MPact » Insight
Determining the next decade for your organization
By Paul Witherow Consulting Partner
Just as organizations were finishing their roadmap for the 2020s, we experienced a world-changing pandemic that changed all of our plans. Now, businesses are looking ahead and applying the lessons about data, digitization, and from the past year to their strategic thinking.
- Developing rich data sets about your customers was a focus for some organizations pre-pandemic, but now, it should be a top priority for all business leaders.
- Typical timelines have been disrupted by technology. With the right tools, businesses can accomplish more in less time than ever.
- Be bold in your thinking and use scenario planning to lead your organization through the next decade.
One of the most profound business changes as a result of the pandemic was that companies are starting to look at making money by means other than just their core business. This was absolutely different from what we’ve been espousing, from a management point of view, for years. In the past, we have helped companies boil it down to the core and outsource everything else. Now, it’s about harvesting the data and understanding who your demographic is, and how you can market to that demographic or automate your offerings. Different business models emerge naturally with that shift and they sometimes can be disruptive to the industry as a whole.
No more assumptions
The digital age and COVID has really knocked out some of our assumptions around how it is we compete. If we continue with this trend to work from anywhere, and maybe even extending to work from any “when” (e.g., different time zones), then that has a huge impact on how industries are going to react over the next decade. We’re going to see people working from home, from their cottage, early in the morning, late at night – pretty much whatever suits their lifestyle best.
We are going to look back on this and realize that we went through a major pivot: from a custom-built to a low-code, platform and cloud-based world. This requires using new skill sets, which requires companies to actually adopt new practices to bring new skill sets in and understand how to nurture and grow them. But even more important than that, I’d say there’s a new governance that needs to be done. Industry will need to be able to scale innovation within their company. For example, we are seeing manufacturers accelerate and roll out new designs right to production through new digital design and manufacturing technologies. Take automotive as an example: it used to take 15 years to come up with a new car design, and many automotive companies have that down to 12-18 months now. Digital design, combined with 3-D printing, robotics and networking technology, is accelerating innovation.
Business survival is not enough
There is a need for organizations to understand how they’re going to compete, not just coming out of the pandemic, or even during the pandemic, but really what’s coming at them in the next couple of years. We’re all getting tired of just survival. We need something more visionary to look forward to, so building that vision is not a bad thing to be doing right now. Coming out of the pandemic, there will be an increased willingness to adopt new concepts, business models and technologies, and to look to the future. We really can use our experience from the past year to build what will be driving us for the next decade or more.
Plan, plan, and plan some more
Scenario planning is vital, as is conducting really strong industry research, with a specific eye on technology. When I say technology, I am also referring to its impacts on business models and potential risk for your business: what could disrupt your industry and how can you pivot to adapt or counter it. If you’re not doing scenario planning and trends analysis, you’re not seeing different viewpoints and you won’t understand what may be coming at you — which means you’re probably not prepared for the future. You really shouldn’t be taken by surprise in today’s world. There’s lots of really good information out there, and there is help available. The failure to predict the future is really a failure of imagination — so take the time to think outside of the ordinary even if it just informs your capital investment approach and not your business model.