The winners of the Digital Leader Award 2020

The Digital Leader Award honours teams and projects that “set standards for digitalisation in Germany”. Its initiators are the technology consultancy NTT and IDG Business Medien (publisher of CIO Magazine, Computerwoche, etc.). Here, we present the award winners for 2020.

DLA20 // Virtual WINNERS NIGHT (Video in German only)


According to the initiators of the Digital Leader Award, the award-winning digitalisation approaches often have an impact not only on their own industry but also beyond it. The prize is awarded once a year in the categories Culture, Strategy, Project and Society. A jury of experts from media, business and science selects Germany’s best digitalisation projects from all submitted applications. 

In this year there was a total of 83 applications: From groundbreaking digital strategies, exciting projects, engaging and courageous cultural change and strong social benefit, almost the entire imaginable range of narratives is included. 

By the way: The call for applications for 2021 starts on 25 January:  

Category “Culture”: ERGO with “Robotics: From enemy to friend”

With “Robotics: From Enemy to Friend”, ERGO has succeeded in bringing about a cultural change which reduces scepticism about the use of new technologies such as bots, and creates confidence in future technology. To date, 55 robots have been launched, relieving ERGO employees in all kinds of departments of some of their daily routines. These virtual colleagues help to optimise and accelerate work processes. So far, around 600,000 tasks have been processed in this way.

But what exactly does robotification of processes mean? The application scenarios are as far-reaching as the horizon. A particularly clear use case is claims handling, where there can often be a high volume of cases that need processing. Robots can do this quickly and reliably, and swiftly reimburse customers for claims. This means that customers are less frustrated because long waiting times for reimbursement are avoided. “It’s all about providing colleagues with digital help to give them more time for other work,” explains Fabian Stolz, Head of Robotics at ERGO, going on to say that he considers the award a great recognition of the work put in. “We are showing that an insurance company is a modern, digital service provider”.

Robotics | ERGO (Video in German only)


Category “Strategy”: Boehringer Ingelheim with “Transforming a billion-dollar IT”

The pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim has always been well-positioned in the digital realm. However, after a thorough self-assessment, the management initiated a holistic transformation programme, applied for the Digital Leader Award and took first place in the Strategy category. The Rhineland-Palatinate-based manufacturer now consistently uses digital solutions in all business areas – from research to finance.

The quintessence was a change of strategy in IT towards a “multi-mode IT” which can also develop, commercialise and operate digital products and services. This was the start of a change process in all areas. These effects can be felt throughout the entire organisation, and the pharmaceutical company can now act faster and more flexibly.

Category “Project”: Infineon with “The digital transformation of a conventional technology laboratory – Powered by IT”

In semiconductor production, error analysis and correction is a time-consuming challenge due to the small structures. Infineon has completely digitalised this process – with enormous consequences. After all, the company deals with the very smallest components, which makes quality management difficult. Errors in microscopically small conductor paths are hard to detect – even a tiny speck of dust can render a chip unusable. In the iFame project, the semiconductor manufacturer is now using AI-based quality management, which saves a lot of time in error analysis. Using this latest technology, deviations can be precisely analysed, their underlying causes identified, and long-term improvements made to eliminate them.

In the Project category, ERGO took second place with the integration of intelligent voice-assistant systems: “Be a Voice, not an Echo: How ERGO is succeeding in transforming itself from an insurance company to a tech provider”. ERGO determined that there is now consumer acceptance of voice assistants, and hence a high degree of willingness to use these to handle a wide range of insurance-related matters, such as reporting a claim, inquiring about the status of a process or making an appointment with an advisor.

Category “Society”: German Federal Employment Agency (BA) with “Home office, Hubertus Heil, hackathon – The high-speed digitalisation of the Federal Employment Agency for citizens and employers during the coronavirus pandemic”

With its high-speed digitalisation, the Federal Employment Agency ignited the turbo, leading to a radical upheaval, also brought about by agile methods. Among other things, the Nuremberg-based agency developed a “life-situation-based” online portal, a revised homepage, an app and a chatbot.  Internally, the agency now focuses on mobile working and agility. With a new IT and portal strategy and a new employee-customer perspective, the Federal Agency is using the pandemic as an opportunity to digitalise its administration. Many people have already benefited from this high-speed digitalisation, for example in the payment of short-time compensation or support for the solo self-employed.

Special prize “Social Purpose”: AfB gemeinnützige GmbH with “Social & green IT”

The abbreviation AfB stands for the non-profit IT-inclusion company “Arbeit für Menschen mit Behinderung” (Work for People with Disabilities). This company, which specialises in the reconditioning and remarketing of used IT equipment and mobile devices, employs 450 people with and without disabilities at 19 locations and in five countries; 45 percent of whom are severely disabled. In the future, 500 additional jobs for people with disabilities are to be created.

Special prize “Digital Science”: The Helmholtz Association with “Digital Earth – Integration of data science in earth system sciences”

The Helmholtz Centre’s comprehensive strategy in its Earth and Environment research field is called “Digital Earth”. More than 90 natural and data scientists from eight Helmholtz Centres are jointly driving forward the digitalisation of scientific working methods. Their aim is to create interfaces between “Earth Science” and “Data Science” in order to ultimately understand the Earth (even) better. 

Special prize “Cybersecurity”: LANXESS with “How to start with information security? A chemicals group protects itself”

Chemicals group LANXESS has given its workforce a good wake-up call with a video message from the CEO on the global phishing campaign. Its maxim was: “This could have happened to me (...) so information security is more important than ever.” The basic idea is that apart from an innovative IT security concept, the employees offer the most important protection against cyber attacks on the company. For this reason, the specialty chemicals group is also expediting mandatory e-learning for its employees.

Text: Benjamin Esche

The videos of all award winners are available on the Computerwoche YouTube channel:

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