SAP and Trenitalia’s IoT-Enabled Dynamic Maintenance – Part 3: Culture Change

In the second blog in this series we reported on Trenitalia’s current and future IIoT-enabled maintenance approaches the company uses. This blog provides expectations and recommendations on instilling successful culture change.

Culture Change for Company-wide Implementation

During the panel discussion, Mrs. Barbara Morgante mentioned that the company’s transformation is not only technical and financial but also cultural. The company is currently developing a culture based on technology and innovation. People in maintenance can be more involved and have a more important role in the company, she said. Engaging people more and stimulating them to take more initiative and responsibilities are positive indicators for business performance, but changing mindsets requires attention, coaching, and encouragement over longer periods, which is why cultural change are multi-year projects.

Mr. McDermott, CEO of SAP, noted that the best ideas for co-innovation originate from people close to the customer, which could be taken as SAP’s commitment to client intimacy. Mr. McDermott also spoke about the increase in efficiency required to make clients successful again following the global financial crisis. Cloud contributes to that efficiency, and he added: “dream and make realistic and economically viable plans to realize these dreams.” We believe Mr. McDermott is “spot on” because “dreaming,” that is, visualizing positive future outcomes built upon current strengths, can get companies to go through impressive transitions as Trenitalia; transitions that go beyond pure cost-cutting exercises. Involving all levels of an organization in envisioning and building positive change based on current strengths is far more successful than often-used change management approaches that focus on eliminating resistance to change, because it significantly increases personnel engagement.

Inspiring Positive Change

This phenomenon is well researched and documented, for example by the Weatherhead School of Management of the Case Western Reserve University in the US. Indeed, these studies find, that people closely involved with day-to-day activities often have great ideas for improvement and can show significantly increased engagement by participating actively in change programs and transforming their ideas into reality.

Approach For Positive Change (Source: Case Western Reserve University)


Trenitalia is proud that a typical old-economy type of business can be transformed into a very efficient, state-of-the-art, high-tech operation. The expected benefits of over €100 million annually are impressive. However, there is still quite a road ahead to realize those.

Other challenges lie ahead in integrating new types of transportation, such as driverless cars, driverless trains, and the possibility of using hyperloop technology.

For SAP, the co-development has been a source of inspiration in working with clients across the globe on predictive maintenance and highlighting the SAP Predictive Maintenance and Service solution.

The favorable combination of IIoT and asset analytics is not the only aspect that enabled Trenitalia’s success; but also the combination of vision, leadership, technology, and culture change. ARC recommends that other operating take note of this testimonial and envision their own, unique positive change.


Additional sources of information used in this ARC View are based a video by Mr. Masini (Trenitalia) and Mr. Mari (SAP) and a video by Mr. Caposciutti and Gismondi.  Appreciative Inquiry is described in detail in “Appreciative Inquiry Handbook for Leaders of Change”, 2nd Ed., by Cooperrider, Whitney and Stavros, Crown Custom Publishing, 2008.