Advantages of digital transformation for productivity and new work methods in Colombia

SWP in Colombia gathered companies in a virtual sustainable business platform to discuss about Industry 4.0 and digital transformation. The participating companies presented their approaches to new technologies and digital transformation, as well as the opportunities, challenges, results and lessons learned from their processes.

Progress in digital transformation in Colombia will contribute significantly to the country’s productivity and connectivity. There are opportunities to implement new technologies for the growth of companies and the provision of new services. Moreover, to reduce gaps as well as inequalities in for instance gender equality and rural connectivity.

Opportunities with new technology

Colombia still has challenges in terms of infrastructure and access to new technologies, which represents an opportunity for mobile operators. The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help companies in transportation, mining, or ports to minimize high-risk activities for personnel, and increase efficiency in their activities.

Swedish companies realise that they have a great opportunity to gather experiences and learnings from technological applications, sustainability, and digitalization to lead these processes and inspire as well as provide products and services to the Colombian market.

Manage change 

A shared insight is that digital transformation process means not only using new technologies but also managing change within the company and how the technology will impact business. There are several opportunities for companies to take advantage of technology to optimize business processes and facilitate work methods. Corporate transformations require a willingness for a change of mindset, and access to technology with proper content for available tools.

One lesson learned is that companies should constantly communicate with their employees to address the misconceptions related to the impact of technology on their work and roles. The company needs to showcase the benefits of including technology within company processes, focusing on the opportunities to create new tools and ways of working.

Companies shared lessons learned

SKF presented examples of automated assistants, remote sensor monitoring, and their “Supply Chain 4.0” value chain initiative that aims at promoting more sustainable production.


The companies that participated in the platform and shared best practice were Assa Abloy, AstraZeneca, Epiroc, Ericsson, Sandvik, Scania Finance, Securitas, SKF, TetraPak, Variadores S.A.S and Volvo Group.




“We are doing this to have a more agile operation. It is not only outward, but also within the organization. We use technology to improve our processes, reduce redundancies and to make our lives easier.”

Francisco L. Rodríguez Managing Director, SKF 

“Having a sustainable digital transformation requires, without any doubt, the support and real commitment from top management, which allows to maintain the vision and mission of the organization so that we do not get lost along the way, a prioritization of all projects and to effectively manage change. We need a transformative vision in the organization’s messages.”

Maira Amaya Digital Transformation and Supply Chain Manager, SKF

“It is key to have differentiated teams to advance faster in the digital transformation process. It is a beneficial and constant learning process, and the most important thing is that people can understand the path they are taking and that they can define short-, medium-and long-term objectives.”

Rafael Villalba, General Manager, Volvo Andina

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This executive summary presents the findings from the study “Workplace Cooperation: Finding Practical Solutions in the Colombian Context,” conducted by the Fundación Ideas para la Paz (FIP). The study evaluates the added value of the Swedish Workplace Programme (SWP) dialogue and cooperation model within the Colombian labor market.

Throughout 2022, FIP dedicated efforts to thoroughly understand the SWP model, including its concept, foundations, implementation process, and contributions to the labor market. In 2023, FIP documented the experiences of three companies—SKF Latin Trade, Securitas, and Epiroc—that implemented the SWP model in practice. The study also included face-to-face workshops to gather feedback from various stakeholders including civil society, businesses, government, academia, and international cooperation. The findings suggest that the SWP model has the potential to strengthen labor relations, contribute to decent work, and resolve workplace conflicts in Colombia.

The case studies highlight the importance of collaboration between employers and workers to promote decent work and sustainable development in Colombia. They demonstrate that social dialogue facilitates worker participation in labor decision-making, enhances their representativeness, and promotes cooperation between employers and employees, thus improving labor relations and contributing to the well-being of both employees and companies.

The SWP model is particularly noted for improving workplace relationships and commitment to jointly finding solutions to challenges faced by workers and the company. It empowers workers, enhances leadership, and helps integrate business policies into daily practices, reducing the initial disconnect between management objectives and the day-to-day realities of workers. The study also highlights the model’s capacity to manage conflicts constructively, transforming the perception of conflict as an opportunity for improvement. Structured dialogues deepen understanding of the underlying causes of conflicts, fostering empathy and facilitating effective resolution. This promotes a culture of collaboration and a democratic approach to decision-making, building trust.

Additionally, the model is recognized for enabling workers to make decisions, identify challenges, and propose solutions that impact their well-being, and bridging gender gaps in the workplace. Its inclusive approach adapts to the unique needs and characteristics of each company, promoting a stronger and more diverse organizational culture. It also drives good work performance and productivity by involving workers in problem identification and resolution, as well as in implementing improvements and efficiently identifying ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) risks for companies.

The document identifies the SWP model’s added value in empowering direct interaction among labor stakeholders in Colombia, overcoming historical or cultural reservations, and contributing to the development of stronger labor relations and improved workplace environments in the country.

Challenges and opportunities of the model are also discussed. The study points out the importance of addressing value chain risks, particularly in a global context where corporate clients demand decent work processes and due diligence. It emphasizes the need to integrate SMEs into this process and use anchor companies as drivers of social dialogue throughout the value chain. The role of the state in social dialogue and the importance of highlighting the benefits of the model for adoption across various business sectors are discussed.

The opportunities of the model include raising awareness of human rights in the workplace in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGP), to strengthen due diligence, manage risks, promote long-term sustainability, and improve organizational culture. The document also underscores the importance of involving workers in change processes, leveraging their insights for continuous improvement of processes, and fostering innovation opportunities. Lastly, it suggests replicating the model in value chains to address work environment risks and gender biases, involving suppliers and contractors, and integrating the model into corporate policies to strengthen existing programs and transform organizational culture towards resource efficiency and effective participation of employers and workers.