At the start of 2020, no business could have predicted that we’d experience a global pandemic. Whilst this has led businesses to focus on short-term priorities such as financial stability, they’re now starting to look at other actions to secure their future.
They're investing in digital transformation to support remote working and improve customer experiences. They're also supporting each other, both inside and outside their organisations - for instance by purchasing more from local suppliers. And they're starting to adapt to new business practices, as well as flexible working.
Our report found that 'future ready' businesses were much better prepared to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19 and are coping well enough to focus on thriving, not just surviving.
Customers expect more than just good products and services - they also expect ethical behaviour, social responsibility and commitment to a wider purpose. And when they don’t get it, they’re willing to take their business elsewhere.
'Future ready' businesses recognise the fast-growing power of customers. In response, they're using data to better understand them and are shaping their policies around their priorities. They're focusing on their brand purpose by prioritising ethical behaviour and investing in local communities.
Customers today prefer to buy from and work with socially responsible companies.
With the public becoming more vocal on social issues such as climate change and with regulation increasing, businesses of all sizes and sectors are adding sustainability to all parts of their processes - from what they do with the waste they produce, to how they can minimise energy consumption.
Communication networks and digital tools can allow companies to work in different ways, use fewer resources and, with the right data and IoT, create more sustainable services and business models.
Data and digitalisation are transforming businesses across the value chain, but many have more to do to ensure they're collecting this data in the right way and getting value out of it. Meanwhile, tech skills and higher cognitive skills continue to be in short supply.
'Future ready' businesses, however, are better at collecting data and are using it in smarter, more responsible and more strategic ways. They are preparing to compete with employers for the best talent in areas such as AI, robotics and cyber-security.
Companies are finding it increasingly hard to attract and retain the talent they need - in part because of generational differences but also because of the growth of AI and advanced technologies.
To overcome this, the most progressive companies are re-thinking their approach to recruitment, tapping into a more diverse talent pool and prioritising training, technology and flexibility as they shoot up the agenda for potential top candidates.