by Roger Pilc

Postcards from the digital transformation of a 100-year-old startup

Aug 02, 2017
Digital TransformationTechnology Industry

innovation idea
Credit: Thinkstock

Companies of all sizes in all industries are grappling with digital transformation. I have the pleasure of leading the innovation team at a nearly 100-year-old startup, and I’m often asked, “How do you track your progress along the journey?”

The short answer is “Everywhere, and all the time.” A digital transformation is, by definition, digital, providing numerous opportunities for tracking. But to be truly transformative, a digital transformation cannot just be about innovation or R&D, it must involve the entire enterprise. We are four years into our digital transformation at Pitney Bowes, and our milestones to date include the successful implementation of a new brand identity, a new enterprise business platform, creation of an open cloud product development platform, a robust Design System, IoT solutions for enterprise and SMB clients, digital customer communications, and many more initiatives that have transformed us into a leading global technology firm. Every day, we place the client at the center of all we do. We also know that the core of our success is our culture of innovation.

Over the course of the next few months, I look forward to sharing “postcards” from many areas that are helping us succeed on our transformation journey, including:

  1. Data
  2. Cloud Technology Partners
  3. Design
  4. Clients
  5. Culture

Data is the new “oil” of any industry. Precision and accuracy in data and analytics is vital to any organization’s physical and digital offerings – it is critical for all processes and functions. For us, data and analytics was the first item we looked at with our own digital transformation – we recognized the importance of effectively harnessing our data and creating analytics that help our clients address business challenges in all areas from machine maintenance to digital marketing.  Whether it demonstrates the performance of our high-speed mailing machines, or powers the analytics behind customers’ online shopping habits, the accuracy of the data contributes directly to our ability to create improved business outcomes for our clients.

The right technology partners, along with traditional reseller alliances, are vital to the digital transformation of any business

What is the greatest value a company may offer a client? For us, it’s our expertise in the physical and digital realms of global ecommerce, mailing and shipping, combined in new ways with our location intelligence and customer information management capabilities. Our partnership with GE on the GE Predix platform provides  our location intelligence technology to their open platform as we develop Industrial Internet solutions together. Similarly, we formed partnerships with Apigee (recently acquired by Google) and Okta to provide technology within our own platform – the Pitney Bowes Commerce Cloud – as we develop shipping APIs and ecommerce solutions together.

Design thinking is crucial in driving client success

Our design team is comprised of anthropologists, psychologists, brand marketers, developers and innovators who build our products with our clients. They identify the business and design issues our products must address, build and test our physical and digital solutions, and continuously improve our solutions as client needs evolve. A good Design System automates as much of the basics of a product as possible. If the look and feel of a screen, the color of a device, or even the sonic treatment of a mouse click are built into the Design System, developers are free to focus on the business outcomes the product must affect. A unified design delivers a superior customer experience and presents the brand consistently across product lines.

The goal of any transformation should always be about finding ways to better serve your clients

For small and mid-sized clients, we must democratize the benefits of the Internet of Things. We do this by continuing to reinvent our core mailing and shipping capabilities by connecting physical and digital solutions the Pitney Bowes Commerce Cloud. For one million SMBs, this means providing access to the same location intelligence, ecommerce and shipping solutions, not to mention access to hundreds of data sets, that Fortune 500 firms have traditionally enjoyed. Large enterprises, on the other hand, are looking for ways to move to open platforms while safeguarding client data. Throughout our transformation process, we have continued to partner with our enterprise clients to build stronger solutions together that improve ROI and grow revenue. 

Culture is at the core of any transformation

Building or transforming any organization always begins with the right mindset. This mindset starts from the very top and cascades down to every level of the organization. This includes providing a sense of value, expectations and most importantly, a sense of purpose for change. This is, however, not a one-size-fits-all solution, and it comes more naturally for some organizations than others. At Pitney Bowes, we have been innovating since 1920 when we transformed communications with the first postage meter. Today, our employees worldwide are passionate about the legacy of Pitney Bowes and we continue to strive to innovate for our clients. A culture of innovation stems from the core values of our business, which always takes us back to our objective of doing the right thing the right way.

Transformation is hard, but by keeping the client at the center, honoring a culture of innovation, and working on open platforms with the right partners, it’s an incredibly rewarding journey. I look forward to hearing from you along the way.