Staying Relevant in a Rapidly Changing World

Managing Director, SAP Indochina

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Pretty much of what we know today about digital technologies will be going the way of dinosaurs five to 10 years from now. As new entrants disrupt traditional business processes and make clearings for more efficient technologies, less agile businesses are expected to fall away or be pushed off to the back burner.

So how do we anticipate future innovations and stay ahead of the curve?

To remain competitive in today’s digital economy, one thing is important: relevance.

As any successful entrepreneur would tell us, it’s all about keeping an eye on emerging market trends and preventing oneself from becoming too complacent. In the business landscape where companies go neck and neck, it’s important to always pulse check our customers and reach out to them more innovatively.

Innovation as we don’t know it

When we speak of innovation, we’re also looking at ways of building our competencies that can help us establish our position in the long run. We’re not simply after short-term gains; as visionary thinkers, we must gun for solutions that address customer needs sustainably and help us grow a base of fully connected consumers.

As such, an innovative mindset should teach us to bring ourselves out there and pay attention to what the market is up to. What patterns are we seeing? How can we be more attuned to the needs and unspoken aspirations of our customers?

This is the kind of readiness every business leader should know. Referred to as agility in business parlance, this skill will be the prime mover of how companies can ride on the rhythm of the market dynamics, stake their relevance, and survive competition. It’s training our focus on what matters most to our business—our customers—and sharing their journey every way possible.

Unleashing our business agility

Business agility is the ability to escape traps in the market by gaining enough foresight into how the landscape will be changed by new entrants. As one study notes, it cannot and will not be business-as-usual for everyone in the technology industry. With new waves of startups coming in, the average lifespan of companies has already dwindled from 90 years to 18 years in just over seven decades, and more transformations will likely push conglomerates to rethink their game plans on how to capture new segments in the market.

With new waves of startups coming in, the average lifespan of companies has already dwindled from 90 years to 18 years.

But complexity is proving to be a barrier for large enterprises. As many get buried under the weight of inefficient processes and unresponsive business models, so do businesses’ value chains lose flexibility in the face of switching market needs.

What businesses can do

The question now is, how can we get businesses up to speed? How can we drive agility to further boost their performance and relevance?

The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every business has its own needs and requirements, but we can readily take the following pointers to heart.

We need to gain equal footing with competitors. How are our competitors dealing with the changes? If they’ve been looking for ways to stay relevant, so should we introduce bold and productive changes into our businesses.

Opting for leap innovation will help us cut across processes, products, and business models. Used to challenge path dependence, leap innovation is all about making quick movements to find value in unexamined areas and make subsequent moves unpredictable. For instance, a firm that has just developed a wearable to join the fitness craze can later create innovation in areas such as aesthetics, durability, among others.

Developing a new skillset is also a must. As business processes become more data-driven, direction will be to scale up capacities of people to allow them to better handle the requirements of the growing digital economy. The most in-demand jobs today aren’t even on the list of HR departments 10 or five years ago, so a new set of workers who can virtually collaborate and work on scenarios and prognosis will definitely be needed.

What have we got now amid this exciting game called digital? Staying relevant means doing the extra mile to address what consumers care most about. We need to pay attention. We cannot be complacent. We need to innovate.

How do we even begin to stay ahead in this increasingly competitive economy? Download The Digital Economy: Reinventing the Business World for important insights on how to remain current, responsive, and agile.

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