We are going through an era of frenetic transformation, where the rhythms of life are cadenced by “living” and evolving technology. There are already billions of devices connected to the network and, as we have repeatedly said, they are increasing exponentially every year. Cities, factories, homes, objects and crafts: everything points in the direction of technology, interconnection and automation. Through hardware and software we manage manufactures, warehouses, transport goods, book trips, monitor our physical activity and our health. Through large computer systems we control the large infrastructure networks that carry electricity, water and gas, we coordinate the transport infrastructure (road, rail, sea and air), health, public safety and administration … All this translates into the production and management of an immeasurable amount of data, made possible thanks to that set of methods and technologies that implement the systems of transmission, reception and processing of information: in a word, thanks to ICT (Information and Communications Technology). This is why the roles, knowledge and skills – technical, managerial, logistical and relational – of the people who, at various levels, work in this branch are becoming more and more indispensable every day.

The revolution taking place in the world has just begun, and although the assumptions are varied, no one knows for sure where it will take us. Artificial intelligence, big data analytics, Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things are only in the momentum phase: soon (we are talking about a few years) they will further change our lives, the world economy will be dependent on them and, as happens in every industrial revolution, those who are not ready to ride the wave will be lost.

In spite of all this is more and more evident, a lot of enterprises of our country still seem to consider the ICT sector an accessory cost rather than an indispensable investment, and the turnover dedicated to it is among the lowest in Europe. Through a research conducted by the “Osservatori Digital Innovation of the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano”, it has emerged that 95% of Italian companies consider digital innovation a relevant factor, but at the same time only 25% of them invest more than 1% of their turnover in ICT technologies and services. Such frugality is not well directed, however, and rather than a savings represents a cost. According to a study undertaken by Censuswide on behalf of Sharp on the use of technology in the office – which has analyzed a sample of 6045 employees in nine European countries including Italy – inefficiencies and technological inadequacies cost 19 days of work per year, with a fall in productivity and satisfaction of workers and users and a significant expense for public and private companies. The results quantify both the cultural backwardness of many employees who struggle to use new technologies, and the technological and organizational backwardness of many firms stubbornly employing outdated devices and antiquated procedures.

To bring back some data, it has been calculated an average daily time loss of 22 minutes searching for files on the server, 6 minutes waiting for the printer to warm up, 9 minutes waiting for documents to print, 8 minutes waiting for the audio-video equipment to start up, 13 minutes helping desk neighbors to use “simple” programs like Power Point and Word. Despite this, nearly all participants agree that technology makes it easier to share ideas and information (78%) and collaborate with colleagues (77%). Regarding Italy specifically, 70% of respondents said that if technology were more up-to-date, work would be done better and more collaboratively. In 53% of cases, employees also responded that they use private devices at work that are easier to use than the outdated ones provided in the office. The well-known sociologist Domenico De Masi, professor at the La Sapienza University in Rome, commented on the research by stating that the biggest problem for Italian companies is the stalemate in which those still in the hands of “analogue” people find themselves, meaning not only those who do or do not have a propensity to use technology, but indicating a life model characterized by the generation that knows English, travels more, does not make too much distinction between night and day or weekdays and holidays. The real Italian drama, the sociologist criticizes, is the Italian pyramid structure, which presents at its top the “analogical” holders of power but not of skills, and at the base the “digital” holders of skills but not of power.

The only certainty, we conclude, is that the presentand the futureare moving in the same direction, that is, that of an increasingly pregnant technologization and interconnection. And this is happening all over the world. Several companies are already up to speed, others will soon adapt and new companies are being born on the wave of change… ready to supplant the stubborn Neanderthals who in a few years, most likely, will be forced to close the doors of their cave.

Marcello Argenti