Italian recovery plan ask companies to think long term: digital innovation is key to work differently, not a list of technologies to adopt
Italy officially has a recovery plan. The Piano Nazionale di Ripresa e Resilienza (PNRR, probably the most important acronym of the next years) is public in all its parts. And it immediately generated many, many expectations. Of course, we'd say, because Italy has never had, in the past, so much money to spend in a complete redesign of how our country operates. And, most of all, of it should operate. We're talking about 235 billion euros ready to help Italy close all the gaps we've been complaining about for years. In the Digital Transformation of companies and the public sector, in our (almost absent) strategy on sustainability issues, in equal access to development opportunities.
So far, so good. PNRR really is the chance Italy was waiting for. If we will use it correctly, of course. But there is a problem that the first reactions to PNRR already underline. Unlike other previous initiatives - like for example Impresa 4.0, that we all believe was a very good idea - PNRR does not create a generic amount of money companies can spend, choosing from a precisely defined shopping list of technologies. Yes, in the Plan you can find how many millions of euros Italy can spend for each specific objective or milestone. But it says what it should be done, not how. Essentially, PNRR is a list of all the digital (and not-so-digital) transformations Italy can't afford to ignore anymore. But it's a map, not a GPS.
Italian companies have already been through something similar, in principle, before. In 2003, the so called Codice Privacy was the first attempt in introducing data privacy concepts in private organizations and the public sector. In the end, it was a long detailed list of things to do, processes to implement and technologies to adopt. It didn't work well, and surely not as intended. Years later, GDPR dealt again with data privacy (and much more, to be honest) but had a totally different and positive impact. It worked, telling what must be achieved and not how. Like PNRR now does.
Now, it's easy to read the PNRR and say the usual "been there, done that". Or, more precisely, "not done that". We already know the most part of what must be done: we more or less tried to do it before, and failed. Why should it be different now? Well, first of all because 2019-2020 changed a lot of things. The pandemic changed all, if we think about the connection between companies and new technologies. It proved, beyond any doubt someone could still have, that Digital Transformation will be crucial not to be more efficient than your competition, but to operate per se. Doing a "bare digital minimum" maybe was enough to survive during lockdowns, but not more.
Savvy companies understand, now more than ever, that Digital Trasformation and new technologies help them to operate better and with resiliency. To face, and more or less absorb, disruptions and uncertainties that, unfortunately, seem more and more likely in the next future. These companies will accelerate in their transformation path, leaving behind those who don't want to change.
That's where PNRR now plays its crucial role: closing the digital gaps of Italian economic and social infrastructure will make Italian companies play their game more fairly in a global economy. It asks, yes, companies to develop a strategic vision of technology. And even to develop a bit of optimism: we're innovating not to have more revenue in the next quarter and please investors, but thinking log term. It's not so much to ask, we believe.