The Most Exciting Business Changes Happening NowSep 08, 2020
There’s nothing like a crisis for focusing on solutions we said we’d get to “one day” - here are five of the most exciting changes I’m seeing businesses making now (and some of the pitfalls to look out for).
In my fifteen years in change and transformation, something I’ve seen a lot of businesses do is invest in resources to patch over problems with workarounds instead of putting in solutions that actually deliver.
Then crisis hits and suddenly it’s time to strip away the workarounds and patch-up jobs to lighten the load.
It’s understandable: when times are good we get a bit lazy. When times are bad (or we fear they're going to be bad) we tend to get creative with our solutions and act quickly to make changes that are long overdue.
Five of the most exciting business changes happening now:
1. Big data
Typically, there are thousands of pieces of data being gathered by different departments in a business.
What people want to do (but no one gets around to until a crisis) is pull it all together and connect the dots.
Data on its own is meaningless if you do nothing with it.
But as soon as you pull it all together and analyse it, a picture begins to form.
Suddenly people are reaching out to big data companies who are able to link their pieces of data super quickly.
What is revealed in this process is astonishing and offers massive value and ROI.
By seeing all your data in one picture you could identify:
- Bottlenecks in operations that can be solved quickly and speed up delivery
- Places where value is being leaked
- Customer feedback that identifies an easy-to-solve problem
Big data is about changing data to information and allowing it to become knowledge so your business can run more effectively.
Automation has existed for a while now, but many businesses needed this crisis to take the leap.
In good times we tend to hire people to move pieces of information from one place to another. It could be information moved from forms into a database or from one unrelated process to another (e.g. an administrator moving data from marketing into sales).
I know what a soul-crushing job moving data around is having done a database job one summer as a student. It’s boring and simply doesn’t have to be a task that a human does when automation is available.
Automation means huge savings not just financially, but also in the time it takes for people with huge potential to do jobs that a bot can do. And no, this doesn’t mean the end of talented administrators - their skills are valuable and their time is far better spent doing things only they can do.
You would have to be living under a rock to not have noticed that there’s a lot of restructuring happening in business right now.
Companies no longer see their direction as a strategy set in stone but are more responsive to the changing contexts in which they're doing business.
Therefore they want more flexibility in their workforce and the ability to move resources from one area to another.
Likewise people are increasingly open to pivoting their skills and experience into new areas.
This opens up a huge opportunity to truly get the most from the people in your organisation. A focus on capabilities means a person’s full range of skills can be used, making them more valuable to the business, and more fulfilled in their jobs.
There’s no need for people to be constrained by their CV or narrow role. Instead, a flexible workforce has people employed to a job but allocated a role according to demand. The company gains more flexibility, and employees gain new insights and skills.
4. Alternative workplaces
It’s clear to see the huge transformation in how we work, with your typical office worker working from home over the last six months.
More and more businesses are embracing the flexibility of where their teams work and realising that:
Work is something we do, not somewhere we go.
There are so many variants about what’s possible, but this time has opened up a conversation about what model works for your business and individuals.
In the future, of course not everyone will be working from home but a greater flexibility will likely remain, with more bespoke solutions for individuals’ personal circumstances and the needs of the business.
Some people are considering living abroad but staying with the same company. Some people have been able to work from a different home, e.g. closer to ageing parents. Some people have set up satellite offices nearer to home to cut out the commute but avoid distractions at home.
Almost nothing is impossible. However, companies should be wary of making exciting changes on their own without any professional guidance.
Get your flexible and remote working strategies right and you could unlock the potential of your workforce and significantly cut down on overhead. Get in touch if you want to find out how Oakwood partners could help.
5. Supply chain resilience
In the last six months, many supply chains have fallen apart. They may have worked in the good times but in the midst of crisis were too far away or overly complicated.
The crisis has given people a new appreciation about what supply chain resilience is really about i.e. regardless of what's going on, you can get what you need to do business.
Now businesses are developing a more balanced risk-based view and moving away from one sole supplier toward a mix of different geographic suppliers.
We’ve seen this in the consumer goods market and supermarkets, but service businesses have also had a few surprises when a critical piece of what they do was suddenly unavailable.
The last six months have shown us which companies can weather a storm and which can’t.
Some companies have invested in resilient and flexible systems, work-forces and supply chains and continue to deliver even in rocky environments. Those that haven’t are paying the price.
These are essential fundamentals for business to be focused on right now. If you need an expert with a diverse network of consultants working in each of these areas, reach out to me and I’ll be happy to put you in touch.
P.S. The Change Maker Academy will be re-opening its doors again next month, so if you know you need support from experienced mentors, a whole stack of proven methodologies and tools, and a peer-group to learn from, keep your eyes peeled for more announcements coming soon!
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