A Journey of Digital Innovation and Transformation: The Case of Hilti

  • Jan vom Brocke
  • Maria Fay
  • Theresa Schmiedel
  • Martin Petry
  • Felix Krause
  • Tim Teinzer


The Hilti Corporation sets an example how to leverage digital innovation. Hilti has come a long way since its founder, Martin Hilti, envisioned in 1951 the importance of global information systems in facilitating global business. Hilti has made two attempts to harmonize process and data, and since 2006 has successfully run on a single-instance SAP® solution, handling 200,000 customer contacts every day. Since then, the company has undertaken multiple enterprise-wide initiatives to benefit from globally available data and systems, to become more consistent in running day-to-day operations, and to make it possible to realize innovation opportunities that the digital world presents.

Over the course of 15 years of transformation, this digital journey has changed the day-to-day work of thousands of employees and the management and service processes for customers worldwide. Today, Hilti’s information systems infrastructure facilitates innovations in digital quality and speed using the latest technology trends, such as cloud, mobile, the Internet of Things, and Big Data analytics. As a digital enterprise, Hilti excels at innovation and transformation. A positive company dynamic in terms of market share and financial performance has proven the digital journey on which Hilti has embarked to be effective, enabling Hilti to continue creating and harvesting new opportunities.

This case study reports on the key activities, challenges, and success factors of each phase of Hilti’s digital journey and discusses the lessons learned and their implications for the company.


Digital innovation Digital transformation Digital maturity Digital take-off Digital capabilities Global processes and data Global integration Process and data harmonization Socio-technical integration Business modularity Cultural journey Solid core Flexible boundary Technology affordances Opportunity discovery Business process management Cloud services IT value 


  1. Brüggemann B, Riehle R (2013) IT innovation as a social process. A comment on the Hilti case. In: Uhl A, Gollenia L (eds) Business transformation essentials. Gower, FarnhamGoogle Scholar
  2. Brynjolfsson E, McAfee A (2014) The second machine age: work, progress, and prosperity in a time of brilliant technologies, 1st edn. W. W. Norton & Company, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  3. Cousins B (2015) BIM as a data resource for the internet of things—IoT. Available via The Bim Hub. Accessed 16 Dec 2015
  4. Gaver WW (1991) Technology affordances. In: Proceedings of the CHI ‘91 conference on human factors in computing systems (New Orleans, Louisiana). ACM Press, New York, pp 79–84Google Scholar
  5. Hilti (n.d.) Corporate strategy. Available via Hilti. Accessed 20 Feb 2016
  6. Johansson-Sköldberg U, Woodilla J, Çetinkaya M (2013) Design thinking: past, present and possible futures. Creat Innov Manag 22(2):121–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Leonardi PM (2011) When flexible routines meet flexible technologies: affordance, constraint, and the imbrication of human and material agencies. MIS Q 35(1):147–167Google Scholar
  8. Lyytinen K, Newman M (2008) Explaining information systems change: a punctuated socio-technical change model. Eur J Inf Syst 17(6):589–613CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. March J (1991) Exploration and exploitation in organizational learning. Org Sci 2:71–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Plattner H, Meinel C, Weinberg U (2009) Design-thinking. Mi-Fachverlag, HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  11. Plattner H, Meinel C, Leifer L (eds) (2010) Design thinking: understand–improve–apply. Springer Science & Business Media, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  12. Safrudin N, Rosemann M, Recker J, Genrich M (2014) A typology of business transformations. 360° Bus Transform J 10:24–41Google Scholar
  13. Safrudin N, Rosemann M, Jung R, Uhl A (2015) Innovation capability. In: Uhl A, Gollenia L (eds) Digital enterprise transformation. Gower, FarnhamGoogle Scholar
  14. Schmiedel T, vom Brocke J, Uhl A (2015) Operational excellence. In: Uhl A, Gollenia L (eds) Digital enterprise transformation. Gower, FarnhamGoogle Scholar
  15. Seidel S, Recker J, vom Brocke J (2013) Sensemaking and sustainable practicing: functional affordances of information systems in green transformations. Manag Inf Syst Q (MIS Q) 37(4):1275–1299Google Scholar
  16. Tumbas S, Berente N, Seidel S, vom Brocke J (2015) The ‘digital façade’ of rapidly growing entrepreneurial organizations. In: Proceedings of the International conference on information systems (ICIS)Google Scholar
  17. Tushman ML, O’Reilly CA (1996) The ambidextrous organization: managing evolutionary and revolutionary change. Calif Manage Rev 38:8–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. vom Brocke J, Zelt S, Schmiedel T (2016) On the role of context in business process management. Int J Inf Manag 36(3):486–495CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. vom Brocke J, Schmiedel T, Zelt S (2015a) Class notes: considering context in business process management: the BPM context framework. BPTrends. Available via BP Trends. Accessed 16 Dec 2015
  20. vom Brocke J, Seidel S, Tumbas S (2015b) Class notes: the BPM curriculum revisited. Available via BPTrends. Accessed 16 Dec 2015
  21. Vom Brocke J, Rosemann M (2014) Handbook on business process management 2: strategic alignment, governance, people and culture. Springer, HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  22. vom Brocke J, Petry M, Sinnl T, Kristensen BØ, Sonnenberg C (2010) Global processes and data: the culture journey at Hilti corporation. In: vom Brocke J, Rosemann M (eds) Handbook on business process management, vol 2. Springer, New York, NYCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan vom Brocke
    • 1
  • Maria Fay
    • 1
    • 2
  • Theresa Schmiedel
    • 1
  • Martin Petry
    • 3
  • Felix Krause
    • 3
  • Tim Teinzer
    • 4
  1. 1.University of LiechtensteinVaduzLiechtenstein
  2. 2.SAP (Schweiz) AGRegensdorfSwitzerland
  3. 3.Hilti AGSchaanLiechtenstein
  4. 4.SAP Deutschland SE & Co. KGWalldorfGermany

Personalised recommendations