Certainly, business leaders and finance professionals need to focus on the future and take advantage of emerging technologies. “You have to evolve to be successful,” says Scott Brown, senior vice president of finance at technology distributor Mouser Electronics. “Whether it’s software, hardware or automation, we invest in leading solutions and systems to help us work smarter in all areas of the business.”
The good news: almost everyone feels optimistic. A global survey of 297 business leaders conducted by MIT Technology Review Insights, in association with Oracle, shows that organizations are ready to invest in innovative ideas to revitalize their organizations. And they get the job started.
The journey from survive to thrive
The pandemic challenged all businesses in 2020. It tested every element of organizations’ workflows and completely changed their planning processes. But by the fall, most executives were in control. When they spoke to MIT Technology Review Insights, they were busy crafting strategic business plans for 2021. Among them: a major business model and technology tweaks to help them be successful.
Most executives are optimistic about the future of their business. Few people postpone any kind of change for the next 18 months or put everything on hold until things happen.
Overall, 47% expect their business to thrive in 2021, 36% expect their organizations to transform, and only 12% expect a dark year of survival. Here, “prosper” stands out as a successful continuation of an existing business model. Take a manufacturer of standing desks – there’s a good chance they’ll sell a lot more with the influx of employees now working from home. Compare that to “transforming” or making significant changes. This could include rethinking the way a business sells to customers or adding a new line of products.
The 2021 targets vary to some extent depending on the size of the company. Large companies – which in this report are organizations with more than $ 1 billion in sales – are more open to transformation; in contrast, small and medium-sized businesses aim to prosper.
Make big movements
It may be possible to cope in the short term by making modest adjustments, such as renegotiating supply chain contracts or retraining displaced workers. But many companies have taken advantage of the pandemic to reassess their activity. Which parts can mostly succeed as is? What need for redirection? Which one should be eliminated? Where are the untapped growth areas? Whatever their conclusions, business leaders are taking action.
They are rarely small changes. For example, in the retail industry, some quickly found ways to keep their business going while stores were closed, thereby strengthening their e-commerce setup and making it easier for customers to shop online or organize contactless pickup in a store. The coffee industry has made changes throughout its supply chain, from harvest to local coffee, despite uncertain demand.
In 2021, 80% of the companies surveyed anticipate big strategic changes, such as acquisitions, divestments, new business models and widespread automation. In fact, 39% have already taken a “big step” in 2020. Just over a quarter of companies, 27%, are considering such plans in 2021. In some cases – 14% in total – large projects are in progress. courses but are not scheduled for deployment in the next 36 months.
Large movements are more likely to be undertaken by larger organizations; 87% of businesses with revenues over $ 1 billion have plans, compared to 76% of small businesses. These large-scale changes are also more common in the Americas – 84%, compared to around three-quarters with such plans in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and Asia-Pacific.
Download the full report.