What is digital transformation?
A question that spawns a new answer every time it’s asked. It’s the business world’s equivalent of what’s the meaning of life.
Digital transformation has meant different things to companies at different stages of their maturity. But in today’s era, where change is the only certainty, a clearer and more universal definition has emerged.
Digital transformation is the process of managing the adoption of digital products, platforms, and processes to create a more competitive organization. It’s not a one-time project with a finish line but a strategic capability that helps teams evolve in a way that best suits their interests.
In this post, we share 10 digital transformation examples from 10 industries. Each example showcases how an enterprise successfully adopted digital products, platforms, or processes to make a positive impact on its bottom line.
We have consciously excluded IT companies to demonstrate how digital transformation isn’t exclusive to technology firms. In fact, some of the most successful transformations have emerged in industries once considered aversive to change.
1. Audi — Reducing Marketing Costs with Unreal Engine
Audi, a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, had a high dependence on external service providers to create visuals for its products. Its 17 different car lines required new imagery and videos every few months, which would eat a significant part of Audi’s marketing budget.
Audi’s internal innovation center, Audi Business Innovation (ABI), used Unreal Engine to develop a revolutionary new tool: Automotive Visualization Platform (AVP), which develops photorealistic 2D and 3D imagery with customizable camera angles and environments.
AVP cut marketing costs for Audi by 30% and reduced its time to market from weeks to hours. Previously, the Audi team had to fly to exotic locations and shoot with an on-set crew. Now, they can do it all in minutes. For example, this promo video of e-tron GT was created entirely on AVP.
2. Hasbro — Regaining Momentum with Omnichannel Marketing
Toys and Entertainment
Hasbro’s stock prices tell a fantastic story. After a steady ride into the 21st century, the toymaker started facing stiff competition from digital media. Around 2012, Hasbro’s CEO Brian Goldner realized it was time for a change.
This was also when cloud-based B2B SaaS and MarTech tools started emerging. Businesses now had unprecedented access to their customers’ buying behaviors. Hasbro decided to act upon the insights. It shifted its focus away from children to their parents, i.e., banking on nostalgia to drive sales.
By using data and omnichannel marketing, Hasbro scaled its digital marketing and made its campaigns more targeted. The results were incredible. Its stock went from $38 at the end of 2012 to $120 in seven years.
3. Pfizer — Better Health Outcomes with Companion Apps
In 2019, Lidia Fonseca joined Pfizer as Chief Digital and Technology Officer, with the goal of transforming how the company uses digital platforms and data to improve health outcomes for patients.
Over the last few years, Pfizer has launched several mobile applications under its program Digital Companion. These include apps like LivingWith, which provides holistic support to cancer patients; Quitter’s Circle, which gamifies the process of quitting cigarettes; and ATLAS Surveillance, which shows geographical heat maps of antimicrobial resistance around the world.
These tools have helped Pfizer expand its focus beyond treatment and place greater emphasis on preventive care. “Pfizer is starting to support patients, physicians, and payers in a very different way than in the past,” says Fonseca. “We are learning about blind spots in patients’ journeys and working to use insights from data, as well as digital solutions, to deliver a more integrated experience.”
4. DBS Bank — Higher Productivity with Process Automation
DBS Bank’s Institutional Banking Group’s relationship managers used to prepare detailed financial analyses for each credit application. This was a manual, time-consuming process.
Therefore developers at DBS Bank built AutoFIN, an advanced tool that generates the first draft of financial analysis for relationship managers. By automating almost 30% of the process, AutoFin has significantly reduced the time for reviewing credit applications. The consistent format also reduces the risk of human error and streamlines analysis and decision-making.
Relationship managers now have more time for higher-value tasks such as building better client relationships. In addition to saving a great deal of time, AutoFIN has also generated a 72% return on investment since its rollout in June 2021.
5. Marriott Bonvoy — Creating Awareness with an Immersive Experience
With over 120 million members and 30 international brands, Marriott Bonvoy is arguably the largest hotel rewards program on the planet.
Marriott’s team wanted to drive awareness about regenerative travel, a concept that inspires travelers to leave the destinations they visit better than when they arrived. It decided to be beyond the traditional blog format and weave a narrative through immersive articles, photo essays, and podcasts. The project, titled How to Travel Better, used the latest web technologies to create an interactive user experience.
The final project received higher than average 5% hotel CTR, showing that the experience resonated with Marriott Bonvoy’s members and increased their hotel bookings. An overwhelming majority (88%) of respondents said they had a positive impression of the company’s brand after engaging with its articles. Additionally, Marriott won Audience Honor in the Branded Content category at the 7th Annual Shorty Awards.
6. Vodafone — Enhancing Customer Experience by Breaking Silos
Before its multi-year CX transformation, Vodafone Turkey had several siloed systems with isolated data. This made cross-departmental collaboration difficult and increased the workload of its employees. The situation was further exacerbated as the company began moving from 4G to 5G.
Vodafone Turkey decided to create a unified digital platform to collect network data that automatically detects network faults and supports optimization with AI applications. Additionally, it introduced an enhanced complaint-handling system that shows all network and customer data on a single screen – making it easier for employees to proactively assist customers.
The impact of digital transformation and automation has been significant. Vodafone Turkey realized a return on its investment in CX transformation in just three and half years and saw a 10% increase in new revenue generated by an algorithm that determines where to add mobile base station capacity. Its net promoter score (NPS) increased by 31 points, and its capacity for handling analysis of customers’ complaints showed a 7x increase.
7. Sephora — Doing Less to Do More
Digital transformation doesn’t always mean using more technology and integrating everything you can.
Sephora used Aha! for strategic planning and Jira for issue tracking. However, there was considerable duplication of work due to extensive integration between the two tools. Everything in Jira appeared in Aha!, and everything in Aha! showed up in Jira. This blurred the lines between the two tools and created additional work for all teams.
So, Sephora revisited its internal workflows and established a clear split between Aha! and Jira — detailing who should use which tool and for what purpose.
Sephora’s story is a Simplifying Aha!-Jira integration enabled Sephora to get the best of both worlds. Now, it relies on Aha! for strategic thinking, reporting, and brainstorming and Jira for getting work done. It’s a great example of how digital transformation isn’t always related to technology but often comes down to internal processes.
8. McDonald’s — Reducing Order Time with Natural Language Processing
Ordering at restaurants using applications is a common phenomenon, but McDonald’s took it to another level with machine learning.
In 2019, Mcdonald’s acquired two AI startups — Dynamic Yield and Apprente, specializing in voice technology. Since then, it has implemented AI-driven voice recognition ordering systems at some of its restaurants. These systems rely on natural language processing algorithms to take orders. Additionally, McDonald’s also uses image recognition algorithms at certain drive-throughs to scan number plates and predict what customers are likely to order based on their previous orders.
The new solution reduces almost a minute from the average order time per customer, which at McDonald’s scale saves considerable resources. In 2021, McDonald’s also sold the technology it had developed for automated voice-based ordering systems to IBM, creating an additional revenue stream.
9. United Airlines — Calming Nerves with ConnectionServer
Missing a connecting flight due to tight scheduling frustrates thousands of passengers every day. The decision to hold a flight for connecting customers might sound simple, but it’s influenced by a host of factors.
United Airlines created a new tool to solve the problem: ConnectionSaver. The tool automatically flags flights that can be held for connections and sends text messages to passengers with directions to the gate and information on how long it should take to get there. It takes into account several factors for its recommendations, such as airport curfews, crew working hours, and whether other planes are waiting for a gate.
In 2022, over 650,000 passenger connections were saved with ConnectionSaver, resulting in United achieving the lowest misconnect rate ever for the fourth quarter and full year. What’s also incredible is that 90% of flights held for connections still arrived on time.
10. Bright MLS — Reducing Support Calls with UX Overhaul
Bright’s customer support team was flooded with hundreds of calls from realtors every day, asking questions about the intricate process of publishing the listing. This was draining significant resources.
Bright’s team decided to revisit the user experience of their portal. It shadowed realtors as they went through the process of publishing a listing. Observing realtors at work allowed Bright to focus on what they actually do rather than what they say they do. Additionally, analytics revealed which fields were most valuable to realtors and consumers. Based on all the data points, Bright’s UX designers overhauled the experience of its listing portal.
The new intuitive UI allowed Bright’s users to figure out the process of listing themselves rather than contacting Bright’s customer support. Bright saved $600,000 by reducing customer support calls from successful digital transformation.
Conclusion — Different Shades of User Experience
Each of the above examples shows a different use case, but they all have a common theme — user experience.
Whether it’s making ads more engaging for prospects (Hasbro), making processes more convenient for employees (DBS Bank), or making transactions more seamless for customers (McDonald’s), removing friction in user experience is a common theme in all successful digital transformation projects. Remembering this can prevent you from greenlighting vanity projects that bring no real value to your business.
Want to explore popular digital transformation trends from last year? Check out the 2022 State of Digital Transformation. It shares insights on popular digital initiatives based on a survey of over 1,000 senior executives in the US.