“The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.”
- Peter Drucker
It is difficult to predict the future of any person, entity, system or anything on earth. But we can only try to gauge the likely trends.
Business Management is also no exception and especially if it is focusing on the rigmarole of change. Changes in standards, legislations, regulations and pace of technology may trigger disruptions in every aspect of business management.
I think here are few key trends which will be imminent going forward and will impact every industry. Strategy Managers need to identify the weak links and align themselves to these changes.
Trend #1: Navigate Through Uncertainty: More Entrepreneurs than Managers
“The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.” - Peter Drucker
In this evolving marketing landscape and changing business dynamics, where the need to retool businesses becomes urgency anytime, organizations certainly need more entrepreneurs than managers. Companies now need people who are more agile, risk takers, decision makers and those who can navigate though uncertainties.
Organization with typical managerial mindset are going to face serious difficulties in this evolving time; more independent, outgoing and innovative people are required to not only to grow but also to sustain in the business.
Trend #2: Sustainability: Meeting Expectations
“Once you climb to another level, you have to figure out how to sustain it.” -Mary J. Blige
With ever-changing market conditions, sustaining in the business and meeting customer expectations will continue to be a tough challenge.
Reducing costs, improving efficiencies and making processes more effective will also continue to take central stage from operations perspective. Efficiency, quality metrics, reduced waste etc. have already started fascinating sustainability and change practitioners nowadays. By now, I think almost every thinking person in the industry knows about Lean Six Sigma (LSS). Today industries are going beyond that to LSS 2.0.
The firms who have not implemented Lean or developed process excellence infrastructure are failing behind. The gap between the firms that are “Lean” versus the firms those are not yet “Lean” is widening day by the day. The firms who have been comfortable with status quo, quite frankly, are going to be rudely awakened soon; the intersection of technology and process continues to change the game around them.
Trend #3: Optimization: Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
“Customers are now driven by trying to optimize value.” - Azim Premji
Becoming value efficient, in other words optimizing efforts and costs in your business processes. The days of thinking that “process” is something that only low-level staff and administrative staff work on are over. Terms like Robotics, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence have already created lot of buzz in the market. Many of large companies are already automating repetitive standard tasks using RPA tools. We often talk about the role of robotic process automation at the enterprise level, but the truth is, this advanced technology can be just as highly effective if leveraged by smaller operations.
Not only the large enterprises but also Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) segment can be benefited from RPA. Here is why - when it comes to running a business, the ultimate goal is to keep operations as lean as possible. However just reducing employees means more sharing of the workload and that can be really be counter productivity and risky affair in long run.
If RPA is leveraged, many tasks that are mundane, repetitive but necessary can be shifted to automation; utilizing human resources for high value decision-making activities. However, whether to automate first or optimize the process first will still continue to be a discussion point.
(Suggested read: Process Optimization or Robotics What Should Be Done First?)
Trend #4: Innovation: Key to Accelerate
“Innovation is the calling card of the future.” - Anna Eshoo
Changing time is pushing organization to think beyond the boundaries to find innovative ways in every aspect of business. It is no more relevant only to a few big organizations of manufacturing, services, financial or IT industries.
Finding new innovative ways to do things is being practiced in all leading public & private sectors including Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises. Companies are spending money on innovation and design thinking workshops. However, it is more like a philosophy of any organization; unless it is implemented, it is of no value. As we all know the success of a such program depends on the way it is implemented. Almost every organization talks about innovation but very few are really able to create right ecosystem to foster it.
Change might not necessarily bring innovation, but innovation surely brings change.
When organizations and individuals, who take decision in an organization, understand the apparent difference between these two, they can quickly retool their entire process and channelize their work in a new fashion. (Suggested read: Managing Change & Innovation - Key to the Success of Individual & Organization)
Trend #5: Go Digital: Update and Upgrade
“I tried to draw people more realistically, but the figure I neglected to update was myself.” - Joe Sacco
Companies also need to upgrade themselves in terms of the way they operate internally and externally. Every industry is SMACked ; the bug of Social Media, Mobility, Analytics & Cloud has bitten every conceivable industry.
Social Media: In today’s world, nobody can escape Social Media unless someone deliberately chooses to ignore it. The best part of Social media is that it is full of data and the biggest challenge is also that it is full of data. Many organizations don’t know as how to derive meaningful information out of social media.
Mobile: Mobile technologies enable multi-channel communications anytime, anywhere. It also allows real time system access and instant communications from any location. Internet of Things (IoT) creates an integration of myriad applications.
Analytics: It’s data, data everywhere but challenge is how to make sense out of billion gigabytes of data. We have different forms of information such as textual, audio, video, contextual etc. Information exists everywhere, but they are incomplete & incoherent. Analytics bring meaning to the often chaotic deluge of information.
Cloud: Cloud and cloud computing has opened up a new vista across all organizations covering all industries. Organizations don't need to spend huge capital expenditures in IT infrastructure anymore. Organizations can host their System on private or public cloud. They can even go for SaaS (Software as a Service) on a multi-tenant or a dedicated model.