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Martina Morawietz

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Digital X Award 2022: Learning from the best digitalizers in the SME sector

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  • Deutsche Telekom and BVMW award prizes for outstanding digitization projects.
  • Independent jury selects digital pioneers in 5 categories.
  • Special prize for #WeAreAllUkrainians.
Digital X Award ceremony with Hagen Rickmann and Markus Jerger (BVMW).

Digital X Award ceremony with Hagen Rickmann and Markus Jerger (BVMW). © Deutsche Telekom

As part of the digitization initiative Digital X in Cologne, Deutsche Telekom and the German Association of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (BVMW) honored courageous and innovative digitization and transformation projects in German SMEs with the "Digital X Award". A special prize was awarded to #WeAreAllUkrainians. The patron of the Digital X Award is Volker Wissing, Federal Minister for Digital Affairs and Transport, who emphasized at the award ceremony in Cologne: "Digital awakening needs digital champions - role models who work digitally instead of analogue, efficiently instead of cumbersomely. Just like many innovative SMEs that are put in the spotlight and honoured by the Digital X Award."

The Digital X Award honors digital lighthouse projects in SMEs. Prizes are awarded to companies that use digital solutions in a particularly consistent and innovative way and have improved their products with the help of digitization or developed new business models. The Digital X Award is the successor to the Digital Champions Award, which Telekom presented together with WirtschaftsWoche seven times in a row for outstanding digitization and transformation projects.

The winners were selected by an independent jury advised by academic partners, the University of St. Gallen and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne. The jury included Hagen Rickmann, Director Business at Telekom Deutschland, Markus Jerger, Chairman of the Federal Executive Board of BVMW, and Professor Walter Brenner from the University of St. Gallen.

"Digitization is no longer a question of ‘whether’, it's all about ‘how’. Those who digitize shine. Those who don't digitize lose. In the Corona pandemic, companies with a high degree of digitization proved to be significantly more resilient," says Markus Jerger. Digital solutions help to strengthen one’s own competitiveness.

And jury member and initiator of Digital X Hagen Rickmann adds: "Digital pioneers and vivid examples of transformation are still needed. The award winners have already translated new technologies and trends into reality and for SMEs. They are precisely these role models from whom there is much to learn."

The Digital Champions 2022

Digital products and services
Nölle + Nordhorn GmbH: Animal welfare thanks to digital barn control

Founded around 65 years ago, the Gütersloh-based company supplies complete systems for industrial facilities. For livestock house operators, the company, which is part of the French family-owned company Dexis, offers an ecosystem of hardware, software and cloud that can be used to store, analyze, visualize and pass on information collected with sensors to third-party systems. The data provides information on animal health and air quality in the barn, and enables evaluation of economic factors such as laying rates in a chicken house. The all-in-one package also sends alerts when problems occur in a barn that could affect animal health. The solution is used in stables that are operated in accordance with Demeter regulations. The solution can be used in different sectors. What is innovative is the integration of different components in an overall ecosystem.

Digital processes and organization
Rauschenberger Catering + Restaurants GmbH+Co. KG: Throwing away less food through event planning with AI

As before, the catering and events sector often works manually with paper, email or telephone. The disadvantage: turnaround times of customer-centric processes are lengthy and error-prone. Rauschenberger Catering and Restaurants from Fellbach used the lockdown period caused by Corona to look at digitizing the entire value creation process in their industry. The result is a solution based on a Microsoft platform that can be extended to areas such as customer experience and customer portals. In addition, the company has introduced an AI-based solution that allows the food required for events to be calculated more accurately based on actual demand, so that less ends up in the trash can.

Digital customer experiences
Select AG: The repair shop in your pocket

The jury was won over by the digital co-driver "vjumi". Vehicles are becoming increasingly networked with their surroundings. This development towards the connected car is massively changing the supply chains of the parts trade business. Select AG in Andernach is taking on this challenge and transforming its B2B business strategy into a B2B2C business model. The app "vjumi" connects automotive businesses with their customers. It is equipped with intelligent real-time diagnostics technology. It is the first telematics solution that provides independent repair shops with their customers' vehicle data in real time. A garage detects problems with a car long before it breaks down, can inform customers in good time and repair the damage before a car comes to a standstill. The solution is available for non-networked vehicles of all brands as well as for fully networked BMW models and is expected to integrate other manufacturers in the future.

Digital transformation of medium-sized companies
Emons Spedition GmbH: Traditional company thinks completely digital

Lagging behind technology and market trends and still feeling like you're too late. The forwarding company Emons, founded almost 100 years ago and headquartered in Cologne, wanted to change this - and is therefore actively engaged in digitalization and the development of digital business models. One result: EmonsDIGITAL. This newly created division was given the freedom by the management to rethink and implement digitalization for and by Emons in a customer-oriented manner and as efficiently as possible. As part of an incubation program, Emons' digital team identifies projects that have the digital potential to solve problems and meet the needs of employees, partners and customers. To do this, the team also uses agile methods and accompanies projects all the way to new, digital business models. Another strategic element of digital transformation is called "Acceleration". It deals with the search for market and technology trends for digital business models. The first successes: Of the five initial projects, two have already been spun off into independent companies.

Special category: ESG - environmental, social and responsible corporate governance
German Volunteers gUG: Promoting volunteerism in sports

German Volunteers from Frankfurt provides recognized sports organizations with a digital infrastructure for the placement of volunteers. This enables everyone to get involved beyond participation barriers and promotes the recognition and appreciation of volunteers. Using a cross-event platform, committed people can easily apply for suitable assignments with a personal volunteer profile. German Volunteers supports event organizers with software that sports organizations can use to recruit volunteers and fully organize their deployment. The platform gives them access to a constantly growing pool of volunteers. The digital offering from German Volunteers not only enables an efficient solution and handling of previous processes, but also opens up the possibility of addressing a significantly larger volunteer pool. German Volunteers shows how important volunteer work is in a modern society and how digital processes can provide fundamental support for social areas.

Honorary award
#WeAreAllUkrainians: adhoc initiative by Wladimir Klitschko and Tatjana Kiel

Together with Tatjana Kiel, CEO of Klitschko Ventures, Wladimir Klitschko launched the #WeAreAllUkrainians initiative right after the war began in order to develop scalable aid measures in Germany as quickly as possible - for the people in Ukraine and the many refugees. The #WeAreAllUkrainians gGmbH, Klitschko Ventures GmbH, FINDME Deutschland FM GmbH and FLEET X GmbH as well as KLITSCHKO GmbH have joined forces. Their initiative provides Ukraine and especially the refugees with goods such as food, water, medical items and clothing in large quantities and transports them to the affected regions. For Ukrainian citizens who have fled, #WeAreAllUkrainians is seeking transportation and setting up transitional housing. For donations to the #WeAreAllUkrainians initiative, a special account has been set up in cooperation with the DFB Foundation Egidius Braun. The amounts benefit the initiative in full and are used for immediate measures to support needy people from or in Ukraine. The initiative is particularly concerned with mothers and their newborns. After giving birth in the war zone, they receive faster and better access to appropriate care and nutrition.

BackgroundDigital X is Europe's largest cross-industry digitization initiative. More than 300 national and international partners are involved. Further details on the digitization initiative can be found here and at www.telekom.com/digital-x-special.

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