Assessing digital maturity in order to evolve

With a global maturity index of around 68 points, which is still low, Portuguese companies have at their disposal key instruments, such as THEIA and Innovation Scoring, which diagnose maturity and point out ways to improve.

It is not possible to assess the digital maturity of companies without also addressing the maturity of their management, since they are inseparable concepts. According to Pedro Simões Coelho, Professor and President of the Scientific Council of Nova IMS, the level of digital maturity reveals the maturity of business management, as the degree of digitalization benefits from the decisions taken by management itself. It is not therefore difficult to understand that one will be dependent on the other.

COTEC Portugal carried out, in partnership with Nova IMS, the first and most comprehensive study on digital maturity in Portugal, research carried out with about 300 companies of various sizes and from various sectors of activity and which enabled us to understand the existence of a significant relationship between the companies’ digital maturity level and their market performance, in terms of turnover, gross added value generated and even export capacity. Thus, digital maturity involves aspects such as orientation for innovation and change management, management of intangible assets, operations and processes and market orientation. In other words, the digital aspect does not change management principles, it creates new possibilities, which is why it is extremely important to train managers and the entire organization to face the challenges of digital innovation processes, because at the base there must be a strategy oriented to these themes. “Digital maturity is not confusing or limited to the adoption of technologies. Digital maturity is actually nothing more than management maturity itself, which takes advantage of digitalization to increase the efficiency of business processes, to increase the value propositions for its customers, namely through higher levels of personalization of what they offer and which supports their decision-making with data and analysis that enables faster, more informed and innovation-inducing decisions ”, explains Pedro Simões Coelho.

According to this director, the study demonstrates, through national data, the existence of a cause-effect relationship between the digital maturity of organizations and key indicators of their performance in the market. “As an example, it is estimated that the 10-point increase in the digital maturity index (on a scale of 0 to 100), for a medium-sized company with a level of also average digital maturity induces a 5% growth in its business volume and more than 10% in its gross added value ”, explains this director. The study concludes that the Global Maturity Index of respondents is 68 points and that Market Orientation is the component with the lowest degree of maturity, with 61 points. The i4.0 maturity index of large companies, which is 75 points, is only 7 points away from that of SMEs, which get 68 points. The digital maturity index of companies is lower in the Accommodation and Restaurant sector and higher in Services, with the maturity index of exporting and non-exporting companies being very similar, corresponding to 69 points in the first group and 67 points in the second . “These results are fundamental because they allow us to realize that the digitalization and maturity of the respective management, more than a fashion or a market imposition, have concrete impacts on the business, which are measurable and can be anticipated by any company”, says Pedro Simões Coelho.

THEIA, the check up tool

As there is no cure without a diagnosis or improvement without identifying the problems, only with a total check-up of the business is it possible to set goals, find solutions and evolve. This is what led COTEC Portugal to create, within the scope of the Portugal i4.0 Platform (with which it intends to train and qualify SMEs to face the challenges of Industry 4.0), the THEIA – Technological and Holistic Engagement for Industry 4.0 Assessment.

This Industry 4.0 maturity assessment model is an essential tool for the self-diagnosis of SMEs, through which it is possible to understand their position, how they are preparing themselves and, above all, to identify the areas in which they should invest in. Through it, it is possible to obtain significant information on the maturity of Portuguese organizations and to understand their degree of knowledge of these themes, in addition to a more accurate mapping of the companies’ needs.

This assessment model, already available on the COTEC Portugal website, consists of a questionnaire of 30 questions that guides the company to understand where it is today and where it intends to be in three years’ time. In addition to carrying out an assessment, the model will give indications of concrete measures that can be applied in order to go up in the levels and give support in its implementation. At its base is a benchmarking of 11 models of digital maturity, both national and international, as well as interviews with representatives from various industrial sectors. The model is organized into five major areas, the assessment of which is carried out through specific questions for each of these dimensions.

Innovation Scoring to improve innovation

This new tool, which assesses digital maturity, is complementary to another which has already been made available by COTEC Portugal since 2008, and developed in partnership with IAPMEI, Innovation Scoring, which assesses the capacities and performance of companies in terms of innovation management processes. This tool, like THEIA, enables not only self-diagnosis, but also a more in-depth knowledge of the different dimensions that support innovation processes and the identification of areas which need improving.

Since its launch, it has been used by more than a thousand companies in Portugal, who also have the possibility of obtaining a set of advantages offered by COTEC and IAPMEI. In 2017, the tool underwent a reformulation, with the support of Deloitte, taking into account the improvement of functionalities, thus designing a new generation, Innovation Scoring 2.0.

The analysis of the performance of the main dimensions of the innovation process in this way also enabled the production of research on the impact of innovation on the economic and financial performance of national SMEs, called “Destination: Growth and Innovation”. Thus, the general conclusion is that innovative SMEs share a set of characteristics that differentiate them from others: they have a clear, sustained and aggregating innovation strategy; configure their organization to innovate repeatedly; define processes to operationalize their strategy; and develop transversal activities to boost innovation. In addition, it was also concluded that the most innovative SMEs have higher economic and financial performances than the other SMEs, with a turnover 3.7 times higher, with an annual growth rate of 10 percentage points, and an increase of their net result 7.8 times higher.

This tool also gave rise to the Manual of Best Practices, available online, where 40 best practices are published, related to practical cases. One such case is that of Bluepharma, a pharmaceutical company from Coimbra, which won the SME Innovation award in 2012. Its entire path in the area of ​​business evolution and innovation is described in a case study developed by ISCTE-IUL, which may serve as inspiration. Bluepharma started its activity in 2001, following the acquisition of a Bayer industrial unit, and already has several patents registered.

JPM – Automação e Equipamentos Industriais, winner of the COTEC-BPI SME Innovation Award, used Innovation Scoring to structure its innovation processes and build new growth areas, having achieved the most significant score in the areas of Organization and Impact. This Vale de Cambra company has a vast know-how based on industrial conveyors, automation and palletizing and is today a world reference in the intra logistics market, present in 40 markets, with more than two thousand installations in factories. Also Celoplás, winner of the SME  Innovation Award in 2014, is an example of a company that took advantage of the Innovation Scoring tool. Created in 1989 in the district of Braga, Celoplás is dedicated to the design, development and production of high-precision molds and components through the injection molding process for the electrical, electronic, automotive industries and, more recently, the health sector .

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