In today’s complex and diverse commercial environment, companies which are not in tune with the political and economic nuances of the landscape invariably fail. There have been too many high profile business collapses not to take account of the pressures which lead to such a demise. No company is immune, whether a large corporate or a small enterprise. Global economic shock does not discriminate though it tends to affect the larger company more, with its wide spread interests, investments and global investors. Withstanding such shocks and remaining at the leading edge of success is multi-faceted. Staying alert to – and where possible – anticipating political and economic change is key but even more relevant is retaining a willingness and desire to transform and change.
People – the essential component
There is however, one essential component to growing and maintaining a competitive edge as we take the first, faltering steps into the industry of the future and embrace the challenges of the fourth, digital, industrial revolution – the people who drive a successful business. In the rush t become more effective and efficient, it is too easy to buy digital technology, automate the processes of oproduction and reduce the number of people involved to cut the salary bill. Companies which do this, introducing technology for its own sake without clear consideration of business requirements, invariably raise their levels of debt to critical proportions, struggle to fit the technology to the business and suffer from significant reductions in people with the potential to realise new skills and capabilities.
Decisive leadership and teamwork
Those companies which succeed first consider their requirements, discuss potential business enterprise solutions with suppliers and the resource needs to gain full value from the investment as the business transforms. Transformation to retain a competitive edge is about creating a winning culture, seizing the advantage to be gained by imaginative ideas and innovation, the adoption of new, game-changing technologies, and motivating that most important business asset, your people – your team, to be the willing driver on the road to success. However, none of that will work without strong but empathetic leadership to create the culture which empowers people to innovate, create and be willing to take decisions to grow value. Arguably, in the new, digitised business world, allowing people to do just that is the foundation for success.
Competitive risk assessment and mitigation requires an understanding of the nature of the task, what will be required to carry it out, and the desired outcome. That only comes from delegating responsibility to those closest to the task or opportunity. Pragmatic risk taking greatly assists the achievement of objectives. It speeds up decision making and generates competitive momentum. It is in these circumstances that it is vital that leaders and managers at every level have the confidence to observe what is happening, consider relevant factors, decide what needs to be done, then act – rapidly! The precise application of digital technology, managed by people who understand the questions to be asked and the level of analytics required, smooths the decision making process to enable swift but considered action.