Bringing to you some fresh insights from an interview with Felix Hernández de Rojas, the Senior Business Development and Digital Manager at Telefónica Spain, hosted exclusively by Babhravee Goswami!

Digital Transformation Trends in Spain: An Overview with Felix Hernández de Rojas

Digital Transformation Trends in Spain: An Overview with Felix Hernández de Rojas

Digital Transformation Trends in Spain: An Overview with Felix Hernández de Rojas

Digital Transformation Trends in Spain: An Overview with Felix Hernández de Rojas

Bringing to you some fresh insights from an interview with Felix Hernández de Rojas, the Senior Business Development and Digital Manager at Telefónica Spain, hosted exclusively by Babhravee Goswami!

Bringing to you some fresh insights from an interview with Felix Hernández de Rojas, the Senior Business Development and Digital Manager at Telefónica Spain, hosted exclusively by Babhravee Goswami!

Babhravee Goswami

04-Jun-2024

The pace of technological change shows no signs of slowing. The relentless advance of technology is reshaping industries, consumer behaviors, and market dynamics at an unprecedented speed. This shift necessitates a proactive approach to innovation and adaptability. Hence, digital transformation is not just a strategy; it's a necessity for survival. Digital transformation continues to reshape industries across the globe, with Spain being no exception. As we navigate through 2024, the landscape of digital transformation in Spain is marked by significant advancements and emerging trends. Let’s explore the latest industrial insights to paint a comprehensive picture of how Spanish businesses are leveraging digital technologies to innovate, enhance efficiency, and drive growth. 

Growing Investment in Digital Technologies 

Spanish companies are increasingly recognizing the critical role of digital technologies in maintaining competitiveness. According to a recent survey by IDC Spain, 65% of Spanish businesses plan to increase their digital transformation budgets in 2024. This investment surge is primarily driven by the need to adopt advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and the Internet of Things (IoT) to streamline operations and improve customer experiences.  

Mr. Felix emphasises, “The current state of digital transformation adoption among businesses in Spain depends on the sector and the size of the business. Big companies have better opportunities to improve their IT budget, and since the last two years after COVID, the pace of change has accelerated. 

Industries leading in digital transformation efforts in Spain include the financial sector, particularly banks, which are developing many AI projects as it's a data-driven business. Companies in the IBEX 35, like Repsol and Telefónica, are also significantly transforming by enhancing their budget capabilities. In manufacturing, public examples show a shift towards electric vehicles and new ways to produce renewable energy, such as hydrogen. In the industrial sector, broadly defined to include areas like mining and automotive, companies are increasingly focusing on data-related aspects. The move to the cloud is happening very fast, enhancing capabilities to do different things. This shift is driving significant internal changes within businesses.” 

Key Investment Areas: 

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: AI and ML are at the forefront of digital transformation efforts, enabling businesses to harness data for predictive analytics, automate processes, and personalize customer interactions. Companies like BBVA and Telefónica are leading the charge, integrating AI into their core operations to enhance decision-making and efficiency. The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies is gaining momentum in Spain, as businesses recognize their potential for process automation, data-driven decision-making, and personalized customer experiences. A report by the Institute for Business Competitiveness (ICE) highlights that the adoption of AI and ML solutions is expected to increase by 35% in the next three years, with industries like retail, banking, and telecommunications leading the charge. 

Internet of Things: The IoT is transforming industries such as manufacturing, logistics, and agriculture in Spain. By connecting devices and systems, businesses can monitor operations in real-time, optimize resource usage, and reduce downtime. For instance, SEAT has implemented IoT solutions to create smarter manufacturing processes at its Martorell plant. The Internet of Things (IoT) is revolutionizing industries by enabling seamless connectivity between devices, sensors, and systems. According to a study by the Mobile World Capital Barcelona, the Spanish IoT market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 19.7% between 2021 and 2026. Industries such as manufacturing, logistics, and smart cities are leveraging IoT solutions to optimize operations, enhance supply chain visibility, and improve resource management. 

The Rise of Remote Work and Hybrid Models 

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of remote work across the globe, and Spain is no exception. A survey by Eurostat revealed that 30% of Spanish employees are now working remotely, a significant increase from pre-pandemic levels. This shift has prompted companies to invest in digital collaboration tools, cloud computing, and cybersecurity measures to support a distributed workforce. 

“Regarding remote work, when the pandemic finished, a lot of employees were working in middle and big companies. All of them needed intensive support from cloud solutions, and there was a huge demand for that. But now, there's been some kind of change because it was presumable that maybe some kind of hybrid style of life was necessary. We discovered that people were working remotely completely with little or no connection with their company. Many companies are now working physically two or three days and the other days remotely. But the assumption of and the use of cloud solutions continues. If you buy something to use for teleworking, like a platform, they continue using that solution because they found it valuable, even with this mixed way of working,” reflects Mr. Felix. 

Trends in Remote Work: 

Digital Collaboration Tools: Tools like Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Zoom have become indispensable for Spanish businesses. These platforms facilitate communication, project management, and virtual meetings, ensuring that teams remain productive regardless of their physical location. 

Cloud Computing: The move to cloud-based solutions has been crucial in supporting remote work. Companies are leveraging cloud platforms to store data securely, scale IT resources on-demand, and enable seamless access to applications from anywhere. 

Accelerating Cloud Adoption 

The Spanish cloud computing market is expected to experience significant growth, with a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.9% between 2021 and 2026. This surge is driven by factors such as cost optimization, increased agility, and the need for remote work capabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies across various sectors, including finance, healthcare, and manufacturing, are embracing cloud technologies to enhance operational efficiency, scalability, and data security. 

Mr. Felix elaborates, “The automation is being considered more. The problem we had pre-COVID was that maybe the way we compete outside was good but there was not enough digitalization. But those ideas are changing a lot right now. We are visiting many big customers who, prior to COVID, did not have a very organized way of doing things. For example, Spain is a very important country supporting food, and prior to COVID, the food sector continued with their business, but with not the necessary sophistication. Now all of them are incorporating a lot of automation and digitalization in their factories, because they understand that they need to keep competing."

Emphasis on Cybersecurity 

With the increase in digital transformation initiatives, cybersecurity has become a top priority for Spanish businesses. The Spanish National Cybersecurity Institute (INCIBE) reported a 30% rise in cyberattacks in 2023, highlighting the growing threat landscape. As a result, companies are investing heavily in cybersecurity technologies and practices to safeguard their digital assets. 

Cybersecurity Focus Areas: 

Advanced Threat Detection and Response: Businesses are deploying AI-driven cybersecurity solutions to detect and respond to threats in real-time. These systems can analyze vast amounts of data to identify anomalies and potential security breaches. 

Employee Training and Awareness: Human error remains a significant factor in cybersecurity incidents. Spanish companies are prioritizing cybersecurity training programs to educate employees on best practices and the latest threats. 

Digital Customer Experience 

Enhancing the digital customer experience is a major focus for Spanish businesses aiming to differentiate themselves in a competitive market. According to a study by PwC, 70% of Spanish consumers prefer interacting with brands through digital channels. This preference is driving companies to innovate and improve their digital touchpoints. 

Mr. Felix substantiates, explaining, “One thing all companies are focusing on is customer experience. For example, using analytics to find the more interesting customers to sell to or deploying contact centers with AI chatbots to understand customer satisfaction and identify areas needing improvement. For all companies, enhancing customer experience is key. In telecommunications, companies are doing impressive work to improve along with their customers. They know it’s crucial to cope with changing behaviors, as customers, both businesses and households, have become accustomed to preferring digital channels. In supermarkets and retail, there has been an impressive growth in online shopping and connecting with government services online. Even in healthcare, the relationship with doctors has changed, with more use of computers and phones. All these companies, including the public sector, are trying to adapt and offer these new services.” 

Innovations in Customer Experience:

Personalization: Leveraging data analytics and AI, businesses are delivering personalized experiences to their customers. Retailers like Zara use AI to recommend products based on customer behavior and preferences. 

Omnichannel Strategies: Companies are integrating various digital and physical channels to provide a seamless customer journey. For example, El Corte Inglés has developed a robust omnichannel strategy that allows customers to shop online and pick up in-store or receive home delivery. 

Sustainable Digital Transformation 

Sustainability is becoming an integral part of digital transformation strategies in Spain. Businesses are increasingly adopting green technologies and practices to reduce their environmental footprint and meet regulatory requirements. 

Mr. Felix shares, “European Union support, particularly through the Next Generation funds, is providing substantial financial aid for these transformations. Sectors focused on sustainability are receiving special help from the Spanish government to improve circularity and recycling processes. Overall, significant investments are being made not just in digitalizing workplaces but also in transforming shop floors and factories, leading to many changes across various industries.” 

Sustainable Practices: 

Green IT: Companies are optimizing their IT infrastructure for energy efficiency, using renewable energy sources, and implementing sustainable data center practices. For example, Telefónica has committed to reducing its carbon footprint by transitioning to 100% renewable energy by 2030. 

Circular Economy: Spanish businesses are exploring circular economy models, where products and materials are reused, refurbished, and recycled. This approach not only reduces waste but also creates new business opportunities. 

Fostering Digital Talent and Upskilling 

As digital transformation gains momentum, the demand for skilled professionals versed in emerging technologies is soaring. The "Digital Talent Gap in Spain" report by Hays highlights that 68% of companies struggle to find qualified candidates for digital roles. To address this challenge, businesses are collaborating with Government and educational institutions, offering in-house training programs, and fostering a culture of continuous learning to upskill their existing workforce. 

According to Mr. Felix, “Most are asking for complex solutions and realize they need a well-fitted infrastructure and all-rounding workforce. They are moving quickly, deciding in one or two years that they need to focus on data. This movement is not just for the 35 biggest companies but for the 2,000 biggest companies. This is a huge figure that a lot of people might not be aware of.  

Three or four years ago, only the first-line companies in tech were having interesting experiences in big data. But now, many companies are operating in this space. To work properly with data, many other things need to be ready and prepared, like a well-studied ERP ready to be exploited. The point is the data will be crucial for the next few years.” 

What all of the above mean for businesses? 

In the upcoming years, businesses that have successfully undergone digital transformation will look fundamentally different from their current state. They will be data-driven, agile, and customer-centric organizations that heavily rely on advanced technologies to make informed decisions, automate processes, and provide seamless experiences. Remote work will be commonplace, enabled by digital tools and platforms, while continuous innovation and ecosystem collaboration will drive new value creation. As digital transformation deepens, businesses will prioritize cybersecurity, employee upskilling, and sustainable practices. The workforce will evolve, focusing on higher-value activities that require human skills and creativity, while routine tasks are automated. Ultimately, businesses that embrace digital transformation will be better positioned to adapt to market changes, create value for customers, and maintain a competitive edge in the rapidly evolving digital landscape. 



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References: 

1. IDC Spain. (2024). Survey on Digital Transformation Budgets. 

2. Telefónica AI Integration Report. (2024). 

3. SEAT IoT Implementation Case Study. (2023). 

4. Eurostat. (2024). Remote Work Statistics in Spain. 

5. INCIBE Cybersecurity Report. (2023). 

6. PwC Consumer Preferences Study. (2024). 

7. Telefónica Sustainability Report. (2024).  

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© 2024 Kudzu Infotech Private Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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