“Only technology is not sufficient”, Antonio Grasso, Digital Transformation Addict, Influencer and Founder

To give a short personal impression: let us know what are your top 3 books everyone today needs to read and top 3 tech gadgets one needs to have?

I like to read books about my topics: 

  1. Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark (available in ItalyUSAUKIndia and Germany)
  2. The New Digital Age: Transforming Nations, Businesses, and Our Lives by Eric Schmidt & Jared Cohen (available in ItalyUSAUKIndia and Germany)
  3. Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle (available in Italy, USAUKIndia and Germany)

The 3 (useful) gadget I like are: 

  1. A powerful Mobile phone
  2. A Smart TV
  3. A Fitness tracker. 

What is your analysis of the the fintech and tech ecosystem – especially in your home market Italy?

The financial industry is the backbone of each developed economy, so we need to put attention in the digital transformation of this industry because it need to be “regulated”. As other industries, the financial industry need to radically change the business model trying to aim at the digital business model with in focus customer experience, shared economy, robotic process automation, distributed ledger as blockchain, autonomous vehicle and, of course, cyber security.  Actually I think we have a lot of things to do. I want also to talk shortly about the impact of the new cryptocurrency of the financial sector: I think that we are facing an exploit of the cryptocurrency as Bitcoin and Ethereum and we like them; by the way we need to think also that they potentially can feed corruption and money laundering, so we need to find a way to balance the adoption.

In Italy we have two big financial players: Intesa and Unicredit both engaged in the digital transformation process; by the way, above online banking and digital signature, this process still has a lack of penetration in the business model due to the huge dimension of those groups and due to typical technical approach and not strategic approach. As you know the digital transformation won’t succeed without change management approach. Only technology is not sufficient. 

Italy has become quite famous for high penetration of telematic insurance products. What is your take on this? What could other countries learn from it? 

Thanks to Matteo Carbone and Andrea Silvello and thanks to the “Connected Insurance Observatory” we have good insight  “connected insurance”; as they stated in the “Three Pillars of the Connected Insurance”. In Italy we have an high tech penetration in Health, Motor and Home that form a composite puzzle expressing the most of our innovation capabilities. I think we need to say thanks to Matteo and Andrea for the deep commitment.  

By the way in south of Italy we face a big fraud issue in the car insurance that can be addressed with tech and telematics. On this matter I’m working with my startup and we ask for a patent with 16 patent claims on a device we call “Visual Black Box”. The VBB takes a continuous video shooting of both external landscape and internal vehicle landscape; thank to an internal algorithm, the videos are tiny and can be crypto transmitted in the Cloud using wireless network. Then a machine learning obscure the personal data and extract alphanumeric data from image feeding a Data Lake and available for predictive analytics activities.

Finally I think in Italy we are building an interesting Startup ecosystem acting as a fervent crucible that is forging innovation in the insurance and financial industry.

What do you think are the biggest chances for incumbents to use the digital transformation as a chance? What are the biggest hurdles in your opinion?

The digital transformation is a digital evolution process that involve many aspect of organizations. Technology is only a component of the puzzle, the biggest hurdle is the cultural change; we need a strategic approach to face this epochal change. Each company needs a deep business model analysis to identify the “hot spot” to focus on. After that we can embrace emerging technologies and evaluate its adoption. 

You are one of the top digital influencers focusing also on IoT and Industry 4.0. What should we all know about these two topics? Which trend do you see unfold disruption and which current trend is – in your opinion – totally overrated?

Industry 4.0 is a paradigm, a vision of how we can optimize our business processes to evolve the way we do the business using the technology. Internet of Thing is a key component of the entire process. Using P2M, M2P and M2M devices, we can let the objects to communicate by themselves orchestrating an effective production. IoT is the cyber physics aspect of the Industry 4.0 paradigm.

In the future I think we can use artificial intelligence to manage those devices in a smarter way. Now we can use the digital twin as first approach but we need to do more, I think we need a good and tiny AI chip (a chip with AI low level instruction set) that can be installed on those devices to let the system manage events without been programmed for.

What are your Top 3 Do’s and Dont’s for a c-suite, that understands that he or she needs to act soon?  

  1. Do an assessment to discover the hot spot in the Business Model 
  2. Do an evaluation of the Emerging Technology adoption 
  3. Do a plan to spread the Digital Transformation culture in the enterprise
  1. Don’t undervalue the epochal process of the Digital Transformation
  2. Don’t put the focus only on the technology, consider the culture too
  3. Don’t  leave the employee outside of the process, involve them at any level 

Looking at traditional companies, how do you estimate the state of the digital transformation right now? What can we expect in the next years?

We need to distinguish between the biggest companies and the small and medium businesses because I think they need to have a different approach to digital transformation. Big corporations have internal resources to assess and evaluate the impact while the small business don’t have; so they need to hire a digital consultant that can help them in the entire path. By the way, small or big, both need to seriously evaluate the potential disruption. Actually the situation is underevaluated in the most of the companies especially in Europe. We can lose this train and the consequences will be hard to face. With the help of the central governments, in the coming years I hope we can address this cultural issues and let all the companies to seriously embrace the Digital Transformation Evolutive Process. 

 Biography of Antonio Grasso:

Antonio started 35 years ago in the IT industry as a developer and a software architect. That’s why he misses coding. In the last 13 years he lead big projects for the Italian government and medium size business in the digital innovation, eGov, eBilling process automation, interoperability, digital signing and more. In 2016 he founded an Innovative Startup (Digital Business Innovation Srl in short DBI @dbi_srl) to start his path as entrepreneur in the digital transformation.  Right now he manages some projects in Insurtech and HealthTech, projects that rely on two patents. He is on his way to start others project in digital recruitment, autonomous camera managed by artificial intelligence for sport events and a digital platform for social affiliate marketing.  

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