Elie Haibi
Co-Founder and CEO
Hermes Systems
View from the Top

Digital Transformation is More Than Just Technology

By Andrea Villar | Fri, 05/22/2020 - 14:39

Q: What opportunities does the Mexican market offer to Hermes Systems after 18 years?

A: There have been many attempts to apply the Industry 4.0 digital revolution. Some have failed and others have provided learning experiences, and the market is still evolving. There is a great deal of enthusiasm to go digital, which is no longer exclusive to large companies. It is not uncommon for small and medium-sized businesses to launch a digital transformation program. Many want to figure out how to transform their business by taking advantage of technology and avoid being disrupted by a competitor. Nonetheless, there is no common understanding of what it means to digitally transform the business, in part because of technology vendors who promote their products as if they were magic instant formulas. This promise always falls short.

That being said, the juiciest opportunities are only starting to show up. Companies are no longer competing on price alone but also on value elements such as convenience, availability of product or service, delivery time, shopping experience and visibility. Now with the COVID-19 pandemic, companies also compete on hygiene and safety standards, reliability of protocols, touchless experiences and reduction of human-to-human physical interaction. All these competitive aspects require robust and consistent business capabilities for which companies will need our help to build and deploy.

Q: How do you understand digital transformation at Hermes Systems?

A: To us, digital transformation is business transformation first. We have focused on business transformation for many years, even before digital transformation became mainstream. We know what technological capabilities are already available and how to leverage them to build business capabilities.

For example, predicting whether a customer will churn to the competition and reacting accordingly through retention strategies that are implemented in business processes is a typical transformation project. It is not only about the ability to predict. It is also about aligning the entire organization to act and prevent the client from leaving. Digital transformation goes beyond technology and spans across organizational, cultural and process domains.

Q: What are the biggest areas of opportunity for companies that are undergoing a digital transformation?

A: The first challenge is knowing where to start, understanding the problems you want to solve and then knowing how to design user-centered solutions that are desirable, viable and profitable. Companies also need to be aware of the cultural, language and communication challenges that any digital transformation journey entails. For instance, for many organizations it is already clear that problems cannot be solved using the traditional approach of commissioning projects to the IT department alone just because they involve some form of digitalization. On the contrary, project teams are progressively becoming multidisciplinary and are tackled by different departments.

To make multidisciplinary transformation initiatives work companies need the correct framework, with the necessary tools and techniques. But it is not enough. In order to maximize the value of these initiatives, companies need to work on building special skills in their workforce, such as creativity and lateral thinking. Then, maybe they will break the limits of the ordinary and come up with high-value solutions.

Finally, upper management must grant their teams a license to fail, as well as the organizational, material and financial means to fail fast, cheap and many times over. All this should be free of corporate politics and excess of control. The innovation area has to be independent. It requires a vote of confidence from management and the freedom to create, test, fail, learn and recreate until it achieves something spectacular.

This is not impossible but it is nonetheless not within the reach of most organizations. That is why at Hermes Systems, we offer an innovation lab service. In no time we can put together a skilled team that can start working with our customers on defining problems, designing solutions, building prototypes and deploying them for validation. Once we are satisfied with the added value, the prototype progressively becomes a product.

As outsiders, we are free of corporate politics and offer an objective and fresh vision to meet our customers’ challenges. Another great advantage is that it is not necessary to hire the team full time. We create a proposal tailored to every company's capabilities and to the speed at which they decide to move.

Q: How has Hermes Systems innovated in the services it offers to its customers?

A: Based on the problems that we spot, we design solutions and proposals that can make a difference in various industries. We have seen the pandemic drastically changing the status quo everywhere and we believe some changes will become the new reality for a long time. In healthcare, we are designing a telemedicine platform with many intelligent features to help with early detection and prevention, while mitigating hospital and emergency department saturation.

In retail, we have developed a platform that facilitates the interaction between the customer and the salesperson in the store. In the wake of COVID-19, such a capability is essential to operate physical stores with less employees and offer a superior service with minimal human interaction.

We have seen how e-commerce is booming as a result of the pandemic, so we have also come up with a last mile delivery platform that allows for visibility, control and consistency in the delivery process to minimize errors and maximize customer satisfaction. 


Hermes Systems is a consulting company dedicated to business transformation through technology and building human centered and environmentally friendly solutions

Photo by:   MBP
Andrea Villar Andrea Villar Journalist and Industry Analyst