Seven winners of Digitization you should know

People often claim that only young companies can benefit from digitization. Here are some examples of how more-established companies stand to gain from the new market trend.



Zeiss: looking into the future

A lot has happened at Zeiss since 1846: the company has grown from a small workshop in the eastern German town of Jena to become an international leader in the optics and optoelectronics industry. Glasses may still be the company’s core business, but its latest Zeiss VR One Plus model allows you to experience virtual reality. Carl Zeiss AG is also making the most of the ongoing trend towards networking in order to digitize its consultation and service offerings for its partner opticians. That means opticians can now use an iPad to coordinate the services they provide: testing people’s eyesight, advising customers, and making recommendations.

Kuka: welcome to the smart factory

Production of the generators and welding machines with which Kuka AG made its name in the early 20th century has long since ceased. Above all else, the company is now known as a pioneer in the field of robotics and automation technology. Its bright orange industrial robots handle a wide variety of tasks on the factory floor, are among the most reliable and space-saving of their kind, and have helped the company to its position of market leader in Europe. In summer 2016, Midea, a Chinese manufacturer of electrical appliances, acquired almost 95 percent of the shares in Kuka.

Adidas: coaching with apps and wearables

Adidas has been making sports shoes since the middle of last century. Today, testing of the company’s products is fully automated. The sportswear manufacturer is now also banking on miCoach, a suite of products that includes a fitness app and a variety of training-related devices – from a fitness wristband and smart watch through to a soccer ball that can analyze how hard it is kicked and what trajectory it takes. In another recent innovation, soccer fans can now design their club’s jerseys online in the Adidas Creator Studio.

The German book trade: reading in the digital world

Outdated? As if! German book retailers have already made inroads into the digital market with their tolino e-reader. Since 2013, leading German booksellers like Club Bertelsmann, Hugendubel, and Thalia, have been selling e-readers alongside traditional paper books. They currently offer their customers a range of more than 1.6 million e-books, and are bringing the fight to the Amazon Kindle.

Carlsen Verlag: an interactive reading experience for children

Carlsen has been in the business of publishing children’s literature since 1953. But this venerable company has taken digitization by the horns, transforming books into a multimedia experience. For every book in the LeYo! series, buyers can download a free app that makes reading interactive – providing additional stories, background noises, knowledge and games that all have to do with the book.

Cewe: a world of digital images

Cewe, Europe’s largest photo developer, has been around since 1962, carrying out photographic development work for a number of large retail and drugstore chains. Nowadays, however, this long-established company owes most of its sales to the digital-photography segment, where it processes online print orders and produces photo albums and personalized gift articles on the basis of software that customers can download for free.

Otto: online retail by catalog

In 1949, the very first Otto mail-order catalog rolled off the presses. Customers still like to leaf through the catalog today, but they are increasingly placing their orders online. Otto Group is the world’s biggest online retailer after market behemoth Amazon. According to Otto Group’s latest figures, the Internet accounts for over half of its international sales – with 30 percent of customers placing their orders from mobile terminals Otto has begun investing in start-ups so as to ensure that it keeps profiting from digital trends going forward and continues its transformation into a digital retail and service company.

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