by Michael Monahan

The building blocks of a digital transformation

Oct 12, 2017
Digital TransformationIT GovernanceIT Leadership

Too many companies prioritize the novelty of transformation over the operational perspective necessary to ensure success.

porting converting repurpose code birds in flight transformation
Credit: Thinkstock

In today’s fiercely competitive market, companies of all shapes and sizes are faced with the challenge to transform digitally. And, while “digital transformation” may seem like the corporate imperative of the day, I see many companies prioritizing the novelty of transformation over the operational perspective necessary to ensure the journey is successful.  I often get asked, so what are the building blocks of a digital transformation? Where do you begin? The long and short of it is: there really isn’t a simple recipe for digital transformation. One thing, however, remains the same: it is critically important to remain true to the core strengths of your business.

Focus on your core business

I recall from about four years ago at Pitney Bowes, there was a discussion among the leadership team on how we were going to change the trajectory of our core business to adapt to changing times. At the time, our core business was focused on mail and, given the dynamics of the industry, we knew we needed to evolve and transform our business model. As companies go through any transformation, it is critical to identify and embrace the gems of their core business especially because those are the key assets that really defined the company. And from a business perspective, continuing to find creative ways to invest in your core business can truly be the cash engine of your transformation. While it can be tempting to focus only on emerging business ideas, it is important to realize that the core business will likely be central to enabling any transformation. That balance can help you avoid the risk of undermining authentic brand attributes.

Drive operational efficiencies

As the core business transformation is underway, it is important to drive operational efficiencies. To respond to the changing needs of your customers, a foundational infrastructure is needed to improve client experience. And it always starts with assessing existing processes and ensuring you are being as efficient as possible. As such, at Pitney Bowes, we automated, simplified and integrated end-to-end client processes by developing an Internet-enabled business platform and a new client portal. This has given clients the power to decide how and when to engage with us and improved client engagement and satisfaction. Another way to achieve operational efficiency is to ensure transparency and collaboration within all functions of the business to drive efficiency so your business can deliver best-in-class client experiences.

Grow your business

Only after much of this heavy lifting had been addressed, can you then focus on growing revenue. When it comes to seeking potential opportunities to grow, businesses must first look at parts of the business and evaluate which have the most potential to grow. For us, we saw potential to invest in the global ecommerce marketplace. We began with a fledgling 12-million-dollar business four years ago and have become a 400-million-dollar market leader in cross-border ecommerce achieving double-digit growth. This business not only leveraged our century-long reputation as a trusted provider of commerce services, but it also leveraged the contemporary digital capabilities created during our transformation to yield unprecedented growth in this new market. By continuing to find the right balance between investing in the new and sustaining the existing, you will be truly poised for growth.

A successful transformation does not happen overnight. However, it is critical to mark the milestones that are moving you toward your goals. As you move through your digital transformation journey, I hope you stay true to your DNA, focus on achieving operational excellence and successfully grow by keeping up with your clients’ evolving needs.