Daniel Pandza
Community Innovation Catalyst
Interlub Group
Expert Contributor

What Most People Get Wrong About Digital Transformation

By Daniel Pandza | Wed, 07/27/2022 - 17:00

Recently, I gave a virtual innovation talk to 700 associates from one of Mexico’s largest retailers. In my opening remarks, I asked them to choose the innovation winners in the following categories:


Table 1: Who has won the innovation game?

CATEGORY              COMPANY A            COMPANY B

Entertainment             Blockbuster                Netflix

Search                        Yahoo!                        Google

Mobile phones            Nokia                          Apple iPhone

Laptops                       Sony                           Apple

Transportation            Local Taxi                   Uber

Retail                          Sears                          Amazon

Although most of the participants agreed that the companies in column B were the winners of the innovation game, few actually understood why? What do you think?

Image 1: Survey results: What do the innovation winners have in common? (282 responses)

As we can see in the results of the poll, most of the respondents believed the secret behind their success to be technological in nature (e.g. digitalization, disruptive technology, omnichannel strategy, etc.) or due to their vision, agility, or creativity.

I, on the other hand, believe that, although these factors play a role in their success, they are merely a means to one end: The obsession with making people’s lives easier by eliminating “emotional” friction. Don’t believe me? Let’s analyze a few examples.

The Human Side of Amazon

If the success of Amazon were merely the transition from physical stores to digital platforms, Amazon could have stopped investing in Innovation at least two decades ago. Nevertheless, the company hasn’t stopped launching innovations that reduce unnecessary friction in their customers’ lives that stands in between a customer’s intention and getting the job done.

Table 2: Amazon makes customers’ lives easier by reducing uncertainty in the process.



What if I don’t have time to go to the store?

Buy with 1-Click (patented feature)

Save the consumer time spent on shopping.

What if I unintentionally buy a product again?

Re-purchase reminder

Help the customer prevent unintended re-purchase and associated shipping costs, etc.

What if shipping takes too long?

One-Day Shipping

Reduces anxiety and stress while waiting for products.

What if I don’t have a sharp object at hand?

Frustration-Free Packaging Program

Reduces customers’ effort associated with opening a package.

What if the product does not fit?

Amazon Returns

Simplify the package-return and reimbursement process.

What if I need the product now?

Amazon Go

Save time when checking out at a local store.

What if I lose my music collection?


Save time ripping the CDs you’ve bought on Amazon to MP3 format.

What if I don´t understand a word?

Amazon Kindle X-Ray

Simplify the process of buying, reading, and storing books.

As we can see in all these examples from Amazon’s most successful innovations, improving the human experience is the driving force of new product and service development. Yes, technology is a vital “lubricant” that enables consumers to satisfy their needs quicker (e.g. use your new headphones, use your drum kit silencing pads, get the new toy for your child) and without the unnecessary hassles (e.g. drive to a specialized store, lose the opportunity to practice a new skill).

The Human Side of Lubrication

Like Amazon, our team at Interlub Group is approaching new projects with a similar mindset. Usually, our technical consultants approach a potential customer (e.g., maintenance supervisor, maintenance operator, production manager, purchasing manager) with the goal of understanding what job the person is trying to get done within the system (e.g., assure process reliability, equipment availability, etc. or reduce total maintenance costs, risk). Then we try to identify the critical points of friction that are limiting the overall system performance. Finally, we design a new or recommend an existing lubricant solution that will improve overall systems performance.

This human-centered systems-thinking view is inspiring the development of more than 2,800 new lubricant solutions and most products help improve the overall systems performance of our customers’ operations:


How does it reduce customer effort?

360° Assessment

Can I increase my productivity and reduce waste?

We help the user identify improvement opportunities.

Lubrication strategy design

Am I using the right lubricant, and using it correctly?

We recommend the optimal lubricant, volume, relubrication cycle, etc. for each application.

Interlub X-Pert app

Is the new lubricant compatible with my system?

Consult databases and calculators for choosing and using the right lubricant for each application.

Interlub X-Pert seminars

Am I doing a good job?

Learn the best practices for improving process reliability through lubrication.

Interfluid Bio

What if we have accidental spillovers?

Substitute hazardous materials with biodegradable alternatives.

Clear lubricant base

How might we reduce time and effort at inspections?

Substitute black base oils with translucent base oils that can help you recover hundreds of hours of production.

Plan B Campaign

What if global supply chains break down?

Evaluate alternative lubricant technologies and validate a portfolio of substitute products for your process.

Agile product development

What if the standard lubricant is not good enough?

Design, test and scale production for new lubricants in weeks, not years.

The combination of these services, products and features helps leading industrial companies unleash their full potential:

  • Interfluid Bio® helps some of the most important copper mines in the world lubricate their open gears. But more importantly, it increases equipment availability, reduces environmental impact, increases safety of collaborators and extends the service life of million-dollar equipment.
  • Uniplex EXP® is used by some of the most important steel in Canada, Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil to lubricate the roller bearings in their continuous casters. But more importantly it helps some of them recover more than US$10 million in annual steel production value, reduce lubricant consumption by 50 percent and reduce maintenance costs and complexity significantly.
  • B-Lub® is used by leading container-glassmakers not because it lubricates shear-blades but because it reduces bacteria formation in water tanks, which in turn increases the resistance delivery system and therefore equipment availability and plant productivity.

I strongly believe that it is this “human-centered systems thinking” that has fueled our customers’ productivity, Interlub Group’s sustained double-digit growth, and our international expansion to more than 40 countries.

“When you reduce friction, make something easy, people do more of it.” — Jeff Bezos

If you also want to unleash your organization’s impact, through digital transformation or beyond, try adopting a more human-centric view. The insights you’ll discover will inspire your team to create valuable products and services that can become the catalysts for your organization’s growth.


Daniel Pandza is Community Innovation Catalyst at Interlub Group | The Uncommon Lubricant Company. He has served as an innovation-effectiveness coach for teams at Intel Mexico, Continental Automotive Mexico, John Deere Mexico, Grupo Coppel and various startups and nonprofit organizations.

Photo by:   Daniel Pandza