“Digital” is a loaded word that can mean ten different things to ten different people, and “transformation” is even worse. With that in mind, defining digital transformation is a bit like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall. Is setting up an online store enough of a feat to be an example of a digital transformation solution for a brick-and-mortar company? Or would it take a complete technological overhaul of a company’s entire business operations?
This article is our attempt to get rid of some of the ambiguity. We’ll explain how we understand the term “digital transformation,” look closely at the business areas it can affect, and share a selection of specific benefits it can bring to your company based on the digital transformation solutions we’ve helped our clients implement.
In this article
Let’s start with a bit of theory.
In the most general terms, digital transformation is the implementation of digital technology that creates profound changes in the way a business functions and/or delivers value to clients.
Slavic Voitovych, Business Development Manager at Lemberg Solutions, offers a simpler explanation:
So, circling back to the question we asked at the beginning — yes, setting up an online store could be an example of digital transformation for a brick-and-mortar company, as it creates a pretty substantial change in the way this company interacts with customers and sells products or services.
Of course, the reach of digital transformation goes beyond customer interactions. Depending on the type of business you run, it may touch one, a combination of, or all three of the following business areas (as defined by MIT Sloan Management Review):
Digital transformation solutions can enable you to better understand your customers by using social media and harnessing analytics, provide a more personalized sales experience, and increase the number of customer touch points.
The transformation of customer experiences may be easiest to see from the outside, but digital transformation can also yield significant benefits in your business operations. You can achieve them through digitizing and automating internal processes, enabling employees to perform their tasks more efficiently with the help of digital tools, and managing performance based on real data instead of assumptions.
Moving deeper still, digital transformation can not only impact internal operations but also empower companies to take completely new approaches to the way they do business. These may include adding digital elements to physical offerings, introducing new fully digital products, and creating global shared services while remaining local (like shifting production to a different part of the world in response to an unexpectedly large demand within a matter of days).
Simply put, digital transformation is no longer a matter of choice; it’s a matter of survival.
In the wake of the pandemic, 80% of companies accelerated their digital transformation programs according to Dell’s Digital Transformation Index 2020. So even if you’re not looking into implementing a digital transformation strategy, your competitors most certainly are.
Here are some of the most obvious signs that you have to start investing mental and financial resources into a digital transformation strategy:
- An important business function depends entirely on a specific employee’s physical presence at the office, factory, etc.
- You make strategic decisions based on assumptions instead of data.
- You have barely any security practices in place.
- Your employees have to perform repetitive time-consuming tasks that could easily be automated.
- You have too much production waste and no clear way to reduce it.
- You don’t use digital tools to connect with your customers and better understand their needs.
- You have too many spreadsheets and too much emailing back and forth in your day-to-day communication.
And here’s another motivator for you to start looking into digital transformation solutions: depending on your location, you may be able to get financial support to implement your digital transformation initiatives.
For instance, in Germany, where our business representative Olga Lysak is based, the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy has introduced a funding program that offers financial grants to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) planning to implement digital transformation solutions and encourages technical training for these companies’ employees.
Similar programs that can fully or partially cover your digital transformation expenses exist in many countries. Feel free to reach out to Olga Lysak if you need help looking for a funding program.
Now that we’ve figured out what digital transformation is and whether you need it (you do!), it’s time to move on to some fieldwork.
We have assisted a great many SMEs in their digital transformation journeys and want to share some of the benefits they have been able to reap. Hopefully, their stories will give you ideas for your own digital transformation.
Digital transformation can enable you to:
1. Free your employees from labor-intensive manual tasks
No business can boast having zero routine tasks. For some companies, the routine is sending out recurring invoices. For Barkom, a Ukrainian agricultural company, it’s weighing pigs at farms — an essential but extremely time-consuming and labor-intensive procedure.
The good news is that both sending invoices and weighing pigs can be automated — with the latter being a lot more complex, as you’d expect. Our team of data scientists and embedded engineers enabled Barkom to automate daily pig weight monitoring by developing a computer vision prototype based on non-iterative neural networks and an image recognition algorithm. The prototype can estimate a pig’s weight visually, thus freeing hundreds of hours for farm employees to deal with other less repetitive and less labor-intensive tasks.
Have a look at the full case study on this project if you’d like to learn more.
2. Reduce production waste
A local food manufacturer that sells meat products across a network of stores also saw the potential for digital transformation solutions to improve operations.
When placing orders for products to be delivered the next day, store managers relied mostly on instinct and sales made on the current day. However, this inevitably resulted in a surplus of some products — which went to waste — and a lack of other products.
AI came to the rescue. Thanks to an automatic ordering system we developed for this client, they have been able to cut their daily waste in half.
3. Upgrade your existing product
Adding new digital features to your existing product is a surefire way to expand your offering without having to come up with something entirely new — and our client Selco did just that.
Selco, a US manufacturer of innovative thermal management products, was looking to turn their existing manual thermostat into a wireless one. In cooperation with our engineers, Selco integrated a Bluetooth Low Energy module into the device’s printed circuit board and developed iOS and Android apps. As a result, consumers can now configure and control the thermostat remotely from the convenience of their smartphones.
For more on this project, check out our case study.
4. Optimize HR processes
Help yourself before you help others, they say. And we did. Even though we are a tech company through and through, we still found a blind spot that needed to be digitized: our HR processes.
When Lemberg Solutions reached the 100-employee mark, our old record-keeping spreadsheets started turning into a serious bottleneck to growth. We needed real-time analytics to make better resource planning decisions and automate a few key business processes.
This is how Lemberg HUB came into being. Integrations with third-party project management and time tracking tools like Jira and Codebase allowed us to keep all our key data reports in a single repository, along with sick leave and vacation tracking. We have estimated that thanks to HUB, we are saving around 20% of total time spent on management.
5. Provide a faster, smarter way to solve a problem
Patient monitoring traditionally takes place at a hospital or relies on patients’ own descriptions of their symptoms. Our client Carepath is aiming to change that.
With the help of Lemberg engineers and data scientists, Carepath, a German telemedicine platform, has developed a device which, when installed in a patient’s home, can use an AI algorithm to filter and record medical-useful sounds, such as coughs. Using a web portal to access the collected data, doctors can then track the state of their patients, receive notifications about critical symptoms, and analyze symptom development to prescribe treatment.
There’s no need for patients to leave the comfort of their homes and no need for doctors to visit patients. All important information is automatically collected in one place without anyone having to lift a finger.
If you’re interested in learning more, make sure to read our case study on how Carepath’s digital transformation solution works and what its development looked like.
6. Create a digital front for a physical entity
Not just companies but whole cities can benefit from digital transformation. In cooperation with Dara Creative, an Irish growth marketing agency, we developed a responsive website with a complex CRM integration for citizens and tourists of the city of Limerick, Ireland.
Now, those visiting Limerick can use the website to get up-to-date information on things to do and places to see; those who want to do business there can find economic facts and figures, events, and business opportunities; and, last but not least, those living in the city can easily find all the Limerick City & County Council services.
The architecture of limerick.ie is rather complex, and if you’d like to see it in detail, go ahead and read this case study.
7. Maintain the health of your equipment and eliminate downtime
Machine failure can bring production to a halt. With that in mind, wouldn’t it be nice if you could know exactly when machine parts will wear out? Well, you can with Senzoro’s digital transformation solution.
Using AI and ultrasound sensors, our client Senzoro helps businesses monitor the condition of machine bearings and plan replacements or measures in the event of failure, reducing unexpected downtime and increasing productivity.
Lemberg Solutions assisted Senzoro in creating the device that houses their machine learning algorithm. You can learn all about it in the case study.
Regardless of the industry you work in, digital transformation solutions can provide a wealth of opportunities for improving your business, be it in the way you organize work within your company or in the way you serve customers.
What matters, though, is knowing exactly what parts of your company you want to transform. You can rely on digital transformation consulting from third-party consultants if you don’t have the necessary expertise in-house.
Here at Lemberg Solutions, we have the perfect blend of talent and experience to help you define and implement each step of your digital transformation journey. If you’d like to discuss a partnership or learn more about our expertise, please fill out this contact form or reach out to Slavic Voitovych directly.