Digital transformation case studies are difficult to come by.

That's why I was delighted to hear Sean Cornwell, Chief Digital Officer at Travelex, discussing the brand's journey at the Festival of Marketing.

Here's what he had to say...

The five Travelex tenets

  • Focus on long term enterprise value creation. Short term revenue/EBITDA is not a priority.
  • Aggressively pursue potential growth opportunities across the spend/send segments around forex.
  • Willing to be disruptive and innovative in our approach with business models.
  • Aim to build large user bases of customers using our products.
  • Invest in a range of different areas and initiatives. Some won’t work, and that’s ok.

The Travelex roadmap

travelex roadmap

Digital transformation is a misnomer

It’s business change and people (and how you bring people along) are vital.

You can’t outsource what is core and strategic. New capabilities leads to new products that become growth engines over time.

Given change in the outside world, ask yourself what opportunities you should be pursuing. Then look at organisational changes to processes.

Key principles

  • Emphasise the long game while racking up quick wins.
  • Talk about speed, agile, failure, new capabiltiies, ways of working and collaboration like it's going out of fashion.
  • Avoid the cool kids in the corner syndrome.
  • Be humble.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate.
  • It's both horizontal and vertical.

Avoid creating a digital silo - integration and engagement are critical.

What has Travelex achieved?

  • Built key capability and talent.
  • Accelerated growth of core ecommerce business.
  • Adopted a portfolio approach to new products, with two successful launches and a roadmap.
  • Launched the most disruptive and successful play in international spend and cards.
  • Adopted a two tier, two speed IT infrastructure.
  • Reorganised the business, merging online and offline products, marketing and P&Ls.
  • Started to really change the culture:
    • 'broken windows' - dress code, office decor, Macs instead of PCs, seating plan.
    • huge internal focus on ways of working.
    • placed digital and the customer at the heart of our business strategy.
    • customer centric, data driven, tech-enabled mentality.
    • greater tolerance of failure and ‘test, learn, iterate’.
  • External signals to attract the best talent: Silicon Milkroundabout sponsorship, £25m digital growth fund, landmark hires, PR.

travelex supercard  

Reflections after two years?

  • The things which will surprise you are not what you expect.
  • People are excited… and want to help… collaboration is key.
  • Excitement and momentum are key. The hard thing is keeping the energy up in the in-between years.
  • You have to tell two stories internally.
  • Digital has to be made relevant to every team.
  • It’s really fun.

Find out more about digital transformation on our hub page.

video by: LondonVideoStories

Ben Davis

Published 12 November, 2015 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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