Learn about the case of Argentina and the UIA
How it Adopted a
This case study is part of research carried out by the ILO’s Bureau for Employers’ Activities (ACT/EMP) for the production of the 2022 Regional Report ” Where do Business Organisations Stand on the Road to Digitalisation? A look at Latin America”. The aim of these case studies is to help other employers’ and business membership organisations (EBMOs) in their transition towards digitalisation. We would like to thank the ILO’s South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) programme for its support in drafting this document, which will serve as a basis for an exchange of knowledge among EBMOs around the world.
What is South-South and Triangular Cooperation?
South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) can be defined as collaboration between two or more developing countries, which frequently have the support of traditional partners, guided by the principles of solidarity and unconditionality, the aim of which is to put into practice inclusive and distributive development models governed by demand. SSTC complements North-South cooperation with joint action to encourage development opportunities. As can be seen from the Sustainable Development Programme 2030, SSTC has become an important means of international cooperation for development and an essential item in the United Nations toolbox.
The Beginning of Change at UIA …
Over the past few years, Unión Industrial Argentina UIA (Argentine Industrial Union) has undertaken a comprehensive digital transformation and promotion process. First, at an internal level, for the purpose of standardising their processes, improving and centralising their member services, and optimising decision making. Second, regarding its member services, through the creation of tools that encourage the introduction of technology into the productive and operational processes of the actors of its network.
The internal project, which is still in its early stages but has been growing for over five years within the organisation, was the main tool to ensure the continuity of its activities during the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has also enabled the organisation to deepen and expand the scope of its member benefits, reaching all the regions of the Argentine territory. This journey is the result of constant dialogue among all UIA actors, the lessons learned during the process, and the certainty that the technology available, articulated with the work done by the UIA team of employees, will improve its current processes and enable it to reach all Argentine industries to better represent their interests.
Parallel to this internal process, UIA has promoted several projects to foster awareness of innovative technologies and practices, and their implementation across the sector. They have done so through a series of spaces and tools designed to learn about, support, encourage, and fund the digital transformation of the companies and chambers in its value chain.
What is UIA?
It represents 21 per cent of the workers in the private sector (over 1,300,000 formal employees), over 37 per cent of the Argentine exports, and 21 per cent of the country’s gross added value. To respond to the sector’s needs, UIA has created several mechanisms for promoting the use of innovative technologies and methodologies in the productive and operational processes within its network and respective value chains.
Why did UIA shift to a two-level approach?
For many years, UIA has been actively conducting research into, and promoting, the potential that implementing technology has in the economy, particularly in the industrial sector. As a result of several studies and publications, UIA has rolled out various articulation activities and mechanisms meant to achieve greater adherence to this type of solutions within its network.
This journey has triggered a process that UIA decided to conduct at two levels. At an internal level, the EBMO has digitalised its operational, administrative, and strategic processes, understanding the need to set the benchmark for digitalisation. At the external level, UIA has created a variety of mechanisms to promote the digital transformation of its network and boost the productivity of UIA member companies.
Transformation from Within: The Digital UIA
During the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UIA understood that the continuity of its activities depended upon rapidly implementing virtual solutions for coordination meetings at every level of the organisation. This process went through various stages as they gradually understood their internal needs and dynamics. Today, UIA has three fully equipped conference rooms for 100% virtual, as well as hybrid, meetings, and an events room with a live broadcasting system for holding virtual events.
Transformation from the Inside out: RUTA X
Ruta X in figures
Centro de Industria X
Formación Talento X
The Transformation Step by Step over Five Years
External:UIA drafted a report called Travesía 4.0 (Journey 4.0), which revealed that Argentine manufacturing companies recorded low modern technology implementation levels in their productive processes. This was a milestone in terms of raising awareness as to the need for promoting actions and public policies that encourage the incorporation of technology into the national productive fabric.
External:UIA signed an agreement with Accenture to build Centro de Industria X. This can be considered the starting point of a journey towards innovation and the introduction of technology of what would later become the Ruta X ecosystem.
Internal: The digitalisation of internal processes became a priority at every level of UIA. The resources available were deployed to bolster the transformation process at every possible level and thereby ensure continuity of its activities.
External:The restrictions imposed by the pandemic delayed the construction of Centro de Industria X, but also evidenced the need for increasing the lines of support and assistance to companies and organisations in the country.
External:The global agenda made digitalisation a priority across society. That enabled UIA to actively look for strategic alliances to push Ruta X further and approach programmes that would contribute knowledge and funding towards taking the project to a national scale.
In February 2022, the Ruta X ecosystem was officially launched with all its lines of work active. UIA began to provide support to companies and chambers across the country.
How was this transformation funded?
Internal Digital Transformation Project:
Path X Ecosystem:
Finally, the lessons learned from the process
When sharing its experience with peer organisations, UIA recommends starting by taking small steps because “one can make great changes with little time and money.”
Furthermore, it underscores the importance of creating spaces for knowledge-sharing and collaboration among peer organisations that have undertaken, or are considering undertaking, similar projects. As UIA states, “in our experience, several colleagues and members had asked themselves the same questions, and we were surprised to discover that the answers were sometimes very similar.”