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Businesses Don’t Need to be Born in the Era of Connectivity to Have Staying Power

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Diversifying lines of business is one of the best ways to leverage technology within a company. It’s also one of the best ways to ensure your business succeeds at a time when the commercial environment has been volatile. From politics to the pandemic to inflation, supply and talent shortages, and a horrific war that has the world on edge, businesses have been thrown more curve balls over the past few years than many had faced in their entire existence.

In turbulent times, we’ve seen the ability to digitally adapt serve as one of the attributes that separates the businesses who succeed from those who fail. Despite what one may assume, simply being “born” in the digital age does not insulate a company from the risks of today’s challenging economic environment. What does help ensure a company can weather the storm is innovation and the ability to diversify revenue streams by identifying new markets.

Case in point: PODS, a moving and storage leader for nearly 25 years. Perhaps best known for its portable moving and storage containers, PODS has completed more than 1.3 million long-distance moves and nearly 6 million initial deliveries. Yet even with the success of its core business, the company has recently tapped technology to raise the bar even further in offering customers a more streamlined, comprehensive moving solution — making it an easier and better customer experience. Customers can now book their vehicle transport at the same time as booking their move for their personal household items.

With the pandemic ushering in what has been called “The Great Relocation,” PODS scaled up its services to meet a spike in demand that was driven by the shortage of new and used vehicles and well-documented kinks in the global supply chain. This led to an increased demand to ship cars instead of driving them to preserve mileage, minimize wear-and-tear and save time. PODS partnered with my business and ACERTUS, an automotive logistics company, to offer an integrated solution that would simplify online booking for customers, providing instant automotive shipping quotes.

This is a good example of a company that’s been willing to think outside the box and embrace digital at a time when it needed to really scale to meet the increased demand. Using technology to create and deliver new offerings to the market has helped distinguish the businesses that can flex and evolve from those who remain stagnant.

A teachable moment for global business

The value of investing in technology for businesses cannot be overstated. Digital transformation doesn’t mean abandoning what your business is good at or what it has historically delivered. It means envisioning how technology can help you evolve and expand. And there are tangible financial upsides, too. According to a September 2021 piece in Forbes, research was conducted that scored companies 1-10 on their scale of digital transformation progress. Those who scored eight or higher showed about twice the revenue growth compared to businesses that scored three or below.

To the extent product quality and customer satisfaction impact the bottom line, those, too, can be tallies on the board for benefits to digitally transforming. Deloitte stated in its article, Uncovering the connection between digital maturity and financial performance, which is based on a 2019 digital transformation survey the firm conducted, “Higher-maturity organizations surveyed were far more likely than lower-maturity ones to significantly outperform their industry average on key financial metrics.” The piece emphasized the importance of what Deloitte calls digital pivots, or the coordinated integration of tech assets and capabilities across the organization.

By integrating digital assets and capabilities to create disruptive initiatives, incumbents can use their market share to outpace newer players. Enterprises that treat digital assets as the powerful tools they are, rather than viewing them as an expense on the balance sheet, will mature faster in their digital transformation. C-level buy in and prioritization of digital initiatives is also imperative to being successful.

Just as companies born in the digital age aren’t guaranteed to succeed, those who weren’t aren’t guaranteed to fail. Having a technology-forward culture and willingness to embrace change is what sets apart the businesses that have staying power today from those who don’t. We’ve seen time and again, most recently with the pandemic, that embracing technological solutions to pivot and create new ventures will help create a more durable business. The quicker a business can adjust to a market in flux, the more durable that business can become in the long term.

Austin Vance is CEO of Chicago-based Focused Labs, a digital transformation consultancy and software development firm. He was formerly Director of Engineering at Braintree, which was purchased by PayPal in 2013, and Managing Director of Pivotal’s Chicago branch. He has a passion for high-quality software, designing teams and building innovative businesses. Vance holds a BS in computer science from Eckerd College.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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