The history of Italgas begins almost two centuries ago, long before the unification of Italy in 1861, and is the history of the largest natural gas distribution company in Italy and the third in Europe, with its 73,000 km of network, 9 billion cubic meters of gas distributed to about 8 million customers thanks to the daily commitment of more than 4,000 employees.
We began our digital journey more or less three years ago: a path that has contributed to a quantum leap in technological innovation, which has drastically changed the face of the company and dictated the lines of development for the entire sector. At Italgas, digital transformation has been seen as one of the main facilitators of the energy transition; a key factor that has involved assets, processes, workforce, and technical innovation, with the goal of reducing costs and increasing efficiency and reliability. In concomitance with this process, a people reskilling plan was launched in order to create the best conditions for effective reception of the new operating modes.
So far, the journey Italgas made can be summarized into three steps:
- The trigger for the journey to start;
- Foundations building - enabling the capability transformation to start;
- Agile & fail-fast way of working set up -to transform capabilities on core\priority areas.
The trigger for the journey to start was the regulator's request to the largest gas distribution companies to start replacing old metres with smart ones, back in 2016. Doing so, we decided not to limit to the meters, but to create an entirely digital and intelligent network,
identifying a long list of equipment on our network to be replaced by digital ones, offering the possibility to be remotely controlled, to receive instructions from our control rooms and send on a real-time basis data. We kicked off the IoT-zation of the network and the Digital Transformation journey in this way
Since the beginning of our journey, the Internet of Things has progressed on a large scale offering significant advantages to a series of processes related to the management of our network, through the remote control of our electronic meters and every other single component of our network (Pressure Reduction Station, Odorization Unit, etc.).
While IoT-izing our network, IT Infrastructure move to the cloud took place, setting up foundations for the following steps of the journey. One of the first benefits of cloud transition has been the setup of a centralized cloud-native data platform, enabling business lines to generate insights leveraging a better, deeper, and much-integrated view on business data points as well as the real-time data streams coming from IoT.
When all the foundational work-streams were coming to conclusion, the company realized there was another challenge to win in order to extract value at scale from digital transformation: the way of working, meaning by that processes, approaches, & skills defining “how we do things”.
Agile & fail-fast way of working setup
By November 2018, The Digital Factory has been set up in Italgas as the transformation accelerator. In the Digital Factory, we create innovative solutions, leveraging process digitalization, and new technologies applying the agile way of working: MVPs instead of finished products, good and on time vs perfect and late,sprints vs major releases, cross functional teams& org de-layering vs complex & siloed hierarchies. But also, an injection of new skills and roles, such as solution architects, UX designers, Product Owners, Scrum Masters.
So far, the new approach has been successfully leveraged to transforma number of key business capabilities ranging from scheduling, innovative workforce tools such as the augmented reality visors, customer journey re-design of all customer facing apps,analytics and artificial intelligence. Overall,250+ sub-processes have been mapped, defining digital evolution roadmap for 30+ IT systems and delivering returns three times higher than investments.
The black swan
In the middle of the journey, what nobody could even think about, materialized: Covid-19 pandemic.Firms around the world reacted to pandemic focusing different objectives:
- Survival: ensure business continuity;
- Evolution: leverage the crisis to optimize and evolve the operating model;
- Revolution: re-think the business model and develop new businesses.
Italgas firmly positioned itself on the Evolution scenario while keeping an eye open on Revolutionary new business opportunities, leveraging the agile way of working the Digital Factorybrought in the company to quickly adapt to the new context.
So far, all Rooms and MPVs never stopped and all work-streams are going to be delivered in line with pre-Covid plans, astonishing result!
The efforts made so far have created an enormous evolution in the way Italgas works.To make sure the transformation will be pervasive across the company, 2021-22 focus will be on adoption and scale up of the model successfully implemented so far.
The goal for the future is to make every single people able to work differently, equipped with tools and ways of working enabling better performances and to continuously improve them.
To facilitate that goal, a change mgmt.program will be launched to re-shapecompany leadership and cultural attitudes and create change agents in every area of the company.
With the cultural shift unlocked we aim to reach adoption of new capabilities and culture spread across the organization, making Italgas a Digitally accelerated business.
At that stage, full value of digital transformation will be extracted, at scale andmaybe we will learn that the journey envisaged years ago will not really end because a new transformation wave will start, to win new challenges and unlock new opportunities, again.