep up with innovation. Some of them succeeded, and others failed. Today, despite the fact digital and tech have transformed all aspects of our society, SMEs are still facing an innovation challenge: lack of skills, uncertainty on where to invest, and understanding the degree of digitisation they need.
We found a way to help face these challenges by creating the PMI Digital Lab, a project born from the idea that spreading awareness of the changes brought by digital transformation in Italy and the value it gives SMEs would give these small companies a place to start. It is promoted in partnership with CNA, Italian National Confederation of Craftsmanship and SMEs, the support of Comau, Olivetti, Samsung, TIM through the open innovation program TIM WCAP, UniCredit and the collaboration of PwC Italia.
To understand the status of digital innovation in SMEs in Italy and the real needs, we did a research that involved more than 1,400 companies. The main results of the survey show that the introduction of digital tools is fundamental (93%) and the awareness of their digitalisation increases with the size of the company, but 38% still consider their digitalisation insufficient.
The research underlines that over 63% of companies believe they are quite or very digitised. But a critical element is represented by the skills. 83% say the development and inclusion of adequate skills is a very important factor, but only slightly more than 53% believe they have the appropriate skills to face the challenges of innovation. More in detail, 33% note that they do not have skills and that they have difficulty in hiring (15%). In addition, 19% note their inadequacy in managing such a complex change.
When it comes to investments in technologies excluding devices, the focus is mobile payment systems and/or via the internet relevant for 36% of the companies. Management information systems (e.g. ER P, SCM, CRM) are relevant for 30% of companies with greater importance as the size of the company increases.
Thanks to this research, we set the basis of the project that is structured as a ten-day roadshow in ten Italian cities with twenty other cities connected via live streaming. Participants network and learn about digital transformation. Each event has a local stakeholder, a startup who shares expertise and our partners listen to the main difficulties of the SMEs and find solutions together. Along with our partners, we offer knowledge and access to new innovative solutions, as well as organising a series of initiatives to be closer to them in this delicate transformation process.