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Digital markets and the real economy

Digital format, 03/11/2021, National Roundtable

Italian industry is compelled to face the prospect of a future digital market, along with the continuing paradigm shifts that technological transformation is imposing on the economic and social fabric. The radical transformation of manufacturing, consumption and habits is having a significant impact not only on daily activities but also on the capacity for near-future analysis and forecast.

The pandemic triggered a moment of discontinuity that raised awareness of the dire need for infrastructure investment in a country lagging seriously behind other advanced economies. Italy’s weak point remains digital competence, both from the viewpoint of individual citizens as well as businesses, primarily small and medium-sized ones.

The world of Italian business is approaching the process of digitization with a market dualism: on the one hand, there are those firms that have managed to take advantage of technologies and that are now driving GDP with growth rates above those of European competitors; and on the other, those who have only marginally reaped the benefits of new opportunities.

The National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) offers an opportunity to involve even those actors still behind in the adoption of new technologies, giving impetus to innovation not only in the private sector but also in the public administration.

By encouraging the digital transition, the pandemic rapidly boosted what were previously limited practices, such as teleworking. Transformations such as these are affecting production organization and generating the need for major changes in legislative and social welfare frameworks. An especially important effort must be made regarding innovation in education and training, from the school system onward, embracing the concept of life-long learning. Indeed, the best way to confront the impact of digitization will be to put the accent on human capital.

Moreover, rapid paradigm shifts in the organization of the global mass market are placing citizens/consumers at center stage as data producers. Hence the need for individuals’ greater awareness that they are no longer the endpoint of a dynamic thrust from supply to demand, but leading actors in new trends such as mass personalization and customization.

Still behind in such spheres, Italy finds itself following the innovations of other countries. The coming years will be decisive to closing gaps and taking advantage of the opportunities in terms of efficiency and competitiveness that the digital market is able to offer the economy.