The year that brought down the (false) myths about digital

The year that brought down the (false) myths about digital

Interview with Stefano Rebattoni, CEO of IBM Italy since the beginning of 2021. To understand what we can expect from his mandate and from digital Italy in the near future

Stefano Rebattoni, CEO of IBM Italy We have been repeating this for months. In addition to being a tragedy, the pandemic has also not always had negative effects. One of these is digitization. The world and Italy have been forced to learn more about digital technologies. Companies that have continued to operate have done so thanks to the internet, cloud computing, (video) communication systems and so on. The public administration has also managed to survive thanks to digital. And yet the much mistreated distance teaching has still had the advantage of keeping students and teachers in contact. In short, with the pandemic closed, we risk finding ourselves in a more digital society, in which companies and individuals will be more ready to seize the opportunities that technologies offer us. In the midst of this revolution, one of the largest digital companies has changed its leadership in Italy. In fact, since the beginning of this year, the CEO of IBM Italia has been Stefano Rebattoni. With a career largely in IBM, he succeeds Enrico Cereda, who today is president of IBM Italy and Technology Leader Emea and was CEO from 2016 to the end of 2020. We met Rebattoni, strictly through a video communication platform, to ask him what we have to expect from your direction and from digital Italy in the near future.

Rebattoni, what will be the elements of continuity and discontinuity with respect to the past mandate?

"The first element of continuity will certainly be the obsessive attention to values. Both to those of IBM and to those of customers and partners to grow our ecosystem. And then we will continue to focus on human capital; here too: both the internal one and that of the entire country, contributing to the digital training that Italy needs. On the other hand, I would not speak of discontinuity, but of diversity. Here we will focus even more on technology, also taking advantage of Red Hat (free software company acquired by IBM in 2018 for 34 billion dollars, ed.) And we will follow the announced birth - globally - of the NewCo (a few months ago IBM announced which will split in two, conveying all the infrastructural services such as datacenter management and outsourcing to a new company ed.). Furthermore, I would like IBM to become an increasingly attractive brand for (new) talent. ”

In addition to Red Hat-related activities, what will the technological focuses be?

“In the present, our two points of reference are undoubtedly hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence technologies. And then, in the future, we are making big investments in quantum computing. We are already experimenting with the enormous computing power of these computers in various markets and areas. I expect that the first applications will be able to arrive in the environmental struggle for the reduction of emissions and in cybersecurity ".

A new government has been established a few weeks ago, the one chaired by Mario Draghi, who also has a minister for 'Technological innovation and the digital transition: Vittorio Colao. What do you expect from this executive?

“It is essential that in a moment like this technical and political competence have come together to face the emergencies in the country. That said, I believe that the priorities for Italy - from our point of view - are the digitization of the public administration, the financial sector and our manufacturing industry and made in Italy. We therefore need acceleration in this respect. "

One of the keys to your success is collaboration with the public sector. Do you believe that after the pandemic, in which the public and private world allied themselves to cope with the emergency, new forms of collaboration will emerge in Italy?

“We are already in a phase of close collaboration. We sit at the table of Confindustria Digitale precisely to speed up the adoption of digital by the public administration. Here two things are fundamental: 1) that the silos in which the various elements of the PA are separated become interoperable and 2) provide those who work in the PA with digital skills ".

We live in a time of health emergency. What are you doing in this area?

"Our Digital Health Pass is certainly a service that could help restart society and therefore also the economy. It is a "passport" that allows you to always have health information with you such as - in the case of Covid - the state of vaccination or that of positive or negative respect to the virus. It is a solution ready to be adopted: as often happens, it is a matter of political decision, not of technology adequacy ".

In addition to public administration, an area to be taken into consideration in order to restart the economy is that of small and medium-sized enterprises that most of all are suffering from the crisis. What are you doing here?

“In this case it is important to continue what we have done in recent years: a path of accompaniment and training on digital issues. It is also essential to show demos of technologies and case studies that can inspire businesses. "

If we had done this interview at the beginning of 2020, we would probably also have talked about the fears and perplexities that companies and people had in comparisons of technologies. Do you think these last 12 months have changed the perception of digital?

“I think so. 2020 has dropped many myths about digital. I think today the country's ruling class and people are more aware of the positive aspects of technologies. In companies, ICT is no longer seen as a cost but as a differentiation lever for their business. In short, digital is turning from necessity into opportunity. On the other hand, if it doesn't become central now, I wonder when it will ever happen ”.

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