This time we are publishing an interesting contribution published by the program for the entrepreneurial breakthrough of the city of Maribor, Start:up Maribor, on the subject of our digital transformation. In it we present our experiences on the way to the digitization of business and how we have adjusted our workflow and business model.

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Digital Transformation is still a big mystery for many SMEs. They have heard about it, they even think they are doing it, however often there are big misconceptions about what Digital Transformation is.

Digital Transformation is a great change in a company’s business model or it’s operating processes. To bring Digital Transformation closer to the SMEs of the Danube region, the Digitrans project was made. Partners in nine countries are closely examining the companies that have successfully gone through digital transformation and using their insights to build a digital transformation education & training platform and even a digital transformation incubator.

10 million € in revenue due to digital transformation

We explored this topic before and presented a company that completely transformed their business model and made it dependant on software. Due to this transformation, the company was able to offer a new and unique value proposition to its customers. Thanks to this transformation, the company had revenues of 10 million € in the last year.

Another SME that has undergone digital transformation and works in the printing businesses is a company that employs 15 people and has 1 million € in yearly revenue.

It was founded in 1993 out of the enthusiasm and fascination for printing. At that time all the processes of the company were done manually by one person. This means that one person was in charge of the printing, accounting, orders, sending bills, collecting payments,…

Only the agile, dynamic and innovative survive

Then, due to the changing situation in Slovenia, the market was very unstable. While unstable markets are generally never good, they are an opportunity for a young company that is agile, dynamic, and capable of transforming to whatever the current market circumstances. This company realized this and decided to adopt global trends and bring them to Slovenia and thus offer completely new or improved services.

They never lost that agile and dynamic nature. So, it is no coincidence that they started playing with the possibility of automated printing production very early on. However, they planned to conquer this goal in parts.

Employees briefed from the beginning

The idea for digitalization came from the top. However, employees were soon briefed and included in the project to ensure functionality. The worst possible thing that can happen in this process is a lack of adoption or even resistance by employees. Including them early in the process ensures a smooth transition.

First, they developed software that enabled them to manage and oversee the processes of their company. This immediately proved to be of great use, as management had an overview of the whole company at all times. So, they further developed this software. Today all the business processes in the company are done with software.

2-3 months to adapt new digital products

After the digital solutions were finished, the next step was the full transition of employees. Even though they included them in the process early on, it still took an additional 2-3 months to fully adapt to their new digital products. Through these months the employees underwent additional training to ensure that they fully understood everything.

This company is glad it underwent a digital transformation, as there is now less need for manual labor, it is easier to manage their business process, it gets quicker information about added value, it is more efficient, and the business and future investments are done more economically.

Lessons learned

When asked what the main lessons learned of this process were, they summarized them into three points:

  • it is imperative that SMEs create a wholesome digital system and not one divided into parts
  • SMEs should include employees early on to get inputs and views
  • SMEs should have open communication with employees and let them know of the positive implications of the changes
  • SMEs should set clear goals and a vision at the beginning of the digital transformation process.

Digital transformation is one of the biggest trends of the 21st-century business. Startups have long been advocates of that and SMEs are following them closely. The company mentioned above underwent digital transformation successfully and is now able to offer customers a new user experience and value proposition.

Finally, even though they have these digital solutions in place and have undergone such business model transformations, they are in a constant search for innovations that can be applied to their own software solutions. Because, for them, digital transformation is a never-ending and ongoing process that motivates and pushes the company even further.

Source: Website Start:up Maribor.