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Digital transformation. What does it really mean?

Now more than ever we often hear the phrase “there is a need for digital transformation”. But what does it really mean in practical terms? In this article, I will explain in simple words what digital transformation signifies and how at Extendi we help companies in their process of digitalization, providing some examples.

Dario Calamandrei Head of Marketing and Sales Extendi

By Dario Calamandrei

Head of Marketing and Sales

9 July 2021

Digital transformation - Extendi

What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation is by definition the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business. It aims to improve the way a business operates to create better processes, gain more accuracy, reduce errors, achieve faster results, make quality decisions, and have better control. But before all of those aspects, digital transformation is a change in the mind, a challenge to the status quo.

Unfortunately, digital transformation begins only when owners or managers recognize that their business is not aligned to the market needs. Instead, digital transformation should begin in preparation for the future. Like a mentor of mine used to say: do you want to be the tractor unit or the trailer?

Why is it important?

Before Covid-19, digital transformation was already urging for many businesses, but after the widespread of the pandemic it became clear to all that:

  • Companies, especially the ones operating in sectors such as retail, fashion, Ho.Re.Ca. and personal entertainment, are in desperate need of readjusting the way they

  • Businesses, in order to flourish, should be ready for the future starting from now.

Let’s take the example of Esselunga, a food retail corporation from Italy. Since 2001 they had been investing heavily in a home grocery delivery service when no one else was doing the same. Once Covid stroke Esselunga drew immense benefits from their strategy, making them the to-go store for getting groceries during the pandemic. Now that life seems to be going back to normal, people are not abandoning the habit of getting groceries delivered at home. This is the perfect example of anticipating a change while implementing digital transformation the right way.

How we helped Estra Spa through its digital transformation

Estra Spa is an Italian multi-utility company with 1 billion€ in annual revenues.

Before going through digital transformation, Estra was dealing with an outdated method for managing budget allocation, e-procurement and sponsorship programs. This led Estra's management to come to Extendi in order to develop Emma (Enterprise Marketing Management Application), a family of integrated software consisting of 3 web applications: Emma Budget, Emma Suppliers and Emma Sponsors.

  • Emma Budget, a software that allows the management to have a clear view over the allocated budget and the residual.

  • Emma Suppliers, a software serving for total suppliers management.

  • Emma Sponsors, a software for sponsor request gathering and approval.

The novelties of Digital Transformation in this project are not just the software applications themselves (sure, they solve errors and increases efficiency), but rather the vision behind it, a vision of integration and synergy. In fact, Emma Suppliers and Emma Sponsor are integrated with the budget forecasting application Emma Budget (typical of management control) that incorporates reporting elements combined with accounting. Therefore, the platform allows you to log activities, forecast their expenses, communicate with the suppliers, maintain the repository of linked work files, and manage billing information and reports.

The complexity of this digital transformation was that impacted multiple stakeholders while delivering efficiency, union, and consolidated data visualization. In many companies, there still are applications that are working in separate chambers and communicate through Excel. Estra’s bottom-line was: War to Excel.

Let’s see, for instance, how Emma Suppliers works

As said above, Emma Suppliers is part of Emma software family along with Emma Budget and Emma Sponsors. In this part we will dive a little deeper into the Emma Suppliers functionality.

Estra’s suppliers onboarding and quote approval process was quite complex and time-consuming. Most operations were done manually via back and forth emailing, much paper waste, and a high risk of mistakes. This is why we developed a software for total suppliers management. Its main functions are supplier directory management and onboarding/quote approval automation flows.

Emma Suppliers top feature consists of an intelligent flow with different levels of user hierarchies where quotes can be uploaded by the supplier, viewed and pre-approved by buyers, and sent to management for final approval, then sent to administration for system integration and archive. All quotes and additional data are archived in the cloud.

digital transformation - Extendi

Takeaways

The very first step to enable digital transformation is gaining a vision of how your company will anticipate and adapt to the future. The second step is to do whatever it takes to make change happening culturally, financially and technologically.

Here are the factors that are at the base of digital transformation projects:

  1. Enriching customer experience (as shown by Esselunga’s strategy)

  2. Boosting operational agility

  3. Enabling the workforce

  4. Creating overall value for the company (as discussed with Estra case study)

I invite you to reflect on those factors and ask yourself:

  • What are the short-term adjustments that need to be assessed in order to survive?

  • What are the long-term changes that will guarantee a competitive advantage?

I hope you’ve liked this article and I invite you to contact Extendi if you wish to talk about a project.

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About Author

Dario Calamandrei Head of Marketing and Sales Extendi

Dario Calamandrei

Head of Marketing and Sales

After a few years spent in consulting, Dario joined Extendi with the goal of boosting its market development. He is passionate about economics, sports, and music. He is an avid listener of Alain de Botton's and Rory Sutherland's talks.

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