A digital transformation changes how a company does business. For B2B sellers, there’s a strong focus on the customer and customer experience. In all businesses, the millennial workforce is a strong driver of digital transformation.
These digital natives are already involved in making buying decisions and will be just under half the workforce by 2025. They understand the transformative nature of technology and see it as a key tool for survival.
B2B companies are automating business processes for efficiency, taking offline selling online for effectiveness, leveraging cloud-based digital transformation technologies for 24/7 availability and faster processing, and using artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve across the board.
The digital transformation case studies in this article show how companies are harnessing the power of technology to transform their businesses for the better.
What are the Four Main Digital Transformation Areas in B2B?
Technology is finding its way into every corner of business in every industry. Manufacturers have always been leaders in technology adoption when it comes to the factory floor, but now they are joined by distributors, wholesalers, and other B2B companies in adopting technology in the office as well.
Any set of digital business transformation case studies will show companies using technology to make better products, create new products, improve their internal processes, inform better decisions, and even stand-up new business models.
Companies are using everything from robotics to integrated business systems to automate processes. Sellers are using eCommerce to attract new customers and improve the buying experience for existing customers. Cloud technologies are keeping data more secure, enabling remote workforces, and supporting applications for customers and internal teams. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning power predictive models to improve business intelligence, spot trends, and help their human counterparts operate more effectively.
Many case studies on digital transformation focus on the productivity gained by automating processes. Any process, whether manual or digital, that can be automated can be performed more accurately and much faster. By removing the human element, you remove the chances of error. Automation also does away with duplicate work.
In machining, Computer Numerical Control (CNC) enhances the monitoring and control of production processes. The tight tolerances required in medical device machining are only achievable through the digital transformation of the machining processes used in production.
When a digital transformation integrates business systems, customer and order data flow easily and duplicate order entry is eliminated. Orders move effortlessly from the order management system to the warehouse management system (WMS), the enterprise resource planning system (ERP), and third-party shippers. Sales orders convert automatically to invoices and quotes convert to sales orders.
With the elimination of data entry into each system, the chances of error are reduced, and efficiency increases.
While eCommerce is typically considered the purview of B2C sellers, B2B sales outpace their retail counterparts. Common case studies on digital transformation show the power of eCommerce to improve the buying experience for purchasing agents.
Even Amazon got into the B2B space with Amazon Business. That’s because those millennial buyers want the same seamless and frictionless experience when buying at work as they are accustomed to at home. And eCommerce must include mobile technology if the digital transformation is to be complete.
Buyers want 24/7 access on any device using any platform and savvy B2B sellers are scrambling to make this access possible. A digital transformation for CPG can personalize experiences and then deliver them at any time, on any device, leading to higher order values and happier customers.
Because B2B eCommerce is more complex than its B2C counterpart, the digital transformation looks a bit different.
What are the the best B2B eCommerce solutions for 2023?
Our comparison table lists the best platforms on the market.
The movement of data and systems from on-site to cloud-hosted has increased productivity and connectivity throughout every industry.
Cloud technology made remote work possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. The same technology that made Zoom and Google Hangouts possible keeps data secure and is the centerpiece of many disaster recovery programs. Through cloud technology, data and systems are accessible anywhere there’s an internet connection. Even if you can’t get to your servers, your applications are still available. A digital transformation in retail can take the power of cloud technology and use it to create a unified experience across multiple channels. That’s exactly what buyers want!
The Internet of Things (IoT) is only possible with cloud technology. It’s one facet of digital industrial transformation that permeates all the others. For example, automated processes often rely on applications and systems hosted in the cloud, eCommerce websites are hosted on public and private clouds, and AI-powered analysis often occurs on data stored in the cloud. Look through any collection of case studies on digital transformation and you’ll find cloud technology front and center.
AI and Machine Learning
Machine learning (ML) coupled with digital twins allows companies to create equipment that monitors and adjusts itself. By running a digital replica of the equipment in real-time, ML and AI technology determine the optimum operating conditions and then adjust accordingly. Companies are using ML to improve everything from the marketing copy on their promotional materials and emails to the categorization and labeling of images for further use.
Companies as diverse as Harley Davidson of New York and Yelp! leveraged the power of AI and ML as part of their digital transformation. Digital transformation in healthcare leans into AI and ML for quick test results and high-quality CAT scans in mere minutes, improving diagnosis and patient outcomes.
What Business Areas Are Ripe for Digital Transformation?
Flipping through case studies on digital transformation, you find several common themes. Companies embarking on a digital transformation are generally looking to optimize operations, improve customer engagement, improve their products and services, or transform their business model with new revenue streams.
When considering your own company’s digital transformation, you’ll probably discover this is also low-hanging fruit at your organization.
One of the top digital transformation trends in 2023 is optimizing operations in a wide variety of areas. Digital transformation in the medical device area optimizes operations using additive manufacturing technology and low-code solutions to rapidly iterate development processes. Kabloee, a Minnesota-based medical technology company uses FDM technology (3D printing) to iterate during development, and then again during production. Their digital transformation has decreased the amount of time required to develop solutions and they have optimized the process of getting to market.
Ecoburo, a leading distributor of eco-friendly office products in France, turned to the power of eCommerce to automate manual business processes associated with order entry and processing. Their digital transformation in eCommerce allows the company to process over 1 million in sales each year with only 3 employees!
Improved Customer Engagement
Meeting changing customer expectations lies at the heart of any customer-centric digital transformation. Customers continue to look for omnichannel buying experiences and 24/7 availability to order, check orders, and request returns. They expect to see websites displayed in their language and currency, no matter where they are located.
Digital transformation trends in packaging include the inclusion of RFID trackers for retailers. Stores are increasingly using RFID technology to increase inventory accuracy, ensuring that customers are never disappointed by out-of stocks. The technology pays, and customers at these stores spend 6% more per transaction. RFID checkout eliminates clumsy scanning and customer self-checkout. Gina Tricot, a Swedish fashion chain implemented RFID technology in their stores in over 30 countries to the delight of customers. Customers are more satisfied, sales are up, and inventory in the ERP is more accurate than ever.
Today we even find digital transformation in construction materials, a traditionally analog industry. Raboni and Busca are two building materials companies operating in France. They are both owned by BME Group but operated as two distinct entities. By leveraging the power of integrated systems like eCommerce and PIM, they provide customers with complete and accurate product information, as well as the ability to maintain product lists by the project.
For large construction companies involved in multiple projects at once, this simplifies the complexity of buying and recordkeeping by the project. Buyers can even get insight into inventory levels by location without even logging into their accounts. BME is providing B2C-like engagement opportunities in a B2B world, to the delight of millennial buyers all across France.
Every new product or service development initiative must be carefully managed to optimize the resources allocated. AI-powered project management tools automate business analysis, improve estimates for resource allocation, and create budget requirements predictions. AI also supports product experience analysts in incorporating user feedback after a new product launch. Product designers can use AI to reduce the costs of a new product or even get new product inspiration.
AI simulates product behavior in testing environments to identify weaknesses that may otherwise go undetected. And when it comes to new product packaging, AI develops more options faster than any human. Nutella food brand used AI to generate 7 million variations on its product package in the quest to find the perfect combination.
According to an Infosys Cloud Radar Study, new product development is the second most common use case for manufacturers. Cloud-based design solutions allow for easier collaboration and greater capabilities than available with on-premise solutions. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, Toyota product engineers didn’t have access to their on-premise workstations to access 3D CAD software. But cloud technology enabled them to stand up a virtual desktop infrastructure environment to get remote product engineers up and running quickly.
New Business Models
Netflix started life as a mail-order alternative to Blockbuster video rentals. Customers had to wait for their discs to be delivered through the mail, but there were no pesky late fees. Their logistics and distribution prowess made them quick fan favorites. As internet availability became more widespread and speeds increased, they saw the opportunity to augment their model with streaming using the Amazon Web Services cloud infrastructure. This became so popular it supplanted their original model.
Group Tini, a European holding company, grew rapidly through acquisition. They took offline companies online to digitize sales and subcontractor management. To test their new online business model, they deployed an integrated eCommerce and CRM solution to create personalized catalogs and shopping lists for customers, create segments for marketing and sales, and free sales staff to focus on high-value customers. The new business model proved to be so successful, they are incorporating it across brands.
More on the benefits of digital transformation in our guide
Digital Transformation Strategy Guide: Planning and Executing Your Digital Transformation
Your digital transformation strategy will be as unique as your company. However, all successful transformations can be painted with similarly broad strokes. Your transformation strategy should include: alignment, preparing for change, scoping the MVP, picking the technology, selecting partners, iterating, and scaling.
Before you can incorporate new technology or change processes, you must have buy-in on why the change is necessary. Employees must understand the imperatives behind digital transformation. Whether the transformation is a survival tactic or an improvement to processes, clearly define and communicate the reasons for the transformation.
Preparing for change
The better you prepare for change, the better you will manage it. Successful digital transformation relies on successful change management. People naturally resist change, unless they view the change as a positive benefit. After all, no one sees an increase in pay as a negative, right? For example, if your digital transformation includes eCommerce, show sales teams how the change will improve their productivity and free them to build stronger relationships and close more deals.
Scoping the MVP
Start with a small but achievable project. Use the minimum viable product (MVP) approach to your first transformation to reduce risk and financial commitment. Sticking with the eCommerce example, your MVP may be an eCommerce website for one brand (see the Wastequip digital transformation case study), one customer segment, or one product line. Or maybe your eCommerce MVP automates order entry or the quoting process. Whatever the change, start small and then grow.
Pick the technology
Once you know what your change will be, it’s time to select the technology to make it happen. The best digital transformations don’t occur when you pick technology and then go find a use. It happens when you define a use case and then select the right technology. The goals of your MVP and the digital maturity of your company will shape the technology you select.
Digital transformation isn’t something to attempt alone. You’ll need partners to help you analyze the environment and integrate your solution. Your partners will bring a neutral eye to your transformation and the expertise you need to successfully deploy the technology you’ve selected. And, if you’ve chosen the wrong technology for the job, your partner will be able to point this out right away.
Transformation isn’t a process with a beginning and an ending. It is an ever-improving cycle of transforming, collecting feedback, improving, and transforming again. Each cycle brings further improvement to the company and its processes.
Now that you’re confident in the transformation process, scale the transformation to new processes, spread the transformation to new locations, or add new layers of technology. Your digital transformation roadmap will be as unique as your organization. Where and how you scale will be unique as well. Don’t hesitate to replicate your success.
Digital Transformation Case Studies: Famous Brands
For a little inspiration for your own digital transformation, take a look at how these famous brands embraced technology.
Adobe Sees the Future in the Cloud
Adobe, the company that literally created the verb photoshop, initially sold its products through a license to use and distributed its software on CDs. As the Great Recession rocked technology companies, Adobe determined that their survival was in the cloud.
Adobe transformed its entire business model from license to subscription and moved its products to the cloud. Today, Adobe offers 3 subscription models, and all are cloud-based. Annual revenue continues to rise and they are now a major player in software.
Nike Finds Machine Learning to be a Perfect Fit
Nike may be the world’s leading sneaker manufacturer, but they are also leaders in technology. From apps to eCommerce, Nike has been on the front lines of meeting ever-rising customer expectations.
Their latest digital transformation uses AI to determine the exact size of a consumer’s foot. When a consumer opens the Nike app and selects Nike Fit on their device, the app will scan their foot and using AI determine the exact shoe size for each of their sneaker models.
Every sneaker they sell fits a bit differently, and Nike believes helping people get the right fit will reduce returns and customer service calls related to sizing.
Olympus pictures spreadsheet free workflows
Olympus may be a leader in optical and digital precision technology, but their workflows were stuck in the 1990s. Lotus Notes (and successor HCL Notes) and spreadsheets were the main business process management tools used by this digital leader. Many processes such as purchasing and returns were handled by email, leading to unproductive employees and unhappy customers.
By automating their internal processes with business process management technology, they were able to automate a variety of functions, from requests for demos to authorizing returns or discounts.
Case Studies: Good and Bad Digital Transformation Experiences
Not every digital transformation ends in success. According to McKinsey, 70% of digital transformation initiatives end in failure. So, what can we learn from successes and failures? Quite a bit. Here are two case studies and key takeaways.
Hershey’s Results Aren’t Sweet
Hershey needed to upgrade its ERP. Then they decided to roll a new CRM and supply chain solution into the project. They allocated 48 months for the job. But once the transformation was under development, management decided to cut the time to 30 months. In the scramble to meet the new deadline, little things like testing and debugging were eliminated. The switchover was done in July, Hershey’s busiest time of the year. The transition was such a disaster, $100 million in orders went unfulfilled despite having stock on hand. The stock dropped 8%.
Takeaway. This digital transformation was doomed from the start. The CRM and supply chain solution add-on lacked a clear vision. Cutting the delivery time while adding new 2 elements was a recipe for disaster. Launching without thorough testing just assured the disaster was spectacular.
ADDEV Materials Adds New Business
ADDEV Materials needed a way to strengthen customer relationships, add value, and reduce order processing costs. Their digital transformation included a website and buying experience customized for every customer and integrated with their ERP and payment systems. ADDEV implemented OroCommerce as the extensive out-of-the-box feature set and flexibility allowed them to get to market quickly. They launched websites for three brands and achieved their goals. As a result, 16% of their turnover comes from new customers.
Takeaway. This digital transformation worked because ADDEV management had a clearly defined goal and then selected the technology to reach their goal. Next, they went with a technology vendor that could supply the tech they needed to meet those goals and hold the time to market in check. The customized buying journeys, catalogs, and price lists were just what ADDEV Materials needed to add value while integrated systems reduced their processing costs.
Check out more digital transformation examples
Digital Transformation with OroCommerce
The ultimate digital transformation goal is to increase profit and future-proof a company. OroCommerce understands this involves improving efficiency and sales. OroCommerce reduces manual, time-consuming tasks and integrates with other business solutions to eliminate data silos.
When your digital transformation includes OroCommerce, we will work with you to help you define your goals, scope your MVP, select your partners, and implement your solution. And once you go live, OroCommerce supports your continuous improvement efforts. We understand that transformation never ends and are committed to your long-term success.
Learn About Success Through Case Studies of Digital Transformation
Digital transformation looks different depending on the company and industry. To better understand how a digital transformation can help your company, it helps to look at case studies. The digital transformation case studies in this article include success and failure stories so you can see what works and what traps you can avoid.
Frequently Asked Questions about Case Studies of Digital Transformation
Why is digital transformation important for B2B companies?
Digital transformation is important for B2B companies as it ensures competitiveness in a technology-driven environment. With digital transformation, B2B companies leverage technology to create better customer experiences, improve in-house efficiency, and gather and analyze data to make better decisions.
Is digital transformation important only for analog businesses?
Digital transformation is important to digital and analog businesses alike. A digital transformation helps non-digital businesses create better products and provide better customer experiences. Even service companies can improve with digital technology.
What is an example of a successful digital transformation?
Gala Imports provides glass containers to manufacturers and hobbyists. They needed a better way to serve both classes of customers. Their digital transformation included eCommerce technology that allows them to operate multiple webstores from a single back-end. Now, they serve industrial and retail customers with buying experiences tailored to their needs and reduced the complexity of order processing. Read the entire successful digital transformation case study.
How do you create a digital transformation strategy?
You start creating a digital transformation strategy by aligning the goals and objectives of the organization with the goals of the transformation. Next, you prepare the organization for change by stressing the benefits and advantages of embracing a digital transformation platform. Select an achievable goal and then select the partners and technology to help you achieve the goal. Your digital transformation strategy should include iteration and scaling so that the transformation becomes continuous.
What are the main mistakes to avoid during digital transformation?
The main mistakes to avoid during digital transformation are not aligning the project with objectives, failing to manage change properly, making a change just to implement new technology, failing to allocate human and financial resources, and failing to put the needs of customers at the heart of change.
Is the choice of digital transformation software part of a digital strategy?
No, the choice of digital transformation software is not part of a digital strategy. A digital transformation strategy includes alignment with company objectives, preparing for change, scoping the MVP, picking the technology, selecting partners, iterating, and scaling. While picking the technology is part of the strategy, the software chosen is not.