Dario, it’s often said that Swiss SMEs are reluctant to push ahead with digitization. Where do you see the biggest challenges?
Dario Colacicco: One concern that SMEs often cite as a constraint for digitization is limited financial resources. Another issue is that there is still a lack of expertise in many areas. What’s missing is the awareness of the benefits of digital technologies. Simply put: The false assumption that digitization is expensive without bringing any real benefits is still particularly widespread among SMEs.
Professional advice should quickly dispel these doubts, shouldn’t it?
You’d think so. But it often only reinforces the preconceptions against digital technologies.
Why is that?
An SME wants tailored and, above all, needs-oriented advice on digitization, always focusing on a comprehensive digital strategy. But unfortunately, many IT service and consultancy companies give outdated advice – because they evaluate SMEs against outdated standards. SMEs are often considered unimportant and of little interest to them, since they’d mainly require standard solutions. It is precisely this perspective that’s slowing down the digital transformation of SMEs by recommending solutions that discourage the company from embarking on a digital transformation, rather than encouraging them to get on board.
Could you give an example?
When it comes to corporate networks, for example, the cloud is still not given enough emphasis. It’s incorrect to assume that traditional networks and on-premises architectures are still the IT infrastructure mainstays of SMEs. In reality, it’s not like that. The Internet and the Cloud are fundamental for everyday work and make up a much larger proportion of network traffic today. Developments like this absolutely mustn’t be ignored – neither by the company itself, nor by the service provider advising it. New solutions must be incorporated into the processes so that they bring the greatest possible benefits.
What is needed to implement this?
Employees must be involved in every single aspect of the digitization process. This is the only way to determine which technologies and tools can have an immediate significant impact with a low level of implementation effort. That said, if employees are forgotten in the digitization process, there will be serious consequences for the company’s success. Under no circumstances should you digitize your way around the employees. For us, one thing is clear: Digitization has to start with the workplace.
So can a digital transition be achieved by taking small steps?
Absolutely! Digitization doesn’t need to be expensive or complex. Assessing the current situation and analyzing existing processes already provides a good indication of where exactly digitization should start. It’s often a good idea to use micro tools to streamline team tasks, or simply to start with a prototype to optimize individual process steps or quickly try out new, digital processes.
What do companies need to look out for when they’re choosing a service provider to ensure they receive good advice?
Companies should bring in a trusted advisor with an in-depth understanding of innovation, technologies and company-specific processes. Only then can the advisor fully understand the bigger picture, keep an eye on it and properly support the company throughout its digital journey – from individual advice, to creating a Proof of Concept, all the way through to implementing the new solution. While pure IT consulting firms can help on a conceptual level, they often lack the all-round perspective and expertise in all other aspects that are key to successful digital transformation. In contrast, an ICT provider such as Sunrise, as a full-service provider of communication solutions, has this breadth of knowledge – of infrastructure and technology, implementation of customized IT solutions, as well as their professional operation and support. This means that we can accompany SMEs throughout their entire digital transformation journey and provide expert support at every stage.
About Dario Colacicco
Dario Colacicco has been Senior Director of Professional Services at Sunrise Business for seven years. A computer science graduate, he has worked in the ICT industry for 26 years – so he understands perfectly the different demands that companies place on modern, high-performance IT infrastructure. With this expertise and his experience in management and consulting, Colacicco helps companies develop individual IT solutions tailored to their needs.