Five Stories About The Disruptive Power Of Digital Innovation

Jennifer Scholze

Have you heard that shoe shopping is going digital, driving an expected profit increase of 30%? Do you know how real-time customer insight and personalized interactions can lead to five percent revenue growth? Or how digital innovations can be used to predict earthquake damage and provide better disaster response? Digital transformation is leading to rapid changes across industries. New technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, and machine learning dramatically change the way customers are doing business.

To help inspire you, here are five stories about companies using digital technologies to transform their businesses, and in some cases their industries.

1. Shoe shopping using virtual reality to increase profits

Aimiqi is a shoe company with a bold goal: to connect people and processes by using digital R&D machine learning to create a whole new consumer experience and respond to changing market requirements and fashion trends. Previously, only five percent of design proposals would reach the production stage, and there was significant overstock and waste. Using digital innovations, including product lifecycle management and virtual reality, the company is now able to collect and analyze customer requirements to design products that truly fit market needs. Customers can design personalized shoes with the desired color and the right fit, then virtually test the product and place an order. Aimiqi is seeing 25% reduction in design time and 40% reduction in overstock and expects to see a 30% increase in profits.

2. Predicting earthquake damage to reduce human casualties

Japan’s Hakusan Corporation is a leading manufacturer of seismometers. The company wanted to transform smartphones into seismometers to measure building movement during earthquakes. With more than 6 million people in the Asia-Pacific region affected by earthquakes last year, better prediction of building damage will help with disaster preparedness and mitigation strategies in earthquake-prone countries in the region. Using digital innovations, the company is now collecting and analyzing seismic data instantaneously to accurately pinpoint and predict damage to buildings, then share the data with first responders and authorities to provide help where it is needed most.

3. Using 3D printing to get closer to the customer

Jabil manufactures parts for transportation equipment, industrial machines, and medical diagnostic machines. The company works with 250 of the best known global brands in manufacturing and wanted to improve its competitiveness by increasing its nimbleness and personal approach to customer relationships. The company is using digital innovations – including 3D printing – to create personalized products closer to their customers’ locations. To date, Jabil has qualified and produced 100+ functional 3D-printed parts for end users. This new capability is leading to more innovative product designs, new business models, and happier customers.

4. Connecting people, plants, and machines for sustainable farming

When Rogerio Pacheco, owner of a midsized farm in the south of Brazil, decided to invest in a tractor with infrared sensors from agricultural machinery maker Stara, neighboring farmers thought he had lost his mind. But in just two years, he was able to recover his investment. Today Rogerio is Brazil’s second largest producer of soybeans. “High productivity and sustainable farming practices are only possible with technology,” he says. “I was able to increase the yield per acre without having to cut down trees, maintaining the balance between cropland and forest on my farm.” The IoT revolutionized Stara’s business model. Previously, it viewed the machine and the farmer as separate entities, but, by using the IoT, it can now connect machines to people and plants. Stara’s tractors already had sensors, and by implementing a digital innovation system to make use of the data collected, Stara can offer data analytic capabilities to farmers so they can gain better insights and make better decisions.

5. Operating a mine based on financial margins, not tonnage

Roy Hill’s entire business and operating model is designed to deliver 55 million tons per year with a margin focus rather than a reliance on tonnage volume, as is typical in mining, and its technology strategy is aligned to achieve its unique business outcome. For example, Roy Hill’s Virtual Warehouse concept is built on the transformative idea that, if you adopt a systems thinking mindset starting with an integrated operating model, then apply disruptive digital technology that has been chosen for its ability to deliver sustainably against the margin-focused business model, and overlay that with advanced planning and scheduling and a flow approach to inventory, it removes the obstacles from the supplier to the maintainer of the equipment.

The old ways of doing business are clearly over for companies that want to grow and thrive. Digital technologies surrounded by innovative thinking are driving new business models and processes that ignite a successful path into the future. We see organizations across and even between industries working together to design approaches that better balance demand with production, focus on profitability, yield more efficient operations, and interact in new and exciting ways with customers.

Are you changing your industry using SAP applications and platform technologies? The SAP Innovation Awards 2018 is your opportunity to share your story and be recognized as a digital transformation leader. New this year is a Digital Disrupter category for a company that uses SAP’s innovative technologies to drive radical change in its industry, generate significant business value, and improve its competitive positioning. 

Go to the SAP Innovation Awards website and start at the About page to learn more about award categories and judging criteria. Then follow the simple steps on the “how to enter” page. Get started today! Entry submission has already begun.


About Jennifer Scholze

Jennifer Scholze is the Global Lead for Industry Marketing for the Mill Products and Mining Industries at SAP. She has over 20 years of technology marketing, communications and venture capital experience and lives in the Boston area with her husband and two children.