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When the Digital Transformation is “pure” cost

The screenshot of my smartphone showing the option to suspend the insurance.

Because of the lock-down forcing my car to stay parked in the garage at least till December I decided to suspend the car insurance. I got an app that my insurer boasted when I set up the insurance as state of the art, designed to deliver services and simplify my interactions with the insurer. It took me a bit of time to set it up (apparently they need to know a bunch of info about myself that I still wonder what relations it might have with insuring my car…) but thanks to the biometric authentication is now recognising me immediately once activated.

So, here I go with the app, I am authenticated and with a few clicks I get to the page of the car insurance. There is the button to “suspend” the insurance. Great, looks easy!

Actually, it turns out it is not. When pressed I get a message telling me that a person from the insurance agency will call me within 24 hours of the next business day. I clicked on Saturday and that would mean sometimes on Monday I should get a call. What for, I wonder?

Indeed, on Monday late afternoon I get a call from a kind lady who says she noticed I want to suspend my car insurance. She will take care of that, but in order to activate the procedure I will need to authenticate myself with a code she gives me and that will be requested by another call on my smartphone.

In a minute I receive the call, input the code, disconnect and wait for another call that comes in a minute. At this point the lady tells me the authentication was successful and she will proceed to suspend the insurance. I tried to ask why I had to be authenticated since the app has already authenticated me and she told me that the app is a stand alone software that does not communicate with their systems…

Now this is a “wonderful” example of Digital Transformation gone wrong. This company spent money to develop an app and did not decrease any of their cost, actually, they increased the OPEX since now they have a person that has to to receive the message from the app and call back the customer. They spent money to create an authentication through the app and they spent money to set up an additional procedure to create an authentication via smartphone. On top, they waste their customers’ time and provide an image of inefficiency.

I am using this example just because I have been “suffering” from it, but it is actually a common situation for many companies that undertake the transition towards the cyberspace but remain rooted in the old processes, a sure recipe for losing money and decrease the level of service!

As I teach DX to several audiences I try to nail down the need to first rethink processes and business models and then to move into designing and executing the DX. Yet, in my experience, most companies are willing to inject software, create apps, but are resisting to change/redesign their organisation.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.