The digital transformation


“Either change, or you’re out.” Ernesto Ciorra, Enel’s Chief Innovability® Officer, closed the forum on the subject of “Guiding digital transformation within the company” at this year’s TEHA Management event with a very clear message: digitalisation demands a significant change in corporate culture.  

Held on 26 March at Milan’s Museo Diocesano and organised by The European House Ambrosetti (TEHA), the event examined the transformation of organisational and strategic corporate models when taking on the challenge of digitalisation. New instruments are needed to avoid being forced out of the market and to guide a process that involves us all. 

Four themes were discussed – how to manage the mass of data between smart devices, smart cities and smart mobility, how to change the organisation and processes for financial institutions, people and digital transformation and how to change mindsets and corporate culture. 

This last point was presented by our Chief Innovability® Officer. “It’s a case of innovate or die,” said Ciorra, “But you have to be sustainable, and involve the finest minds within and outside the company.”

Comparing the groups described as digital natives and digital immigrants (the generation born before the dawn of the digital era), Ciorra explained that an open attitude to innovation isn’t automatic but depends on personal experience. If a digital approach becomes an everyday habit - smartphone use, for example - then the company, too, must become digital. The digital hub is a new, more agile operating model based on drivers of innovation like data-sharing and inter-company governance. Multifunctional teams that build solutions through networking integrate all global business lines or functions. 

The traditional vertical hierarchy is reconfigured to become a horizontal structure, transforming control into a process of mutual empowerment. The planning is imposed directly through experimentation, and transparency becomes a fundamental factor in organising all the elements that are useful for innovation. 

With the aim of leading the digitalisation process, Enel has launched collaborations with universities and research centres throughout the world, with 126 partnerships already operational. It has also created a network of seven international Innovation Hubs. A scouting initiative involving 2,948 startups has led to the implementation of 139 new projects, 38 of which are in the renewables sector. 

This process has developed rapidly using complementary instruments like the Open Innovability® crowdsourcing platform, which is open to everyone, and the Enel Innovation World Cup, an in-house competition giving staff the opportunity to test their skills as potential entrepreneurs. The My Best Failure sharing platform has been launched to help them learn from their mistakes, while the Project Portfolio Management platform manages all innovation projects. Between 2016 and 2017 we also created eight Innovation Communities - Energy Storage, Drones, Blockchain and Augmented Reality in the first year, 3D Printing, Artificial Intelligence, Wearables and Robotics in the second.

There is also a special emphasis on developing new work methods through the Enel Idea Factory and Innovation School for company employees.

Our commitment has now gained worldwide recognition. Enel is in fact the only utility and the only Italian company to feature in the top 50 of Fortune magazine’s #changetheworld list of companies that “do well by doing good” and have a positive impact on the planet’s social and environmental concerns.

Because innovation means changing yourself first, and then the world. And that’s exactly what Enel is doing.