For this reason, seeking advice during setup and operational management is essential.
We met Ludovica Lardera, CEO of IFABER, to take stock of the current situation in the Italian supply chain and to take a closer look at a company that is bringing real innovation to the sector, constantly adding new features to their solutions.
What are the key trends in the supply chain market?It's very hard to define these, at least in the Italian market. Globally, we have seen a growing trend for e-procurement in recent years. In 2013, this increased by 5%. In 2014 the market grew even faster, going from + 5% to + 10%, and some sources are anticipating growth of 15% from 2015 to 2017. These numbers are lower in the Italian market, but are much more difficult to quantify in percentages, because it is extremely tricky to define the boundaries for these. What we can observe at IFABER is that Italy serves as a reflection of a number of global trends. We obviously expect a growth in e-procurement in the coming years, which will no doubt be favored by the new regulatory environment that has just been introduced within the Public Administration sector, with digital invoicing, which will make it easier for companies in both the public and private sectors to take a "technological" mindset - a positive factor. From 2017 onwards, private companies, too, will be obliged to invoice digitally, which will give businesses further food for thought. Furthermore, the digitalization of some aspects of the value chain will render companies more streamlined and dynamic, and sometimes even more innovative. In terms of context, it is what we expect to happen in the supply chain. SaaS (Software-as-a-service) is another trend that is constantly on the rise, while the sale of the licenses has demonstrated a progressive decline in recent years
The added value offered by IFABER lies in the fact that we accompany our clients every step of the way. It sounds simple - a little banal, even - but as a matter of fact, even the best technology risks falling by the wayside if not "accompanied" by other forms of support. The real success of a project is measured by the degree to which the tool in question is adopted and how intensively this is used in the process in question - otherwise it remains a technological advancement without actually changing behavior.
What are the strengths of IFABER?
The advice we offer is the true added value. This advice is invaluable both during the setup or planning phases when introducing the tool and with regard to our understanding of the context and, accordingly, of how far to push as part of a gradual approach, which categories to start with, what approach to take, and with what support – in the local area, on the supplier side and on the customer side. Let us remember that a supply chain product has an impact both on the company and on its supply chain. The ability to adopt new solutions is much higher when companies are able to "bring on board" both stakeholders and all their suppliers. With regard to the Public Administration sector, all economic operators in the area must be involved, along with any other stakeholders with any influence or relevance to public opinion. The advice provided during setup and operational management is crucial - it is not sufficient just to receive support during the implementation phase. Ongoing support is also important, as demonstrated with many of our clients. When we provide operational support, the degree to which our solutions are adopted is much greater than for those clients who decide to go it alone and manage solutions internally.
What do you consider to be the added value that you bring to clients?
My arrival at IFABER is characterized by a degree of continuity during a period of change. I think it is very important to provide continuity, whether with respect to people, to the position of a company, to colleagues or to clients. I believe that continuity represents an added value in itself. But at the same time, we need to introduce change. We're trying to foster this via an approach that is inherent and innate to IFABER - by listening to our stakeholders, companies and suppliers - to incorporate this process into an innovative product development strategy, with shorter cycles, a flexible, creative form of development, adopting that capacity that is often seen in a range of the contexts in which we wish to work. We're applying this on a technological level, but have not yet begun to incorporate this approach into our management of customer projects. For me, being innovative also means supporting the change that is brought about, and as such, I believe that this is something that will happen gradually with regard to the management of customer projects - it is a dual process of cultural change. Switching from manual processes to computerized processes to project management as part of a flexible development program. This dual leap would be too complex to manage for many Italian companies.
IFABER is changing extensively, what mark do you want to leave on the company?
Using the ideas, creativity and energy of our clients to generate new services will represent another change. Today, many ideas are generated by those who use them every day. Sometimes, there isn't a structured process in companies that is designed to incorporate these ideas. We are doing just that - gathering the ideas of our clients. And many new ideas for services have emerged because they respond precisely to a specific requirement. There is nothing better than knowing exactly what our clients need and what we can do to satisfy this.
In this era of enormous changes, five years is an aeon for many sectors and it is difficult to anticipate now what will be happening in the supply chain in five years. I can imagine that there are areas, from banking to the world of services, which may well be subject to major changes. I think it's important to be a winner, or rather that those companies that have the insight to look to new players in the industry, and who can respond to newly emerging needs will be the winners, ahead of those who simply perceive the supply chain from a traditional perspective, as has been the case until now. The scope and the size of the market will also be very different to today, no doubt, and we need to start looking at all those "adjacent" areas. This, at least, is what we are beginning to do, to enrich the service element of our business and meet the needs of our clients. To meet the needs of CPOs in particular – especially with regard to scouting skills, replacing various components within their product whilst ensuring quality is maintained, and honing our ability to support when expanding their supply base – is essentially tantamount to becoming analysts for the specific markets in question. These skills are obviously complex and are currently scattered among a range of key players.
How do you imagine the supply chain market in five years?
We just put this question to our colleagues at IFABER, and I'm going to give you the answer they gave me: the company is decidedly “rock”. We had asked whether IFABER was best described as a pop, jazz, rock or classical company. And the majority answered "decidedly rock". This term describes the energy that currently characterizes IFABER and which perhaps has always been present in the company. I also would use the terms "passion" and "creativity and energy." These are our three defining characteristics. We are extremely customer-focused: from our administration colleagues to those in the business division, from our colleagues in the customer support team to those in IT, who in turn work closely with our business colleagues. So - customer focus, passion and creativity, with a rock rhythm.
If you were to describe IFABER in three words, what would they be?
Watch the interview with Ludovica Lardera