Because Italy is more than a geographic expression..

Alessi S.P.A. US

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Contradictory Narratives Define Italy: Well Positioned To Lead In The 4.0 Digital Revolution, Poorly Served By A Lethargic Economic and Education Model

First post for 2020.

I may have posted this article from MIT in the past but will do so again here in case. Italy has lagged its competitors in the field of technology (and historically while the county has contributed invaluable technological inventions it has not kept pace with France, Germany and the UK in Europe for the most part) but seems poised to become a 'hotbed' once again.

Italy can't seem to take a good thing and make it greater. The talent is obviously available but classic macro- economic conditions that has become a dark cloud in Italian affairs particularly since the 1980s threatens a good thing and turning it into nothing. A state of affairs that the country can't seem to dig itself out of.

So how exactly is Italy progressing? Italy is clearly advancing in the digital revolution but still don't get enough government and private sector support in terms of investment as well as the education system not training enough students to enter into the advanced technologies field.

According to Deloitte:

"AT present, Italy preoccupies both the EU and financial markets. There are unquestionably serious economic concerns. However, within the 28 EU member states, Italy is the second-largest manufacturer, behind Germany.1 And as revealed by our survey of around 100 Italian executives, which builds on Deloitte Global’s survey of 19 leading Asian, European and American countries, Italy is at the global forefront in many aspects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the digital revolution.2

With approximately 5,400 high-tech manufacturing companies, according to Eurostat, Italy is one of the top four countries (along with Germany, the UK and Poland) in Europe, which has about 46,000 high-tech companies in total. If all sectors are included – services, as well as manufacturing – Italy remains one of the foremost countries in Europe, with more than 105,000 high-tech companies. Italy is also above the European average in terms of the production and use of industrial robots, and in the adoption of 4.0 technologies such as the cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) communication..."

Italian companies also invest heavily in scientific and technological research. According to the European Commission, the average annual research and development (R&D) expenditure of Italy’s top R&D spending enterprises, at €185.4 million, is higher than the equivalent EU average of €165.8 million....'

"...Although the industrial robotics sector is dominated by China, South Korea, Japan and the United States, Italy is in seventh place worldwide. The country’s annual production of 6,500 units (see Figure 1) is expected to rise to about 8,500 units by the end of 2020. Although production is well behind that of Germany, which manufactures about 20,000 robots annually, Italy is in second place in Europe; France and Spain trail behind with 4,200 and 3,900 units, respectively...."

"....In addition, Italy is in the global top ten in terms of robotic intensity: the number of industrial robots compared to the size of the workforce. According to the International Federation of Robotics, Italy has 185 robots per 10,000 manufacturing employees, placing it far ahead of Spain (160), France (132) and the United Kingdom (71)6 (see Figure 1).

Italy ranks sixth worldwide in terms of M2M communication, which is fundamental to Industry 4.0. This technology permits the automatic, real- time exchange of data within a network of systems, machines, sensors and industrial robots. SIM cards, used in machines and sensors to permit the transmission of M2M data, number 16.4 for every 100residents: a figure equivalent to such countries as China and Germany, and ahead of Japan (12.7) and South Korea (8.3)..."

Despite this, executives surveyed are pessimistic:
"...Deloitte’s 2018 global survey showed Italy to be in quite an advanced position with regard to digital technology. However, perhaps reflecting the country’s generally less-than-optimistic mood, Italian executives indicated that they feel their country lags behind. They feel much less confident than their global peers about implementing new digital technologies. They also see the likely social impact of the digital revolution as problematic, rather than beneficial."

It goes on to discuss the usual political and economic challenges in Italy including high debt and low growth on a macro-economic level.

Talk about two faces of a nation. The county is on the right side of the 4.0 revolution but continues to struggle on the old 'bricks and mortar' metrics used to measure and define a nation-state.

Read for yourself.