PEOPLE | Jan 25, 2018

Does the datum also count in business? Interview with Luciano Gaiotti

The centrality of the datum in the tertiary sector

“The ability to collect, analyze and interpret some data related to business activity is essential. Whatever the sector in which the firm operates”.

There is no doubt about the centrality of the datum in the mind of Luciano Gaiotti, central director of Confcommercio and board member of EDI, the organization’s startup created to support companies in digital transformation.

“If we can understand, monitor and clearly represent the trend of some variables, we can try to influence them. Otherwise we risk being dragged out of business without really knowing where we are going”.

Wanting to focus attention on business?

“Today many storekeepers still use daily takings as an indicator, sometimes the only indicator, of success of the business. Unfortunately, this is not enough. It is too concise an indicator and neither helps to find solutions nor understand the effects of actions that are being put in place. The results of a recent Digital Transformation Institute – Confcommercio study confirm the findings of a previous study focused on the business sector, which showed that 43% of traditional storekeepers (thus excluding the large retailers chain) do not use any indicator of performance, not even daily takings. The same study highlighted that very few storekeepers use the metrics typical of organized retail such as turnover per square meter; only 10-15% monitor the rate of conversion from visitor to customer and only 10-20% monitor profitability and rotation by product category. Not analyzing data very often means not being aware and therefore not intervening in a timely manner in problematic situations. Greater knowledge and awareness help in seizing all the spaces possible for improving store profitability as well as optimizing its operational efficiency”.

In which areas could attention to the datum help companies grow?

“Running a store is a complex job which requires very different skills. Today it is even more difficult because of the economic crisis and consumption, rapid changes in consumer buying behavior and, not least, new possible ways of conducting one’s business through the use of new digital technologies, which makes the competition even more fierce. If on the one hand, in fact, digital represents an opportunity to extend the competitive levers of the traditional store, on the other hand it generates and will continue to generate new competitors.

Digital technologies certainly represent a valid support for becoming more analytical. Management tools, spreadsheets, evolved cash register software (some already present in stores but for which there is a gap in training on using them) are useful tools for collecting the most important data, correlating them and representing them”.

What is the role of associations like Confcommercio in the digital transformation of companies?

“Confcommercio has always been engaged in supporting and developing companies in the tertiary sector with many initiatives ranging from union representation to the provision of services to companies. In particular, in order to help companies improve their performance, the association has created a series called Le Bussole (Compasses), a line of operational publications in manual format, focused on the core business of companies in various sectors.

Each manual is dedicated to a particular type of company – retail store, bar, restaurant, hotel – and expands on managerial, marketing, planning and personnel management skills, and operational and business profitability mechanisms. Ample space is dedicated to measurement of the company’s performance, taking into account specific sector indicators, built to better reflect the specificities of the business, providing concrete examples of their reading and consequent actions to be implemented. Moreover, to complement the series of manuals, training courses for increasing the level of knowledge and awareness are organized at the territorial structures of the association which are dedicated to entrepreneurs, or those who want to become one”.

Sonia Montegiove