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sunset industry

Sunset Industry & Digital Transformation.

A real life case study

A real life case study can help us to understand and appreciate what a digital transformation journey entails and the value it brings for a company. Let us take a look at Pitney Bowes, an american company with roots in the sunset mailing device industry.

They survived by:

  1. Changing the services offered to keep up with changing demands of the consumers. This is the most important aspect of their change in our opinion. Today they have expanded their services to include the aspects of ecommerce, shipping, mailing, software & data, providing an end to end solution to businesses.
  2. Using new tools to deliver their products and services.
  3. Using new tools to increase their efficiency to compete with others already in the sphere.


Pitney Bowes is business nearing a century-old with its core businesses grounded in the mailing industry. However, with the rise of digital technologies in the 2000s, the leaders knew that they cannot stay status quo. They started to acquire and diversify into different industries. In 2008, the financial tsunami swept by and its mailing business was badly hit. Also, the cost arising from operating the numerous new business acquisitions in silos compounded the issue. At one point, the company had close to 40 general ledgers. There was also much unrealised synergy from the various new business units.

The journey

The company looked into streamlining the book-keeping of their businesses with a centralised system. This resulted in cost savings which were channelled into product innovations.

Another important emphasis is to effectively merge the different business units into one to provide a seamless end to end service for the companies Pitney Bowes serves. For example, Pitney Bowes combined traditional mailing with technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT) and data aggregation to help companies garner information to better deliver client-centric services. This helps companies, which they serve, use mail in a more effective way reach their target audience. In the same thread, Pitney Bowes uses tracking and delivery information to more accurately predict when a parcel will reach the consumer. Such value-added services help its clients to remain competitive amidst increasing consumer expectations.

The organisation continued to evolve and innovate. Pitney Bowes Commerce Cloud was introduced to empower their clients to identify customers, uncover opportunities, power shipping, facilitate communication, and manage transactions.  It then launched an automated and self-serve Data Marketplace for customers to evaluate data products, be in the know of the latest data product offerings and to educate customers on the purchasing of data products.

Pitney Bowes’ strategic shift from just basing its business on the mail devices (which they see its value dwindle by the day) to technology-fuelled growth markets such as shipping and e-commerce is worth highlighting. These developments fuelled growth and increased competitiveness for the company, who reported their fastest annual revenue growth in a decade, in 2017.

You can check out the interview with Pitney Bowes’ Chief Executive Officer, Marc Lautenbach, on their digital journey via the following link: transformation/interview-with-pitney-bowes-ceo-marc-lautenbach-iUlhI

(Resource credits: Digital Transformation course by Boston Consulting Group and the University of Virginia on Coursera)

Continuous Process to Stay Competitive

As you can see from the Pitney Bowes’ example, digital transformation takes time and is not a one-off change. In fact, it is a continuous process that can help companies stay relevant in this disruptive environment.

The above article is part of the Digital Transformation Series by SQL View. Our flagship software KRIS Document Management System has been the cornerstone of Digital Transformation efforts of organisations small and large. Our software can be found in the offices of Far East Organisation, Singapore Post, NTUC and more.