Periodic Reporting for period 1 - D3T (Data Driven Digital Transformation)
Reporting period: 2019-09-16 to 2021-03-15
Data-driven innovation is a key driver of growth and jobs that can significantly boost European competitiveness in the global market. The economic impact of data is huge: the capability to analyse and learn from data is rapidly becoming a key ingredient in business success and government efficiency.
Digital Transformation (DT) is found at the intersection of people and technology, its goal is to create a better, smarter, faster business that can better anticipate and meet its customers’ needs. The EU Digital Transformation Scoreboard 2018 positions Italy in the middle of the European Countries. The country scores above the EU average in one out of seven dimensions: investments and access to finance, but even here, it scores only 2% above the EU average. So, in terms of digital transformation and entrepreneurial culture, the country scores somewhat lower, leaving room for further improvement. Italy’s core challenges lie in the fields of e-leadership, digital skills and changes in the ICT start-up environment. The country performs 22%, 19% and 14% below the EU average respectively in these three areas. In fact, the “Industria 4.0” National Plan represents a major opportunity for all companies that are ready to take advantage of the unprecedented incentives offered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Plan provides for a wide array of consistent and complementary measures promoting investment in innovation and competitiveness by supporting investments, digitalisation of industrial processes, improvement in workers' productivity, development of new skills, new products and new processes.
Innovation agencies support the companies and entrepreneurs in accelerating and improving their businesses through different service. This, together with the fact that Data is one of the core elements of a digitally intelligent company and brand, inspired Torino Wireless (TOWL) to define the scope of the D3T project. Data is mainly linked to its application within companies and business, but it also can be applied to the core services of innovation agencies to improve their operations and enhance the service they provide to its “customers”: the companies, specially the Small and Medium ones. Given the current relevance and interest of Digital Transformation at a regional, national and European level, TOWL decided to enhance its current DT service by implementing a data-driven approach to it. Hence, the overall objective of the D3T project is to validate and analyse the impact of the implementation of a data-driven approach to improve a DT support scheme.
The data-driven approach was enabled by a data analytics platform (D3 Platform), developed by TOWL. Regardidng TOWL' existing DT support scheme, the D3 Platform significantly contributed along and within the entire digital transformation lifecycle to improve 1) the efficiency in services delivery; 2) the effectiveness of some services to address customer needs and 3) to enable new services to further improve the support scheme. 24 companies participated to the project receiving the 2 different support services, asigned to each by a randomisation process. Covid-19 had a wide impact in the project results, it changed the usually constant environment for both companies and Torino Wireless activities making it fluctuant and uncertain and thus with many unknown variables that affected the trial.
The D3T project was a very interesting process for Torino Wireless and a new experience, it allowed to learn how to carry out an experimentation trial from the design phase to the implementation and analysis. TOWL now has a methodology to better plan, analyse and decide the entire process, define the outcomes and their measures and know what to ask and how to monitor it. TOWL also learned that experimentation and RCT can be implemented to different kinds of services but it requires time and effort from the innovation agency side. The learning-by-doing approach through this small pilot was an effective way to experiment by ourselves this new approach in experimentation.
Regarding the main goal of the project: assessing the improvement within SMEs (in terms of readiness and timeliness) caused by the way a DT support service is implemented, we observe that what is most important is for the companies to be already aware of their needs and be open to adopting new solutions and ways of thinking. Nevertheless, the tested support is more effective to companies that do not have too much knowledge of technology, because they are the ones needing an assessment and matching of solutions to their needs (thus finding the support service useful). From the analysis, the conclusion was that the best service should be a mix from both traditional and innovative. The complete digitalisation of a service is not too efficient, the human factor is really appreciated and makes the difference, not only in the interaction with the companies but also in the decision making and analysis processes. The data-driven approach's benefit was evident for TOWL's internal processes, it allows to spend less time and effort in the research of information, and thus having more time for the analysis of validated information, providing a better and more qualified service to the companies.
Torino Wireless has disseminated and shared internally the new developments of the D3T project and the D3 platform and its achievements in supporting the DT assessment and planning phases. Further potentialities of the D3 platform to support the other phases of the DT process and other services were analysed.
The companies receiving the DT support considered the service very useful and appreciated the quality of the information provided (Roadmap with specific DT actions to implement, list of potential suppliers and funding opportunities). The follow-up of their DT path will continue after the project duration.
TOWL was in contact with 23 clusters and other innovation agencies interested in the projects approach both regarding the provision of digital transformation support services and the implementation of experimentation (such as RCT) on innovation support.