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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lack of enabling environment for social dialogue at the workplace level, despite the provision of legislative acts that protect and promote workplace cooperation is a reoccuring issue  in Kenya. To implement good policy there must be a fertil ground.

Therefore SWP developed the UP!  project. Together with Swedish companies as an entry point, and with unions i South africa and Kenya. 

In Kenya SWP created the SWP UP! Programme targeting skills development of the union Shop Stewards from 18 companies in the Automotive sector in Kenya during 2021. As a result, the Stewards were able to use their skills to build trust and cooperation with management in new ways to avoid conflicts. 

A second cohort of training, in close cooperation with union AUKMW, takes place in 2022.

The training allows shop stewards to step out of their daily routines and understand their role and the purpose of their union, understand the labour market context, the laws that regulate relationships and the business itself. But on a human level, many shop stewards also highlighted that they feel respected as human beings, and that they have developed the skills to engage with supervisors and management and experience respect in professional relations. The experiences had deeply impressed them and helped to project the vision of dialogue and mutual respect and their own potential as a means to change workplaces.

The intervention of the SWP programme had a direct effect at the workplaces, where shop stewards listed several cases where they had managed to intervene and secure results in dialogue with management, avert crises or find solutions based on opportunities and the communication skills obtained during the SWP training. For the Amalgamated Metal Workers Unions in Kenya, the shop stewards pointed to how the training had enabled them to design their own strategies at the workplace in relation to supervisors and staff, and to achieve many concrete results.

Based on this shop steward upskilling, I feel confident that as a union we now have change ambassadors that will grow the industry, protect, and promote decent work principles for both the employer and the employees represented. And that disputes will be dealt with at the workplace level by though consultative dialogue.

Rose Omamo

General Secretary
Amalgamated Union of Kenya Metal Workers