The selection and integration of a technology start-up in the context of consulting projects


The new rules imposed by the digital transformation in terms of integration of business and technology have led me, over the last few years, first as head of technology in a start-up that I helped found and then as a management consultant in Quodigi, to ask myself the question referred to in the title: how to assist technology and business to promote proper integration in industrial contexts?


I think the answer to this kind of question is still very much dictated by the experience of those of us who work actively in the field of management/digital consulting, because the strong dynamism of recent years in the context of digital has created a series of significant complications to which only the new projects implemented (successfully or not) in recent years are beginning to give an answer. What I propose to exemplify below is the summary of my experience, lived "from both sides of the table".

From my personal point of view, the approach to the problem of how to manage a technological integration in projects of considerable business and organizational complexity starts from a classic due diligence approach and then takes into consideration a series of other aspects that are strongly interconnected and that are consequently in a constant cause-effect relationship. Three in particular are the aspects to be taken seriously into consideration, both punctually and in the relationship they create with each other (a relationship that I would define as circular), I refer in this sense to:

  • Team
  • Technology
  • Business



The fact that digital business is by nature changeable, agile and flexible imposes the same agility and flexibility on the minds of the members of a company, who live and implement this business every day, but this does not mean that a team of "crazy horses" is what an SME is looking for.




Often when we talk about integrating digital technology in industrial environments, but more generally in businesses that are not directly related as a core to the digital world, we find ourselves in the need as well as opportunity to research, select and subsequently integrate technological start-ups/scale-ups. These realities, which respond to technology/business and market requirements that we all know very well by now, live with characteristics of adaptability, speed on the market and considerable obvious fragility so that the composition of their team, starting from the founders, are of considerable impact on the success of their business. So, what are the necessary and sufficient conditions for the team of a digital technology provider to be compatible with the needs of much more structured industrial realities?

The first immediate response I feel like giving would seem at first glance to be in direct contrast to the start-up characteristics mentioned above: stability. In a well-constructed team there is absolute necessity and space for visionaries, minds that look at what will be months or years from now and who rightly do not care about today, but alongside these figures I personally always look for the presence of professionals who make rigor and precision their strength. In this sense, someone who deals with more classic themes such as operations or the financial/administrative side (just to give a few examples) as well as giving solidity to a business that by nature is not, helps to create a climate of natural trust in those who have to buy the technology (the industrial environments of SMEs) but above all integrate it into their processes, sometimes even into their core processes.

So, having acknowledged that these types of teams are the ones I prefer the most (exceptions always exist, especially in this world), I have to add a second fundamental point: everyone on the team needs to knowconsistent with their role, what the company does for a living and the fundamentals of the technology it promotes. I'll try to better detail what I expressed earlier: there is no room for watertight teams in digital technology providers, even those who deal with administration (just to mention a role usually unrelated to the nature of the business), if we want the business to be efficient, must know at least "what we are talking about" when we talk about the company's core business. This should not be interpreted with the classic "everyone does everything", which is just a confusing and chaotic derivation of what was expressed earlier, but as the true essence of efficiency, in which everyone does what he or she is responsible for but, knowing the nature of the business and the roles that interpret it in the company, is able to work in an agile way and above all making the work of others lighter, avoiding creating unnecessary barriers that only very solid businesses can manage through a hierarchical organization.

As previously stated, the Team topic is definitely complex and perhaps will require specific future discussion, also because it also involves the personal relationships of the professional figures that make it up, the above is not necessarily an exhaustive treatment of 100% but certainly represents in my opinion what at first glance can not and should not be missing.



Technology is the essence of what we are going to integrate, the main reason why very often as a consultant I am asked to open a project, there are really too many reasons that make a technology interesting in the eyes of those who acquire it to innovate their processes, in this sense only one, however, is perhaps the aspect that can not really miss: technology must work.



Let's not limit ourselves to reducing the previous sentence to the level of a banality, because I would be the first to call it such if taken out of context. From a technology, especially in a start-up phase, it would seem excessive to me to expect it to have all the characteristics of an established technology:

- Stability
- Solidity
- Consistency
- Support
– …

All the above characteristics are very appreciable if they are already present in their entirety or only in part, but they are peculiarities that a technology can acquire over time with the solidification of the market, the company's experience, the growth of the team, etc. Only the functioning in the strict sense, i.e. the purpose for which it was designed, is a guarantee that that technology can properly perform its task once it is integrated into a larger process such as an industrial one. From my point of view, and I also speak from direct experience, there is nothing worse than a technology that does not deliver what it promises: when the gap between the marketing of a technological product and its real functioning is too large (a minimum gap is always acceptable, of course) the very nature of the business is endangered in its foundations.

Returning then to the topic of technology selection, my focus always goes first in understanding, regardless of how far the technology is ahead on the market, how well the product meets the requirements for which it was built. Every improvement, add-on, feature, etc. cannot be separated from the basic functioning of the product. It may certainly seem paradoxical at times, but the malleable and agile nature of the digital business often leads to the creation of products that are excellently positioned on the market, that follow the right trend at the right time, that have the right team, in short, all the right credentials, but whose product is not yet ready for real commercialization. All of this is acceptable, for example, for a start-up with mid/long-term goals of entering the market and which therefore depends heavily on funding and constant capitalization, but it is not what an industrial SME usually aims for when it is looking for something to integrate into its processes with the aim of innovating in the short term.



Business takes on a key role when it comes to combining the technology provider model with business needs, or better yet, often budget needs, related to the needs of those who want to integrate technology.



It is not interesting, in the specifics of this article, to deal with how important is the state of definition of a business model of a technological start-up, since often, when we talk about integration, it is not said that we follow the dictates of the business model (and associated revenue model) of the supplier (think for example when a b2c technology is integrated in a b2b environment with different purposes but using the same technological layer).

Returning to the fundamental point, here too I would like to highlight what is perhaps the most important aspect: the margin. On the one hand, those who have to integrate technology are (rightly) expecting to do it well, quickly and at an accessible cost, but on the other hand it is essential that this accessible cost is compatible with a correct margin for those who provide technological support: it is not a good deal for anyone to have a supplier work under margin, however satisfactory the agreement may be, from an economic point of view, if both parties are unable to work with a correct margin, the risk is that the implementation is not done in a workmanlike manner, ending up spending money unnecessarily.

Even in this last case, the concept of business in technological integration is not limited or not restricted only to aspects linked to the margin, but the latter is certainly an aspect not to be underestimated, above all in order not to disappoint, and to set correctly, the expectations of one's own client.


The complexity of the digital world and the interconnection of numerous aspects such as those discussed here create therefore a new paradigm when it comes to managing the theme of technological integration. In this regard, it is known that there is a growing need to search for managerial figures who know how to correctly navigate technological and business aspects in order to avoid separations between these issues that are detrimental to the success of integration initiatives, but more generally constitute a brake on the growth of the competitiveness of our companies in the global market.

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Lucius Pinzoni
Lucius Pinzoni
Aerospace Engineer, I helped found my first IoT start-up at 26 years old managing the implementation of hardware/software technology and the evolution of the business operations side. For the last two years I have been working as a management consultant in the technological-digital field, with the aim of driving the evolution of digital transformation creating tangible value for the business.
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