Why Moleskine is branching out from paper to digital products

Moleskine head of digital innovation, Peter Jensen, talked with TechRepublic about the company's decision to make a digital version of their paper notebooks.

Inside Moleskine's digital transformation journey

Moleskine is a company best known for its notebooks. TechRepublic's Dan Patterson discussed Moleskine's leap to digital products with the company's head of innovation, Peter Jensen.

Watch the video, or read the first part of their conversation below:

Patterson: Writing is something that is a 10,000-year-old technology. To steal a bunch of classic ideas, one of the best features of a book, of being able to write, is that there's no email.

Jensen: Exactly.

Patterson: Peter, explain to us, take us inside Moleskine, a company that's been around for two decades. Why is writing, hand logging information and thought so important?

Jensen: It's really important because when you take notes you reflect. There's been a lot of studies that show that your cognitive abilities while you take notes than if you do other things like typing. You actually start processing the information while you're taking down the notes as opposed to just reflecting what was said in a conversation. You're actually already processing the information if you like, internalizing it into your DNA, into your long-term memory. Making it accessible at a completely different level than if you were just to type.

There is a bunch of people that work in the creative spaces, architects, that talk about drawing or using handwriting, or drawing with hand, means that you reflect while you are doing it versus computer which is just go from a line A to B which is perfectly straight. But you don't actually think about it, you don't have that reflection time, if you like.

And last but not least, it's natural to us. We know what it is. I think, and many people that like Moleskine, enjoy the physical nature of the book and the paper as well. So there's certainly also a sensory experience when we write with hand that is completely different from other types of technologies.

Patterson: So let's flash forward 10,000 years. Or at least two decades. We need the speed of the cloud for productivity, for our interpersonal relationships, unfortunately a book is logged in a static place in time. Tell us a little about Moleskine's digital transformation journey and how you went from being a paper company to being a cloud company and a technology company.

SEE: Digital transformation: An IT pro's guide (TechRepublic)

Jensen: First it started with a partnership we developed with Evernote, which was really extending the physical goods, the paper, to the digital service. As we looked at this over time and we felt that consumers were actually accept that promise coming from us, we started a different partnership, different roads of making it more a part of your process. And tapping into productivity needs of professionals and personals alike, private people alike. Which was, how do we actually enable paper to continue to be a part of your work process, really from idea to eventually a finished product or finished statement of some sort.

That meant actually thinking of paper, not as something disjointed anymore, but as part of a process. The big, big step for us was accepting that we really were not at war with technology. The big job of mine coming into the company was explaining to people I'm not trying to make Moleskine into a digital company, I'm just trying to add a sensible digital dimension to a physical company.

I still associate Moleskine with a physical notebook and the feeling of weight and texture. But to me, really it was about, how do you make that part of something bigger. Not becoming something else but enriching what we are. So it's not a ... We usually say we are not trying to become a technology company, we say we want to be an analog company that does technology really well.

At the end of it, or at the root of this though, there's a really strong belief that consumers should be in charge when they take their thoughts, their ideas, which in many cases are really personal, into a digital space. So having a notebook that automatically becomes, has a digital counterpart, for us it's not really in line with what we want to do because you may not want to share that with someone else. You may want to study it a little more, you may want to curate it a little more. It's really about enabling you to go digital when you want.

For the rest of the conversation, check out these articles:

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  • Image: iStock/lev dolgachov