The process of Italy’s digital transformation has been accelerated by the lockdown. The public’s knowledge of IT technology was already quite good, but many people have only discovered its true potential as a result of the exceptional circumstances caused by the recent Covid-19 pandemic.
A good example of this is the use of the familiar (and now widespread) video call: while almost everyone was aware of their existence, very few people actually used them regularly until the introduction of social distancing.
Despite the fact that just a few months ago, the use of technology was frequently deemed to be detrimental to interpersonal relationships (whether private or professional), the communications block caused by the virus has shown that it is possible to work, study and even socialise by means of digital technology.
How the perception of digital technology is changing among Italians
Several experts have posed the question of how Italy’s relationship with technology might change post coronavirus. In order to arrive at as realistic a conclusion as possible, it is essential to first consider the typical characteristics of the Italian population.
Italians generally like routine and tend to remain attached to tradition. They are currently doing everything in their power to return (gradually and in accordance with restrictions) to the so-called ‘previous normal’, but their perception of the digital world has changed inexorably.
In the past, technology was viewed by most people as something exclusively used by certain age groups (mainly for entertainment purposes), but now people have realised what a precious instrument it can be in day to day life.
Thanks to this digital transformation, smart-working has acquired a crucial role in company productivity. It is no longer an alternative, but a real asset to be exploited in order to enhance agility and improve performance.
The same is true of social networks and applications designed to facilitate remote communication. Pre-dinner drinks and meals with friends via webcam have led to a new way of experiencing social relations. This has led to greater realisation of the fact that spending time with someone is much more important than how that time is spent.
Likely future developments resulting from the digital transformation
Living in close contact with technology has helped Italy gain greater awareness of its potential. People have, for example, started to realise what a difference a powerful broadband connection can make when studying or working from home.
This same awareness, reached during the forced stoppage, has already given rise to many changes. The ‘new normal’ (as some experts have defined it) is destined to become more established over time, replacing the previous concept of ‘normality’.
In the near future, it is plausible that we can expect to see greater investment in the digital transformation. Special attention will be paid to infrastructures and the ways in which services are offered to citizens. The widespread availability of broadband throughout the national territory is no longer an option, but a state duty.
Universities (and academic institutions in general) are obliged to equip themselves with the appropriate instruments for e-learning. Helping students to learn, by providing them with physical spaces and digital platforms which have been specially prepared on an ad hoc basis, is a tangible way of demonstrating that the real world and the virtual world can and must interact with each other.
With the rapid surge in smart-working, it is crucial that staff members are trained in the use of technology. Perhaps even more important is the training of those responsible for coordinating any staff who are working from home.
Italy is finally ready for digital transformation following lockdown, but investment and determination will be required in order to maintain and develop this precious resource as effectively as possible.
Translated by Joanne Beckwith