When lockdown happened, Oleg and Elvira Dmitrieva were just days away from signing the lease on a shop in Edinburgh.

But Covid changed everything. Suddenly their plans to be specialist Italian wine retailers were on hold and they had to find a new way to launch their own business.

They didn’t falter, overnight they moved on-line and in just 18 months Independent Wines has gone from being a start-up to becoming a serious disruptor in the wine trade, pioneering a bespoke approach to on-line wine sales and attracting customers from across the UK.

The company website acts like a seasoned sommelier, offering tasting notes, food pairings and evaluations on every bottle from leading wine experts in a way guaranteed to delight wine lovers and yet offer reassurance to customers whose knowledge of grape varieties and terroir is less developed.

It is the sort of service that you would expect to receive only by visiting a long-established, high-end wine merchant, and it goes far beyond anything offered by existing wine clubs, but it is an innovative example of how technology can transform a traditional sector and it is precisely the sort of story that the judges in the new Herald Digital Transformation Awards are hoping to encounter.

The Awards, which were launched last month, are aimed at shining a spotlight on organisations which have grasped the potential of digital technology and are using it to reach new customers, deliver improved services or make a difference in the charity sector or at a community level.

There are 10 categories in total, ranging from healthcare, education, business growth and marketing, to recognition for professionals and also a separate category for one young person whose outstanding use of technology has benefited their employer, their own business or their education.

In each category, the judges will be hoping to find examples of companies and individuals who have spotted the potential of digital technology to work in new ways and who are actively pursuing a process of improvement through the new tools now available.

Oleg Dmitrieva, whose award-winning background in the digital sector has allowed him to take a fresh approach to wine retailing, concentrating only on award-winning labels and using visual images to convey detailed information at a glance to on-line shoppers at  Independent Wine, says: “Our example is a powerful message to other Scottish businesses that, through the use of digital tools, your customer base can be UK-wide or even global.”

Digital World  Title Sponsor of the Awards, is a Skills Development Scotland website and campaign dedicated to promoting digital skills and careers in Scotland and a spokesman said: “We are delighted to support the Digital Transformation Awards. We cannot wait to see the entries come flooding in so we can recognise and reward the efforts people made to not only survive the pandemic but even thrive during the last 18 months.

“Digital skills and technology adoption have never been so important to all areas of Scotland’s economy. These awards offer an ideal way to celebrate those that transformed their organisations using those very same digital skills we promote through Digital World and Skills Development Scotland.”

Other sponsors include Capito, a leading IT services and solutions company, which is sponsoring the Best use of Technology in Healthcare category, and Mark Gibson, Managing Director, said:“It goes without saying that IT played a vital role in organisations not just surviving but thriving during the pandemic. 

"True digital transformation is about more than just adding a few processes to make work a little more efficient and cost-effective but is about a journey that transforms your whole organisation at a much deeper level, from a connected internal culture to streamlined service delivery.

“Entering these awards is a fantastic opportunity to have all your hard work and innovation recognised in a public forum.”

And David Mains of Tec-Source, a leading recruitment firm for technical, professional and skilled staff, said: Tec-Source are incredibly proud to be sponsoring the award for Digital Professional of the Year. Recognising the contributions and achievements of individuals is incredibly important to Tec-Source; after a difficult 2020, taking the opportunity to recognise success and build on this throughout 2021 is essential to the ongoing success of this sector.”

Meanwhile the Business Growth Award will be sponsored by DigitalBoost, Scotland’s national digital skills training programme which provides webinars, consultancy and online support to SMEs undergoing digital transformation.

The Awards ceremony will take place on Thursday, 4 November and entries should be submitted by Friday, September 10. Full details are available here.