Interview with Pierfrancesco Angeleri, managing director Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting Italy.
We have carried out a series of interviews with the main ICT and digital companies in 2021, in the light of the theme of Recovery plan, the plan for the recovery, economic and social, of the European nations.
The Italian government called it the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR), Europe launched the Next Generation EU formula. We, in the headquarters that we are responsible for, the technological one, like to decline it as Next Generation IT: IT understood, both as Information technology, and as Italy.
Eight questions, whose answers allow us to highlight the position of society and to build an overall framework of participation of ICT realities in the growth of the country in the digital sense.
The starting context, therefore, is that of Recovery Plan. Of the 196 billion euros that will be able to invest our country, almost 49 billion will be destined to the digital transformation of the Italian society. But digital will also enter other sectors: health, education, infrastructure and the transition to energy and environmental sustainability. In all these areas, the role of the ICT will be central in 2021.
We address them on the basis of seven topics plus one: technologies for recovery plan, smart working, data driver, cloud, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, 5G. The eighth element is that ‘celato’ in the DNA of the society and clearly and distinguishably connotations the technological figure, the contribution that it will give to the national digital development.
Interview with Pierfrancesco Angeleri, managing director Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting Italy.
In the context of the Recovery plan • Next generation IT, what are the technological levers that will be moved first, to achieve what goals?
As a country system, we have a huge gap to catch up with. The Desi 2020 report (Digital Economy and Society Index) places us in the fourth quarter of the last in front of Romania, Greece and Bulgaria. 25th out of 28 is not much. Considering that the report examines connectivity, digital skills, internet use, digital technology integration and digital public services, although in some of the sectors we are better than 25th place, we cannot be satisfied at all. We have certainly achieved excellent results, one of all e-invoicing among private individuals, but in other areas the shortcomings are obvious. The efforts of the public in digital services are commendable, but surely more needs to be done. It is difficult to categorize priorities. Often, we need to go across the board to improve efficiency in particular. The private and public must dialogue to work together and find the square of digital development as homogeneous as possible. The industrial imbalance north-south and the digital divide are obvious, but the efforts to remedy as best and as quickly as possible are really clear. I am making the example that we are most closely involved as a company, there is a permanent table of technological discussion between the Revenue Agency and Assosoftware. The objective is digital development to facilitate both the Agency and the world of accountants and professionals in being more effective and more advisory for the development of Italian companies, especially the SMEs.
Smart working will become structural: with what technological and organizational impacts, in terms of workflow?
I don’t know if smart working will become structural, it will certainly be used more frequently even after this unfortunate pandemic period. Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting Italy had already been running smart working for a year and a half before the Covid-19 broke into. Management has moved from visual control of productivity to a more modern approach with greater delegation and a broad responsibility of the employees. The crisis Covid-19 has suddenly accelerated and maximized our experiences in smart working and suddenly the whole company has found itself working remotely. The experience accumulated in the previous eighteen months has given us the way to maintain productivity, the spirit of collaboration and morals. The employees have touched with hand how important they are for the company, because their safeguard has pushed us to a lock-down before the official one. Of course, when we see the end of the health emergency somehow we will have to resume the theme and find a balance between physical presence in the office and smart working. Because if smart working favours the balance between professional and personal life, the physical encounter stimulates discussion, the fluid exchange of ideas and concepts and creativity in general. The technology must be more reliant on connections, their stability and generally on a sufficiently adequate budget of the individual remote collaborator.
We are building a society that must learn to cultivate data from the time they are born. What will it be useful to do, especially on the PMS front?
The figures are oil of the third millennium. All sectors of production must learn their collection and interpretation. There are industrial sectors where the use of data is more evident and evident. Industry 4.0 is the most obvious example. Data and data are used to generate technologies such as l’Iot, l’IioT, predictive maintenance, digital self and so on. But even for a sector like ours, the Tax & Accounting, data is now indispensable. The accountant must collect them, through the digital solutions we provide them, must analyse them, must present them and illustrate to his client, typically the management or ownership of a small medium enterprise, a professional, a trader and from the data he must draw strategic and management solutions for
In 2021 the cloud will be for everyone and everyone: does the multicloud become the new take-off runway?
Multicloud is an environment consisting of multiple cloud services, whether public or private, offered by different providers. It is definitely a takeoff track, but we keep in mind that not all production sectors travel at the same speed. Some people already have a great deal of experience with cloud services and those who still have to acquire it. Let’s go back to the Desi 2020 report that among small and medium-sized enterprises, the rates of use of advanced digital technologies are very low: 17% use cloud services and only 12 percent analysis of Big Data. In the area of Tax & Accounting we have a situation in the process of being very much developed. We have many users of applications and solutions in the cloud but we also still have SaaS solutions and in many cases still on premise. I would tend to say that digital divide is a very intense topic in the cloud. And I mean not only digital divides as an imbalance of access and connection, but also cultural and mental. New technologies need training and an appropriate approach. Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting Italia works hard on customer support in terms of training and services.
Like health, safety is increasingly a national direction. For the digital one, Italy is called to take a step forward. What will it do to accomplish it?
Structures, coordination, rules. There are many actors in digital transformation, so a uniqueness is needed that points to a choral development. Digitally carrying production processes in every sector requires very robust support in terms of safety. A national steering booth that sets standards and rules seems to me to be the most robust approach. Then it is understood that the levels of security that individual manufacturers and users want to add and implement to their digital activities and structures can logically vary from sector to sector.
Unbound by consumer applications, artificial intelligence no longer seems to be a How will we see it put to good use for the growth of the country?
But it is certain that artificial intelligence is no longer an enemy. The time of HAL 2001 Odyssey in space is far away. Artificial intelligence is an important advantage for many sectors, our company has developed applications that use it. Genya Revisya, for example, launched in 2020, is an innovative digital solution that addresses the Legal Auditor, a professional outside the company and charged by the company to monitor the regular keeping of accounts and financial statements. Our innovative solution adapts to the needs of individual auditors, trade unions and audit firms and with it the auditor will benefit from a guided process that will avoid errors and inaccuracies and will obtain precise analyses. The new digital solution will facilitate the development of an efficient review strategy thanks to artificial intelligence algorithms that will, among other things, minimise the volume of controls to be carried out at equal risk.
5G is on the way. How can you start by contextualizing it in the areas of recovery plan?
We have already mentioned the connectivity and the Italian need to operate on digital divide. 5G is a chance not to be missed. In Europe only 17 Member States have already allocated spectrum within the 5G pioneer bands, first of all Finland, Germany, Hungary and Italy. We are among the precursors of this connection technology and we must try to develop a 5G network as efficiently as possible. The stable and ultrafast connection is a very important factor of competition. We cannot just talk about autonomous driving or gaming. For example, we have the possibility to develop telemedicine, and why not, we have talked about it before, even smart working. Not to mention the advantages that can be obtained for distance learning. In this case I do not stop at the school needs born with the pandemic, but I think of those many realities that are in need of our peninsula. We are a long and narrow country with many mountains and many countries that often, especially in winter, remain isolated. Certainly the morphological conformation of our country is a brake on a plan of development of the 5G homogeneous. It is, however, a technology that can really affect the development possibilities of our country.
What will the action of Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting Italy in 2021 characterize?
Our market is essentially made up of professional, accounting and small and medium-sized firms. Our utmost attention and support in digital transformation is dedicated to them. New solutions, training and services characterize our relationship with customers increasingly composed of partners who believe in our research and development and our multinational corporate dimension but dedicated locally as regards the surgical capacity of services, assistance and interpretation of local needs. Digital transformation into Tax & Accounting is a process that is being initiated day after day and includes new actors and new solutions. We are proudly leading this market and the commitment is constant to maintaining our pre-eminence. Our customers certify the success of our projects and the achievement of our goals.