The crisis caused by COVID-19 has forced organizations to implement digitalization processes in order to face a new context, in which technology has played a key role. We have witnessed what we could describe as a forced advance of the digital transformation that a large number of companies had been postponing for some time.

The management of the pandemic is confirming some evidence that until now were only ideas more or less accepted by society. Technology and digitalization are and will be key pieces to face any economic, health, ecological or social challenge as some of the best international practices to control COVID-19 have shown, but also to implement telework systems that guarantee the work activity of organizations.

Following the reflection pointed out by Roberto Ranz, director of ASTI Foundation and responsible for Talent at ASTI Mobile Robotics, the brutal challenge that “the coronavirus crisis is subjecting our systems and models of social and industrial organization will open new windows of opportunity to an industry and society 5.0. This is not a fiction, but a model already anticipated in Japan by its government and that explains perfectly why this country was prepared for this pandemic and has known how to manage it in an excellent way. This model of 5.0 society and industry is based on two aspects: on the one hand, the accumulation of massive real-time data from all sectors and, on the other, a monozukuri culture of excellence and lean manufacturing habits”.

In addition to healthcare, there are many sectors that, due to the crisis caused by the coronavirus, have had to abruptly adopt digital tools to continue developing their daily tasks. This is the case of education: schools, colleges and universities have implemented at full speed virtual platforms to organize daily video conferences with students and thus continue with the academic calendar. Despite some technical alterations, more linked to connectivity, students and teachers have had no choice but to accept reality and adapt their traditional methodologies based on classroom attendance to a completely online environment.

But not only the educational field has had to reformulate its operations, many companies and organizations of all kinds have been forced to quickly implement digitalization processes to face a new context, in which technology is playing an essential role as we can see in our daily lives. In fact, we are witnessing what we could consider as an obligatory advance of the digital transformation that a large number of companies have been postponing for a long time.

We still do not know what this urgency is going to translate into in the digitalization of the internal processes of the organizations, but it is very likely that it will contribute to the position that Spain has occupied in the different European and world rankings on technological and digital adoption to rise and consolidate. We shall see. But what will no longer make sense is to approach the transition to digital with hot cloths or half measures if the company wants to survive in a competitive ecosystem that is increasingly permeable to constant innovation.

Level of digitization in Spain

It is not a question of bringing here all the statistics that have so far placed our country in a deficient and miserly situation. Studies of all colours have produced very negative data on the state of digitalisation. This is the case of the report Spain Digital Nation 2019, prepared by the Spanish Association of the Digital Economy (Adigital), which concludes that Spain continues to be on the border between the second-tier economies and the group of most advanced economies in terms of digitalisation, both globally and in the European context. The document reveals that, despite the progress made in recent years, our country is still unable to take advantage of all the value associated with the digital transformation in terms of growth, but also, and above all, social welfare.

According to the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), prepared by the European Commission, Spain was in tenth place in the European ranking in 2018, largely due to the improvements implemented in the country’s technological infrastructure. However, these improvements have not translated into the level of digitalization of companies, which is still far from that of the European leaders, especially SMEs and, within these, those with less than 10 workers, which represent 99 percent of the Spanish business fabric.

This article was originally published in the Telos Magazine of Fundación Telefónica. You can access it by clicking here


Bárbara Yuste
Head of digital communication at PROA and university lecturer