The infrastructure sector, thanks to its multiplier effect on the induced generated and employment levels activated, is one of the key sectors on which to focus government policies, available financial resources, and the best entrepreneurial skills. The availability of public and private, European and national sources can be the initiator, but seizing this opportunity requires the definition of a medium-long term strategy, the construction of a solid pipeline of projects, the enhancement and evolution of human capital with new skills and the exploitation of the potential of the digital revolution.
Our infrastructure system is built in a highly complex area, the management of problems related to hydrogeological instability is an absolute priority, as we have over 30,000 major works of art (such as bridges, viaducts, and tunnels) with an average age of 40 years. This sector needs a physical and technological upgrade that can no longer wait. The launch of a major infrastructure investment programme in Italy, the most important since the post-war reconstruction period, is, therefore, the key to driving the recovery phase.
We are confident that this is the way forward if we are to return to growth, and so we have been investing time and resources to be ready to support our clients in the challenges ahead.
Economic recovery requires national policymakers to rapidly identify and implement the reforms needed to channel financial resources into infrastructure investments aligned with national and European policy objectives (e.g. modernisation of the country, ecological transition, inclusion and resilience, sustainability).
It is of fundamental importance to carry out proper financial planning, defining the public and private sources that can be activated, and release them promptly, through the definition of eligible projects that enhance value, such as sustainability, security, and digital innovation. There is an opportunity to use the resources of the Recovery Fund, of which Italy is the main beneficiary. Most of the funds will need to be spent by 2026, and this requires the definition of clear priorities for intervention and a necessary change in the approval processes and implementation of the works, which in Italy generally take much longer.
The continuous reduction of the domestic market and the concomitant reduction of margins, also due to competition and to a small and uncertain pipeline of large infrastructure projects, has contributed to the collapse of historic national players, to the loss of competitiveness of the sector, and has caused a crisis that has now lasted for more than a decade.
COVID-19 has amplified difficult situations in the sector, triggering the need for transformation as well as aggregations to benefit from economies of scale and market synergies, and to increase the size and resilience of Italian construction companies in Italy. The launch of a major infrastructure investment programme and the support and financing from the financial system represents a major opportunity that sector players will have to be able to seize. The implementation of an investment programme for the next 5 years, which is more than twice what Italy has achieved in the last decade, poses an issue, a future demand for professional services and work much higher than the current production capacity of the country. This threat can be transformed into an opportunity for development and qualified work for the Italian business system if they can demonstrate flexibility, resilience, and readiness to rapidly deploy the required production capacity.
In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly established the 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To pursue these goals, infrastructures, which are fundamental works for the development and competitiveness of the country system, must be conceived, designed, and built from a holistic and sustainable perspective, from an economic, financial, social, and environmental point of view, guaranteeing a benefit for the community, and enhancement of the territory and greater competitiveness for local businesses.
The definition of sustainable projects throughout the entire life cycle cannot disregard the involvement of all those directly or indirectly affected, i.e. active management of the stakeholder engagement process and dynamic monitoring of impacts, aimed at creating a widespread consensus network around the works.
Sfruttare a pieno il potenziale della rivoluzione digitale, in un settore caratterizzato da una stagnazione decennale della produttività, rappresenta il principale ambito sul quale investire per tutti gli attori del comparto, per essere in grado di cogliere le opportunità che si prospettano e vincere le complesse sfide economiche, sociali ed occupazionali.
Il solo utilizzo di nuove tecnologie senza la definizione di nuovi sistemi di gestione basati sull’integrazione dei processi e delle soluzioni software in uso, non sarà sufficiente a supportare e valorizzare la trasformazione digitale. Diviene quindi centrale l’utilizzo di un approccio di gestione integrato abbinato alle tecnologie per la pianificazione ed il controllo dei progetti, nonché al monitoraggio dinamico degli asset e delle condizioni di esercizio, volto al recupero di efficienza e all’incremento degli standard di sicurezza.
The "reading" of the current scenario, the skills acquired in the field by working alongside the main players in the sector and the desire to support the country for a rapid recovery in the post-Covid era and long-term sustainable development, led to the establishment of a Task Force dedicated to Infrastructure.
A multidisciplinary and integrated team, led by 15 Partners and composed of +200 professionals, economists, engineers and experienced professionals in digital & technology, lawyers and accountants.
To understand the challenges facing the sector, anticipate its transformation needs and support the main players - regulators, public and private financiers, contracting authorities and contractors - in the management of the entire project lifecycle.
The construction and completion of important infrastructures in our country requires an integrated approach between project control, risk management, communication & stakeholder engagement, procurement, mitigation and management of disputes with the use of advanced digital and technological solutions, able to ensure compliance with deadlines and costs, with high standards of safety and compliance with the regulatory framework of reference.
Infrastructure managers need to quickly adapt their organisation, business processes, monitoring and control systems, enhancing their human capital, supply chain and the impact generated on the territory and the economic system, exploiting the opportunities of digital transformation and new technologies to ensure safe, efficient, smart and sustainable asset management throughout the entire lifecycle.
For better control and care of our infrastructures.
Investors and infrastructure managers need to optimise the use of capital and finance, impacted by rapidly changing regulations driven by Green & Digital to reduce the risks of frontier business cases, prioritise investment choices, accelerate business innovation processes, support the international competition process by strategically exploiting funding & financing opportunities.
Business leaders are being called upon to manage one of the most eventful periods in recent years. In most cases, traditional management styles and organisations will not be adequate to handle the evolutions, accelerations and complexities arising from restart or new investments and will require support to: understand and facilitate the changes taking place without being subjected to them, Facilitate organisational evolution, Support the new ways of working and interacting with their employees and the outside world by recognising human capital as the main enabler of industry transformation.
The launch of a major infrastructure investment programme in new works as well as in the modernisation of the existing network will attract the interest of institutional lenders and investment funds on specific assets or projects and will involve operations in the Engineering & Construction sector aimed at increasing: the size, resilience, expertise of national players and benefiting from economies of scale and market synergies a new competitive scenario for a sector undergoing major transformation.
In a complex and uncertain regulatory framework, internal structures will need support to adequately manage the governance of the planning, contracting and execution phases of procurement, under the supervision of the relevant authorities.
Knowledge of the procurement, IT/IP, privacy and tax sectors is essential to maximise the benefits of the necessary investments that the major players in the sector will be called upon to make, and continuous and integrated specialist support is the real added value.
Today, infrastructures, which are fundamental for the development and competitiveness of the country's system, need to be designed and built from a holistic and sustainable perspective throughout their entire life cycle, from the economic, financial, social, cultural and environmental points of view, to be pursued through the active and constant involvement of the various stakeholders; to guarantee the enhancement of the territory and the productive fabric and tangible benefits for the community and future generations.
Exploiting the full potential of the 4th Industrial Revolution, through targeted and concrete investments in digitalisation, automation, innovation is the main area to invest in for all players in the sector to be able to seize opportunities and manage the complexity of projects; recover productivity, increase safety standards and focus on the customer experience.
The number of investments in the infrastructure sector and the consequent complexity of managing a plurality of orders by the different actors, contracting stations, general contractors and subcontractors will require specific and highly qualified support for prevention, management, resolution of unexpected critical events; prevention and mitigation of the impacts of claims, with the ambition to create a new spirit of collaboration among the actors of the sector.
Partner | Clients and Markets Leader, PwC Italy
Partner | Task Force Infrastrutture Leader, PwC Italy