Conversation with Giuseppe Bungaro, Head of Information Technology at IBSA Group19 August 2020
Never has IT been the centre of gravity of every company in the same way that it has become recently on account of the COVID-19 emergency, the consequent lockdown and the need to adopt remote working and facilitate other forms of remote connection with employees. This period has forced a large part of the global economic fabric to suddenly anticipate important choices and put in place technological solutions for which we were not prepared. Those who had started processes and changes before the emergency, however, found themselves better able to manage the acute phase of the crisis, guaranteeing continuity and effectiveness to their action. IBSA's activity has been characterised by a resilient approach to the situation. Giuseppe Bungaro, Head of Information Technology, IBSA Group, tells us more.
"We’ve managed remote working in such a way as to avoid slowdowns and stoppages. IBSA's social responsibility is to keep production running at all times, in order to guarantee therapeutic continuity to patients. This is why IT acted early to implement the technical settings necessary to deal with the emergency, preventing production from stopping for the benefit of continuity of supply. During the early days of lockdown, the IT department was reorganised to be operational and able to respond to new methods and needs. Before the emergency, remote working did not exist at IBSA, but during the acute phase of the crisis we had 460 simultaneous remote working sessions. It was an immense effort and we had to face a series of new and very complex issues, starting with identifying and sizing the necessary hardware and software tools".
This experience led to a series of evaluations and even choices. What were they?
"The experience gained during the technical management of remote working has shown that certain tasks continue to be performed well and efficiently and are not negatively impacted by this method. Our help desk has even extended telephone availability to weekends, demonstrating that, with remote working, employees can also be operational at different times."
Beyond contingent situations or individual incidents, how do you design your development strategies and how do you apply IBSA's values to technological innovation?
"I believe that the results we’ve achieved are the fruit of innovation effort that started with applying IBSA’s values to the field of technology as well. Innovation, in fact, creates an ecosystem of technologies aimed at stimulating synergies between the group and all its subsidiaries: thinking at the level of corporate processes, this step is fundamental to transforming IBSA into a multinational company. Even the best technological project is destined to fail if there is no real understanding and involvement of people who share the Company's vision. This is why we implement a series of parallel actions. First of all, we must define the mission of the company's information systems so that the department itself understands the direction in which to go and what the objective is, then communicate and help the other departments understand what direction information systems are going in, which is objectively a bit complicated to explain. In order to achieve this, we always try to interpret the four cornerstones of IBSA in terms of values for information systems as well. This allows us to humanise our work: in short, we can say that behind digitalisation there is always the individual."
What does Digital Transformation mean at IBSA and how is it organised?
"Digital Transformation is not just about updating technology, but about making a real change in the company's mindset, promoting the exchange of information, collaboration between departments and the generation of innovative ideas that are then translated into technological projects. Digital skills are now just as necessary to do any job as reading and writing are. Even within IT, Digital Transformation requires the creation of a new type of role with skills and tasks to link departments. This requires us, for example, to rethink the specific functionalities linked to the more technical knowledge of process and system maintenance. Digital Transformation also activates new types of services that IT must provide to the company. Just as the production sector has always had technical services at its side to support them in the proper functioning of machines, in the same way if machines and processes become digital, a new type of role is needed to liaise between IT and the departments. Quality requires system administrators independent of the departments using the systems. Our task has therefore been to upgrade IT from an office of technical specialists to process professionals who support the business in its technological choices".
What's the next frontier?
"IBSA aims to become a multinational company and IT is also aiming for this goal. It will therefore become increasingly made up of process professionals who support the company in its technological choices. It’s likely that these professionals will take on increasingly inter-departmental roles within the business, but with the function of promoting constant flow in communications.
As we’ve mentioned, it’s a change of mindset for the company, with IT as an enabling factor, promoting the exchange of information, collaboration between departments and the generation of innovative ideas. By communing and dialoguing with each other, lateral thinking is achieved, which then generates solutions that had perhaps not been thought of before. We’ll see more of this from the end of 2020, as we’re planning a major reorganisation of IT roles, both in terms of skills enhancement and internal growth. In short, IT is no longer just a department of technicians, but of people with project management skills in the various business processes and with a broader vision. Each department is limited to its own context, while often the same system can be used by several departments or countries. This gives IT a broader vision because it truly is inter-departmental".