While many organisations are being ‘cautiously optimistic’ about what the future holds, the realities of today’s tough business environment could leave them as sitting ducks, according to Rick Reidy, CEO at Progress Software. They might take consolation that they’re in the same pond, but when interest rates in Japan hit near-zero, banks continue to fail and mistakes can lead to a ‘flash crash’, the pond is not a safe place to be. Businesses may have money, but fear and uncertainty is holding back decision-making – we await further regulation and want to know the consequences of recent government changes.
Listening to Rick’s keynote at our UK business summit (#progresswsummit, if you want to follow on twitter), in the impressive surrounding of Chelsea Football Club’s ground, London, it seems most of the audience agrees – it’s not good enough to sit around and wait to see if growth returns, and you cannot grow simply by cutting costs. You have to take control of your own ‘growth agenda’, as Rick put it. Businesses that want to survive the next five years need better visibility, through putting processes in place that enable them to react quickly to meet customer demands, adapt to market changes and take advantage of new opportunities. As Rick has advised, businesses need to act on up to the minute information so that leaders can make decisions based on foresight, not hindsight. If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll already know that we call this ‘operational responsiveness’: the ability to sense and respond to customer and market changes so that organisations can move quickly to meet challenges and take advantage of new opportunities. Rick has talked about what this means in the airline industry: the notion of irregular operations has become a weekly reality as companies face intense market pressure, striking staff and disruption from natural phenomenon. ‘Swivel chair’ communication between operational areas is no longer good enough. To react quickly enough, they need responsive processes in place that can help them maintain services and inform customers, almost as-it-happens. If they don’t, they will face massive fines, lost custom and damaged reputation – risks no company can afford at present. We’ll be hearing more from Gordon Penfold, CTO at British Airways, about their approach to becoming operationally responsive to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. Watch this space for my take on his talk…
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