Nayat Sánchez-Pi, director of Inria Chile: “Technology and digitalization are key allies for company competitiveness and productivity”

Published on Tuesday, 5 May 2020

“Upon digital transformation, a machine learning algorithm can optimize and/or predict the behavior of certain functions, automate the decision-making process, among other things. This absolutely applies across the board to all production sectors, and even to all areas within companies and organizations.”

– Nayat Sánchez-Pi, director of Inria Chile

National Context

A study performed by the Santiago Chamber of Commerce along with other entities, the 2020 Company Digital Transformation Index , which measured the evolution of the use of tools and digital practices in companies of all sizes across the country, concluded that while companies in Chile have gained digital maturity, half are still beginners and below, or analog. For Sánchez-Pi, the national context is not much different from what is being seen around the world.

Is Chile digitalizing its companies?

There are studies that quantify and demonstrate that Chile still has far to go in terms of digital transformation and the adoption of technology. For example, nearly 80% of Chilean companies have not even implemented a data management platform (2019 IDC Study), and only two out of every ten companies invest in digital technologies as part of their business strategy.

However, this reality is not very far from global data, where most companies have not known how to leverage the technology developments available.

Digitalization, a Priority

Sánchez-Pi leads the Inria Chile Research Center on Digital Technologies, an institution that has been operating in the country since 2012, coordinating the scientific ecosystem between universities and the industry, and developing and implementing technological solutions that enhance productivity and competitiveness in organizations like Sernageomin, the ALMA and LSST Observatories, and the Bus Monitoring Center of the Metropolitan Public Transportation Office, as well as the mining and agricultural sector.

For the director, given the current context marked by the effects of Covid-19, technology and digitalization will take on a fundamental role within the economy.

Given the current scenario of the Covid-19 crisis, are the companies that have digitalized more sustainable? Will they be more resilient? Will they have better results?

The current scenario implies the digitalization of processes now more than ever. We can say that the success of telecommuting essentially lies on the 100% digital implementation of an organization's processes. In this context, a lack of digitalization required some companies to interrupt certain activities or undergo a sudden transformation. In fact, if we had made more progress in terms of digitalization, the impact of Covid-19 would be much lower. For example, if manual processes or those requiring human supervision had been automated through technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics, now we would see much less disruption in the production processes.

“I think Covid-19 offers a framework of reflection to revisit companies’ priorities and reposition themselves right away within a post-Covid-19 scenario, in which society and the production sector will better appreciate digitalization and accept processes such as the implementation of artificial intelligence.”

– Nayat Sánchez-Pi, director of Inria Chile

Do you believe that technology will play an important role in the recovery of our country and others in order to grow and develop?

Technology played an essential role in the economy before Covid-19 and will now play an even more important part in the recovery process. This global emergency situation has proven that technology and digitalization are key allies for company competitiveness and productivity. Now, the focus must be on leveraging these and, as I said before, going even further, to achieve the comprehensive automation of some production processes through the adoption of technological tools such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of things and robotics. These technologies may be applied extensively in numerous areas, like healthcare, intelligent agriculture, logistics and transportation, to mention a few with a direct impact on the current context.