The year 2021 saw a significant increase in activities in support of acquisitions and corporate rationalisation and concession tenders for gas distribution and integrated water services, as well as the continuation of important initiatives to improve the functioning of the Group's organisational model and the competitiveness of the companies. In this regard, the main activities carried out are listed:
- coordination of Working Groups (PMO) with the aim of finalising corporate rationalisation and process integration operations;
- organisational integration: centralisation, in accordance with the Group's model, of the main corporate functions of the companies involved in the 2021 Rationalisation and Integration Plan;
- for the same companies, Information Systems integration: centralisation of information systems, with priority given to the AFC area.
As a result of corporate, organisational and systems integration, the application of Group processes and procedures was extended.
In order to support the Group's development, organisational structures were adjusted, especially in the Waste Management BU, the Networks BU and the Market BU, as well as in the new subsidiaries.
Moreover, in order to facilitate the achievement of the objectives of the Group and of the individual companies that are part of it, in line with the provisions of the Strategic Guidelines of the Business Plan, important transformation projects were launched or continued, developed together with an in-depth Change Management process; specifically:
- a complex programme continued with the aim of redesigning the entire customer management and relation process, from the first contact to invoicing, entitled “Market Transformation Programme”;
- in the Networks Business Unit, the project for the use of a new Asset and Work Force Management (AM-WFM) system was completed; the "IrenWay" project continued, with the aim of creating a new and single technical-commercial information system for the management of the Gas and Electricity distribution service and the Integrated Water Cycle;
- within the Waste Management Business Unit, the "Just Iren" project continued, with the extension also to the companies Iren Ambiente, ACAM Ambiente and ASM Vercelli of the new management, operational and IT system, which will allow optimising the management of the waste collection, sweeping and conferment process, facilitating also the interaction with Customers/Citizens and with local authorities to which the service is provided;
- with regard to transversal projects, the "Digital Workplace" project was completed, aimed at allowing all Group employees to easily access information and collaborate safely and efficiently both in the office and remotely;
- the use of agile methodology for Business Intelligence projects and the development of portals and web apps as part of the "Digital Factory" programme (consisting of various projects developed with the Business Units and Central Departments) was made fully operational; in addition, a programme was launched to spread awareness of agile methodology through internal and external training courses;
- a programme was launched for the introduction of the lean method to support the efficiency of processes and the improvement of business performance, broken down into various projects focused on the main central departments;
- experimentation of Robotic Process Automation technology was also launched, through an assessment of the opportunities for automating processes in the main central departments and the subsequent implementation of a number of pilot projects;
- finally, a project to review the organisational model and the catalogue of corporate roles was launched in order to identify any changes that could be made to better support the evolution of the business outlined in the new Business Plan.
Finally, the improvement of the emergency situation, together with the activation of important measures to prevent and counteract the contagion, has allowed the return to the office and the resumption of activities in presence also for the staff that carried out their activities remotely since the beginning of the pandemic, while maintaining the possibility of carrying out part of their activities remotely. This allowed for a resumption of personal relationships and social cohesion within the offices, fostering collaboration and active exchange of information. Looking ahead, apart from its use as a tool to prevent and contain contagions, the continuation of smart working is considered useful, but in a differentiated manner according to the type of positions and activities carried out (it being understood that it cannot be adopted for operational and "field" activities).
The year 2021 saw the launch, continuation and/or completion of important projects which are strategic for the Group, as presented below.
In general, besides the necessary adjustments, the computerisation and digitalisation plan provided for in the Business Plan is in the implementation stage, with a significant increase in investments and operating costs for sustaining the process of transformation, security, and development of the Group. In 2021, the incorporations/corporate mergers were also supported, proceeding to the integration or standardisation of the systems starting from the administrative‐management area.
In order to support this change and achieve the expected results, among other things, certain areas of the Information Systems Department were reorganised and staff were strengthened in order to improve internal service levels.
In terms of transversal initiatives, in the Infrastructure area, the completion of the following projects is particularly noteworthy:
- Digital Workplace with the move of company mailboxes to the cloud and migration of company PCs to the new model office;
- the Group's new geographic network, which has increased connectivity resiliency;
- IT/OT network segregation to increase IT security in compliance with new NIS regulations;
- CyberArk, for secure and centralised management of administrative access to the infrastructure;
The project relating to the new Datacenter is also in the progress stage, in order to adopt technological solutions to support Business Continuity Management.
In the ICT Governance area, the main initiatives concerned:
- the Iren Now IT platform, which saw consolidation actions in 2021 and the design of Operations Management for the management of physical assets;
- carrying out the risk analysis within the framework of the PSNC (Perimento di Sicurezza Nazionale Cibernetica) project and drafting the PSNC risk analysis methodological procedure and the Risk Evaluation report.
In 2021, project initiatives aimed at raising the level of Information Security against cyber events also continued, the most significant of which are:
- the launch of an awareness campaign on IT security issues, aimed at all employees;
- the conclusion of the project to introduce dual factor authentication for access to systems;
- the conclusion of the project for the adoption of a tool for the management of privileged users.
With regard to the Corporate area, the main projects carried out in the year were:
- the completion of the management of all major personnel processes on a dedicated platform;
- the introduction of a Software as a Service platform for the management of the company's vehicle fleet, with the exception of vehicles dedicated to urban hygiene;
- the launch of the migration project to S4HANA technology of the entire SAP corporate application park.
With regard to the Networks BU, the activities relating to the “Iren Way” project continued, aimed at reviewing and standardising the processes and information systems to support the technical-commercial activities of managing the networks; at the beginning of November, the second release relating to the Electricity stream was made and activities relating to the Water stream continue (expected for mid-2022). The activities relating to the PMS2 (Smart Meter 2G EE) project were also completed, the release of which was carried out in conjunction with the release of the Iren Way Electricity stream. Finally, the project related to "EE Design and Simulation" was released in December.
Within the Energy BU, management of the new continuous trading market (XBID) was introduced within the Power Management - Electricity Exchange area and the consolidation of systems relating to the management of district heating on a single centralised platform was completed.
As regards the Market BU, in 2021 functional releases continued, in continuity with the previous year, aimed at consolidating the systems of the "Energy Market Transformation" programme and completing it with functions for B2B customers.
During the year, the periodic releases of the IrenYou app continued, reaching a total of 850,000 registered customers and a rating steadily above 4; additional functions for the PIS (Payment Initiation Service) and AIS (Account Information Service) payment services were also released on the app. The Transformation programme will continue in 2022 with the migration of water service customers.
Finally, in 2021 the new Energy Forecasting platform was released and the first pilot project of the new Energy Trading & Risk Management cloud platform was launched, which will be released in production in all its functionalities by the first half of 2022, for an optimised management of Iren's portfolio.
For the Waste Management BU, the main initiatives concerned:
- the completion of the release of the "Just Iren" programme, with the complete redesign of the application map starting from the sector of collection and sweeping and of the activities related to the relationship with municipalities and citizens, and the activation on the same systems of the Purification processes;
- the release, in March, of the functionalities for the management of environmental services, weighing and Customer Care services for Iren Ambiente;