Martina Morawietz

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Digital X honors the best digitalizers in 2021 with Digital Champions Awards

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  • Four businesses honored as Germany's digital frontrunners
  • Special prize given to best regional champion
  • Companies identify customer requests digitally and securely get into the home office
The Digital Champions Award rewards successful examples of digitalization in medium-sized companies.

The Digital Champions Award rewards successful examples of digitalization in medium-sized companies.

The Digital Champions Award, a joint project of WirtschaftsWoche and Deutsche Telekom, honors digital model projects and innovative solutions. Start-ups and long-established companies from all over Germany applied for the prestigious award in 2021. The award is given to companies that have profitably integrated digital technologies and solutions into their operations. For the sixth time already, an independent jury honors pioneers of digitization with the Digital Champions Award. Experts from the University of St. Gallen and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne provided support. Especially in economically uncertain and volatile times, digitization becomes the decisive success factor for the resilience of companies. Germany's best digitalizers 2021 offer solutions that bring law firms safely into the home office, make planning easier for architects and craftsmen, and enable completely new business models based on existing competencies.

Digital Champions 2021

"Digital Transformation Medium-Sized Businesses" - Noerr Partnergesellschaft mbH, Munich: In the fast lane to digitization and safely into the home office  

Noerr, one of the largest German commercial law firms, has been active for more than 60 years at 16 locations worldwide:  Over 500 lawyers, tax advisors, auditors and management consultants provide support in investments, M&A projects and joint ventures, in court or arbitration proceedings or in compliance investigations. Noerr was looking for a future-oriented and flexible IT system. In 2019, the firm launched the "Digital Fasttrack" program. It flexibilized its infrastructure through virtualization and cloud services, modernized its IT applications, and promoted the digital mindset among employees and the organization. As specialist applications, Noerr introduced due diligence with artificial intelligence, document automation, the electronic file and digital deadline control. During the pandemic, Employees were able to switch to home offices within four weeks. 2020, the Corona year, produced record business results. The commercial law firm Noerr digitized consistently and straightforwardly and is awarded the Digital Champions Award in the category "Digital Transformation Medium-Sized Businesses".

"Best Digital Customer Experience" - LAMILUX Heinrich Strunz Holding GmbH & CO. KG, Rehau: Digital solution instead of planning with pen and paper

Customers are enthusiastic about good products. Even more, when they can quickly configure them according to their own needs. World market leader LAMILUX is a family-owned company with more than 100 years of history and around 1,200 employees. The company produces skylight elements such as rooflight domes, glass roof structures, solar technology. In addition, there are systems for smoke and heat extraction as well as building management systems. LAMILUX also produces fiber-reinforced plastics. For architects, craftsmen and building owners, LAMILUX strived for an even better service around the product. This is how the digital product configurator came into being. It allows planners and tradesmen to configure skylight systems according to their individual requirements in a relatively simple and uncomplicated way. The configurator was awarded the Architects' Darling in the category "Best BIM Data Offer". Building Information Modeling - BIM for short - is used to digitally model, combine and record all the data of buildings and other structures. Working more efficiently thanks to the configurator means time savings for the LAMILUX company as well as for its customers. The jury gave the "Best Digital Customer Experience" award.

"Digital Products & Services"- J. Wagner GmbH, Markdorf: Conquering a new market in an evolutionary as well as revolutionary way.

Innovation is the heart of Wagner's business. The world market leader demonstrated this when it started out in surface technology with the development of the first spray gun for serial production in 1953, and again in 2019 at the Digital Champions Award Southwest for its "freiraum" incubator. With this incubator, Wagner researches new fields of application and technologies and supports start-ups in the coating of surfaces. The start-up IONIQ, which emerged from "freiraum," developed the "IONIQ One" sprayer and a skin care app. This digital hybrid product, in combination with self-developed sun protection products, offers a new digital customer experience and business model. The sprayer uses the skin's natural attractive force to apply skin care products to the body in the form of a "coating”. Wagner combines the company's surface coating expertise with new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Behavioral Analysis and Biometric Recognition for the individual needs of the user's skin. This is complemented by eCommerce, digital payment processes and services together with a digital brand presence. The new product category underlines Wagner's innovative strength. The jury rewarded this with the award for "Digital Products & Services".

"Digital Processes & Organization" - Schwan Cosmetics International, Heroldsberg: Color sampling on the monitor? Go!

Courageous decisions put companies on a secure footing for many years to come. In 1927, Schwan Cosmetics invented the first cosmetic pencil, the "Schwan Cosmetics Eyebrow Pencil." Today, Schwan Cosmetics is the world market leader in the development and production of cosmetic pencils and has around 3,000 employees at nine production sites worldwide. Before, when Schwan Cosmetics wanted to exchange color ideas with customers for a new cosmetics line on the market, sample pencils out of 12,000 possible colors used to be sent from the warehouse. This was a time-consuming and costly process causing environmental impact. Schwan Cosmetics developed the "Color Visualizer." With this application on the Internet, the company’s global sales team and the customer see the colors in digitalized form. They compare them with Pantone, for example, and get suggestions based on data. Processes are shortened from 12 to one day and physical sampling is reduced by a third. This means that even small customer segments can be considered profitably. Schwan Cosmetics saves high costs. The market leader, almost 100 years old, had the courage to digitize even difficult processes - for example, remote maintenance of machines in production using glasses for interactive 3D projections. A worthy winner in the "Digital Processes & Organization" category.

Best Regional Champion

HAILO-Werk Rudolf Loh GmbH & Co. KG, Haiger: Getting to know customer needs and increasing customer satisfaction

Retail revenues are increasingly shifting to the digital space, and not just because of Corona. In the do-it-yourself segment, this applies to consumers and also the business-to-business sector. The traditional HAILO brand stands as a leading manufacturer of ladders and waste garbage cans for households and businesses, commercial climbing systems, and built-in solutions for the kitchen industry. As a staff function, the new and central Digital Unit brought these three business divisions together in one HAILO portal, thus breaking the logic of the independent marketing strategy of each individual division. Tracking and analytics tools are used to continuously learn about the users of the HAILO portal and the online offerings. A new data-driven quality management system was launched. In its sales strategy, HAILO relies on the interplay of online and offline retail and cooperates increasingly with stationary retail through joint sales campaigns in search engines and social media. HAILO integrates all advertising and marketing measures, including B2B marketing in customer relationship management. HAILO raised its sales by 161 percent and increased its visibility online. The jury honors the consistent implementation of digital transformation with the award for the Best Regional Champion.

The digitization of the economy is in full swing 

The overall view of the 2021 applications shows: More and more companies and their digitization projects have moved beyond the concept stage. They are already deploying their solutions on a broad level. As a result, the term Digital Champion increasingly stands for companies that scale their digital innovations on the market and also benefit from them economically. The award is setting a whole new example and is inspiring many other companies.

The Digital Champions Award is Germany's largest cross-industry award on the topic of digitization. The prize offers family businesses as well as market leaders a stage for their successes in digitization. The prestigious award highlights digital showcase projects and innovative solutions not only nationally, but also on a regional level. The national award honors more complex and broad-based digital projects. The six regional editions aim to further advance digitization in the regional economy.  

An overview of the winners of the six regional Digital Champions Awards can be found here.

BackgroundDigital X, Europe's largest initiative for digitalization, connects companies. The focus is on learning from each other and becoming more resilient. The Digital X knowledge platform with articles on relevant business topics contributes to this.

At, you can find out which companies also made it onto the winners' podium and in which categories there were other winners.

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